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A Frank-Shaking Fashion Week Encounter With Michael Stipe

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for almost two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.


What Patrik Ervell SS'12 looked like for Frank

Dear Michael Stipe,

You know, everybody has that one celebrity that, if encountered, could cause speechlessness, sweating and/or stroke.

Said famous person need not be, like, a true celebrity—a George Clooney or a Reese Witherspoon or (shudder) a Katy Perry. That celebrity might be a hot shot editor, the host of a cooking show, a blogger, an athlete, a fashion designer. Or, that celebrity might be a notoriously private and fantastically well-dressed musician. One who still fronts a seminal band that essentially invented college radio and indie rock before becoming one of the biggest groups in the world; all before kind of fading into a post-mainstream, richer-than-god mentality that includes recording and touring for kicks plus relaxation and the odd vanity project.

Yup, that whole hideous run-on sentence is in reference to you; and, naturally, your band, R.E.M.

And, yup, for me—you are that celebrity.

Since living in New York there have been several pretty glitzy events I’ve managed to squeak into—music-related stuff, art-related stuff, and, obviously, a lot of fashion-related stuff. And, I would be lying if I said I didn’t wonder once or twice (or several thousand times) if it would be this Now It’s Overhead record release party or that fill-in-the-blank event that Courtney Love was slated to show up for that might put us in the same room (a room smaller than Madison Square Garden, that is). Hell, every time I venture into Margiela, you could be there. I get the impression you’re up in there at least as much as I am.

Yet, I didn’t expect to see you at a relatively small fashion show on Sunday.

And I certainly didn’t expect to be sitting behind you.

And I very certainly didn’t expect that when I asked a publicist if the person seated ahead of me was you; that she’d say yes. It was only one Fashion Week ago that this happened at Duckie Brown and, well, it wasn’t you. It was just another slim, bald, middle-aged, impeccably dressed guy who also favors chunky spectacles and tiny fedoras.

The show in question: Patrik Ervell, spring/summer ’12. And the show itself? Frankly, kinda meh. Yes, it was Ervell’s first big, real runway spectacular; and he’s doing womenswear now, apparently, which looks kind of cool and definitely how you’d expect it to look. But the collection didn’t do much for me. The puddly watercolor prints in acid colors prompted one guest to make a Tommy Bahama comparison. The customized Red Wing boots with exposed gleaming metal hardware and mule-like open heels were, well, disgusting. And, I’m sorry, don’t put an elastic band at the bottom of my khakis (sorry, harsh: The shirts and suiting were impeccable as always; viva the club collar!)

Of course, I didn’t really remember any of this. I had to look it all up. Because, if I’m being honest, and that’s what this is about, isn’t it? Well, I was having several dozen consecutive heart attacks as a result of your very presence. I couldn’t even stay sitting there. I stood back and over and sweated and stared and texted about 157 people. You may or may not have noticed the hulking creepo in Viktor & Rolf behind you to the right? You probably did, I think I felt the daggers. Especially that time I had a camera pointed at you rather than at the runway (not that it came out—shaky hands).

Well, that was me.

I didn’t come up and bug you for two reasons. One: New Yorkers aren’t allowed to gush. It’s tacky. It’s touristy. We don’t acknowledge the famous, even when they seem to always be seated at the next booth, shopping at the same store or trying to hail the same cab. I mean, had I come over to tell you that "Nightswimming" practically still makes me cry (or that I have one of the 299 solid silver microcassettes that you produced with Margiela or that I once skipped work to see you guys on the Today Show or that I made an R.E.M. sticker at Kinko’s to put on the back of my Volvo in high school or omigod, small world, a friend of mine opened up for you guys in like 1994 or that once while visiting a vintage store in Athens the shopkeeper got wind of my R.E.M. devotion and drew me a map of town on a shopping bag so that I could at least drive over to your house and take a picture) I would have looked uncool, or—heaven forbid—unlocal. So, I saved face; and I respected your privacy and your space.

Two: I was terrified and couldn’t have spoken to you anyway.

So, yeah, too real. Done now. Thank you for letting me stare. And for the music.

Cute bag!

· Love, Frank [Racked]