lccHow extraordinary Lady Kroesig looked, poor woman! I suppose somebody must have told her that the bridegroom’s mother should have a bit of everything in her hat – for luck, perhaps. Fur, feather, flowers, a scrap of lace – it was all there and a diamond brooch on top to finish it all off nicely.

Lady Montdore, fictional character in Nancy Mitford’s 1949 novel, Love in a Cold Climate.

Mom peruses an issue of Vintage Life.

Mom peruses an issue of Vintage Life.

In my business I have witnessed how the superficial cover of clothes can become essential in trying times.

Betty Halbreich, personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman.

I know for myself (and probably my mother) that when life gets tough, I head straight to my closet for comfort. Clothes give me strength and they are something on which to focus when everything else is just too much.

This came home to me recently when my mother unexpectedly ended up in the hospital. Spending time with her there, in her hospital room, after exhaustive discussions with doctors about tests and medications, what to do and what not to do next, there would be silence. Then she’d pipe up with a sartorial topic  – anything from advice on formal wear to the current length of hemlines (too long and too short says Mom).

And off we’d go, escaping out of confusion and fear into our world of fashion. Superficial? Perhaps. But I say, Whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright, it’s alright.

I will miss the paper WWD.

I will miss the paper WWD.

I recently received an announcement from Women’s Wear Daily – they are giving up print. WWD, the insiders must-have fashion business paper since 1910, will post an electronic version of the paper. Here’s what they’re saying: Starting with the April 27th issue, we’ll produce a curated Daily Digital edition of WWD that will reflect the top stories of the day. This will be emailed to you in digital format before you wake up each business day.

Additionally the publishers (Fairchild Publishing, LLC) will mail out a weekly glossy print, which they claim will provide more detailed analysis of top fashion stories.

I have mixed feelings about this. Admittedly, it will be a relief not to have stacks of backed-up issues resting on my dining table, taunting me at every meal. But I will certainly miss my weekend routine of sitting down with a cup of coffee and diving in – searching for quotes, cutting clips, and following the swings of the fashion industry. I prefer paper to screen and I’m pretty sure I won’t read as closely this new e-version, particularly if it’s as visually busy as the WWD website.

Plus, it does feel like the end of an era.

McLaren and Westwood back in the days of Punk Rock.

McLaren and Westwood back in the days of Punk Rock.

I made clothes that looked like ruins. I created something new by destroying the old. This wasn’t fashion as a commodity, this was fashion as an idea.

– Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010), British fashion designer (of sorts) and manager of the Sex Pistols.

I read this quote in Vivienne Westwood’s biography, Vivienne Westwood written by Westwood and author Ian Kelly (Picador, 2014).

I’m intrigued by the notion of creating something new by “destroying” the old. Kind of goes against my grain given my appreciation for all things vintage. But I can understand why, in post WWII Britain after years of bleakness and austerity, young people would want not just to break away from standard conventions and fashions but also to erase them. Creating something new from something old for them was active, it was making a statement. I think intent behind fashion choices is always more interesting.

McLaren was Westwood’s partner in life and in business. The two set up shop in the early 70s on King’s Road in London, at first selling revival 50s rock clothing and record albums. As the times changed so did the couple, who became central figures in the Punk Rock scene. My impression from the book is that McLaren influenced and inspired Westwood but she was the real worker and creator. She went on to develop a fashion empire, without McLaren.

I wonder if McLaren’s comment was a stab at Westwood (he was not above doing that). No matter her background in punk, she is a commercial fashion powerhouse now and certainly fashion for her is a commodity –  a big one.

More on Westwood and her fashion empire in an upcoming post.



Philip-Treacy-MAC-mainFashion has become entertainment. We’re all in the same business: MAC makes images with makeup, I make images with hats, and we live in a world of fashion imagery. I draw, so, to me, makeup is a tool for the face that can change your life, change your day.

– British milliner Philip Treacy, who in April will launch a line of makeup with MAC cosmetics.

28370The people who bought Vivienne Westwood clothes we kind of thought were pretend real punks. The punks who hadn’t got the imagination to go to a charity shop and do their own DIY look. We thought they were kind of pathetic and had too much money than sense.

Caroline Cox, fashion historian and author.

Ms. Cox, an original 1970s punk, was speaking on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour about punk fashion.

faar-charles-james-02Cut in dressmaking is like grammar in a language.

– Charles James (1906-1978), fashion designer.


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