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Vanguard America sport a new look. The guy in the middle is James Fields, who was recently charged with murder for running over a group of peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, VA. Photo:  Go Nakamura/New York Daily News

It seems white nationalists, Vanguard America in particular, have adopted for themselves a new uniform – khakis and polo shirts. According to several reports that was the prevailing outfit last weekend as these people descended upon the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

If someone says “white nationalists” I picture angry white men in well-worn jeans and heavy work boots, t-shirts with the Confederate flag or some offensive slogan, maybe a swastika. So it was startling to see in photos the once preppy look usurped by fringe hate groups.

It speaks volumes:

  • They’re not hiding their identity like previous generations of hate groups such as the KKK. They’re feeling comfortable with their racism.
  • They want to blend in and identify with the oh-so-many fellas out there who sport the same look – the golfer, the suburban dad, the middle manager, the Every Man.
  • These men want to appear mainstream, clean-cut, NORMAL.

 

If this continues the look will no doubt be tainted if it’s not already. I couldn’t help but think about the thugs in Charlottesville when the other day a man crossed my path sporting a white polo shirt and khakis. Probably on his way to work, the guy I’m sure was unaware of the association I made with his outfit. How funny is it that a week earlier I wouldn’t have even noticed him.

I say this must stop. Come on Levis, The Gap and any brand that makes khakis – like the makers of the Tiki torch you have to disavow yourselves from the alt-right. Same goes for polo shirt brands. Lacoste. Ralph Lauren. Do you want to be associated with hatred and violence?

Speak up!

 

 

 

 

 

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Matt Bomer and Lily Collins in The Last Tycoon.

Who’s watching The Last Tycoon on Amazon? I have only seen the pilot but I’m hooked.

It seems there’s a run on period series lately. It started with Mad Men then Downton Abbey, The Crown, The Feud, Outlander … did I miss any?

Those of us who love all fashions vintage are thrilled to be able immerse ourselves in the fabulous costuming of these series – finding endless sources of inspiration for our own creations.

Costumer for The Last Tycoon is Janie Bryant, who reached commercial success with her work on Man Men. She tells WWD that after eight years on that show she was ready for something different. Another era will do!

She says:

Everything about the Thirties is so different from the architectural, minimalist Sixties. The cuts, the parts of the body that are accentuated, the color palette. The Thirties is about being very soft and dusty, and silk charmeuse-y. Really, it is about the facade of Hollywood that the studios created, and all of the glamour that entails. They made sure the actors were untouchable.

The Last Tycoon is based loosely on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel set in 1930s Hollywood. Bring on the glamour, the hats, the gloves, the impeccably dressed characters from movie moguls to stagehands to homeless Okies. I always enjoy seeing how poor people are costumed in period pieces. It must be a challenge as such people sported cheaper and slightly outdated versions of what the upper-classes wore. So any costumer has to strike a balance of a character trying to look their best with shabby clothing. There are interesting nuances to convey.

For the upper-crust main characters, Ms. Bryant was inspired by Hollywood stars of the era, such as Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Ginger Rogers, and Fred Astaire.

The costumes in The Last Tycoon are a visual treat. In particular Lily Collins – Phil Collins daughter – who plays Celia Brady is well suited to the 1930s, with a trim figure perfect for knit dresses and big eyes with full brows, which cannot be hidden under those adorable small hats of the era.

Ms. Collins is no stranger to the show’s sets. She tells WWD that Greystone Mansion (used as her character’s family home) was a childhood playhouse since her mother was quite active in historical building preservation. I was happy to see featured the Biltmore Hotel as I stayed there for the first time on a recent visit to LA. It is quite the period building (opened in 1923) with grand ballrooms, marble columns, murals, and a fabulous tile-lined pool. Indeed the Biltmore was one of the original venues for the Academy Awards.

Now that I’m all about The Last Tycoon, I want to see the 1976 version with Robert De Niero, costumes by Anna Hill Johnstone who also costumed The Godfather, Ragtime, and Dog Day Afternoon. She was nominated for two Academy Awards.

Time for a little compare and contrast.

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Ugliest handbag ever and among the most expensive. No wonder we’re looking elsewhere for the idea of luxury. (Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton.)

Posting a photo of a designer handbag is no longer associated with the changing notion of luxury. What is considered to be a luxury today is time and travel, it’s wellness and well-cultured individuals. That’s the new currency.

Sarah Owen, senior editor and trend forecaster, WGSN.

I’ve always said that the ultimate luxury is time.

Ms. Owen is speaking about blogging trends. Many bloggers are now covering more than one subject. As millennials lean away from consumerism and toward experience, bloggers are giving up the focus on things (fashion) and posting more often on lifestyle topics such as cooking, parenting, travel, and health.

Readers are tired of daily fashion selfies and are more interested in posts about how bloggers are spending their time. It’s not about the stuff anymore … it’s about our story.

 

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Degas, The Milliners. 1882.

For those of us who love our hats the current exhibit on at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco is a must see.

Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade is an exploration of hats in Paris reflected in the works of Impressionists including Degas, who himself came from a fashion oriented family, Renoir, Cassatt, Manet, and Toulouse-Lautrec among others.

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Degas, Portrait of Zacharian. 1885.

Each of these artists took an interest in the making of hats and the women who wore them. Among the 40 works of art are images of milliners at work, hat shops, and women in conversation donning spectacular chapeaux often draped in ribbons or topped with colorful plumes. But what about les hommes? They are represented as well looking oh so dashing in top hats, bowlers, and boaters too.

The array of paintings come from Musée d’Orsay, the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the St. Louis Museum of Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Hats were an essential accessory at the time for both men and women. Business was booming with 1000 milliners working in the city of Paris during the hat’s peak, 1875-1914. The hats themselves were glamorous as were the ladies who wore them, but for the milliners and shop girls life was hard work and long hours – a part of the story Degas in particular wanted to tell.

Degas_MKT_38I liked seeing the large and beautiful posters of the era by Toulouse-Lautrec, selling products with ladies in hats. In each room there are also display cases of hats. A collection of 40, including boaters and bonnets, bowlers and everyone’s favorite – the Picture Hat, which has a very large brim and is often adorned with lace, silk flowers, feathers, birds, you name it!

The exhibit is a manageable size allowing for a second walk-around, if desired.  The day I visited I was a little taken aback by what I fear might be a growing trend in museums – selfies and photos of oneself taken by another.

There was an older woman all dolled up in a hat, who asked other attendees to take a photo of her in front of EVERY SINGLE piece of work in the exhibit. My friend and I were looking at one painting when this woman walked right in front of us and stood by the piece, posing for a photo completely oblivious to our presence. A group of young girls were darting around taking selfies in front various works. It was an interruption to our experience and I have to wonder if these photo-hounds have any real interest in art.

I understand that museums are trying to appeal to everyone and apparently allowing selfies is one way to get people in the door, but at what cost? I think we have a problem when it becomes all about the viewer and the art is simply a background for someone’s photo.

That aside, as an appreciator of art and museums, and one mad woman for hats, I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit.

Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade on now through September 24, 2017 at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

Click here for more details.

2015+CFDA+Fashion+Awards+Inside+Arrivals+6V1kLrU1U9bxWe are a country of immigrants and fashion is an industry built on skill. These skills easily translate regardless a person’s language or homeland. In order to continue the U.S.’s success and influence in the fashion industry, we must recruit the best talent from all over the world. If the United States wants to lead the world in fashion innovation, we need immigration policies that embrace the talented foreigners who come here to build and grow.

Steven Kolb, CEO of Council of Fashion Designers of America

This quote was taken from the article, “U.S. Garment Production Wouldn’t be a Thing Without Immigrants” on the Fashionista website.

What Mr. Kolb says reminds me of an interview I did with a local fashion designer. She is the rare designer that manufactures her clothing in the US.

My interviewee told me that among the few clothing manufactures left in our country, most of the employees are immigrants.

Why? Because Americans don’t have the needed skills.

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J.C. Penny, which has suffered more than most in the current bad retail climate is hooking up with Project Runway. Smart move! I wonder if their stock went up after the announcement.

Despite the unforgettably lousy Season 14 the Project Runway brand still holds some cachet, from which J.C. Penney hopes to benefit. The new season starts August 17th but looks from last season are available in Penney’s now.  The store will sponsor two challenges and make the winners’ designs available exclusively and immediately in select doors and online. Plus there will be a Project Runway clothing line available year round. The hope is that this will revamp the women’s contemporary clothing department and show that the retail store can handle Fast Fashion (like we need more of that).

As with other past collaborations, in the show there will be the J.C. Penney Accessories Wall used by the designers to style their models for the runway shows.

Just FYI – included in the designer lineup for Season 16 are two locals – from San Francisco and Oakland.

I actually prefer PR Junior (more talent, less attitude) but I’m giving the original another chance. Looking forward to it!

img_20170724_161221288.jpgEvery female student in Iran wore the same uniform, which consisted of pants, a manteau, and a scarf that covered the hair and neck. Imagine a throng of one thousand teenagers in the same color uniform only showing face and hands. We looked like replicas of one another … I hated blending in with the rest of the crowd, and most of my friends felt the same way. This meant that our shoes, backpacks, and jewelry really mattered. They were the only way to showcase our fashion sense and individuality … My friends and I usually wore matching colorful friendship bracelets, trendy backpacks, and funky shoelaces; we rolled up our sleeves and opened up our manteaus to reveal our shirts underneath. Being fashionable trumped any other responsibility. 

(A manteau is a loose fitting gown or cloak.)

Tala Raassi, swimwear designer.  This quote is from Ms. Raassi’s memoir, Fashion is Freedom (Sourcebooks, 2016).

I picked up this book at the library because I can never resist a fashion story. But Fashion is Freedom is more than that. It’s a compelling read about Ms. Raassi’s struggle to overcome restrictions in her homeland of Iran and the fascinating ups and downs she faced in the American fashion industry.

Oh, and there’s a very interesting section about Ms. Raassi’s experience as the swimwear sponsor of the Miss Universe Pageant in 2010 – it wasn’t pretty!

An informative read.