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In 1990 Jeremy Irons won an Oscar for Best Actor, Reversal of Fortune.

I can make up excuses for why I wore sneakers to the Oscars. They weren’t actually trainers; they were a little smarter than deck shoes and had a thin sole. They were black and white, which is what I was wearing on the rest of my body. There’s a nice feeling of keeping your feet on the ground when wearing shoes with no heel, which maybe is an important thing to do on Oscar night.

– Jeremy Irons, British actor.

The 89th Academy Awards is coming up on Sunday, February 26th.

 

2014-06-26-tomfordFashion is so perishable and if you have a thought even the night before that what you’re doing is wrong and it already feels old and looks old, you have to move heaven and earth. You have to kill yourself. You have to drive everyone around you crazy to get it to exactly where it should be and as close as it can be to the right thing before it goes out on the runway. 

– Tom Ford, American fashion designer. Speaking in the 2004 documentary, Seamless.

NYC Fashion Week is in full swing through February 16th.

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March 14, 1896 Harper’s Bazar cover. Illustration by Harry Whitney McVickar

Harper’s Bazaar is celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2017.

Founded in 1867, Harper’s Bazar (spelled back then with one a) was the first American fashion magazine. It was inspired by Der Bazar from Berlin, a general magazine that also covered women’s fashions complete with elaborate woodcut illustrations. Harper & Brothers publishing house in New York picked up on the novel idea of a women’s publication and created their own version.

The magazine’s mission stated at the time was to become “… a vast repository for all the rare and costly things of earth – silks, velvets, cashmeres, spices, perfumes, and glittering gems; in a word, whatever can comfort the heart and delight the eye.”

In addition to fashions and the finer things of life, within the pages of HB could be found fictional stories, poetry, articles on family and work not to mention society and all things good mannered.

But off limits was politics, which must have been a challenge for the publication’s editor Mary Louise Booth, the first women reporter for the New York Times and a women’s rights activist. Still, in 1869 HB was among the few large publications to support the suffrage movement.

Harper’s Bazaar is my favorite fashion magazine. I appreciate its elegant yet modern sensibilities in style and content.

Congratulations Harper’s Bazaar! Here’s to many more years of fashion and all things that matter to women.

 

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The fashion industry has always been a reflection of what America is all about … inclusion and diversity. It will continue to stand by these standards. I am personally horrified to see what is going on.

– Diane von Furstenberg, Belgium-American fashion designer.

This quote is from an article in The Business of Fashion by Imran Amed.

For Mr. Amed’s article many fashion industry professionals were asked to comment on Trump’s recent executive order to halt the current refugee program and (temporarily) ban travelers from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. Ms. von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb, chief executive of CFDA were the only ones willing to make a comment. Others declined to say one word.

Isn’t that rather odd considering the outrage expressed around the country and around the world? CEOs from Apple, Facebook, Starbucks, and Nike just to name a few, are all unafraid to take a public stand against Trump’s actions.

Why so quiet on the fashion front? I surmise that (assuming most designers actually disagree with Trump) they might be afraid to alienate Trump supporters, many of whom could be their customers. Let’s not forget that Kellyanne Conway was sporting Gucci at the inauguration. Brands such as Isaac Mizrahi and Lori Goldstein sell on QVC, a magnet for middle-of-the country shoppers. Also, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka is an influential member of the fashion biz.

It could be that designers and corporate brands are nervous about offending all the wrong people (customers and Trumps). If they say nothing, they’re safe.

But SAFE is not fashionable right now. SPEAKING UP is what’s trending.

 

 

 

 

 

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Stylist Tyese Cooper from Project Intermission.

When my fashion friend Tyese Cooper announced last summer that she was moving to Paris I was super excited for her. Then I found out what she was going to do and I was super impressed.

In December 2016 Tyese launched Project Intermission. Hey, what’s that?

Project Intermission is a Fashion Experience.

Read on:

Using her skills and talent as a stylist, Tyese consults with visitors to Paris who want to step-up their look or want to incorporate something different to their current style. It starts with a coaching session at a neighborhood cafe where discussions are about clothing and style, art, and the influence of French culture. Then it’s off to a gallery or a long walk – some space and a little time to open the mind and get inspired by the art, architecture, streets, and people of Paris.

Next, Tyese introduces her client to exclusive independent Parisian designers. In these ateliers (not boutiques but working studios) you get to meet the designers, see first hand how fashions are put together, and order a bespoke piece of clothing. Tyese says, “It’s special because once you have an insiders view of the ‘how’ of fashion, feel natural textiles, and customize what you want from each designer, you wont ever want to let it go to the landfill.”

(A key aspect to these designers handpicked by Tyese is that each one is committed to ethical and sustainable fashion, something that is important to her and a current movement in France.)

I think this is such a unique idea. Anyone can pick up a whatever from a corporate- branded boutique but Project Intermission offers a deeper fashion experience. It’s a chance to make a connection with French designers and French culture. In the end you have a story to tell and something special to add to your wardrobe.

Click here to find out more about Tyese and Project Intermission.

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Edith Head design for Grace Kelly in the 1954 film Rear Window.

My favorite era in Hollywood costume design was the 1930s with Dietrich and Lombard and their glamour. But the films of the 1950s came about as close to that kind of glamour as Hollywood will ever see again. The films of the decade did not have the look of the 1930s, where everybody was rich and totally unrealistic, but they offered an opportunity to show different levels of society as well as different values.

Edith Head (1897-1981), Hollywood film costume designer.

Speaking of Hollywood and costume designers, the Academy Award nominees have been announced. Up for best costumes are:

Colleen Atwood – Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Consolata Boyle – Florence Foster Jenkins

Madeline Fontaine –  Jackie

Joanna Johnston – Allied

Mary Zophres – La La Land

 

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The London shop Christopher St. James offers an array of Lea Stein pieces.

Each visit to London I look forward to finding a Lea Stein brooch to add to my collection. I first discovered the whimsical works of Ms. Stein back in 2003 in a stall at the weekly Antique Market in Covent Garden. I’m drawn to her pieces for their multi-dimensional quality, unusual textures and … her images make me smile.

It used to be that these brooches were impossible to find in the US, however, Etsy has changed that. But for me part of the fun is searching out just the right one at markets and it’s become part of my UK travel tradition.

Although there’s a bit of mystery surrounding Ms. Stein, we know that she is a French artist who in the 1960s, with her husband, came up with a way to layer and laminate thin sheets of plastic. This layering technique allows Ms. Stein to create texture by adding pieces of material, such as lace or metal, in between the layers. After cooling, the plastic is cut into all kinds of shapes from Art Deco women in hats (an early design) to owls, cats, and dogs. Animals seemed to be favored and today they are among the most collectible.

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My small but growing collection. The cat on the left is the latest find. The pink bar in the middle is vintage and may be the most valuable. It came from a thrift store in Walnut Creek years ago.

My latest addition is a cat, which came from (ironically) an expat American dealer and his wife at the Bermondsey Antique Market. The couple told me they think this one is vintage 1980s but since Ms. Stein continues to produce older images (as well as new ones) it’s really hard to date her work. Many people say you just know from experience. I do think the cat isn’t brand new as the clasp isn’t stiff and it doesn’t have that shinny never-been-touched look.

No matter to me if it’s vintage or not. Any Lea Stein critter is a pleasure to have and to wear.