Archive for March, 2012

Jean Paul Gaultier at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Jean Paul Gaultier says that when he was asked to do a museum exhibition of his work he initially resisted. He thought, respectfully, that museums were for dead artists. He does not consider himself an artist and (thankfully) he’s not dead. But when he reconsidered, he knew that his exhibition would be different. It would have to be more than just displaying clothes. “Oh but, I want it to be alive and not like funerals.”

Alive it is.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a preview gathering and in the introduction we were told that the exhibit was really more of an installation, a world premiere that incorporates multimedia. That didn’t make much of an impression on me. Multimedia is old hat these days. I thought Oh, well perhaps the mannequins move. But as I approached the gallery my gaze did not rest, as I expected, on the fashions but instead I immediately focused in the mannequins’ moving lips, shifting eyes, expressions … faces.

Thirty-five mannequins in the exhibit have recorded faces projected onto them. Video projectors discretely hang from the ceiling providing the faces of models and actors talking, singing, reciting and some just looking around the room. It is truly something to experience.

Gaultier is known as the bad boy of fashion for challenging societal conventions through his designs, so it fits that he would be the first to shake up an exhibition experience. I heard some fellow attendees call the faces creepy and unsettling but in a fun way, like a Disneyland ride. Everyone was stunned at first and it took time to adjust to the incongruity but that’s not to say people didn’t love it. I loved it, although I have to say the faces are a distraction. I was fascinated by them and how real yet unreal they are. Luckily I soon realized I was ignoring the fashions and went back around a second time.  

Speaking of the fashions, there are 130 ensembles chosen by Gaultier and organized into sections.  They span his 35 years in the business and include variations on his signature Breton stripes,  mermaids and virgins, the punk period, and multicultural influences.

Gaultier was born in a Paris suburb in 1952. As a child he became interested in fashion, influenced by film and his stylish grandmother. Using his teddy bear as a model, he designed many an outfit including what later would become the cone bra for Madonna. (BTW, the tattered teddy is still around and in the exhibit.)

What I appreciate about Gaultier is he takes classic fashion and turns it upside down encouraging us as the audience, buyer, admirer to rethink what we know. A couple of my favorites in the exhibit are a gown with a leopard appliqué made of beads (pictured right) and a simple georgette black shirt dress with mother-of-pearl buttons acting as the pin stripes (pictured below).

I really like what Gaultier did with plaids in the 80s mixing and matching and making a British old-school staple a stylish punk statement. His creative combinations are fabulous – knits with tulle, stripes in lace, skirts for men, tin can bracelets. Gaultier says beauty can be found everywhere. I say he makes everything exciting.

Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at the de Young Museum in San Francisco now through August 19, 2012.

(All photos copyright 2012 by Moya Stone. Please do no use without permission.)

Read Full Post »

Jean Paul Gaultier cover photo for his autobiography published in 1990.

Designers are to be in connection with what’s happening with the movement of society.

French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier

Over Dressed for Life readers in the SF Bay Area will not want to miss the current exhibition at the de Young Museum – The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. I got a sneak peek last week and … it is fantastique. Watch for my full coverage later this week.

Read Full Post »

Designer and Fashion Star contestant Lisa Hunter shopping at the Vintage Fashion Expo in San Francisco.

The Vintage Fashion Expo last weekend was, as always, great fun and a shopping success. I found a Joseph Magnin 1970s patent leather handbag and a fantastic pair of navy and white leather gloves with ah … slits in the wrists. Really! I’ve never seen anything like them. But my real find was Lisa Hunter, contestant on the new fashion reality show Fashion Star.

I spotted Lisa conversing with another attendee and introduced myself. Friendly and ready to talk vintage fashions, Lisa agreed to take a break from her shopping and chat.

Lisa told me she got into vintage when she was studying fashion design at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. One day she picked up a copy of the school’s newsletter and saw a help wanted ad for someone to work the Vintage Fashion Expo. She got the job and when she showed up on that first day, she was blown away by all the beautiful vintage clothing.  “I felt like I died and went to heaven,” explained Lisa sporting a retro curly bob hairstyle and a green plaid dress from her own line.

Although she had grown up watching old movies with her mother and loved glamour, vintage fashions were not on her radar. At FIDM she was thinking of designing clothes for tweens. But after working the Expo for three years surrounded by the best in vintage clothing, her whole fashion focus shifted.

Lisa says she came to appreciate all that vintage has to offer. “It’s classic and beautiful and it never goes out of style.”

After she graduated from FIDM in 2004 Lisa started her own line – Vian Hunter.  She now lives in Seattle, Washington and has a store where she features her own vintage-inspired designs as well as a selection of vintage clothing. The late 50s to early 60s is her favorite period.

At the Expo that day Lisa shopped for coats, suits, and fitted jackets for fall as well as dressy dresses. Seattle is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Space Needle and many of Lisa’s customers are attending the big 1960s themed party.

I asked Lisa what’s inspiring her these days. “The new longer skirt lengths I find oddly refreshing,” she says, “and eight inch hems.” Back in the day, skirts and dresses had big hems and Lisa is pondering that as a design element.

Hmmm … I like that idea.

For those of you watching Fashion Star you know that Lisa is a contestant and she was a winner on this week’s episode with Macy’s picking up her sleeveless pleated empire waist dress.

Congratulations Lisa and a big thank you for taking time to speak with Over Dressed for Life.

Read Full Post »

Lynn Dell looking stylish in faux fur. Photo by Seth Cohen.

Fashion says me too and style says only me.

Lynn Dell

This is right on. Lynn Dell is known as The Countess of Glamour and she is often featured in Ari Seth Cohen’s blog Advanced Style. The owner of Off Broadway Boutique in NYC, Lynn is also part of the upcoming documentary film about stylish older women.

Oh, and by the way, Ari has a book based on his blog coming out in May. It’s called Advanced Style (powerHouse Books) and it is currently available to pre-order on Amazon. (Or support your local independently owned bookstore and ask them to order it for you.)

Congratulations Ari … I cannot wait to read it!

Read Full Post »

One way or another, vintage fashions are always in. This season the big fashion story is the Ladylike Dress of the 1950s – nipped-waist, full skirt. The best place to pick up an original of the new trend is of course The Vintage Fashion Expo this weekend March 17th and 18th at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco.

Vintage-inspired dress by Lisa Hunter from Vian Hunter House of Fashion.

I never miss the Expo and guess who else will be there –  Lisa Hunter, current contestant on the newest NBC television fashion show Fashion Star. Lisa is a women’s clothing designer and longtime shopper at the Expo.

Inspired by the feminine look of the 1950s and 1960s, Lisa studied at FIDM and started her own fashion house in 2004 called Vian Hunter House of Fashion. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington and has a shop where she sells her own designs and select vintage pieces. (I like the fact that all her designs are made in the USA.)

Lisa isn’t the only fashionable to shop the Expo. Stylists, fashion students, fashion journalists (like moi), collectors, and clothing historians are just some of the folks in the biz who find the Expo not just a place to buy vintage, but also to find inspiration, meet like-minded people, and network.

For over 30 years, every spring and fall The Vintage Fashion Expo has brought to us 80 dealers from around the country offering fashions and accessories for men, women, and children from the 1850s to the 1980s. There’s something for everyone and more.

The Vintage Fashion Expo, March 17th and 18th, 2012 at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 8th Street at Brannan, SF. Saturday hours, Early Bird $20 admission 9am to 10:30 AM. Regular hours $10 admission 10:30 to 6pm. Sunday, 11am to 5pm. Students with ID free on Sunday.

See you at the Expo.

Read Full Post »

Stephen Jones berets. Photo used by permission from Linda McLean.

 The beret is the t-shirt of hats.

– Milliner, Stephen Jones

Quite true. A black beret is my go-to hat. Berets always look sharp and can pop up an otherwise bland outfit. Plus they’re warm and easy to slip into a suitcase or handbag.

Berets are even better when adorned with a little something. I had a dream once in which I was searching for a tassel to sew on my black beret. In my waking life I thought that was a darn good idea, so I found a tassel and promptly started sewing. On another beret from my collection, I sewed black cut-glass Victorian buttons. One can get very creative when embellishing a beret.  

Stephen Jones says berets look good on everyone. He should know, he’s one of Britain’s top milliners. In 2009 he co-curated the exhibition, Hats: An Anthology for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Vive le beret!

(A special thank you to blogger Linda McLean for allowing Over Dressed for Life to use the above photo.)

Read Full Post »

Last week Catherine Duchess of Cambridge attended a royal event looking modern yet ladylike showing women how it’s done. As part of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Catherine, Camilla, and The Queen visited the upscale shop Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly.

Catherine is sporting a smart blue coat-dress by Missoni. Note that her hem hits right above the knee showing off just enough leg, but not revealing too much if she sits down.  Her shoes are simple suede pumps, not a flashy pair of  platform stilettos. She’s also wearing stockings, which is royal protocol. Now, I am not a fan of wearing stockings because they are so darn uncomfortable but they do complete an outfit nicely. Bare legs, especially in a suit or a short tailored dress, look too casual.

Catherine is well put-together as always and a great role model for us.

It seems women these days mistakenly think that what they wear clubbing is what’s appropriate for dressy or professional occasions – business lunches, meetings, baptisms, weddings, you name it.

Somewhere along the path of fashion women, even supposed fashionable women, have become confused about what is appropriate attire. I suppose when fashion rules faded away, so did our fashion common sense. In general it seems an either/or situation – some variation on jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops or tight-fitting clubbing gear. What happened to dress suits and gowns for evening events? Demure dresses for day?  

Checking out this season’s fashion trends, I do think that Catherine is having a positive effect. The Ladylike Look is in with dresses a big player as well as longer skirts, and feminine blouses (that don’t show too much cleavage). 

OK, I am now stepping off my fashionable soap box, carefully and elegantly, like a lady of course.

Read Full Post »

A feminine look from Carolina Herrera's Spring 2012 Collection.

The idea of getting dressed is to look more beautiful. I want to see women dress very feminine, very soigné.

 – Designer Carolina Herrera

Read Full Post »

Paper Dolls by Lisa Perrin.

Mom got one and I couldn’t resist … I had to have my own paper doll as well. So, artist and paper doll creator Lisa Perrin made the Moya paper doll.

Keeping with the custom-made theme, I had Lisa illustrate my custom-made shirtwaist dress and 1920-inspired coat. Accessories include my go-to black beret and favorite 1940s handbag, which has a twisted Lucite handle. 

I asked Lisa to add my beloved Mr. Pru, whom, sadly, passed away last August at the sweet old age of 18.  She really captured his spirit and even his specific haughty pose, which always made me smile and now continues to do so.

The original is in a frame, but I made copies and yes I fully intend to cut and play. What fun!

Want your own paper doll or perhaps thinking of a gift? Contact Lisa Perrin on Etsy.

Read Full Post »