Archive for July, 2016

2016 Gatsby cover art - final

Image courtesy of the ADSC.

The Art Deco Society of California’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon is right around the corner Sunday, September 11, 2016. Time to start planning!

New to Gatsby Summer Afternoon? Well simply put, it’s THE period event of the year. Attendees arrive at Oakland’s Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate decked out in 20s to 40s attire and set up picnic sites using only vintage gear and vintage-style food. The afternoon includes a display of vintage cars, music by Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, dancing, croquet lessons, touring the Dunsmuir mansion, and contests for: Best Car, Best Costume, Best Charleston, Best Picnic Site.

This marks 32 years for the ADSC’s popular event and leading the way for us is Heather Ripley as the event chair. A member of ADSC since 2000, Heather says, ” … what I found with the ADSC was a very passionate group of people with a shared interest in keeping the Art Deco era alive. It felt like I was coming home.”

Part of keeping the Art Deco era alive is events like Gatsby Summer Afternoon, which is as close to time-travel as we can get.

Heather works at Larkin Street Youth Services where she is special events manager. Those work skills have proved handy – this is her fourth time up as chair of Gatsby Summer Afternoon but she’s quick to point out it’s a team effort with many volunteers helping her to make the magic of the day happen.

Heather and I recently had a Q&A via e-mail chatting all things Gatsby Summer Afternoon:

When was your first Gatsby Summer Afternoon and what stands out about that experience?

My first was in 2001, I believe. I went with my high school friend, Julie who came up from Southern California. She made her own dress and I got mine at Dress Barn, but we had the best time putting together our outfits and packing our simple picnic lunch. It was a glorious day and we were in heaven watching all the pretty people go by while lounging on our blanket on the lawn. We then handed out “It’s-It” ice cream sandwiches. That was our volunteer task. We had such a wonderful time and I’ve been “hooked” ever since.

How did you go about planning your outfit for the day?

I think I just looked at some fashion history books from the library. I was a theater major. In fact, Julie and I had both done some stage work and we both loved old movies, so it came somewhat naturally. I had a small collection of vintage items from my mom and I had loved going to antique and second hand stores to find interesting items for special occasions. A great way to learn about tips and tricks is at the How to Gatsby lecture.

Thanks, Heather. The How to Gatsby lecture is coming up on Sunday July 31st, 2pm at Bellevue Club in Oakland.

Speaking of tips, as a former picnic site winner what tips would you offer to a new or returning attendee?

First, don’t expect to be awarded your first year, it can take some time to collect pretty items. Be sure they are things you like and reflect you and your personality. The one thing we keep in mind with judging is to bestow the award to “classic” picnics that do not fall too strongly into the “theme” category – like western, gypsy, or circus. We tend to favor pure era picnics. Plus keep in mind it’s not just about the plates and linens if you are into winning, it’s also important to prepare appropriate food from the era and possibly dress in the same colors. And having a sense of humor and creativity does not hurt. Think about it, the judges have a very difficult time!

As a former and current picnic site judge, I agree that we sure do have a difficult time! But it’s also great fun to walk the grounds and meet so many interesting fellow Art Deco lovin’ people. 

at Gatsby 2007

Heather enjoying Gatsby Summer Afternoon in 2007.

Gatsby Summer Afternoon is a full day of activities and time goes by quickly, what would you say is a definite Not To Be Missed?

We do provide printed programs with the events of the day listed so you won’t miss anything. But I would say four things this year:

  1. If you have never done it you really should go on the house tour. They are free from 3-4pm in the beautiful mansion. It’s nice to get away from the sun and appreciate the collection of items lovingly displayed.
  2. This year we are hiring a “DJ” Tanoa “Samoa Boy” on the porch area of the mansion who will be playing vinyl records with songs from the 20s and 30s! We wanted the folks closer to the mansion, who typically cannot hear the stage entertainment, to have an enjoyable experience.
  3. Stop by Stookey’s Club Modern tent to refresh with an authentic cocktail and/or enjoy tastes of delicious wine at the Le Vin Winery tent.
  4. Finally, the day would not be complete without the lively Decobelles performance at 3:30. Be sure to line up early since it can be challenging to view.

Yep, the Decobelles are always a big hit and I would add don’t miss the crowning of 2016/2017 Miss Art Deco, which happens right after the Decobelles performance.

Thank you, Heather for this chat and for all you do putting Gatsby Summer Afternoon together.

Click here for tickets and more information about How to Gatsby and Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

We’ll see ya there!


Read Full Post »


Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley star in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. John Paul Gaultier makes an appearance, too!

I think probably there is less fun in the clothes. Gaultier and Westwood are the two that still look like they are playing, they’re having fun, they’re doing something extreme.

– Jennifer Saunders, British Actress.

Jennifer Saunders is reprising her role as Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, which opened in the US July 22nd, 2016. (In this quote from WWD, Ms. Saunders was responding to the question – Do you think the fashion world has lost its sense of humor?)

Fashion may be short on laughs, but I hear the movie is just as funny as the long running 90s British television show and the costumes are just as fab. Costumer Rebecca Hale made sure to keep Edina looking over trendy (and a bit trashy) in designer duds a few sizes too small. Her buddy Patsy is still donning chic brands such as Lanvin.

The designers who contributed to the film are Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney (she makes a cameo appearance), Alexander McQueen, and Mulberry among others.  Lots of color, pattern, accessories and all round fashion fun. Not to mention plenty of laughs.

I’m looking forward to seeing it, sweetie darling!



Read Full Post »


Under construction.

Sewing. My great grandmother was a master at it. My grandmother also sewed and designed. My mother, too. But not I.

Oh I started, pretty young but my mother actually didn’t care for sewing and she was working, so it got dropped as soon as I needed help. (Having worked full time myself most of my adult life – I understand, Mom. Who wants to drag out the sewing machine after a long day at the job?)

Over the years since then I’ve picked up a class here and there. But after the project was complete I was done for the time being until I picked it up again and started almost from scratch.

Not. Any. More.


Inside out. 


Once and for all I want to be able to make my own clothing – at least the basics and as a fashion writer, I want to understand clothing construction. I’m committed and luckily, I have found the right class or I should say, classes.

I’m just about to take class number 3 with Kamal Ragbotra through Mt. Diablo Adult Education. I’ve been binge sewing since April and so far I’ve made a pair of pants with pockets and a knit dress.

The wonderful thing is these classes are challenging but not overwhelming and it’s so much fun! I credit Kamal for all that. Her approach is serious but everything is doable and mistakes are learning opportunities. Like the time in the Knits Class when – two stitches in, using my double needle for the first time, it broke. “Why?” I screeched. Oh … because I didn’t switch the machine setting from zigzag to straight stitch. Kamal had warned us about that but in all the excitement over the double needle I forgot. Bet ya, though, that I won’t forget again.



Add a tuck and a button.

With Kamal, who has a degree in fashion design, it isn’t just about the project at hand. She spends quite a bit of time lecturing about fabrics and patterns. For example, I have never had a sewing instructor explain pattern sizing and ease of wear. I was thinking one day, “Hey we’re in sewing grad school!”

For the Knits Class I chose to make a dress from a double knit span/rayon blend – the rayon provides a nice drape. Kamal suggested I use the reverse side for the sleeves. When the sleeves were slightly too loose she showed me how to tuck them and then had the idea to add buttons. (Very handy for us that she shares her designer instincts.)




Up next is the Studio Class, to which we bring our own projects. That for me will be a skirt and my first zipper. After that? Hmm … something vintage inspired I suspect.

Read Full Post »

Atelier Versace - Runway - Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture S/S 2016

A brand collapses without a designer. If there is no pure creativity, a company shuts down. It would be convenient for companies if managers did it all. But they are wrong. Raf Simons exited Dior. He is my dear friend, I have tremendous respect for him, he is so talented. Dior is not Dior anymore. I’m not saying that Raf was perfect for that position, but he refreshed it, he brought a breath of novelty to the brand. It’s very difficult to replace someone who has left a mark.

– Donatella Versace, Italian fashion designer.

Read Full Post »

StyleSlam_logo copy

Style Slam happening at the American Craft Council Show August 5-7.

Make sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming American Craft Council Show, August 5-7, 2016 at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Every year the ACC brings together over 220 top craftspeople from around the country to exhibit and sell their wares, which includes one-of-a-kind jewelry, clothing, gifts, fine art, and home décor.

Each show also includes activities and new this year it’s something called Style Slam. Sounds like fun … what is it? Well, four local stylists will shop the show and put together several looks on models and attendees, demonstrating how unique handmade pieces can work into any wardrobe.

One of the chosen local stylists is Betina Baumgarten from Best Foot Forward in Marin. She and I did a little Q&A about Style Slam via e-mail:

Betina, have you been to the ACC show before?

I am so excited to not only attend my very first ACC show, but to be a stylist for the very first Style Slam! I’m amazed by how artists and designers can tangibly showcase their creativity; and use their work to tell their stories and share their world view. When someone purchases and wears a designer’s work, they not only embrace the designer’s story – but they make it their own as they too infuse their stories, unique personalities, style and flair.

That is so true and well put. How will you approach your task for Style Slam?

My approach to Style Slam will mimic my approach to working with any client or business: entering the experience with a sense of wonder, excitement, curiosity; and with an open mind and heart! I can’t wait to experience the innovation and creativity that is ACC. To be a part of such an incredible event that celebrates and showcases such talent is an honor! I can’t wait to “slam” talent that not only speaks to me but that is cutting edge and fashion forward – and that I hope speaks to others.

Thank you, Betina. I look forward to seeing what you put together!

Something else new at the ACC show is Make Room – local home decorators will style rooms with pieces from the show. Then, Style Slam and Make Room will cross over for Design Meets Style with the styled models hanging out for photos in the styled rooms.

The Style Slam schedule:
Friday, 11-4- Stylists will scout the show floor and “slam” their favorite pieces and style their mannequin.
Saturday, 10-12 – Design Meets Style program with commentary. Each stylist is paired with a Make Room designer and will style their own model that reflects the theme of their designers room.
Saturday, 1-4:30 – Member Makeover program with commentary in Style Slam booth.
So much fun all in one place. Don’t miss it! Click here for more scoop. 



Read Full Post »

bfda-awards-31Our glamorous business has an unglamorous secret. Fashion has become the second most polluting industry in the world, and it’s time we did something about it. But the solution is not what you may think. Our existing model is a one-way street where precious resources dwindle until they’re gone, generating waste as a byproduct. Current problems have less to do with production or consumption than with a fundamental flaw in how we design products.

– Lewis Perkins, president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

Cradle to Cradle works with companies to help improve their design process. With fashion, for example, Cradle to Cradle connects designers with sustainable manufactured dyes, fabrics, thread, yarn, etc.

Wow! This is really exciting – imagine guilt-free fashion. Click on the link above to learn more.


Read Full Post »

MTM1NDk2NDE2ODA1MDM0NDYyFashion is not about products. Fashion is about an amazing idea that you tried and you either fall in love with the idea and you can’t resist to buy something. But you are buying the idea, you are not buying the object.

– Alessandro Michele, Creative Director of Gucci.

Mr. Michele was appointed Creative Director of Gucci in January 2015, after having donned many other hats within the brand since 2002. The story goes that as he was just about to leave the company when CEO, Marco Bizzarri paid him a visit for coffee. The simple visit turned into a job offer and request – can you put together a men’s line in a week?

In the year and a half since, Mr. Michele has revitalized Gucci, causing quite a buzz and bringing to the iconic brand his sense of history and a love of accessories, particularly large antique rings. Called The New Romantic, he has received rave reviews for his wearable silhouettes and use of pattern and color. Most of all I think fashion followers are fascinated with the designer’s retro 1970s vibe, which feels so refreshing. I like the fact that he’s incorporated some of the old-school Gucci elements such as the red and green stripe and bamboo handle on the handbags.

Some say Mr. Michele will set the new overall flavor in fashion. At the very least, he’s one to have fun watching.



Alessandro Michele for Gucci, spring 2016.

Read Full Post »