Archive for August, 2016

Helen_Rose-620x350I don’t think clothes make the woman. I am a firm believer that women make clothes. To me a woman should be like a beautiful jewel and the clothes just a setting or a background. Chic, stylish,  flattering but basically simple.

– Helen Rose (1904-1985), Head Costumer for MGM Studios from 1943 to 1960.

After Ms. Rose’s long stint at MGM (and two Academy Awards) she went on to design her own women’s clothing line and write a fashion column. She worked with Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Lauren Bacall just to name a few.

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Not my best ensemble but it’s just right for ARF.

Yesterday I completed my fourth and final shift of laundry duty at ARF. This is the first in a series of tasks that I, as a new volunteer at Animal Rescue Foundation, must learn and do before I’m allowed to work with the cats.

What does one wear to the laundry room at ARF? I chose a white ARF volunteer t-shirt with the recently retired logo. (The new one will be unveiled soon.) There is a dress code that states long pants and since I’m not a fan of jeans it was simple black stretch pants for me. PUMA sneakers made me happy for the comfort factor. Fanny Packs are the new It Bag and mine in black, which I picked up at the recent American Craft Council show was a convenient alternative to a handbag since there’s no place to store our stuff.

IMG_20160822_113612888_HDRMy partner in cleanliness, Marjorie sports the ARF Volunteer tee in lavender, which I think looks lovely with her chic bobbed hair.

Our outfits are really a uniform as everyone, the volunteers and staff who work directly with the animals, dresses in variations on this theme. Walking around the shelter in the proper attire, to me felt like I was part of the team. That’s what uniforms are all about!

It’s on to work at the ARF Thrift Store next.

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an-expert-in-murderShe was tall, with attractive silver blonde hair which refused to be contained in its entirety by a plait, and she wore a suit which was sober only in its coloring; no part of the outfit had escaped little finishing-off touches and Penrose, who had never realized that black could be so expressive, searched in vain for a square inch of plain material; even the gloves on the table were attached to velvet flowers, while the hat, which was too big to go anywhere else but on the floor beside its keeper, was the most creative mourning attire that he had ever seen. What was most remarkable, though, was that Alice Simmons carried it off with a dignity and composure which few people achieved with straight lines and understated simplicity.

– From the novel An Expert in Murder: A Josephine Tey Mystery, by Nicola Upson.

I enjoy mysteries but good ones are very hard to find.  Ms. Upson, a former journalist, has written a series based on the real 1930s mystery writer Josephine Tey. Pretty well written and full of period details.

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1c-jjpicart-paolosorrentijpg_1If you’re going into the fashion business today and want to be successful, you have to have money behind you … It’s not just about talent anymore. Ten years ago you had to have an idea; today it’s not enough. If you want to be global and have a viable business, you have to marry yourself to a group.

– Jean-Jacques Picart, fashion consultant.


This is true, if, that is, a designer wants to be a Celebrity Designer. Isabel Toledo didn’t and her business is doing just fine. There are plenty of others who are content to stay small and perhaps a bit under the radar. It’s hard but possible to be a successful fashion designer and NOT join forces with big conglomerates. Anyway, many who did are now getting out and complaining that it’s all too much – too many shows, too much pressure to create, not enough time.

On the flip side, from what I have read designers working for corporate brands are given pots of money and free rein to design whatever they like. Even outrageous clothes that don’t sell. As long as there is spectacle, marketing and brand name recognition the CEOs are happy. (The bucks come from handbag and perfume sales.) Still there is a demand for more and more product and that’s burning out everyone – designers, editors, and even consumers.

Perhaps fashion has become unfashionable. Time for a change.




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imagesMy wardrobe is a sort of an endless topic of fascination for people watching my stories. ‘Why is she dressed like a crow?’ For my security. Wherever possible, and obviously Syria is an extreme situation because it is so dangerous, I really prefer and feel better about doing my job if I am not the focus of everybody’s attention. In Syria, you will see me almost always wearing an abaya and hijab. That’s primarily because I could be kidnapped if people knew that I was a Western journalist. But it’s also because nobody looks twice at me when I wear that, and there’s something extremely liberating about that.

– Clarissa Ward, American journalist, war correspondent for CNN.


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B&P Gatsby picnic site

Last year Paula attended her first Gatsby Summer Afternoon for which she made her own period perfect outfit and assembled a dapper look for her husband.

Speaking of Gatsby Summer Afternoon, how’s the Art Deco ensemble coming along? Need some help?

Costumer Paula Dodd Aiello is your answer! With 50 years of experience sewing and designing Paula works magic creating head to toe looks for men, women, and children. She can start from scratch, with a pattern or without, or work with pieces to put together a period perfect Gatsby Summer Afternoon look. She can even repair or re-purpose a beloved vintage this or that. (Side note:  Paula remade a vintage silk blouse for me. It was a favorite of mine but fragile and beyond repair. She was able to recreate it and it’s become a staple in my wardrobe.)

Paula’s love of sewing began as a child making clothes for her Barbie. When in high school, she made all her mother’s dresses and later her son’s Halloween costumes. Eventually Paula began designing for theater productions, working in periods from Elizabethan to Victorian to modern. She can do it all!

Do you have an idea but not the sewing skills? Has your planned outfit gone amiss? (I can relate to that.) Need something for the kids?

Give Paula a ring. There’s just enough time!

Check out her website: http://sewbecoming.com/


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imagesWe do not need the designer in the classic sense, for us, because I think that figure has become, except in some cases, a bit of a hindrance to projects.

– Diego Della Valle, President and CEO of Tod’s, an Italian leather goods brand.

Yes, this is the latest trend in corporate-run fashion brands.

For a bit of history: In the late 1980s corporations went on a shopping spree, recognizing the cache of faded fashion houses – Dior, Givenchy, Lanvin to name a few. Then they searched for up-and-coming designers. The modern approach and edgy looks of Alber Elbaz and Alexander McQueen for example, plus a big marketing budget, revitalized these fashion names and turned the houses into popular global brands. Once that goal was achieved (and designers began pushing back on the increasing demands made upon them) it seems the corporations have decided that “the designer” isn’t needed anymore. It can be done by inside managers and CEOs and perhaps a stable of creatives who keep it all going, minus any credit or the big bucks.

Well now, let’s see how that works out.



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