Archive for January, 2017


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.


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.



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When I launched my television series That Girl in 1966, I never expected to set fashion trends. I was just excited to be bringing something groundbreaking to viewers: TV’s first independent working woman. Still, my character’s colorful, mod outfits resonated with That Girls everywhere. Her wardrobe announced that a new kind of woman- and a new age – had arrived.

– Marlo Thomas, star and executive producer of the television series That Girl, 1966-1971.

Ms. Thomas goes on to say in a recent interview that she has discovered, since maturing from a girl to a woman (she’s 79), that there are few sartorial choices for women such as herself that “express who we are.” What she finds are bare midriffs, slits up too high, etc. She wants a look that is covered but not covered up.


Marlo Thomas models clothing from her new line That Woman.

Inspired, Ms. Thomas set about creating clothing that announces another new kind of woman:one of age and style.

Her clothing line is called That Woman and it debuted this month on HSN. The line offers fashions for women over 40 that both compliment and empower. Included in the 15 piece collection are dresses, tops, skirts, pants, and dusters.

Hey, have you ever watched That Girl? It’s a vintage sartorial treat! Check it out on Youtube.

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Women’s March in Downtown Walnut Creek, CA









Carrie says My Body My Business.



Diana warns us.


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img_20161202_152514659Who doesn’t love a hoodie? They are warm and cozy and can (depending on the details and fabric) offer a modern, sharp look to any outfit. What I like is to sport a standard gray Champion hoodie with a skirt for an unexpected look. Sometimes I pin a large vintage rhinestone brooch on the shoulder for a touch of bling.

Part of the presentation assignment in Icons of the 20th Century, the CCSF class that I took last fall, was to design or style a look inspired by our presentation topic. My final presentation was on the history of the hoodie.


Hoodie by Alessandro Michele.

The design I created is a black hoodie embellished with safety pins. I was inspired initially by Alessandro Michele for Gucci, who this season showed embroidered hoodies both on the front and hood of the garment. Thinking about what kind of embellishment to use, I was further inspired by the hoodie’s darker history and I decided to make the embellishment a statement using safety pins. After the election of Donald Trump, many people have taken to wearing safety pins as a sign of support for immigrants in this country who are now threatened with deportation by the Trump administration. (Wearing a single safety pin in support of immigrants started in the UK after the passing of Brexit in June of last year.) As a nod to Gucci styling I went beyond the single safety pin and used many.

img_20161202_143316125Of the four inspired designs I created for class, this is my favorite. I really enjoyed pondering how to embellish the hoodie and then when I came up with the safety pin idea, the fun part was the actual pinning. It was creative, it felt inspired, and I was proud of what I’d done.

I can’t think of a better learning experience.

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My final presentation for Icons of the 20th Century, the class I took last fall at San Francisco City College, was on the hoodie.

The hoodie has an extensive and colorful history. Having started out as a simple utilitarian piece of clothing, it has become a go-to staple for teens and elders alike. (My 89 year-old mother sports one.) But it also became associated with criminals and outlaws such as The Unabomber, making it one of the few fashion choices that carries with it much controversy.

The first hooded sweatshirt was created in the 1930s by the American athletic wear company Champion Products, initially designed for athletes and outdoor laborers to wear for extra warmth. It stayed within that group of people, worn for practical reasons not for fashion.

But over time it was adopted by different groups for different reasons.

Starting in the 1970s, NYC graffiti artists sported the hooded sweatshirt to help cover their faces as they spray painted outside walls and subway trains. At the same time, break dancers performing in the streets also wore the hoodie to keep warm.

The character Rocky in the 1976 film of the same name, wore sweats and a hooded sweatshirt while training for a shot at becoming World Heavyweight Champion. That film raised awareness of the hooded sweatshirt in mainstream America as a symbol of working class values.

Fast forward to 1987 when a forensic sketch was released of The Unibomber sporting a hoodie. The Unibomber aka Ted Kaczynski, was an American terrorist who for years had been mailing bombs to various people working in academia. This image has become iconic in itself further complicating the hoodie’s reputation now associated with a criminal.

Through the 1970s and 1980s the hoodie was adopted by punks, skaters, artists, and other rebellious groups. But at the same time it was still an athletic staple.

Around 1991, designers such as Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren started to take notice of the hoodie in street style and incorporated it into their lines. That was the beginning of the hoodie in fashion.

In the aughts, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerburg chose a hoodie as part of his casual work attire. Many tech workers picked up the trend and it soon became a common fashion item worn everywhere. It was also controversial, as business professionals judged the hoodie to be too casual and affront to tradition.

In 2012 African American teenager Trayvon Martin was fatally shot while walking in a Florida suburb. He was unarmed and wearing a hoodie. Following that, the various perceptions of the hoodie were widely discussed in the media posing the question – who can safely wear a hoodie? At the same time people, angry about the senseless murder of Trayvon, sported hoodies in protests around the country.

And the hoodie lives on. Perhaps the only article of clothing shared by criminals, rebels, teenagers, athletes, fashionistas, and even grannies.

Oh but there’s more! Check back tomorrow for The Hoodie Part 2: Inspired Design.












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designerAs one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady. The rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by. I encourage my fellow designers to do the same.

– Sophie Theallet, French fashion designer and designer for Michelle Obama. This quote was taken from an open letter from Ms. Theallet released shortly after the election of Trump.

Sophie Theallet was the first to say it and since then many other designers including Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, and Phillip Lim have also stated they would not dress Melania Trump. But there are others who claim they would be honored. The Daily Mail reported Tommy Hilfiger and B. Michael are interested. (I’m very sorry to hear about B. Michael as he is one of my favorite designers.)

Now it’s true that Ms. Trump can buy whomever she wants off-the-rack and that is what she’s been doing but usually designers are lining up to work with any new First Lady. Even the unpopular Nancy Reagan had her go-to designers such as Oscar de la Renta, and as far as I know no one refused to design for her.

I think it speaks volumes that not only are some designers NOT anxious to work with Ms. Trump but that others are using this opportunity to take a stand against the horrors of Trump and his cronies. It seems Ms. Trump is beyond unpopular, by association and frankly, by her absence of First Lady qualities. Not to mention her apparent lack of interest in being First Lady.

Thank you Sophie Theallet, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Phillip Lim and all the designers and artists who are standing strong against what is wrong. You are an inspiration!


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There’s no reason not to be chic about our Inauguration Day Black.

Many Americans are dreading the upcoming Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017. The idea of Donald Trump as our president is … sickening.

So what are we to do? How can we cope?

Since this is a fashion blog, let’s talk about what to wear.

As far as I’m concerned the inauguration of Trump as our 45th president (it hurts to write that) is a day to mourn the loss of sane, rational, and fair leadership.

One way to communicate our sorrow and disagreement is to wear black.

Sporting black during periods of loss and grief dates back to Roman times. But it was the growing middle class in the Victorian era that made it an art form with lots of added rules and protocol. Queen Victoria remained in mourning wearing primarily black clothing and jewelry for decades after the death of her husband Prince Albert.


Go casual chic in black a la Audrey Hepburn.

What black can do for us on January 20th is provide a quiet but visible sign that we DO NOT support Trump and his nasty agenda. I think the image of people going about their day in all black – at work or perhaps protesting – will be a very powerful bonding experience and it is a way for all of us to participate.

Additionally what can we do on the day? Many people are working and I think that’s the best thing. Be productive! Otherwise:

  • There is a call to boycott all media covering the inauguration. Trump loves attention and high ratings – don’t give it to him!
  • Write a check to an organization under attack. I will support independent radio station, KPFA.
  • Volunteer for a local organization.
  • Go for a walk and show off your black ensemble.
  • Create art.
  • Read.

Please share this post on FB and elsewhere. Spread the word, tell all your friends.

Come on, let’s take a stand together and paint the day in black!



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Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown.

All the gowns and those sorts of things, I don’t think she particularly enjoys getting dressed up. But they’re like a uniform to her. All the garments and all the jewels and everything, she’s very particular about what message she portrays with what things she’s wearing — where that one’s from, who gave them that, how long this one’s been in the family, and all that. So nothing’s an accident.

– Claire Foy, British actress and star of The Crown, the popular Netflix series on Queen Elizabeth II. This quote is from a interview with WWD.

The costume designer for The Crown is Michele Clapton.

Congratulations to Ms. Foy, who plays the young Queen Elizabeth in the series and just won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Drama. The series also won Best Drama TV Series. Looks like this is going into my Netflix queue.

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RUN-DMC signed a million dollar contract with Adidas in 1985.

Who knew sneakers were such a rich topic? The casual shoe once only worn for sports has, since the 1980s, grown into a cultural phenomenon and become a highly collectable item for mostly men but women, too. (They don’t come in women’s sizes.) It’s big business with certain styles selling on the secondary market for triple the original retail price. Collectors often don’t wear the shoes, but instead house them in specially designed closets or custom built display cases.  Hmm … intriguing.


Early Sneaker from the 19th Century

I recently attended the Oakland Museum of California’s new exhibit Out of the Box: The Rise of the Sneaker on now through April 2, 2017. This traveling exhibit from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto explores the sneaker, tracing its history from the first 19th century athletic versions to the current craze among collectors for the next It Shoe.


These Pumas were designed by Hussein Chalayan in 2011. My favorite of the show. Love the simplicity with all the interest unexpectedly at the heel.

Over 140 pairs of shoes are on display including styles from Adidas, Nike, Puma and Reebok. There are vintage styles, hand-painted, limited editions, and designer sneakers from the likes of Christian Louboutin (complete with red sole).

The exhibit is arranged in six sections, helpfully outlining the development of the sneaker. Remember Converse? Basketball player Chuck Taylor endorsed the Converse making them the must-have shoe for every teenage boy across America.


Customized/hand-painted sneakers by artist Mache. Joker from The Dark Night.


The sneaker as status symbol really kicked in during the 1970s as Americans embraced fitness and brands like Puma and Adidas. Later in the 1980s, Hip-Hop and Rap artists took to  the casual shoe style as part of their overall look catapulting sneakers into a celebrity stardom of their own.

An entire section is devoted to Air Jordans, the signature sneaker styles of basketball player Michael Jordon by Nike.

Evelyn Orantes, OMCA Curator of Public Practice says: Sneakers are more than just a shoe – they are an expression of personal identity and a reflection of pop culture, whether it’s the latest sports fashion or technology-driven creations.

What a fascinating exhibit! I recommend this to anyone interested in fashion history, pop culture, pop music and of course all those sneaker collectors out there.







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