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Archive for January, 2018

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Portrait of The Marchesa Casati by Augustus John, 1919. 

Fashion dummies had more in common with ordinary human beings than had this new arrival. Everything about her seemed to be the product of art rather than nature, from the eyes, preternaturally enormous, extended beyond credibility by mascara, and by rows of eyelashes like two delicate grilles, to the hair that resembled an exquisite regency head of curls seen in some museum. And the hat, elegant, black, immense, was as menacing as some nocturnal bird of prey. 

Sir John Rothenstein (1901-1992), director of the Tate Gallery in London.

I found this quote in Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati (University of Minnesota Press).

Rothenstein had met the Marchesa at the London studio of artist Augustus John circa 1942. John was just one of many artists who found Louisa Casati an irresistible muse, during her time as a European “It Girl” in the early part of the 20th century. He painted her countless times and they remained friends throughout her youth and into advanced age, when life got complicated.

Intrigued? Check back later this week for my review of her biography – Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati. 

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We are back! Sporting pussy hats, communicating our messages, and standing up against mean-spirited Trump and his ilk.

Here are some of my favorite signs this year:

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Uh-oh

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That’s right!

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A vest in Houndstooth is just the right touch on the little marching girl. 

 

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Neither can November 2020. 

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The cap, the sweater, the message. Nice! (This guy really is nice … he thanked every one of the volunteers along our route. 

 

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Enough!

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Love this!

 

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Every march needs a little sparkle. 

 

 

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Hey, Hey. Ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!

 

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Perhaps the most important message of all. 

 

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Opening reception for Britex Fabrics on 117 Post Street, SF.

Last week Britex Fabrics, the renowned San Francisco shop known for all things fabulous in fabrics, celebrated its big move – around the corner.

IMG_20180111_184158079_HDRFor sixty plus years, Britex had resided happily on Maiden Lane. It was a charming space with a narrow stairwell and a big red sign outside the windows. But in ever-changing Downtown San Francisco, the building recently sold and the new owners had plans that didn’t include our beloved fabric store.

So Britex, one of the last family-owned business in the area, packed up and moved around the corner to 117 Post Street, right next to Gumps. (What appropriate next door neighbors!) The new space is about half the size with just two floors but it’s brighter and just as charming thanks to all the meticulously hand-chosen fabrics lining the walls.

The opening reception on Thursday January 11th gathered many a fabric fan, including fashion designer Karen Caldwell and hat shop owner Peggy Purcell. Britex owner Sharman Spector making the rounds was very happy when she heard SF Chronicle fashion reporter, Tony Bravo was in the house snapping photos and soliciting quotes. The champagne flowed and the guests chatted away the evening while also admiring brocades, silks, and wool, perhaps pondering their next creative project.

IMG_20180111_185905685_HDRI was happy to see a bit of the old store with the ladders – yes they’ve survived the move. I also really like the Wall of Velvets. The second floor houses notions and it was closed to guests that night but I’m sure it’s every bit as wonderful as the third floor on Maiden Lane.

Congratulations to Ms. Spector and her staff. I’m sure I can speak for all lovers of quality textiles when I say thank you for not calling it quits.

Britex Fabrics’ new location is 117 Post Street between Grant and Kearny.

 

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The woman with limited resources has no more cause for being dowdily dressed than the rich woman has reason to believe she is beautifully clad. The contrary is very often true. Whereas the rich woman can satisfy her every whim in a most haphazard fashion, the woman of average means, simply because she is actually forced to THINK about her wardrobe, is more apt to realize what suits her and what doesn’t. She learns how to choose and what to select. She acquires the art of dressing well. 

Paul Poiret – French fashion designer (1879-1944)

This quote reminds me of something a milliner once told me – that she was glad she didn’t have the money to buy fancy tools for her trade because it forced her to be creative and use other things, such as old spoons, to create beautiful hats.

 

 

 

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Day-Lewis sports his own look for the W interview photo shoot. Navy blue suits him. 

In the case of Phantom Thread, when we started I had no curiosity about the fashion world. I didn’t want to be drawn into it. Even now, fashion itself doesn’t really interest me. In the beginning, we didn’t know what profession the protagonist would have. We chose fashion and then realized, What the hell have we let ourselves into? And then the fashion world got its hooks in me. 

Daniel Day-Lewis, British actor, starring in the film Phantom Thread.

This quote is from an interview with reporter Lynn Hirschberg for W.

To prepare for playing the part of couturier Reynolds Woodcock (a fictional character) Day-Lewis, like all good actors, did extensive research. He watched 1940s and 50s fashion show archival footage and spent many months apprenticing with Marc Happel, head of the NYC Ballet costume department. He learned to sew and even … get this –  made a Balenciaga dress.

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Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread. 

He found a photo of what he thought was a simple Balenciaga dress and decided to make it. Turns out it was not so simple but undaunted he sketched the design and went about draping gray flannel fabric on his wife, Rebecca Miller, who stepped in as a fit model. He says the hardest part was figuring out “a very particular gusset in the armpit.” By trial and error (always the way in sewing) he figured it out and lined the dress in what became Woodcock’s signature color, a pinkish lilac.

Very impressive!

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IMG_20171223_103633878_HDRI spotted this dapper fella at the Shadelands Farmer’s Market the Saturday before Christmas. Between his handlebar mustache, colorful cardigan, and natty cap I had to snap his photo for a Street Style Post.

Danyol hails from Denver, Colorado and is an artist with an unusual medium – duct-tape. He tells me he’s been sporting the cap, which belonged to his grandfather, since he was a young lad of seventeen. The sweater was a trade – a Danyol original piece of artwork for sweater – because he saw it and had to have it!

Additionally, he sports a big smile and friendly demeanor. Thanks, Danyol. It was a pleasure meeting you.

 

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Whatever you do, do it carefully. 

Alma – fictional character (played by Vicky Krieps) in the new film, Phantom Thread. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Excellent advice going into the new year. This will be my 2018 mantra.

Speaking of Phantom Thread, I am looking forward to this film. Of course for the fashions, but I hear that really the film is less about that and more about a dark character obsessed with creativity (Day-Lewis). The fashion industry is just his context. The script was a collaboration between Day-Lewis and Anderson – they started with the fictional character, Reynolds Woodcock, and placed him in the world of fashion.

Day-Lewis stated in a recent interview with W, that he has had a hard time shaking off this particular character. Apparently it’s not uncommon for the serious actor to fully immerse himself in his characters, but Woodcock is different somehow and Day-Lewis was left with such sadness that he has announced his retirement from acting. The unusual formal announcement made it binding. He says he doesn’t want to get “sucked back into another project.” I wonder if somewhere in his mind was Alma’s advice – Whatever you do, do it carefully.

In the meantime, Day-Lewis has been nominated for a Golden Globe and we shall soon hear what Oscar has to say.

General release is set for January 19th, 2018.

 

 

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