Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2018

mary_edwards_walker

Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom. 

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832-1919), American doctor and surgeon in the Civil War. She was the first (and only) woman to receive the Medal of Honor.

img_20170413_104822509.jpg

Women’s military uniforms designed by Mainboucher, 1940s.

Thank you to the women and men who have served for our country.

Happy Memorial Day.

Read Full Post »

_101649959_sketch

Sketch of Duchess of Sussex wedding dress by Clare Waight Keller. Image by Clare Waight Keller.

We now have seen Meghan Markel’s (Duchess of Sussex) wedding dress and we know who designed it – British designer Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the French house Givenchy.

I must confess that I did not get up at the crack of dawn to watch it all. Heck, I  like my sleep and I knew I’d catch up in the following days. I watched the BBC coverage of what Ms. Keller had to say about the dress. She went into some detail about the veil and how she suggested including flora and fauna of the Commonwealth. She recounted for the BBC reporter what she had said to the bride: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we took the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and embroidered a flower and some floral and fauna from each one of those and they would go up the aisle, the journey up the aisle with you …”

In wanting to create “a little bit of a wild garden” included in the veil were orchids, forget-me-knots, thistle, and so on.

queen-dress-drawing

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation gown. Designed by Norman Hartnell.

Hmm … this was ringing a bell. British designer Norman Hartnell did something similar for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation gown in 1953. I wrote about it for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The coronation gown included hand embroidered flowers of each of the Commonwealth – Tudor Rose, Thistle, Shamrock, etc. –  on the bodice and skirt of the dress. Great minds think alike in Great Britain!

Back to Meghan’s dress. For my two cents, I think it was stunning in its simplicity. I love the unusual boat neck and the 3/4 length sleeves were perfection. It was made from a double silk cady fabric, which is very stable and that allowed for the shape of the dress. My only quibble was the choice of white. Perhaps a little color would not have gone amiss. A pale blue or green for spring. There may be royal rules about such things, I don’t know.

The platinum and diamond tiara (on loan from the Queen) originally belonged to Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother. Keeping it minimal, the bride wore diamond earrings and a bracelet by Cartier. Again, some color here would have been a nice touch – rubies or emeralds. The look needed a pop.

It really was all about the veil and the best perspective on that was from above. It took many skilled workers and many hours to create. I read that each embroiderer stopped to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the white fabric white.

But what an honor to be part of such a significant event.

Congratulations to one and all! Now get some sleep.

Read Full Post »

IMG_20180418_123353584_HDR

The always dashing Tom Wolfe in 1980. Photo from the book Legendary Authors and the Clothes they Wore.

You never realize how much of your background is sewn into the lining of your clothes. 

Tom Wolfe (1930-2018), American author/journalist.

In addition to his writings of fiction (Bonfire of the Vanities) and non-fiction (The Right Stuff) Mr. Wolfe was know for his signature white suits. The story goes that in the early 1960s, he purchased his first white suit to wear in New York during the summer months. But he found that the fabric was too heavy and warm (I wonder what it was). So he sported his white suit in the winter instead and caused some attention because as we all know, white is only for summer! He continued to wear those white suits throughout the rest of his life and he often added details such as a vest, pocket square, and a hat.

RIP, Tom Wolfe. Your sartorial guidance will be missed.

Read Full Post »

IMG_20180517_110126

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Today is the day that an American divorcee marries Prince Harry and becomes a member of the British royal family. As for her title, we don’t know yet. That is up to the queen.

i89056

Wallis and Edward on their wedding day. Her dress by Mainboucher.

The last American divorcee to marry into the British Royal Family was Wallis Simpson. She married Edward VIII in 1937 after he abdicated the thrown for her. Under such circumstances, their wedding was hardly a royal affair. Instead it was low key including her dress, which was designed by Chicago-born couturier Mainboucher. It was a simple silhouette in silk crepe dyed “Wallis Blue” to match her eyes.

The couple were given the titles Duke and Duchess of Windsor and lived primarily in France. OK, so she didn’t make it to queen as she might have hoped, but for an American commoner duchess of anything is quite something.

She will never be queen either, but generally speaking Meghan Markle is in a much better position. She’s in good favor with the family (perhaps better mannered than Ms. Simpson was). It helps that Harry is way down in line to the throne. I’m pretty sure if William came home with an American divorcee, ah … the queen would not have been too happy. (Don’t forget that she prevented her sister, Princess Margaret, from marrying the divorced Peter Townsend.)

It seems Ms. Markle is a lovely woman – warm and friendly – like many Americans. A reporter recently pointed out that her experience as an actress will be helpful in dealing with all the media attention. I think she will be a positive representative of the United States and given our current oh-so-embarrassing president, we need all the help we can get.

Congratulations to Harry and Meghan. Happy Wedding Day!

 

Read Full Post »

Speaking of the royal wedding (because EVERYONE is) Zandra Rhodes actually has nothing to do with it.  But the British designer did have an opinion when she was recently asked on Woman’s Hour her prediction for Meghan’s dress:  “I don’t think it will be too daring … not too low or too high or too short … they’ll make sure that she just looks gorgeous and the whole world thinks she’s gorgeous.”

She went on to say that she’s never met Meghan and although she would have liked to have designed the wedding dress, she wasn’t asked.

Princess-Anne1Ms. Rhodes did design various dresses for Princess Diana and in the early 1970s she designed the dress Princess Anne wore in the official engagement photos after the announcement that she was to marry Captain Mark Phillips. (They divorced in 1992, just FYI.) As you can see pictured on the left, it was very much a fairy-tale dress and of its era.

 

 

 

52f2bc9b048f60cd00ddfd9216a03c43 (1)

Princess Margaret makes Zandra Rhodes a Dame.

In 2015 Ms. Rhodes was made a Dame, presented with the honor by Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace. How nice is that?

Now, while the royal wedding is happening, so is (B)old Festival (damn, it’s going to be a madhouse in London). (B)old Festival is a weekend celebration along the south side of the Thames, celebrating all artists 65 and older. Dame Rhodes has designed a series of flags that will hang all along the festival hall.

Back to Meghan, her dress and the designer are top secret but we can be sure that 1. It will be stunning and 2. It will be in good taste. I’m hoping that, like Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, she’ll embrace sleeves. Because strapless wedding gowns are becoming old hat!

So, Royal Wedding Day 2018 is almost here. Let the countdown begin.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

IMG_20180510_133528

My mother circa 1950s (before my time) ready for a night on the town.

My mother was a well-dressed woman. She liked to go out, and when she went dancing we children would follow her, marveling at her beauty as she awaited our goodnight kisses. A white tulle dress with big sleeves and large white polka-dots comes to mind, and it does so poetically – the tulle so light, so spider-like. 

Yves Saint-Laurent (1936-2008), French fashion designer.

I think we all have memories of our mothers dressed for an evening out: the rustling of a ball gown; the sparkle of an earring; the whiff of a special perfume.

My parents went out a lot while I was growing up – the era of cocktail parties. My most vivid memory of those evenings watching Mom get ready is of her scent. The woodsy smell of Cabochard was her choice for nighttime.  Dressed usually in black, Mom would say goodbye with a kiss on the forehead for each one of us. The youngest of the three, I was last and when it was my turn I’d take a deep breath of her scent to carry me through the long night without Mom. (It wasn’t a bad temporary replacement.)

Cabochard means headstrong in French and the perfume by Madame Gres was created in 1959. I always remembered the special nighttime perfume and when visiting Paris one time with my dad we bought some for Mom. The small round bottle with a grey velvet bow tied around the top still sits on her dresser. It’s empty now but of course there’s a lingering bit of the familiar scent that can flip me back to my childhood in an instant.

Today is Mother’s Day. Wishing all mothers out there a very happy day. And to all daughters and sons, a day of happy memories.

Read Full Post »

IMG_20180507_123414

I spotted these unique women on a recent breezy Sunday afternoon, strolling down Sutter Street in downtown San Francisco.

What stands out most about these creative outfits is who is wearing them. Women of a certain age and I suspect, women who have been dressing this way since the 1980s.

IMG_20180507_123346

 

All white on a bright spring day is perfection. I like that there’s subtle interest in the billowy shirt, with extra long sleeves and cuffs. The black work boots add an edge and remind me of the pseudo-punk look of the 80s.

And then we have black on the right. A high-low skirt in lace is flirty and fun but kept ladylike with a knee length black skirt underneath. The platform sneakers are in patent leather and embellished with baubles on the toe – girly meets edgy! Our street style maven is sporting very long dangle earrings and she’s added a pop of color with a pink tote, not to mention her classic bob in a sort of plum color. What I’m not crazy about is the pedestrian blazer. It just does not go with the rest of the ensemble and it’s throwing off the proportions. She needs something shorter with a tighter fit. A motorcycle jacket comes to mind to lean into the edge and away from the girly she’s got going. If leather is too much, she could get a similar vibe with a short black hoodie.

Oh what a treat to find anything stylish on the streets of San Francisco.

Thanks, ladies. I hope you enjoyed your day out.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »