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Archive for September, 2019

IMG_20190922_160622Don’t be afraid to be appropriate. It has become a dirty word in fashion and style talk. But for me, being appropriate means simply being in touch with the moment. When you are in touch with the moment, with yourself, you communicate effortlessly. 

Isabel Toledo (1961-2019), Cuban-American fashion designer.

 

This is a quote from Toledo’s 2012 memoir, Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion (Celebra Books).

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One of the many illustrations by Ruben Toledo in Roots of Style. 

I recently reread this book, which tells the fascinating story of the Toledos – both of whom immigrated to the US from Cuba as children. They met in high school and later forged ahead in their careers as a couple in 1980s Manhattan. Ruben Toledo is an artist and fashion illustrator. His charming illustrations are a highlight of the book.

As for the quote, well, I of course completely agree. Dressing appropriately shows presence in the moment whether that be a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, an expensive restaurant, the theater, the opera … it matters.

 

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Recently I popped into a clothing boutique that I visit maybe three or four times a year. Sometimes I buy, sometimes I don’t but, I’m always open.

The lone saleswoman was pleasant but completely uninterested in customer service. I explained that I know the owner and have written up the shop a few times and handed her my card. Although this wasn’t an interview, as I looked around I asked a few questions and I got friendly but short responses because the very nice woman was  more  interested in … texting. Yes, she was focused on her phone and continuing what I can only assume was a very important text conversation.

Not only was I a potential customer, I’m a fashion writer! It seems to me that part of the job of a salesperson is interacting, right? Tell me about the new merchandise, tell me about what’s coming in for fall. Tell me what you’re excited about or what I should be excited about. That’s how sales are made. Maybe not right then, but next time when a customer needs something she will remember that helpful woman in that charming boutique. In my case, often I will walk into the shop with no intention of writing about it but I get inspired and that can result in a post and/or a mention on Instagram and that equals free publicity! Not to mention, I just might make a purchase.

By contrast I had gone into another women’s boutique a few weeks ago and met a lovely saleswoman who chatted with me, noticed what I was looking at and filled me in on the details – “… those pants are all cotton, screen printed in Japan.” Twice I’ve posted that shop on Instagram.

Retail is hurting, we all know that. Thanks in part to the popularity of Internet shopping, bricks and mortar are shutting left and right. All the more reason for shops still open to step it up when a customer walks in, and keep in mind that they can walk right back out with a good or a bad impression.

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IMG_20190828_123730It used to be about logo, logo, logo, big name, big name, big name. Now people can easily wear a t-shirt from Zara holding a Louis Vuitton bag. 

Xia Ding, President of the Chinese online retailer, JD.com.

Oh gosh, the whole logo thing. In doing some research on Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, I discovered that there are serious collectors out there. Women who buy logo bag after logo bag, wallets, pouches, and apparently LV and Chanel maintain their value while some of the others do not. I watched a few videos of women discussing what to look for in the secondhand market. To see how much these women own was kind of off-putting.  OK, one or two but dozens? We’re talking a lot of money and these women don’t look like Rockefellers.

Personally I like an understated quality handbag that doesn’t scream brand or designer. I’m always switching out my handbags, which vary in size and style. I have a small vintage collection that I use on certain occasions. I do own one well known brand, Coach. I like the older styles that echo Bonnie Cashin’s designs. There are four in my closet, all from the 1990s and none have the Coach logo. One was a gift from my bother. One was a find at TJ Maxx at half the retail price, and another my mother picked up at a thrift store. Then there is the really special Coach bag that I saved up for and bought myself. I appreciate and use each one and I have no desire for another.

To each her own … that’s what makes fashion and style so fascinating.

 

 

 

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Gatsby Summer Afternoon at Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate.

Another Gatsby Summer Afternoon has come and gone. The 35th for the Art Deco Society of California and the very first for many attendees. This event is growing in popularity as more and more people want to experience the grace and elegance of the past.

Over 1000 enthusiasts gathered at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland for a picture perfect sunny day of dressing up, dancing, picnicking, and meeting other like-minded people.

As a picnic site judge I don’t have much time for snapping photos but I managed some and here they are. Enjoy!

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Winners of the Best Grand Picnic Site.

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Winners of the Best Petite Picnic Site. Fifteen-year-old Brendan dressed himself and his parents. He’s been collecting all things vintage for four years and is currently taking Charleston dance classes, hoping to enter a future Gatsby Summer Afternoon Charleston contest. For his picnic, he baked ginger bread using a 1934 recipe, which was Walt Disney’s favorite.

Congratulations to all the contest winners and to the ADSC for another successful year. It’s a lot of work to put on this event. Thank you Event Chair Diana Brito, Heather Ripley Former Chair and Advisor, Heidi Schave, ADSC President and Advisor, and Marie Riccobene, Former Chair and Advisor. Thank you also to the ADSC board members and the dozens and dozens of volunteers who make the day possible.

Save the date for the next Gatsby Summer Afternoon, September 13, 2020 (always the second Sunday in September).

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A costume for Princess Margaret played by Vanessa Kirby in The Crown.  Hand-embroidered and beaded floral appliques with the unexpected pockets. 

The exhibition examines costumes from public and private moments depicted in the show … People are clearly captivated by the coronation robes and regalia, and they have enjoyed the wedding dresses – replicas of both Princess Elizabeth’s and Princess Margaret’s. But our visitor’s survey indicates that Princess Margaret’s hand-painted and beaded gown with the pockets is a strong favorite. 

Kim Collison – exhibitions manager at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in Delaware.

Ms. Collison is speaking to Victoria magazine of Costuming The Crown, the current exhibit on at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. On view are 40 costumes from the popular Netflix series, which fictionalizes the life of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch.

 

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Kit Cullinane at Salon 1757

It was a hot hot hot day on recent visit to my hair stylist Kit Cullinane at Salon 1757. But she was looking oh- so-cool in her bespoke dress.

When I asked Kit about her dress she told me it was one of the garments she had made while traveling in Vietnam last year. Knowing there would be ample opportunities to have clothing made, she brought with her a vintage shirtwaist dress which she had copied in rayon fabric at a shop called Su in Hoi An, Vietnam.

This is a thing in Vietnam – you can have clothing made to order. Suits, blouses, dresses, jackets, and in quick order too. Custom fit and good quality at reasonable prices.

Kit paired her dress with a brass chain belt that she found at a thrift store. She accessorized with a chunky bracelet and dangle earrings.

 

IMG_20190822_121029176I love the fabric design, which will transition nicely into fall. She can easily wear this in September and October, and as the weather starts to cool she can add a short jacket or sweater.

Thanks Kit, for the fashion story and for keeping my hair looking its best!

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IMG_20190828_120037I get a lot of fashion press on the shows I design, and journalists always ask what the brands are, so I always point out that it is not about the brands, it is about the pieces I combine to make an outfit and a character. We need to take control of the narrative. This is one of the reasons I feel we need to embrace social media, so we are part of the story, not a side note. 

Salvador Perez, award winning costume designer and president of the Costume Designers Guild, Local 892-I.A.T.S.E.

Mr. Perez has costumed many a television series including The Mindy Project, Veronica Mars, and Moonlight.

I agree that costume designers should be acknowledged for their work. But I see that it’s confusing to laypeople when costuming isn’t always about building costumes. Often these days, particularly with contemporary costuming, costumers are actually assembling outfits off the rack. When they use recognizable brands, that’s what’s going to get the attention, not necessarily how the outfits were put together or who did it. People don’t really understand what goes into costuming and that the choices designers make, from color to silhouette to accessories, all reflect the character. It’s detailed. It’s complicated.

 

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

 

Speaking of costumes, the Emmy Awards are coming up on September 14th. In the period costume category nominees include Donna Zakowska for We’re Going to the Catskills episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Prime Video and Melissa Toth for Life is a Cabaret in the Fosse/Verdon series on FX Networks.

 

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Fosse/Verdon

 

Any favorites?

 

 

 

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