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Archive for February, 2020

9780374719760I was 26 years old and making $90,000 a year. I went on the internet and purchased a pair of $500 boots that I knew were fashionable in New York, but, it turned out, I was embarrassed to wear in San Francisco – they looked so professional. 

Anna Weiner, author of Uncanny Valley: A Memoir (FS&G).

So, it’s a bad thing to look professional?

What a shame that Ms. Weiner was intimidated by the low fashion standards of the Bay Area. Had she just worn the boots, she could have been a standout and perhaps even a role model for others.

As long as people are afraid of not looking like everyone else, we will never shift away from athleisure.

 

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IMG_20200120_161145543Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire by biographer and historian Susan Ronald, covers Nast’s glamorous life and successful career as an American publishing giant.

There is much to cover and Ronald moves quickly over Nast’s early life from his birth in 1873 to his marriage to his initial interest in magazines. Once he enters into publishing she slows down and settles in on how Nast started with Collier’s magazine, moved on to Ladies Home Journal Patterns and eventually Vogue magazine.

Publishing Vogue and Vanity Fair are most of the story but we also read details about Nast’s famous “cafe society” parties and his grand apartment at 1040 Park Avenue in Manhattan. There are intriguing tales about fashionable characters such as Vogue fashion editor Carmel Snow, photographer Cecil Beaton, and writer Dorothy Parker.

The financial crash in 1929 hit Nast hard and he nearly lost his empire. We learn how over several years Nast fought to keep his business going by calling in favors. WWII was not an easy time either as French Vogue had to shut down and British Vogue (based in London) struggled to publish facing paper shortages and The Blitz.

But Nast and his empire did survive these challenges and that makes for great reading. Thoroughly researched with help from surviving letters and company documents, Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire is an excellent read for fashion and publishing industry history.

 

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Romance lurks in strange places, but perhaps nowhere so much as behind shop windows.

British Vogue, January 1922.

British Vogue, like Vogue in America was published by Conde Nast. In the 1920s the covers were illustrated, such as the one pictured here. I find the illustrations have a certain charm that photographs just don’t have however artistic and slick they might be.

I just finished reading Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire, by Susan Ronald (St. Martin’s Press). Check back Wednesday for my review.

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Above images are from Survey of Historic Costume, 5th edition, by Phyllis G. Tortora (Fairchild Books)

Did you know that women in Ancient Rome were not allowed to wear Togas? 

 

The Roman Toga (fabric draped and wrapped around the body) was a complex garment, a symbol of Roman citizenship made and worn a certain way to reflect different roles in Roman society.

Although initially for both men and women, by the 2nd century B.C. togas were restricted to male Roman citizens. An average male Roman citizen wore a linen tunic under a plain white Toga Virilis made of wool. Someone special like a high-ranking official wore the Toga Praetexta – a toga with a band of purple several inches wide along the edge of the fabric.

What you wore communicated who you were.

It was the same for women.

Free, married women sported a long, sleeveless dress with shoulder straps called a Stola. They wore the stola over a tunic. Topping off the outfit she might have worn a Palla, which was a draped shawl that wrapped around the body and was sometimes pulled over the head.

I’m learning all this and so much more in Fashion History, a class I’m taking this semester at City College of San Francisco taught by local costume designer Judith Jackson. This is a fast and furious course in western costume history from ancient times to present day. I have previously taken three classes in the Fashion Department at CCSF, including Fashion Icons of the 20th Century, Hot Topics in Fashion, and my favorite – Textiles Analysis also taught by Ms. Jackson who is an excellent instructor.

My fashion plate is very full with this class and every moment taking notes, reading, studying, writing is pure pleasure. Stay tuned in the coming months as I share other fashion history facts.

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Resort 2020 for Louis Vuitton.

On my first trip to New York, I was fascinated by the incredible craftsmanship of the Art Deco buildings. I tried to go back to those emotions with this collection. It’s about rediscovery of American Heritage. 

Nicolas Ghesquiere – French fashion designer and creative director for Louis Vuitton.

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