Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2020

Quirky British fashion icon, Vivienne Westwood. Illustration by Zoe Taylor, Selvedge magazine.

Eccentricity would have to be at the top of the list. While we marvel at New York professional polish or LA’s laid-back cool, we Brits possess a certain nerdy quirkiness that manifests in chunky, hand-knitted jumpers, heritage fabrics, and off-beat accessories—we championed ‘ugly’ trends way before they hit the mainstream. Our muses include Alexa Chung, Vivienne Westwood, and Cara Delevingne—all wonderfully weird in their own ways yet also undeniably cool.

Joy Montgomery, assistant editor at Who What Wear UK.

Ms. Montgomery is describing key elements to British style and her quote is part of a longer article about where the Brits think Americans go wrong with their “style.” (Flip flops, hoodies, baseball caps.)

And apparently they secretly but politely laugh as us.

Read Full Post »

When I was taking a fashion history course earlier this year, I was determined to avoid the Internet for any research I had to do. Why? Because I prefer books and thanks to the many fashion history books I’ve collected over the years, it was easy to keep the promise I made to myself.

One book I didn’t own (and it would have been quite handy) is 100 Years of Fashion by Cally Blackman (Laurence King Publishing, 2020).

Blackman, a fashion historian, university lecturer, and author, digs into fashion history from 1900 to circa 2000. She discusses high society, the everyday lady, designers, and all the trends from the S-Bend silhouette to Grunge.

The book is divided into two sections: 1901-1959 and 1960 onward, making the subject accessible for the serious student and the casual fashion admirer. Both sections include an overview of the fashion trends of each decade and the historical context for those trends. A complete index makes for quick and easy research.

Another reason I prefer fashion books to a search on the Internet is I can more easily study the provided photos. Similar to an exhibition catalogue the bulk of 100 Years of Fashion is photos and illustrations with captions. The over 400 images provide a visual documentation of twentieth century fashion history. Such examples are essential for fashion study, not to mention the eye candy factor.

The compact size of the book makes it a great choice to take on the road if attending a fashion conference or traveling to take a course (yes, one day the pandemic will be over).

I noticed while researching various fashion history topics that each book I went to offered a little different angle, giving me a more complete understanding. In other words, you cannot own too many books on fashion!

Books are on everyone’s gift list this year and 100 Years of Fashion is an excellent choice for anyone interested in fashion. Support your local independent book store! Most will special order whatever title you’re looking for.

Let the holiday shopping begin.

Read Full Post »

The bodice was from a red satin gown I found at the thrift store where I work – halter neck, structured, water-stained in a couple of spots. I hacked the top part off the dress, altered it, and water-stained it all over so it looked like a pattern. The skirt was one of the first things I made out of completely new material … At first I made it in a pretty basic shape – fitted at the waist and flaring outward to glorious fullness. A good twirling skirt. But it wasn’t quite speaking to my soul. So, I started adding on to it. I sewed on some ribbons, flowing along the hemline. I added sequins to match. And then I saved up and got myself some fancy fabric paints and painted this wild, multicolored … things all over it. The whole thing came together when I found that red satin gown and realized it was the last piece I needed to turn this initially simple skirt into the beautiful dress it was meant to be.

Kimi Nakamura – protagonist in I Love You So Mochi, by Sarah Kuhn (Scholastic Press).

I can’t resist a novel whose protagonist has a thing for fashion. I Love You So Mochi is a charming young adult novel that tells the story of high school senior Kimi Nakamura and her struggle to figure out what she really wants to do with her life. Her mother wants Kimi to become an artist (what? not a doctor?) but Kimi isn’t feeling it, and is drawn more toward fashion.

Kimi is Japanese American and when her grandparents, whom she has never met, invite her to visit them in Japan, she goes and makes discoveries about her family, herself, and falling in love.

I really enjoyed Kimi’s journey, which speaks to everyone – those of us who already went through this stage and those young ones who are facing their wide open futures right now. The Kyoto travel guide is fun as are the Japanese food references, particularly the mochi. And of course, Kimi’s inspired fashion designs are the most fun.

I Love You So Mochi is an excellent holiday gift choice for any young fashionista.

Read Full Post »

I recently visited (donning a mask and keeping a distance) the CP Shades store on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley and was struck by all the rich colors of autumn.

In business since the 1980s, CP Shades is a local women’s fashion manufacturer known for quality fabrics and simple comfortable silhouettes.

For autumn 2020 they are showing corduroy shirts, velvet tops, plaid cotton shirts, and an array of loose fitting dresses and pants. Just right for the holidays at home.

Soft, festive colors in sumptuous fabrics are appealing this season. Check out CP Shades online or stop by the shop at 2633 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley.

Read Full Post »

When you are introduced for the first time, the greeting is not ‘Pleased to meet you.’ The greeting is ‘I see you.’ I see you as a complete human being. At this moment in time, it is so critically important in our country for all people to be seen in their full selves, in a way that gives them the dignity they deserve.

Kamala Harris, US Senator and Vice President Elect.

Senator Harris will be the first woman and the first woman of color to hold the office of Vice President. (What a fitting way to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.)

In this quote from an interview with Elle magazine (November, 2020) Harris was speaking about how African cultures greet each other when meeting for the first time. (The message here, “I see you” is perhaps something to keep in mind as we move forward.)

During the presidential campaign I watched with interest the style choices of both Biden and Harris.

The well-tailored suits and aviator sunglasses on Biden hit just the right balance between youthful and presidential.

Harris’ pantsuits are a practical choice for the campaign trail and Harris looks good in them. She sported simple black pumps when appropriate but she stepped off airplanes in Converse sneakers. This is a sporty and confident choice and I really like the unexpected pairing of spry sneakers with the modest pantsuit. And then there are the pearls! Harris likes her pearls, both single and double strand. Feminine and ladylike, pearls have been her go-to jewelry choice for her entire career.

Sneakers on the bottom, pearls at the top – now that’s a modern woman’s mashup!

Congratulations to President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris. Hooray for you! Hooray for America!

Read Full Post »

Author and artist Kristen Caven says she wanted to start a fashion trend but, she’s not a designer. So instead, she wrote a story that combines her interests in fashion (specifically the dirndl), German culture, and current societal issues. Her latest play, called The Dirndl Diaspora, is actually a reading with animated (and super cool) paper dolls!

Dirndl images by Leah Vass.

Caven initially had the idea to hold a dirndl fashion show at Oaktoberfest, an annual celebration of all things German in her Oakland Diamond District neighborhood. But with the pandemic in charge this year that was not meant to be, at least not in person, however, she did receive a grant from the Diamond Improvement Association to write a play and a six week writing frenzy began.

The Dirndl Diaspora tells the story of a rising Oakland fashion designer, Savannah James, whose signature look is mashups of dirndls – the dirndl silhouette created with fabrics from other cultures, such as Scottish wool tartans. The audience gets a peek into Savannah’s colorful studio and to listen in on conversations she has with her diverse clientele. They talk about history, current events, travel, life!

Caven says, “It’s my dream for this play, or a version of it, to be staged each year at Oaktoberfest (Oakland’s version of Oktoberfest) and create a focus for more cultural creativity and camaraderie among women through fashion shows and storytelling. The stitching together of multicultural fabrics is a metaphor for stitching together many cultures, as we do here in Oakland. We need to get better at it.”

We do indeed need to get better at blending and appreciating all the fabulous cultures that make up America. I see The Dirndl Diaspora as an excellent educational tool; a fun and engaging way to teach kids about history and different cultures. But it’s not just for kids, this unique show has something for all of us.

The Dirndl Diaspora is available to watch now through November 14, 2020. Click here for more information.

Congratulations to Kristen Caven and all the people who helped get The Dirndl Diaspora out into the world.

Read Full Post »

Illustration by Nina Allender (1873-1957), American suffragist and political cartoonist.

Many suffragists spend more money on clothes than they can afford, rather than run the risk of being considered outré, and doing harm to the cause.

Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960) – British suffragist.

In the early twentieth century, British suffragists chose to forgo pushing against contemporary fashion with practical masculine looks that were targeted in the press. Instead, they embraced the current trends and presented a fashionable feminine image. It made the movement less odd, more attractive and it soon became fashionable to identify with Votes for Women.

In 1908, Emily Pethick-Lawrence came up with a fashion branding idea – three colors for suffragists to wear to show their allegiance to the movement: purple for loyalty, white for purity, and green for hope. Tricolor ribbons were used on hats, belts, and badges.

American suffragists, following the lead of their British sisters, also branded the movement with three colors, but they switched out green for gold to honor the sunflower used in the 1867 Kansas referendum campaign. They wore white dresses to stand out in a crowd against men’s dark suits.

VOTEVOTEVOTE VOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTEVOTE

Read Full Post »