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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

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Scott Wentworth as Mr. Goldberg and Judith Ivey as Peg in ACT production of The Birthday Party.

“… you like my dress, Mr. Goldberg?”  and he says, “It’s out on its own.”

Mr. Goldberg, fictional character in Harold Pinter’s play The Birthday Party, first produced in London in 1958.

That line got a laugh on the night I attended the recent ACT production of The Birthday Party, as much for the way it was delivered as for anything else. But the dress itself should have caused at least a chuckle.

Peg, the character that dons this dress, is middle-aged and a bit “daft” as the Brits would say. When she comes down the stairs in her “party dress” there should be some awkward humor in the air as she comments that her father gave her the dress. I’m thinking her father bought this dress A LONG time ago, when Peg was a teenager. The play’s setting is the late 1950s, so he bought the dress in the late 1920s. Well then, that dress would be kind of old – right? Out of style for sure and too youthful. It all should be slightly uncomfortable and absurd (it’s Pinter!) as a women of a certain age prances around attired in an old dress meant for a girl. Hence Goldberg’s response – It’s out on its own.

Although the dress chosen for Peg in the ACT production is bit low cut with a loud print, it’s otherwise not so outlandish. It’s of the era (a mistake) and looks rather nice on Peg. Particularly from a distance, which is the perspective of the audience. I suppose the dress is a minor detail in the overall production, but it was a glaring misstep to me.

All that aside, I love this statement and I think we should add it to our fashion lexicon.

Oh wow! That dress! It’s out on its own!

 

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Me on the left and Jennifer Serr at The Sewing Room. (On the far right is a 1990s coat that Jennifer is altering into a 1930s silhouette.)

I first met Jennifer Serr several years ago at the Art Deco Society of California’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon. Jennifer and her mother caught my eye, sitting in their charming picnic site enjoying the day together. So I struck up a conversation and it turns out that Jennifer had created her dress out of a vintage tablecloth made of a lightweight embroidered silk. Further chatting revealed that she runs a sewing school in Alameda called The Sewing Room.

 

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Jennifer made this dress for Gatsby Summer Afternoon 2017.

Since then I have been following Jennifer on Instagram watching her whip together all kinds of fabulous vintage style fashions, many inspired by the popular television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Jennifer has been sewing since she was seven years old. “I loved clothes and my mom was single with a very limited budget,” she explains. “My grandfather funded my sewing, which empowered the new clothes desire and thus enabled me to create whatever I wanted.” She was, however, only allowed to keep going with the sewing if she maintained at least a 3.5 GPA in school. “I made sure that would happen.” Smart and creative!

Keeping up with her affection for clothes, Jennifer says she makes 90 percent of what she wears.

Learning those skills at an early age has served Jennifer well, at one time working for The Gap and now teaching kids. It’s been five years since she opened The Sewing Room where she has taught many a budding seamstress/designer the basics of sewing, pattern making, and beyond.

IMG_0997 (2)But The Sewing Room isn’t just about kids! Adults are also welcome for classes, workshops, and sewing camps. This summer, July 23-27 Jennifer is planning a special adult camp – a week of sewing and fashion. Here’s her description: Students will spend the week escaping their day-to-day life, delving into the exciting world of Fashion and Sewing. Over the course of the week, students will work on apparel projects as well as explore different aspects of the Sewing World – Textiles, Color, Garment Construction, Mood Boards and more!

Students bring their own projects to work on, there will be a special guest or two and on the final day of camp – lunch! A total immersion in all things fashion. Sounds like heaven to me.

Click here for more information on Sewing Camp for Adults. 

The Sewing Room 2434 Webb Ave., Alameda is open during class times and by appointment.

Thanks, Jennifer. I look forward to seeing your creation for the upcoming ADSC Preservation Ball. 

 

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Irene Castle

In the world of fashion, where there is no appeal from the decree of the great designers, the modern dance has come boldly to the front and demanded, and won, sensible styles. On looking back a few seasons to the clothing worn by women and girls, you will recall long, cruel, corsets and garters that trusses them like fowls for the roasting. You will remember, too, the right snakiness of the hobble-skirt and the hats that were shaped like peach-baskets. 

Irene Castle (1893-1969), American dancer and fashion designer.

This quote is taken from the book Modern Dance by Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle (The World Syndicate Co. New York, 1914.)

Vernon and Irene Castle were a husband and wife ballroom dance team popular on Broadway and in silent films at the turn of the last century. Irene is said to be the first to have bobbed her hair (circa 1915), starting an international trend.

While British born Vernon joined the Royal Air Force during WWI, Irene continued to work in films. In 1918, he was killed in Texas on a flight training expedition.

Irene went on to develop a career in fashion, designing a line of (sensible) clothing for women.

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Fashions designed by Irene Castle for Corticelli (1920s). On display at the Cornell University Costume & Textile Collection exhibition. Photo from the article The Best Known & Best Dressed Woman in America, by Denise N. Green published in Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America, V. 43 #2, 2017. 

 

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Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water. 

Tadashi is smart in that he makes clothes that we all feel comfortable wearing. A lot of designers don’t cater to women over size 8. They’re missing out on a large amount of money. 

Octavia Spencer – American actress.

Tadashi Shoji is an American based Japanese designer known for his red carpet gowns.

Congratulations to Ms. Spencer for her 2018 Oscar nomination – Best Supporting Actress, The Shape of Water.

Speaking of Oscars here are the nominations for costumes:

Consolata Boyle – Victoria & Abdul

Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread

Jacqueline Durran – Beauty and the Beast

Jacqueline Durran – Darkest Hour

Luis Sequeira – The Shape of Water

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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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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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