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Cover image, EMMIE AND THE TUDOR KINGToday OverDressedforLife has a guest post by Natalie Murray, who has just published her first Young Adult novel Emmie and the Tutor King.

Natalie is sharing with us the continuing influence of Tutor fashion.

Here’s Natalie …

Fashion isn’t typically a first thought when someone mentions the Tudors. Beheadings or high treason, anyone? However, the sixteenth-century Tudor court was not just a place where the king or queen might make you a head shorter; it was an haute couture catwalk for the English upper classes, with many trends lingering today. Here are six Tudor staples influencing fashion in 2019, from volume dresses to boxy toes:

1. Bold is beautiful. Cashed-up ladies in Tudor England exhibited their status through elaborately embellished frocks with plenty of layers. While hidden fabrics were typically left plain to save money, any visible part of a bodice or skirt was usually made from expensive fabric and richly decorated with everything from jewels to ribbons, feathers and lace. This theatrical aesthetic has graced the 2019 collections of Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Chanel—and many more—with voluminous skirts, extravagant detailing, and layers of romantic ruffles.

 

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Puffy sleeves by Ronald van der Kemp, spring ’19. Photo: Allesandro Viero.

2. Statement sleeves. With arms always covered during the pious Tudor era, the rich and royal had fun with inventive sleeves that were slashed, puffed, tied, and even embroidered with secret messages. From Alexander McQueen to Balenciaga, Loewe to Rodarte, this year’s spring and fall catwalks presented dramatic feature sleeves including ruffled, trumpet, rounded, puffed, and decorated with fanciful motifs.

3. Pictures and patterns. Tudor nobles adorned themselves with illustrations of the natural world, hunting scenes, mythical creatures, food varieties, and even their own initials. Fashion in 2019 has embraced motifs—particularly florals—evident in the embroideries and prints used by Valentino, Chanel, Maison Margiela, Alexis Mabille, and more. Iconography in fashion is no more OTT now than it was four hundred years ago.

4. Ruff around the edges. Synonymous with the chicest women and men of Queen Elizabeth I’s court, the Elizabethan ruff is enjoying a renaissance. Sprouting from necklines across this season’s spring and fall catwalks, the likes of Chanel, Valentino, Givenchy, Giambattista Valli, Christian Dior, and Schiaparelli, are proving that the ruff still rules.

5. Beneath the hood. Married women covered much of their hair during the Tudor period, and King Henry VIII’s six wives can be expressed through a tale of hoods: Catherine of Aragon wore the English gable hood with its conservative triangular frame, Anne Boleyn preferred the more modern crescent-shaped French hood, and Jane Seymour reverted back to the English hood as a strategic shunning of Anne Boleyn’s image. Designers bringing back head coverings this year include Marc Jacobs, Rodarte, Armani Prive, and Christian Dior.

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Square toe is making a comeback in fall ’19. Roberto Cavalli. Photo: Filippo Fior.

6. Square steps. While there isn’t a great deal of evidence about Tudor footwear, it’s believed that both men and women of the earlier sixteenth century favored square-toe slippers cut low to the ankle. This look is seen cushioning the tootsies of King Henry VIII in his famous portrait by Hans Holbein. This year, we’re seeing a square-toe revival in the form of winter boots at Eckhaus Latta, high-heeled boots at Roberto Cavalli, and pumps at Erdem.

Thanks, Natalie and congratulations on the publication of your first YA novel. I love this Tutor influence. I am particularly looking forward to “pictures and patterns” in fall ’19. 

Readers, check out Emmie and the Tutor King, Literary Crush Publishing. Great summer reading. 

 

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Wearable Art by Kaisik Wong featuring metallic checkered fabric. Photo: Wong Family.

You need a certain confidence to carry off a major piece of clothing so that you are wearing it, instead of it wearing you. 

Melissa Leventon, curator, professor of fashion history, principal at Curatrix Group.

This quote is from an episode of the PBS show Craft in America, which features craft in California. Quite a bit of time is spent on wearable art and wearable artists based in California. Ms. Leventon spoke to this subject.

When any garment is its own thing, whether that be wearable art or a vintage piece, even something off the rack, it can be challenging to wear. What makes it its own thing might be a particular color, an unusual silhouette, or a funky fabric. I say, tailored clothing is hard work. A pencil skirt shortens your stride. A fitted jacket limits your arm mobility. How about stilettos? To pull those off you better step gracefully. Hats? I love them but often you can’t just plop on a hat and not expect to rise to the occasion. (If nothing else you’re going to have to respond to nice people commenting/complimenting you, so there’s no hiding beneath a hat.)

 

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Ensemble designed by Louise Brown. My mother pulled it off.

My mother has a dress and coat outfit that was designed by my grandmother back in the 1960s. Oh my gosh, I can only imagine what a task it is to wear that piece. For starters the dress is made of plaid wool and has 62 buttons. Small ones up the back and along the sleeves. It’s fitted and therefore, requires foundation garments. Then there’s the burnt orange wool coat, which is large and boxy and has no shape. The combination is actually quite fantastic, but you have to be up for it, or as Ms. Leventon says, it’s going to wear you.

Even just everyday items of clothing that are comfortable, still might require some energy. I was recently reading a middle-grade novel (The First Rule of Punk, by Celia Perez) in which the 12-year-old protagonist is the new girl in school. She’s into punk music (no one her age knows anything about punk) and all things edgy so she decides to show up for her first day dressed in ripped jeans, a t-shirt with something punk on it and … heavy black eyeliner circling her eyes. OK, we know where this is going. She was immediately labeled a “weirdo.” But she made those sartorial choices and she stood up in them with confidence, like any good heroine would.

When I don my vintage clothing, I know that part of the look is going to be me and my attitude. I have to stand a little straighter, move a little more precisely, wear my ensemble with intent and confidence. Otherwise, it’s not going to have the right effect and for sure it won’t feel right.

 

 

 

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Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate, and Patty Duke in Valley of the Dolls.

OverDressedforLife is starting something new – to mix it up a bit, once in awhile Fashionable Quote will be replaced with Fashionable Word.

Our very first fashionable word is … composed. As in, “She is very composed.”

The definition of composed in the Webster’s New World Dictionary is: calm; tranquil; self-possessed.

I’ve been thinking about this word since I recently heard it used to describe Anne Welles, a character in Valley of the Dolls.

Valley of the Dolls is a 1967 film based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Jacqueline Susann. Starring Sharon Tate, Patty Duke, and Barbara Parkins, it’s the story of three young women in NYC and Hollywood living the roller-coaster life of showbiz and prescription drug addiction. At the time, the film and story were taken very seriously, but its melodramatics have since turned it into a campy cult classic.

I watched Valley of the Dolls a few weeks ago and was surprised by the strength of the cast, which also included Susan Hayword and Lee Grant. I enjoyed the very specific 1960s production values and the costumes by William Travilla, who is best known for designing the white halter dress Marilyn Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch.

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Barbara Parkins in Valley of the Dolls.

There’s a lot to say about Dolls, but let’s get back to our word. The character Anne Welles, played by Barbara Parkins, is a college educated ingenue from New England. She carries with her a certain reserve, or composure, that gives her an attractive mystique. Up against the other characters, particularly Neely O’Hara (Patty Duke) who is quite over-the-top with rage, Welles always remains calm, keeping her emotions in check. She is composed.

I heard that Travilla designed Welles’ costumes to reflect her reserve and that Parkins didn’t care for the “buttoned-up” look. Really? I did!

 

 

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Barbara Parkins and Susan Hayward in Valley of the Dolls.

I like her stylish yet simple costumes, her fluffy, backcombed hair … and her composed demeanor.

In today’s world dominated by social media, we are all overexposed. Too many loud voices. Too many opinion shared. Too many pics posted. I find a little composure refreshing.

Since style is just as much about behavior as it is about clothing, being composed might make a great new trend.

 

 

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Happy Mother’s Day from us to you.

Nothing has to be perfect for me to use it, wear it, enjoy it!

Cindy Marshall, retired antique jewelry dealer and my mother.

Although I didn’t always understand or agree with Mom’s philosophy there were times when it came in handy.

Once, when I was around five years old, early on a Saturday morning I was awake before everyone else and hanging around in the living room. I recall getting bored and looking around I spotted a bottle of liquid shoe polish sitting on the coffee table. Suddenly, artistic inspiration overcame me and I grabbed the bottle and swiped the brush of black goo back and forth on a small portion of a large Art Nouveau style poster hanging on the wall, thinking at first that no one would notice. Then I stood back to admire my abstract brush strokes … Oh no! It’s kind noticeable. I tried to wipe off the polish but it was already dry. Quickly, I put the bottle back on the table and ran out of the living room and down the hall to the kitchen, far away from the scene of the crime.

Lucky for me, Mom didn’t look at the poster that day. I don’t know when she might have noticed it, but she never said a word. No one did. Maybe I was right thinking no one would noticed or they thought it was always a part of the poster.

Many years later after I had grown up and the poster had survived a few moves, I was looking at it, again up on the wall, and asked Mom about the black stroke marks. “Did you know I did that?” I asked.

“Of course … well, I don’t think I realized right away but I figured it out.”

“Why didn’t you say anything? How come I didn’t get in trouble?”

Mom laughed. “It didn’t matter and I kind of liked your added artwork.”

I’ve come to appreciate imperfections – holes in a sweater, a crack in a tea cup, a crooked stitch on something hand-sewn, swipes of black shoe polish on a poster. The imperfections can make things more interesting. They certainly are a reflection of real life.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for the gift of imperfections.

 

 

 

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Designer Lida Aflatoony from University of Missouri, Columbia.

Part of the CSA Symposium was the Design Showcase where on display were unique fashions. These designs posed a problem, answered a question, or highlighted an historical period. One that I was drawn to was titled Tech and Craft Synergy.

Submitted by Lida Aflatoony and Jean L. Parsons from University of Missouri, Columbia the displayed jacket was made of white organza adorned with swatches of fabric decorated with floral motifs. Using traditional handicrafts such as embroidery, beading, and knitting the intent was to address the conflict between traditional hand craft and technology.  What was unexpected (to me) was that half of each design was done by hand and the other half by technologies like laser cutting and 3D printing.

 

 

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On each of these swatches, the left side was hand crafted and the right side was done by technology.

In their abstract Aflatoony and Parsons say: The design was created as an art piece that illustrates and recognizes the confluence of traditional handcrafts and current technology, with a transitional stage in the center. This concept aims to visually emphasize the transition from the handmade and craftsmanship to digital production. In addition, the aim was to suggest that craftsmanship as a precious heritage can fit hand in hand with emerging technologies. 

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Although there is nothing like something handmade, I like the idea of a crossover. And I wonder if as fewer and fewer people are learning traditional crafts, can technology play a role in preserving these crafts.

 

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I recently had the pleasure of joining the Textile Arts Council on a private docent-led tour of Kimono Refashioned, on now through May 5, 2019 at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

The Kimono has been  a part of my world since I was a little girl. My dad owned an antique men’s Kimono in silk and my mother has a collection of colorful cotton Kimono that she dons at home. One of my first sewing projects was a Kimono style robe. The word Kimono means “a thing to wear.” That is a casual definition for such an important garment that has crossed cultural barriers from traditional Japan to modern America.

Kimono Refashioned highlights the influence Japanese Kimono – in textiles, aesthetics, and design – has had on western fashion since the late 19th century. The exhibit is two galleries with over 35 garments from the Kyoto Costume Institute.

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 Kimono made into a Victorian dress, c.1875. 

Among the displayed garments is a Kimono deconstructed and remade into a Victorian dress (are we thinking appropriation?) and later examples of how Kimono influenced western silhouettes with designs by Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, and Madeleine Vionnet, among others. Modern designers featured include Tom Ford, Rei Kawakubo, Sarah Burton, and Christian Louboutin.

Kimono Refashioned at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. Don’t miss it!

PS – No photo-taking allowed in the exhibit.

 

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Francesco Risso. Speaking of inspiration, the window in the background reminds me of bojagi.

I’m a passionate collector of images. I like to imagine characters in a story, but you need a reference – a flower, a piece of art, anything that can connect you with that story. Today I found this incredible Chinese  man holding lanterns. I hope one day, opening my drawers, to bring out a story that will be an inspiration for something. 

Francesco Risso, creative director of Marni since 2016.

This quote is taken from an interview that Risso did with Joshua Levine for W magazine, v.2 2019.

The Chinese man that he refers to is an English brooch from the 1940s. The man is made of gold and the hem and cuffs of his robe are encrusted with diamonds. I can picture that charming brooch and I hope one day to spot the inspiration it brings to the Marni line.

It is said that Risso has “put his own stamp on Marni,” which was initially an upset after 20 years of designer/ owner Consuelo Castiglioni in charge. (Castiglioni sold Marni to  OTB Group in 2012.) Risso admits that he didn’t follow the codes of the house. But he has since settled in and earned widespread respect for his sense of individuality and diversity in his references.

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The whimsical designs of Francesco Risso for Marni. How ironic that an outside the box kind of designer works for a large fashion conglomerate. But it’s the outsider types that the corporations are hiring  these days. Quirky sells.

 

 

 

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