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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

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Fashion sketches by Virginia Johnson published in Descant.

I paint all of my designs by hand. I use watercolor on paper. This is my most cherished part of the creative process. I welcome accidents in my sketches. In the manufacturing process, I try as much as possible to maintain a hand-crafted feel. I welcome print flaws in the fabric because this allows the presence of the human hand to show through.

Virginia Johnson – artist and designer.

This quote is from an essay Ms. Johnson wrote for the fashion issue of Descant, volume 38, number 3, fall 2007.

I agree with Ms. Johnson’s idea of slight imperfections in anything handmade. I’m reminded of something Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (is she still a duchess?) said when she was asked if she was nervous about modeling for an upcoming fashion show: “No,” she responded with a grin. “I think perfection is overrated.”

A perfectionist myself, that really struck me and I’ve remembered it ever since. It can be very liberating when working on any creative project to let go and see where the craft leads. (I admit my quest for perfection still plagues me when it comes to some of my writing projects.)

If we worry less about the outcome and just enjoy the process, that’s where we find art.

 

 

 

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There are a lot of fashion looks strutting around the Cannes Film Festival – day and evening. Much of it not my cup of tea but here are several favorites:

 

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Cute and sassy daytime Moschino outfit worn by British model Cara Delevingne. The red beret makes the look.

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Androgyny in teal is the look of choice for model Aymeline Valade. Hard to pull off but the pop of color helps.  Dangle earrings soften the ensemble but I would switch out the Oxford shoes for a 1940s peep-toe heel in black and pull up the hair for more feminine/masculine contrast.

 

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Stunning in red is model Sara Sampaio. Dress by Zuhair Murad. A classic silhouette allows the color and fabric do all the work. I like her hair casually pulled back and no jewelry at the neckline is perfect.

 

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Elegant simplicity worn by French model/actress Lily Rose Depp from the Chanel resort line. I love the cap sleeves set off with unexpected detailing. It looks like the sides are partially bare, which adds interest. Soft ivory color with gold accents is perfect for spring and this event.

 

 

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Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons spring/summer 1997

What’s so inspiring about Rei is that for her the body has no bounds, and fashion itself has no limits. That to me is what her legacy is — the body and the dress body in fashion is limitless … When you think about what’s been achieved in the last 40 years and the types of things we take for granted now — the unfinished, asymmetry, black as a fashionable color were pioneered by Rei. But beyond the formal aspects of that, she has always rebuffed the status quo … I feel if Rei didn’t exist we would have to invent her to explain the last 40 years because her impact in fashion is that big.

– Andrew Bolton, curator of the current Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC exhibit, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. 
This quote is from an interview with Mr. Bolton for Women’s Wear Daily.
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Paired with ballerina flats. Look at the tight shoulders. Kind of like she’s wrapped up.

I was just reading about Rei Kawakubo in a book about avant-garde fashion (Fashion Game Changers: Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette, Bloomsbury). She says there is no meaning to her designs and yet people seem compelled to find something behind (between?) the unexpected bumps, pads, layers and outrageous silhouettes.

I find her fascinatingly inaccessible. I don’t know what to make of her designs except that they are:

1. Completely noncommercial.

2. They look like they’re challenging to wear.

3. They remind me of Leigh Bowery, the British club kid of the 1980s who also came up with some wild unflattering silhouettes.
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Leigh Bowery original design, 1980s.

There is one very big difference between the two – Mr. Bowery played in a dark and freaky arena, by making everything larger than life. Not to mention his makeup and masks. Ms. Kawakubo stays within the non-freak zone by using (sometimes) feminine prints and colors and showing her clothing on lovely mainstream models. She certainly bumps up against freak (pun intended!) but with a light, quiet hand.

I would say that perhaps Ms. Kawakubo uses the body as a canvas, so to speak, for her sculptures. And in doing so she has, as Mr. Bolton points out, impacted fashion.
Fashion model Anna Cleveland, an attendee of the recent Met Gala calls Ms. Kawakubo’s designs, “Walking art.”
Click here for more information on Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between on now at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Fashions by Mainbocher.

While visiting Chicago last month I took the opportunity to view the exhibition Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier at the Chicago History Museum.

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A young Mainbocher.

Main Rousseau Bocher (1890-1976) was Chicago born and raised but as a young man he set off for adventure, first to New York City and later to Paris. He sported many hats before becoming a couturier, including an opera singer and a fashion illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar.

Quite spontaneously in 1929 he opened his first fashion house in Paris calling it Mainbocher – pronounced mon-bo-shay. For that touch of French chic he blended his first and last names. Known for his embellished ball gowns and smart suits, he soon became the go-to designer for socialites and celebrities of the time. American Wallis Simpson donned a Mainbocher piece for her wedding to Edward VIII in 1937.

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Butterfly evening dress in silk crepe, 1945.

In 1940, the early days of WWII,  Mainbocher decided to close his Paris house and reopen in NYC. There he established himself as the first American couturier, attracting the attentions of the elite chic. Additionally he designed for Broadway plays and was commissioned by the American military to design uniforms for the women’s voluntary services.

And all this is just a brief overview! Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier follows the designer’s diverse career in detail and features 30 garments from the museum’s permanent collection as well as illustrations, photos, and audio interviews with some of his clients back in the day.

Located in a smallish gallery, this exhibit is just the right size allowing for a second and third walk around and a good gander at some of the fashions on display.

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Uniform for women’s voluntary services, WWII.

Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier is on now through August 2017 at the Chicago History Museum. Any fashion enthusiast in the area should check it out!

 

 

 

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This quintessential hippie look is not usually my style but I was immediately drawn to it, particularly the denim skirt. I think perhaps because of my recent adventure into sewing, I see clothing a little differently.

IMG_20170406_184212208I’m inspired by the idea of reuse and patching denim pieces to create something new. But even more exciting to me is the exposed hand stitching in various bright colors. There is something very charming about that.

In our modern era of massed produced fast fashion it’s exciting to see handcrafted clothing that people took time with and cared about.

Find some Summer of Love favorites for yourself at The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll on now through August 20, 2017 at the de Young Museum, San Francisco.

Be there or be square!

 

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Recognize this hat? It dates back to circa 1857 and was made by hatters Dunlap & Co. The patriotic paint job is thought to have been added in the 1930s. (Perhaps for an Uncle Sam costume?)

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Grateful Dead’s first album, 1967.

But it was Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead that made this chapeau famous. The story goes that he donned the hat one day for some photos taken at the old Spreckles Mansion. Those photos ended up on the band’s first album cover and after that the hat, for some unremembered reason, became known as The Captain Trips Hat.

Later, Garcia gave it to some friends who owned a boutique on Haight Street. In 2014 it was put up for auction with Christie’s.

What I like about The Captain Trips is the playful patriotism. Creative, fun, and anything but square.

Check back tomorrow for the next pic from The Summer of Love Experience.

 

 

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This is a suede coat in maroon from 1970. Suede was really popular back then, used for coats, vests, and handbags.

I love the color and the trim fit makes it super chic. The details are sharp – note the tucked shoulders and wide lapels in a contracting neutral color.

The coat is paired with what was called at the time, decorated denim. It was the done thing to piece together various denim swatches creating a new look. Beads, patches, and embroidery were also used. The pant leg hems are left raw, which is a trend happening today, as is decorated denim but we’re calling it embellished.

One of the aspects of fashion that I’m attracted to in this era is the use of vintage. There was a mixing up of styles from past decades including the 1920s, as we see here with the cloche hat. I like the creativity and uniqueness of combining modern with vintage.

Come back tomorrow for another favorite look from The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll.

 

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