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"Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals

Not an easy gown to wear.  No wonder she’s selling it.

WWD reported last week that actress Lena Dunham teamed up with online luxury consignment platform The Real Real to pass along some of her wardrobe goodies.

Included in the sale were several of the pieces she wore on her television show, Girls as well as shoes, graphic t-shirts, and the Elizabeth Kennedy gown (priced at $4000) that Dunham sported to this year’s Met Gala. So far the sales total over $26,000, which will be donated to Planned Parenthood. 

The Real Real often works with celebrity clients, who donate their commissions to charities.

Great idea!

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11c3e166487071f95963f05fed3b8721--lucinda-chambers-style-unique-fashion-styleThere are very few fashion magazines that make you feel empowered. Most leave you totally anxiety-ridden, for not having the right kind of dinner party, setting the table in the right kind of way or meeting the right kind of people. Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years. Maybe I was too close to it after working there for so long, but I never felt I led a Vogue-y kind of life. The clothes are just irrelevant for most people – so ridiculously expensive. What magazines want today is the latest, the exclusive. It’s a shame that magazines have lost the authority they once had. They’ve stopped being useful. In fashion we are always trying to make people buy something they don’t need. We don’t need any more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people into continue buying. I know glossy magazines are meant to be aspirational, but why not be both useful and aspirational? That’s the kind of fashion magazine I’d like to see.

Lucinda Chambers, former fashion director at British Vogue.

Last week Vestoj online magazine posted an interview with Ms. Chambers in which she discusses how she was abruptly fired from her position at British Vogue by the new editor, Edward Enninful. She had worked at the publication for 25 years. She says it took Mr. Enniful three minutes to fire her.

Since the interview first ran it was taken down once, re-posted, and then edited as requested by Conde Nast.

As a fashion magazine reader myself, I find what Ms. Chambers says quite interesting. Many people have issues with fashion mags – I’ve heard friends of mine make similar comments. I understand her point, but I have a different view.

To me they are guides for what the trends are and inspiration for a little DIY. Yes, the brands advertised and fashions highlighted are way too expensive but that’s where creativity kicks in. The models are too skinny and photo-shopped but actually, I don’t look at the models. I focus on the clothes and how they’re styled. I don’t live a Vogue-y lifestyle but I don’t feel bad about that. Nor am I driven to buy the latest anything. Fashion magazines offer a study of current fashion and I’m thankful they’re out there. I find them informative, artistic, and entertaining. (Plus they provide excellent material for collages.)

I think it’s important for readers to keep these magazines in perspective. What’s portrayed is not real. It’s fantasy. Most people cannot afford the clothes and the even the models don’t look like “the models.” Let’s not take it too seriously or personally.

Having said that, I also must say that I am fully aware that the fashion industry is not a nice place. It’s a corporate-run, greedy business that sadly, is harming our environment. Lots of people are exploited from designers to factory workers. Although it looks from the outside to be a glamorous world in which to work, it’s not really. Fashion is tough, it’s cut throat and unforgiving. Ms. Chambers says, “You can’t afford to fail in fashion.”

I applaud Ms. Chambers for speaking out and I look forward to what she does next. Perhaps a book? Or her own fashion publication – one that is useful, empowers and inspires.  I’ll subscribe!

 

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This is a re-post from 2014.

Yankee Doodle went to town a-riding on a pony. He stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni. Yankee Doodle keep it up, Yankee Doodle Dandy …

– British nursery rhyme, circa 1750.

Actually, it’s a lot more than that. This is part of a little ditty the Brits sung around the American colonials to insult them. There’s a lot of history to this song and many different versions but the use of the word “macaroni” is specific.

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A Macaroni.

In England during the mid-1700s there was a certain type of gentleman commonly and disdainfully referred to as a Macaroni. These young fellas were influenced by their European travels, particularly Italy, and they were known for overdoing the fop look – super high wigs, face makeup, tightly cut trousers and jackets, bows on their garters, etc.

So, singing the Yankee Doodle song was a double dis – the Yanks were Macaronies and they didn’t even do that right. Ha!

Happy Fourth of July, dear readers.

Keep it fashionable in your red, white, and blue … and keep it safe, too.

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yujawang1_erichcampingphotocreditIt’s hard to find clothes because I’m so petite. In my twenties, I’d put on my tight Herve Leger dress and heels, and it looked like I was going to the bar. Concert goers think, Classical music – it’s really serious. There are lots of rules, and the dress code, which I broke, was one of them. It’s irrelevant to what we’re doing. It’s just a piece of cloth, but once it’s on my body, it boosts my confidence, and that translates to the music. 

Yuja Wang, concert pianist.

There is a dress code for classical music performers – black. I have seen all versions of  black on performers from very elegant dresses in lace to bland slacks and sweaters.

Fashionista Ms. Wang is tossing all that aside and donning what she pleases, often very short, very tight, and in color. I hate to see the black tradition disappear, however, it seems from what I read about Wang, that a little fashion spice suits her personality and passion for playing.

Having said that, I do think Wang pushes the envelope a little too far when she chooses dresses like the one on the photo above. Come on! It’s no longer about the music with those slits. The shoes are what I call Stripper Shoes, which are fine for clubbing but not for weddings, christenings, elegant affairs of any kind including classical music concerts.

I suspect that the all black policy is intended to place the music first even above the performer. It’s true that colorful clothing really does stand out and may be distracting. There’s nothing wrong with a little sex appeal on stage but actually, I think passion for the music takes care of that.

 

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10-Arjun-Bhasin-IndiaInk-articleInlineSarah Jessica Parker is obviously one of the most stylish people alive. But starting the show was tricky. We tried to ignore her other show entirely and create a new character with a new life. It was exciting for her to reinvent herself into a new person.

Arjun Bhasin, Indian stylist/costume designer.

In this quote (from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle) Mr. Bhasin is referring to his work with SJP on the new HBO series, Divorce.

In addition to the HBO project, the accomplished designer (Life of Pi, Love is Strange, Begin Again) recently costumed Berkeley Repertory’s production of Monsoon Wedding, which by the way has been extended twice and is now running through July 16.

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Sarah Jessica Parker as Frances in Divorce. Opaque tights worn with pumps was not uncommon in the the 1970s.

Back to costuming SJP. What a challenge!There’s a lot of high-stylin’ baggage from that other show – Sex and the City – with the use of big designer labels and major product placement. Bhasin’s approach to this new show was to shift away from all that and go vintage.

Inspired by 1970s divorce films, An Unmarried Woman and Kramer vs. Kramer he hit Etsy and vintage fairs looking for classic silhouettes and soft color palettes. Much of what Bhasin found were in larger sizes. But since he was drawn to the fabric patterns, he and his staff did a lot of altering and playing around with the original pieces to make them fit SJP in size and her character, Frances in mood.

Given that Frances works,  has two children, and is going thorough a (nasty) divorce, Bhasin thought “comfort clothes.” The look he’s created is one of simple elegance; Frances cares about her appearance but she’s not a clotheshorse. Her style is her own and she’s not inclined to follow trends. The hemlines are at the knee, the skirts are full, the dresses are feminine but not frilly. There’s not a lot of fuss – no hats (unless it’s cold), not much jewelry or multiple handbags. Bhasin says that he and SJP want to keep the accessories to a minimum. Frances is a woman who puts on a turquoise silver bracelet and leaves it on.

100716-sjp-divorcedI really like what Bhasin has done with Frances. He’s managed to costume a character with interest while NOT making it all about the clothes. I also appreciate that he reuses pieces, like the two coats Frances wears. Since the costumes are so interesting it’s great to see them more than once.

SJP is such a fashion draw that I imagine women will check out Divorce for the costumes, if nothing else. What I’m curious to see is if these vintage styles will influence street-syle and perhaps even future runways.

 

 

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Cover design by Robert Smith.

Put this on your Summer Reading List: Vamps of ’29 by Alice Jurow.

Vamps of ’29 is a captivating and fashionable tale of three models in 1920s Paris, who, as it happens, are not just vamps but vampires, too.

Alice Jurow is a friend of mine from the Art Deco Society of California. Back in the 1990s Alice was the editor of the Society’s publication, The Sophisticate, and I wrote the occasional feature article.

In addition to editing Alice also writes, having penned articles on art, style, and architecture. She’s a big fan of writing fiction as well, with many a short story under her belt and now she has published her first novel.

I was pleased when Alice agreed to a Q&A with OverDressedforLife.

What was the inspiration for your first novel? How long did it take you?

Vamps of ’29 first grew out of one specific, fashion-related prompt. My friend Sally Norton (of Foggy Night Jewelry) was telling me about a Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild event; it was a vampire port tasting, and she said there would be a lot of 18th and 19th century costuming but she would love it if some of the “Deco gals” came as “vampires in little black 1920s Chanel frocks.” That image took root, and several months later I realized I wanted to write about it. Since I’m slow, and subject to distractions, the book took about four years.

What drew you to the well-covered topic of vampires?

I’m pretty squeamish, actually, so I was never really drawn to the genre  — but of course Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’ was so compelling and created such a complete world. And the oh so stylish movie ‘The Hunger,’ with Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. But it was really Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] that sort of “domesticated” vampires, making them characters with personalities and humor. For a while I worried that my vampires were breaking too many rules of the genre (they can be seen in mirrors, for example) — but I did a bit of research and found that vampires vary quite a bit from one source to another. It is fiction after all – right?

Author Alice

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Author Alice Jurow. Photo: Heidi Schave.

There is a lot of scrumptious 1920s fashion detail in your book and I know you know so much about that era, but did you find you had to do some research? Where did you search?

The fashion details were already in my head, after years of being steeped in images and descriptions from the period — I could basically “see” what the characters were wearing in any given scene.  But I did quite a bit of research on other things, like train schedules and jazz clubs. It’s amazing how much is on the internet — and how much isn’t. I found some wonderful books in the Berkeley Public Library.

(Let’s hear it for libraries!)

How do you go about writing? Do you start with longhand or go straight to the computer?

There’s some writing I can bang out right at the keyboard, but with fiction I always start in longhand and then revise when typing.

Describe your usual writing environment.

Ideally it’s a beautiful afternoon in the garden … but barring that, a comfy chair in the living room. With a tiny cocktail or a lovely coffee.

When I sit down to write I have a my preferred notebook next to me and a couple of my special pencils, do you have favorite writing instruments to take notes?

I hate to waste paper, so I used to always write on recycled printer paper that had one side blank, but I worried about losing pages. So I switched to old notebooks that were only partly used. But I think I’ve used up all the ones around the house, so I may need to buy a new notebook!  Spiral bound, with pockets. I admire beautiful pens, but I write with ordinary ballpoints.

(I love that you don’t waste paper. I also use old notebooks, mostly leftover from college. But I do like choosing new writing supplies. I recommend Elmwood Stationers on College Avenue.)

I picture you at your writing table in your signature turban and red lipstick. Do you like to dress to get into the mood of your story?

I definitely dress to write, even if it’s just a gesture. Often I’m in jodhpurs — “writing breeches.” Red lipstick is essential.

(Always.)

Care to tell us what you’re working on next?

I feel that my characters aren’t done with me yet, and being immortal, they want to move on. They are in the 1930s now.

Thank you, Alice and congratulations!! We look forward to more from you.

Vamps of ’29 is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

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Question: What’s the difference between a well-dressed bicyclist and a poorly dressed unicyclist?

Answer: Attire.

 

Haha. As a bicyclist myself I admit I have not brought my fashionable best to the handlebars. I usually cycle for exercise around my neighborhood in the mornings and well, my hoodie, cropped sweat pants, and a pair of Pumas go on so easy.

But I often think of the San Francisco Tweed Ride (or London Tweed Run), which gathers a dapper biking crowd to cycle together on vintage bikes and in vintage attire – such as tweed jackets, jodhpurs, caps, and argyle socks. En masse all around the city they go creating quite a picture. I ran into them once in Civic Center and it’s super fun to see all the different outfits, early 1900s to the 1930s and lots of mixing it up.

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But the Tower Bridge steals the show in this photo.

I may be casual at home but last October in London I stepped it up for a bicycle tour of the city with Tally Ho! Cycle Tours. I sported wide-leg wool slacks paired with a Pendleton jacket, and a cloche hat. It was a challenging ride thanks to all the city traffic, but I was lookin’ spiffy and after three hours tooling around, I made it back to tell the tale.

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