Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

IMG_20180202_113308

Nice belt detail on the hat.

I love the hat! We rarely see fashion hats on women, which is a shame because they really pop an outfit and create interest. A picture hat is a stylish choice and shows panache. The thin belt around the crown adds a touch of class.

There is such a void of interesting fashion in the burbs, that anyone with any sense of style really stands out. As did this woman at the Walnut Creek BART Station on a recent sunny winter day.

The dress looks like a wrap made of jersey knit in a fabulous colorful geometric print. She pairs it with brown boots, which is appropriate for the season. Her purse is just a big tan shoulder bag – simple chic that nicely ties in with the hat.

IMG_20180202_113422

Thank you, Picture Hat Lady. You brightened my day.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Jane Birkin Lights Up Christmas Tree

… when I first went to Paris as a teenager, I could always spot other English girls because we put everything together so badly. French women start with the same ingredients, but they make better use of them. They were always so beautifully turned out with their velvet headbands and clip-on pearls, a scarf casually tossed over their shoulder. But after the counterculture swept through Europe, it became chic to wear whatever you liked, and it was our chance to laugh at the French girls. You’d see photos of Julie Christie coming down her front steps wearing a raincoat  over her pajamas with gum boots, spectacles perched at the end of her nose. It was so unpretentious – and so very English. It’s impossible to be stylish without confidence, you see. 

Jane Birkin – British actress and model.

I’d love to see an example of a British woman back in the day who styled herself so badly and a French woman who did it so perfectly.

Ms. Birkin is known for her effortless style. She sported a basket as a handbag back in the 1960s, which eventually inspired the Hermes Birkin Bag and she has made “borrowing from the boys” look tres chic for the ladies.

Speaking of European style, lately several women have complimented me by saying, “Your style is very European.” I think what they meant is that I have a put together look – my outfits are intentional and cohesive. That’s not at all American but perhaps it is European.

What American fashion strives for is more like Ms. Birkin’s effortless sporty look. I love that, when it works. Making it work, like she says, takes confidence and some instinct for fashion.

My style is vintage inspired with a modern twist here and there. Whatever I’m sporting for the day, a simple a-line dress or a pair of cords, I usually top it with a hat of some kind and that gives any outfit a vintage feel. I often tie a scarf around my neck, which adds interest, and my jewelry ranges from Victorian to Art Deco to 1950s kitsch. To make the look a little more modern, I’ll add a trendy item such as a hoodie.

Effortless is it not. I put a fair amount of thought into what I wear but that’s what makes fashion fun for me.

 

 

Read Full Post »

IMG_0998 (2)

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.

 

GatsbyDressA

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. 

 

Read Full Post »

IMG_20180202_141701

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.

IMG_20180202_153910

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. 

 

Read Full Post »

octavia-spencer-shape-of-water

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

Read Full Post »

IMG_20180117_151930Marchesa Casati was quite the It Girl in early 20th Century Europe. With a family fortune backing her, she lived a large life in several Italian palaces and another one in Paris, bespoke and designer duds, jewels not just for her neck but also adorning the collection of the live exotic animals she kept close at hand – black panthers, snakes, and monkeys.

Infinite Variety The Life & Legend of the Marchesa Casati (University of Minnesota Press, 3rd ed.) by Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino fills us in on all the details of the Marchesa and her surrounding admirers.

Her grandfather and father made their money in cotton milling during a time when Italy was a great exporter of the fabric. Luisa Adele Rosa Maria Amman was born in January 1881. Although pampered, Luisa was not the favorite of the family and not the beauty her older sister was, which made her a somewhat shy child.

As teenagers the girls lost both parents and inherited a great fortune. It was after marrying Camillo Casati at age 19 that Luisa began to reinvent herself, her style, and she discovered ways to spend her money. She was an unusual looking woman for the times standing tall and thin with a long neck, large dark eyes, and a mop of curly hair. Luisa decided to “exploit her type to the full” by chopping off her long tresses and dying it red and outlining her eyes with black coal.

Here she is described in 1920 by a Russian royal exile:

In the room where I was introduced, a woman of singular beauty was (reclining) on a tiger pelt with translucent veils outlining her slender body. Two greyhounds, one black and one white, were sleeping at her feet … I hardly noticed the presence of  an Italian officer … Our hostess raised her splendid eyes. They were so large in her pale face, you could not see anything but them. With a slow and undulant movement, like that of a royal cobra, she offered me a hand decorated with rings of giant pearls. The hand itself was ravishing. 

IMG_20180117_133130Sporting a new look and money no object Luisa was soon holding grand parties for which she created outlandish costumes. She caught the eye of artists Augusts John, Man Ray and a host of others who painted, sculpted, and photographed her. Isadora Duncan was a friend, Worth and Leon Bakst, costume designer for the Ballet Russes, are credited with dressing her.

Luisa overcame her timidity and successfully created a persona that men and women alike could not resist. She had that certain elusive something, which made her an early 20th century icon such as a modern day Lady Gaga. Indeed at first she reminded me of British fashion follower and muse Isabella Blow (1958-2007) but the Marchesa went way beyond the antics of Ms. Blow.

It was the aim it seems of the Marchesa to be seen, clothed or not, (she would have fit quite nicely into our modern world of selfies and social media). But why is the question I kept asking and this book did not answer. Although a great documentation of just about every outlandish party she ever held, what I found missing is any discussion as to what made this woman tick.

Infinite Variety is an interesting peek at an interesting woman but description after description of party after party and quotes about how extraordinary she was got repetitious. After awhile I got fed up with the Marchesa whose superficial ways cost her her only daughter and the family fortune. (Although I do applaud Luisa for stepping outside the conventions of the day. Something only a woman with money could do.)

For anyone interested in fashion, the Marchesa is worth knowing about since she was such an icon and muse even in recent fashion history to the likes of Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford, and John Galliano, but it’s hard for me to recommend a cover to cover read of this 259 page book. A brief skim and for sure spend some time with the images.

 

Read Full Post »

IMG_20180117_122722515

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. 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »