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One of the assignments in the fashion history class I recently completed was to find historical fashion references in current fashion. In magazines I looked for examples covering ancient clothing to the 20th century and matched with historical images from books, plus I had to write a comment.

I hopped right on it and started looking when the class began in January and it took me pretty much the whole semester. It wasn’t something you could get done in one sitting (I think that some of the other students might have tried). It was old-school cut and paste and I really had fun with it.

I’m going to share my findings with ODFL readers over the next weeks. First up is the Schenti:

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Tune in again next week.

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samiraGreat style is about more than the way we wear our clothes. It is also how we see and occupy space in the world around us.

Samira Nasr, the next editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar.

Last week Hearst Magazines announced that Samira Nasr will take the reigns from Glenda Bailey, who had been the HB editor for 19 years.

Ms. Nasr is the first Black woman to be appointed to such a position in the magazine’s 153 year history. She started her fashion career as an assistant to Grace Coddington at Vogue and she also worked for a time as fashion director for Elle. Most recently Ms. Nasr was the fashion director at Vanity Fair.

Ms. Bailey steps down at HB but she will still walk the hallways of Hearst headquarters working as “global consultant” which, as I understand it, means she will connect (make deals?) fashion marketers with Hearst magazine editors.

Congratulations to Ms. Nasr! As a subscriber to HB, I look forward to something new and exciting.

Farewell to Ms. Bailey, who kept HB alive and thriving during some really challenging times in magazine publishing.

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Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.

 

Number three on my list of Favorite Go-to Films is: You’ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (1998).

It’s the story of two book store owners – Joe Fox, who owns the mega-chain Fox Books and Kathleen Kennedy, proprietor of the children’s book store Shop Around the Corner. The two have found each other online (a very novel concept in the late 90s) but they also know – and dislike – each other in person. The thing is they don’t know the online people are also the in-person people. And then there’s the problem of Joe putting Kathleen out of business.  Directed by Nora Ephronand based on the 1940 film Shop The Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, You’ve Got Mail is oh-so-charming and quite funny.

OK, so the costumes aren’t showy in this romantic comedy, but they are certainly of the era and appropriate for the characters. Costume designer Albert Wolsky says that he was striving for a studious look for Kathleen. Covering four seasons in the Upper West Side of New York City, we see Kathleen in jumpers and opaque tights, skirts with Oxford shirts, khaki slacks paired with a white t-shirt and a grey cardigan. Colors are muted and the silhouettes are simple. Wolsky says that Kathleen is not a fashion plate. Kathleen’s dress in the final scene is a Marc Jacobs and the only designer brand used.

It’s rare for me to have extended laugh-out-loud moments while watching movies, but co-stars Parker Posey (Joe’s self-focused girlfriend) and Dave Chappelle (Joe’s business assistant) are hilarious in just a few brief scenes. I enjoy these actors and I always rewind their scenes for the laughs. Dabney Coleman as Joe’s cad-of-a-father is also pretty funny as is Jean Stapleton, Kathleen’s spirit-guided accountant.

We’ve got charm, humor, books, and gorgeous NYC street scenes. What’s not to like?

 

 

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The Tear Dress by Elsa Schiaparelli.

 

In difficult times fashion is always outrageous. 

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), Italian born fashion designer.

Schiaparelli is my favorite designer of all time. Known for her collaboration with Surreal artist Salvador Dali, Schiaparelli designs were unique and fanciful and very much of the Art Deco era.  She turned the shape of a shoe into a hat and circus animals became buttons.

In this quote I wonder if Schiaparelli means that the idea of fashion during challenging times is outrageous. Or is she saying that fashion itself is (or should be) outrageous during such times.

Let’s go with the latter, and if it’s true then 2020 should see some extreme fashion, like the Schiaparelli dress pictured above. The Tear dress was part of the designer’s Circus Collection for summer 1938. The printed image on the delicate fabric is of cut skin reveling dark red blood underneath. There are actual slashes in the mantle worn over the head (pictured above left), which reminds me of the popularity of slashed fabrics during the 16th century.

Judith Watt says of the dress in her book Vogue on Elsa Schiaparelli (Quadrille Publishing, 2012), “The Tear dress remains a singularly hostile work … Taken out of political context in which General Franco was to seize complete power in Spain and Hitler was poised to annex Czechoslovakia and Austria, its meaning and impact is lost.”

Hostile garb for hostile times. What do we wear to reflect our current state of outrage?

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I wear my mask. What does yours look like?

People need to wear masks; they need to social distance. They need to be rigorous and responsible about this. This is not something to be taken casually or lightly … You could kill people or you could be killed yourself. 

Tim Gunn, fashion icon and host of Project Runway and Making the Cut. Gunn was recently on the radio interview show, Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Everyone’s favorite fashion icon, Gunn shared what he’s been wearing while sheltering-in-place: sometimes pajama bottoms with a plain white t-shirt and a navy blue robe, but he says he would never step outside his NYC front door in such a casual ensemble. When he goes out to the corner store he wears a turtleneck sweater and dark wash jeans. For Zoom meetings he dons a sport coat and tie.

Gross asked if he wore a fashionable mask and he explained that he didn’t want to bother with having to consider colors or pattern. A plain medical mask goes with everything.

Good point, although, I have to admit that if I were a fashion designer I’d be working on a line of matching mask and skirt/dress/pants/jacket.

Yep, I’d be all over that! Because Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon and therefore, neither are masks.

 

 

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Restaurants and bars in Vilnius, the capitol of Lithuania, are reopening as restrictions are lifted. But social distancing is still in place and that posed a challenge for restaurant owner Bernie Ter Braak, “Empty tables inside our restaurant look rather odd, and we don’t have any way to remove them,” he explained.

Then Braak and designer Julija Janus had a brilliant idea! They contacted some local fashion designers and invited them to dress mannequins in their latest designs and place them at empty tables in reopened restaurants, cafes, and bars. Now through the end of May, several dozen establishments are featuring fashions from nineteen boutiques. Information about the clothes and designers is made available for interested patrons.

“The fashion industry is particularly affected by the lock-down,” said Julia Janus. “Local boutiques used to sell the niche, original pieces created by local designers. As they are currently closed due to the quarantine, designers do not have many opportunities to showcase their latest collections, and in general, the consumption is down. We hope that this campaign will move the waters and local designers will gain some visibility.”

In the spirit of collaboration one of Europe’s leading mannequin manufacturers, IDW, showed their support by generously offering to loan their mannequins free of charge.

As I said, this is a brilliant idea and I hope it catches on around the globe. I would definitely have lunch or grab a cup of coffee with a fashionable dummy.

* Images provided by Go Vilnius.

 

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Above is a 1961 photo (postcard) of  the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), which was a separate branch of the US Army until 1978. WAC started serving at the Presidio in 1944, where they worked as clerks, mechanics, drivers, and they took on responsibilities such as repair and public relations.

The uniform these women are wearing was designed in 1950 by Hattie Carnegie, who was known for excellence in women’s suits.

I recently read that one way to honor Memorial Day is to pause at 3pm in a moment of silence for the men and women who died while serving in the United States military.

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Edwardian ladies in lace. 

Society tottered through the last of the pre-War parties, waved tiny lace handkerchiefs, and carried elaborate parasols until the War came with its sweeping changes. 

Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon (1863-1935), British fashion designer.

World War I (1914-1918) brought about many changes in fashion, particularly for women. Long lacy gowns were replace by shorter skirts and jackets in sturdy fabrics. No more excessively large hats but instead close fitted hats with little to no embellishments. Women were now on the move and their clothes had to move with them.

With this Covid-19 pandemic,  we might see our own changes in fashion. Or will we? Truth be told, we really can’t get any more casual. Perhaps we will flip to the other side and want to dress up, but I doubt it. For starters, most people don’t even know how to do that anymore.

One added accessory will be masks. Perhaps more people will want to wear hats, as added protection. Also, gloves. Matching sets! I see a potential for additional pockets in clothing to make things like hand sanitizer quickly accessible. Otherwise, with the distraction of the virus and wanting to keep distant and stay safe, people, now more than ever, are going to want to be comfortable.

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Another one of my go-to movies is Miss Potter.

This 2006 film tells the bittersweet story of Beatrix Potter (played by Renee Zellweger) and the challenges she faces getting her children’s books (Peter Rabbit et al!) published  at the turn of the last century, when women just didn’t do such things.

No indeed, women instead must get married and despite Mrs. Potter’s best efforts to introduce her daughter to the right sort of suitor, Miss Potter says, ” I didn’t want to be marrying a man simply because he was rich enough to take care of me!” Then she met Norman Warne a publisher, and someone who connects with and appreciates Miss Potter. Warne is played by Mr. McGregor … a little Peter Rabbit inside joke … that would be Ewan McGregor.

Zellweger’s charming vulnerability is always a pleasure to watch and she does not disappoint in balancing the tenacity with the loneliness of her character, who easily wins our hearts. The costumes, by three-time Academy Award winner Anthony Powell, are an array of Edwardian treats: gored skirts paired with shirtwaists (button down blouses), high collars, belts, and small hats. Tailor-mades too, which were women’s suits made by tailors not seamstresses, who until the 1890s had made all women’s clothing. The men don three piece suits, detachable collars, and ties! I very much enjoy the London street scenes of the early 20th century as well as some beautiful countryside scenes.

There’s a bit of sadness in Miss Potter, but nothing dark and of course it ends on a hopeful note. “Pleasant and unadventurous” is what one reviewer said about this film and funny enough, that’s just my cup of tea right now.

 

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Florence Nightingale is credited for raising the profile of nurses during the Crimean War, 1853-1856.  

 

Today is the last day of National Nurses Week and Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

 

Thank you to all nurses who work so hard offering care, compassion, and comfort. 

 

I have an interest in nurse uniforms. Just for fun, below are some uniform styles of the past.

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