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Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category

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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There are many hatmakers who just make hats, and who don’t think about the fashion. I love thinking about the fashion, and the crazy thing about fashion is that every six months you have to reinvent yourself. Fashion makes sense when it matches the mood and the moment. It’s about the now.

Stephen Jones, English Milliner

This year Mr. Jones celebrates his 60th birthday and 40 years making hats!
Jones has made remarkable hats and fascinators for everyone from Boy George and Isabella Blow to Princess Diana and most recently Pippa Middleton. He has worked with designers John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs to name just a few, while also maintaining his own line of hats.
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One of my favorite Stephen Jones hats from Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2012.

 

A Club Boy back in the 70s, Jones studied at St. Martin’s in London. He began making hats for friends in 1977 and hasn’t looked back since. Today he creates head-turning masterpieces in his studio/shop located in an 18th century Convent Garden building. (What a perfect spot for inspiration.)

Congratulations to Stephen Jones. Here’s to may more years of fabulous hats!!

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That’s me sporting my custom-made shirtwaist dress by Theresa LaQuey. Photo: James Young

Throwback Thursday. Originally posted on June 23, 2011.

Last October I had a brilliant idea while strolling Fabric Row in Philadelphia. Why not buy some fabric to take home and have a couple of dresses made? What a perfect memento of my visit to Philly.

So that’s what I did. I perused the family run shop Maxie’s Daughter on South 4th Street and chose two cotton fabrics – one with a violet color print and the other a brown/orange print. I knew I wanted shirtwaist dresses I could wear with sandals in the spring/summer and with tights in the autumn.

The middle-aged salesladies with frosted updos and South Philly accents seemed more serious about the upcoming baseball playoffs than fabric. “We’re gonna beat you,” they teased. “OK,” I said. “I have no problem with that.”  Heck, I was a San Francisco visitor with absolutely no attachment to ballgames, I wasn’t going to argue with Phillies fans.

When I returned home, designer Theresa LaQuey sketched a retro shirtwaist dress with buttons down the front and a knee-length hem (very vintage nurses uniform). A few months later, voila … I had dresses that are well made and fit to a T.

Every time I wear them I think of my visit to Philly and those serious Phillies fans. Now, those are dresses with a story.

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IMG_0292One more London story! On my visit last October, I set out to find the Beau Brummell statue. Erected in 2002 the statue stands just outside Piccadilly Arcade on Jermyn Street.

It’s not easy to find. But we did and much to my surprise we also found a couple of bums hanging at the feet of Mr. Brummell. I suspect they were not not there to pay homage. Ha! I doubt they had any idea who this man was or his importance in fashion history.

George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (1778-1840) was London born and a general man-about-town with royal connections. He was known for gambling and unusual sartorial choices. In the British Regency period (1811-1820) the trends for aristocratic gentlemen were embroidered coats and waistcoats (Brit speak for vests), knee breeches, white stockings and shoes with gem encrusted buckles. They sported tall wigs, white powder makeup with red stain in their lips and fragrance.

It was too much for Mr. Brummell who pushed back with a simply tailored “suit” the first of its kind – a white linen shirt underneath a tan waistcoat, black coat with tails, fitted pantaloons paired with tall boots, a cravat (predecessor to the tie), and top hat. No wigs, no makeup and most of all no scent! He believed in bathing everyday, which was not the done thing at the time.

The story goes that it took him several hours to dress each morning and men would line up outside his flat in Mayfair hoping to secure a place inside to watch how he did it. Among the admirers was the Prince Regent, later to become King George IV.

He had quite a lasting influence on men’s attire.

I’m a fan of Mr. Brummell’s for his contribution to fashion but also, he was an interesting character with high style standards and a quick wit. I was more than a little annoyed by these two men just sitting with no intent to leave, even after noticing my photo taking. But I after awhile I began to enjoy the irony and humor of the dapper dandy standing confident and tall over a couple of shoddy fellas. I imagined him poking his walking stick at one guy and offering a nice swift kick to the other. Indeed, at the feet of Mr. Brummell is exactly where these two belong.

Have I piqued your interest in Brummell? I recommend the biopic called Beau Brummell: The Charming Man (2006).

And/or the biography by Ian Kelly, Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Dandy (Hodder & Stoughton).

 

 

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My mom has (jokingly) started calling me “Mom” …  since she now needs a little more attention. So, I say let’s celebrate moms of all kinds.

Happy Mother’s Day from us to you!

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