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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. 

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The woman with limited resources has no more cause for being dowdily dressed than the rich woman has reason to believe she is beautifully clad. The contrary is very often true. Whereas the rich woman can satisfy her every whim in a most haphazard fashion, the woman of average means, simply because she is actually forced to THINK about her wardrobe, is more apt to realize what suits her and what doesn’t. She learns how to choose and what to select. She acquires the art of dressing well. 

Paul Poiret – French fashion designer (1879-1944)

This quote reminds me of something a milliner once told me – that she was glad she didn’t have the money to buy fancy tools for her trade because it forced her to be creative and use other things, such as old spoons, to create beautiful hats.

 

 

 

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Day-Lewis sports his own look for the W interview photo shoot. Navy blue suits him. 

In the case of Phantom Thread, when we started I had no curiosity about the fashion world. I didn’t want to be drawn into it. Even now, fashion itself doesn’t really interest me. In the beginning, we didn’t know what profession the protagonist would have. We chose fashion and then realized, What the hell have we let ourselves into? And then the fashion world got its hooks in me. 

Daniel Day-Lewis, British actor, starring in the film Phantom Thread.

This quote is from an interview with reporter Lynn Hirschberg for W.

To prepare for playing the part of couturier Reynolds Woodcock (a fictional character) Day-Lewis, like all good actors, did extensive research. He watched 1940s and 50s fashion show archival footage and spent many months apprenticing with Marc Happel, head of the NYC Ballet costume department. He learned to sew and even … get this –  made a Balenciaga dress.

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Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread. 

He found a photo of what he thought was a simple Balenciaga dress and decided to make it. Turns out it was not so simple but undaunted he sketched the design and went about draping gray flannel fabric on his wife, Rebecca Miller, who stepped in as a fit model. He says the hardest part was figuring out “a very particular gusset in the armpit.” By trial and error (always the way in sewing) he figured it out and lined the dress in what became Woodcock’s signature color, a pinkish lilac.

Very impressive!

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Whatever you do, do it carefully. 

Alma – fictional character (played by Vicky Krieps) in the new film, Phantom Thread. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Excellent advice going into the new year. This will be my 2018 mantra.

Speaking of Phantom Thread, I am looking forward to this film. Of course for the fashions, but I hear that really the film is less about that and more about a dark character obsessed with creativity (Day-Lewis). The fashion industry is just his context. The script was a collaboration between Day-Lewis and Anderson – they started with the fictional character, Reynolds Woodcock, and placed him in the world of fashion.

Day-Lewis stated in a recent interview with W, that he has had a hard time shaking off this particular character. Apparently it’s not uncommon for the serious actor to fully immerse himself in his characters, but Woodcock is different somehow and Day-Lewis was left with such sadness that he has announced his retirement from acting. The unusual formal announcement made it binding. He says he doesn’t want to get “sucked back into another project.” I wonder if somewhere in his mind was Alma’s advice – Whatever you do, do it carefully.

In the meantime, Day-Lewis has been nominated for a Golden Globe and we shall soon hear what Oscar has to say.

General release is set for January 19th, 2018.

 

 

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By the Light of the Silvery Moon, Victor Stiebel. 1928

 

 

 

 

Readers – A great big Thank You for following along with OverDressedforLife. Wishing one and all happy and safe New Year celebrations.

Here’s to 2018 and many more stylin’ stories. 

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Bette-Nash4In the old days, we saw a lot of mink coats. Today, we see a lot of flip-flops.

Bette Nash, American Airlines flight attendant.

Ms. Nash, 81, just celebrated her 60th anniversary working as a flight attendant.

I chose this quote (from an article by Lori Aratani for The Washington Post) because it’s sadly funny and pretty much says it all about how far we’ve descended into sartorial sloppiness.

I know flying is hard. It’s crowded, long, and unpleasant. But what if at least some of us made the effort to look nice? Maybe not a fur coat but a blazer? A pair of slacks instead of yoga pants or jeans. Add a scarf and a cap. Perhaps our experience would be more positive and we just might inspire other travelers to up their game.

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