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Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick and Glenn Close at the CDG awards ceremony. Photo: The Costume Designers Guild. 

From the muslin prototype to the finished masterpiece, stitch by stitch, thought by thought, revelation by revelation. My characters would finally emerge. 

Glenn Close, American film and stage actress.

Ms. Close was recently honored by the Costumer Designers Guild with the Spotlight Award.

This quote is from The Costume Designer, the official magazine of the Costumer Designers Guild.

It’s nice to see appreciation for costumers. Once, way back when I did costumes for community theater, a director said to me, “I don’t care if the actors go on stage naked.” That’s how little regard he had for the costumes in his show, which was always a puzzle to me. Really? Because the costumes set a visual tone not to mention help to create the characters. Oh well, at least his disinterest allowed me a lot of freedom and there was no pushback. No appreciation but no criticism. It could have been worse.

Congratulations to Glenn Close and all the winners of the CDGA.

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Jerry Garcia’s vintage top hat, c.1969. 

Let’s celebrate the freedom to sport our own individual style.

OverDressedforLife wishes one and all a happy and safe Independence Day!

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My necklace is Tiffany. My jacket is Juicy Couture. My purse is Louis Vuitton and my shoes are Ugg. 

Anonymous.

Picture an 8-year-old girl saying this to me, a reporter, at a store grand opening in Downtown San Francisco. The place is packed with slick well-clad people standing in clusters sipping champagne and saying “no” to the hors d’oeuvres offered on trays by silent waitstaff.

It was circa 2009 when I was covering such events for the Nob Hill Gazette and the now defunct 944 magazine  A media savvy mother introduced her daughter to me and the youngster immediately launched into her spiel in a sign-song little voice that still rings in my ears. I didn’t even have the chance to say hello. This fashionista knew what to say and do. After listing the brands she struck a pose. Hand on waist, head tilted and sporting a wide grin she stood as still as a stone sculpture waiting for me to take her photo.

My first thought was – a little girl is carrying a Louis Vuitton?! Wearing the wardrobe and speaking the speak of a grown woman, she was at once charming and surreal.

This is just one of many memorable experiences I had during a two year period that I call The Fling, when, as a member of the press I attended openings, parties, and other events hosted by SF socialites. It was a fun and a bewildering period of my writing life that left me with many an interesting story to tell. And a few not to tell.

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Gloria Vanderbilt and her jeans, mid-1970s. 

All art, from the paintings on the walls of cave dwellers to art created today, is autobiographical because it comes from the secret place in the soul where imagination resides. 

Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019), American heiress, designer, author, artist.

The great-great-granddaughter of a railroad magnate, Gloria was an only child and very wealthy. Her father died when she was just a baby and her mother left her with nannies while she traveled the world spending her daughter’s money. Gloria’s aunt sued for custody and the press thrived on that for weeks, calling the 10-year old, “a poor little rich girl.” That attention sealed her fate as a non-Hollywood celebrity. After her aunt won custody of Gloria, the two lived together in a New York City mansion.

Fast forward to three marriages and many creative endeavors including model, artist, author, poet, and what she might be best known for –  fashion designer, specifically women’s jeans. In the 1970s a clothing manufacturer signed Gloria to market their jeans, which were specifically cut for women’s figures. Hers was the first “designer jean” complete with the Vanderbilt signature on the back rear pocket. The deal was a big success and grew into Gloria Vanderbilt Apparel Corporation, which was eventually sold to the Jones Apparel Group in 2002.

Any American woman alive in the 1970s probably sported a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.

RIP, Gloria.

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Lesley Warren from Salon 1757.

I’m a regular at Salon 1757 in North Berkeley where Kit Cullinane has been keeping my hair looking its bobbed best since 2006. On a recent visit to the salon I thought stylist Leslie Warren was looking particularly Berkeley chic.

It’s the pants that make the outfit. Lesley tells me she found them in the Juniors Department at Nordstrom in Seattle. (It’s always smart to look in Juniors.)  The detailing along the sides is a current trend and turns otherwise simple pants into something interesting. The shoes are just the right Berkeley quirky and the low heel is perfect with the shorter hem-length of the pants. Lesley punches up the all black look with a colorful scarf. And of course her full bouncy red hair tops it all off nicely. I also really like her subtle cat-eye glasses.

 

 

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It’s all in the detail.

Berkeley has always had its own unique style. Part European or Asian, part hippie, part DIY. Think non-structured silhouettes, Dansko clogs, shades of black and gray, geometric patterns, texture, natural fabrics (linen is a favorite), layering, and sometimes a touch of vintage.

Thank you, Lesley! I’ll be seeing you again in the salon.

 

qKBCeTOLKJwC… as luxury became available to the mass market, the more luxury became devalued. It was a sign of status not to have an expensive bag, but a new expensive bag every season. The notion that luxury items endure was abolished. Status came from being able to discard luxury goods as if they were high street. What was left of real worth was either the difficult to obtain (the Hermes waiting list) or the ostentatiously, obtrusively flashy, such as Cate Blanchett’s $100,000 stolen bag with the black pave diamonds.  

Linda Grant, British author. Quote from The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasure of Shopping and Why Clothes Matter, (Scribner, 2010).

This quote reminds me of a recent trip to the Dollar Store. I was standing in the checkout line behind a woman who was dressed in unbranded shorts and sneakers. Dangling from her wrist was a thin Louis Vutton  pouch. As we stood together in this slow-moving line, I began to wonder if it was the real thing or a fake. Would this woman spend over $600 on a small piece of luxury? Would a woman who can afford such a splurge bother waiting in a long line at the Dollar Store?

louis-vuitton-daily-pouch-monogram-small-leather-goods--M62048_PM2_Front viewThese days who knows. Maybe it was a gift. Or she saved up. Or she bought it second hand. Or maybe she’s loaded and enjoys bargains like the rest of us, so she’s willing to shop at the Dollar Store.

Lucky for me, since I can’t afford it anyway, I’ve never been attracted to branded luxury. Although I appreciate the quality of a Chanel or a Hermes or a Louis Vutton, I prefer my own monogram. Plus, I’m not going to spend that kind of money on something that someone else might assume is a fake. Ms. Grant is right, luxury has been devalued. What used to be aspirational is now achievable.

I find luxury in quality and uniqueness. I don’t want what everybody else has – real or fake.

Cover image, EMMIE AND THE TUDOR KINGToday OverDressedforLife has a guest post by Natalie Murray, who has just published her first Young Adult novel Emmie and the Tudor King.

Natalie is sharing with us the continuing influence of Tutor fashion.

Here’s Natalie …

Fashion isn’t typically a first thought when someone mentions the Tudors. Beheadings or high treason, anyone? However, the sixteenth-century Tudor court was not just a place where the king or queen might make you a head shorter; it was an haute couture catwalk for the English upper classes, with many trends lingering today. Here are six Tudor staples influencing fashion in 2019, from volume dresses to boxy toes:

1. Bold is beautiful. Cashed-up ladies in Tudor England exhibited their status through elaborately embellished frocks with plenty of layers. While hidden fabrics were typically left plain to save money, any visible part of a bodice or skirt was usually made from expensive fabric and richly decorated with everything from jewels to ribbons, feathers and lace. This theatrical aesthetic has graced the 2019 collections of Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Chanel—and many more—with voluminous skirts, extravagant detailing, and layers of romantic ruffles.

 

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Puffy sleeves by Ronald van der Kemp, spring ’19. Photo: Allesandro Viero.

2. Statement sleeves. With arms always covered during the pious Tudor era, the rich and royal had fun with inventive sleeves that were slashed, puffed, tied, and even embroidered with secret messages. From Alexander McQueen to Balenciaga, Loewe to Rodarte, this year’s spring and fall catwalks presented dramatic feature sleeves including ruffled, trumpet, rounded, puffed, and decorated with fanciful motifs.

3. Pictures and patterns. Tudor nobles adorned themselves with illustrations of the natural world, hunting scenes, mythical creatures, food varieties, and even their own initials. Fashion in 2019 has embraced motifs—particularly florals—evident in the embroideries and prints used by Valentino, Chanel, Maison Margiela, Alexis Mabille, and more. Iconography in fashion is no more OTT now than it was four hundred years ago.

4. Ruff around the edges. Synonymous with the chicest women and men of Queen Elizabeth I’s court, the Elizabethan ruff is enjoying a renaissance. Sprouting from necklines across this season’s spring and fall catwalks, the likes of Chanel, Valentino, Givenchy, Giambattista Valli, Christian Dior, and Schiaparelli, are proving that the ruff still rules.

5. Beneath the hood. Married women covered much of their hair during the Tudor period, and King Henry VIII’s six wives can be expressed through a tale of hoods: Catherine of Aragon wore the English gable hood with its conservative triangular frame, Anne Boleyn preferred the more modern crescent-shaped French hood, and Jane Seymour reverted back to the English hood as a strategic shunning of Anne Boleyn’s image. Designers bringing back head coverings this year include Marc Jacobs, Rodarte, Armani Prive, and Christian Dior.

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Square toe is making a comeback in fall ’19. Roberto Cavalli. Photo: Filippo Fior.

6. Square steps. While there isn’t a great deal of evidence about Tudor footwear, it’s believed that both men and women of the earlier sixteenth century favored square-toe slippers cut low to the ankle. This look is seen cushioning the tootsies of King Henry VIII in his famous portrait by Hans Holbein. This year, we’re seeing a square-toe revival in the form of winter boots at Eckhaus Latta, high-heeled boots at Roberto Cavalli, and pumps at Erdem.

Thanks, Natalie and congratulations on the publication of your first YA novel. I love this Tudor influence. I am particularly looking forward to “pictures and patterns” in fall ’19. 

Readers, check out Emmie and the Tudor King, Literary Crush Publishing. Great summer reading.