Feeds:
Posts
Comments

IMG_20170331_152311

I could go to 10 Avenue George V wearing the most uneventful outfit and emerge with the certainty that to the knowing, or even to the ignorant, eye I was well dressed. A Balenciaga could be outlandishly showy or, like mine, almost plain. What they all had, uniquely, was poise – a savant equilibrium that was quiet even at its most extravagant – and this poise was passed onto the wearer. It was my blue light wool Balenciaga suit that enabled me to take out a notepad and quiz Eleanor Roosevelt at the Hotel de Crillon as if I were (almost) entitled to. 

– Mary Blume, columnist and author of: The Master of Us All Balenciaga: His Workrooms, His World (FS&G, 2013)

16864778_1621459711199312_3192038558631594158_nMs. Blume was a lucky young woman when in the early 1960s, after having arrived in Paris to work as a journalist, she was introduced to Florette, Christobal Balenciaga’s top vendeuse.* Florette took to Ms. Blume and often invited her into the storied fashion house to peruse the designs and buy a few older pieces at a sizeable discount.

The luck continued and more recently Ms. Blume was able to interview 90-something Florette before she died in 2006. The devoted vendeuse still had a sharp memory, providing for Ms. Blume a detailed look at the inner workings of the Balenciaga fashion house, from the time she was hired in 1936 to the day it closed in 1968. The result is the biography (and fashion history) – The Master of Us All Balenciaga: His Workrooms, His World.

A great book! I particularly enjoyed the bits about how fashion houses operated in those days – far less commercial – and I appreciated Ms. Blume’s detailed inclusion of the historical context in which Balenciaga was working. Lot’s of stories on other designers of the era (Dior) as well as society ladies, models, and … the vendeuses.

*A vendeuse worked in designer fashion houses with clients helping them choose pieces from each new collection. She collaborated with the seamstresses in fittings and saw to appointments and the overall satisfaction of her clients. She was part saleswoman, part stylist and a very important member of the staff. A good vendeuse was invaluable to any designer.

IMG_20170426_165634223

I did! Last year I went on a sewing spree instead of a shopping spree. Inspired to learn basic construction of clothing and to add my own creations to my wardrobe, I made a dress, a pair of pants, a skirt, and a cape. I have to say that it’s really satisfying to sport something I have made myself. Additionally, I realized how much skill and talent it takes to put together a quality garment. Skills that, sadly, we just don’t learn anymore in this country.

Now I have a new appreciation for those people out there in the world who are making our clothes.

 

IMG_20170423_112444840Designed in the UK but made in China, Boden offers a charming line of clothing, much of it vintage inspired. Sweet dresses, cardigan sweaters, button-down shirts in whimsical prints, trench coats and more.

Designs are simple and the quality is impressive with extra details such as contrasting lining in a blazer or inside a shirt collar as you see right. Prices are reasonable particularly for this kind of high quality – approximately $125 for dresses, $80 for a summer linen shirt, pants are $130.

Again, I’d like to know who is making these clothes? Are they fairly treated?

Fashion Revolution Week. An opportunity to think and ask questions.

IMG_20170423_111916977Isaac Mizrahi designs really stylish clothes with a reasonable price tag. Not cheap like H&M and Zara, but say $35 for a cotton t-shirt, $75 for a dress, $50 for pants. His look is part preppy, part hip and all surprisingly well constructed.

His line is made in China, which to me, in the past, meant junk. But I have learned that what comes out of China varies in quality. For Isaac Mizrahi the people doing the sewing are skilled and someone cares about quality control.

I wonder about all that. Are the seamstress paid well? How are the working conditions?

Fashion Revolution Week is an opportunity to think about these things and ask questions.

Belgium-Honest-By-1

A lot of the resources that we use to make our clothing are not accounted for in the cost of producing those clothes. So, it has water that’s used to produce clothing, land that is used to grow the fiber, chemicals that are used to dye … those things all are inputs. As inputs they cost something and they also give outputs. In some cases good outputs – the clothing themselves, jobs. But in other cases bad outputs – harmful chemicals, greenhouse gas. And those things have costs as well. 

Mike Schragger, director Sustainable Fashion Academy

Have you ever considered what goes into your clothes? The natural resources? The labor? The skills?

There’s a trend among some in the fashion industry to take a closer look at our clothing and ask questions. Just like a few years ago when we asked about our food and where it comes from, we want to know:

  • Where are our clothes made?
  • Who made them?
  • What’s in the fabric?
  • What is the TRUE cost of our cheap clothes?

The UK based non-profit organization Fashion Revolution is sponsoring Fashion Revolution Week, April 24-30 to honor the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, in which 1138 workers died and many were injured. Also during this time people around the world are planning events to highlight the true cost of fashion and inspire us to think and question.

One of the many campaigns is #whomademyclothes? Sport a piece of clothing inside out so the label shows. Take a selfie holding a sign that says – Who Made My Clothes? Post on Instagram and Twitter with #whomademyclothes? Make sure to share with the brand you’re wearing.

Join Fashion Revolution! Click here for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

amelia-earhartWhen I’m flying in my little plane, I usually wear a sports costume with a rather full skirt and a close-fitting hat. Sometimes I slip a leather windbreaker on under my coat, for the temperature drops as one ascends.  … Usually on a solo flight, I wear low-heeled shoes, because with low heels it is easier to keep my feet braced on the rubber bar … On the Friendship flight … the trip was pioneering one, and comforts were not thought of. For instance, there was no step from the pontoons to the door, and I couldn’t have jumped into the plane in a skirt. Further … we had dumped everything to sit on, to save weight. Squatting on a rolled flying suit, or kneeling on one knee, or sliding between the large gas tanks wouldn’t have left much of ladylike ensemble.

Amelia Earhart (1897-disappeared 1937), pilot and first women to fly solo across the Atlantic. This quote is from an essay Ms. Earhart wrote for Harper’s Bazaar in 1929.

Ha! And we think we have it hard flying these days.

Ms. Earhart created her own style for flying, which often included trousers, button down shirt topped with a leather jacket and a scarf. Looking at photos it seemed she felt more comfortable in sporty attire than the more traditional feminine frocks of her era.

Speaking of flying and attire, as I get ready for traveling this week I’m pondering what to wear in flight. It is tough in these days of overcrowded airplanes balancing comfort with looking presentable. Anything tailored is too restricting, skirts are impractical for sitting, and who wants to risk our really nice pieces of clothing to the grit and grim of airline seats?

I usually go simple in corduroy pants and a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt. I add a scarf and my trusty beret for a little chic factor – accessories can upgrade any outfit. Outerwear might be my tweed coat or this time of year I think I’ll go with a puffer vest. Oxfords rather than sneakers also keep the look sharp. (Although, sneakers are looking pretty darn fashionable lately.)

How about you, my fashionable readers? How you do manage to look nice and stay comfortable while flying? Vintage-loving readers, how do you keep vintage while traveling?

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

 

IMG_20170406_180125834

This quintessential hippie look is not usually my style but I was immediately drawn to it, particularly the denim skirt. I think perhaps because of my recent adventure into sewing, I see clothing a little differently.

IMG_20170406_184212208I’m inspired by the idea of reuse and patching denim pieces to create something new. But even more exciting to me is the exposed hand stitching in various bright colors. There is something very charming about that.

In our modern era of massed produced fast fashion it’s exciting to see handcrafted clothing that people took time with and cared about.

Find some Summer of Love favorites for yourself at The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll on now through August 20, 2017 at the de Young Museum, San Francisco.

Be there or be square!