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Posts Tagged ‘fashion designers’

Installation of Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy at the Legion of Honor Museum. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

A fashion exhibit has recently opened at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy features the designs of Chinese couturier Guo Pei.

1002 Nights, 2010. Left Dress: hand-painted silk, embroidered with silk threads, embellished with Swarovski crystals, Headpiece: resin, silk tassels and Swarovski crystals. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Known for unique sculptural silhouettes and elaborate embroidery, Ms. Pei has been designing couture for four decades. She finds inspiration everywhere – from nature, history, and various cultures around the world – to create unexpected looks.

Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

From curator Jill D’Alessandro: This global worldview manifests itself in her designs, which draw equally from Asian and European aesthetics to occupy a space between fashion, theater, performance, and sculpture.

In 2016 Ms. Pei was the second designer born and educated in China to be inducted as a guest member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the Paris based organization that determines what design houses should be considered true couture.

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy features 80 designs from Ms. Pei’s 2007 through 2020 collections shown on Beijing and Paris runways. The exhibit is cleverly presented with pieces displayed around some of the museum’s permanent decorative arts collections as well as in independent galleries.

This is Ms. Pei’s first major museum exhibit and it runs now through September 5, 2022 at the Legion of Honor.

NOTE: Please be aware that the Legion of Honor (and the de Young Museum) no longer require masks for entry.

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Guo Pei with the famous Yellow Gown.

Fantasy is the height of your spirit. It is the most important part of life because it fuels its meaning. It makes your existence on this planet more than just thinking about what you eat and what you wear.

Guo Pei – Chinese fashion couturier.

Ms. Pei designed the fabulous over-the-top yellow gown that Rihanna wore to the Met Gala in 2015.

Well, now, for me fantasy crosses with thoughts of what I wear. I put much time and energy into creating various outfits – from every day looks to vintage ensembles. This is my creativity and where I like to let my mind wander. Sometimes my creativity in fashion crosses into my writing.

Ms. Pei is the subject of a new exhibit at the Legion of Honor Art Museum in San Francisco. Check back tomorrow for more on that.

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I wore huge, baggy, really oversize Levi’s with tiny, tiny, skinny black T-shirts. I had really short, short hair, and I used to wear these white clogs.

Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski- artistic director of Hermès womenswear.

Ms. Vanhee-Cybulski sported her described outfit when she was studying fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium. And those white clogs? She remembered them and used a low-heel version with every one of her designs in the Hermès 2021 ready-to-wear collection. They became the “status clog” and sold out (price tag = $900 to over $1000).

I was a fan of clogs in college, too. I had a brown leather pair and a patent leather pair in navy blue. The patent leather pair were an unexpected look and I wore them with white bobbysocks. In those days my only mode of transportation was a blue single-speed Schwinn bike, which worked fine in my smallish university town. But it sometimes didn’t work out so well with certain clothing – like those clogs.

One sunny afternoon I was pedaling kind of fast crossing a busy street when my foot slipped off the pedal and with it went my clog. It rose high up and thump – landed in the middle of the street. But I didn’t dare stop, I had to keep going and get to the other side. Once safe I pulled over and looked back to see the navy blue patent leather reflecting the bright sunlight, unhurt, but not for long as cars sped by nearly missing it. I waited for a green light and quickly ran into the street to retrieve my clog. Whew! That was a lucky break because a few months later those clogs played a role in my getting a job in a downtown boutique. (That’s another story for another post.)

A typical lesson one learns in youth – don’t wear clogs while biking!

Looking at this picture I can see her $1000 Hermès Café Clog flying right off that pedal.

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Our ethos has always been about creating clothes that real women truly want to wear – revitalizing American classics to offer collectable pieces.

Catherine Holstein – American fashion designer and creative director of Khaite

Ms. Holstein was recently featured, among other up and coming American fashion designers, in Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

I like her idea of “collectable pieces.” I’m a collector and instead of buying more, I prefer to create new looks with what I already own. Since I create my own style, trends are not an issue. I’m more likely to weave in a trending color or accessory – for example hobo handbags are back and I just happen to already have one from years ago.

I’m concerned about the impact the fashion industry is having on our planet so I try to be careful about how much I buy.

Speaking of sustainable fashion, today kicks of Fashion Revolution Week, April 18-24, an annual event that recognizes the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, where 1,100, mostly women seamstresses, died and 2,500 people were injured. FRW is a movement that seeks to raise our awareness of what’s really going on in clothing/fashion industry.

From the Fashion Revolution website: Currently, there is a lack of understanding and appreciation of the true cost of clothing. Price tags fail to reflect the social and environmental cost of production, while as consumers, we don’t always care for our clothes in the way we should. We need to scrutinize what it is we’re really paying for. Throughout Fashion Revolution Week, we’ll educate and inspire our global community on the real value of what we buy and wear. 

Click here for more information.

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Here’s a little story about how I found My Mrs. Brown: A month or so ago I was at my public library looking in the Fiction section for George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Affected by the current state of the world, I had an unexplainable desire to reread this dystopian classic. To my surprise there were no copies on the shelf. (Were other readers of the same mind?) So, I perused the other titles nearby and I swear this smaller-than-average blue book popped off the shelf and into my hands. My heart beat a little faster as I looked at an illustration of a dress form on the cover. Could it be? Might I have stumbled upon fashion in fiction? Indeed I had!

It’s rare to find fashion in fiction and My Mrs. Brown, written by former Vogue editor William Norwich, is a treat for its fashion detail among other things.

Middle-aged Mrs. Brown lives a modest life in a small town in Rhode Island. When she volunteers to help inventory the belongings of the town’s recently deceased Grand Dame, she comes upon a black dress suit (a dress with a matching jacket) that will change her life. The simple but exquisite suit was designed by Oscar de la Renta and once she set her eyes it she was captivated. After reading the novel Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, the story of a woman quite like our heroine who travels to Paris to buy herself a Dior gown, Mrs. Brown is inspired to travel to NYC and buy her own dress suit by Oscar de la Renta. Never mind that it cost thousands of dollars that she doesn’t have. Where there’s a will (and many good Samaritans) there’s a way.

My Mrs. Brown is described as a fairy tale. I call it a quiet story. There are no superheroes fighting off violent villains, no crass language, no drug-addiction. There is no darkness, although, there is timeless reality such as sadness, jealousy, and death. We also have (oh my gosh!) pleasant characters, a charming story of persistence and courage, and a nod to the everyday woman with a reasonable desire to own something lovely and stylish. Mr. Norwich creates a nostalgic small town with a main street and residents who actually know each other and spend time together. It has such an old-school vibe that I had to remind myself more than once that this was a story set in present day and I wondered if the author was hinting of a certain provincial quality to New England. But this sleepy Rhode Island town is also a handy contrast to hectic New York City, which is featured in the later part of the book.

As for fashion detail, Mr. Norwich seamlessly weaves in details of clothing, style, and the lifestyle of those in the biz. He knows the world of fashion and pulls it in as part of the story, but at just the right balance. For someone like me, that’s candy! Dark chocolate See’s candy.

I truly enjoyed My Mrs. Brown and the opportunity it allowed me to escape our increasingly uncivilized world and step into an uplifting story where a quiet, unassuming character is the winner.

We need more books like this.

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Early one September not long ago, a rural woman with a secret grief traveled to New York City in pursuit of a dream to buy the most beautiful and correct dress she’s ever seen. The dress wasn’t at all what you might expect. It wasn’t a riot of feathers and chiffon. It wasn’t designed to catch a man or reawaken her youth. It had nothing to do with a paparazzi-lined red carpet or the glories of shopping, “It” bags, “It” designers, or must-haves. The dress – and the lady’s use for it – was something else.

This is the opening from the novel My Mrs. Brown (Simon & Schuster).

Come back to ODFL tomorrow and read my review of this charming book by fashion insider William Norwich.

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I was sad to hear that fashion great, André Leon Talley, died of a heart attack on January 18th. He was 73.

Recently I read his latest memoir The Chiffon Trenches (Ballantine Books). What a life he had – he studied French literature and spoke the language fluently; he worked with Diana Vreeland, Andy Warhol, and later Anna Wintour; he lived in Paris and worked there as a correspondent reporting on fashion for WWD; he was creative director at Vogue magazine. His many friends included Karl Lagerfeld and Oscar de le Renta.

His life it seemed was charmed and yet, it wasn’t easy.

Both Wintour and Lagerfeld (people he considered good friends) dumped Talley, in 2013 he was let go from his position as the red carpet interviewer at the Met Gala, and he encountered racism and homophobia throughout his career.

He said in a radio interview that grace and style were his armor.

Grace and style (and a little sadness) were certainly what I saw from Talley at the Press Preview for the San Francisco de Young Museum’s Oscar de la Renta retrospective exhibit in 2016. He was the guest curator for the exhibit and in speaking to the press he expressed great admiration and affection for de la Renta, who was the first to take a young Talley under his wing. It was a lasting friendship, perhaps one of the few in the fashion trenches. (The celebrated designer died in 2014.)

Talley’s message of grace and style is something to remember. I don’t think anyone travels though life smoothly. The journey has obstacles and challenges of many kinds and putting on that suit, dress, hat, helps elevate the spirit on those particularly rough days. At least that’s what works for me.

Thank you, Mr. Talley. Your grand sense of style will be missed.

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My dresses usually have pockets. I’m taking into consideration the realities women face today.

Meryll Rogge, Belgian fashion designer.

Ms. Rogge started her own fashion house in 2020, after working for fashion icons Marc Jacobs and Dries Van Noten.

Pockets in women’s clothing is such an issue. Ask any woman and she will confirm that YES! we want pockets. Particularly these days when certain things need to be accessible as we navigate our mask covered pandemic world. But designers say – pockets add bulk and can ruin a silhouette.

Well, there is an answer and I call it the Pocket Bag. Last year, I noticed that there were things I needed to consistently get to quickly and so I started carrying, in addition to a regular handbag or tote, a little pocket of sorts. Over my head or around my waist, this pocket holds keys, hand sanitizer, lip balm, and a pen. (Everyone should use their own pen!) I made a couple of these bags, but I also have one from Great Bags (pictured). Pocket Bags are handy as well if you’re carrying a backpack and/or you’re traveling and need to access your passport, etc. Plus, I think you can have fun with the look.

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Welcome to December. Welcome to the holidays. I would venture to say that most fashionables love a good fashion book. Here’s a list of my fashion book recommendations for holiday gift giving.

Lee Miller in Fashion by Becky E. Conekin (The Monacelli Press). My introduction to Lee Miller was an exhibit of her WWII photography at the V&A Museum in London. I’ve been captivated by her ever since. An American expat in England, Ms. Miller lived a very complex and interesting life as a fashion model, photographer, surrealist artist, WWII correspondent, journalist for Vogue magazine and later almost a recluse in the English countryside. This book focusses on her work as a fashion photographer; included are lots of photos that show her talent and her way of looking at fashion, as well as the fashions of the day in WWII Europe.

The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir by Andre Leon Talley (Ballantine Books). Fashion journalist and former creative director at Vogue magazine, Andre Leon Talley spills the tea all over the fashion world with his experiences among industry royalty. Mr. Talley shares childhood memories growing up in Durham, NC as well as all the highs and lows and many disappointments of his career, which began in 1970s NYC. He offers insights as well as a close up look at what it’s like working with such icons as Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld (guess what – it isn’t always pretty).

How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion From the 16th to the 20th Century by Lydia Edwards (Bloomsbury Academic). I received this as a Christmas gift one year from my sis-in-law and it quickly became my favorite fashion history reference book. Each section starts with a historical overview followed by pictures of the costumes with each detail of the various silhouettes pointed out and commented on. This is a handy guide to have for quick reference as well as serious study and I really appreciate the Glossary of Terms in the back of the book. (There is a new edition out this year with additional chapters and expansion to the year 2020.)

How to Read a Suit: A Guide to Changing Men’s Fashion from the 17th to the 20th Century by Lydia Edwards (Bloomsbury Academic). When I was taking a fashion history class in 2020, much to my surprise I was completely taken with the men’s fashions of the 17th and 18th centuries. My, were they embellished and extravagant and interesting! When I came upon this book in the Bloomsbury catalogue I had to have it. I enjoy just looking through the pages of images and studying the details. The layout is the same as How to Read a Dress.

In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir by Patricia Gucci (Crown Archetype). We’ve been hearing a lot about the Gucci family with the recent release of the film House of Gucci, starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver. This memoir is not that story. Patricia Gucci is the “love child” of Aldo (eldest son of the founder of Gucci and played in the movie by Al Pacino) and his mistress, to whom he was devoted for many years. Ms. Gucci writes her childhood story living alone with her mother, seeing her fashion mogul father every so often. He spent most of his time putting the family fashion business on the map, opening stores and spreading the Gucci logo all around the world. Eventually, Patricia joined the company. This is an intriguing story about family, fashion, and business and how they don’t necessarily all fit neatly together.

It’s fashionable to shop local and support independent bookstores. If you don’t see what you want on the shelves, ask. Most bookstores can place an order and get what you need, pronto.

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Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in Spencer.

The idea was that we were never slavishly replicating all of Diana’s looks, but we were definitely riffing on the idea of them. So we were quite consciously not trying to do the closest version we could in every instance. But in some places we used things that were exactly her style and then other places we drifted off. We bought a retro pair of jeans, and the sweaters weren’t made by us, obviously. But a lot of the pieces were made.

Jacqueline Durran, British costume designer.

This quote is from a Q&A Ms. Durran did with Entertainment Weekly about her latest project – the film, Spencer.

We have some treats coming up in Holiday Season 2021 and one is this film staring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana. Spencer covers three days, over Christmas, of Princess Diana’s life when she is at one of her lowest points.

Ms. Durran has won two Academy Awards for her work – on Anna Karenina in 2012 and Little Women in 2019. She also created the oh-so-lovely green dress that Keira Knightley wore in Atonement.

I’m looking forward to Spencer. From what I hear Ms. Stewart does an impressive job and then of course, the costumes!!

Also, calling all the other House of Eliott fans out there, the actress who played one of the Eliott sisters is playing an important role in Spencer. Can anyone spot her? If so, tell me the actress’s name, which Eliott sister she played, and what role does she have in Spencer. Leave all that in a comment. Don’t cheat!

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