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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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woa-gabriela-perezetti-main-smallMy whole family used to use this seamstress, Tota, … growing up in Uruguay there were no fancy stores around – the nicest thing you could do was get European fabrics and have things made … We wouldn’t buy a lot but for each important stage of life or big event we’d have something made. There’s a suit from my mother, this olive wool skirtsuit with a blazer that has, like, a military seal and her initials embroidered on the pocket … I always loved the whole outfit, so much so that when we launched the first collection, I had that suit in it. It’s always been a reference to quality materials made to last …

Gabriela Hearst, women’s fashion designer. Quote from Elle magazine, October 2017.

I am a big fan of custom made clothing. I have an expanding wardrobe of fashions made just for me from dresses, to blouses, to a beautiful 1920s inspired coat.

It’s pure pleasure to don perfectly fitted clothing for which you have chosen the design and fabrics. Each piece is unique, well made, and it feels extra good to have supported local seamstresses/designers.

Also, I can relate to Ms. Hearst’s fondness for her mother’s wardrobe. What is it about our mother’s clothing from our childhoods? I too have memories of what my mother wore – specific images that I like to revisit. I even have some of the vintage pieces right out of her closet. Many of them special occasion outfits, but it’s the everyday pieces that I’m drawn to. The ones I saw all the time – the tweed skirts and Oxford shirts; slacks and desert boots. The outfits that identified a mom as my Mom.

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For all the ladies (& fellas) who love a beautiful shoe, have we got a film for you! Opening Friday, September 22, 2017 is …

MANOLO: THE BOY WHO MADE SHOES FOR LIZARDS

A Manolo Blahnik shoe can make any woman swoon. In this new documentary fashion journalist Michael Roberts gives us an up-close look the unassuming Mr. Blahnik and his journey from a little boy in Spain with a thing for lizards to world renowned designer. Included is commentary from fashion celebrities such as Anna Wintour, Rihanna, and Naomi Campbell just to name a few.

Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards (Music Box Films) runs at the Landmark Opera in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck Cinema in Berkeley, September 22-29. Check theaters for show times.

Click here to watch the trailer.

 

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Photo: Alexi Lubomirski for Harper’s Bazaar, August 2017. 

I like it when I see people dressed on the street and it looks like Gucci but it’s not. It means you are doing something right. If you want to go to the store, that’s fine. If you want to go to the market that’s much better. Or if you want to buy just a pair of shoes and then you want to go to the market, it’s better than better. 

Alessandro Michele, Italian designer for Gucci.

A great message – mix it up. Expensive with inexpensive – vintage with modern – brand with no-name. Get creative!

Speaking of designers, fashion week is coming up in NYC September 7-13, 2017.

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img_20170724_161221288.jpgEvery female student in Iran wore the same uniform, which consisted of pants, a manteau, and a scarf that covered the hair and neck. Imagine a throng of one thousand teenagers in the same color uniform only showing face and hands. We looked like replicas of one another … I hated blending in with the rest of the crowd, and most of my friends felt the same way. This meant that our shoes, backpacks, and jewelry really mattered. They were the only way to showcase our fashion sense and individuality … My friends and I usually wore matching colorful friendship bracelets, trendy backpacks, and funky shoelaces; we rolled up our sleeves and opened up our manteaus to reveal our shirts underneath. Being fashionable trumped any other responsibility. 

(A manteau is a loose fitting gown or cloak.)

Tala Raassi, swimwear designer.  This quote is from Ms. Raassi’s memoir, Fashion is Freedom (Sourcebooks, 2016).

I picked up this book at the library because I can never resist a fashion story. But Fashion is Freedom is more than that. It’s a compelling read about Ms. Raassi’s struggle to overcome restrictions in her homeland of Iran and the fascinating ups and downs she faced in the American fashion industry.

Oh, and there’s a very interesting section about Ms. Raassi’s experience as the swimwear sponsor of the Miss Universe Pageant in 2010 – it wasn’t pretty!

An informative read.

 

 

 

 

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Fashion sketches by Virginia Johnson published in Descant.

I paint all of my designs by hand. I use watercolor on paper. This is my most cherished part of the creative process. I welcome accidents in my sketches. In the manufacturing process, I try as much as possible to maintain a hand-crafted feel. I welcome print flaws in the fabric because this allows the presence of the human hand to show through.

Virginia Johnson – artist and designer.

This quote is from an essay Ms. Johnson wrote for the fashion issue of Descant, volume 38, number 3, fall 2007.

I agree with Ms. Johnson’s idea of slight imperfections in anything handmade. I’m reminded of something Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (is she still a duchess?) said when she was asked if she was nervous about modeling for an upcoming fashion show: “No,” she responded with a grin. “I think perfection is overrated.”

A perfectionist myself, that really struck me and I’ve remembered it ever since. It can be very liberating when working on any creative project to let go and see where the craft leads. (I admit my quest for perfection still plagues me when it comes to some of my writing projects.)

If we worry less about the outcome and just enjoy the process, that’s where we find art.

 

 

 

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Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons spring/summer 1997

What’s so inspiring about Rei is that for her the body has no bounds, and fashion itself has no limits. That to me is what her legacy is — the body and the dress body in fashion is limitless … When you think about what’s been achieved in the last 40 years and the types of things we take for granted now — the unfinished, asymmetry, black as a fashionable color were pioneered by Rei. But beyond the formal aspects of that, she has always rebuffed the status quo … I feel if Rei didn’t exist we would have to invent her to explain the last 40 years because her impact in fashion is that big.

– Andrew Bolton, curator of the current Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC exhibit, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. 
This quote is from an interview with Mr. Bolton for Women’s Wear Daily.
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Paired with ballerina flats. Look at the tight shoulders. Kind of like she’s wrapped up.

I was just reading about Rei Kawakubo in a book about avant-garde fashion (Fashion Game Changers: Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette, Bloomsbury). She says there is no meaning to her designs and yet people seem compelled to find something behind (between?) the unexpected bumps, pads, layers and outrageous silhouettes.

I find her fascinatingly inaccessible. I don’t know what to make of her designs except that they are:

1. Completely noncommercial.

2. They look like they’re challenging to wear.

3. They remind me of Leigh Bowery, the British club kid of the 1980s who also came up with some wild unflattering silhouettes.
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Leigh Bowery original design, 1980s.

There is one very big difference between the two – Mr. Bowery played in a dark and freaky arena, by making everything larger than life. Not to mention his makeup and masks. Ms. Kawakubo stays within the non-freak zone by using (sometimes) feminine prints and colors and showing her clothing on lovely mainstream models. She certainly bumps up against freak (pun intended!) but with a light, quiet hand.

I would say that perhaps Ms. Kawakubo uses the body as a canvas, so to speak, for her sculptures. And in doing so she has, as Mr. Bolton points out, impacted fashion.
Fashion model Anna Cleveland, an attendee of the recent Met Gala calls Ms. Kawakubo’s designs, “Walking art.”
Click here for more information on Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between on now at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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