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Posts Tagged ‘fashion designers’

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Dress & skirt inspired by traditional Korean embroidered wedding robe with peony, phoenix, and butterfly motifs and combined with denim. Jin Teok, 1995. This piece was part of the Couture Korea exhibit.

My mother’s generation greatly valued tradition in fashion. Until the day she died, she kept her hair in a bun, as women did in the Joseon Period (1392-1910). She made her own clothes with different materials for each of the four seasons. She wore durumagi, a traditional Korean overcoat, made of silk fabrics called myeongju and jamisa in jade green. In winter she wore cotton-padded durumagi, a scarf made of silk, and rubber shoes, which I used to wipe clean whenever she was about to go out. I grew up in such a traditional family. 

Jin Teok, renowned South Korean fashion designer.

This quote is from the essay, Creating Contrasts in Korean Fashion by Jin Teok from the catalogue for Couture Korea, the exhibit at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum in 2017.

One of the things I noticed when I visited Seoul, South Korea was the contrast of traditional and modern – in the architecture, the food, the old and the young people – existing side by side. Seoul is very much a mixture and in that way it’s fascinating.

Jin Teok started her fashion career in 1965 and has been called a “pioneer of Korean fashion.” Known for blending the silhouettes and motifs of traditional Korean clothing with modern fashion, Teok designed the uniforms for the Korean 1988 Olympic teams and a few years later she designed the Asiana Airlines flight attendant uniforms. She has participated in many international fashion shows, putting Korean fashion in a global spotlight.

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IMG_20190922_160622Don’t be afraid to be appropriate. It has become a dirty word in fashion and style talk. But for me, being appropriate means simply being in touch with the moment. When you are in touch with the moment, with yourself, you communicate effortlessly. 

Isabel Toledo (1961-2019), Cuban-American fashion designer.

 

This is a quote from Toledo’s 2012 memoir, Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion (Celebra Books).

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One of the many illustrations by Ruben Toledo in Roots of Style. 

I recently reread this book, which tells the fascinating story of the Toledos – both of whom immigrated to the US from Cuba as children. They met in high school and later forged ahead in their careers as a couple in 1980s Manhattan. Ruben Toledo is an artist and fashion illustrator. His charming illustrations are a highlight of the book.

As for the quote, well, I of course completely agree. Dressing appropriately shows presence in the moment whether that be a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, an expensive restaurant, the theater, the opera … it matters.

 

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El Museo Del Barrio 2016 Pre-Gala Bash

The lovely Isabel Toledo (1961-2019). Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images.

This week fashion designer Isabel Toledo died of breast cancer. What a loss!

I was a fan of Ms. Toledo, who as a teenager immigrated with her family from Cuba to the US. She and her husband, artist Ruben Toledo, moved to New York City in the 1980s hitting the pavement and knocking on department store doors looking for a place to sell their avant-garde fashions.

 

 

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Michelle Obama wears Isabel Toledo for the 2009 presidential inauguration. 

Ms. Toledo made fashion fame in 2009 when she designed Michelle Obama’s inaugural outfit – a shift dress and coat in what she called lemon grass. I recall reading in her memoir (Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, & Fashion) that they knew it was going to be freezing cold in Washington that day so they sewed layers of padding in the wool coat.

Prior to that in the 1990s, she shunned corporate driven fashion shows working instead with museums. Although she remained an independent designer, for a short time she was creative director for Anne Klein and designed a line of shoes for Payless and fashions for Lane Bryant.

What I like about Isabel Toledo’s designs is her use of textured fabrics and off colors. She was a unique creative spirit and how sad for us that she is gone.

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Gucci magazine ad, 2019.

You can lose nothing to your beauty but you want to put more and more just to be crazy.

Alessandro Michele, Italian designer and creative director at Gucci.

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An early Michele design for Gucci.

Mr. Michele took over the iconic Gucci brand in 2015 and quickly turned it around with a 12 percent growth in the first year. Initially I liked the new Michele/Gucci look. It was elegance with a twist – mixed patterns, unexpected color combinations, chunky jewelry but not too much. The look was big – exaggerated but still this side of good taste.

Then it got to be too much, at least for me. Busy ensembles and mash-up of colors, textures, and patterns – plaids with floral prints in bright colors, stripes with checks, added lace and embroidery making everyone look like a clown.

He got carried away with “more is more” and this crazy idea to be Crazy. Still, I admire the designer’s talent and I’m hoping he gets bored and dials it back. We shall see.

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Traditional hanbok was worn for both everyday and special occasions by men and women from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) through the 1950s when western clothing took hold. The basic silhouette for women was a full skirt, often made of silk or ramie, and a short jacket in solid colors. Any embellishment was applied, embroidery for example, along the edge of the skirt or the shoulder of the jacket.

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Traditional hanbok.

 

While in Seoul, South Korea I had many encounters with traditional hanbok on the streets, in museums, and the fabric market but I was interested in seeing modern interpretations by local designers. I had first learned of this trend last year at the Asian Art Museum’s exhibit, Couture Korea.

I heard about a shop that offers modern hanbok, so one day I set out walking through our neighborhood of Insadong and into Bukchon in search of Tchai Kim.

One hour and four tourist guides later (they had trouble too!), I found the elusive shop tucked inside one of the many little alleyways that are so much a part of Seoul. I was greeted by a friendly and helpful staff member, Kim Ujin.

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Kim Ujin standing with my favorite reinterpretation of traditional hanbok.  It’s the unexpected plaid that does it for me.

Ujin explained that the shop is owned by designer Kim Young-jin, who had learned how to make traditional hanbok from a Korean Master. For several years Young-jin custom-made traditional hanbok mostly for weddings but she began to realize that the label “traditional” was variable – hanbok in the 18th century was different from hanbok in the 19th century and so on. Traditional Korean dress was ever-changing until it more or less disappeared. Young-jin felt it was time to bring hanbok back with a modern update and in 2010 she launched her ready-to-wear brand, Tchai Kim (tchai means different).

I was given a tour of various silhouettes all inspired by traditional hanbok of past centuries.

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Deoksugung Palace Guards, or actors who play guards. There is no monarchy in South Korea but there are five palaces in Seoul that, since 1996, hold reenactments of the changing of the guards.

 

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Here’s the cheollik dress with over-skirt.

One such silhouette particular to Tchai Kim is a dress based on the traditional cheollik, a one-piece tunic worn by men over loose fitting pants that were tied at the ankles. You can still see that outfit today on the palace guards. Designed originally for ease of movement, the reinterpreted cheollik for women offers the same ease for a busy modern lifestyle. The dress can be worn alone or with a pair of wide-legged pants or with an over-skirt as we see in the photo to the left.

Part of the traditional hanbok ensemble is the short wrap jacket, called jeogori. in solid colors. Young-jin has taken that idea and updated it with a v-neckline in cotton fabric and patterns such as plaids and polka-dots, shifting the look from youthful to sophisticated.

 

 

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There are many redesigns of the jacket. I tried on one that if worn in the U.S. would be considered very fashion forward but the inspiration behind Young-jin’s design makes the piece even more special. The pop of red embroidery (another Korean tradition) spelling out the name of the shop punches up the avant-garde factor. If I were to wear this jacket I’d mix it with vintage – 40s slacks and my signature suede shoes (look at my logo) and a grey or black beret with a red floral brooch attached.

The blending of traditional with modern is a marvelous way to move forward while honoring heritage and keeping it present.

Gamsahapnida (thank you) to Kim Ugin for taking time with me on that wonderful October afternoon! It was among the highlights of my visit to Seoul.

 

 

 

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Eleanor Lambert, circa 1930s. Photo by Cecil Beaton.

In January 1943 … fifty-three editors from across the United States came to Fashion Week for the first time. The Collections were all to be shown in the glorious, million-square-foot neo-Rococo Plaza Hotel. which, standing at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street in Manhattan, dominates Grand Army Plaza and overlooks the tangle of Central Park. Here, in the hotel’s majestic, gilded ballrooms, the writers and editors were given a privileged look at the newest styles six months in advance of the upcoming season. 

 

The woman behind the very first Fashion Week in 1943 was Eleanor Lambert (1903-2003), a fashion publicist. Ms. Lambert was all about marketing American fashion and fashion designers. Not only did she come up with the idea of Fashion Week she also founded the International Best Dressed List and the Coty’s Fashion Award.

Up until Fashion Week, regional fashion journalists were limited in their reporting to what fashions were available in the local department stores and boutiques. Ms. Lambert offered journalists from across the country an opportunity to meet designers and see in person their latest designs during an extensive fashion show. What she had in mind was additional and broadened fashion coverage and of course increased sales for her clients.  It certainly was a game changer for fashion journalism.

This is one of many fashion tid-bits I found in the book –  Charles James Portrait of an Unreasonable Man: Fame, Fashion, Art. By Michele Gerber Klein (Rizzoli). Ms. Lambert is one among many individuals (artists, socialites, designers) who circulated around and crossed paths with Charles James. Their stories make for an interesting and informative read.

Fashion Week is still with us. NYFW happens September 6-14, 2018.

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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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