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Posts Tagged ‘fashion designers’

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Edwardian ladies in lace. 

Society tottered through the last of the pre-War parties, waved tiny lace handkerchiefs, and carried elaborate parasols until the War came with its sweeping changes. 

Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon (1863-1935), British fashion designer.

World War I (1914-1918) brought about many changes in fashion, particularly for women. Long lacy gowns were replace by shorter skirts and jackets in sturdy fabrics. No more excessively large hats but instead close fitted hats with little to no embellishments. Women were now on the move and their clothes had to move with them.

With this Covid-19 pandemic,  we might see our own changes in fashion. Or will we? Truth be told, we really can’t get any more casual. Perhaps we will flip to the other side and want to dress up, but I doubt it. For starters, most people don’t even know how to do that anymore.

One added accessory will be masks. Perhaps more people will want to wear hats, as added protection. Also, gloves. Matching sets! I see a potential for additional pockets in clothing to make things like hand sanitizer quickly accessible. Otherwise, with the distraction of the virus and wanting to keep distant and stay safe, people, now more than ever, are going to want to be comfortable.

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Silvia Venturini Fendi. Photo: Filippo Bamberghi. Harper’s Bazaar, April 2020.

Karl taught me that time is the best judgement of creativity. I want to make clothes that people wear throughout their lives. 

Silvia Venturini Fendi, creative director at Fendi.

Ms. Fendi has worked at her family’s brand for close to 30 years, having designed the 90s iconic Baguette bag. Last year she became creative director at Fendi after the death of Karl Lagerfeld. He had designed for Fendi for more than 50 years. Impressive!

 

 

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IMG_20200110_134442128To me, fashion is an ever-changing art.

Vera Neumann (1907-1993), American artist, business woman.

She is known for her line of scarves but there is oh-so- much more to Vera Neumann.

Check back on OverDressedforLife tomorrow for the full scoop.

 

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IMG_20191203_130459My favorite part of the holiday season is that quiet time between Christmas and New Year’s when most of the rush is OVER. When we finally have a chance to stop, stay home, and relax. This is the best time to curl up with a pile of books.

And what’s a better gift for Christmas (Dec. 25), Hanukkah (Dec. 22- Dec. 30), Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) than a book?

On my fashion book recommendation list is IM: A Memoir (Flatiron Books) by fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi. I devour fashion stories and Mizrahi’s is a good one. He was part of the generation that landed in NYC in the early 80s when the city was edgy but real and making it there without buckets of money was still possible.

I read IM while visiting Manhattan and it was a kick to be walking past some of Mizrahi’s references –  like Macy’s on W. 34th Street across from which was his father’s office (he manufactured children’s clothing) or M&J Trimming on W. 38th Ave.,  (touted to be the best trim shop in Manhattan).

IM is a complete memoir starting with Mizrahi’s childhood in Brooklyn. His family was part of the Syrian Jewish community. With two older sisters and a fashionista mother, our hero was all about style from a young age. But he struggled as an overweight kid who liked Broadway tunes and spent his time making puppets and perfecting his impersonation of Barbra Streisand. He was an outsider at school, in his community, and at home. But he had a close relationship with his mother and even though he was unhappy, on some level it seemed that he accepted and even embraced his quirkiness.

I found the early part of this memoir fascinating, especially the section when Mizrahi attends School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. The same school featured in the 1980 film, Fame.  In fact Mizrahi auditioned for the gay character, Montgomery, which went to Paul McCrane. But he was in the film as part of a montage. It’s little tidbits like this that make IM a fun read.

Although Mizrahi initially wanted to become a performer, he was also drawn to fashion and he began to sell his designs at age 15 while still in high school. That pretty much set his fate, at least for a while.

In IM we get a peek at the fashion industry, how it worked back then and some behind-the scene descriptions. There’s a lot of name dropping and talk about Mizrahi’s friendships with the likes of Liza Minneli and Anna Wintour (both at one time pretty close with Mizrahi but the friendships didn’t stand the test of time). Well-written (ghost written?) and detailed, the narration doesn’t get in its own way. I was disappointed that there are no photos and I thought his work with QVC deserved more than a mention. I was interested to know how that came about.  Target, however, does get a chapter.

There is much to say about this book but I have holiday chores to get to! I’ll wrap it up by saying IM, A Memoir by Isaac Mizrahi is a good choice for you, my fashionable readers, and/or any fashionable on your holiday list.

 

 

 

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Photo: Richard Aiello

When I think of Pierre Cardin I think of the sweet scented Pierre Cardin aftershave in the Space Needle bottle that sat on top of my dad’s dresser. I think of the cream ribbed sweater with a scoop neck, which I bought for myself back in the 1990s. Also what immediately comes to mind is Cardin’s 1960s space-age fashion for which he is best known. But there is so much more to know.

On now through January 5, 2020 at the Brooklyn Museum is Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, a retrospective of this iconic designer’s work.

 

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Mod Cardin, 1960s.

Cardin was born in Italy in 1922. Two years later the family immigrated to France to escape fascism. Cardin began his career in fashion as a tailor’s apprentice. After working with Schiaparelli and Christian Dior, he opened his own house in 1950.

Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion features over 170 pieces from the Cardin archive, exploring all of Cardin’s phases from his more conventional beginnings to his other worldly creations. Included are men’s, women’s, and even children’s clothing as well as furniture, hats, and jewelry. Still photos and videos add to the viewing experience.

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An early Cardin design. Circa 1950.

 

Cardin was among the first to licence his name but he always kept control, which allowed him to make some big bucks without diluting his brand. He bought the famous Parisian restaurant Maxims’s in 1981 and still owns it today along with several other well-known properties, including the Bubble Palace. At 97, Cardin still works and maintains his fashion house showing up at the office every day.

 

Cardin was fearless in experimenting with fabrics, silhouettes, and pattern which helped him get and stay ahead of (sometimes step outside of) the fashion curve. In 1968 he used a synthetic fiber he called “Cardine” (also known as Dynel)  to create molded dresses.

There is much to see in, and learn from this exhibit. A must for any fashion history enthusiast.

On a side note – the museum restaurant, The Norm changes its menu and decor with each major exhibit. To go along with the Cardin exhibit they have recreated Maxim’s. My partner and I decided to treat ourselves. It was lovely to sit in this elegant, quiet environment and feast on delicious soup, salad, and a cocktail of course, while discussing what we just saw in the exhibit. I recommend any visitor to do the same.

If you’re in the Brooklyn area or are planning a visit soon, make sure to see Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, on through January 5, 2020.

 

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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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