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Posts Tagged ‘fashion history’

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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Holyday. 1876 James Tissot. The gentleman in this painting is wearing the cap of an amateur cricket club at the time.

Here’s wishing those who celebrate Easter a Happy Day. Enjoy the treats and don’t forget to don your Easter bonnet!

It is Passover and Ramadan as well. A time of reflection for all of us.

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Photo: John O’Hagan for Victoria magazine.

Just walking through a museum, I’ll catch a glimpse of a gown or lace or ruffle that just takes my breath away, and I absolutely have to make it. I was always attracted to the French embroidered court suits of the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries — that almost painting-like aspect of mixing threads and colors was so incredibly beautiful to me.

Christine Millar, doctor by day and seamstress by night.

In this quote, from Victoria magazine, Dr. Millar is speaking about what inspires her interest in making historical clothing.

In addition to her busy job, Dr. Millar uses her other enviable skills to re-create 18th century court gowns. Layers of undergarments, corsets, and embroidered silks and satins make up her creations, which she wears to various historical themed events.

Photo: John O’Hagan for Victoria magazine.

To go with her lovely gowns, Dr. Millar has collected all the necessary accessories, including historically accurate shoes created by Anacronicos.

I think if she ever wants a second career, there’s always making costumes for historical films.

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I always enjoy the exhibits at Lacis Museum for the subject matter, but also their unique presentation – charming in its simplicity. Worn to Dance: 1920s Fashion and Beading opened in November 2019 and I was looking forward to seeing it and then … Covid, lockdown, variants. I nearly missed it and that would have been a shame. Don’t let that happen to you! The clock is ticking – Worn to Dance closes March 12.

Lacis Museum is located on the second floor next door to the retail shop at 2982 Adeline St. in Berkeley. Docent Julie Ann ushered us up the stairs to be greeted at the top with two elegantly clad mannequins ready and waiting for us to travel back in time. With jazz tunes playing in the background, we toured the main gallery filled with original 1920s beaded dresses, gowns, handbags, coats, hats, jewelry, even wedding dresses. Each item comes from the Lacis extensive collection. Arranged by type of clothing, every section includes posted images and pictures from magazines and sheet music. What I really appreciate is that there’s plenty of room to get a close-up look at the extraordinary workmanship (every bead is sew on by hand). But no touching!

You’ll notice that most beaded dresses are sheer and require a slip underneath. A handy way to slightly change the look of the dress is to change the slip, perhaps a contrasting color.

Julie Ann led us around the exhibit and offered interesting facts, such as, women of the era could purchase from catalogues or department stores “panels” – precut fully beaded fabric ready to be sewn. That was a less expensive option for middle class women. (See image below.)

Some women beaded their own dresses and there were beaded handbag kits for the crafty types. (See image below.)

One thinks of beaded gowns for evening wear but beading was popular for day dresses, too. Beads for evening would be cut or faceted to reflect light, whereas day dress beads would be uncut.

This day dress is perfect for a summertime garden party.

I’m so pleased I didn’t miss Worn to Dance and I encourage local ODFL readers to make their way over to Lacis before we say goodbye to this wonderful exhibit. It’s a must for anyone interested in fashion history, the Art Deco period (that’s you, ADSC members), and lovers of beading and textiles. Admission is $3 and that includes a docent led tour. And then spend time in the Lacis shop where one can find all kinds of vintage and antique goodies, books on fashion and textiles, sewing notions, ribbon, cards, silk flowers, and much more.

Worn to Dance: 1920s Fashion and Beading on now through March 12th, 2022. Call Lacis to make a reservation 510-843-7290.

Side note: Also on at Lacis is The Bird in Textile Arts: The Extraordinary in Thread. Now through July 9, 2022.

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Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in the film, Spencer.

Last month I attended a virtual talk with FIDM Museum curator Kevin Jones and Ms. Jacqueline Durran, costumer for the film Spencer. She spoke about the challenges of costuming this production during the pandemic. They had one nine hour fitting with Ms. Stewart before she flew to Germany where the film was shot. Ms. Durran stayed in London and worked from there.

The story is set vaguely in the early 1990s over three days during Christmas. The decision was made by both Ms. Durran and the film’s director Pablo Larrain, that the costuming for Diana would not be anything precise, but instead an essence of her style. They didn’t want the story to be pinned to any particular time because ultimately it’s a work of imagination.

Ms. Durran looked over photographs of Diana at official visits from 1988-1992. Most of the costumes in the main story were built for the film, except for some loans from Chanel and costumes for the flashbacks were bought or rented. For the famous wedding dress, they didn’t try to recreate it, but simply bought an 80s dress and added sleeves and a neckline.

The film opens with Diana in a wool plaid jacket and for that Ms. Durran had a hard time finding the right bold plaid, but finally she found just three yards in Cyprus.

I love this jacket! Wouldn’t it be great to see more structured fashions hit the streets?

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Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in the film, Spencer. Costumes by Jacqueline Durran.

There were much more exciting things going on in 80s fashion than the things she wore. When she first started in the early 80s, she really didn’t have a handle on what her potential was in fashion, because it was all so new and she was so young. She discovered it as she grew older.

Jacqueline Durran, British costume designer.

Ms. Durran created the costumes for the 2021 film, Spencer, staring Kristen Stewart, who is up for the Best Actress Oscar, as Princess Diana.

Come on back to ODFL tomorrow for my post on the virtual talk I attended with Ms. Durran and Kevin Jones, curator at FIDM Museum.

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Barack Obama drawing by Barbara Sandidge

Happy Presidents Day

In 2008 when Barack Obama was running for president Oakland artist, Barbara Sandidge, created printed t-shirts and tote bags with her own pen and ink drawing. I bought the tote and still proudly carry it!

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On February 6th, 1952 Princess Elizabeth, traveling in Kenya, awoke a Queen, after her father King George VI had passed away overnight in his sleep.

Queen Elizabeth II returned immediately to the UK but her coronation wasn’t until June 2nd, 1953. The lovely gown she wore that day was created by British designer Norman Hartnell, who also made Elizabeth’s wedding gown in 1947. 

For the coronation, Hartnell sketched eight potential gowns before Prince Philip pointed out that his wife was soon to become sovereign to the British Commonwealth and perhaps all her lands should be represented.

The final version was made in white satin and included embroidered emblems:

  • Tudor Rose  – England
  • Thistle –  Scotland  
  • Shamrocks  – Ireland 
  • Maple leaves – Canada
  • Wattle flowers  – Australia
  • Ferns – New Zealand
  • Proteas – South Africa
  • Lotus Flowers –  India
  • Leeks  – Wales
  • Wheat, Cotton and Jute – Pakistan

For luck Hartnell added an extra shamrock underneath the skirt. For proper balance the gown demanded a complicated construction of supporting undergarments, which was created by Hartnell’s expert cutters and fitters. He himself could not sew.

Congratulations to Queen Elizabeth who celebrates 70 years on the throne, her Platinum Jubilee.

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