Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘fashion icons’

We all went up and found our garment bag and unzipped it and out popped twenty identical outfits: a double breasted houndstooth pattern jacket, a matching knee length pleated skirt, a rib knit turtleneck sweater, and a black beret. And we were expected to wear black and white saddle shoes and white knee-high socks. I was miserable. This getup was going to make me look like a cow.

Betsey Johnson, American fashion designer.

This quote is from Betsey Johnson: A Memoir (Viking, 2020).

Earlier this year while searching my local library’s online catalogue, I found this memoir in audiobook format. How perfect to listen to while working on various weekend sewing projects.

Ms. Johnson is the reader and generally speaking reading is not her forte, however, she has such earnestness and enthusiasm that I can’t imagine anyone else’s voice reading her story.

The quote I’ve used is about one of the many outfits that she and the other young ladies were to wear in1964 going out and about in New York City as the summer interns at Mademoiselle magazine. Like many other women before her (Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion) Ms. Johnson won a coveted place as a junior editor.

Born in 1942 in Connecticut, Ms. Johnson wanted initially to be an artist and she studied art in college, but it was her internship at Mademoiselle that led to the right connections that led to fashion design. Always ahead of her time in style and the way she lived her life, Ms. Johnson never let anything stop her from doing what she wanted, particularly not the conventions of her generation. A can-do approach combined with a lot of luck provided her an interesting if not always a rosy life.

There are so many fascinating tidbits in this memoir, including brushes with Andy Warhol and Eddie Sedgwick; hanging out with the guys from The Velvet Underground (she even married one of them); fabric research trips around the world. She was married three times, had a baby on her own, started and ran two fashion businesses, and survived breast cancer. Additionally, any fashion historian will enjoy hearing the many details of how the industry operated back in the day.

A fun yet informative read!

Read Full Post »

Recycled plastic folded and formed into a wearable garment. Issey Miyake, 2010.

What I have been trying to do, and what I have probably done, is to make clothes that seem to have existed for a long, long time. In reality they never existed. I am not a designer who creates fashionable aesthetics. I make style out of life, not style out of style.

Issey Miyake – Japanese fashion designer.

May we all find inspiration for style from everyday life.

Read Full Post »

If you’re feeling down internally, make yourself look bomb externally. Whenever I’m like so bummed, I will make sure my outfit is extra on point that day so that I feel really good.

Bella McFadden (AKA Internet Girl), stylist and fashion retailer on Depop.

Depop is a shopping/resale app based out of London. Ms. McFadden is an internet sensation, having done quite well on Depop reselling and restyling thrift store finds (she buys a lot of quirky new stuff, too). She says she’s the number one seller in North America. She also offers what she calls “bundles” or basically a styling service. (Reminds me of Stitch Fix but for clients all about thrift clothes and specifically interested in 90s/Y2K style.) Click here to see on Youtube how Ms. McFadden puts together her bundles.

I agree with Ms. McFadden’s sentiment. We’re all feeling a little bleak after pandemic year 2020, but I can’t think of a better way to lift the spirits than to plan a stellar outfit and wear it!

Check back on Wednesday for a little surprise inspired by Ms. McFadden.

Read Full Post »

Walking with The Muses is a compelling jaunt through the life of model Pat Cleveland, who hit the fashion runways when she was a teenager back in the late 1960s. Tall and strikingly attractive, she started modeling for Ebony and then went on the road with the Ebony Fashion Fair, a traveling fashion show for African American women.

While pursuing a career in modeling, Ms. Cleveland was also studying fashion design and making her own clothing. As she bopped around her native New York City, her unique style caught the eye of a Vogue magazine editor. Even Bendel’s department store bought some of her clothing, but fashion design and clothes-making hit a snag when Ms. Cleveland was unable to provide her designs in multiple sizes. So it was full steam ahead into modeling.

She went on to create a successful career as a runway and print model in Europe and the US. But there were rocky times, including not getting hired initially because she wasn’t a blue-eyed blonde. (She got her start in the industry as a fit model.) There was a disturbing incident while traveling in the south with the Fashion Fair, sexual harassment, and a violent stepfather. Still, Ms. Cleveland didn’t allow anything to keep her down; she knew what she wanted and kept going, taking knocks along the way as well as enjoying quite a few unusual adventures. Her bright spirit and inner strength is an inspiration.

During her decades-long life as a model, she worked and partied with the likes of Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Karl Lagerfeld, Halston and even her long time crush – Warren Beatty. Each one of her encounters has a story and there’s where we find the fun. She worked for the biggies such as Valentino, Thierry Mugler, and de Givenchy and she became known for her signature way of walking the runway, which was part strut and part dance.

Along with Ms. Cleveland’s life, Walking with the Muses offers a peek into the world of mid-century fashion in all its splendor from mini-skirts to shoulder pads. A good read for those interested in fashion history or anyone just interested in reading about a fascinating life of a successful model.

I say this is an easy holiday gift choice.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Charles Tracy

I’d learned to tailor from my mom, and that coat, with its forest-green satin lining, was our masterpiece. We defied any fashion-conscious person not to fall in love with it. Mom had taught me that when it comes to clothes, there’s no such think as timidity. The point is to show yourself off. My mom and my aunt had always done that; now it was my turn. If I could get people to love the clothes I made, then maybe my mom and aunt could have the fashion house they’d always fantasized about, like the ones my aunt saw when she was in Paris.

Pat Cleveland, American model.

This quote is from Ms. Cleveland’s memoir, Walking with the Muses (Atria Books), written by Ms. Cleveland with Lorraine Glennon.

These past few months I’ve been reading a lot of fiction, but my first love is biographies/memoirs, particularly of people in the fashion business. I had heard about Ms. Cleveland’s memoir on the fashion podcast Dressed. (If you don’t know about Dressed, you want to.)

Check back on Wednesday for my review of Walking with the Muses.

Read Full Post »

maryQ

Mary Quant. Illustration by Zoe Taylor. From Selvedge magazine.

Miss Mary Quant – how could I have imagined a career in fashion without Mary Quant? She created the miniskirt for heaven’s sake. Forgive me – where would Topshop be without her? She also created the idea of Saturday night dressing, making things ‘upstairs’ that literally came off the machine and into her King’s Road shop that day in order to serve her adoring fans’ weekend characters. 

Luella Bartley, English fashion designer and fashion journalist.

This quote is from the May/June 2011 issue of Selvedge magazine. The theme of this issue is all things Britannia and Ms. Bartley was asked to choose six women who reflect the British unique and quirky sense of style.

Mary Quant was on her list. Check back for some of the others in the weeks to come.

Read Full Post »

Here’s a little story recounted by French fashion designer Paul Poiret (1879-1944) in his autobiography, King of Fashion.

paulpoiretI passed many times in front of the shop of this English master without daring to cross the threshold. One day, when I was feeling in cavalier mood, and since I needed a suit, I went in and ordered one, not, however, without asking the price, through fear of some unpleasant surprise. I was told one hundred and eighty francs – and I gave my order. 

“When shall I come try it on?” I added. 

“Our clothes are made in London,” I was told. “… and yours will not be ready for seventeen days.” 

… and in seventeen days I returned. Filled with emotion in the fitting room, I saw my coat arrive in the hands of the classic tailor, wearing a measure round his neck. I was astonished that they did not try on the trousers. He called the man who received me: “The trousers, Monsieur? What trousers? You did not order any trousers, nor a waistcoat either.” 

In the 1910s Paul Poiret was known for liberating women from the corset, only to confine their movement with the hobble skirt. Influenced by Asian aesthetics and theater, he was called “King of Fashion” and traveled extensively, including to America where he showed his designs and lectured.

I just finished Poiret’s autobiography, King of Fashion (V&A Publishing) first published in 1931. He led an interesting life and he was a good writer, but I was disappointed that he didn’t discuss his design process, his influences, and perhaps share some of his insights into the fashion industry of the era. I know that he fell out of favor after WWI and I was hoping that he might shed some light on that time of his life. I’m also aware that he met and encouraged designer Elsa Schiaparelli and I would have loved to know what he had to say about that, but no mention.

What he does discuss is his childhood and young adult life working for houses of Douchet and Worth. He goes into detail about opening his first fashion house and the many parties he hosted and attended. There’s lots of name dropping, which meant nothing to me as they were all French and a very long time ago.

Overall The King of Fashion is a good read, if you’re not expecting much about fashion.

Read Full Post »

IMG_20191116_132040560

A few of Anna Sui’s vintage inspired dresses. Part of the 2019 exhibit, The World of Anna Sui at the Museum of Arts & Design in NYC.

Everyone wears t-shirts and jeans. Everyone wears jeans with a little pretty top … that’s the extent of our fashion right now. So, why not give them something a little bit more, but with the same ease. 

Anna Sui – American fashion designer.

Ms. Sui said this in 2006! And I suppose since then jeans have been replaced by leggings.

How about a dress for a change? Dresses can be so easy to wear and cool for hot temps. Plus a dress is an instant elevated look.

 

 

Read Full Post »

IMG_20200528_131913 (1)

Marc Jacobs strikes a pose in Harper’s Bazaar, May 2020. Photo: Zoey Grossman.

I was leaving my shrink one day in a Celine leopard coat and rhinestone hair clips – I was done up. I noticed this sanitation worker staring at me and thought he was a hater, but then he said, ‘Love that outfit, man, you go.’

Marc Jacobs – American fashion designer.

I love that his handbag, by Hermes, has a cup holder.

Marc Jacobs is a controversial designer, but I have always liked him. Often his designs are vintage inspired, which appeals to me.

Word has it that Jacobs has lost his way in fashion. I took a peek online at his spring 2020 show and he’s all over the map. There’s no cohesion to the line, which includes 40s-inspired suits, 70s-style maxi dresses, 60s mini-dresses and some avant-garde dresses a la Balenciaga. All colors, all patterns, shapes, silhouettes are included. Hats run the gamut, too.

In total contradiction, the show itself was minimalist. It took place in a large empty venue with no runway, none of the usual fashion show hoopla. Just the audience and the models, who initially came out all together and walked between and past the audience, reconvened in the back and then came out one at a time, keeping a reasonable pace (nice for journalists and anyone who really wants to see the clothes).

I read that since the shutdown Jacobs has been posting selfies on Instagram. That’s got me wondering what his post-pandemic designs will be like.

 

 

Read Full Post »

The Tear Dress by Elsa Schiaparelli.

 

In difficult times fashion is always outrageous. 

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), Italian born fashion designer.

Schiaparelli is my favorite designer of all time. Known for her collaboration with Surreal artist Salvador Dali, Schiaparelli designs were unique and fanciful and very much of the Art Deco era.  She turned the shape of a shoe into a hat and circus animals became buttons.

In this quote I wonder if Schiaparelli means that the idea of fashion during challenging times is outrageous. Or is she saying that fashion itself is (or should be) outrageous during such times.

Let’s go with the latter, and if it’s true then 2020 should see some extreme fashion, like the Schiaparelli dress pictured above. The Tear dress was part of the designer’s Circus Collection for summer 1938. The printed image on the delicate fabric is of cut skin reveling dark red blood underneath. There are actual slashes in the mantle worn over the head (pictured above left), which reminds me of the popularity of slashed fabrics during the 16th century.

Judith Watt says of the dress in her book Vogue on Elsa Schiaparelli (Quadrille Publishing, 2012), “The Tear dress remains a singularly hostile work … Taken out of political context in which General Franco was to seize complete power in Spain and Hitler was poised to annex Czechoslovakia and Austria, its meaning and impact is lost.”

Hostile garb for hostile times. What do we wear to reflect our current state of outrage?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »