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Posts Tagged ‘fashion icons’

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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.

 

 

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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?

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I wear my mask. What does yours look like?

People need to wear masks; they need to social distance. They need to be rigorous and responsible about this. This is not something to be taken casually or lightly … You could kill people or you could be killed yourself. 

Tim Gunn, fashion icon and host of Project Runway and Making the Cut. Gunn was recently on the radio interview show, Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Everyone’s favorite fashion icon, Gunn shared what he’s been wearing while sheltering-in-place: sometimes pajama bottoms with a plain white t-shirt and a navy blue robe, but he says he would never step outside his NYC front door in such a casual ensemble. When he goes out to the corner store he wears a turtleneck sweater and dark wash jeans. For Zoom meetings he dons a sport coat and tie.

Gross asked if he wore a fashionable mask and he explained that he didn’t want to bother with having to consider colors or pattern. A plain medical mask goes with everything.

Good point, although, I have to admit that if I were a fashion designer I’d be working on a line of matching mask and skirt/dress/pants/jacket.

Yep, I’d be all over that! Because Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon and therefore, neither are masks.

 

 

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James Purefoy is Beau Brummel in Beau Brummel: This Charming Man

The Dandy Style less is more. No wigs, no powder, we don’t use scent. The Dandy wears trousers. The Dandy washes. The Dandy is clean. The Dandy is neat. The Dandy does what he wants, when he wants, where he wants. 

From the 2006 movie Beau Brummel: This Charming Man.

Beau Brummel (1778-1840) was a British fashion icon who is credited with moving men’s fashion during the Regency period from Fop to Dandy.

Fops overdid themselves with wigs, heavy white powder on their faces, and embellished garb, which included breeches, hose, heavily embroidered waistcoats, frills around the neck, and coats all in bright colors. Brummel rejected all that and created a simple look: trousers, waistcoat, cravat, cutaway coat, and a top hat. Not that the Dandy didn’t put as much attention into his look as the Fop, but it was a simpler ensemble. Brummel claimed it was effortless, yet it is said that he took hours to dress.

 

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When we think of American style, we think of among other things, jeans. More specifically we think Levi’s Jeans. But have we ever considered the story behind the iconic brand? It’s an interesting one and locals in the Bay Area have a unique opportunity to learn about Levi Strauss the man and his jeans.

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Levi Strauss never wore jeans himself because in his day jeans were for manual labor workers and he was a businessman.

On now at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is Levi Strauss: A History of American Style. Featuring over 250 items from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, this exhibit sets out to tell the story of German immigrant Levi Strauss and how he went from a dry goods merchant to THE man behind our beloved blue jeans.

Born in 1829 in Bavaria, as a young man Strauss immigrated first to New York to work selling dry goods. He then moved to San Francisco during the end of the Gold Rush to expand the family business.

Meanwhile, Northern California tailor Jacob Davis was hearing from workers that their pants were not holding up to hard wear and tear. He had an idea to place rivets at key stress points on the pants. He had the idea, but not the funds to push it forward. In comes Strauss and the two men worked together on a patent. That was the start of a business venture that is still impacting fashion today.

 

Included in this extensive exhibit are photos of Strauss’ hometown in Germany, decades of Levi’s Jeans advertisements, Hollywood film clips showcasing Levi’s, a 1974 Gremlin car with Levi’s interior upholstery, and many original Levi’s garments from early overalls to a leather jacket worn by Albert Einstein to an array of distinctive re-purposed Levi’s Jeans. It’s the largest public display of the company’s archival items ever gathered and it’s exclusive to the CJM.

One thing that struck me about the Levi’s story, something I had not thought about, is the evolution of jeans. Strauss was clever at expanding the desire of his product for the working man –  to the cowboy, to the teenager, and eventually to women in 1918 with “Freedom-Alls” and in 1934 with the first jeans line for women called “Lady Levi’s.” Beyond that, over the decades jeans became statement pieces for rebels, hippies, and rock stars proving that Levi’s Jeans have something for everyone.

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Strauss and Davis were granted their US patent in 1873.

In addition to the fashion story, Levi Strauss: A History of American Style is a local Jewish story. Lori Starr, Executive Director of the CJM says, “The exhibition will contextualize the Jewish experience for twenty-first-century audiences, offering insight into the history of San Francisco and its Jewish population, the story of an iconic element of American style, and the inventive spirit behind it all.”

Levi Strauss: A History of American Style is on now through August 9, 2020 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street at 3rd St. in San Francisco. 

Don’t miss this rare opportunity.

 

 

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IMG_20200120_161145543Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire by biographer and historian Susan Ronald, covers Nast’s glamorous life and successful career as an American publishing giant.

There is much to cover and Ronald moves quickly over Nast’s early life from his birth in 1873 to his marriage to his initial interest in magazines. Once he enters into publishing she slows down and settles in on how Nast started with Collier’s magazine, moved on to Ladies Home Journal Patterns and eventually Vogue magazine.

Publishing Vogue and Vanity Fair are most of the story but we also read details about Nast’s famous “cafe society” parties and his grand apartment at 1040 Park Avenue in Manhattan. There are intriguing tales about fashionable characters such as Vogue fashion editor Carmel Snow, photographer Cecil Beaton, and writer Dorothy Parker.

The financial crash in 1929 hit Nast hard and he nearly lost his empire. We learn how over several years Nast fought to keep his business going by calling in favors. WWII was not an easy time either as French Vogue had to shut down and British Vogue (based in London) struggled to publish facing paper shortages and The Blitz.

But Nast and his empire did survive these challenges and that makes for great reading. Thoroughly researched with help from surviving letters and company documents, Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire is an excellent read for fashion and publishing industry history.

 

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Romance lurks in strange places, but perhaps nowhere so much as behind shop windows.

British Vogue, January 1922.

British Vogue, like Vogue in America was published by Conde Nast. In the 1920s the covers were illustrated, such as the one pictured here. I find the illustrations have a certain charm that photographs just don’t have however artistic and slick they might be.

I just finished reading Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire, by Susan Ronald (St. Martin’s Press). Check back Wednesday for my review.

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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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IMG_20191203_153101That summer job at Perry Ellis transformed my attitude toward what working in fashion could mean. Perry made the pursuit of excellence seem as important in fashion as it was in medicine or law. Lives might not have been at stake, but it was evident that even something as superficial as fashion required first, the desire to make something of quality; and second, the necessity of sacrificing almost everything else to hard work. 

Isaac Mizrahi, American fashion designer and performer.

I think anything done well – anything – requires hard work.

This quote is from Mizrahi’s memoir, IM. Stay tuned for a review of this book later in the week.

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