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Posts Tagged ‘fashion icons’

Jewelry is not fashion. It has to last, not be discarded as soon as something else comes along.

Elsa Peretti, Italian born jewelry designer (1940-2021).

Ms. Peretti designed for Tiffany & Co. and created the iconic Bone Cuff, Open Heart pendant, and Mesh Necklace.

I can’t agree more with this week’s quote. Jewelry should always be timeless, or at least we should approach it as if it were and mix it up. Certainly all of what Ms. Peretti designed is timeless. Her pieces from nearly fifty years ago are still selling at Tiffany and have become classics.

Come back tomorrow for more on Elsa Peretti.

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Image: Harper’s Bazaar.

Today, I find beauty in more unexpected places. I’ve never been much of a punk rocker, but I love the punk era. It was a time when people didn’t spend hours trying to look picture-perfect. It was rough around the edges. I don’t like things that are too perfect, clean, or groomed. I like when there’s a bit of something weird or different.

Jill Kortleve – fashion model.

Ms. Kortleve was speaking to Harper’s Bazaar magazine in the May 2022 issue.

I would say that the punk rock look wasn’t necessarily just thrown together. For some it was very much a curated look that took a lot of time and thought.

Like Ms. Kortleve, I also enjoy the unexpected in fashion. An added bit of whimsy or something just slightly off with the rest of the outfit is where we find creativity. For example – buttons on the back of a sweater, a strand of pearls worn with a hoodie, or a bee brooch placed on the cuff of a jacket. That’s the fun in fashion!

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Image: Harper’s Bazaar.

I have a couple of necklaces from my grandmother who passed away, and wearing them reminds me of her. One of her necklaces stands for power and freedom. And I think especially being a woman in the ’70s in Morocco, it was not easy. Wearing them reminds me to push through and kind of continue with what I’m doing to stay strong.

Imaan Hammam, fashion model.

This quote is from Harper’s Bazaar, May 2022.

Born and raised in Amsterdam, Ms. Hammam is Moroccan and Egyptian. She says she appreciates her multicultural background, which has allowed her to understand the world better.

I also have many pieces of jewelry from my mother and my grandmother. Whenever I slip on one of their pieces – a ring or a bracelet, a brooch or a strand of beads – I revisit a different memory of them. In that way, they are still with me.

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No one loves you like your mom. Pictured: My mother with me and my brothers – Jimmy in the front and Marshall in the back.

Cindy Marshall died on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

My mother lived, as she would say, a multifaceted life. She was a woman of style, good manners, and a quirky sense of humor. An only child, she was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, but grew up in many places, including China, where her father was an officer in the Navy. After her parents divorced when Mom was ten years old, she and her mother moved to San Francisco. I think she was lonely in those early days; she told me she spent that first cold and foggy summer in SF by herself inside their apartment listening to Flash Gordon on the radio and making paper dolls from images in fashion magazines.

Classical music and opera were important to my mother. She learned about both from her father and when she was in high school she studied voice hoping one day to sing opera. She had a lovely voice, good for operettas, but she thought not strong enough for opera so she gave it up (it was the big stuff or nothing). Still, she’d sing to herself up until the very end of her life. (In fact she was singing along with a Michael Feinstein CD while I sat with her just days before she passed.)

A bit of a loner, Mom followed her own sense of style. In the 1950s, Marin County housewives were wearing shirtwaist dresses with full skirts and shoes with heels, but not my mother. She sported slacks and desert boots, and for a diaper bag she used a bowling ball bag. “It was more interesting,” she told me. That was the era of luncheons, cocktail parties, and evenings out for dinner and dancing. Mom loved all that and had the appropriate attire for every occasion, usually purchased from her favorite department store, I. Magnin. Sometimes she made her clothing, although, she said she didn’t like working with sewing machines and preferred to sew by hand. She was also an avid knitter and once knitted an entire dress.

Mom had three children – Marshall, Jimmy, and me. One of the tragedies in Mom’s life was the loss of her two boys, both of whom left us way too young. It weighed her down with sadness, but she had an admirable inner strength and I know that she also took comfort in our small surviving family.

When I started school, Mom went to work, out of necessity as a divorced single mother but I think also to get back into the wider world. She managed a dentist’s office for many years and then switched to jewelry sales, which was her forte. She worked at Shreve & Co. and then Zales, and eventually she started her own antique jewelry business. Around that time she also reclaimed her maiden name, grew her hair long, went blonde, and shifted from structured handbags to the more fashionable shoulder bags.

There is much to say about my mother. (And I say it in a mother/daughter memoir that I am working on – and one day may even finish.) She was an elegant, complex woman who spent much of her life searching for answers to the big questions. Sometimes when she pondered life, she’d say “What’s this all about?” We weren’t always on the same page, but we were close and we spent a lot of time together. I miss that already. She has always been there, always on my side, always backing me up. Life is a little lonelier now.

My father died just before Father’s Day in 1984 and I still have the card I had planned to give to him. Now, my mother has left just before Mother’s Day 2022. Life is strange.

While I sort through this loss, it’s hard for me to focus. Even fashion, my usual place of joy, feels empty to me. For that reason, I am going to take a break from ODFL. I hope that readers will bear with me and still be there when I return. In the meantime there’s ten plus years of archives to revisit. Also, take a peek at Mom’s Closet (tab at the top), which has posts all about my mother, who inspired this blog.

Rest in peace, Mom. We love you!

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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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Here’s a little story about how I found My Mrs. Brown: A month or so ago I was at my public library looking in the Fiction section for George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Affected by the current state of the world, I had an unexplainable desire to reread this dystopian classic. To my surprise there were no copies on the shelf. (Were other readers of the same mind?) So, I perused the other titles nearby and I swear this smaller-than-average blue book popped off the shelf and into my hands. My heart beat a little faster as I looked at an illustration of a dress form on the cover. Could it be? Might I have stumbled upon fashion in fiction? Indeed I had!

It’s rare to find fashion in fiction and My Mrs. Brown, written by former Vogue editor William Norwich, is a treat for its fashion detail among other things.

Middle-aged Mrs. Brown lives a modest life in a small town in Rhode Island. When she volunteers to help inventory the belongings of the town’s recently deceased Grand Dame, she comes upon a black dress suit (a dress with a matching jacket) that will change her life. The simple but exquisite suit was designed by Oscar de la Renta and once she set her eyes it she was captivated. After reading the novel Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, the story of a woman quite like our heroine who travels to Paris to buy herself a Dior gown, Mrs. Brown is inspired to travel to NYC and buy her own dress suit by Oscar de la Renta. Never mind that it cost thousands of dollars that she doesn’t have. Where there’s a will (and many good Samaritans) there’s a way.

My Mrs. Brown is described as a fairy tale. I call it a quiet story. There are no superheroes fighting off violent villains, no crass language, no drug-addiction. There is no darkness, although, there is timeless reality such as sadness, jealousy, and death. We also have (oh my gosh!) pleasant characters, a charming story of persistence and courage, and a nod to the everyday woman with a reasonable desire to own something lovely and stylish. Mr. Norwich creates a nostalgic small town with a main street and residents who actually know each other and spend time together. It has such an old-school vibe that I had to remind myself more than once that this was a story set in present day and I wondered if the author was hinting of a certain provincial quality to New England. But this sleepy Rhode Island town is also a handy contrast to hectic New York City, which is featured in the later part of the book.

As for fashion detail, Mr. Norwich seamlessly weaves in details of clothing, style, and the lifestyle of those in the biz. He knows the world of fashion and pulls it in as part of the story, but at just the right balance. For someone like me, that’s candy! Dark chocolate See’s candy.

I truly enjoyed My Mrs. Brown and the opportunity it allowed me to escape our increasingly uncivilized world and step into an uplifting story where a quiet, unassuming character is the winner.

We need more books like this.

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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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Julie Rubio

I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Rubio several years ago when I interviewed her for an article in the Lamorinda Weekly. She had just opened a boutique in Lafayette and I have kept up with her ever since. An award winning film producer as well as a business woman, Julie produced the hit movie East Side Sushi among other films and now she’s working on something close to her heart –Tamara De Lempicka, the first full-length documentary on the famous artist from the Art Deco era.

De Lempicka (1898-1980) painted fashionable people of the 1920s and 1930s, making her paintings a fascinating study for anyone interested in fashion history. A stylish woman herself, she modeled for a French fashion magazine, designed her own hats, and donned fashions by Coco Chanel. Today her works sell for millions of dollars and are collected by the likes of Donna Karan, Barbra Streisand, and Madonna.

Julie was kind enough to agree to a Q&A with ODFL.

What is it about Tamara that attracts you?

Her will to not only survive but thrive through some really horrific times and create beauty out of her pain. 

What do you think Tamara’s message is to women of today?

Unleash the chains that bind you. Go out after your dreams and make them happen. As she would say, “There are no miracles there is only what you make.”

Tamara’s work is very collectable, what is it about her style that speaks to people? I think it’s unquestionable that her work speaks to people in a way that, if you’re fond of her work, it draws you in. Her paintings look at you and you can see into the soul of each painting.  It’s quite powerful – the eyes and the flawlessness of each portrait. Her paintings haunt you in a really good way.

In terms of her fashion style, what could we learn from her? 

To be bold and beautiful. Not to be afraid to elevate the room.

Gucci dress. You would rock this, Julie!

If you were to meet Tamara, take her out to dinner – where would you take her and what would you wear?

The restaurant at Meadowood is traveling to my favorite restaurant in Mexico City called Pujol. It’s quite simply one of the best restaurants in the world. Nothing flashy but the food is outstanding. I think Tamara would really like this restaurant considering she loved Mexico.  I would wear something free-flowing, risqué and beautiful. Gucci has this lace black dress that’s completely see-through and beautiful with the most exquisite bustiers. I’d simply go for it, when it came to my outfit and I’d wear a hat! 

Thank you, Julie. I love your comment, “Not to be afraid to elevate the room.” Let’s elevate all the rooms! And I agree that Tamara’s unique artistic style really stays with you.

Julie is working closely with Tamara’s family, who have granted her access to photos, stories, and artworks. The film is set to be released next year and in the meantime fundraising continues. Click here for more information.

Artwork by Tamara de Lempicka. Copyright 2021 Tamara de Lempicka Estate LLC. All rights reserved.

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Tamara de Lempicka, circa 1980. Image from Passion By Design: The Are and Times of Tamara de Lempicka (Abbeville Press Publishers)

But I don’t like people to flatter my clothes. Why? I tell you. When I was very young, people would say, ‘Tamara, you are gorgeous, what beautiful eyes you have, what beautiful hair – oh, you are beautiful.’ Now they say, ‘What a beautiful hat, what a beautiful dress, what a beautiful ring,’ but they never say, ‘How beautiful you are.’ The world changes. First they notice you, then they notice your things. So you had better have beautiful things when you grow old.

Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980), Polish artist.

I found this quote in the book, Passion By Design: The Art and Times of Tamara de Lempicka, by Kizette de Lempicka (Abbeville Press Publishers).

Tamara de Lampicka, Studio Joffe, circa 1938.

Ms. Lempicka is known for her distinct painting style, which she perfected in 1920s Paris. She painted many a portrait of wealthy aristocrats in the Art Deco era. Her works today are collected by celebrities such as Madonna and sell for millions.

This comment reminds me of the Advance Style ladies – women mostly in NYC of a certain age who dress either very well or quirky and have been photographed by Ari Seth Cohen for his blog called Advanced Style. The blog led to two books and a documentary film and it’s become quite the thing.

I often think about the Advanced Style phenomenon and it seems to me that these lovely ladies have overcome the loss of attention, usually experienced by older women, by being noticeable in a way other than “beauty.” Using color and pattern in their clothing, adding vintage pieces and lots of accessories, with a dash of attitude they create their own style, which encourages plenty of attention.

I suspect that despite what she said, Ms. Lempicka would have preferred whatever attention she got for her clothing, than no attention at all.

Come back tomorrow for a Q&A with Julie Rubio, producer of the new documentary, Tamara.

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