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Posts Tagged ‘fashion icons’

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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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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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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Manolo Blahnik, 1974

… everything that he did was to do with expressing himself. It was really only from his interest and passion that he dressed like that. He didn’t look like anyone else at that time because it was the time of hippies … and there he was like a creature from a completely different century. 

Penelope Tree, British former fashion model and friend of Manolo Blahnik.

This quote is from an interview with Ms. Tree in the documentary film, Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards.  She worked with Blahnik in London back in his early career. He initially wanted to be a fashion designer, but when he showed his illustrations to then US Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, she encouraged him to design shoes.

Evidently. Blahnik liked his clothes and he was very particular. A man of taste, he insisted on well-tailored suits made of quality fabric in unique patterns. As Ms. Tree points out, he was wearing suits and more tailored clothing in an era when trends called for t-shirts and jeans. Today he’s still a dapper fella, sporting suits and bow ties.

I love a fashionable rebel!

 

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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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