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Posts Tagged ‘vintage style’

It’s a festive shoe on Day Seven. I found a set of painted wood shoes at the Victoria & Albert Museum gift shop. Each one a different style with a different painted pattern. The package said: Designed in the UK, Made in China.

When I unwrap these ornaments, I imagine a shoe shop all decked out for the holidays complete with a table top tree on the counter decorated only with little shoe ornaments. It makes me wish I owned a shoe shop. But no, I am writer and perhaps this vivid image will end up in one of my stories.

Stop by tomorrow for Day Eight.

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Chanel slingbacks.

When it comes to my own style I am very much a uniform dresser. Shoe-wise, it’s kind of what your grandma would wear, which is why I was drawn to these Chanel slingbacks. I purchased them five years ago at the brand’s SoHo store in New York and saved up all my money to do so. I’m not a heels person. They always make me feel overdressed and not in my own skin. But I needed one classic shoe that I could have forever and would look nice with everything.

Maggie Holladay, furniture designer and founder of Claude Home.

I found this quote in the December 2021 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Chanel slingback shoes sell for $925. That sounds like a lot, but for a quality classic shoe that one can wear forever with everything (almost) it’s not that bad. There’s much about this quote that I like –

1. The fact that Ms. Holladay saved up to buy her shoes. Saving up for something special, waiting, thinking about it, planning the big trip to the store when you can finally pay and take it home – that’s what I call a treat and a memorable one. Slipping out the credit card? Too easy. Not memorable. I once saved for a Coach handbag. It was a present to myself after my first year of graduate school. I still have that bag, of course, and it reminds me of a very important accomplishment. I could have whipped out the credit card, sure, but that wouldn’t have been as much fun. Instant gratification is overrated.

2. Uniform dressing. My mother did this and I tend toward it too, although I always add an accessory. My mother favored skirts and button-down shirts for her daily wear with perhaps knee socks and flat shoes if she was staying home or sheer stockings and a low heels if she was running errands. Skirts and t-shirts, or sweaters are my daily go-to as well. It’s nice to have several outfits already created that you can just pull out, dress, and go.

3. Investment in a classic. Buy one quality thing and wear it forever. One pair of classic shoes for special or professional occasions. One wool winter coat. One hardy suit (maybe two). You get the picture. Quality over quantity.

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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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Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in Spencer.

The idea was that we were never slavishly replicating all of Diana’s looks, but we were definitely riffing on the idea of them. So we were quite consciously not trying to do the closest version we could in every instance. But in some places we used things that were exactly her style and then other places we drifted off. We bought a retro pair of jeans, and the sweaters weren’t made by us, obviously. But a lot of the pieces were made.

Jacqueline Durran, British costume designer.

This quote is from a Q&A Ms. Durran did with Entertainment Weekly about her latest project – the film, Spencer.

We have some treats coming up in Holiday Season 2021 and one is this film staring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana. Spencer covers three days, over Christmas, of Princess Diana’s life when she is at one of her lowest points.

Ms. Durran has won two Academy Awards for her work – on Anna Karenina in 2012 and Little Women in 2019. She also created the oh-so-lovely green dress that Keira Knightley wore in Atonement.

I’m looking forward to Spencer. From what I hear Ms. Stewart does an impressive job and then of course, the costumes!!

Also, calling all the other House of Eliott fans out there, the actress who played one of the Eliott sisters is playing an important role in Spencer. Can anyone spot her? If so, tell me the actress’s name, which Eliott sister she played, and what role does she have in Spencer. Leave all that in a comment. Don’t cheat!

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I’m thankful for our autumn harvest: pomegranates, butternut squash, spaghetti squash.

On Thanksgiving Day, instead of it being about pilgrims and eating and football, I prefer to spend the day pondering what I am thankful for (gratitude is always in style). There is so much – good health, good health care, family, friends, time to pursue what’s important to me; and one of those things is this blog. ODFL allows me to combine two of my favorite things in life – fashion and writing.

I am also thankful to YOU, my faithful readers. Thank you for coming by, reading, commenting, and supporting ODFL.

Wishing all of you a Happy (and safe) Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? Please feel free to share in a comment.

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Happy Halloween!

Make sure to celebrate in style.

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Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

On now at the de Young Museum in San Francisco is the West Coast premiere of Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love, a celebration of Mr. Kelly and his inspired fashions of the 1980s.

Black fashion designer Patrick Kelly (1954-1990) was known for combining whimsy with classic. His unique use of embellishment as well as a constant upbeat message in his designs attracted many. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to NYC to study fashion design and in 1979 he moved to Paris. There he had friends bop around the streets in his handmade jersey outfits adorned with buttons. These colorful ensembles caught the attention of French Elle magazine and voila, he was on his way to fashion stardom.

Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

I was not familiar with Mr. Kelly before hearing of this exhibit but I’m happy to have found him and now he is among my favorites. I appreciate his humor and references to fashion history; I see a touch of Schiparelli here and a pinch of Chanel there, but with a unique Kelly twist. There is something very charming about these designs – they are playful, fun, and yet still polished. He was a master at playing with sophisticated silhouettes by adding unexpected adornments like buttons, tassels, and dice. His use of buttons was inspired by his grandmother who, when he was a child, used to replace his lost buttons with whatever style and color she had on hand. That “outside the box” approach stuck with Mr. Kelly.

Runway of Love, curated by Laura L. Camerlengo, Associate Curator of Costume and Textile Arts at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, is divided into four sections covering Mr. Kelly’s career from hand making knit jersey dresses in his early Paris days to his successful runway shows. One of the sections includes some of his personal collection of racist memorabilia, which served as inspiration for him in his designs. Although controversial in America at that time, his use of racist symbols was his way of controlling the charged images and that puts another interesting twist on his work.

In 1988 Mr. Kelly was the first American and first Black designer to be voted into the Chambre Syndicale du Pret-a-Porter des Couturiers et des Createurs de Mode, the prestigious French association for ready-to-wear designers. This was quite an honor and well deserved!

Patrick Kelly’s archive of fashions was given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Mr. Kelly’s business and life partner, Bjorn Amelan, who said that he spent years after Mr. Kelly’s early death of complications from AIDS in 1990, looking for the right home for the archive.

As well as 80 fully accessorized ensembles, the exhibit includes several videos of runway shows, sketches and art by the designer, and other ephemera.

From the 80s music in the background to the upbeat videos, from the buttons to the bright colors to the cultural references – I walked out of Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love uplifted and inspired. I can’t recommend this exhibit enough.

Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love at the de Young Museum now through April 24, 2022.

A few things to know before you go:

  1. Pack a mask! Masks are required on everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
  2. The Coat Room is closed; travel light and remember that backpacks must be hand held inside the museum.
  3. To allow for plenty of safe space in the galleries the tickets are timed, so it’s a good idea to book ahead.

And there’s more! Continue to explore Patrick Kelly with a series of panel discussions Wednesdays at 5pm: October 27th, November 3rd, March 30, April 23. Click here for the full scoop.

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PARIS, FRANCE – CIRCA 1988: Patrick Kelly at the Patrick Kelly Spring 1989 show circa 1988 in Paris, France. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

I just want my clothes to make you smile.

Patrick Kelly (1954-1990), American fashion designer.

Well, I think Mr. Kelly achieved that desire. His whimsical fashions definitely make me smile.

Tune in tomorrow for my two cents on Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love exhibition on now at the de Young Museum.

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Author Lucy Adlington first read about the fashion salon at Auschwitz while researching the Nazis and the fashion industry. The idea of Jewish women, skilled seamstresses, forced to make clothing for the very people who were in fact killing them, has to be, as Ms. Adlington said in one of her recent online presentations, “one of the most grotesques anomalies ever.” She explains that she tried to find out more but only had nicknames for the women of the salon and she reached a dead-end. But her mind was whirling with what it must have been like working in the Auschwitz fashion salon. So she wrote a novel, The Red Ribbon (Hot Key Books). After the worldwide publication of her book in 2017, the emails started to arrive: My aunt was a dressmaker in the fashion salon at Auschwitz … my mother … my grandmother …

Connections were made, interviews happened, and Ms. Adlington was finally able to write the true story of Marta, Irene, Renee, Bracha, Katka, and Hunya; just six of the twenty-five women who created beautiful clothing for SS wives.

In The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive, Ms. Adlington weaves the stories of our heroines, some who knew each other before the war and all accomplished seamstresses (Marta was a master cutter and Hunya had once owned her own fashion salon) with the broader context of the war and more specifically the fashion industry just before and during the war.

The fashion salon at Auschwitz, called The Upper Tailoring Studio, was the idea of Hedwig Hoss, the camp commandant’s wife. She, like most other SS wives, appreciated fine clothing and that was something hard to come by at the time since the SS had completely decimated the fashion industry, largely run by Jewish people, in every country they occupied. Marta was the first seamstress to start making clothing for Hedwig and as other SS wives also wanted bespoke clothing, Marta insisted that she needed help and so one by one she was able to save twenty-five women from hard labor and probably death.

In telling this story, Ms. Adlington is also pointing out the value of clothing – clothing as identity, as historical documentation, as memento, as comfort. When people first arrived at Auschwitz, they were forced to strip down to nothing. Every last stitch of clothing removed and put into a big pile. The SS knew what they were doing – take away identity, take away the familiar, take away dignity. Most of the work at Auschwitz was hard manual labor, like tearing down brick buildings, but some of the work was less physical, yet no less harrowing. One of the jobs was to sort through the clothing of the newly arrived. Digging through coats, dresses, shoes, even undergarments of people who were likely dead. One young woman found clothing that had belonged to her sister.

So what was done with all this clothing? After it was sorted into categories, the SS wives chose what they wanted and sent the pieces to The Upper Tailoring Studio for alterations. Some of it was sent to Germany to be sold (sold!) while the more tattered items were moved to another camp where slave labor wove the fabric into rugs. Shoes were repaired, if necessary, and also sent on to Germany. (While many camp laborers had no shoes or wore wood clogs that didn’t fit.)

The Dressmakers of Auschwitz is full of disturbing facts like these I mention and for me it was slow going, as I just couldn’t take too much in one sitting. But I appreciate knowing the story of these remarkable, courageous women as well as the central role clothing had in the Holocaust. The photos of the six women throughout the book make the story less abstract and to see their pre-war smiling faces is heartwarming. There are also magazine adverts images to show what fashions Frau Hoss and her ilk would have requested.

Ms. Adlington has done an impressive job telling a complicated story. Can I say I enjoyed it? I don’t know that “enjoy” is the right word. I would say it was a difficult but fascinating read and anyone who is interested in fashion history will want this book in their library.

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