Saturday, 31 January 2009

My destiny is riding again

I saw these Nicholas Kirkwood booties on Jak & Jil and my heart just about stopped- I have to have them!

Let yourself lay back within your dreams

Soft pastels, reminiscent of Jordan almonds, have been turning up on several Haute Couture runways. I adore these shades, so I was really excited to see Riccardo Tisci using them in the Givenchy Haute Couture Spring 2009 show. He has used pastels before, but this time they were much more muted.

How amazing is this suit? This jacket is so gorgeously cut with the ruched shoulders and softly curved front.

I cannot get over how pretty this blouse is. Those shoulders! I have to get my sewing skills back up to par as I have a vintage pattern that I could adapt into this- I love the use of organza instead of bulky shoulder pads.

This would make such a beautiful wedding gown- it just looks so perfect, especially with the roses petals littering the floor. I would love to see close-ups of the lycra banding on the bodice.

This is one of the pieces that astonishes me with the level of skill required to make it. Just the corseting alone is immaculate, but the insets are done so perfectly and with more than a little of Muglarish flair . I have a 1920s black lace cape but I think I need this one- again, those shoulders!

What an amazing colour!

Not only is this dress on my favourite model, but the soft lavender chiffon and the feathers make for an incredibly glamorous and almost melancholic gown.

I love the exaggeration of the vampish '40s shoulders combined with the bellybutton grazing neckline and the soft asymmetric ruffles of the skirt.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

There's so many fine people

Everyone who knows me knows about my complete obsession with Mad Men. Since I caught an episode early in the first series I knew that it was the show for me- I rarely watch shows weekly, and I can't even remember the last time I cared what happened to the characters on a show. Now, Mad Men is set in one of my favourite eras, the early '60s, and so much has been written about the costumes already but I do have to say how much I love them. Obviously Betty was my favourite, but I adore Joan's figure-hugging jewel tones and Bobbie's over the top glittering sheaths. This is a great interview with Janie Bryant, the costume designer, in which she says that she may be working on a clothing line. I would definitely be interested in seeing it- I wear mostly vintage, but I'd be interested to see what she came up with as she has a great eye (her costumes for Deadwood were immaculate also).

Monday, 26 January 2009

I play the part but then all of us do

Watching the Screen Actors Guild Awards last night one thing stuck out to me. All of the dresses were pretty boring and the speeches uneventful, but when I glanced up during the montage of dead actors I saw the most beautiful lady in the most gorgeous dress. The name, Nina Foch, didn't ring any bells with me but I recognized the back of Gene Kelly's head in the 10 second clip so I immediately started googling. Turns out she played the lonely society woman who takes the painter played by Kelly under her wing in An American in Paris. I adored this film as a child but haven't seen it in years- I'm definitely going to download it now and see if I can find any of her other films, such as Executive Suite, for which she was nominated for an Oscar, and Scaramouche, in which she played Marie Antoinette.
This is the dress- perfection!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

I didn't win or lose...I just threw the cards

Miss America 2009- Miss Indiana, Katie Stam. While she was definitely a very pretty girl, her talent was my least favourite (I was rooting for Miss Florida with her cute slutty sequined apron). I do kind of love that Miss America shows dairy cows at the State Fair. I was passionately obsessed with Miss America as a little girl and would make my parents buy me the paper dolls that were produced of them every year, and somehow I've never grown out of loving to watch this pageant.

Next year I have to find a way to go backstage at the competition- I'll be the spray tanner! I'll do anything! It would be just too amazing.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Over and over again

The question of whether fashion is a reliable mirror for change in society was posed to me recently, and I keep being reminded of this query every time I hear a news report about the recession. At my office we listen to NPR all day long, which gives me a lot of opportunity to hear different spins on the current crisis. Sadly there don't seem to be too many ways for journalists to cover it as the same cliches reappear over and over again. Almost daily I hear mentions of the 'hemline index,' George Taylor's 1926 theory that hemlines on women's dresses rise along with stock prices, and drop drastically in poor economic times. If this theory was correct then we could definitely say that fashion was a reliable mirror for change, but I think it is pretty apparent simply by looking around that this theory does not really hold true.

While it is easy for people who only have a passing knowledge of fashion history (say any lay economist or journalist) to see this theory as a viable one- most people know that hemlines were generally short in the 1920's and longer in the 1930's, they wouldn't know that hemlines were only knee-length for two years in the '20s and had already fallen before the stock market crash. It is amusing to listen to journalists who are more used to writing a story about the Dow Jones attempt to test the validity of the theory by flicking through the latest issue of Vogue, where, as any women would know, there are a thousand and five different hemlines showcased.

I've read several articles disproving the hemline index, referring to wide availability of different styles and trends. While it is definitely true that there is now a much broader variety of clothes worn by people, it must be said that what is seen now as the typical clothing of past eras is incredibly reductive. Little beaded flapper dresses may have been the ideal for many rich bright young things in the 1920s, but this discounts everyone who was from a different socio-economic or age group. I've had more than enough people scrunch their noses up at me when they are trying to date a vintage piece I'm wearing. Due to the limited vision of historical fashion they have, most of the time I can see the confusion on their faces when I eventually tell them what era my outfit is from.

Our ability to take all the trends in one decade and distill them down to a few simple ideas is actually quite remarkable. These concentrated fashions are more likely to work as a reliable mirror of change since they are so simplified that a correspondence could easily be found to some shift in society. The more one knows about the fashion and the history of an era, the more difficult it is to find these correspondences- they definitely exist but there are so many different trends and ideas that need to be considered. Even more difficult is to attempt to look at contemporary fashion for clues to what is happening in society- for every designer who would seem to fit your theory, there will be another five that won't. It seems to me that we can only truly look for and find these connections in hindsight, when we are able to look at an era as whole, when we know the long-term results of historical events on society.

Friday, 23 January 2009

I don't miss it much at all

One of my favourite things to do to relax is to go through all of my clothes, seperating them so that I can sell or donate pieces I no longer need. This is actually pretty unbelievable to me as I was always so unwilling when I was growing up to get rid of anything. It was a constant battle between my mother and I, which I always won by simply ignoring her pleads to clean out my closet as the piles of clothes became increasingly unmanegeable. A year and a half ago I was going through a very difficult time in my life (a break in my relationship, crappy job, etc) and it became apparent to me that I would only be able to get out of that awful place by completely changing things in my life. I decided to start with my apartment- just as I had never thrown out any clothes in my life, I had also never thrown out any piece of paper, magazine, book, etc. It was quite a task to go through everything, and I ended up taking a class about clutter clearing through Feng Shui, at the Open Center. Using what I learned in that class and from the book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston, I completely remodeled my apartment and, most importantly, my closet.

All of the skills I learned then have become so ingrained in me that I now probably go through my closet at least twice a month. I collect up pieces to take to designer consignment stores, vintage resale stores or to the local Salvation Army. It's actually become quite an addiction to me, yet I still seem to have so many clothes- far too many to fit comfortably in the room I have for them, but I guess that's what I get for moving from living alone in a largish two bedroom with two rooms of clothing racks to sharing a much smaller two bedroom with a boyfriend who won't let me put racks in the living room. I was just starting this blog when I was in the process of moving and those first few posts detail this massive closet clear out.

There are quite a few amazing lessons you can learn by clearing out all of your old clutter and debris, but the ones that I have found the most exciting are: one, you find the best clothes that you forgot about hidden under ten years of workout clothes and holey tights; and two, you realize that when you throw out clothes that are associated with a bad time it helps immeasurably to fade that memory from your mind. I'm so thankful I finally sold the dress I was wearing when my boyfriend broke up with me- it was the cutest little twenties style slip of silk from Jill Stuart, but whenever I saw it I was filled with so much anger and pain even a year after we had gotten back together. I would never have worn it again, and its absence is not missed.

Tonight I found a piece of clothing that started me thinking about all of this, about how far I've come, and how much farther I would like to go. A short, puff-sleeved black hoodie with a screenprint on the hood, it was a birthday present from my ex. I guess I've been keeping it around because it was the only gift he ever gave me (his idea of romance was picking cheetos up for me when he went to get cigarettes) and because he had made it specifically for me. I think I was always so excited by the fact that he had gone out of his way to do something for me that I chose to ignore the screenprint- a skull and crossbones inside a heart that says that love equals death.

I'll be selling that one tomorrow.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

For in these rooms she would live and die

Is Barbara Hulanicki really doing a collaboration with Topshop??? Booo!

Images from Getty Images because I can't be bothered to get out my scanner to scan the Dec '73 Vogue that this is from- the best photo from the set is actually one with Twiggy in a gold satin dress and bandeau- so stunning! I need to find that dress! Someday I'll get around to scanning the whole editorial.

Friday, 16 January 2009

The earth and the sea and the sky

I have always loved the melancholic and evocative paintings of Andrew Wyeth, regardless of whether or not it is considered acceptable by the art world.So quiet and moving, his paintings add to my longing to move to a farm in rural America.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Track a ghost through the fog

I've been on a bit of an Edwardian clothing binge recently- haven't actually ended up buying any, but I've been oh so close! I have the option of buying these two right now- which one do you prefer?

Thursday, 1 January 2009

And so the winter is really here now

Usually I wear vintage but sometimes there are pieces that you know are going to be the collectibles of the future. This Christopher Kane is definitely one of them- it's the Scarlett O'Hara dress from his a/w 2007 collection. I wore it last night to a New Years Eve dinner party and along with my great great grandmother's black and gold lame opera coat and some 6 inch heels it was the perfect festive outfit.

Happy New Year!

"With winter now in full swing and an icy wind playing havoc with our constitutions, it behoves us to betire ourselves briskly, and to this end we provide ourselves with a coat that gives line to the figure and yet does not impair the deep breathing which we are told is so beneficial, and a skirt that is plain in style but not restricted in width."

British Vogue, January 1923

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