Sunday, 28 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Incarnation of the Snows

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Lucile: Incarnation of the Snows evening dress, Les Modes, photograph by Lucile, Ltd., June 1914. Photo courtesy of the Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives, Gladys Marcus Library, Fashion Institute of Technology.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Rules of Fashion #12

I got a little bit ahead of myself the other day- this is actually the penultimate Rule of Style from Edna Woolman Chase's Always in Vogue.
Point #12:
Pare down the nonessentials. This does not mean eschew jewels and flowers, scarves and bows and hair ornaments; it does mean to use them with discretion, to integrate them into your costume so that they are a deliberate accent, the perfect finishing touch. The observer, and you, should feel that with whatever you have chosen you are complete. Without it there would be something lacking. This system is infinitely more satisfactory than tossing gewgaws on yourself because they happen to be kicking around the bureau drawer.
The importance of this rule should not be overlooked. Ms. Chase might say it in an old-fashioned way, but one just has to look at the popularity of certain personal style and street style blogs to see that it really is all about the details. If you can focus on both your overall look and on the details, the little elements that make your outfit totally unique, then you are on your way to being well dressed. As much as I try to always make sure that outfits as a whole are well-edited and accessorized, it isn't that easy when you are in a rush after having over-slept or are having to deal with nightmare weather (like we are currently). That said, my idea of a well-dressed woman most likely errs to a different look than Ms. Chase's- she would most likely find Catherine Baba, the most fabulously dressed woman I can think of, a tad excessive.

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Excerpt from: Chase, Edna Woolman and Ilka. Always in Vogue. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company Inc,1954. Photos from all over the Internet but including Jak&Jil, and Hanneli.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Darker than the image on the wall

For years I've been saving photos, online and from magazines, of sleekly modern homes where every element is carefully planned and designed- homes that seem to emphasize a clearness of mind. I carefully file them away as inspiration for my future homes, and then turn my focus back to the interiors I actually want to live in. I might love the look of more minimalist interiors and the connotations they bring to mind, but, in reality, I truly want to live in something much darker and sumptuous- the heavy wood of Victorian Gothic mixed with layers of velvets and other textiles. The setting for this editorial for Numero Korea, by Lina Scheynius, has the perfect mix of textures and patterns- so perfect that the clothes are instantly forgotten. Flocked wallpaper, dark wood, gilt, and damask (and more than a little mess) make for a home I would gladly move into tomorrow.

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Lina Scheynius, Hanne Gaby Odiele as Rapunzel, Numéro Korea, February 2010. Photos from Fashion gone Rogue.

For the past year and half (or maybe three) my boyfriend and I have been wanting to redecorate our bedroom. It's been a bit of a struggle as the room is tiny and mainly taken up by the bed, so we've been continually changing our minds about colour and theme. After much debate we decided to go with a dark flocked wallpaper, like those above, even though, according to feng shui, it will throw off our sleep. We've both always loved flocked wallpapers, but the key decider in choosing one was watching the 70s British horror flick, The Legend of Hell House, one night. I've always been a fan of British horror films, especially the Hammer ones, but had somehow never seen this one, though it's directed by John Hough who also directed my absolute favourite, Twins of Evil. The film is great fun, but the aspect of it that excited us the most was the gorgeous haunted house. Every room was covered in brilliantly coloured flocking, and the bedrooms sparkled in luscious red and purple. The Internet seems to be lacking in good screen caps from it, but this image gives you a faint idea of the smoldering luxury of the Belasco mansion- I'll make some better ones and put them up soon.

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Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowall in The Legend of Hell House, 1973. Photo from Decapitated Zombie Vampire Bloodbath.

Maybe it's just because I am so excited for my soon-to-be plum palace that I keep randomly finding myself in the rich Victorian rooms of my dreams. Yesterday I went to the Newark Museum with a class to look at some ethnic textiles, but as we were the only people there, due to the snowstorm, a security guard led us around. Even though my professor had never seen it, he brought us to his favourite part of the museum, the Ballantine House. This late Victorian mansion was built in 1885 for a local beer baron, and has now become part of the otherwise ultra-modern museum. Stepping into the dark, fan-embossed hallway after the brightness of the other galleries was immediately soothing as was our walk through the other eight period rooms. While I was not completely impressed with the rest of the museum, I would gladly go back to spend more time looking at every individual piece in the house, and would recommend it for any decorative arts fan.

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The Ballantine House, Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Rules of Fashion #11

The penultimate Rule of Style from Edna Woolman Chase's Always in Vogue.
Point #11:
A: Stand up when you buy a hat. This may sound daft, but it is rooted in wisdom. Few ladies, we trust, are so foolish as to buy a hat without viewing it from the profile and three-quarter angles as well as from the front, but many a lady fails to realize that her hat must be integrated with the rest of her, that it must be in proportion to her entire body. If you see what you secretly feel to be an enchanting reflection in the milliner's mirror, restrain yourself yet a moment. Stand up, move a few feet away, and view yourself in the altogether. Are you small, so that under a wide brim you look strangely like a gnome under a toadstool? Are you tall, so that too small a hat is reminiscent of a thimble on a broomstick? What looks enchanting in one dimension, sitting down, may be a different story in the round and long.
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Erwin Blumenfeld, Schiaparelli Hats, 1938.
B: Just as you should stand up when you buy a hat so should you sit down when you buy a dress. It may be all good when you are erect, but how does it sit? Is it so full that it lies in puddles on the floor? Does the wrap-around skirt fall open? Is it so tight that it rides above your knees? Sit down in it in front of the mirror, and then walk, enough to make sure it doesn't bind. There is nothing more aggravating than a too narrow skirt on one who likes to stride freely.
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Allan Grant, Actress Millie Grant trying on clothes during her shopping trip, 1959.

More common sense from Ms. Chase- while the first part of this rule does not strictly apply to fashion now, since so few people wear hats, more people should look at how pieces suit them overall. The second aspect of this point is hopefully followed by most, but I personally know how hard this can be when you are in a tiny dressing room or, even worse, don't even have a dressing room, such as at a sample sale. Part of the reason I never go to sample sales (beyond not being able to stand pushy women wanting to fight me over a purse) is that I despise changing in the middle of a large room, in full view of everyone. I also never seem to be wearing the right kind of clothes for them, thin pieces and bodysuits that can easily have dresses thrown over. Anyone have any hints for doing them in style?

Excerpt from: Chase, Edna Woolman and Ilka. Always in Vogue. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company Inc,1954.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Twiggy and Patty Boyd

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Justin de Villeneuve, Twiggy and Patty Boyd for Vogue Italia, July/ August 1969.


Thanks to anonymous for the corrections.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Photos of the Day: A Day in the Life of a Girl Gang

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1955, A member of a teenage girl gang lying in bed smoking a cigarette.

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1955, Two members of a teenage girl gang looking at a cinema poster starring one of their movie heroes.

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1955, A member of a teenage girl gang consulting members of a boys' gang on a burglary project, in order to finance parties, cinema-going and cars.

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1955, Members of a teenage girl gang and their boyfriends give a new girl the once over to see if she will make a good recruit for the gang.

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1955, Members of a teenage girl gang convincing an unwilling recruit to join the gang.

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1955, Members of a teenage girl gang take time off from terrorising the neighbourhood to spend a romantic evening with their boyfriends.

All photos by Vecchio.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Twiggy, 1983

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Twiggy arriving at the Tony Awards, 1983.


Anyone have any idea who her gown is by?

Monday, 15 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Valentina

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The American couturier, Valentina.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Photo of the Day: I was flat til I went fluffy

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Prell Shampoo, 1978.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Friday, 12 February 2010

Photo of the Day: The Window

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Jeanloup Sieff, Vogue Paris, 1970.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

RIP Alexander mcQueen

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I can't even begin to describe how distraught I am with this news. No other contemporary designer has compared to him in my eyes- I truly believe that he was the only genius fashion has had for a long time. I hope he's in a better place now, with his mum, who died two weeks ago, and with Isabella.

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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Dal Lake, Kashmir

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Barbara Mullen floating in the water in a cotton mousseline dress by Atrima in Dal Lake, Kashmir, India. Norman Parkinson, British Vogue, 1956.


Last night I saw a friend who is about to go off on a three-week trip to Vietnam, and earlier in the day I was emailing with a friend who just got back from a month each in India and Brazil and is now off to Mexico. Hearing about these trips, compounded with the many other expeditions other friends have gone on, has made me realize that I have never really done anything like that in my life. I've always been quick to come up with excuses for why I can't- usually money- but I always seem to be able to hussle together enough for another Ossie Clark dress. Now I've made the decision that this will be the year that I hoard my money to go on the kind of exotic holiday that I am always so envious of, even though I also made a pledge to myself to save money to rescue my great-grandmother's house. While it seems I may be broke for awhile I think I need to learn to focus more on experiences, rather than possessions.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Diana Dors

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"I always wanted to be a glamourous hollywood star with a cream telephone. It couldn't be done with the films I was offered- so it had to be done with glamour, extravagence, tiger-skin rugs, mink bikinis, and sex appeal. I was the first homegrown sex symbol... rather like Britain's naughty seaside postcards," Diana Dors.


Monday, 8 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Les vertiges de l'amour

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Mila Schön’s evening dress, in duchesse satin made up of an asymmetrical skirt lined with velvet over a re-embroidered mini skirt. Guy Bourdin, Les vertiges de l'amour, from Bazaar, 1990.


Friday, 5 February 2010

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Actually, illustration of the day...

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I have no idea where this illustration is from, but I would love to know, if anyone has any hints. Looking like the covers of the old paperbacks that lined the walls of the library in my country house when I was a child- cheap thrillers and sci-fi novels that my father had read and loved enough to keep for decades- I eagerly want to find and read whatever book this was drawn for...

A Deco Gem, Hopefully, Gets A New Life

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Lowe's Kings Theater in 1930. Photo courtesy of the American Museum of the Moving Image

I just noticed this article on the NY Times website, which was published yesterday, about the imminent renovation of the Loew's Kings Theater on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Every time I've been in a car driving down Flatbush I've stared in awe at the crumbling deco edifice, and wondered how it is possible that a movie theater with those lines could be allowed to get into such bad condition.

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The Lowes Theater in 1997, Richard Perry for the New York Times.

The Lowe's Kings Theater has been closed since 1977 and it was seized by the city in 1979, in lieu of back taxes. Since then it has sat empty, except for the occasional vandals and vermin. Last week the city finally announced that plans are moving forward to renovate it- a developer has signed a contract and paid a $70 million down payment toward their goal of creating a space for live performances. The photos they published of the destroyed interiors are seriously stunning, so I can only hope they do this building justice with their renovation.

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Both Photos by Nicole Bengiveno for the New York Times.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Photo of the Day: The Present in Past Time

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Norman Parkinson, The Present in Past Time, from British Vogue.


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Medieval Page in the 80s

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Serge Lutens, Louise Bertaux as a page, 1987.


Monday, 1 February 2010

Photo of the Day: Donna Jordan

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Olivier Toscani, Donna Jordan in Antonelli, Vogue Italia, 1972.

I can never get enough of this "divinely innocent Marilyn Monroe" (Karl Lagerfeld, 1970).

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