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Fancy Stuff

Alternative Thoughts on Walking the Red Carpet – It is awards season here in Los Angeles and along with the traffic we seem to be stuck in a glamour glut. Is it the handlers, stylists or just me: it's so boring out there! The constant parade of Elie Saab, Marchesa, L'Wren Scott and J. Mendel blurs from one podium to the next. The two exceptions, off the top of my head, would be Sandra Bullock's SAG Awards knockout Alexander McQueen and the ever fashionista Chloe Sevigny at the Golden Globes in Valentino...que bella! So I did some scouting about and came up with a few alternatives. To keep focused on getting fancy was actually tiring, giving me new found respect for Rachel Zoe, whose taste drives me sideways, but who can really … [Read more...]

Last Year at Marienbad – Chanel, Take One

Chanel Redressed Last Year at Marienbad, Alain Resnais France 1961 94 minutes Black and White 2.35:1 – Much has been said about Last Year at Marienbad and so little of it has to do with the sensational costume designs of Coco Chanel. Has no one noticed just how well paired Chanel and Resnais, were or more to the point, what a dramatic backdrop Marienbad provides for Chanel couture? Chanel was no stranger to the film industry, but it had 22 years since her last employ at costume design and Marienbad. In 1931, as the behest of Samuel Goldwyn, Chanel came to Hollywood twice a year to design for the actresses Goldwyn had on contract with his studio, he would pay her one million dollars per year. She … [Read more...]

Spring Collections 2010, Ready to Wear, New York

Narcisco Rodriguez lets loose. His signature tightly constructed dress takes on a relaxed volume for Spring 2010. Jackets come in shapes like that of an Apollo command capsule and I am particularly covetous of the longer leather coat. So light, with a perfect shoulder and plenty of deep V. Dresses with shear structuring and pink moth-like pattern cutouts move so sexy. But the real knockouts of the collection are the evening dresses whose hems are cut short in the front and billow to floor length in the back. They demand a grand staircase and film crew to follow. The fabrics at the Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein gave the collection an immediate appeal. The big time minimalist line felt positively embellished with the addition of … [Read more...]

Valentino a Roma, 45 Years of Style

Matt Tyrnauer's documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor has recently been released on DVD and as a pre-cursor to the Spring Collections it is fitting to take a look at this extraordinary show that was the culmination of a stunning 50 year career. Contributing Times Quotidian writer Rita Valencia was fortunate to attend the show in Rome at the Museo dell'Ara Pacis in 2007. Below is a first hand look at Valentino a Roma 45 Years of Style. For further reading entertainment here is the Style.com Q&A with Matt Tyrnauer upon the Valentino: The Last Emperor initial release in March 2009. © Rita Valencia … [Read more...]

Midnight – The Final Fashion Show

There are still fashion moments from the film Midnight that just cannot be ignored. Stephanie's (Hedda Hopper) toga like hostess gown, is the picture of poise. Simone's (Elaine Barrie) extreme, underwater like affair, hat choice is daring. And the "Baroness Cherny", slips into this "negligee", half lamp shade and precursor to a swinging Laugh-In style mini, you have to love. Saucy or Demure? Next is Colbert's charming evening dress for the country. The sleeves play a part all on their own. They frame and lift, a delightful choice for the dance. These sleeves always maintain their lighter-than-air loft and like Colbert herself, never appear crushed nor deflated. After the ball, one needs to face the day … [Read more...]

Midnight – The Dress That Started It All

This is the only dress required if one is to lose all their money in Monte Carlo and hightail it to Paris on the cheap. So versatile. You can nap in it on the train, negotiate taxi fares, look for employment, attend swank parties, and play bridge. Coat on or off, shoes on or off, hood up or down, wherever and whatever the occasion, you are set! " template="default" order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] … [Read more...]

Midnight – Hats, Jackets and Oh, the Brooches!

I have to lead this piece with Mary Astor. Her ability to be both benign and malevolent at the same time within the same character is rare. I believe her motives no matter which way they lead. I first fell for her as an innocent in Red Dust (leave that dufus husband and run off with Clark Gable already!), but her flawless portrayal of treachery in The Maltese Falcon was no less compelling. In Midnight wealth becomes her. She inhabits her aristocracy with a great sense of ease and cunning. The cornucopia of adornment that would be considered on most "laden" feels natural, polished, on Astor. Simone, played by Elaine Barry is the great facilitator of Midnight. Without Simone there would be … [Read more...]

Double Entendre

I usually like to keep my art and fashion in separate silos. Seeing each product in context can make all the difference. Crossover rarely is of interest, appropriation that mimics style and lacks insight. Recently I have seen two spreads that make the handshake between fashion and art palatable, maybe even tasty. Egon Schiele was a truly tragic, memorable artist whose works penetrate the retina with as much passion as they penetrate the psyche. In this spring's NYTimes' Men's Fashion Season Premier 2009, photographer Eric Nehr offers up a fashion editorial based on Scheile's work that is eye catching. The posturing is perfectly reminiscent, the gaze of the eyes disenfranchised, the makeup and brushed in background painterly. But after … [Read more...]

Paris, RTW, Fall 2009

Lavin offers up the best of black for Fall 2009. Waists are wasp thin and the cloth, cut on the bias, creates relaxed pleats that spill over hips. I love Alber Elbaz's comment of being a designer "realist", of using "technique that is easier and more relevant". An economy of means, succinctly said and deftly accomplished. Truly appropriate for the times ahead. Now, the largess of the necklace really works to set off the clothes and add glamour vs. at the Marni collection where they just felt immoderate. This Dries Van Noten show is dreamy. The hunter green coat over the red skirt with those sunglasses elicits such an emotional response from me. A look that harkens back to my mother's era perhaps. Reminiscent of the first blush … [Read more...]

Milan, Ready to Wear, Fall 2009

I spent some time really looking at last weeks fashion shows in Milan. I usually just flip through the first couple of outfits and move along as most of the time, well I just get over it quickly. But now that I have this platform from which to speak, I decided to put some backbone into it. So here you have a fashion flight. But before you dig into these clips, here are some words you just need to block out, because none of it rings true. Investment Dressing, Investment Pieces, and, the worst, Value Added. I think Hamish Bowles says it best, "Its all about creating desire in this climate".... creating the illusion of timelessness. Bottega Veneta, designer Tomas Maier, delivers a cool collection with butter leathers and easy to wear … [Read more...]