Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fashion Flashback: Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless"

Jean Seberg as Patricia in Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 film Breathless

While at home over the holidays, I stumbled upon a collection of Ernest Hemingway stories in a box of my old things.  I started reading A Moveable Feast, memoirs of the author's time spent in Paris in the 1920s.  I've never been to Paris -- well, I have, but I was much too young to remember it -- but I hope someday I'll get to go and have actual memories to take away from the experience.  I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

Like Hemingway, the American actress Jean Seberg found inspiration and work in France.  She said of the experience of living in Paris:
"I'm enjoying it to the fullest extent. I've been tremendously lucky to have gone through this experience at an age where I can still learn. That doesn't mean that I will stay here. I'm in Paris because my work has been here. I'm not an expatriate. I will go where the work is."
One of my favorite French films is Jean Luc-Godard's very first, Breathless (À bout de souffle), starring Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo.  Photographer Martyna Galla did a wonderful photoshoot that recreated scenes from Breathless.  I think the model does a great job of capturing Seberg's elfin charm.  On the left you'll see scenes from the film, on the right are Galla's photos.

Photo Sources:  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fashion Flashback: The Midi Skirt

Saleswomen at New York's Bonwit Teller learning techniques to sell the midi skirt,
which eventually grossed one million that year.  Photo by John Dominis.

A family friend recently gifted me with a vintage tweed houndstooth skirt that is a much longer length than I'm typically accustomed to wearing -- it's a conservative style with the skirt length falling to about mid-calf.

Apparently this type of skirt is called the midi skirt, or "midis," and they were all the rage in the 1970s.  Women's Wear Daily editor John Fairchild heavily promoted the look, which served as an alternative to the mini skirt that was also so popular in the '60s and '70s.  It incited a great reaction, even spurring an uproar from proponents of the mini skirt who found midis to be dowdy.  You can even see a protester's sign below that says "Minis are truth."

A 1970 issue of LIFE magazine offers a rather humorous account of the trend:
When Lord & Taylor ran an ad which gave women a choice ("It's not the length, it's the look that counts"), many, angered at the overpromotion of the midi, wrote in.  "Thank you for easing at least one of life's endless harassments," said one.  Another, from Ohio, explained that "I for one would look like a dumpy squashed pumpkin in the long skirts...With Lord & Taylor behind me I know I'll still be in fashion."  But fashion is just what the midi-men are counting on.  "There'll always be that strange woman, God bless her, we love her," reasons Charles W. Folds, vice president of Marshall Field, "who wants to be the first out of the hen coop with the latest oddity.  She'll go to any length to be au courant and we make a lot of money because of her."
Barbara Walters (seen below on the right) herself was an advocate of the midi look back in the '70s, saying "I'm seen by more people than any other woman in this country, and when I wear a midi, that's it."

It's safe to say the midi has made a comeback -- I've seen more and more longer-length skirts at retailers.  ASOS even has a category on their Web site devoted to midi skirts, as well as Macy's and Modcloth.  Carey Mulligan, who is one of my personal favorites, is often seen wearing them.  Check out some inspiration below, which include designs from Nina Ricci and Balmain.

Photo Source: LIFE on Google Books

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Style Inspiration: Nancy Kwan & Vidal Sassoon

Nancy Kwan modeling her Vidal Sassoon cut for a 1968 issue of Vogue.  Photo by Terry Donovan.

When I was looking for photos for my previous post about Grace Coddington, I came across this lovely photograph of the beautiful Eurasian actress Nancy Kwan, who enjoyed popularity in the late '50s and '60s.  Like Coddington, Kwan had her hair cut by the famous Vidal Sassoon.

Kwan was probably most famous for her roles in the 1958 musical Flower Drum Song and 1960's The World of Suzie Wong, co-starring William Holden.  Her long, lustrous black hair was chopped off for her role in the 1963 comedy The Wild Affair.  The asymmetrical bob, which was previously known as the Mary Quant cut, quickly became known as the Nancy Kwan cut and was one of Sassoon's most famous.  Kwan played a game of chess as Sassoon worked his magic.

An excerpt from his book, Sorry I kept you waiting, Madam:
She sat down quietly. Her manager called for a little table, and as I got ready to work, he produced a chessboard and began setting up the pieces.

As I used barber's shears on that magnificent rope of black hair, she never raised her head. She moved only when she stretched out a hand to move one of her chessmen.

She won, and I think I won, too. The game and the cut finished almost simultaneously. Nancy stood up and gazed at herself for a full minute in the mirror. Then her reflection smiled out at me.

As soon as they had gone, I telephoned Max Maxwell of Vogue and told him what I had just done. He told me to hold on for a moment, and when he came back, he said, "I've spoken to the editor. We want Terry Donovan to do a picture of her. We're going to give it a whole page, not only here, but maybe in American Vogue, too."

A few days later I met Nancy again in Terry's studio. Immediately she said, "I like it. Everybody likes it. It's so easy to manage."

The following morning Terry showed me the picture he had chosen from the dozen she had taken. I knew at once it was a winner. It was used not only in the British and American editions of Vogue, but circled the world. (Source)

 Photo Source:

Style Inspiration: Grace Coddington

Grace Coddington debuting Vidal Sassoon's 5-point cut' in 1963

Long before she was the creative director at Vogue, Grace Coddington was a successful and stylish teenage model in '60s London.  At 18, she left her home in Anglesey, Wales, for London, where she won a modeling contest. When she was 26, a car accident ended her career in front of the lens -- instead of letting this stop her, she instead took an active role behind the lens, coordinating photo shoots for British Vogue and working with such people as Cecil Beaton, Arthur Elgort and David Bailey. 

Now 70, she has been working in fashion for over 30 years and is one of the most inspirational and influential people in the industry today.  She's credited with transforming photo spreads into narratives.  Explains Coddington:
"I like fairy tales, and I like dreaming. I try to weave the reality into the dream," she says. "When readers pick up Vogue, I want them to smile. Everything should be a little tongue in cheek, a little dare-to-go-there." (Source)

Photo Source: Fashionologie

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fashion Flashback: Cloche Hats

Famous French milliner Caroline Reboux, inventor of the cloche hat

I'll be visiting Portland, Oregon, for the first time next month and couldn't be more excited.  Having grown up in the South, to travel somewhere cold in December means being able to bust out the coats, gloves and hats that otherwise sit in my closet unused most of the year.

My brother bought me a cloche hat from Anthropologie for Christmas last year and I love it.  The bell-shaped hat was invented in 1908 by Parisian milliner Caroline Reboux, who promoted hats as an essential fashion accessory for women.  One of Reboux's most famous customers was Marlene Dietrich, who liked the berets Reboux designed.  The cloche hat was most popular in the 1920s, seen on such starlets of the time as Carole Lombard and Marion Davies.  It was perfect for women with cropped or bobbed hair.

Below are an assortment of cloche hats spanning eras, from the '20s to the '60s (as seen on Twiggy) to today.  For those of you who are fans of Gossip Girl (major guilty pleasure), Leighton Meester's character has been seen on more than one occasion wearing a cloche.

Photo Sources:  
Dovima is Devine
Of Another Fashion 
Art Knowledge 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fashion Flashback: Audrey Hepburn's Oscars Dress

 Audrey Hepburn's Oscars dress is estimated to bring in between $70K and $90K

The lace dress that Audrey Hepburn wore to the 1954 Academy Awards will be up for auction on November 29th.  The delicate dress was designed by the legendary Edith Head and was an adaptation of the dress Hepburn wore in the final scene of Roman Holiday, the performance for which she won that year's Best Actress Oscar.  Head also won an Oscar for costume design for the film.  It was one of the last designs she created for Hepburn, as shortly after that, Hepburn stated in her contract that Hubert de Givenchy would be the only one to design her costumes moving forward.

The auction, held by Kerry Taylor Auctions, will take place at La Galleria in London.  You can watch Audrey's acceptance speech at the Oscars here.  It's so cool to see -- she was presented the award by the hilarious Donald O'Connor, with an appearance by Gary Cooper from location in Mexico.  Thank God for YouTube! 

  The dress that inspired the Oscars dress.

Photo Sources:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Through the Lens: Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel, in a crepe de chine dress by Prada and a Cartier rose gold watch. Photos by Laura Sciacovelli.

I recently saw the independent romance Like Crazy starring the charming British actress Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin.  Jones was quite good in the movie, which follows the romance between two students in Los Angeles whose love is challenged when Jones' character overstays her student visa and cannot return to the United States -- thus, a very difficult long-distance romance ensues.  Jones and Yelchin spent a lot of time together rehearsing and improvised a lot of the script, which gave their relationship a level of realism.

Jones explained in an interview:
"It's all improvised and we had something called a scriptment which reads something like a short story."

"It had the characters and some of their backstory and described what happened in each scene, sometimes with some dialogue hints. From that template we found the dialogue and kept changing the scene until it felt truthful and worked... I love improvisation and I never realized you could make a film in this way." (Source)
Lester Garcia styled Jones for this Elle photoshoot in '60-style prints from Prada and Yves Saint Laurent and fun accessories, from the bug-eye Cutler & Gross sunglasses to the double flower cuff by Mary Katrantzou for Swarovski.

You can watch the trailer for Like Crazy here.

Photo Sources:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Through the Lens: A Western Wedding

The bride and groom's official wedding portrait.  Photo by Norman Jean Roy.

Though Lauren Bush and David Lauren were married in September of this year, Vogue just published photos from their portrait sitting and ceremony in Ridgway, Colorado, at the Lauren family's gorgeous ranch in the Rocky Mountains.  The couple described the wedding to Vogue:
“Rustic elegance,” says Lauren, who was born in Colorado and lived there until she was eight, describing the feeling of the wedding. “A beautiful movie,” David adds, “like you were riding across the Old West and you stopped in at a wedding.” With the Rockies and rolling cattle fields, decorating wasn’t a big concern. “You could put out paper plates and confetti, and it would be gorgeous,” Lauren says, smiling, “but we didn’t quite do that.”
Bush revealed that she wore borrowed Victorian earrings, boots and blue socks (for that 'something blue,' of course).  She worked closely with the groom's father, Ralph Lauren, and his team to bring her dream wedding dress to life.  From Vogue:
The dress’s top layer is featherweight tulle in antique ivory. Some 100 craftspeople spent more than 3,000 hours hand-embroidering the tulle with delicate motifs of small flowers and Renaissance-era scroll designs in ivory silk and metallic thread, Swarovski Elements crystals, and off-white pearl beads.

Photo Source:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Through the Lens: Baz Lurhmann's The Great Gatsby

Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan on the set of The Great Gatsby

New photos from the Sydney, Australia, set of Baz Lurhmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby have surfaced online, with its stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire in costume.  Luhrmann's wife, the multi-talented Catherine Martin is the production and costume designer for the film.  What do you think of the costumes so far?

I personally think Robert Redford made for a pretty dreamy Gatsby in the 1974 version, though the film received very mixed reviews -- it should be interesting to see how this one pans out with DiCaprio in the title role.  I've also read that Luhrmann is shooting the film in 3D, which is set to be released Christmas 2012. Said Luhrmann of the film: "Fitzgerald’s story defies time and geography. The vision and the goal of our remarkable cast and creatives is to do justice to the deftness of Fitzgerald’s telling, and illuminate its big ideas and humanity. This is our challenge and our adventure."


Here are a few other shots of some of the actors in costume, like Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson and Gemma Ward as her sister Catherine.

The expressions in this photograph are too funny not to include.

Photo Sources:
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