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  • The Resurrection of Anne Fogarty

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    Anne Fogarty Dress, Harper's Bazaar, July 1952.

     

    Anne Fogarty was a wonderful, classically chic dress designer who made her mark in the 1950s and 60s. She is best know for taking Christian Dior’s “New Look” – that fetchingly feminine nipped-waist/full skirted silhouette - and interpreting it for American women.

    American women have always been fond of versatile, easy to wear looks that are fashionable and, ideally, affordable. You know, the kind of thing that isn’t too precious to wear running errands in town, a quick pit stop for a round of bridge with the ladies before running home, throwing an apron over herself, shoving a pot roast into the oven, and then, with barely enough time fill the silver shaker with vodka and ice, whip off the apron as husband walks in the door. His lovely wife standing there ravishing and perfect in her neat, fashionable dress, a smile on her face, his drink in her hand.

    Ms. Fogarty literally wrote the book on this subject: Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife.

    “When your husband's eyes light up as he comes in at night, you're in sad shape if it's only because he smells dinner cooking."

    I know. We are all feminists now and most of our husbands are lucky if we leave a brown Whole Food’s box in the fridge for him, never mind mix him a drink wearing a pretty dress and a smile on our faces. But Anne Fogarty was relevant back in 1959 when she wrote the book, and, cringe if you will, she is still today.

    While I’m sure the husbands of the world love it when we dress up for them, the more germane pointers from Ms. Fogarty’s book are the gems of wardrobe advice she doles out, like regularly editing your closet, tossing out last year’s trends before you make yourself look “tired.” Or better yet, don’t buy things you think are too trendy in the first place. (Why is this so hard to do?)

    "A clothes budget is like Einstein's theory. It's based on relativity. The relative value of perhaps one very expensive coat against two less costly; of one good fur against a couple of fake furs; of an extreme high-fashion item against a classic."

    She also reminds us that: "Expense does not assure good taste, nor is ‘good’ taste necessarily expensive to acquire."

    Here is another timeless morsel: "My bargain motto is, ‘If it's something you wouldn't buy at the regular price, why buy it now?'"

    Clearly there are a few good tidbits hidden beneath the Stepford title. Truth be told, the thrice-married, ex-model-turned-go-getter-designer was most likely too busy designing dresses, running her business, writing books, preparing for her weekly radio slot and going to cocktail parties to actually practice what she preached. She was, in fact, quite a modern woman.

    Which brings me back to the title: The Resurrection of Anne Fogarty. Ms. Fogarty closed shop in 1974 and passed away in 1977. For vintage lovers like us, she lives on, but to the layman/woman, the intro I just wrote is probably quite useful: Anne Fogarty isn’t exactly a household name. But it may very well be soon: Her name has recently been revived and her classic, chic, affordable style resurrected.

    Not so long ago, Ivana Lo Stimolo picked up a copy of Wife Dressing and was so inspired by the designer, her style and her ideas, that she, along with her partner Greg Halvorson, decided to buy the rights to Ms. Fogarty’s name and re-launch the brand.

    True to the roots of Ms. Fogarty’s aesthetic, the new Anne Fogarty collection will focus on straightforward, stylish designs with an emphasis on quality tailoring and always cut a fine, feminine silhouette.

    You’ll also still be “wife dressing” in your new Anne Fogarty dresses, only you’ll be wearing them straight from the office to dinner with your husband… at a restaurant.

    The debut Anne Fogarty collection was pre-sold via Kickstarter. The Spring/Summer 2015 collection will be presented this September during New York Fashion Week.

     

    Dresses from the new Anne Fogarty collection.

     

    Dresses from the new Anne Fogarty collection.

     

    (L) Anne Fogarty. (R) Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well Dressed Wife.

     

    Anne Fogarty Design, 1951.

     

    (L) Anne Fogarty Dress, green silk satin and taffeta, 1950-1954, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. (R) Ensemble Anne Fogarty, 1957, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

     

    (L) A gray cotton stripe dress by Anne Fogarty. (This sold for $40 in 1954 (about $336 in today's dollar.)  (R) Anne Fogarty Dress, 1952.

     

    (L) Romaine Simenson in a dress by Anne Fogarty, 1957. Photo by Frances McLaughlin-Gill. (R) Cocktail outfit by Anne Fogarty, 1952.

     

    Available now at Shrimpton Couture, a 1950s silk striped Anne Fogarty Dress

     

    (L) Pink wool and mohair coat trimmed in pale badger by Anne Fogarty, Photo by Francesco Scavullo. (R) Gloria Vanderbilt in Anne Fogarty, 1967.

  • Devil in a Red Dress?

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    The last story I wrote for Curate focused on what one wears on her wedding day. Not long before that I wrote about the power of a red dress. This time I’m combining the two… Well, not wearing red on your wedding day (which, btw, is quite traditional in Eastern countries like China and India – red represents good luck and auspiciousness), but on someone else’s wedding day.

    Recently my husband and I were invited to attend two back-to-back formal weddings. This meant I would need to come up with a total of four “formal” looks for the two weekends: cocktail ensembles for the Friday evening events and evening gowns for the actual weddings.

    One wedding was in Geneva, quite old-school: Friday night would be held at the family home of the groom on Lake Geneva and the Saturday evening wedding would be held at chateau belonging to the bride’s family, nestled in the French countryside. The second wedding was in Rome: Friday night would be up on a rooftop overlooking the ancient city and Saturday night in an Italian castle in the countryside (which turned out to be one of the sites for Berlusconi’s famous “bunga bunga” parties).

    The settings were similar, yet different. Basically: two kinds of fancy.

    When pulling aside appropriate dresses for the Friday night events, I came across a 1950’s, strapless, red tulle party dress that I have yet to wear and that I absolutely love. It is festive, yet formal. Fun, but refined. Perhaps a little too fancy for the Friday night? But could it work for a black tie wedding? No, I decided. It was red.

    Somewhere in the back of my head I could see my mother’s serious face and hear her stern Irish voice doling out one of her rules: “No red to a wedding! It will look like you are saying ‘Look at me!’ and it’s not your night.” This from the same woman who had also once warned, when I attempted to wear a little black dress to a family wedding, “Black is too morbid for such a joyous occasion!”

    So there I was with my red dress in one hand, ready to hang it alongside the other discards, when my husband walked in and said, “That looks like a good one… Red is festive!”

    He must have seen my face darken, because then he quickly added, “Weddings are festive, right?”

    Weddings are festive, so why then did red feel so wrong?

    I explained that red dresses scream “Look at me!” and he understood, but he still thought it was fine.

    It turned out my husband was right (but don’t tell him). Apparently I’m the only person who felt threatened by a scarlet A-line. While I opted not to wear my vintage dress to any of the wedding parties this time around, I have never seen so many red dresses and gowns at a wedding as I did in those two weekends. Red was the color of choice. If there was a majority color amongst the female guests, red was it. Not only did I find it appropriate for the first time, but the women wearing red seemed to give some kick to the party, and who wouldn’t want some added life at their wedding reception? Have you ever noticed that the dancing party girl emoticon for Instagram is a girl in a red gown?

    My choice of a black and ivory Tuleh (almost vintage) gown trimmed in chocolate silk for the Geneva wedding felt tidy and conservative next to the vermilion gowns cha-cha-ing around me. And while I felt my black, Lanvin, Grecian-style gown was perfect in Rome, I couldn’t take my eyes off a girl in a red, open-backed gown with a deep-V that was cut almost to her waist. It was a bold choice, but she looked amazing and not at all out of place. (The girl wearing the dress was Liza Urla, founder of gem-a-porter.com – I ended up talking for quite a while with her and featured her on my site earlier this week.)

    I wore shorter dresses for the Friday night dinners: a pink, bejeweled collar Marchesa in Rome and a black, pleated, bejeweled-bib vintage Shrimpton Couture cocktail dress in Geneva… although I was also considering another vintage, a light blue, scalloped vintage wiggle gown whose buttons love to pop open when I walk, showing whole lot of leg, but I thought it was a little too sexy for the Geneva crowd. I’m saving it for a special dinner in St. Tropez…)

    People are becoming more daring at weddings. While I’m not a huge fan of all the short, bandage dresses that were showing up in church pews for a while there, red dresses are vibrant and subtly sexy, and while they do demurely scream “Look at me!,” it’s usually in a nice, non-vulgar way (depending on cut of the dress, of course, but you get my drift).

    Judging from the deep sea of red I experienced at those two weddings, it seems that red is replacing the ever-popular wedding pastel. You need not worry about standing out in red; you almost need to worry about blending in! Little did I know…

    Let’s face it: red, black, rainbow or winged, you ain’t going to have nothing on the bride. She knows it, you know it, everyone knows it.

    So go ahead, wear red to a wedding… just don’t wear white!

    Right?

    All photos by Benjamin Theys unless otherwise noted.

     

    Liza Urla wearing red Olga Lowenstein in Rome (Personal Photo)

     

    The Pink Marchesa Dress I wore in Rome (Personal photo)

     

    The Lanvin Gown I wore in Rome (Personal Photo)

     

    (L) The Tuleh Gown option (R) The blue vintage Dress I decided to save for St Tropez

     

    The dress from Shrimpton Couture I wore in Geneva

  • White Wedding

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    Photo by adorngirl.com

    The wedding gown is the single most important dress in a woman’s life. Before we have one, most of us dream about what ours will look like. After we’ve had one, we can’t let go, obsessing over which dress certain celebrities will choose. (Kim and Kanye on the cover of last month’s Vogue? All the conjecturing madness that surrounds a royal wedding?) And then, as styles evolve and change, friends get married, we re-imagine how our dress should have been, thinking, “Ah! I should have worn sleeves/an open back/flowers instead of a veil...”

     

    (L) Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Vogue, April 2014. (R) Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge after their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London.

     

    We cannot help it – it’s always a nice day for a white wedding. And, according to the Financial Times, we are not alone. The bridal industry is a $53 billion dollar business in the US alone. We are indeed obsessed and, it appears, we are only becoming more and more obsessed thanks to the fact that fashion has become more mainstream in the past few years, bloggers blogging, reality TV revealing, celebrities fine with selling their wedding photos.

    Designers have caught on and are happy to cater to the willing masses, creating separate bridal collections and sending those dresses down the runways not at New York Fashion Week, but at New York Bridal Fashion Week. Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier and Carolina Herrera are now joined by Marchesa, Reem Acra, and Zac Posen, not to mention their European counterparts who show oversees: designers like Giambattista Valli, Alice Temperley, and Jenny Packham.

    Women seem to be willing to sacrifice more and more of their wedding budgets in order to get the dress of their dreams (about 16% of their entire wedding fund), not that their husbands would typically understand trading out the filet mignon option and a few bottles of Chateau Latour for a dress his bride will only wear once (even though she swears she’ll wear it again).

    Delving into the evolution of this new “trend” is London’s Victoria and Albert Museum with their latest fashion exhibition, Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, which opened this weekend. Viewers are lead through the a few hundred years of the history of the wedding dress, how and why white became the color of choice for Westerners and how a good wedding dress will mark its moment in time with its telltale style (hence why we all want to re-devise our wedding gowns every few years).

    Dresses on display include that of Margret, the Duchess of Argyll’s endlessly trained and starry Norman Harnell gown, Dita Von Teese’s sapphire blue Vivienne Westwood, Gwen Stefani’s punkish, fade-to-pink Galliano, and Kate Moss’s gold embroidered, gypsy-inspired Galliano gown.

     

    Wedding dress designed by Norman Hartnell in 1933, worn by Margaret Whigham for her marriage to Charles Sweeny.

     

    Spray-painted gown in silk by John Galliano for Dior, worn by Gwen Stefani for her marriage to Gavin Rossdale, 2002.

     

    Vivienne Westwood Gown worn by Dita von Teese for her marriage to Marilyn Manson, 2005.

     

    Gold Embroidered Gown by John Galliano, worn by Kate Moss for her marriage to Jamie Hince, 2011.

     

    The exhibition clearly shows how dresses were once simple and earnest affairs and now are more glamorous showpieces. These days every woman expects her fifteen minutes and, for most of us, whether we like it or not, our wedding day is it, so we go for glam… and we are totally fine with breaking the bank in the name of love.

    As long as the man isn’t the means to the dress, this probably isn’t the worse thing in the world. This from a woman who wore three dresses to her own wedding. The way I see it, I saved myself two more weddings. Ha! I need to tell that one to my husband.

     

    Maud Cecil's Wedding Gown for her marriage to Greville Steel, November 1927.

     

    (L) Wedding dress designed by Isobel in 1953, worn by Anne Shelia Molineux to marry Gordon Hodson. (Shown in middle on right, at exhibit).

     

    V&A: Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, photo by adorngirl.com

     

    (L) Wedding dress designed by Charles James in 1934, worn by Barbara ‘Baba’ Beaton for her marriage to Alec Hambro. (R) John Bates’s 1966 dress and coat for Marit Allen for her marriage to Sandy Lieberson.

     

    (L) Jean Muir, worn by Pamela Talmey, a former Vogue editor, when she married William David Ormsby-Gore, 1969. (R) Gina Fratini, 1970.

     

    V&A: Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, photo by adorngirl.com

     

    This romantic wedding dress by Spiegel was worn by Angela Stamp for her marriage to her best friend, Howard Fineman in 1976.

     

    Embroidered wedding gown by Christian Lacroix, 1992.

     

    V&A: Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, photo by adorngirl.com

     

    Ian Stuart dresses, 2011.

     

    Wedding dress designed by Gareth Pugh and veil by Stephen Jones in 2011, worn by Katie Shillingford for her marriage to Alex Dromgoole.

     

    V&A: Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, photo by adorngirl.com

  • The Re-Vamping of Courrèges

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    Andre Courrèges, Photo by Bill Ray, 1968.

    Fashion houses are being re-vamped left and right this season. Jeremy Scott went to Moschino. Alessandro dell ‘Aqua went to Rochas. Marco Zanini, formerly of Rochas, went to Schiaparelli. Nicolas Ghesquiere went to Louis Vuitton… and there are apparently ten new somebodies to Courrèges.

    Courrèges recently hired not one new designer, but a new design team to dream up their autumn 2014 collection. I use the word dream lightly: Courrèges is such a unique and iconic brand that it is quite important that they keep their collection very, well Courrèges: square, but in a very cool, white way.

    Mini skirts and 1960s boxiness never seem to go out of style, at least for very long, but at the same time, to keep any brand modern, it’s important to keep up with the times and make modifications to trademark styles. In the case of Courrèges, it’s not so much a big alteration in the cut as much as utilizing new, less-stiff, crackle-free fabrics.

    Since the 1960s, leather has somehow become more soft and stretchy… and often glossy. Plastic-like, high-shine fabrics have become less like photo paper and move more like mercury (or like neoprene).

    And go-go boots are timeless. No modifications needed.

    Take a look below to see today’s Courrèges verses yesterday’s.

    (L) Courrèges A/W 2014. (R) Marisa Berenson in Courrèges, Photo by Andre Carrara, 1960s.

     

    (L) Catherine Deneuve in Courrèges, 1965. (R) Melanie Hampshire in Courrèges, Photo by Melvin Sokolsky, Harper's Bazaar, 1965.

     

    (L)  Courrèges Pant Suit, 1965. (R) Courrèges A/W 2014.

     

    (L) Ina Balke in Courrèges, 1965. (R) Courrèges, 1965.

     

    (L) Courrèges A/W 2014. (R) Courrèges suit in white cotton satin with navy grosgrain braid trim, Photo by Willy Rizzo, 1965.

     

    (L) Diana Ross in Courrèges, 1966. (R) Photo by Bert Stern, 1969.

     

    (L) Courrèges, L'Officiel Magazine, 1969. (R) Courrèges A/W 2014.

     

    Courrèges, 1968.

     

    (L) Courrèges A/W 2014. (R) Courrèges, Paris, 1960s.

     

    (L) Courrèges, L'Officiel Magazine, 1969. (R) Courrèges, Marie Claire, 1969.

     

    (L) Courrèges, L'Officiel Magazine n. 557-558, 1968. (R) Courrèges A/W 2014.

  • Margiela Show Notes

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    Show notes, the pieces of paper or little folders that are lying on your seat when you arrive at a fashion show, are not a uniform thing. For me, someone who used to make her living reviewing shows, they were usually quite useful, sometimes even saving me a trip backstage for a quick interview with the designer. Other times the notes were so abstract, they left me no choice but to go back for a proper explanation in layman’s terms.

    Show notes will sometimes give you details about fabrics (sometimes not), tell you what influenced the designer that season (or maybe not), who styled the show (usually not), with special thank-yous to whoever did the hair and makeup, etc.

    But never have show notes been as clever and straightforward as they were at Maison Martin Margiela’s recent 2014 couture show. With details about the provenance of the vintage materials that were transformed to make each piece, the hours it took to make each piece and the artist who designed the fabric prints he often re-used, the Maison raised the show notes bar to a whole new - well, frankly, noteworthy - level.

    Below, we dive in deeper to Margiela’s show notes reprinting them with their corresponding looks in order to show you, firsthand, the amount of time and extraordinary detail that went into each piece...

     

    PASSAGE #1. ROBE DE JOUR: Application of Mariano Fortuny fabric scraps (c.1910 - c.1950) onto a white T-shirt. Production time: 22 hours / Mariano Fortuny scraps sourced in New York, USA – private collection, cotton twill with stencilled motif, cotton jersey.

     

    PASSAGE #3. ROBE BUSTIER: Draping in two variations of “design 706” fabric by Frank Lloyd Wright edited by Schumacher – Taliesin line 1956, mounted on a couture corset. Production time: 49 hours / Frank Lloyd Wright Textiles, sourced in Chicago, USA - private collection silkscreened cotton, silk pongé, nylon bristles.

     

    PASSAGE #5. ROBE BUSTIER: Draping from two hanging textile prints of “Mira Lunar” designed by Verner Panton and edited by Mira-X International in 1979; mounted on a couture corset. Production time: 42 hours / Verner Panton textiles sourced in New York, USA - private collection, printed cotton, silk pongé, nylon bristles.

     

    PASSAGE #7. TAILLEUR PANTALON: Suit cut in a variation of “Les violons” fabric by Raoul Dufy, edited by Bianchini Ferrier. Production time: 58 hours for the jacket and 19 hours for the trousers / Printed cotton from Lyon, France, silk pongé.

     

    PASSAGE #9. ENSEMBLE: “Buste stockman” blouse made from an assemblage of “Pin-up tattoo” embroidery designed by Sailor Jerry for Rum (c.1950). Pencil skirt made of two handpainted silk scarves once used as décor in a maison close (c.1930 - c.1940). Production time: 57 hours for the blouse and 27 hours for the skirt / Rum labels sourced in Illinois, USA, handpainted silk sourced in Paris, France – private collection, silk satin, mixed needle embroidery: glass beads, half and whole glass tubes and half-tubes, crystals, and silk, cotton, and metallic threads.

     

    PASSAGE #11. MANTEAU: Peacoat cut from a thick tapestry based on “La femme du roi” by Paul Gauguin (1896) produced by the Ateliers Raymond Picaud – Aubusson (c.1950). Production time: 102 hours / Needle woven wool tapestry, sourced at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France, metal twill.

     

    PASSAGE #13. ENSEMBLE: “Buste stockman” corset embroidered with small found objects, worn with men’s trousers embroidered with sequins. Production time: 67 hours / Silk organdy, silk pongé, sequins, small objects found in flea markets in Paris and Brussels.

     

    PASSAGE # 15. ENSEMBLE: Négligée by the Soeurs Callot (c.1915 - c.1920) and skirt cut from the tapestry “Le Remailleur de filet” by Robert Debieve, produced by Corot (c.1950). Production time: 21 hours for the skirt / Tapestry sourced in Paris, France, négligée by the Soeurs Callot sourced in Brussels, Belgium – private collection, silkscreened cotton twill, jacquard in silk and gold thread.

     

    PASSAGE # 17. MANTEAU: Peacoat cut from an assemblage of aluminium balloons held together by satin baguettes, worn with men’s trousers embroidered with sequins. Production time: 105 hours / Duchesse satin, silk organdy, silk pongé, sequins, printed sheets of aluminium.

     

    PASSAGE # 19. PARDESSUS: “Opéra” coat cut from a Bauhaus tapestry produced in Dessau, Germany (c.1920). Production time: 110 hours / Tapestry sourced in New York, USA, wool on cotton twill, metal twill.

     

    PASSAGE # 21. ROBE DU SOIR: Bustier dress cut from the tapestry “Le coq” by Jean Lurçat, edited by Corot (c.1955). Production time: 47 hours / Tapestry sourced in Brussels, Belgium, silkscreened cotton twill, silk satin.

     


    PASSAGE # 23. ROBE COLONNE: Bustier dress, draped in silk satin. Embroidered “Clin d’oeil” evening gloves. Production time: 27 hours for the dress and 18 hours for the gloves / Silk satin, mixed embroidery: mirror, rhinestones, stones, ceramic, metal discs, glass tube beads. 

    FABRICATION ET RESTAURATION: The veils over the models’ faces are embroidered in our Paris atelier and made of silk organdy, mixed needle embroidery of glass beads, tubes and half-tubes, crystals, and silk, cotton and metal threads. The wigs are made using embroidery and small found objects. The embroideries of small found objects are done by hand and are made of rings, chains, metal beads, cabochons, rounds made from tin cans, glass beads, half and whole glass tubes, crystals, silk, cotton and metallic threads and keys. The ‘Tabi’ ankle boots are made in metal twill. Pre-Columbian art jewellery loaned from a private collection, Antwerp, Belgium.

     

  • Lanvin is turning 125!

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    Lanvin 2011, A/W.

    As you may or may not know, Lanvin is France’s oldest fashion house. And, as you may or may not know, Lanvin is celebrating their 125th year this year. To commemorate, the house will be freely educating the fashion masses via various social media outlets, unveiling, day by day, photographs from the archives, videos, drawings by Jeanne Lanvin and Alber Elbaz, as well as noting other benchmarks from the fashion house’s past.

    This incredibly chic history lesson will be shared via the Lanvin Facebook account, through a new site they set up especially for the occasion where you can sign up for a daily newsletter, as well as through Instagram and Pinterest.

    Exclusive snapshots of Jeanne Lanvin’s office on rue Faubourg St. Honoré will be presented on Instagram every Thursday, and tidbits about Lanvin’s history will be shared on Facebook. Information perhaps, like the fact that Jeanne Lanvin’s first shop originally included furs, home décor, lingerie and menswear. Or that her first perfume, Arpège, which launched in 1927, was inspired by the feelings she experienced listening to her daughter practicing piano.

    It will undoubtedly be a lovely adventure to watch the history of Lanvin unfurl, day by day, one little soupçon of Lanvin history at a time, via all the social media we are already addicted to.

    The daily newsletters begin in a little over two weeks. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to hold out and I’ve already found myself on Pinterest, learning that on a trip to Italy in the 1920s, Jeanne Lanvin discovered the “celestial, mauve-tinted blue,” the trademark blue the house is so famous for, while admiring a Fra Angelico fresco. A little something I didn’t know.

    I also went to lanvin.com and clicked on the Life at Lanvin page and listened to Alber Elbaz tell his personal fashion story in a calming voice that seems to both capture his ability to dream as well as his genuine appreciation for women.

    Lanvin is not only France’s oldest house, it is one of it’s most important. Lanvin is not just about pretty clothes for pretty girls, it’s about celebrating women… their uniqueness, highlighting their ability to be themselves and embrace who they are by wearing clothes that don’t define them, but let them shine.

    Lanvin women are cool, distinctive and usually beautifully overly adorned. And that’s how they’ve always been thanks to Jeanne Lanvin and her ability to pave that well-adorned path 125 years ago.

     

    (L) Mlle Maguy Varna, Belted Dress by Jeanne Lanvin, 1924. (M) Gilda Gray, Evening dress by Jeanne Lanvin, 1924. (R) Mlle Rahna, Lanvin dress with petal skirt, 1924.

     

    (L) Modèle TRAIN BLEU ETE 1929 © Patrimoine Lanvin. (R) Bonheur. 1929 © Patrimoine Lanvin.

     

    (L) Jeanne Lanvin, 1929. (R) Photo by Horst P. Horst, Vogue April, 1935.

     

    (L) Jeanne Lanvin et sa fille 1927 © Patrimoine Lanvin. (R) Logo by Paul Iribe © Patrimoine Lanvin.

     

    (L) CLAUDE FROLLO Paris ETE 1929 © Patrimoine Lanvin. (R) L'OISEAU BLEU Entre Saisons 1928 © Patrimoine Lanvin.

     

    (L) Jeanne Lanvin for House of Lanvin, Fall/Winter, 1926. (R) Essayes avec un mannequin dans le bureau de Jeanne Lanvin vers, 1940.

     

    (L) Chapeau Etudiant © Patrimoine Lanvin. (R) Chapeau Panurge © Patrimoine Lanvin.

     

    (L) Photo by Henry Clarke, Anne Saint-Marie wearing Lanvin, 1955. (R) Model wears lacy trousers and top designed by Lanvin, 1967.

     

    Linda Evangelista in Lanvin, Photo by Irving Penn, 1990.

  • The Power of Red

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    For as long as modern fashion history goes back, the “little black dress” has been every woman’s safety when it comes to cocktail attire.

    Traditionally however, black dresses were slightly less festive, primarily reserved for mourning.

    So while the LBD is flattering, sexy, will match any pair of shoes, is a great backdrop to your favorite necklace and is unfailingly chic, the black dress can also be a bit serious and sad... not to mention expected.

    And then there is that small problem that a black dress doesn’t show up well in photographs, all of its details fading, well, into black….

    Enter red.

    Seriously. Enter any party in a red dress and you’ll part the sea of black, everyone’s head turning your way.

    Red is bold. Red is bright. Red is sexy. Red is chic. Red is definitely not sad.

    And red is perfect for the holidays, which, for fashion’s more faint of heart, is a great excuse to ask Mrs. Claus to step aside and put your own red dress on.

    Red is great on blonds. It’s great on brunettes. It’s great on redheads. It is regal when paired with silver hair. It’s as versatile as black… if you are brave. Why do you think Christian Louboutin chose red as the color of his signature soles? Why did Valentino make red his trademark color? Why? Because red is the color of fire. It’s the color of roses. Red is both powerful and seductive.

    Red is the color of woman.

    Thinking of the most iconic red dresses, the first one that came to mind was the deep crimson gown Audrey Hepburn wore in Funny Face when she was modeling on the stairs of the Louvre (pictured above).

    Then there is Scarlet O’Hara in her many shades of red in Gone with the Wind.

    There is the dress Julia Roberts wore in Pretty Woman when she re-emerged after her day of shopping, transforming into one of the most elegant and sophisticated “escorts” the world has ever laid eyes on.

    Red was the color chosen for Jessica Rabbit’s slit-up-to-there, only-in-a-cartoon-would-that-stay-up gown.

    We have Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in their red-hot sequin numbers in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

    And then there is Kate Middleton who wears red in the most sophisticated of manners.

    Regardless of how you wear it, red attracts attention. While I’m not sure I’ve met a woman who wouldn’t wear red, if putting a red dress on a certain night seems a bit much and the red soles of your Louboutins too little, you can always compromise with a measured dose of statement red: A red lip... and wear it with your black dress.

    A red lip, if done right (and not worn with stripper heels and a Hervé Leger bandage dress), always finishes a look. It should make you feel polished and refined. If it doesn’t, wipe it off… and find a nice red nail polish.

    However you decide to wear it, find a way to work a little red into your everyday style. Not only will it brighten up your Yuletide game, but it will unfailingly add a little intrigue to an otherwise bland, everyday look. Deep reds, like burgundy and garnet, are mysterious and intriguing. Vivid, cherry reds are more lively and flirtatious, but ultimately the more classic choice. All reds are romantic. Choose a red to suit your mood… and kiss black goodbye.

     

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  • The "Return" of Vintage

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    Right now vintage is having a moment. If you open any magazine you will be inundated with tiny, nipped waists that sit atop full skirts. Or you’ll see curve-accentuating pencil skirts demurely paired with prim cardigans. Or maybe you’ll get a glimpse of an over-sized coat caught in mid-swing.

    Right now is the moment for an injection of femininity. For the past few years there has been a lean towards all that is cool and edgy: leather leggings, wedge sneakers, motorcycle boots, layers and layers of black and more studs and grommets that an 80’s punk could handle. Names like Alexander Wang, Isabel Marant, Emmanuelle Alt and the revamped Balmain have dominated over more polished houses like Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior and Rochas.

    Grunge officially made its return when Hedi Slimane replaced Stefano Pilati at Saint Laurent. Even Givenchy, whose clothes were originally the very definition of sophistication, is now the leader of “flippant cool.”

    Don’t get me wrong: I love a hard look. It makes me feel sexy and powerful. But I always – always – feel best in a ladylike silhouette. Who doesn’t feel good when their waist is optically reduced by a full-skirt? And a full skirt works for a multitude of body shapes: it camouflages hips and bottoms that are both too big and too small.

    Christian Dior’s 1950’s “New Look” will never go out of style, which is why it keeps coming back. In fact, the “new look” was a misnomer, it was new at that moment, but tiny waists have always been in mode. Think of Victorian bodices and bustled rears and the corsets and buttressed hips of Marie Antoinette’s day. If your waist looks small, your bust and hips are emphasized. Historically (and naturally) women feel more like women when their womanly parts are celebrated... for good and for bad.

    For me, I’m at a point when I want to feel more like a woman instead of a trendy, cool young thing, so I was very, very excited when I first saw Prada’s AW2013 collection of slightly disheveled, sexy librarians, the huge, cabbage print Rochas skirts and coats, sensually swathed arms and exposed shoulders at Céline and the strict, belted waists at Gucci. Fashion was growing up yet again… I wouldn’t look like a walking buzz kill if I stepped out in a polite, respectable look that my grandmother would swoon over.

    Yes, we all still occasionally pine for our early twenties. Just last week I zipped myself into a pair of thigh-high boots and a little Alaia dress that was just long enough to hide the tops of my boots (I wanted to hang onto my youth, not transform myself into a hooker).

    The truth is there comes a point when we all should accept the fact that we are upright, reasonable adults and that we need to put down the Hervé Leger bandage dress and step away from low-waist, skinny jeans. It’s time to button up and embrace what God gave us in a more mature way. Pairing a full skirt with a simple white button down or a V-neck cardigan neatly tucked in is a good way to do it. You’ll trick yourself into thinking you’re a modern Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, looking stylish yet decorous. This kind of clothing constructs a façade of togetherness and innate chicness that few of us adults actually have while we are juggling careers, family and a plethora of responsibilities and newfangled issues we’d rather not admit to having.

    At night, if you are able to retain this 1950s aesthetic, you are free to channel your inner vamp while still looking like a lady and less like a Real Housewife. You can pull on a pencil skirt that scoops your bottom and tapers down to the tops of the knees, accentuating your hips. Go ahead and open one more button of your cardigan or button-down than you think you should and flirtatiously, intermittently expose a flash of your Kiki de Montparnasse bustier à la Elizabeth Taylor. If you don’t feel sexy, there is something wrong with you.

    These days it is actually quite easy to recreate the “New Look.” Either you can buy from the current collection of the designers I mentioned or wait until the 50s are yet again reinvented by the designers of one of the older houses (Balenciaga, Givenchy, Céline, Valentino, Chanel, Balmain, Nina Ricci, Rochas) or you can search for the lesser known American designers from this period who made the “New Look” both mainstream and affordable to the non-couture frequenting middle class: Ceil Chapman, Bonnie Cashin and Anne Fogarty. Just search your local vintage shop or scour Shrimpton for these designers and other “New Look” knock-offs, find a skirt or dress that strikes your fancy, wet your hair and you’ll look like you walked off the set of the latest Prada campaign (video below).

    I will leave you with The Birds editorial that Cherie posted last month from Russian Elle. I promise that everything I just wrote will make perfect sense after you’ve seen this editorial.

    (Click image to see full editorial)

  • Why Alaïa Never Goes Out of Style

    Posted by Erin Permalink

    For her first column for Curate, Erin went to the Alaia exhibit in Paris since she just happened to be there already for the shows. We are huge, huge, huge Alaia fans and while we are profoundly jealous not to have been ourselves, we are also insanely pleased to be able to bring you this first hand account. We also found a superb little video of the opening night gala for you to see. It really brings Erin's words and the pictures to life! Enjoy!

    Last week a retrospective of Azzedine Alaïa’s dresses opened at the Musée de l’Art Moderne in Paris.

    Of the 74 dresses on display, not one of them seemed outdated. Each dress and coat stood on it’s own, a wearable piece of art that, like the Matisse works that served as a backdrop for the exhibition, you simply couldn’t take your eyes off, examining each subtle detail, looking for how a tuck begins, what those top stitches create and what lies beneath each perforation. You could spend hours trying to figure out how he constructed the full-skirt “poufs” out of leather and his signature elastic fabric.

    Azzedine Alaïa’s ability to flatter a woman’s body is unparalleled. The Tunisian-born designer creates a waist even if there isn’t much of one to work with. His often-emulated body-conscious cuts and elastic fabrics have a phenomenal ability to pull a woman’s body in as if it were wrapped in a multitude of ace bandages. It takes a lot of work to make one of these dresses, yet each dress exudes a simplicity that women are drawn to.

    When you put on one of his dresses, you know you look your best, which causes you to carry yourself differently, more confidently. In the end, it is the woman who is wearing the dress that garners the attention, not necessarily the dress itself. This is why Mr. Alaïa is one of fashion’s most respected and celebrated designers. Like his dresses, he stands back from the spotlight but is very much the force that illuminates his subjects.

    Mr. Alaïa once said: “A woman is like an actress, she's always onstage. She has to look great to feel good. If she's going to wear clothes by a designer, then the clothes should make something happen, something unexpected. The dress has to be part of her; she has to feel it on her body. I prefer the woman to be seen rather than the outfit. Her head, her body, her hands - the garment is there to cover her, to underline something, and make her beautiful.”

    With that guiding philosophy, is it any wonder why Alaïa never goes out of style?

     Video Source: Blouin ArtInfo

  • Vintage Couture Available In the Shop Now!

    • 1960s Gina Fratini Lace Trimmed Sleeves w Floral Print Maxi Dress
    • Rare 1960s Sybil Connolly Silk Ruffle Dress
    • 1810-1820 Antique Silk Guaze Shawl
    • Early 1970s Louis Feraud Velvet Suit
    • 1970s Rare Early Norma Kamali Jumpsuit
    • 1970s Rudi Gernreich Plunge Knit Dress
    • 1950s Sophie of Saks Silk Bow Dress
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    • Beautiful 1970s Ted Lapidus Pink Silk Demi-Couture Dress
    • 1950s Silk Strapless Beaded Bow Dress
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