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  • UnderFashions Meant To Be Seen

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    Lilac stretch top and bikini pants to wear sunning on the roof. Or, as here, under such clingery as the lavender crewshirt—a natural itself for a pair of summer pants. Lilac camisole top and bikini from The Sea Dream Collection by Maidenform. Shirt and bikini by Tru Balance.


    'Exposed: A History of Lingerie' recently opened at the Museum at FIT with a companion book by Colleen Hill and Valerie Steele to be published in September. Looking at the connections between underwear and outerwear—both in the sense of the underwear building the shape on which the main garments sit and also in the influence of lingerie styling on the appearance of other clothes—the exhibition analyzes both hard (corsets, bustles, and structured bras) and soft (slips, nightgowns and knickers) lingerie styles from the 1700s to today.

    This editorial from a 1971 Harper's Bazaar is a truly vibrant take on the idea of "underwear-as-outerwear". Full of brightly coloured bodysuits, bras and panties, the styles are sleek, fun and full of an easy sexiness.

    All photos by Chris von Wangenheim for Harper's Bazaar, March 1971.

     

    (L) Bright bands of argyle, stretching round a step-in bra and bikini to sun soak on the patio or, as shown, wrapped in a cape when breezes blow. ny day, tuck them under brief T-shirts and pants. Bra and bikini by Peter Pan. jersey cape: Sant'Angelo Knits for Grapevine. Laced-up tank suit in a wave of flag colors, for the clingiest shape under the sun. Or for stepping out with trousers. By John Kloss for Cira. (R) The navy v-neck body suit: a little bit of a brevity for sampling the sun on the terrace—or to flip a skirt over for a stroll. By Van Raalte. Wrap skirt by Santos Santiago. Navy halterneck body suit (inset)—for Sunday morning sunshine and the paper on a bit of balcony. When friends come for coffee—voila! By Gossard-Artemis. Ribbed wraparound skirt by Sant'Angelo for Grapevine.

     

    Outright charmers: Lively little body skimmers that do more than hide-and-shape. They set their sights on the great outdoors.

     

    (L) Midriff barers—little ribbed knit tops and pants in tomato red with lacy touches, to lounge in on their own or to go wittily to a summer party with your knickers. By Formfit Rogers. Knickers by Littlesticks. (R) Body-blazing bras and bikinis—bright enough for you to catch all eyes at the sunplaces. Wear them, too, and feel great about it, under your clingy summer things. By Kayser Perma-Lift. Santos Santiago skirt.

  • Japanesque

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    Left: Raglan-sleeve gunmetal gray raincoat with black leather belt, black gun boots, and black peaked military hat, all by Y's. Right: Gunmetal gray padded-shoulder military coat, black wool band-collar man's shirt, gray quilted military hat, all by Y's.

     

    When the more avant-garde Japanese designers started showing in Paris in the 1970s they brought with them a completely new aesthetic—melding east and west, they veered between formalism (in the work of Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, who first showed in Paris in 1981) and zany maximalism (Kansai Yamamoto, who debuted in Paris in 1975). Leading this group was Issey Miyake who showed in New York as early as 1971 and then Paris from 1973. With Miyake and Kenzo (who opened a store, Jungle Jap, in Paris in 1970) announcing the arrival of Japanese fashion, western editors and retailers began searching more out—though neither Kawakubo nor Yohji Yamamoto showed in Paris in 1981, their clothes were available in select boutiques in Europe and the United States for several years prior. In 1978 Viva sent a crew to Japan to shoot an editorial showcasing the work of this generation of designers—collaborating with Shiseido, Kazumi Kurigami photographed the hottest Japanese models of the time (including the exquisite Sayoko Yamaguchi) in a series of moody tableaux.

    All photographs by Kazumi Kurigami for Viva, September 1978.

    Left: Camel knit bubble cape, olive suede square-cut skirt, green-and-blue-fringed check wool scarf, tan leather lace-up shoes, brown gabardine western hat, and brown wool socks worn over brown ribbed wool leggings. Right: Ankle-length black knit circle cape with deep patch pockets, cobalt blue suede butcher's apron, misty blue, gray and mauve raglan-sleeve wool check dress, blue-and-white-check wool scarf, black ribbed leggings under black wool socks, and heavy black leather lace-up shoes. All by Issey Miyake.

     

    Fawn wool gabardine aviator's suit fastened over baggy khaki parachute trousers and flying shirt, canvas military web belt, khaki wool socks, and heavy brown leather lace-up shoes. All by Comme des Garçons.

     

    Issey Miyake's brilliant yellow cire bubble raincoats and matching baggy trousers with the waists won with orange-and-black checked wool sweaters over black wool shirts, purple ribbed wool tights and socks, heavy sand leather lace-up shoes with rubber soles and yellow fisherman's hats.

     

    Black wool-and-silk sun-ray pleated skirt with black velvet trim, black wool shirt, white-and-maroon-striped V-neck sweater, black narrow belt, black ribbed tights, black suede boots, and maroon knit hat. All by Kansai Yamamoto.

     

    Brown patchwork knit ankle-length coat with brilliant pink circle on back, black-and-gray button-through skirt, brown-and-beige felt hat with feather in ribbon, flat brown suede thigh-high boots. All by Issey Miyake.

     

    Long V-neck quilted jacket, black-and-white small-check quilted trousers, matching black-and-white wool shirt, black fine-wool butcher's apron, black quilted flat mandarin shoes, and black ridged gabardine coolie hat. All by Comme des Garçons.

  • The Couturiers' Private Lives, 1969: Part II

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    Last week I revealed to you five American couturiers' homes from 1969; below are the final four. What is so intriguing is the classicism and traditional interior styles of so many of these designers who were seen as being at the forefront of American taste—while none were members of the 'youthquake' (this is from Town & Country after all!), they were designing the majority of high end clothes produced and worn in the United States. Their homes reveal an active engagement with traditional values and proper decorum, whether or not their statements about their lifestyles always agree...

    All photos by Francesco Scavullo for Town & Country, September 1969.

    Couturiers used to be known primarily for the clothes they designed. Today they influence nearly all aspects of fashionable living. Tuned in to tomorrow, they are sensitive to changes in social habits and often reflect trends they observe in their own adopted patterns of living. Since the advent of the designer celebrity, the way they look and entertain has set off a whole chain reaction of imitation and inspiration. For this feature they shared with us their private lives, revealing their views on décor, color, pattern, proportion. Their approach, we found, is usually bold, always creative and personal. Their observations are razor sharp, their irreverence for outdated concepts refreshing, their views on accepted values controversial but always aimed at breaking new ground.

    Geoffrey Beene (pictured above) lives in an apartment-house beehive without loss of privacy. His prime reasons for choosing a duplex were its two entrances: one through the lobby; the other, a direct one from  the street, that allows him to avoid crowded elevators. His mode of living relates directly to his work: black and white, two longstanding Beene fashion basics, are the neutral keynotes of his living room. Bright red, his only pure fashion color, splashes the suede-covered sofa. His bedroom walls are lined with orange-brown paisley, a Beene favorite along with stripes and polka dots. Of his need for simplicity, he says "Too much clutter—at home or in clothes—upsets me. Like Cadillacs and jewelry, it is superfluous ornamentation."

     

    Donald Brooks thought he had found just what he had always dreamed of in a 17th-floor penthouse, only to discover that the unfamiliar height gave him vertigo. He is now back in a modestly scaled brownstone. There his main goal will be comfort. "It is almost as important as beauty," he states, "and absolutely essential for a civilized man of 40 who spends so much energy and emotion in the daily thought process." By comfort, Donald Brooks means the luxury of personal service: someone who sees after his clothes, packs his weekend bag, plans menus, and makes reservations at restaurants specifying the right foods and wines. At home he likes calm and peaceful interiors. He prefers mixed furnishings of simple lines and exquisite craftsmanship. His favorite background colors are a strong greige, off-white, taupe, and warm chamois yellow.

     

    Norman Norrell resides in one of Manhattan's few vest-pocket oases of civilized living, Amster Yard. His duplex is deliberately designed as an escape from city living. Inside his apartment the country feeling is reinforced with massed ferns, bright geraniums, bouquets of white peonies, and the faint scent of English gardens. The greenery outside his windows provides the perfect foil. Decorated by Irene Walker, the apartment is a complete reflection of Norman Norrell's fashion beliefs. There is the familiar emphasis on the classics, such as good French antiques; or modern standouts, such as the low blond coffee table by the late Jean-Michel Frank; or the Giacometti lamps. Then the Norell colors: black and white, plus vermilion, bright yellow, turquoise, and brilliant pink. There is the essential Norrell touch of extravagance in Chinese lacquer, vermeil bibelots, a van Dongen, and leather tiles in the bath.

     

    Chester Weinberg uses pattern-on-pattern in his New York apartment with the skill and abandon of a man who knows how to handle and control it. His mad medley of raspberry reds and overscaled mixture of motifs may frighten people who think beige houses are restful. But Chester likes to maintain a constant level of stimulation through vibrancy. Another familiar formula he avoids successfully is matching colors or furnishings. "I never have understood the concept of a totally French room—or one done in just one period. It's so boring." The designer, a superb mixer and master of contrasts, thinks, "A house should be like a woman's wardrobe: added to constantly to keep it up to date, and filled in continually with new elements that reflect a maturing taste."

  • The Couturiers' Private Lives, 1969: Part I

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    There are few things I find more interesting than getting a peak into the private worlds of creative, inspiring people—whether a glimpse into their office, workroom or home, all can provide an understanding of how they view the world and interact with beauty. A portfolio of portraits of fashion designers at home, produced by Town & Country in 1969, reveals a host of the top American designers of the time relaxing in their diversely beautiful havens away from the chaos of their studios.

    All photos by Francesco Scavullo, except for the portrait of James Galanos which is by Jay Thompson. All from Town & Country, September 1969.

    Couturiers used to be known primarily for the clothes they designed. Today they influence nearly all aspects of fashionable living. Tuned in to tomorrow, they are sensitive to changes in social habits and often reflect trends they observe in their own adopted patterns of living. Since the advent of the designer celebrity, the way they look and entertain has set off a whole chain reaction of imitation and inspiration. For this feature they shared with us their private lives, revealing their views on décor, color, pattern, proportion. Their approach, we found, is usually bold, always creative and personal. Their observations are razor sharp, their irreverence for outdated concepts refreshing, their views on accepted values controversial but always aimed at breaking new ground.

    James Galanos (pictured above) is one man who enjoys the contradictions of 20th-century living. In spite of a great need for privacy, Galanos eats out every night. "Being a bachelor, it simplifies matters," he explains, adding that "as a dieter I like simple things: caviar and champagne, or a great American hot dog." A night person at heart, he prefers dark rooms of subtle colorings but "with a feeling of richness and quality." Of décor, he says that it should be a complete reflection of oneself. For him, perfectly proportioned furnishings, simple in line—"nothing embellished. Elaborate antiques were right for their particular time and environment but are not suitable for the scale of houses today. Mies van der Rohe and Breuer designs are as elegant as anything of the past. You have only to look at thh Seagram Building in New York—a jewel."

     

    Bill Blass regally overlooks Beekman and Sutton Place from a floor-through penthouse bordered by terrace gardens. In the process of combining two apartments he talks about plans for the décor he worked out with Chessy Rayner and Mica Ertegun. His living room may well be done completely in shiny brown vinyl, brown being a Blass signature color in both his women's and men's wear. With brown, he likes the related tones of tortoise shell, animal horns, speckled sea shells, coral, and—tigers. Blass tigers come in all sizes and shapes—miniatures carved in wood, ivory, crystal, and semiprecious stones are clustered on table tops. A celebrated bachelor host and a dedicated cook who "loves to involve himself in elaborate dishes as a form of creative therapy," at home he entertains friends in the easy style that has become a Blass trademark.

     

    Pauline Trigère would "rather enjoy the fresh country air than spend weekends in town at a smoky cocktail or dinner party." Her country house, La Tortue, was named for her collection of more than 500 turtles. She has added to it several times and compares her architectural operations with plastic surgery. She also did her own landscaping, arranging plants and rocks "like pockets on a dress." With a magpie instinct for collecting, she is a skillful manipulator of many possessions, among them pewter, antique porcelain, old barber plates, French toile, and a boatload of ashtrays. Her forte is to convert objects to unusual uses: old Spanish doors divide the kitchen and dining room; antique paneling was made into an alcove guest bed, and a child's cradle became a two-tier coffee table.

     

    Oscar de la Renta and his wife believe in a rich double measure of everything. Home to them is a refuge, a place to refuel or spend their creative energies, a heaven of comfort for themselves and for guests. Both have a passion for pattern. Preferably pattern on pattern. Although each room is basically kept in one color family, the myriad nuances plus the fireworks of different designs and textures build into a mad crescendo. Everything is layered: color on color; pattern on pattern; area rugs over wall-to-wall carpeting; double rows of pillows on soft upholstery; fur thrown over suede; tortoise shell on rich woods; flowers and Chinese porcelains massed; bibelots are clustered; table surfaces cluttered; collections and books everywhere you look. "We believe in living a full life," concludes the designer. "To do so we need an atmosphere of abundance."

     

    Jacques Tiffeau. Dressed in the same loosely cut kimono he wears at work, Jacques is completely informal at home. In occasionally salty vocabulary, he gives his views on décor: "I like clean spaces, the pure object, no jazz—the same principles that apply to my clothes." The proof is all around him: stark black-and-white living room, purely functional furnishings, and bold personal objects. African sculpture and the canvases of Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler and Alex Lieberman are everywhere. When in New York, he "loves feeling alone with lots of people around me." He spends time away skiing or traveling the South of France, where he acquired a taste for lots of garlic, pot-au-feu, and choucroute, which he serves to a few friends at home. "The ritual in restaurants is a joke," he thinks.

    More designers to come...

  • Christian Lacroix & the Haute Couture

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    Lacroix with Jeanine Ouvrard, the première d'atelier flou.

    Following Christian Lacroix's breakthrough Haute Couture collection for Jean Patou for spring 1985 (he became design director there in 1981), his staring role in the couture was established. With the pouf dresses from that collection being widely copied and drastically changing the evening silhouette, Lacroix's work at Patou was known for an exuberance and love of fantasy that represented an ebullient reaction to the masculine tailoring of the mid-1980s. A month after he presented the spring 1987 Jean Patou Haute Couture collection in January 1987, Lacroix announced he was setting up his own couture house with the backing of Bernard Arnault. In the midst of legal wranglings (Patou sued Lacroix and Arnault, later winning $2 million), Lacroix had to prepare his first eponymous collection to premier at the winter Haute Couture week in July. The Paris-based Iranian photographer Abbas had photographed the Jean Patou shows and struck up an easy friendship with Lacroix, which allowed him to document the creation of this first collection — and reveal some of the stress and perfectionism that went into a collection that was excitedly described by Bernadine Morris in the New York Times as, "With his first collection under his own name, Christian Lacroix has been catapulted into fashion's hall of fame. Like Christian Dior exactly 40 years ago, he has revived a failing institution, the haute couture, or made-to-order branch of French fashion. He has done it with verve, whimsy and a youthful air."

    Below are some of the images Abbas took in Lacroix's studio from February to July 1987, while the 36-year-old designer worked feverishly on his folkloric debut.

     

     

     

    Christian Lacroix with fashion public relations guru Jacques Picart, who was the third partner in Lacroix's new company.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Spring Wedding Portraits 1958

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    The flurry of photos appearing from the newly opened 'Wedding Dress' exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (along with several to attend in the next two months) has me meditating on the history and beauty of bridal gowns. While much of the publicity for the exhibition has focused on those worn by celebrities like Kate Moss and Gwen Stefani (both in Galliano), it is the very idea of a wedding dress—and all that it symbolizes—that makes it such an intriguing subject for study. The idea of encapsulating all of one's dreams, love and personality in a garment is an appealing yet almost impossible task. Though wedding attire is now far more diverse than the traditional white gown of the last century, it always comes with carefully encoded messages about the wearer's values and desires. With wedding season gearing up, I thought I would share my favourite bridal editorial—with her signature soft-focus technique, Lilian Bassman perfectly captures the dreamlike fantasy surrounding marriage. Elegant apparitions, her brides are otherworldly and innocent creatures — one is even the then-twenty-year-old Natalie Wood.

    All photos by Lillian Bassman for Harper's Bazaar, April 1958.

    For the small wedding (but not cutting corners on sentiment), a short dress in thin silk the color of the palest pink rose imaginable hides a scoop-necked bodice under a back-buttoned, sleeved bolero of matching, flower-scrolled Chantilly lace. From Saks Fifth Avenue.

     

    White is for bridesmaids, too, and the prettier, this season, for white organdie that's tucked from it's apron-wrapped bodice to the last inch of its short, flaring skirt. By Will Steinman.

     

    Attending the Bride in Aproned Lace. Not always a bridesmaid's dress (it has a full season of parties on its schedule, too)—a sheath of aquamarine blue cotton lace has a full-skirt of pale organza.

     

    Portrait of this spring's bridal dress, full-length and in the new tradition for floating, airy fabric. Again, white silk organdie and fake-pearl-strewn lace, swaying out from a tiny waist to a tucked, ante-bellum width of skirt. By Priscilla of Boston.

     

    As unexpected and very pretty departure from the traditional bridesmaid's dress: a gardenful of sunny flowers printed on cotton and seen through a misty overlay of white organdie. The bare-shouldered décolletage ties on each side; organdie films the bodice, then blows apron-free at the skirt—a delicious way to decorate a garden wedding or brighten an indoor one. By Mr. Mort.

     

    Miss Natalie Wood (recently a bride and currently star of Warner Brothers' Marjorie Morningstar) contributes her pearl-and-ebony beauty to a long dress of white silk Shantung, itself beautified by a bodice of Alençon lace. By Portrait, in Shantung by AP Silk.

  • A Moment with Bianca

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    In honor of Bianca Jagger's 69th birthday today, May 2nd, I delved into my archives for this interview with her from 1973 — just two years after her marriage to Mick in May 1971, Bianca had a reputation for being beautiful yet cold and aloof. Seeking to break this apart she sat down with Viva at La Grenouille, one of the most elegant restaurant's in New York, and reflected on her life and marriage.

    All photos and quotes from Viva, May 1973.

    "Everyone thinks I'm just a cunt who wears beautiful clothes and funny-looking hats. Weill, I'm not. Today I am a white bird with a broken wing."

    "People who don't know me see me as a beautiful mannequin—a live dog who wears everything. But that's not my main reason to live."

    Avedon on Bianca: "She is the most completely sensational new beauty and the best example of what it means to be of mixed blood. Nothing pure is interesting."

    Terry Southern on Bianca: "A fabulous combination of enchanted woodland thing and ultra-sophisticated decadent."

     

     

    At the time Mick and Bianca were fighting constantly: "All I need is to find a human being who is truthful. It's so sad when I discover that someone I cared for isn't truthful. If I have deep feelings for someone, and they do something to me, I get very hurt. That I can get over. But if someone I care for lies to me, I can't forgive lies. Lies are offensive to the intelligence. Mick had this idea before he met me that beautiful women are not intelligent. When a man meets a woman who has some sort of intelligence, he is intrigued. 'How can it be that this girl is both intelligent and beautiful?' This is what goes through his head. It went through Mick's."

    "I don't know why I've become a figure of fashion. All I know is that I love beautiful things, revolutionary clothes, and the people who create them. I love artists and writers."

    "In a way, I've changed since I married Mick. I don't think I've changed him, though. Perhaps he's beginning to go through some changes now. He's always searching for innovations, for new things."

    "I've learned one thing since my marriage—if you refuse to cooperate with the press, they hate you. I understand they have a job to do, but I had such a bad experience. My wedding day was turned into a nightmare by the press. I cried, I was so miserable. I read and heard so many stories about myself, my past. There were s many fantasies, so many lies. People used to tell me how stiff and snobby I was. I was scared of the world. I still am, but now I hide behind a smile. I'm still reserved and secretive. I've learned that if you smile you have a great advantage. Everybody deserves a smile. People appreciate it. It's enough."

    "Men that I love have a tendency to try to change me, to change my dreams. But no matter who or what people think I am, I am my own person. Actually, though, I'm not fit to be in a real world sometimes. I know I live in a dream one."

     

  • Photographer to a Gilded Age

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    Bianca Jagger, 1978.

    A year and a half prior to his death, Cecil Beaton gave an intimate and illuminating interview in 1978 to Dirk Wittenborn, a young American writer (later a novelist and screenwriter). The multi-talented Beaton (best described as a photographer/diarist/painter/interior designer/costume designer) was aware of the little time in front of him, yet did not look back at his decades-spanning career with nostalgia - more with a total understanding of the impermanence of everything and the constant evolution of society. Born in 1904, by the time of the interview he was 74 and had watched social mores and conventions dramatically shift and change, along with the advancing technology he used to create his work. As famous as his photos are, it is the man who took these images and his thoughts surrounding fashion photography that aids in their still transcendent beauty.

    All quotes from Viva, September 1978.

    (L) Cecil Beaton, Self-Portrait, 1937. (R) Queen Elizabeth in Buckingham Palace Garden, 1939.

     

    (L) The Wyndham Sisters, after John Singer Sargent, 1950. (R) 'Fashion is indestructible' — Digby Morton suit, in the ruined Middle Temple, 1941.

     

    Wittenborn: What was the reaction to your fashion pictures of models in bombed-out buildings?
    Beaton: I daresay I was very criticized. I got quite a few letters telling me it was in bad taste, making fashion of something so serious. I just liked the image.


    W: Were your photographs ever censored?
    B: Some fashion pictures I took in the thirties of women together were censored. There was a feeling of familiarity that fashion editors didn't approve of. When I first took pictures for American Vogue in Paris, they wouldn't print pictures of women with young men because they thought they were too sexual.

     

    (L) Baba Beaton, 'A Symphony in Silver', 1925. (R) Baba Beaton with Wanda Baille-Hamilton and Lady Bridget Poullett,1930.

     

    W: How did you learn to make people look so beautiful?
    B: Trying to accomplish the feat with my sisters... and all I really had to use was light. I had terrific difficulty with them. I sometimes used the mirrors from a dozen dressers to get the light right on their necks or some other part of their bodies. I took a lot of very bad photographs, and I couldn't afford to throw many away, because they were ten shillings a dozen.

     

    Twiggy, 1967.

     

    W: Why is photography so popular now?
    B: I can't think why it is now, and it wasn't twenty years ago, where there were very interesting photographers around to whom people never paid any attention. I suppose that people are twenty years behind the times.

     

    Coco Chanel, 1937.

     

    W: What does sex appeal have to do with fashion?
    B: It has a lot to do with fashion... it's all linked up together. I've often said, though, that is isn't a reputable thing like charm, or taste, or style. It is something present. The trouble is, as soon as people become too intimate with it, they tire of it, and they look for something new.


    W: Who is the sexiest person you've ever photographed?
    B: I haven't necessarily ever tried to photograph just sex appeal. A lot of people have it and, in a strange way, don't know about it. One of the sexiest people I've ever photographed was...T.s. Eliot. He had very great sex appeal.


    W: What was it about Eliot?
    B: Eliot as shutting the door to everything, saying no, but opening it slightly. Also Aldous Huxley had great sex appeal.

    W: Does being beautiful make life easier or more difficult?
    B: At first, life is easier if you're beautiful; but middle age is harder once you've decided you're beautiful. It's hard to know when you're not beautiful, hard keeping an eye on something that's fleeting.

     

    (L) T.S. Eliot, 1956. (R) Aldous Huxley, 1936.

     

    W: Is there any similarity between the big stars of the thirties and forties and the popular film and rock stars of the sixties and seventies?
    B: They all have a strange note of badness, or whatever you'd like to call it. The note is definitely recognizable in Garbo and Jagger. It's a wonderful thing... I think you have to have a strange not of badness if you are to have, to possess goodness.

     

    Greta Garbo, 1937.

     

    Mick Jagger, 1970.

     

    B: [Marilyn Monroe] didn't know the ingredients that made her a myth, and that's strange in itself. She was very high, always playing with nature... with herself. And she had no idea of time, which was awful. I remember waiting for her, impatient that I would lose the light that was playing on the window. When she finally arrived, it was too late for anything. We didn't talk; I just told her to sit there. It was wonderful. She was in the end of the light; all you had to do was click. Two hundred pictures, all wonderful and different.

     

    Marilyn Monroe, 1956.

     

    B: [Marlene Dietrich] was wonderful in that she adored being photographed. I took a dozen different photographs of her in her apartment in Germany. She gave a terrific feeling of warmth, but was actually cold and calculating. She's been a cold person all her life. No heart. She was always putting on an act, and it wasn't a very sympathetic act, either. The whole time i was photographing her, I kept thinking, 'You're not fooling me.'

    W: What does fashion mean to you?
    B: It means being absolutely true to yourself... no matter what medium you're speaking of. Fashionable men and women don't just put on fashionable clothes, because they'd look like half-wits in them, and one who understands fashion never appears stupid. The truly fashionable are beyond fashion.

     

    Marlene Dietrich.

  • Halston's Easter Eggs

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    Usually when we think of iconic designers such as Halston, we imagine their designs photographed in editorials for the top fashion magazines, which is why this shoot from the January 1974 issue of Playgirl is all the more surprising. Published out of Los Angeles, the fashion is Playgirl was usually concentrated around contemporary California brands whose price point maxed out at $75 in the mid-70s, while this rather gorgeous six-page Halston spread includes a sequined chiffon top and skirt for $650 (roughly $2,918 today, accounting for inflation). With no article or interview supporting the editorial, these photos seem to illustrate the dream wardrobe — the clothes that most American women aspired to, but could never afford.

    A selection of expensive outfits in a range of vibrant Easter egg colours are modeled by his favourite girls, Karen Bjornsen and Pat Cleveland, who also wear Elsa Peretti jewels. All photos by Tracy for Playgirl, January 1974. 

     

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    • Late 1950s Rare Hermes Coated Cotton Trench Coat
    • 1960s Chic Larger Christian Dior Numbered Suit
    • 1960s Emilio Pucci Rich Hued Velvet Shift Dress
    • 1970s Glossy Black Sequin Donald Brooks Dress
    • Spring 1999 Thierry Mugler Black Silk Chiffon Runway Dress
    • Fall 2003 Runway Ostrich Print Prada Leather Coat
    • 1960s Geoffrey Beene Burnt Pumpkin Colored Backless Chiffon Dress
    • 1950s Bonwit Teller Strapless Black Silk Dress w Full Skirts
    • 1960s Blue Floral Formfit Pucci Nylon Dress & Panties
    • 1960s Rare Alice Pollock Moss Crepe Wrap Top
    • 1960s Andre Courreges Black Courduroy Vest & Skirt Set
    • 1950s Hand Beaded & Embroidered Branell Silk Dress
    • c1979 Halston Attrb Red Sequin Tank Top
    • Fall 2003 Runway Galliano for Christian Dior Silk Top & Skirt
    • 1940s Gorgeous Floral Print Silky & Net Swing Dress
  • Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    Barbra Streisand in Rudi Gernreich—photographed by Lawrence Schiller for Life, January 9th, 1970.

    Most ladies love a good beauty tip, so it is hard not to get excited by the idea of fifty-three famous women contributing their pet beauty secrets. When these hints are found in a 1971 copy of Cosmopolitan they become all the more interesting—an indication of how much and how little has changed in the realm of beauty in the last 43 years. While many of the women listed are unknown now (like the wives of forgotten politicians and weather girls), a whole host of icons also provided their routines and recommendations—twenty of them are included below.

    All quotes from Cosmopolitan, October 1971.

     

    “Mirror, mirror, on the wall… who’s the fairest of them all?...” Fifty-three of the nicest witches share with you their most personal magic potions…

    Barbra Streisand (above): I’m oily when I wake up, so first I wash my face with cold water, then put on a cake foundation with a semidry silk sponge that you buy in the five-and-dime. The natural shine of oily skin comes through the pancake and your makeup looks more real. I used to wear those long lines around my eyes, but then one day I saw how hard and unnatural they were. Too much makeup can make you look less attractive.

     

    China Machado photographed by Melvin Sokolsky for Harper's Bazaar, March 1962.

    China Machado: I only wear eye makeup and false eyelashes for parties. What’s important to me is what the man in my life likes to see on me.

     

    Anne Bancroft by Richard Avedon, 1968.

    Anne Bancroft: I’m into health diets and believe in wheat germ, yeast, garlic pills. I’m prone to colds so I take two to four garlic pills a day along with vitamin C. As for hair, I wash it myself: first a massage, then two soapings, a crème rinse, and finally a texturizer. Breck Basic is my favorite for holding it in place.

     

    Candice Bergen by David Bailey for Vogue, August 1967.

    Candice Bergen: I have to pick a very tolerant hairdresser because I don’t want them to do anything but wash my hair, use my own special conditioner, and set it in a standard set. After that I want my hair brushed for about ten minutes and that’s all.

     

    Contessa Christina Paolozzi (Bellin) by Richard Avedon, 1961.

    Christina Paolozzi Bellin: The greatest motivation for looking young and beautiful is a giant insecurity complex. Makeup makes me feel secure. I have fat legs so people don’t mind flattering me… all the time they’re thinking with relief, “My, she has terrible legs.” Jolie Gabor once told me, “You must look your best at all times, even when walking your dog—what if you’re run over by a bus and the photograph shows you looking a mess?”

     

    Merle Oberon photographed by George Hurrell, 1934.

    Merle Oberon: I do yoga every morning, and I brush my hair for three quarter of an hour. My favorite mask is an ancient Aztec recipe: squeeze the juice of a lemon on an oyster and let stand overnight. In the morning there is a white scum which is fantastic for invigorating the skin.

     

    Joan Rivers, 1983.

    Joan Rivers: Well, I used a mudpack once. It worked wonders! My face looked great for three days… then the mud cracked.

     

    Sally Field, 1977.

    Sally Field: I love to shampoo my hair with rainwater and rinse it with beer.

     

    Lauren Bacall photographed by Louise Dahl-Wolfe for Harper's Bazaar, March 1943.

    Lauren Bacall: A packet of blue bath oil and a half hour soak in the tub at night, that’s for me. I go to a gym twice a week and stick to isometric exercises.

     

    Ginger Rogers, 1935.

    Ginger Rogers: You’ve got to be sensible, but while there’s life there’s got to be ice cream.

     

    Carol Burnett.

    Carol Burnett: I decided I didn’t want to go through life shaped like an avocado, so I took a private exercise class. I hated doing the exercises alone, so I got a group together at CBS and we work out daily for thirty or forty minutes in some unused rehearsal hall.

     

    Wilhemina on the cover of Vogue, March 1965, by Irving Penn.

    Wilhelmina: I keep changing makeup. My favorite foundation now is Max Factor’s Pan-stik. I love glamorous eyes: they will get out of anything! I use false lashes, a little eyeliner, and lots of mascara. I wouldn’t think of going to bed without taking five minutes to steam my face.

     

    Marlene Dietrich by Cecil Beaton.

    Marlene Dietrich: Don’t keep the face in the same position with the features fixed and the mouth closed. Laugh, look around, turn your head, open your mouth, and nobody will ever notice your wrinkles.

     

    Brigitte Bardot, 1972.

    Brigitte Bardot: My hair is curly so I don’t wash it too often… use a dry shampoo twice a week instead. I brush constantly.

     

    Penelope Tree by David Bailey for Vogue UK, October 1968.

    Penelope Tree: Yesterday I chopped up silver sparkles in the blender until they were really tiny, almost like dust—and mixed them up in my powder. The effect was quite nice because any light is instantly flattering to the face.

     

    Myrna Loy by George Hurrell, c. 1932.

    Myrna Loy: I believe in glucose tablets and shots of vitamin B12.

     

    Veruschka photographed by Franco Rubartelli, 1968.

    Veruschka: When I’m not modeling I wear hardly any cosmetics. I hate makeup that looks as though you worked on it.

     

    Gloria Vanderbilt by Richard Avedon, 1956.

    Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper: Dr. Laszlo’s cosmetics are unbeatable; I’ve used them for twenty years. As for my figure, I gained extra weight with every pregnancy… afterwards, had to lose as much as forty pounds. Now try to stay at 115 pounds. Every morning I get on the scale and if I’ve gained as much as three pounds I go back on the Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet, drink eight glasses of water a day and eat all the protein I can.

     

    Hedy Lamarr photographed by George Hurrell, 1938.

    Hedy Lamarr: Sometimes I layer on a mask of honey right from the jar, leave it on for half an hour, and rinse off with lukewarm water. I have another mask recipe that I like: in a blender mix equal parts of avocado, sour cream, crushed strawberries, and cut-up cucumber. Apply this thick mixture heavily—but not near the eyes—once a week. I rest on a slant-board for an hour with my feet higher than my head while the mask works. I also like to lather my hair in Hellman’s mayonnaise—let it soak in and then shampoo off.

     

    Gloria Steinem by Cynthia MacAdams.

    Gloria Steinem: I pick up whatever smells good at the five-and-ten-cent store. I like a light lipstick and try new shades from time to time. I go to the beauty parlor every six weeks to have my hair conditioned and for fresh streaking.

  • Valentino & Jasmin, 1970

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    With the opening of the new fashion exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum thrusting Italian glamour into the spotlight, I found myself revisiting what I feel to be some key moments in Italian style — not necessarily the most iconic, but just a few images/designs/people/sparks that seem to encapsulate some truths in regards to the Italian aesthetic that has made it so influential. To begin with, my thoughts went to Valentino — while obviously one of the best known and most successful Italian designer and couturier on the global stage, his skills extend far beyond the iconic red evening gown. Capable of designing a full wardrobe of the chicest clothes imaginable, Valentino's gifts extend to connecting with the most talented men and women across all fields — while they often became his clients and muses, it is perhaps most intriguing when they collaborated together. In the March 1970 issue of Vogue Italia, Valentino published a twenty page advertisement of illustrations by Paul Jasmin. The Montana-native attempted to become an actor in Hollywood before moving to Paris in the late-1950s. Working as a painter and illustrator, Jasmin met Valentino at a party in the sixties — this large collaborative folio of illustrations grew out of their encounter.

    Jasmin's linear and elegant drawings place Valentino's chic models into a reduced world of topiary gardens and enigmatic landscapes. Large-brimmed hats and low-heeled shoes set off ensembles that are at once conservative and covered, yet include bohemian patterns and elements. From morning till dusk, the illustrated ladies glide through the pristine fantasy garden, reminiscent of those at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, near Valentino's home city of Rome. While Jasmin has gone on to a successful career as a fashion and portrait photographer, his illustration work for Valentino truly appears to capture the innate glamour of Italian high fashion's day-to-night dressing.

  • DVF: Fashion Influential, 1975

    Posted by Laura Permalink

    Diane with two models at the launch of her spring/summer collection, February 25 1976.

    With all the press surrounding the Diane von Furstenberg exhibition at LACMA in Los Angeles, it is easy to get caught up in the company’s incredible success and her role as a veteran doyenne of American fashion. An interview with Diane from 1975 spells out her original mission and goals —all of which she completed and surpassed. The then-28 year-old had built her company into a $13-million dress business in three years and was in the process of launching offshoot jewelry and cosmetics projects at the time of the interview; all the while taking care of her two toddlers. At a time when women’s roles were evolving—with the ‘Quiet Revolution’ leading to more females joining the workforce (between 1972, the year DVF started her company, to 1985 women's share of professional jobs increased from 44 to 49 percent and their share of "management" jobs nearly doubled from 20 to 36 percent)—von Furstenberg was able to fill a gap in the market for chic, affordable clothes that looked equally good in an office as on a date or at a PTA meeting. An expert merchandiser, Diane has from the beginning understood how women live their lives and the clothes they need to help them do this elegantly and comfortably.

    Honest and forthright, almost all of Diane’s answers in this interview are worth repeating here—as a women who is unapologetically ambitious, sexual and motherly, DVF should be seen as an inspiration for all ladies who are seeking more.

    DVF: “Because I’m a woman, I know how important comfortable, easy clothes are. That’s why I believe in dresses, especially two-piece ones. You can wear the top as a shirt or a jacket with a blouse underneath. Women need clothes that make sense. When we’re young, we can be communists and wear jeans, but when we have children and assume important positions in the world, we have to look respectable.”

    Diana Vreeland: “Anybody who makes clothes as wearable as she does is important. She has a genius for understanding what people want just before they realize they want it.”

     

    DVF: “I don’t need to be married, but I do need a man.”

    DVF: “Women are never taken seriously anyway, and in my case, I was not only young, but a so-called jet-setter. People’s attitude toward me made it more important to succeed.”

     

    DVF: “I agree with them when they say fashion tries to exploit women. I say that’s why they must know what they’re doing. They have to be at ease with themselves, accept their good features, and change or accept their bad ones.”

    DVF: “I’m the same as I was when I was a little girl; but success has given me an identity. Before, my identity was Egon, and I was playing at life, marriage, and motherhood. People thought I was a terrible bitch. Maybe I was, sometimes, but now I’m not afraid to be myself.”

     

    Interview by Kathleen Brady for Viva, April 1975. All photographs by James Moore.

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