Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Blues

Whether it’s for a date, meeting friends for lunch or running to the grocery store, blue jeans are a staple fashion choice. Paired with the right shoes, top and accessories they can transform for any occasion. They come in all shapes that range from classic straight leg to skinny to trouser to overalls. The options are endless, as are the washes and color choices. But the classic continues to be blue.

No matter the season, jeans are always a good choice. Designers like Dior feature the material in every shape and style, using the material in pants, blazers, overalls and more on both the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 runways. 
Why do we love jeans so much? Is it their durability, their comfort or perhaps their style? 
It’s amazing that a clothing item with roots in mere functionality has become so central to the style lexicon. As miners and men of the gold rush headed to the mountains and hills of America's Wild West in the late 19th century, their paints couldn’t handle the wear and tear of the jobs. 

It took a shopkeeper named Levi Strauss and a tailor named Jacob Davis to discover the power of blue jeans. Using heavy canvas material and rivets, they found the solution and patented the jeans that birthed Levi Strauss & Co. 
The pants continued to serve their durable purpose as a uniform of sorts for the working class for many decades. Cowboys also adopted the fashion item as they faced the rugged working conditions of ranch life. 
 As time rolled on, people outside of laborers welcomed jeans into their closets. By the 1930s, young people started donning the pants as a fashion statement. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that they hit mainstream popularity. Once James Dean smoldered on the silver screen in Rebel Without a Cause in a pair of blue jeans there was no stopping the increasing love for jeans. They began to embody a spirit of freedom, exploration and rebellion. 

Starlets and style stars like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot cemented the style for women everywhere as they showcased styles like the high waisted straight leg and cropped skinny.

Even as styles continue to evolve around us and some styles fade into mere memories, blue jeans have staked a permanent claim in our wardrobes. 

Though the styles, cuts and washes may vary over the years, the blue jean remains a classic we count on.  

Runway Images: Vogue
Jean History: The Smithsonian and Racked 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Fashion meets Art: Monica Lee-Henell

As December gives way to January, most of the trees are now bare and the grass has faded from green to brown. Even though winter has only just begun, I’m already dreaming of spring. 

For a taste of spring's warmth, I find myself gazing at Monica Lee-Henell's paintings like "White Blooms," shown above. I can almost smell the flowers, feel the sunshine and hear the birds chirping in these oversized paintings. Even as they seem to offer a glimpse of the season to come, there is also a resemblance to the flowers that are still blooming and the recent collection from AlbertaFerretti

"Falling in Love" 
The leaves of the evergreen trees give splashes of color to the winter horizon. And though it may seem that the garden is empty until spring, there are still a few blooms offering their petals for our enjoyment. The deep hues of green, black and brown, that act as a backdrop to blooms of white, yellow and plum in Lee-Henell’s paintings are reminiscent of the deeper colors and feelings of the winter season. There is a heavy and earthy quality of the leaves and shrubs that is offset by the lightness of the blooms that mimic nature’s display this season.   

"Forsythia Unconditional"
Even if only for a limited time, the vibrant red and bright pink of begonias add a touch of color against an often gray sky. The last of the white and fuchsia mums nod in the winter breeze. And the purple, gold and white pansies shine brightly even as snow graces their petals. 

Lee-Henell’s lush and large brushstrokes across the canvas transport us to a place of beauty, one we might not always find in the dreary months. 
Flowers like those in the "Mystique", are like a snapshot of winter's remaining flowers. There is an abstract quality to many of the blooms in her paintings, with the mere suggestion of shapes through highlights and shadows.  
 


The fabrics used by Ferretti are similar to the painterly approach of Lee-Henell. The gauzy fabrics move across the skin like the soft and wide brushstrokes across the canvas. The floral prints are sometimes abstract with delicate details like ruffles and pleating to mimic a flower’s petals. 
"Lush"
Even though it’s not always easy, and the frost might deter you, these paintings and gowns serve as a reminder to stop and smell the roses, no matter the season.


Runway Photos: Vogue.com
Art Images: Monicaleehenell.com

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Red Valentino's Renaissance

Art, architecture, fashion, politics, philosophy...everything changed during the Renaissance. It was a time of transition that spanned across centuries and borders, bringing Europe into a modern era as it left the Gothic and Medieval behind.
Portrait of Maria de' Medici by Bronzino 1550s
With Florentine families like the Medici family leading the charge in politics, business and the arts, the Renaissance flourished. Hundreds of years later, their legacy remains for many things, including acting as patrons for great artists like Botticelli and BronzinoRevolutionary changes were made during the Renaissance, so its influence is bound to show up as it did in the Red Valentino Fall 2017 collection. 
A touch of the High Renaissance is seen with the snake detailing on the handbags in the collection. With a snake crossing over the torso as the purse strap, it’s almost a mirror image of Botticelli’s 
painting of Simonetta Vespucci, the great beauty from Florence. 
The snake winding around Simonetta’s necklace has various interpretations including a symbol of her wisdom or her early death. Could the snake from Red Valentino mean something similar? 

With the use of rich colors and heavy brocades that have a flat or boxy quality, the Red Valentino collection alludes to the Mannerist period of the Renaissance. 
Styles of the time were characterized by heavy garments, angular lines and full coverage for women.

Though likely a knit fabric, the treatment of quilting and patchwork in the above dress creates a stiff effect that is much like the brocades.

Portrait of Eleanora of Toledo by Bronzino, 1543
Women's gowns often had squared necklines, as seen in here with the use of contrasting fabrics on the chest to hint at the geometric shape.

A bit of menswear inspiration is seen in the outwear of the collection. The black boxy like forms resemble The Portrait of a Young Man. 
The ruffle and gathering details mimic the texture of the slashing technique of the Renaissance, where outer fabric was slashed to allow the under layer to show through.

Perfect for cold weather, some of the dresses have a fur lined collar. The flowing lines and combination with the collar could have found inspiration in the long gowns and wide fur collars that older men of the Renaissance would wear. 
The references in the Red Valentino designs vary across decades, genders and classes from the Renaissance. But the collection proves the cyclical nature of fashion and how the old continues to inspire the new.

Runway Photos: Vogue.com

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Feast of Fashion

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, which means the holiday season is on our doorstep. Millions of people will travel by planes, trains and automobiles to gather around the dinner table in celebration of the season. 

Whether a gathering of family or friends, the holiday is a chance to connect, reflect and enjoy each other and all that we have been given. There is of course the traditional Thanksgiving spread complete with warm Fall themed decor, a steaming turkey with dressing, the smell of cranberries and cinnamon filling the air, and cozy knit sweaters worn by the fireplace. But I like to imagine other variations to the dinner table and of course, what to wear to such an occasion.
 "A Feast for the Eyes," Vogue 1996, Photographed by Steven Meisel
Why not have a Thanksgiving filled with couture? Sparkling candelabras, decadent jewels and luxe gowns from the pages of Vogue are sure to make lasting memories.
  
 Or for something a bit more rustic, how about a picnic amid the lush gardens of the estate? And perhaps followed by a relaxing walk and dessert on the porch to watch the sunset? 
 "Custom of the Country," Vogue 2012, Photographed by Annie Leibovitz

You may welcome the notion of the great outdoors on Thanksgiving, but with a bit more glamour. Rather than going the rustic route, there is always the option of donning couture amid the remnant's of summer's flowers. 
"Paris Je T'Aime," Vogue 2007, Photographed by Steven Meisel
And who ever said pastels couldn't be worn in the Fall? When it's couture, it's always in style.

Sometimes you can't anticipate who might show up to share the dinner table. In today's world, an invitation may result in someone completely out of this world. Even with a surprise guest, you're sure to stay poised when wearing your peals and a ladylike dress.  
 "The Total Lady," Vogue Italia 2003, Photographed by Steven Klein 

How will you style your gathering this holiday season?  

Images: Vogue
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