Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dressed for Fall

The season of crisp leaves, cool breezes and pumpkin spice brings with it classic tweeds, warm knits and a rich color palette. Fall is one of my favorite times of year as it ushers in a season of change and the promise of the upcoming holidays.
The vibrant colors of the changing leaves, fashion and magic of this time of year have been captured in classic films like You've Got Mail, Love Story and When Harry Met Sally. These movies date back to decades sprinkled throughout the 20th century, but the styles of its characters remain relevant even today.
All three films share classic styles that continue to make an appearance each Fall on fashion’s runways and fashionistas’ sidewalks. Tweed blazers, knit sweaters, cardigans and tights all make appearances in the films and are now popping up in Fall collections from Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren.
Both brands use classic styles that are all at once preppy, feminine and nostalgic. The menswear inspired tweed and hounds tooth blazers from Ralph Lauren could easily have been worn by Meg Ryan as she walked the sidewalks of Central Park in When Harry Met Sally.    

Tights under tweed shorts also call to mind the 80s spirit from the film. And what Fall season or film would be complete without chunky sweaters like those from Tory Burch?  

Blouses from Tory Burch are adorned with bows and layered with cardigans. The looks are spiced up with sparkles and pearl jewelry in ways that would be perfect for a modern-day Love Story heroine. 

The collegiate spirit from Love Story also winds its way through the collection with unexpected pairings of prints and preppy details like collared shirts and loafers that would be perfect for strolling, or biking, the ivy lined paths of a university.

"Don’t you just love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies." –You’ve Got Mail 

As you cozy up to this season, you can get in the spirit with a Fall-themed movie marathon, and of course, a preppy blazer or two.

Tory Burch Photos: 
Ralph Lauren Photos:

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Thoroughly Modern Milkmaid

Though modern in its designs, the Pre-Fall 2017 collection from Temperley London brings to mind historic imagery from The Netherlands. The combination of colors, embroidery, shapes and lines have a nostalgic spirit of old world milkmaids, walks across the windmill dotted landscape and exploring cobbled streets and pathways. 

The earthy golden hues favored in the collection made me instantly think of Vermeer’s 17th century paintings. The color was often used in the dresses of his subjects, like that in “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” from 1665. Whether she’s pouring water, creating a delicate lace fabric or sitting quietly in a moment of tranquil beauty, each of the subjects dons this warm color. 
"The Milkmaid," 1657-58
"The Lacemaker," 1669-70
The earth tones used in many of the designs mimic the brown of the dirt, the orange and red of fall leaves and brick buildings, the green foliage, the yellow of sunlight and the blue of the sky. These colors were captured in the landscape paintings of 19th century Dutch painter Charles Leickert, like "Near Haarlem" and "The Ferry" seen below. 

You can easily envision one of these 21st century dresses being worn by a Dutch milkmaid in a scene like those painted by Leickert...although she would have been an extra chic milkmaid. 

Old world Dutch fashion was often characterized by a layered blouse and pleated skirt, as well as an apron with embroidery, as seen in the fashion plate below.
Bits of these historic elements found their way in to this collection.  For instance, the layered tops of Dutch women often included cap sleeves, which is very similar to those seen on this Temperley London dress.
Women also frequently paired a white shirt with a colored outer layer. These modern white tops could easily serve as the under layer and are appropriately paired with a pleated skirt like those favored by Dutch women.    

 Though aprons did not make their way down the runway, the smock-like designs of the tops and patterns on the skirts are similar to an apron’s shape. These smock-like elements also mimic the layers of the white shirt and outer vest or top. The embroidery blooming across the designs is similar to the delicate details that were found on women’s aprons. 

With details like embroidery, soft ruffles and charming prints, the old world becomes new, offering a wardrobe fit for a thoroughly modern milkmaid.    

 Runway Photos:
Dutch Fashion History:

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fashion meets Art: Anne Ten Donkelaar

A single flower bloom can hold so much meaning. Love, loss, friendship...there is a language of flowers that has the power to extend beyond mere words. Each petal comes together with color, shape and scent to form a thing of beauty and meaning. A blossom can become so much more when paired with other flowers, foliage and found objects. Artist Anne Ten Donkelaar brings together these items to create landscapes, tell stories and inspire curiosity.
Flower Construction #86 (above) and Detail (below)
Blooms mingle with one another, bringing forth a myriad of colors, textures and potential meanings.
The delicacy, color palette and whimsy found in many of Dankelaar's works were also present in the Fall 2017 Valentino couture collection
Flower Construction #70 (above) and Detail (below)

 Like the artist's floral constructions, the couture creations display delicate petals with a color palette inspired by nature. Deep greens are paired with shades of yellow, gray and brown. 

Underwater Ballet Scene 4 (above) and Detail (below)
The Underwater Ballet series brings an increase in the sense of delicacy beyond the Flower Constructions series. There is a fragility in the scenes as blooms hang in the balance among twigs, water and cloud-like forms. 
To mimic the delicacy of the floral ballet scenes, the Valentino gowns feature sheer fabrics that move with the grace of water. The fabric flutters with the movement of walking, similar to how a flower's petals might move with the kiss of a soft breeze. 
Underwater Ballet Scene 11 (above) and Detail (below)
The soft femininity of a pink rose blooms on the runway. The natural intricacy of layered petals comes to life with sheer layers and woven details. The dress floats across the floor much like the flowers in Underwater Ballet Scene 13 (below). 
The story in this intriguing dance between blooms continues with the introduction of cool blues in Scene 8. 

 The varying shades of blue fabrics on the runway creates the tonal effect of rippling water, like what is seen at the base or stage of scene 8's delicate dance shown above. 
Donkelaar invites us into moments of a world made of flowers, vines and beauty. There is an untold history in the blooms, a story not fully written but waiting to be told by each person that encounters the art. Like her captivating scenes, the gowns of Valentino suggest a life to be lived. Each embroidered bloom, delicate ruffle and graceful line of the gowns invites the wearer to give life to the details and write her story while wearing couture. 

Runway Images:
Art Images:

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Byzantine Beauties

Sisterly love is a bond that cannot break as it is born of blood and legacy. In the case of Zoe and Theodora though, it is a bond they attempted to sever through intrigue, lies and strategic alliances. 
Empress Irene in Basilica di Sofia
 Living on the public stage of politics thousands of years ago in the Byzantine era, the story of these sisters played out like a modern-day soap opera set in the Byzantine empire around 1000AD. Their lives began as any royal's would, living in the palace as heirs to titles and fortune. But all this would change when a power hungry uncle sent the girls to live hidden in a monastery so he could keep the throne for himself. 

Years later, the sisters emerged from their lives of confinement to re-enter the royal realm. However, Zoe had some plans of her own. Jealousy had taken root during their time in hiding dating back to their days as young princesses. Taking revenge, Zoe framed Theodora for an illegal conspiracy and sent her back to a monastery as punishment. 
Mosaic from St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral 
Left to rule as the Empress, Zoe's reign was marked with strategic marriages, love affairs and mysterious deaths. It wouldn't be until after a public uprising that her sister Theodora would be pulled from the shadows to rule alongside Zoe to help ensure stability. The sisters shared the throne in an environment of political upheaval, distrust and secrets. 
Mosaic of Justinian and Theodora
Though few artworks survived of the sisters, we can imagine them looking much like the mosaics and art from the reign of Justinian and Theodora, dating around the 565AD since Byzantine fashion was solidified during this period. Centuries later, elements of the era have found their way onto the couture runway of Guo Pei's Spring 2017 collection.
The Byzantine age was marked by religious changes, and thus religious symbolism often found its way into their wardrobes. Crosses were key symbols featured as accessories and the fabrics were often draped in ways that mirrored styles worn by religious figures within the church. The mosaics of the leaders often showcased a halo effect around the head, in addition to their crowns, demonstrating the union between church and state.
Empress Irene 
Like the medieval mosaics, the dresses from Guo Pei heavily features symbolic accessories with crosses and papal inspired designs. 
Byzantine fashion focused on dresses heavily encrusted with jewels. Women like Zoe and Theodora used silks arriving from the East, which were then stiffened with metallic embroidery and jewels. The use of heavy jewels and richly designed embroidery flattened the fabrics while also making the figures look like living mosaics. 
Detail of Theodora from mosaic with Justinian
With shimmering fabrics, twinkling jewels and and crowns fit for an Empress, the couture designs bring Byzantine history back to life for a modern era.  

Runway photos from
Read more about the sisters and the fashion history with these links.
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