Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Princess Style Diaries

Ever since Meghan Markle began making headlines as the sweetheart of Prince Harry, her style choices have rippled across headlines, blogs and social media. It is like the princess diaries for fashion, or more accurately, the Duchess diaries.

She has showcased looks ranging from laid back girl-next-door to a prim lady of the English manor. Her choices like blue jeans and a white top communicate a sense of accessibility and all-American charm. As she has taken on more duties as a representative of the palace, she has embraced more classic English attire, complete with fine tailoring and whimsical hats. 
Like other royal ladies, Meghan has the power to start trends, support brands and inspire style choices of women around the world. What message she will choose to send in the future remains to be seen, but she might find some inspiration from the women that have come before her. 

Her sister-in-law, Kate, has had several years of practice in the realm of royal fashion. Kate has embraced classic lines and feminine details. She is always the image of poised beauty. Understanding her ability to send a message through clothing choices and support English brands, Kate embraces brands like Alexander McQueen.

Magazines from the 1980s and 90s were filled with images of Princess Diana. Years before Kate and Meghan, their mother-in-law harnessed the power of fashion. She understood the importance of a well-tailored suit or dress, but also how to remain chic in casual choices of jeans or gingham. 

Regardless of the occasion, her classic sensibility helped position her as the most stylish woman in the room.

Like Meghan, Grace Kelly became an American princess. She left the Hollywood hills for the palace of Monaco. She maintained the classic and feminine styles we often associate with her time in Alfred Hitchcock films like Rear Window. Details like a fitted waist, full skirts and tailored suits kept her look timeless.
 The style diaries of these women vary, but often share a common thread of classic and feminine details. How Meghan will choose to write her own duchess diaries will be up to her, but is sure to keep the world’s fashionistas talking. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Princess Bride

Anytime there’s a wedding, the centerpiece is almost always the dress. So it’s no wonder that people across the world are wondering what dress Meghan will wear on the big day. Whether she will choose clean lines or a dramatic design will remain a mystery until May 19th. What we can be sure of though, is that the dress will be white and there will be plenty of flowers.
Some of the classic details brides continue to use to this day stemmed from the 19th century and Queen Victoria. When Victoria married Albert, she chose to wear white in a time period that women typically chose bright colors. She also wore a tiara made orange blossoms instead of one with jewels since the blossoms represent fertility. Designs from Elie Saab’s 2019bridal collection showcase lace detailing, full skirts and hair adorned with blooming flowers.

“I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace and earrings and dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch.” –An excerpt from Victoria’s journal
Victoria wore her wedding dress in the painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. It was painted seven years after the wedding, in 1847, as an anniversary gift to Albert. 
Once the Queen walked down the aisle in white and accessorized in flowering blooms, it wasn’t long for other ladies to take a cue and create a new tradition. The color choice was quickly embraced as a symbol of purity and innocence during the ceremony that joined two hearts in matrimony.

Meghan may channel her love for classic lines and tailoring and choose a gown inspired by the 1950s. Elizabeth Taylor, both on screen and in real life, chose designs with a fitted bodice and full skirt. In 1957, Audrey Hepburn wore a fitted gown with a full skirt, though in a tea cut length, as a bride in the film Funny Face.

It’s hard to talk about wedding dresses without mentioning Princess Diana’s iconic gown from 1981. The dress featured a fitted waist, 25 foot train and full sleeves that were reminiscent of the 19th century leg-o-mutton sleeves and also the 1980s trend of power shoulders and shoulder pads that would reign throughout the decade.

Carolyn Bessette's choice of dress in her wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996 continues to inspire modern brides. Her straight-line sheath dress was elegant in its simplicity. Plus, she wore her hair in a low-key chignon, which is sure to speak to Meghan’s style sensibilities. 

Before Meghan, there was of course Kate. Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011 while wearing and elegant design from Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. The bodice was covered in lace that acted as sleeves and a delicate cover up above the sweetheart neckline. The fitted waist blossomed into full skirt and train. It was the epitome of a modern-day princess with romance, elegance and a nod to tradition. 

Temperley London Bridal 2019
Meghan may take cues from historical brides like Queen Victoria or Princess Diana, or she may write a new story that’s all her own. The options are endless.

Gowns from Marchesa are romantic and feminine with tiered skirts, bits of tulle, fine lace, and flower crowns that Victoria would approve of.

Though not limited to orange blossoms, Reem Acra showered his brides with blooms. 

Crowns and bouquets are used as natural accents to the lace and flowing lines of his gowns. Designs range from conservatively beautiful with high necks and sleeves, to a Greek goddess with plunging necklines and simple lines reminiscent of tunics dating back to 800 BC.

 The ultimate princess gowns can be found in the Zuhair Murad collection. Whether with a full skirt or straight sheath design, the gowns offer plenty of lace, beads and romance.

Though not likely, there is always the possibility that Meghan may choose to create a new tradition by choosing a gown in a color. 

VeraWang could offer plenty of options, with tulle confections in shades of pink, yellow and beige.
The big reveal is only days away. What style of princess bride do you think Meghan will be? 

Runway Photos:

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Chic Chignon

Who knew that a single hairstyle could make headlines and send women to the mirrors to style their own coiffure in a similar fashion? That’s just what happened when soon-to-be Princess, or more accurately Duchess, Meghan Markle styled her strands into a messy bun.
Websites and magazines called it "relatable," "groundbreaking" and a "celebrity in its own right." The look was simple and understated, with a casual elegance that payed homage to her California roots. Why the continued talk about her hair? Perhaps it is the fact that such casual simplicity is unexpected from someone walking out of the palace. Or the fact that it is easily attainable by women across the world with just a twist, hair tie and a few bobby pins.
Queen Elizabeth I in Coronation Gowns 
Meghan is not the first lady in the public eye to make a buzz with hair choices. Queen Elizabeth I of England was known for her fiery locks. In the 16th century a girl could not grab a box of Clairol or Revlon dye to get the desired color. She could, however, mimic the hair style embraced by the Queen.
The Darnley Portrait, 1575
Known for many things, including growing an empire and cultivating the arts, Queen Elizabeth I was also known for her style. Gowns encrusted with precious gems and pearls, fabrics laced with gold threads...nothing was out of reach for her. Her regal appearance was furthered by a high forehead. 
Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
She popularized the practice of plucking the hairline to lengthen the forehead. Even though her signature color could not be easily obtained, you can bet that all the ladies of the court were plucking their own hairlines.
Marie Antoinette, Anonymous

When discussing leading ladies setting trends, the conversation is incomplete without Marie Antoinette. Marie arrived to the shores of France in 1770. During her time as the Dauphine and later Queen of France, she quickly became known for her extravagant tastes. From the style of her dress, to the height of her hair pouf, there was always something to admire, and of course copy. 
Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, 1778
For a night to the opera, her hair may have been adorned with a ship, bows or figurines. A woman's hair quickly became a communication platform for women to provide commentary on current events, opinions and moods. 
 Duchess of Devonshire by Joshua Reynolds, 1775
During the same time period, the Duchess of Devonshire was making fashion headlines across the channel in England. As depicted in the film and book, The Duchess, Georgiana embraced the towering curls, feathers, ribbons and whatever other knick knacks may be required to set a new trend.   
The stories of these women showcase the nature of trend setting. Whether it’s a new hair accessory, choice of curls or a California-style chignon, hair can make headlines and add to the cultural conversation.         

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Live Colorfully

Praca Cantao within the Santa Marta favela in Rio is a place that many may have overlooked at one time, but with an artistic touch, the neighborhood is now bursting with color. The project that began in 2010 with Dutch artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn has become a movement of color. With every brushstroke, Favela Painting brightens communities, brings job opportunities, offers hope and instills a sense of pride.
From Rio to the streets of Philadelphia, the paintings are transforming architectural landscapes with rainbow-hued designs. From a boy flying a kite in Rio, to plaid prints, to geometric shapes, the paintings turn the buildings into standing works of art that can be experienced by each passerby. 
Why have these projects have been so powerful? Is it the jobs they brought to communities? Is it the community involvement in the painting process? 

Prada Cantao in Rio, 2010 

I’d like to think that part of the project’s success is a result of the colors. Colors like yellow, pink and green brighten the exterior walls as they depict various shapes and forms. It’s hard not to feel optimistic when surrounded by cheerful colors like these. 

The bright color blocking techniques on the CarolinaHerrera Spring 2018 runway gives a similar visual message as the Favela paintings. Bright hues of yellow are paired with coral and blue. 

German Avenue in Philly

Stripes move brightly across the body in coral, blue and white.

Varying shades of blue create visual interest and suggest texture when paired with one another.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” Picasso was onto something, as research has shown that color has the power to affect a person’s mood. Cool colors like blue and green evoke a sense of calm. Warmer colors like pink and orange can bring a sense of warmth and comfort.

The Favela paintings and Herrera designs pair cool and warm colors, creating a visual presentation that is at once calm, bright and hopeful. The buildings and dresses prove that color has the power to communicate and create an impact through the senses. 
How will you embrace color this season?

Runway Photos:
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