Sunday, July 17, 2016

Life's A Picnic

Some like to say that life’s a picnic. Picnics call to mind sunshine, blue skies, sweet tea and laughter. Even though there are the unavoidable cloudy seasons of life, why not embrace this sunshine-filled mentality? 
"Luncheon on the Grass" by Monet, 1865-66
There are times when you need a moment to escape the day to day chaos, take a walk in the park, enjoy lunch with friends or just feel the breeze blowing across your face as you take in the scenery around you.
"Boating on the Seine" by Renoir, 1879-80
Impressionist artists welcomed similar notions as they introduced their new art movement to the world in the mid to late 1800s. Artists like Monet and Renoir headed outdoors to capture the beauty of nature. With smaller brush strokes and an approach that released them from the confines of only capturing reality as it appeared, the artists were able to capture movement, changes in light and other perceptions of what they observed.
Several of the works show people enjoying the outdoors, with a spirit of calm that is supported by using of cool blue tones. This feeling and color palette seemed to find its way into some of the designs of Ralph Lauren’s spring 2016 collection. 
"By the Water" by Renoir, 1880
With seer sucker style stripes and flowing fabrics, the dresses are the perfect point of inspiration for a modern day picnic.
"Luncheon of the Boating Party" by Renoir, 1880-81

So even if life is giving you some lemons, take the opportunity to make some lemonade. 

Runway Photos: Vogue.com

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Peace, Love and Disco

 The lights were glowing, the music pumping, the laughter flowing and glitter shimmering all around…this is how we nostalgically imagine the disco era of New York City. A city of beautiful people with smiles, love and a carefree attitude.  In reality, crime rates were high and the city was a dangerous place to be. But from that reality, the beauty of art and fashion flourished in ways we continue to see over 40 years later. 
 Studio 54 is synonymous with the 1970s, attracting the likes of Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Cher and Jerry Hall. With the bulbs of paparazzi cameras flashing, the artists, celebrities and characters of NYC flocked to the club to dance the night away to the music of Diana Ross, The Village People and Donna Summer. 
It was like a live runway featuring flowing dresses, sequins, bell bottoms, furs and jewels.


But the 70s weren’t all about the parties, it was also the time when women were entering the work force with a vengeance…the perfect stage for a girlboss to transform the way women treated their wardrobe. With her iconic wrap dress that changed the way women dressed, Diane von Furstenberg emerged as a major girlboss of the era. 
She continues to use her days on the streets of NYC and nights at Studio 54 as inspiration for her work. The spring 2016 collection features the wrap dress she debuted in the 1970s along with an off the shoulder maxi dress like that of Lauren Hutton and one-shoulder asymmetrical designs worthy of a disco goddess.
There is even a white suit that pays homage to Bianca Jagger’s YSL smoking suit worn for her wedding to Mick Jagger.

The models had shimmering eye shadow and blown out curls, reminiscent of Diane’s own coiffure on the disco floor. They even wore floral barrettes the mirror her very own worn from nights on the town.
So before it's the last dance of the summer, grab your favorite wrap dress, blow out your curls, add a floral barrette and start making new memories. 

Runway Photos: Vogue.com

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cleopatra Mystique

Mystery shrouds the truth of what really took place in the life of Cleopatra. Rumored to be a beauty with the power to seduce great men of power, she was known to have secured strategic liaisons with the likes of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. For centuries, artists and writers have tried to capture her on the canvas and the page, but she remains forever on the periphery of what we know to be true.
With the couture of Valentino as our inspiration, let’s take a trip down the Nile and visit the ancient courts of the Pharaoh.
Hot desert winds, the coolness of marble structures, a soft breeze coming from the river…it’s easy to imagine Cleopatra walking the paths of her kingdom wearing flowing tunics and jewel encrusted accessories fit for a Queen.
"Cleopatra on the Terraces of Philae" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1896

What would our journey into ancient Egypt be without a little love story? To help secure her position and access to the throne,  or perhaps for love alone, Cleopatra pursued and gained the affection of Julius Caesar. 
Walking through the door or simply meeting him in public was not going to work for Cleopatra. She decided to make quite the entrance by having herself delivered to him and unrolled from a carpet. What man could resist that amount effort and ingenuity?

Cleopatra must have kept her seducing skills sharp during her time with Caesar because after his assassination she was able to charm Mark Antony. He may have thought he was only meeting her to build alliances between their countries, but little did he know she was going win his heart.
"Cleopatra and Antony" by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Their epic love story was memorialized by Shakespeare with words like, "Eternity was in our lips and eyes" There's was a love that may have bound them in ways that Earth could not contain. As Mark Antony faced devastation on the battle field and committed suicide, Cleopatra is said to have followed suit by using an asp to end her life. 
However, given the fact she was entrenched the schemes of politics across multiple borders, it’s also believed she may have been murdered.
"The Death of Cleopatra" by Guido Cagnacci, 1658

Whatever the circumstances, her death did not diminish the hold she maintains over our imaginations centuries later. 

Runway Photos: Vogue.com

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A New Perspective

As the world left behind the standards of the Victorian era, artists began to explore new ways of interpreting everything they saw. Straight lines, basic shapes and forms reduced to geometric planes became prevalent during the early decades of the 20th century.
Within the Cubist movement (1907-1914), spearheaded by Pablo Picasso in Paris, artists no longer accepted objects and subjects at face value, but rather interpreted them from multiple perspectives in a single moment. They rejected the idea that art should only represent nature. For instance, instead of painting the curving lines of the human form and objects as they appear like in "Weeping Woman," Picasso used straight-edge shapes to represent the multiple planes that may comprise that moment in time, interpreting the 3D in a 2D form.

"Tableau I," 1921
In a similar manner, artists like Piet Mondrian furthered the artistic conversation regarding the use of geometric forms within the De Stijl, or “The Style” movement. This Dutch movement (1917-1931) was embraced by rtists and architects as they reduced their palette to black, white and primary colors and embraced the use of vertical and horizontal compositions.

Looking at Ralph Lauren’s spring 2016 collection, the fabrics used on some of the designs seem to blend these two artistic movements. The geometric shapes are juxtaposed on the fabric in ways that mimic the multi-view perspective of Cubist artist.
The color selection and color blocking of the pieces also resembles the treatment of color and shapes of The Style artists.
"Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow," 1930

Though this connection between Ralph Lauren’s work and 20th century art may only appear visual, it also makes me pause to wonder what more these design choices could be saying. In the same way the artists took time to reflect on how they were viewing the world around them in the early 20th century (from 3D life to the 2D planes of their canvases), could this be something we too need to do in our own era, but in the opposite direction? 
The world is moving at an increasingly fast pace each day with technology reducing our lives to the 2D screens in front of us. Whether viewing and living our lives through the lens of the computer, smart phone or television, the real world is forever intertwined with the 2D digital sphere. Just as artists like Picasso did 100 years ago, we too could gain some value in taking time to reinterpret the 2D into the 3D. Instead of just experiencing an event through a screen (via pictures, texts, etc.), perhaps there’s an opportunity for a 3D experience with conversation, quality time and life lived together. 

Runway Photos: Vogue.com 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Modern Day Marie Antoinette

"The beauty of her heavenly face, that expressed benevolence and goodness, and whose features were so regular and delicate, the loveliness of her figure, neck, and arms, the exquisite freshness of her complexion – all was enchanting beyond anything imaginable." 
Self Portrait of Vigee le Brun
Such was the description of a woman from the diary of artist Elisabeth Vigee le Brun.  Though we don’t know who she was thinking of, we can imagine through her eyes a classic Rococo beauty full of life and allure. Famous for painting portraits of Marie Antoinette, Vigee le Brun captures the spirit of the period through her words and paint brush.
Romance, soft gestures, playfulness…all were present in this 18th century world. The mood of the era is embodied in the newest spring Red Valentino collection. The baby doll dress silhouette often seen among the designers’ work is interpreted for a modern-day Marie Antoinette with corset and lacing details.
Romantic chokers and flower embellishments worn by the models resemble those of the Queen herself.

The collection wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the courtiers that participated in the flirtatious banter in the garden and court of Versailles. 
"The Swing" by Fragonard 
Mirroring the breeches men wore, the models don feminine jumpers.

Artist Jean-Frederic Schall embraced the playful spirit of the period with his paintings of girls dancing. 

Whether peasant or royal, life seems so pleasant when dancing…



With a touch of romance, a floral embellishment and playful spirit, here’s to embracing the beauty of the season.

Runway Photos: Vogue.com 
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