Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fashion meets Art: Elsa Schiaparelli

The Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli created wearable art with her cutting edge fashion. She entered the fashion scene with the encouragement of Paul Poiret and began by designing knitwear. She was the rival of Coco Chanel during the 1930s when they designed for women between the two world wars; but their styles allowed them to serve very different women--the risk taker versus the classicist.

Though an artist in her own right, Elsa Schiaparelli also collaborated with fine artists such as Salvador Dali. Through their collaborations, surrealist art qualities came alive as women wore shoe hats, skeleton dresses and much more.
Elsa Schiaparelli from LIFE magazine in 1937.

These two famous designs showcase the surrealist quality. Surrealist art included tricks of the eye and the unexpected. Never before had fashion seen prints that included a large lobster.

More of the unexpected: a three dimensional dress of a skeleton and shoe as a hat.

Dolce & Gabbana's Fall 2009 collection channelled the surrealist qualities of Elsa Schiaparelli. Elegant gloves suddenly become hats and and scarves. The key to it having the surrealist quality is the fact that the glove shape is completely obvious and unexpected.






The theme of time finds its way from the 1931 surrealist painting "The Persistence of Memory" by Dali, to the runway as worn by Karlie Kloss.



Elsa Schiaparelli introduced the concept of functional becoming beautiful. Rather than leave buttons plain, she began designing ornate buttons that resembled broaches.
Two designs of Elsa Schiaparelli with decorative buttons. Dolce & Gabbana took this idea to new levels for the Fall 2009 collections.
Think pink...
Barbie and Legally Blonde's Elle were not the first to strut in shades of neon pink. In addition to her advances in design, Elsa suprised everyone with her use of "shocking pink." The color was found with her clothing and was the name of her perfume.

Obviously inspired by the shocking Schiaparelli, Dolce & Gabbana had models step out on the runways in this amazing color.


A shocking pink striped Schiaparelli design.


A shockingly sweet beauty in pink with a glove hat, model Chanel Iman.

Sadly, after WWII Elsa Schiaparelli was unable to continue designing since the direction of the fashion world was changing so much. But her artistic spirit lives on with the help of modern designers like Dolce & Gabbana. So think pink when you get dressed tomorrow...

Runway photos: Style.com
Other: wikipedia

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bon Hiver

Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2009 Couture
Snow is softly falling throughout Nashville. For the past two days we've received a steady dusting of snowflakes. As a rare winter gift for Nashville, I can't help but be in awe of the pure beauty. The white snow softly decorates the landscape, making the cold weather more bearable because of its sheer beauty.


Snow makes for a bon hiver (good winter). The perfect soundtrack: Bon Iver. I discovered this mellow, folk-ish artist last winter and now can't help but associate him with the season.

As with the landscape and in music, snow falls on the runways as we see shades of white in every fabric and style imaginable. Winter white can be fiercely fashionable, as with 3.1 Phillip Lim...

Andrew Gn Fall 2009

Burberry Pre-Fall 2010

Todd Lynn Spring 2010
Fur trimmed/fringed shoulders. A new look I can't help but find interesting.

A clean white palette that would seem simple, but is paired with edgy leather heeled boots and bags.

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2009
Fierce fur and silhouette with strong shoulders and use of black with white.

White can go from fiercely fashionable to fabulously feminine with the help of Elie Saab and images of the Nutcracker's snowflake ballerinas.
Soft lines, draping, curve-hugging and romantically detailed.

Snow angels in pure white couture.





Chanel does white through the lens of its classic black and white combination. Black helps winterize what was once a summer shade.


As winter's snow white princess, every girl needs a classic white Lady Dior bag, white polish, a spritz of Juicy Couture perfume and a couple of diamond "snowflakes."

Azzaro Spring 2010

Here's to a bon hiver.

Runway photos: Style.com
Winter photos: Wikipedia

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Powerfully Pretty

I recently started a new job that has kept me away from blogging more than I would like. But with the idea of corporate life on my mind, I couldn't help but think of the power suit that women often wear into the office.

To showcase power and position, women have used clothing for centuries to communicate their message. Medieval warrior Joan of Arc scandalously put on men's attire that included pants and armor as she led the king's army into battle. John Galliano's Fall 2006 collection for Dior takes a romanticized approach on Joan of Arc's powerful look.

Hundreds of years later, the powerful Queen Elizabeth used fashion as a platform to establish her royal authority in England. The strong shoulders, flattened chest (to mimic the broad, flat strength of a man) and dark colors could easily be seen in the Elizabethan era, as well as centuries later in the 1980s.

Cate Blanchette as Queen Elizabeth I. Notice how the volume of the shoulders combined with the neck ruff create a broad appearance of strength.

Strong shoulders continued to make appearance in fashion, as seen here in the photo of the 1890s woman. This was the time period that women began to gain freedom and indepence and so fashion had to communicate these advancements. Never before had a woman been able to do something as amazing as ride a bicycle.

The 1988 film Working Girl, starring Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver is the perfect example of a more modern approach to power dressing. The 1980s birthed the power suit as women climbed the corporate ladder alongside their male counterparts.
The 1980s made a comeback on the Fall 2009 runway with Marc Jacobs.

Military details always signal a powerful tone as they mimic the suits, camouflage and fatigues of America's soldiers.

The office is a battleground that requires proper attire for sure.
Chanel Pre-Fall 2010
When talking about the frontlines, I can't help but mention our First Lady, wife to the Commander-in-Chief. Michelle Obama showed a modern sophistication with her 2009 Isabel Toledo suit.

Designer Isabel Toledo with her artist husband Ruben Toledo for Paper Mag...wearing suits of course.

The designer of Michelle's white inauguration ball gown, Jason Wu, offers us a modern interpretation of the power suit. I just love the two different materials used for the sleeves and jacket on the left.

J. Mendel Pre-Fall 2010
Black is always a powerful color choice.

Oscar de la Renta Pre-Fall 2010
Michael Kors not only chose a powerful color and silhouette with strong shoulders, he also used gladiator heels--a clear connection to the war ready gladiators of ancient Rome.

Are you dressed for the call of duty? Prepare for battle with the perfect combination of sophistication and femininty by wearing a power suit. A powerfully pretty dress choice for sure.

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