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.

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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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fashion meets Art: Pae White

The space between...the space between here and there. It is often forgotten in our efforts to get to the next destination. Or in the case of physical space, it fades into nothingness as our eyes move from focal point to focal point.
For artist Pae White though, this is the space she explores in site specific installations like her 2013 exhibit in London called “Too Much Night, Again.” Using string, the installation criss-crossed in what would otherwise be the white space of nothingness around artwork featured on the walls. The air became three-dimensional as the strings travelled overhead, creating patterns of color, texture and form. 

The use of string in fine art demonstrates White’s tendency to use craft materials, elevating a typically mundane material to one for higher thought and beauty. A single string joined a multitude, creating spaces that varied in string density as they attached to the wall to spell words from the artist’s nighttime ponderings.

 Like White, Sarah Burton utilized a string-theme in her Fall 2017 collection for Alexander McQueen. Strings of red, white and blue dangle from sleeves and bodices. 
They are woven in patterns on dresses, resembling the heavy stitching found on upholstery or baseballs. The thick strings also dangle from bags, creating a fringe that moves with each step. 

In their heaviest form, the strings are woven in such a high volume that they become a tweed-like fabric. 

There is a transient quality to both the art and fashion designs. Both creations showcase how the strings can be combined or stitched in a way to hold something to together. Whether it be a dress or a three-dimensional form, a single string becomes something much more when utilized in a high quantity. But just as the strings dangle from the dress sleeves or spread into open spaces in the gallery, there is evidence they can pull apart into nothingness.

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Exhibit Photos:

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Rock Royalty Style

It was the decade of culture wars, the space race and economic crises. It was also the time of bell bottoms, flowing dresses and platform shoes. Messages of peace and love were on everyone’s lips. It was the 1970s.

Fleetwood Mac
The decade was heavily defined by music from the likes of Abba’s upbeat disco to the rock and roll of Heart. As music filled the airwaves, fashion took cues from the concert stages. When icons of the era like Fleetwood Mac donned things like peasant inspired tops, funky prints and bell bottoms, the style choices made their way from the stage to the street. 
Heart, 1977

Styles like these from rock royalty and hippie culture continue to find their way onto 21st century streets and runways. Designer Anna Sui always manages to create a collage of references in each season’s collection. Looking at the Fall 2017 designs, I instantly thought of the 1970s and films like Almost Famous, which immortalizes the style and mood of the period.    
Almost Famous

Several designs include busy prints and flowing lines reminiscent of peace-loving hippies.  

 Kate Hudson as Penny Lane
The luxe velvet and fur fabrics are rich and eye catching, the perfect combo for a night at the disco or hanging out with Penny Lane and the Band-Aids at the next concert.

“It’s all happening...” –Penny Lane, Almost Famous      

Jerry Hall
Bebe Buell and Jerry Hall helped immortalize the music-infused styles as figureheads of the culture that we get a glimpse of in Almost Famous. These beauties could be found alongside musicians like Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler, perhaps serving as muses to the music being made.  
Bebe Buell
Fierce prints, windblown hair, romantic details and a carefree spirit are all captured in their looks. The same approach to beauty is embodied in Anna Sui's designs with effortless layering, a fun mix of prints, colors and textures and an undeniable sense of cool.  
Nearly 30 years after the decade came to a close, the beat of the era lives on through music and fashion. Whether dancing to the tune of “Mamma Mia” or “Barracuda,” the collection from Anna Sui is sure to help take you back in time in the best possible way. 

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