Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father of Couture

"Empress Eugenie" by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1854
On Father’s Day images of hardware and tool boxes abound as gift ideas for dads. But for the Father of Couture, you would have needed to think twice about the traditional presents since his tool box more likely included a needle and thread instead of a hammer and nail.
Charles Frederick Worth is known as the first couturier not only because of his lavish one-of-a-kind creations, but also because of his ability to self promote the House of Worth. 
"Empress Elisabeth of Austria" by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1864
Before the age of the internet and social media, Worth was able to reach ladies far and wide. Instead of a post on Instagram or a starlet wearing his gown on the red carpet, Worth became famous through royal portraits of the lovely ladies he dressed.
"The Empress Eugenie Surrounded by Her Ladies" by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1855
With loyal fans like Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie, Worth was the premier dress designer.
His designs incorporated luxurious fabrics and materials and often included historical references since he found inspiration in the art he was known for visiting at the National Gallery. 
Whether constructing a day dress or a gown worthy of a court occasion, the designs were meticulously constructed and featured details that emphasized the beauty of the wearer.
During his time designing in the mid to late 1800s, the female silhouette would shift from the use of a large hoop to a bustle and then the S-shape. Through the evolving trends, the use of a corset would continue, allowing Worth’s dresses to emphasize the waist and feminine shape.
Hundreds of years later, Worth’s work as a couturier continues to impact fashion today. Couture houses spend hundreds of hours producing works of art that we often see on the Hollywood red carpets or at events like the Met Gala. 
 Dior Spring 2010 Couture
Even though the era of fast fashion is in full swing, the timeless craft of couture lives on with designers at brands like Chanel and Dior.
 Chanel Spring 2013 Couture

Runway Photos: Vogue
About the Designer: Met Museum

Saturday, June 17, 2017

She's a Firebird

You’ve likely heard the term, “She’s a firecracker,” but what about “She’s a firebird?”
P. Garst Firebird costume from 1936
The classic ballet, The Firebird, that originally premiered in Paris in 1910 continues to mesmerize audiences with its story of love and triumph. 
Tamara Karsavina as the Firebird by Adrian Allison, 1890
The Firebird flutters across the stage with the strings of Stravinsky’s orchestral creation. Following the story of a Russian legend, she crosses paths with a lost prince in the woods. Her feathers provide protection and beauty, and ultimately help him overcome an evil sorcerer.
Atlanta Ballet's The Firebird
There have been a variety of interpretations of what the Firebird looks like, including the portrayal by Misty Copeland seen below.

To see and hear a glimpse of the ballet, here’s a clip from the San Francisco Ballet. 

After recently seeing The Firebird performed, I couldn’t help but notice the coppery red color of the Firebird in Elie Saab’s Resort 2018 collection.

Bright yet powerful, the warm hue conveys a youthful vibrancy.

Some of the fabrics included a feathering effect with lighter shades and touches of other colors. 

Could it be that the designer also had birds on the brain?

Runway Photos: Vogue

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fashion Abstraction

"Moment," 2016
Curves and colors span across the canvases of Power Boothe’s paintings. Straight lines travel next to half circles, forming paths for the eye to follow. Colors help lines transform into shapes like triangles and squares.
"Interlude," 2016
Since the late 1960s, the American artist has produced works of abstraction. His grid-like creations take the viewer on a journey through space and form, as the lines and colors communicate through a visual language rooted in geometry.
"Surfacing" 2016
Like the abstract curves of Boothe’s paintings, the fabrics seen on the Emilio Pucci spring runway took inspiration from geometric design. 

"Recursion," 2016 
With touches of color blocking paired with soft shapes, the collection is reminiscent of paintings like “Recursion” with curving forms in shades of orange, teal and blue. 
The dress comes alive as the wearer walks, the shapes moving in time with each step.

The spirit of movement and freedom isn’t limited to this spring’s collection, but is the foundation of the Pucci brand. Pucci started developing signature prints in abstract forms in the 1950s, earning himself the title of “The Prince of Prints.” 

Like the prints he created, the selected fabrics were designed with the goal of freedom. The stretch silk and cotton jerseys could move with a woman’s body, freeing her from the confines of the fitted, belted and structured fashion women were wearing at the time.

"Kite," 2016
Just as the fabrics of a Pucci dress follows the curve of the body, Boothe’s shapes move across the canvas. Whether fashion or fine art, there is a freedom found in abstraction. A freedom found through defining one’s own path that curves beyond the straight and clearly defined.

Runway Photos: Vogue
About the Designer: Emilio Pucci

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Material Girl

Big hair, leggings, sky high shoulder pads…it was the decade of decadence. Wall Street was flying high and so was everyone’s taste for the good life. Consumer culture reached a peak to the tune of Madonna’s “Material Girl.”
Though over 20 years have passed since we said goodbye to the 80s, the style influences continue to infiltrate modern fashion. The spring runway, like that of Ronald van Der Kemp's couture collection, was full of padded shoulders reminiscent of Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl”…the only thing missing were her white sneakers.
Dressing for success in the 80s often meant classic black and white, which continues to be on trend for ladies ready to conquer the boardroom. When creating his iconic “Men in the Cities” series in the 70s and 80s, artist Robert Longo dressed his contorting figures in the classic workwear. 

 Classic lines and colors help make the images timeless--and the look continues to bring a powerful punch as seen in the Ronald van Der Kemp look on the right.

Did someone say party dress? After a hard work day, what girl doesn’t need to enjoy a night on the town in a pretty outfit? The glitz and glamour of the Texas darlings from “Dynasty” hit the Alexandre Vauthier couture runway in full force with an array of one-shouldered frocks, puffy sleeves and pantyhose.

From flowing trains, to ruffles, sequins and sashes…the 80s glam options were endless this season. Some options even shimmered, like the design that mirrored the shining Rabbit sculpture by Jeff Koons.

Always a go-to for glamour, little black dresses go vintage with textured volume. Dressed up in a LBD from Ronald van Der Kemp, what girl wouldn’t feel like a celebrity?

"Celebrity" by Christopher Wool, 1989

Not in a black dress kind of mood? Keep it sleek with color blocking and an elegant coiffure inspired by Richard Prince’s photography.
"Untitled 1" by Richard Prince

As each day brings us closer to the future, fashion proves that we never leave history behind. There are styles we think will never return, and yet they always find ways of coming back for the next generation.

Runway Photos: 
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