The Devil Wears Prada makes a valid point?

(Image: nytimes.com)

(Image: nytimes.com)

The Devil Wears Prada, i.e. the film that is loathed by the people at American Vogue for portraying an ill-informed version of Anna Wintour – one could disagree – and her staff. Whilst it may not be the most poignant of films in the history of American cinema, some of the dialogue might actually hold some truth. 

In the famous scene about contrasting shades of blue, Miranda Priestly explains to her assistant, Andy, that fashion is a part of everyone’s lives, even if they don’t want it to be/fails to realise it.  She says, “‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” Kudos to Meryl Streep for remembering all that and delivering it perfectly. 

Fashion matters to the economy, our society and to us personally. As mentioned in the film, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that employs a plethora of professionals with varying roles which must mean we are buying into it, and have been for centuries. All of us make a conscious decision about what we clothe ourselves in so to inform the world of who we are and what we represent. We may be instructed to wear a certain colour or specific piece, but as individuals we wear it in different ways. Potentially, some people’s style may leave a lot to be desired, but it is still style, regardless. Fashion is the fastest form of self expression we have. 

Some argue that there is a significant disparity between liking fashion and liking clothes, which is true – how many people can tell you the history of Dior’s Bar jacket? – but it all comes under the same category realistically. Fashion should be taken seriously just like any other creative profession such as acting or art. 

And we shouldn’t have to explain to people that yes, fashion journalist, stylist, trend forecaster, etc, are all actual jobs. 

So, next time someone tells you that they don’t care about fashion, just regurgitate Miranda Priestly’s monologue and watch the growing confusion on their face. 

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Battle of the Bouvier sisters

(Image: Pinterest)

(Image: Pinterest)

If you were asked to name a stylish woman with the surname Bouvier, you would probably be inclined to say Jacqueline Bouvier – or Kennedy/Onassis to most. She rightly deserves to be acknowledged for her impeccable dress sense that continued to evolved throughout the decades. Her double-breasted strawberry pink Chanel suit will eternally be an iconic ensemble for it’s design and for what it endured on that fateful day.

However, there is another Bouvier woman who arguably trumps Jackie O’s stylish ways. As the younger sister of the former First Lady, it is not surprising you would be overlooked by the general public. But Caroline ‘Lee’ Bouvier, best known as Lee Radziwill, wasn’t overlooked by the people at The International Best Dressed List. The list, founded in 1940 by Eleanor Lambert, was an attempt to boost the reputation of American fashion at the time. Radziwill was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1996 joining the likes of Margot Fonteyn, Audrey Hepburn and Anjelica Huston. She was also named in the Guardian’s 50 best dressed over 50 list in 2013.

(Image: Pinterest)

(Image: Pinterest)

Radziwill’s enviable wardrobe and perfectly preened hair has served as inspiration for many a designer including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors. Kors even dedicated an entire collection to the socialite’s ‘look’. Mix furs with cashmere, kitten heels, simple jewellery, and minimal makeup, and you’ve got yourself the perfect Lee Radziwill concoction. The 81 year old beauty has a knack for chicness that defies age and sets an example to women everywhere who are looking to age gracefully. Now a regular sighting at shows in New York and Paris, she has been outdoing women several years her junior in the looks department.

(Image: Pinterest)

(Image: Pinterest)

Friend to Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, Radziwill paved the way for many career paths. From acting to writing, her most successful venture has been interior design. She decorated several homes belonging to her acquaintences and many of her creations have been featured in magazines. As famous figures in popular culture, 2006 saw a Broadway musical tribute to Lee and Jackie Bouvier, entitled Grey Gardens. The musical was centred around the sisters as children visiting their aunt’s house to attend an engagement party. It was based on the 1975 documentary of the same name.

Real Housewives of New York fans will be familiar with Carol Radziwill, a New York Times bestselling author, and the daughter-in-law of Lee. Carol married Radziwill’s son Anthony Stanislaw Radziwill in 1994 but after a five year battle with cancer, Anthony died in 1999. His death came less than a month after Jackie’s son JFK Jr and his wife Carolyn died in a plane crash. Lee was reportedly horrified at Carol joining the cast of the reality series and resented the family name being brought back into the public sphere. You know you’re supposed to stay in your mother-in-law’s good graces, Carol.

Follow Lee on twitter to learn some fabulous #LifeLessonsWithLee

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Schiap

“In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.”

(Image: thejewleryloupe.com)

(Image: thejewleryloupe.com)

Regarded as one of the most influential figureheads in fashion between the two World Wars, Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli was a true nonconformist. Strong shoulders, pleats inspired by Fortuny and trompe l’oeil – literally translated as fools of the eye – all became trademarks for the Schiaparelli house. Her 1927 Hand Knit Sweater with Bowknot, featuring the trompe l’oeil technique, secured her fame. Schiap cottoned on to the fact that the sweater was a key item for the modern 1920s woman, who would rather play tennis than sit in a parlour. Practical yet chic, she understood that clothes are made to be worn but do not have to be lacklustre.

(Image: vam.ac.uk)

(Image: vam.ac.uk)

She was dismissed by her biggest rival Coco Chanel, who referred to her as “that Italian artist who makes clothes.” But Chanel wasn’t wrong in her unintentional backhanded compliment, as Schiaparelli was an artist. Collaborating with surrealist Salvador Dali on the Shoe Hat and Lobster Dress, the duo created exquisite, playful pieces of clothing. Dali had been using lobsters in his artwork for many years; the Lobster Telephone from 1936 being arguably the most famous piece. In the Spring of 1937, Schiaparelli asked Dali to design a lobster as a decoration for a white organdy evening gown. The oversized lobster feels so out of place on such a feminine gown but the juxtaposition between gown and sea creature was not accidental. The dress was made famous when it appeared in Vogue magazine modeled by Wallis Simpson, The Duchess of York.

(Image: vandoak.com

(Image: vandoak.com)

Schiaparelli’s 1937 Shocking perfume, contained in a bottle shaped like Mae West’s silhouette, was stolen by Jean Paul Gaultier and used for all of his fragrances. And the Nars lipstick in the colour Schiap? A tribute to the designer, who’s signature colour was shocking pink.

From inspiring Martin Margiela, Dolce and Gabbana and Rodarte to DVF, Lanvin and Moschino, Schaiaparelli’s influence lives on. Now that the house has been revived after ceasing to exist for 50 years, expect to see Schiaparelli references aplenty.

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Mannequins of the Kim Cattrall kind

(Images: own)

(Images: own)

Walking through Gaultier’s exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, is the stuff of nightmares for some. Mannequins with moving, talking faces stand proudly on their podiums as if what you are witnessing is something of the norm. They sing, they speak French, and they smile and blink in a psychotic kind of fashion. Jean Paul Gaultier even got in on the action and made himself into one. This futuristic, innovative idea makes for a more interactive viewing experience, even if it is slightly unnerving.

The retrospective is the first of its kind dedicated to the ‘enfant terrible’. A grand total of 165 outfits from Gaultier’s RTW and Haute Couture collections are on display. Among them are Madonna’s conical bra from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour along with other elements that make up Gaultier’s house codes: Breton tops, mermaids, virgins, corsets, and femme fatales to name but a few. Video footage, sketches and photography by the likes of David LaChapelle, Richard Avedon, Mario Testino and Inez and Vinoodh, accompany the garments housed on two floors.

His career spanning three decades has been filled with aspects not generally identifiable with high fashion, with humour being one of them. Humour has played a fundamental part in his work, making him a well loved and respected designer. However, there might be such a thing as too camp or too theatrical and this may be the case for many of his designs. When does fashion stop being fashion and become costume?

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is at the Barbican until August 25th.

 

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Dior Haute Couture 14

The collection, shown in Paris last week, should really be renamed Dior Wearable Couture. Raf Simons stripped down to the basics focusing on silhouette and structure rather than the extravagance of typical Haute Couture collections, presenting us with a minimalist approach.

Not one to look back, Simons reverted to reliving several eras to enforce the way different time periods educated ensuing ones. The 1950’s Bar Jacket from Dior’s 1947 New Look crept onto the runway, reinvented for the modern woman.

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

The majority of the collection proved to be suitable for every day wear, incorporating Edwardian long-line coats paired with trousers and a sickly sweet icy pastel colour palette on top mixed with brightly coloured shoes for a less polished, younger vibe.

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

(Image: style.com)

You don’t have to pile on the embellished pieces until the cows come home to be a part of the Haute Couture crowd anymore.

 

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Alternative Style Icon: The Marchesa Luisa Casati

castasi

Born in 1881, this eccentric Italian heiress had one goal in life – “I want to be a living work of art.”

For the first half of the 20th century, Marchesa Luisa Casati was the most popular, and most scandalous, woman in European society. She wore snakes as jewellery and was often nude beneath her furs whilst parading cheetahs that she kept as pets, on diamond-studded leads through the streets of Venice. Casati lined her eyes with thick black kohl and dilated her pupils with atropine, a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) and other plants of the family Solanaceae. In other words, it was a dangerous move. Everywhere she went, she set trends and caught the attention of many. All of this made her the muse of choice for Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau.

To go with her image, the heiress acquired a crumbling palazzo on the Grand Canal of Venice, the place where her parties became the stuff of legends. And of course, when you are a crazy heiress with a palazzo for a house, you also need a private zoo. Albino crows and snakes filled the zoo, often roaming the grounds freely. Naked servants in gold leaf attended to her while curious wax mannequins sat as guests at her dinner table, some of them allegedly housing the ashes of past lovers – how romantic.

Feasibly the most artistically portrayed female after Cleopatra and the Virgin Mary, Casati’s excessive lifestyle, wacky personality and scandalous escapades enchanted and inspired some of the most influential artists of the time such as Giovanni Boldini and Romaine Brooks. Even Cecil Beaton photographed her. However, Casati went broke and even worse than that, she went out of fashion. By the 1920s, aesthetics had changed and her style was no longer desirable.

21st century designers, photographers and artists continue to use The Marchesa as inspiration for their work. Casati, without question, succeeded in achieving her goal even if it was just for a while.

Tilda Swinton by Paolo Roversi

Tilda Swinton by Paolo Roversi

Marisa Berenson, Rothschild Ball 1972

Marisa Berenson, Rothschild Ball 1972

Alexander McQueen A/W 08

Alexander McQueen A/W 08

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Run, Hillary, Run!

Image: thedailysheeple.com

Image: thedailysheeple.com

The number of people climbing onto the Hillary Clinton bandwagon is rising by the day. She has yet to declare officially that she is running for office in 2016, but those of you who want to put a bet on it will most likely end up being quid’s in.

At present there are 19 female world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, South Korea’s Park Geun-hye and Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff. However, America, a country with one of the largest economies in the world, is not part of the status quo. Since women gained the vote in 1920, only 27 of the 400 US cabinet secretaries since then have been female. Mrs Clinton is ready to take charge.

Fashion and politics go hand in hand. Their relationship is a long and multidimensional one. As individuals, communities and tribes, we articulate our voices through what we wear. The communicative power of fashion’s creative practices can challenge a political consensus and influence opinions.

Political standing and policies aside, Margaret Thatcher integrated fashion and politics seamlessly, setting an example of how women in power should dress. Admitting that her image became ‘part of the job’, Thatcher made famous her power dressing suits, pussybow blouses and her treasured pearls. When it came to the colour of her attire, she was always keen to promote the party, stating that her favourite shade was always ‘my party’s colour’ sapphire blue. Her styling strategies must have aided her campaign, as in 1979 she became Prime Minister.

"You do not lose your feminine qualities just because you are a Prime Minister."

“You do not lose your feminine qualities just because you are a Prime Minister.”

Rewind a few years to America in 2012 when Mitt Romney and Barack Obama – plus their wives – battled it out in the US elections. Audiences were not only invested in the politics, but they waited with great anticipation to see what the other halves would wear. Ann and Michelle went head to head in a fashion face off.

A printed Predicament...with similar hair, too

A printed Predicament…with similar hair, too

Bright, Bold and Blue

Bright, Bold and Blue

Pretty in Pink at the 2nd Presidential Debate

Pretty in Pink at the 2nd Presidential Debate

Nuclear Wintour even waded in. She allegedly told designers not to dress Mrs Romney and silently threatened their standing should they endeavour to do so. Ms Wintour probably felt it was her right, since she pumped so much money into the Obama campaign and promoted the heck out of it. Romney actually declined an interview with Vogue and obviously Anna was not just going to take that on the chin.

Hillary’s hair is a national treasure in itself. In many of her speaking engagements, she has joked that her memoir should have been called The Scrunchie Chronicals: 112 Countries and It’s Still All About My Hair – the timing of her book is no coincidence. Being the former President’s wife, she has most likely got the ‘looking the part’ bit figured out by now. She is also good friends with the Queen of the big screen, Meryl Streep, so that puts her in good stead already. Clinton just needs to persuade Americans that she is different from the woman they rejected six years ago in the 2008 elections. Clinton had voted in favour of the Iraq invasion in 2002, shooting herself in the foot so to speak. She also played up to the stereotype that a woman in power has to act like a man to succeed. Following her lost potential Presidency in 2011 she said, “We need to unlock the vital source of growth that can power our economies in the decades to come. That vital source of growth is women.” This could, and should be the case.

Are you ready for #Hillary2016?

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Valentino A/W 14 Campaign

(image: graziadaily.co.uk)

(image: graziadaily.co.uk)

In true Voldemort fashion, He who shall not be named – well, his arm – has been featured in Valentino’s campaign for a third season in a row. The infamous photographer’s inked sleeve showcases a bag from the Italian brand’s Camubutterfly bag and accessories collection. It’s a move that will undoubtedly cause conflicting opinions considering Richardson has faced allegations of sexual assault, although the most recent claims were false.

Having Richardson’s arm in shot gives the feminine look a slight edge. And that’s all on that one.

To sign Change.org’s petition aiming to stop big brands using Terry Richardson as their photographer, click here

Yes, that is Liza Minnelli. Odd, isn't it?

Yes, that is Liza Minnelli. Odd, isn’t it?

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Moschino A/W 14 Campaign

(image: thelovemagazine.co.uk)

(image: thelovemagazine.co.uk)

The 49-year-old, 80s/90s supermodel Linda Evangelista is front and centre perching on a simple wooden stool for this A/W campaign. Steven Meisel is responsible for the black and white shot above which just screams iconic 90s photography. Jeremy Scott’s ‘pop culture’ runway collection that got everyone in the fashion world talking, meets sophisticated elegance in this photograph. Scott has certainly earned his place at this Italian brand.

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Pradasphere

(Image: own)

(Image: own)

A large room on the fourth floor of Harrods is home to Pradasphere, an exhibition showcasing the work belonging to one of Italy’s most influential, innovative and sometimes esoteric, fashion houses. Putting the spotlight on Miuccia Prada’s fearless approach to fashion and the effect she has had on design, Pradasphere features pieces from several collections that illustrate Prada’s thought process and techniques. The exhibition holds heritage items from the Prada archives, exquisite shoes and bags from past collections, a Prada history wall, runway footage and various literature on the brand.

Iconic pieces, which include the shearling coat from the A/W 14 show and a banana print shirt that was sported by none other than our favourite red head Grace Coddington, are encased in glass displays. Ample printed numbers that were meant as a blatant act of superficiality – thank you to the staff member who was talking through each display for that glorious phrase – and more simplistic, elegant pieces that screamed modernity were on show.

Michael Rock, the co-curator who has worked with the brand for 15 years, spoke of Muiccia, “While a lot of brands try to erase any ambiguity and present one identity, she does the opposite,” he says. “Questions that she has – whether they’re about the importance of fashion, being a woman designing for women – become the subject of what she designs. People can identify with that.”

There is a reason why Prada has stood the test of time. To discover that reason, head down to Harrods.

Pradasphere shows until the 29th of May

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