Sunday, 21 November 2010

Funny Face Fashion

Next up, Audrey Hepburn as Jo Stockton in Funny Face from 1957.

You knew Audrey had to pop up at some point. And the photo shoots in this film- her as a reluctant model posing in Paris, harassed by magazine editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) and falling for photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire)- offer outfit after couture outfit to luuuuust for.

And then imitate.

One of the most famous shots from the film:

I can't pose in Paris or have the balloons. But what is most important is the dress. And I have a similar original 50s, handmade from directional lace in my collection:

Now, colour. Flowers on the dress, flowers in her arms, flowers all around:

The prestige of this dress can be judged by the price tag. It recently sold on December 14, 2002, at Sothebys in New York for $56,250.

This is my handmade early 60s version. A much more manageable £150.

Below is Jo's eureka moment- She can be beautiful, dress fantastically and have a brain. Which she puts to use showing this dress's full elegant potential.

Pick from this lace dress or these rhinestone embossed Charles Jourdan heels to have your own scarlet centre stage moment.

And, ah... The wedding dress!

Another eureka moment (I won't spoil it). She looks sensational. Many brides centre their days around this very look:

Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. I don't have anything quite as out there, but I do have this 50s handmade tea length dress with long sleeves, embossed satin and rose detailing.
If you are looking for a vintage wedding dress and this isn't right for you, try getting in touch with Helena who runs Heavenly Vintage Brides. I bought my own vintage dress from her, and couldn't recommend her more highly.

Finally, film hasn't only inspired fashionistas. It's influence can be seen in many a fabulous film too. The similarity between magazine editor Maggie Prescott and Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in 2006's The Devil Wears Prada cannot be ignored. Single minded bitches, with vulnerable under bellies, leading the world and her wardrobe.

I like to think Anna Wintour watched it as a child- 'that's what I want to be when i grow up.'

Signing off with a few of my favourite non Audrey shots from the film. Sing along with me now... Think Pink! And email or comment if you want to try any of the dresses featured.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Leaves me breathless

I'm not disciplined enough to do this neatly and by decade or anything like that. I'm just going to throw down characters in films, books and plays who inspire vintage fashion... any which way I can.

First up, personifying cool, the independent Patricia Franchini.

Played by Jean Seberg in cult movie, Breathless. Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard in 1960.

Patricia is the female lead. And an icon. Her outfits never look premeditated, just perfect, calm and with not an even ounce of prissiness. Just like her character.

Who doesn't love a simple Breton stripe? Especially when in Paris, surrounded by art. Here I am, unwittingly influenced by the image a few years back.

Unlike many of us, Patricia manages to make her uniform look chic. And in it she attracts the cad of the film, even when he should be concentrating on other things. Like running from the police. It's not just the fashion that's thrilling.

But getting back to it, isn't this one of the first and finest examples of a girl in a t-shirt with print emblazoned across the chest? Maybe. And check out those cropped trousers and flats. Ta da.

But she doesn't just do casual. This full circle skirt, nipped in at the waist, is the stuff that fashion (wet) dreams are of.

Happily I have a similar dress as part of my current collection. It is red and charcoal horizontal stripes. Add shoes, gloves and the sunglasses to match and we could almost recreate the scene. If only the young roguish Jean Paul Belmondo was as easy to find.

(Yes, that is my bathroom. I must get a full length mirror. One day I'll fall in.)

If you'd like to buy the dress, or just try it on, let me know. It is size 8-10 and £85. The colour makes it ideal for the upcoming festivities.

PS I gave my hand towel a thorough folding after this.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Watch and learn

Everyone knows that Mad Men has had a huge influence on fashion. Even Victoria Beckham's collection gave it a nod (below). And no wonder. The tv series is sumptuous to watch, and the attention to period appropriate detail is astounding.

After watching a few episodes in my old comfortable pyjamas, I just couldn't do it anymore. Betty Draper shamed me into buying a night gown.

A proper 60's original pink froufrou number. Seriously. Thank God I don't smoke as much as she does, or surely I'd have caught alight by now.

But what other characters throughout time have influenced us to change our dress ways? Or what can we watch on screen for suitable decade inspiration when feeling in need of some guidance?

Over the next few days, I'll share my favourites with you, and relate them to outfits in my wardrobe and those available on my rack... Watch this space, and then some of the characters I recommend. And let me know your favourites too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Herstory- the bra

Tomorrow is Coppa Feel Day. So let's BOOB HIJACK!!

To inspire your mission, I'm sharing some trivia with you about the one thing that cops a feel every day. Your bra, and a couple of the wondrous women we have to thank for it.

So, bra facts:

The word comes from brassiere, 'upper arm' in old French.

The garment itself has been around in various guises, gauzes and girdles for eons. But 'brassiere' appeared in American Vogue in 1907. And so naturally became the name of choice.

The bra as we know it is based on it girl Mary Phelps Jacobs' invention in 1913. Commercial success was originally far from her mind. She just wanted to go to a party in a plunging sheer dress. Her corset was cumbersome and poked through, so she sewed silk handkerchiefs together with pink ribbon. Ingenious. And history, or herstory, was made.

She patented her design and set up business as Caresse Crosby (Coppa Feel Crosby?). But soon sold to Warner Brothers Corsetry for $1500. They went on to make over £15,000,000 from the design over the next 30 years.

Rarely mentioned are her other passions, as a peace activist, and success as a publisher of some literary greats' early work. Think Hemingway, Pound, Eliot & Joyce.

Equally inspirational, in 1928, Ida Rosenthal pioneered the cup sizing we use now. She epitomised the American Dream- a Russian immigrant using hard work and inventiveness to rise to the top with her business, Maidenform.

Like Mary, her interest in underwear stemmed from a love of dresses and wanting them to look their best. She was surprised when her bras sold better than the dresses they were supposed to promote.

But she embraced the trend and was the first to sell nursing bras and adjustable backs... All under a racy slogan: 'I dreamed... in a Maidenform Bra'. I think Peggy would have been proud.

And now it's your turn. Check your own breasts, maybe check some others, and make sure everyone knows how and why to coppa feel.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Faux real?

I am an animal lover. I love them so much, I wear them. As fur. Capes, coats, wraps, collars... even a handbag.

But before you skin me to wear around your own neck, let me tell you why and when I wear it:

1. I wear fur whenever it is likely to strike up a conversation. On the tube, to a party, the pub. Whatever... So long as I can chat to people about new versus old, real versus fake, you'll find me in fur. There is no conversation starter like it and it lets us chat about the points below.

2. I buy it second hand, so no money goes to the fur farming industry. The older the better. And a charity shop find beats all others as then money is going straight to a good cause.

3. Faux fur is usually made from polymers. Like acrylic . These are synthetic fibres that need water, coal, petroleum and other ingredients. I won't elaborate on why these are bad. There are also cases where supposed fake fur has actually been made using real animals, and sold in high street shops. Watch this: Racoon dog film

4. If nobody wore old furs, or other cast off clothes, they would pile up in landfills. This takes up land and, more worryingly, the decaying process releases methane into the atmosphere. This contributes to climate change.

5. I don't only buy second hand fur, I buy all my clothes that way. I think that if more people did, the better our climate and environment would be. People who want to protect animals should act on that. Rather than an aversion to fur. Of course you can buy faux that way too.

Lastly, I really do love animals. I've adopted two homeless old lady cats, and the ashes of my pet rabbit take pride on place on my mantel place. Yes, that is him in the picture. And no, I didn't kill him.