June 16, 2018

Style Icons Part II

Next up is the inimitable Brigitte Bardot. Roger Vadim's debut film And God Created Woman (1956) turned Bardot into an international star. You can imagine the film title and Bardot being interchangeable  and maybe they actually are because she married Vadim in 1952, albeit briefly, apparently she cheated on him.  In 1958 according to Bardot's wikipedia, the moniker "sex kitten" was invented for her. Speaking of an animal (no pun intended), Bardot's love of them has now become her raison d'etre.

One part style icon, one part sex symbol, Brigitte Bardot set the standard during the 1960s and 1970s. Women around the world still want to dress and look like her. A couple of Bardot's doppelgängers are Anna Ewers and Claudia Schiffer. The trends she started in her heydey--  everything from the bikini to the Bardot neckline -- continue to have enduring impact. Some of Bardot's best looks were the most simple. She knew how to make everything look sexy.

Since Bardot is still a brunette in first photo above, means the 'Bardot neckline' started early in her life. She singlehandedly made off-the-shoulder casual, chic. The neckline has spanned the decades since and has been a big trend again in the last couple of years. 

Bardot is well known for the bikini and popularized it for the American market who in the 1950s still found it risqué. Of course the French embraced the bikini sooner. They have never been afraid of their sexuality or at least not in recent centuries.
Bardot knew the power of a hat. She wore them both to the beach and out and about.
Couple other style points are that Bardot liked flats, ballet flats in particular. She was a dancer growing up and I am sure that is where it came from. Bardot even collaborated with Repetto in 1956, asking them to design flats that mimicked true ballet slippers intended for dancers. Repetto was still popular in New York when I lived there in the late 80s and 90s. I think they sell directly to Bergdorf today and they also have an online presence. So my hunch is that Bardot helped put them on the map and they have stayed. Which leads me to another style observation from this photo. Bardot is a fan of gingham check. It's innocent quality is a nice contrast to her sexiness. It actually made her look sexier if that makes sense.
I love this gingham check wedding dress Bardot wore when she married Jacques Charrier. So prim and so sexy.

A lot of Brigitte Bardot's enduring style is that nothing you find her in in photos from that era is really dated. The clothes have a timeless quality. Another reminder to stay away from trends (once in a while is ok) and develop a signature style that stands the test of time. 
May 4, 2018

Style Icons Part I

I've gone missing for a few months as I kept thinking I wanted to write about style icons but when I started collecting images it got harder to figure out who. Finally I decided on Françoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot, Alexa Chung and Sarah Rutson -- two from the 60's and two current day. All their photos seemed like a lot for one post so I am breaking them up and starting with Françoise Hardy, the French singer songwriter who was the face 1960's French pop. 

Many of the images I found of Hardy had something or another to do with her singing career which is what propelled her status to style icon. Others were beauty shots which are wonderful but typically don't show clothes. After digging through I found these...

Mick Jagger among others fell for Hardy's enigmatic allure. Françoise served to put pinstripes on the map, affirming that  a distinctly mannish appearance of the Sixties was to be at the future forefront of womenswear. 

Hardy had an enormous influence on fashion. She was the muse to Rei Kawakubo, who named Comme des Garçons after a lyric in Hardy's hit single, "Tous les garçons et les filles". Paco Rabanne was famous for the gold plated dress which became Hardy's most iconic look. And her white Courrèges pantsuit paved the way for futurism.

Hardy wore a lot of mod but she truly loved the mannish movement.

Many consider Hardy the origin of street style. And if being an icon is being admired for one's fashion sense then with out a doubt Françoise is one of the best. For me she was 'it' in the 60's and beyond.
January 18, 2018

Prabal Gurung: Rated PG


I had the pleasure of meeting Prabal Gurung when he visited San Francisco in a few years ago. The San Francisco Chronicle quoted me saying, "These are clothes with substance", which still stands. He does not like bimbos and he is not interested in dressing them. He designs for a thinking man's sex symbol. His designs are not exactly PG but they are definitely not X-rated. 

Yaya Decosta was attending a TV festival in Monte Carlo that she wanted to be dressed for. She is a star on the popular NBC drama called  Chicago Med. Yaya's beautiful angelic face is hard to miss as nurse April Sexton. The show is a fast paced medical drama that reminds me of the ER TV series. After I called in a bunch of things, Yaya decided on a Prabal Gurung double faced silk tunic that she wore as a dress with long flowing sleeves. Turns out she was unable to go to Monte Carlo but she had a friend shoot a video of her in the dress that was fantastic. These stills of the video give you a glimpse of the ethereal quality of the dress. Thanks Prabal!

Bracelet by Alexis Bittar and earrings from the collection of
Karen Caldwell.

December 14, 2017

My Two Fav American Brands at the Moment

Both of my favorites are happy brands and of course chic. Roxanne Assoulin is a jewelry designer that is not new but has a brand new look. She dreamt up her latest signature chick-let look a couple of years ago and it took off like lightening with Instagram's help. Most of the bracelets are multi-colored and I also love the gold and silver below. I follow Roxanne on Instagram (@roxanneassoulin) and the copy on her posts is always fun and irreverent. Her tagline is an uncomplicated indulgence.

Oh and if you know Rosie Assoulin, who is a rising star in New York fashion, that is Roxanne's daughter-in-law. All in the family as they say!
Clare V. is a hand bag company that is based in LA. The founder, Clare Vivier is a former journalist who lived and worked in Paris so it is no surprise that her first pop-up is in gay paree for this holiday season. She has successfully infused a French mood into her collection that gives it a certain je ne sais quoi. Go on her site and check it out at www.clarev.com
I'm partial to this little red bag. 

November 9, 2017

Missoni on a Mission

Angela Missoni recently did an American tour to celebrate her 20th anniversary as creative director of her family's legendary design company. She brought some vintage pieces that were amazing and somewhat subdued. They were a nice juxtaposition to the bright colors on the sales floor at Neiman Marcus. I like both because they showcase the breadth and depth of Missoni over the years.
Angela Missoni
A look from the upcoming spring collection.

Missoni has a long history and back in the day Diana Vreeland's assessment was, "Who says a rainbow has only 7 colors? There are many shades." When Angela was a little girl Mrs Vreeland kept writing her mother. She wanted to introduce her to the department stores in America. When the Missoni's finally arrived in New York, they had a small room at The Plaza and Diana Vreeland came with 14 editors. The entire room was filled with flowers all sent by Vogue. The Missoni's thought this was the American way to greet everybody. 

I'm sure Angela has many stories to tell but one she felt proud of the other evening was that ever since they started doing business with Neiman Marcus they have been in the store every season. That is a feat that not many designers can attest to.

September 23, 2017

Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards


Manolo Blahnik's documentary premiered last night in Chicago and I have an even more elevated opinion of the storied shoe designer. I have to say that there were a few years there when his Louis heeled pumps and sling backs seemed a bit old and tired to me. In the movie, Manolo had all kinds of fabulous fantasy shoes that never make it to the floor of Neiman Marcus or anywhere else. I am sure they are on all kinds of movie sets and apparently Kate Moss wore Manolos on her wedding day.

The movie was interwoven with all his fashion cronies like Anna Wintour, Paloma Picasso and André Leon Tally as well as an appearance by Rihanna who looked gorgeous.

The man has been at it a very long time and it shows. The shoes are exquisitely made. With all the over the top and exaggerated styles today, Manolos feel new to me again.

When I met Manolo in 2010 I was so charmed I tried to dress like him.

July 26, 2017

Alexa Chung's Debut at Bergdorf Goodman


Brit It girl, Alexa Chung, is now a full fledged designer with real estate at Bergdorf Goodman. After launching online in May, she kicked off her collection yesterday at Bergdorf. The swag was "Lonely Hearts Club" and I am not 100% sure, but Chung is often tongue and cheek. Her Instagram is downright cryptic. 

AlexaChung differs from other contemporary brands through it's lovely clash of masculine and feminine tailoring, wry humor, and slightly conservative taste. 

From the horse's mouth and her website: "My vision is to create clothes that people want to wear (yay!)... combining a Parisian chic with a New York edge, as well as the very British sense of humour."