Spot The Resemblance: Swans and Rebels* Edition

Again with the Black Swan things, but surely I can't be the only person who thinks that this beautiful poster, below:

looks a lot like
the symbol of the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars? I find it hilarious, given that Natalie Portman actually had a starring role in the (dreadful) prequels.

*misbegotten twist on the title of one of my favourite books of all time. Do read it if you haven't already!


Goodbye, Carine

I can't believe Carine Roitfeld is actually quitting Vogue Paris! On one hand, her logic in favour of going out while she's still on top, and when she's completed a nice round number of years- ten- as its editor, can't be argued with (she'll leave once she's done with work on the March 2011 issue). On the other, I'll miss the frequent cheek and oddly impeccable naughtiness she brought to Vogue Paris*, and whoever succeeds her (Emmanuelle Alt?) will have some major shoes to fill.

Ah, well. From one humble fashion blogger to the woman who is practically the icon of the "Fashion Insiders As Style Inspiration" movement, good luck for the future.

*I will say it though, I'm not a fan of photographs like this one.

On Girls, Gloves And The Art Of René Gruau

...though I suppose it's not quite right to call them girls, given that René Gruau never drew female figures without a strong hint of slink and sophistication, and 'womanly' is very much the appropriate adjective for the general vibe of his illustrations (see another one in this post)
I've always been more than a little in love with the boldness and flourish of his work, combined with the sparse composition- his work (for Jacques Fath, Dior and others) was never short of impact.
If anyone takes a close look at these or larger images, you'll see a spiky star-shape above Gruau's signature in several of his illustrations- after an inkblot fell on his work and he doodled it into the shape of a star, he liked it so much that he adopted it as a motif.



I'm aware that, as per pop culture, the hair really should be white with a black streak (e.g. Daphne Guinness), but really, how was I expected to resist?


Spot The Similarity: The Bear Edition

Perhaps the styling for SM2's Winter 2010 collection is a touch more muted than what it reminds me of, and the model is taller and less tubby, but be that as it may, blue duffle coats like the one below:
will always remind me of this:
Paddington Bear doll, c. 1980

(incidentally, SM2's is also one of the most charmingly styled and shot winter collections I've seen this season, with the added benefit of the fact that most of the outfits actually look like they fall on the right side of warm and comfortable- more about that some other time, and check it out here.)


Star Power a.k.a. Another Edition of Spot the Resemblance

There's been a bit of talk at The Fashion Spot about the similarities between Miu Miu S/S 2011 and Miu Miu S/S 08. The resemblance is there, no doubt*, but one particular recurring detail made me think Miuccia Prada might also have been referencing a very slightly older collection: Spring/Summer 2006. I mean, look at the print on these dresses:

and then, look at Miu Miu S/S 2011, below.
For what it's worth, I liked the original (S/S 06) iteration better, though I'm quite taken with the fact that the S/S 11 star prints look a little like explosions in comic books.

images from style.com and The Fashion Spot's Miu Miu S/S 2011 thread.

*I also thought S/S 08 looked like it had inspired some aspects of S/S 2010- those collars! And now, the illustrations of harlequins from that season have turned into illustrations of a snake and a swan in this one..


Coming Up: Brighton Rock

While the world spent the last week gasping over Black Swan, this humble blog finds itself much more excited by the imminent release of a film that manages the double feat of being based on one of my favourite books and being set, via what looks like judicious adaptation, in one of my favourite eras, fashion-wise (three words: Mods and Rockers).

The updated adaptation isn't due for general release for a while yet, but the trailer looks promising- Sam Riley might be over a decade older than Pinkie in the book, but is baby-faced enough for that not to bother me too much (also, I remember how good he was in Control). And even though I do love a sharply-dressed bit of celluloid featuring Crombie coats, parkas and vintage scooters, the fact that the costume designers exercised some restraint and didn't go all-out with the 60s costume on Rose (Andrea Riseborough) is something that makes a great deal of sense to anyone who has read the book- she is a bit naïve, not very worldly-wise, and it does make sense that she isn't enough of a fashion plate to dress in head-to-toe Mary Quant that early in the decade.
And now, for stills:
Mods out in full force. I love the souped-up rides and the parkas..
And the impeccable wardrobe of what looks like every man in this film- this still looks like it could well be from the 1930s in which the book was originally set, instead of the 1964 of this adaptation.
Helen Mirren proves that it isn't just youth making clothes look pretty here- the clothes are that good, and I'm more than a little floored by the combination of red hair, lipstick and coat.


Scarfing Art, Ascher-Style

I've never been much of a girl for silk scarves, but in the wake of Hermès going on a mission to give its own silk squares an image makeover, my interest was piqued enough to go digging around the Internet for more info on scarves that served as something other than a clichéd feature in most people's image of Parisians.

The story of Ascher's artist scarves (as they're known) began during World War II, when Lida and Zika Ascher of Ascher Textiles began asking leading artists of the day to collaborate with them on the design of a series of silk scarves. This, as a concept, isn't exactly a new one: one could imagine that scarves provide artists with more flexibility to work in two dimensions than, say, a dress, and art/fashion collaborations weren't unknown (e.g. Dali and Schiaparelli, Chanel and Cocteau, Dali illustrating covers for Vogue...) . What is staggering, however, is the roll call of some of the 20th century's greatest artists who designed limited-edition (probably by necessity, since finding materials for the line in post-war London in the era of rationing can't have been easy) scarves for Ascher, which went on sale in 1947. The artists, you ask? Take a deep breath first: Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Feliks Topolski, Cecil Beaton, Jean Cocteau, Zao Wou Ki, Graham Sutherland, and Henri Matisse, among others.

Eighteen of the scarves were reissued in different colourways earlier this year in limited editions (which is how they came to the attention of the wider public recently), and even though they're staggeringly expensive, I'd still recommend taking a look- here, because that is how fabulous they are.

all pictures from ascherstudios.com. Images, top to bottom, 1. La Mer, by Alexander Calder 2. Le Jour et la Nuit by Oscar Dominguez 3. Nocturne, by Jean Denis Malcles 4. Landscape Fantasy, by Andre Beaurepaire 5. London 1944, by Feliks Topolski 6. Black Trellis, by Graham Sutherland 7. Visage, by Jean Cocteau 8. Echarpe no. 1, by Henri Matisse 9. Paysage Bleu by Zao Wou Ki 10. Contrabandier by Pedro Flores


Of Guts And Gore(y)

This is probably the oddest post I've ever written, but any Edward Gorey fans among the miniscule number that read this, should definitely have a look over here. (it's not that often that vintage fur coats acquired and worn by Edward Gorey himself over the course of three decades- from 1950 to the 1980s- are put up for auction by his estate, as will happen on the 9th of December this year).

Given the fact that the 14 coats in question are described as 'well taken care of' and belonged to the great Gorey himself- in fact, coat no 10 in the lineup at the link is the spitting photographic image of the coat on the gent in the above picture- I reckon they won't go cheap. But fur isn't completely evil here- one of the beneficiaries of the auction proceeds is the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, which works to benefit animals.

If you're still squeamish about fur and/or don't have the money to spend on Gorey memorabilia, there are other things getting auctioned that weren't once alive and which you can view at the pre-auction exhibition on the 4th and 6th-8th of December at Bloomsbury Auctions in New York- namely, Edward Gorey's illustrating pen, a couple of hand-carved figurines and- deep breath here- around 50 signed editions of his books.

image copyright of Edward Gorey


For Which I Should Be Faceplanting

Scene from February Some Year, a.k.a. How To Embarrass Yourself Completely Without Having A Wardrobe Malfunction, A Nervous Breakdown In Public, or even Being Seen By Anyone You Know:

1. Re-watch The Hairy Bird (or whatever title your DVD says it's got) for the 1000th time.

2. Begin craving prissy school-uniform-like clothing as a consequence, especially the pleated skirts.

3. Go on an mission to find and buy pleated skirts to wear.

4. Fail miserably because the local clothing store buyers are probably secret school uniform fetishists at heart, as a result of which every pleated skirt on the rails of a commercial clothing store is far too short to prevent knicker-flashing if one leans down to tie a loose shoelace, and resembles slutwear more than schoolwear. ( also, any actual schoolgirl in one of these would be sent straight home to change before being allowed over the threshold of a classroom)

4. Give up in disgust.

5. Go home to visit parents, and notice that there is a girls' school next to their house.

6. A girls' school with pleated-skirt-featuring school uniforms! (the skirts in question blessedly go all the way to the knee, just like in the picture above. Unlike the one in the picture above, however, they are worn by girls, not boys).

7. Unfortunately, they're actual school uniforms. Only to be worn by their students.

8. You are not a student of the school in question. You are also too old - much too old- to be a student. 20-something years old, to be exact.

9. That doesn't stop you.They are nice, eminently prim knee-length things with a very handy pocket in the side.

10. Prepare a long-winded cover story for the tailors to explain why a non-student wants a school skirt (because no one's going to believe the truth, let's face it), involving an absent younger sister- I have none- needing a new uniform, and handing over measurements and payment with preferably minimal fuss and no investigation.

11. Rehearse the story a couple of times, for good measure.

13. Have the plan fall flat on its face once the tailor asks, without even allowing you to get to the sister story, which class you are in, and therefore need a uniform skirt for.

14. Much to your own horror, play along with the mistake, but not without major redface and the expectation that your nose is growing at a speed to beat Pinnochio's. It's one thing to finagle a uniform skirt out of the tailors under false pretences, quite another to have to pretend to be an actual high schooler to get it.

15. Feel like an even bigger fraud when you actually get the (very reasonably priced, entirely innocuous-looking) skirt in your mitts a week later.

16. But since fashion has the collective memory span of a goldfish, turn completely shameless and wear it anyway.

image from www.tokyobopper.com


It's Not Really A 90s Revival

...until someone ties their sweater around their waist, stretched-out sleeves be damned (especially if, as in my case, those sleeves happened to be the sleeves of one's school cardigan).
image from fabsugar


The Artsy Fart Focus: Ronald Searle

I've never made a secret of the fact that I'm a huge fan of Ronald Searle's work, and St Trinian's in particular- the first post I did about it led to the words "stocking tops" becoming the top search leading people to this page. But despite how much people- self included- want to be the bloodthirsty, devious little (and adolescent) monsters who were the heroines of those books(and God knows, I like seeing girls wielding weapons and whacking their antagonists), the artist himself has never been as well appreciated as he should, IMO, be. Hence the cartoon above, which sums it up more or less perfectly.
So, onwards to the point of this post- the pictures.

"I'll just die, then you will be sorry."

Ronald Searle does a New Yorker cover! Just like one of my other favourites, Michael Sowa!

The spindly limbs and shambolic, chaotic lines of his characters' figures kept me hooked to his work even when it wasn't a set of cartoons about a pack of cheerfully weird, murder-happy schoolgirls (the younger they are, the more murderous they turn out to be).

I had to put the last two pictures above into this post- they are illustrations Searle drew as an accompaniment to an article by Peter Mayle (whose accounts of Provence, where he and Mr Searle both live, are among the best things I've ever read). For more, I suggest checking out ronaldsearle.blogspot.com, which is a tribute blog that is brilliant.


I dare anyone viewing this page to listen to the song above and not have immediate warm happies, no matter how uncool you think Oasis are (though I admit to bias, they were my first-ever favourite band).

photograph by Jill Furmanovsky from www.guardian.co.uk


Another Ad I Love

Yohji Yamamoto, AW 1998-99
Photographer: Nick Knight
Model: Susie Bick

Images like these make me wish Yohji could put out more ads for his main line, (yes, despite last year's bankruptcy) and not just Y-3. The PC police will probably go nuts about the cigarette, but the smoke swirls and louche, slouchy pose turn the starkness and elegance of the clothes into a combination that is nothing short of amazing to look at- not just a magazine advert for clothes.


R.I.P. Corinne Day (1962-2010)

I've just read the incredibly sad news that Corinne Day has passed away after a long struggle with brain cancer. As a longtime fan whose fashion sensibilities owe a lot to her images and the radical revision of the concept of beauty they brought about in the 90s, I can only say she will be immensely missed- it's even sadder considering she died so young.

image: fromDazedDigital

New Favourites

After a month of careful consideration to think it over, I'm pretty solid on the fact that this is indeed my new favourite image from the AW2010-11 ad campaigns (I mean, it's Zidane*. Modelling for a collection designed by Yohji- as if I needed more reasons to love Y-3).
And I must say, I rather enjoy the layering and the fact that the model- I still want to giggle a bit at that- is a slightly older man, even if he happens to be a celebrity.

*my first-ever football hero, 2006 World Cup final headbutt notwithstanding

image from kickette.com


Audrey Kawasaki

I'm no art critic, and when it comes to the work of one of my favourite artists of all time, the oft-cited references to her style being a mixture of Art Nouveau and shoujo manga are things I can't refute or outdo. But Audrey Kawasaki's astoundingly beautiful, surreal, eerie portraits of girls (and some boys) with heavily-lidded eyes and no worries about what a potentially prudish onlooker might think of them, are a treat for the opticals- make no mistake about that.

Octogirls (2006)

Dishonest Heart (2008)
It's hard to put my finger on just what it is that I love so much about Audrey's work- its beauty goes beyond the obvious, beyond the lines and the details, to the attitudes of her girls (and boys). The mere fact of prettiness isn't what makes them so appealing- the allure has something to do with these beautiful would-be innocents who really don't seem to care that much about what they should be like, being frequently charged with obvious undercurrents of things that are darker, deeper and not pretty at all. Erotica, grotesqueness and the alternate-universe atmosphere created in part by the grain and natural lines of the wood Audrey paints on, coexist in apparent, if somewhat uneasy, peace in each work. This is something that not everyone is comfortable seeing, if the odd spot of online criticism (absurd, IMO) claiming that her work encourages child pornography is anything to go by.

Linger (2008)

Hyakki Yakou (2009)
Doodles. No less lovely than her finished work..

Audrey's latest pieces, which were engraved wooden brooches designed by her, are on sale now- to those of you who like her work, I suggest getting yourself a brooch. And to those of you who can't buy it and aren't too familiar with her work, I suggest looking at Audrey's website or her livejournal, or following her on Twitter if that's what you like. As for lucky people who live in Melbourne or Sydney and are reading this, do visit Audrey's show at the Outre Gallery in either city in October. I'm only sorry I can't be there.

pictures taken from i-seldom-do.livejournal.com and audrey-kawasaki.com, used with the permission of the artist.


Boredom Speaks

It's an odd thing for a fashion blogger to say, but fashion has been boring me for a while. Given the extreme speed at which one set of collections follows another (Pre-Fall, Menswear and now Couture Week- how are the designers even breathing?) , I must admit to feeling mildly glutted and tired of it all (not that what I think actually matters to the people involved).

And bizarrely for a girl with zero interest in sport, it happens to be exactly the thing that has an iron grip on my brain at the moment, specifically in the form of football. Or maybe football just seems more special than fashion right now because the World Cup comes along once every four years as opposed to every other month, and Paul the Octopus doesn't do trend forecasts, only match forecasts. Is anyone else excited for the final?


Of Shocks and Context

At first sight, I reckon the jacket on the left is an unlikely candidate for being one of the most controversial garments of the 1990s, or for belonging to one of the most controversial collections of that decade. Sold on eBay a handful of years ago and photographed about as plainly as a piece of clothing can be, even the label wouldn't really give away much unless you happened to be (like me) a bit of a fashion geek. And nine out of ten people would probably think "what's the fuss?"The fuss in question might become slightly more apparent on seeing the picture below- the good garment in question takes its provenance from none other than Jean-Paul Gaultier's A/W 1993 collection, famously known as the Hasidic collection.
Contrary to what many people might think, it wasn't the act of putting clothes modelled on those of orthodox Jewish people on the runway that raised people's hackles- it was the fact that the clothes - traditionally worn by men- were being modelled by women. (women including Naomi Campbell, Nadja Auermann, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, among others). And given that cross-dressing is taboo to Hasidic Jews, it was considered a sacrilege that Jean-Paul Gaultier had encouraged exactly that. Hence, the furore.
On some level, mindless cultural appropriation by fashion (see: every time the so-called "tribal" or "ethnic" look swings around on a runway, or even keffiyehs a few years ago) makes me uncomfortable, partly because of the blind one-dimensional idiocy it's done with (both by designers and wearers- see: keffiyeh) and partly because of the connotations of someone's heritage and the aesthetics associated with it being a "trend"- which also means that it can be demode six months later. But this collection doesn't fall prey to that particular trap- the almost commonplace look of the clothes when considered individually (like the jacket in the topmost photograph) is a good lesson in how anything, in the right context, can be exotic or shocking- even the relatively familiar.
pictures from eBay, TFS and the New York Times.

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Fondest of upbeat music and brightly coloured sweets.