I just picked up the latest vintage alteration from my tailor. This YSL silk satin fuchsia blouse was a lucky find that had never been worn but was several sizes too big. It needed to be taken in and the shoulders had to be recut. Inspired by vintage Vogue Patterns of Yves Saint Laurent creations, I asked my tailor to create a thinner necktie from the wide necktie fabric. The after photo, I think, shows the difference good tailoring can make in updating a vintage garment and keeping it wearable for many more years.
So happy to watch a new Azzedine Alaia documentary by the stylist Joe McKenna. The short video, which has been released online, is intimately shot with footage of the designer in his showroom and studio. What is so inspiring about Alaia is the fact that he has never veered from making clothes the old-fashioned way: using fitting models and his own designs and patterns. The admiration of designer Nicolas Ghesquiere and critics Suzy Menkes and Cathy Horyn makes clear why Alaia is a master craftsman still working successfully outside of the fashion system. You can enjoy the video here: https://www.joesfilm.com
If you’re looking for inspiration this holiday season, it’s worth checking out the latest Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum on view until January 8, 2017. The show will travel on to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from May 6-August 27, 2017. But if you can’t make it to the museum, the exhibition catalogue by Rizzoli offers a multidimensional look behind the scenes of Yves Saint Laurent. After looking through my copy yesterday, I think the book would make a great gift for yourself or for the fashion lover in your life. Highlights include many previously unseen documents from the Fondation Pierre Bergé and Saint Laurent’s maison de couture or paper doll collection fabricated out of cut paper when the designer was only a boy. Click here for a look at the current exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.
Back from my tailor, a vintage Yves Saint Laurent blouse. I think the before and after photos really demonstrate that proper fit matters.
Although I live in Los Angeles, a city in which outerwear is more of an accessory than a requisite item, in my closet there are many coats. There are also many blazers. What there was not, until exactly six days ago, was a bomber jacket. After a Saturday car ride over the hill to Burbank I came home with a vintage 90s leather bomber jacket in raspberry red. Maybe it is just a coincidence that the bomber is back in fashion, but I don’t know how I managed to do without it for all these years. Originally worn by pilots in World War I, and later redesigned by Leslie Irvin who set up a manufacturing company in 1926 supplying the Royal Air Force during World War II, the bomber’s appeal spans many decades. Pairing equally well with skirts, dresses, and high waisted pants it’s both a functional and stylish wardrobe basic. Here are some of my favorite contemporary interpretations of this classic.
Hedi Slimane showcased Part I of his Fall 2016 Ready-to-Wear show for Saint Laurent on Wednesday night at the historic Palladium here in Los Angeles. As a vintage lover, I had resisted the rebranding of the fashion house when he took over as creative director in 2012. But this show stole my heart. The looks were lush and sophisticated and modernly elegant. An abjuration of both normcore and the fashion dictates of good taste, Slimane’s Part I showing convincingly recalled the best of Yves Saint Laurent’s 70s tailoring and silhouette. Yet the strength of the collection lies in how it turns YSL’s iconic pieces on their head, through such modern touches as sharp leather jackets worn with silk brocade skirts, velvet tuxedo jackets layered over sequin tops, and the high/low combination of strict houndstooth menswear suiting with metallic leather boots. What’s most compelling to me about this kind of dressing is the offhanded nature of juxtaposing your Sunday best with your weekend casual. Shows like this get the imagination churning and always inspire me, when I’m confronted with what to wear, to think a bit differently about pairings.
Not since Gucci created the Jackie O bag in admiration of Jackie Onassis’s style, has Gucci been this exciting a brand to watch. Under the new creative direction of Alessandro Michele, the Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear collection featured a mash up of venerable Gucci looks. The thing I pay attention to in runway shows is originality of design, and so I was skeptical when I first saw the recycled colors and prints on the runway. But ever a lover of vintage fashion, I quickly warmed to the collection. Michele’s reinterpretation and iteration of Gucci’s jet set past stands as a modern homage to that classic period. For those of us who cling to old definitions of style, the new Gucci is a spur to action, challenging our conception of contemporary elegance. In a world of fast fashion and endless product, the thing at stake now is individual style; it is only fitting that Gucci would once again be the fashion house to make the case for urbane chic.
A heat wave has descended on Los Angeles recently, just in time for fall. Despite observing the thermostat readings of high nineties and low one hundreds, I have been deliberating cold weather necessities like ankle boots and wool sweaters. I’ve also continued settling into my obsession with prints and have decided to make it my fall wardrobe aim to mix prints and texture as much as possible. I not only like the challenge inherent in figuring out what prints work well together, but the enlightened state of mind. You can find yourself being both playful and imaginative while still looking polished, no matter the reality of the weather.
This weekend I am making preparations for a two week summer vacation in Greece – departure is scheduled for Wednesday, and I am judiciously considering what clothes to bring. When I first thought about packing for the trip, I looked through 1970s photographs of Jackie Onassis in Greece. The photos inspire with a wavy haired Jackie, dressed stylishly for dinner in the city or equally voguish, clad in flip-flops and a poet shirt over bikini bottoms on Skorpios. Though I will not be going to the Ionian islands but to Athens and Folegandros, a small island in the Aegean Sea, my ambition is to have the same fashionable ease and comfort as Jackie.
Glamorous images of the jet set aside, from what I can tell, there are two kinds of travelers: the doers and the planners. Those belonging to the first group pack a suitcase without giving the job much thought, simply pulling things from their wardrobe they would like to have along on the trip. This takes steady nerves and a general disregard for end results, as you may arrive at your destination only to realize you haven’t brought the appropriate clothes. The second group is the one to which I belong: a planner, I compile a list of the outfits I will need for each day’s activities. My tally includes accessories such as jewelry, bags, and scarves and takes into account the necessity for suitable shoes. This is perhaps the greatest burden of a planner: leaving behind your favorite high-heeled shoes. For if you fall into the second category, you are no doubt also a realist, and know from experience that you will never wear all the beautiful shoes you love while traveling.
And so, it comes down to the essentials for a Greek holiday involving some days in the city and some days at the beach. My list entails a swimsuit, floral pull-on pants for a cover-up, flip flops, a sunhat, an elegant pair of strappy wedge sandals for dinner, two pairs of lightweight sneakers for touring around, plenty of semi-sheer cotton shirts, four pairs of dressy pants, and a cotton summer jacket for evenings. Accessories are limited to three necklaces, one bracelet, two handbags – one for daytime, one for dinner. It’s important to note that all the shirts pair easily with the pants and can be seamlessly mixed and matched to create several distinct outfits. (Planners avoid checking luggage, preferring to travel light).
Though organized in my packing, I am open to the unexpected which travel brings us into contact with, immersing myself and seeing with fresh eyes all that is unfamiliar. As Emily Dickinson, I too, dwell in possibility and spreading wide my narrow Hands/To gather Paradise-
I’ve always loved Victorian tailoring and style: long sweeping silhouettes, black, scarlet, velvet, leather, and seam details. My appreciation for the look may be in large part due to my other love: the nineteenth century novel. Though Goth’s origins can be found in the Victorian cult of mourning, the look has been transformed over the decades by various designers into what I would categorize as a glamorous or excessive minimalism. Here are some of my favorite contemporary interpretations that take this tailoring from traditional to modern vintage chic.