If there's any good excuse for a new party dress, it's New Year's Eve. Once the holidays wind down--after the family get-togethers are over and the kitchen is finally clean--the last day of the year arrives with no obligation other than to celebrate the year that's passed. It's a true celebration, and maybe that's why ladies trend toward the brightest, shiniest, most fun components of their wardrobes. Of course, there are different kinds of New Year's Eve parties, and several go-to fashion sites have recommendations at the ready. The Fashion Spot has a few ideas for formal and casual events, WhoWhatWear helps you transform pants and skirts into party-worthy ensembles--New York Times style reporter Eric Wilson even offers dressing advice from a few drag queens: "I think feeling your very best is knowing that you’re comfortable in everything you’re wearing," said DJ Lina Bradford. "Having something too tight or that you’re not feeling is a no-no." Because around here, we feel color, I've culled 10 bright cocktail dresses to get your wardrobe creativity flowing. My advice? Find something you'd want to wear again, doll it up with a pile of bangles or a big crystal necklace, and have a great time.
[Gryphon, Rag & Bone; http://www.shoplesnouvelles.com]
Once a month, we'll be taking a look at fashion in film--characters, colors and costume design. Working together to create a believable persona, in the movies, the clothes often quite literally make the man. Or, in the case of today's character, they make the 18th-century queen-to-be.
Director Sofia Coppola's 2006 Marie Antoinette is loosely based on the real life of its title character, the Archduchess of Austria who married Louis-Auguste, the Dauphin of France, in 1770 at the age of 14. In history and in the film, the marriage isn't consummated--a sticking point in the story. Instead, Marie (portrayed by Kirsten Dunst), who has little political sway and finds herself frustrated with life at court, throws herself into more frivolous pleasures--clothing, gambling and makeup. When the king of France passes in 1774, the Dauphin (portrayed by Jason Schwartzman) becomes king--making Marie Antoinette the new queen.
Another inspirational set of fashion illustrations is on display, this time at London's Design Museum. "Drawing Fashion," featuring works from the collection of Joelie Chariau, founder of Germany's Galerie Bartsch & Chariau, is the first exhibition in London to be devoted to fashion drawing over the last 100 years. The drawings showcase 20th- and 21st-century looks sketched by illustrators such as Erté, Lepape, Antonio, René Gruau and Mats Gustafson for houses including Chanel, Dior, Comme des Garçons, Viktor & Rolf, Lacroix, and Alexander McQueen.
[Lingerie, Antonio for Elle France, 1966; At Home, Antonio for New York Times Magazine, 1967]
"I have always responded to drawing as strongly as to finished paintings as they show us the working of the artist's mind so clearly, and I have always loved fashion drawing for the same reason--plus the fact that the good ones show us the way the designer's mind also works," said the show's curator, fashion historian Colin McDowell. "True fashion drawing has a very special role in fashion creativity--something rather forgotten today by many of the slick illustrators who have a certain skill but nothing at all to say with it. A good drawing illuminates the clothes not only for the public but frequently for the fashion designer himself. The works on show at the Design Museum have been carefully selected to show fashion drawings not as mindless exercises in empty technique but as works of art in their own right."
In 2005, Chris Lindland started the San Francisco-based company Cordarounds with a simple pair of corduroy pants. But before you write that off as totally boring, consider that these pants come with a little innovation--a horizontal wale. A range of earth tones from the outside, the pants also boast patterned waistband and pocket linings that peek out with bright whimsy. It's all a little nod to the way a hipster can make the fusty cool again, and it's marketed with a serious dose of appropriate irony ("Horizontal corduroy lowers drag," "Drastically lower your crotch heat index," etc.).
A little crude? Yeah. But Cordarounds have caught on, and Lindland's business has blossomed. Now, under the moniker Betabrand, Cordarounds have been joined by a full lineup of limited-edition pants, jackets, accessories and the Black Sheep Sweater, made from the undyed wool of black sheep.
These days, you'd have to live under a rock to miss the Mad Men fashion discussion. Costume designer Janie Bryant--who combines vintage and hand-created period clothing for the characters of the 1960s advertising world--has been credited with changing the face of late-2000s fashion, and it isn't a stretch. Recent runways have featured full skirts and nipped waists and shifts that celebrate women's curves, shedding modern light on dressing up.
But for all the focus on buttoned-up, ladylike splendor, there's at least one woman highlighting the fun of Mad Men's fashion, too.
Freelance illustrator and designer Dyna Moe (depicted in the self-portrait on the right) started inking kitschy Mad Men illustrations when actor Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane on the show, asked Moe to create a Christmas card. She decided to mock the advertising illustration of the era, and pressed on with it, illustrating a scene from every episode and posting them all on Flickr. (She was also behind the popular Mad Men Yourself avatar). She drew for three seasons, and last month, Penguin culled Moe's illustrations, along with era-related features, for Mad Men: The Illustrated World.
This year, legendary milliner Stephen Jones will celebrate the 30th anniversary of his design house, Stephen Jones Millinery. To commemorate the event, Antwerp's Mode Museum is hosting "Stephen Jones & The Accent of Fashion," a comprehensive exhibition of Jones' hats and a look at his career, which has included partnerships with Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons, John Galliano, Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs.
[Clockwise from top left: KY, 2010; Blase, 2004; Northern Lights, 2002; The Cabin, 2008]
Seattle designer Chrissy Wai-Ching has a truly global background. With Puerto Rican, Chinese and English roots and time spent living in international locales--including Hong Kong and Nice, France--it's no wonder the shapes and colors of the world's varied natural landscapes have become her biggest design influence.
Wai-Ching stops by COLOURlovers today to chat about those influences, the general aesthetic and the processes that go into the bridal wear, apparel and accessories of her line, Wai-Ching Clothing.
I've always been interested in fiber arts, I have many artists in my family, and my Puerto Rican grandmother is an avid quilter. I've made clothing for myself since high school, and went on to study Textile Technology and Fashion Design in Hong Kong.
Once a month, we'll be taking a look at fashion in film--characters, colors and costume design. Working together to create a believable persona, in the movies, the clothes often quite literally make the man. In the case of today's characters, they make the group of teens that became pop-culture icons in the mid-1990s.
Loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma, Clueless (1995) centers on the ditzy but well-meaning Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a Beverly Hills teen. After successfully playing matchmaker to two nerdy teachers in the hopes of getting each of them to let go of their stringent grading standards, Cher embarks on more good deeds--mainly teaming up with her best friend Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash) to give new student Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy) a style and popularity makeover. Of course, trouble follows soon after--Cher's own popularity, love life and driving test go awry, leaving her feeling totally clueless.
Cher wasn't clueless, however, when it came to fashion, thanks to the vision of writer and director Amy Heckerling and costume designer Mona May (also known for her work in 2007's Enchanted).
"When Amy wrote Clueless, the current fashion was grunge," May told Hint Fashion Magazine in an August 2010 article. "Her vision for the film was to show the rich, upscale high school girls of Beverly Hills. The costumes were to be like characters in the film. ... The clothes needed to be very bright and fun. I wanted the girls to be girls again, with over-the-knee stockings and Mary Jane shoes. We wanted to change the current look that was on the street and show teens how to have fun with clothes."
Of course, the clothes also read like a lesson in hip designers:
When it comes to matters of fashion here at COLOURlovers, member palettes and patterns are inspired by all sorts of items in a wardrobe--dresses, neckties, pants, handbags--the list goes on. But a few items see a little more love than the rest: suits, shirts, shoes and--as we'll see today--sweaters.
Whether called sweaters, jumpers, sweatshirts, pullovers, cardigans, jerseys or guernseys, sweaters have been an enduring aspect of popular fashion since the early 20th century. Of course, fishermen's sweaters--jerseys and guernseys--date to the 15th century, and athletes wore plenty of practical sweaters in the 19th century. But our idea of the everyday sweater had its start in American sportswear designs of the 1930s and 1940s. And since then, though its been given some new shapes (the recently ubiquitous open wrap cardigan, for one), the sweater has remained largely the same, both in commercial ideology and in popularity. A 1971 TIME magazine article on the sweater, at least, feels much like what a similar article would today:
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is over. In the U.S., Labor Day has passed, school has started, the sun is setting sooner and we're getting ready to tuck away our white clothes and shoes until spring--well, at least that's what we've been told to do.
A suggested ban on white clothing and shoes after Labor Day, the first Monday of September, has been a rule of etiquette since the early 20th century. But is it really all that important by today's standards? Fashion--and even an etiquette expert or two--doesn't think so. In recent seasons, white has become an all-year hue. And a few other formerly fatal color combinations--brown and black, black and navy--have moved from fashion don't to fashion can-do territory, too.
"For centuries, wearing white in the summer was simply a way to stay cool--like changing your dinner menu or putting slipcovers on the furniture," wrote TIME's Laura Fitzpatrick. In the early 1900s, clothing covered a lot more of the body than it does now, so summer whites, with their reflective qualities, made sense. But beyond practicality, white had a following in high society that may have led to the no-white rule.
"In the early 20th century, white was the uniform of choice for Americans well-to-do enough to decamp from their city digs to warmer climes for months at a time: light summer clothing provided a pleasing contrast to drabber urban life," Fitzpatrick wrote." Labor Day, celebrated in the U.S. on the first Monday of September, marked the traditional end of summer; the well-heeled vacationers would stow their summer duds and dust off their heavier, darker-colored fall clothing."
Of course, this theory is hotly contested by some--Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, told Fitzpatrick not every rule of etiquette has to be attributed to "snobbery." But whether the rule was meant to be snobby or not, the fashion world hasn't been ruled by it. And perhaps that's why etiquette queen Emily Post says it's OK to throw this rule out with the last of the summer barbecue leftovers.
After being considered a faux pas for so long, the black-and-brown combination--which has been given the go-ahead--is actually a fresh one. According to the Ralph Lauren Style Guide: "When properly executed, the combination of black and brown is a very modern and sophisticated look that’s instantly elegant. Start by adding touches of brown via accessories: the hint of a leather belt beneath a black cardigan or suede boots under slim-fitting pants."
For women, Ladies' Home Journal says, "Pair rich brown wool trousers with a black turtleneck, or wear black shoes and hose with your brown skirt. For evening, try a brown cocktail dress instead of a black one." And a great tip for mixing-and-matching your shoes and handbags?" Try a deep red, hunter green or soft tan bag, or go for shoes in similar shades, all of which will work with your brown and black staples."
Navy and black make for another recently edgy combination--good news for navy lovers who may have had trouble matching shades of blue, or black lovers who have the same trouble matching blacks. This combination works a lot like black and brown in execution--try pairing a navy dress with black tights and shoes or skinny black pants with a navy blazer for a runway-worthy look.
Black shoes are also a good choice with a navy suit, though some advise a deep brown pair--GQ Style Guy Glenn O'Brien says to pick a pair at least as dark as your suit. But he also said, "Not long ago, I read a little manifesto in the catalog of the talented potter Jonathan Adler that stated, among other things: 'We believe colors can't clash.' I am coming to this view more and more."
Looks like others are, too.