Monday, April 20, 2015

Selvedge and New Lace (Miss C in the "Ageless" Issue)

I'm excited to have two pieces in Selvedge's "ageless" issue (#64), which was just published in London.

My first piece is a look at lace--in Chloe, Kenzo, Roberto Cavalli, and Bora Aksu.

The second is a "design file" piece about 101-year-old Italian designer Micol Fontana, who inspired the issue. She and her sisters designed the clothes for Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa, as well as Anita Ekberg's iconic black strapless dress for the fountain scene in La Dolce Vita.

And then I'm delighted to featured on the contributors' page, wearing a favourite straw hat.

It reminds me, just a bit, of this one:

But I'm even more delighted (and surprised) to be pictured directly below textile designer, knitter, quilt designer, and author Kaffe Fassett!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jane Eyre and the Other Mr. R (Eric Ravilious)

Updated below.

The minute I saw this painting by Eric Ravilious (1939; thank you, Selvedge Magazine!), I fell in love with it.

The image anticipates the carriage (2011) within which Jane Eyre rides to a bittersweet freedom from the deceit of Thornfield Hall.

I love the upholstery, the burnished wood interior, the bleached landscape. Oh, to be transported there immediately!

But I'd be running to this Mr. R.

P.S. I had a nagging feeling that I'd seen this image before; it just felt familiar. A quick internet search showed that I had--and even commented on it back in 2009. Good to see that my taste is consistent, even if my memory isn't.

And here's the book to which I was referring in the comments section; for Mater. When I worked in New York for a wonderful publishing company, we distributed Thames and Hudson books, and I scooped up this one, not knowing how it would be relevant some 17 years later.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mood Indigo: Dosa, J Crew, and an 80s Flashback Photo

In the mid 1980s, when I worked for Sarah Clothes on a hiatus from university, one of my favourite items from that designer was an indigo, collarless shirt. Actually, I didn't like it when I bought it, because the indigo was a deep, midnight blue, and the shirt felt stiff.  But after months of wearing and washing, the shirt faded to a soft blue in both colour and feel. and I loved it. Eventually I wore the shirt to shreds, quite literally, and still miss its easy presence in my wardrobe.

When I saw this dress for Dosa's Spring/summer 2015 collection, I was immediately brought back to that glorious mood indigo. This dress has the simplest, most utilitarian lines, and I love it for that. I'd wear it with a patterned canvas sneaker (how I wish I had known about last spring's Liberty of London Strawberry Thief edition of Vans before they sold out in my size) and run all over town.

Perhaps indigo is the technique du saison, because J Crew is singing the blues as well, with its "faded adire" print. I like this one too, but balk at the obviously too-sheer sweater front.The beauty of indigo is that it shouldn't need a cami underneath; its glorious colors and patterns should speak for themselves.

And speaking for myself, tonight I opened my precious Crabtree and Evelyn wooden treasure chest (a display item I purchased in the 1980s and in which I store all my photos from that era) and found this mug shot of myself, taken old-school style--holding a camera backward and hoping for the best (but coming up with glare). But even with that glaring flaw, there's the indigo shirt, mid fade . . .

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Pattern Perfect: Valentino (and Miss C) in Selvedge 63

I don't think there could be anything more lovely than a Selvedge magazine cover. And when that cover is devoted to pattern, its charm multiplies.

This issue contains my story on Valentino's spring/summer collection, which is full of gorgeously rustic patterns--a nod to the Grand Tour taken by European aristocrats. I see a postmodern Lucy Honeychurch (who took her own Grand Tour in A Room with a View) in these clothes and, truth be told, I'd like to see myself in them too!

My story includes a quote from the always spot-on Maryam Montague, designer and curator at M Montague and proprietor of Peacock Pavillions, who knows a thing or two about pattern (have you seen her stencilled walls and staircases?).

My favourite dress (gown) for now is the one on the far left, the multi-tiered ankle-grazing beauty. Its perfectly mismatched patterns (two to each tier!) recall table linens and dining al fresco. I could eat it up.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Agnes Towler and Her Perfect Work Uniform

Instead of sleeping in this weekend, I've awakened both mornings at 6 a.m. so I could have the lit Christmas tree--and the television--all to myself.

You see, I'm about three-quarters of the way through Mr Selfridge, and am absolutely smitten.  Even the store itself--and I truly dislike shopping--holds an allure, with its beautifully lit glass cases and displays. I'm even craving some Yardley, which I haven't thought about since I was a wee lass.

 There are some lovely clothes shown in the series and, to me, the loveliest of all are worn in Season Two by Agnes Towler. I absolutely love her long, fitted black vest-dresses over sumptuously embroidered or patterned shirts. 

It's a perfect uniform, and I plan to carry my lipstick-red Liberty-embossed Ianthe notebook around in the new year, as Miss Towler does a similar book.

Perhaps an even more engaging accessory than the book, though, is Henri Le Clair and his pine-green velvet jacket. (My French teacher from Paris [in boarding school] always wore velvet jackets by Le Chateau.)

 At the moment, Mr. LeClair is languishing in jail on charges of theft from the United States. I remember during Season One when he gave Agnes that salmon scarf and said he'd pay for it the next day. That may have been a harbinger of things to come.  But going against the nap of that famous pine-green velvet, it's too strong to say I'm pining for him, but I do hope that he and Agnes can strike a tableau in the future, even if it's to congratulate her at her wedding to Victor.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Miss Cavendish Talks with Jenny King, Master Embroiderer, for Selvedge

One of my favorite stories I've written is about Jenny King, an extraordinary embroiderer whose collaborations with Mary Katrantzou, Vivienne Westwood and Erdem have been transforming the ways in which embroidery is used in fashion.

My interview and article will appear in the January/February Selvedge, and here's a sneak peek!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Of Chintz, Stella McCartney, and Adrienne Vittadini

I used to audition for certain musicals with "Consider Yourself," from Oliver!, sometimes in full Cockney:

Consider yourself at home
Consider yourself part of the furniture . . .

Those lines came racing back today while I paged through an "auld" magazine as my nine-year-old lad got a fauxhawk for basketball season.

Why? because I saw a print from Stella McCartney's Resort 2013 collection that I absolutely adored--we might call it genteelly faded floral wallpaper. I've loved that chintz-y look since I was an undergrad.

Back then, somehow I managed to qualify for a Holt Renfrew charge card (why, HR, when my only employment was teaching aerobics a few mights a week?) and one of my prized purchases was an Adrienne Vittadini wallpaper-y floral linen dress on cream. It had a scoop neck, short sleeves, fabric belt with buckle, and a proper tulip skirt.

Rachel Williams in Vittadini ad, 1985
That summer I was working as a proofreader at a fancy schmancy law firm in Toronto and, as I was riding the elevator to my floor, one of the younger, handsome male lawyers remarked that his parents used to have a chesterfield just like my dress.  His bon mots didn't go over how he would have liked--seriously, is that the way to introduce one's self in good favour?--so he invited me to lunch to make up for it.

A week or so later we went to Dan Aykroyd's restaurant downtown, which was, if I recall, a grungy hole in the wall (albeit a large hole) and I learned quickly that well-dressed young lawyers with fancy jobs may have excellent taste in summer student employees, but that was it.

I reupholstered my impression of the lawyer luncher but haven't yet tired of wallpaper-y floral fabrics.