Wednesday, September 29, 2010

She Wore Blue Velvet

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I "employed" a tailor when I was an undergraduate.  That sounds a tad grand, but I did ask a lovely woman, Teruko, to make me a dress.

If I recall, I had seen a dress in Elle, by Georgio Sant'Angelo, in yellow or orange (perhaps both?) modelled by Estelle Lefebure or Karen Mulder (perhaps both?) and loved it. 

It had a deep V, gathered/pleated , cross-over neckline. long, fitted sleeves, and a tulip skirt. 

It was a very eighties look.

And although the dress was surely modelled in jersey, I asked for it in velvet: blue velvet.  Obviously I hadn't studied textiles yet, because it didn't occur to me that velvet wouldn't be as drapey. 

Why blue velvet?  I had seen the film a year or so earlier. . . but don't think that it inspired me in that manner.

Anyway, Teruko made me the dress, and I loved it.  (Her shop was in the Glebe when I lived there.)

Above is a fall 2010 dress by Richard Nicoll.  It is, amusingly? annoyingly? clamped at the shoulder, but it does involve blue velvet in less of an eighties style.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Setting Sail: The Seymour / Brant Reconciliation and Figurehead Sale

I first posted this piece in April 2008 and again, in May 2009, when 
Stephanie Seymour and her husband announced their divorce.  I've added new material at the beginning to reflect the most recent news of their reconciliation and sale of one copy of Stephanie's "figurehead."

There's been news that Stephanie Seymour and her estranged husband Peter Brant have reconciled.  But part of Seymour will continue to venture out into the world: the artist's proof of a sculpture commissioned by her husband and executed by Maurizio Cattelan is for sale.
If the Seymour/Brant break-up and reconciliation was messy, ditto for the figurehead.  Dealer Philippe Segalot noted that the sculpture arrived with its hair in knots.

I remember that Ms. Seymour herself styled the hair on her own figurehead; this time celebrity hairstylist Frederic Fekkai (who famously did not cut my hair in 1992) took the honors.

I hope that this "trophy wife" finds a good home, one where she can remain, comfortably.

Stephanie Seymour, as a figurehead

*  *  * 

Growing up on the sea, I’ve always been sympathetic to the siren’s call. I love tall ships, with their multi-level sails, and, especially, I’m mad for figureheads.

I prefer antique figureheads, naturally, because there’s something romantic about wind-blown, ocean-sprayed figureheads who are in various genteel stages of beautiful decay.

After salt water has splashed and splashed, the drapes of this figurehead’s garment have become more etched, more poetic.

This figurehead is a wonderful discovery—she’s Jenny Lind, the Swedish nightingale, and you can read more about her here. But aside from her historical significance, she’s special because she reminds me of Madame Gres—known for her gorgeous draping and braiding, as here.

And Madame knew a thing or two about feathers, which are stunning but not practical for a figurehead; soggy feathers don’t wear well.

About five years ago there was a mild stir in the art/fashion world about a contemporary figurehead: do you remember when Maurizio Cattelan sculpted a bust (or figurehead) of Stephanie Seymour to be mounted on the wall in her home?

On one hand, Seymour became the literal embodiment of Peter Brant’s “trophy wife,” in a gallery with his other hunting trophies, but I like to think her of a figurehead, pointing the way as her home and family sail their course. The sculpture/figurehead below (which is to be mounted on a wall), is by Maurizio Cattelan.

It looks "harder" than the real person, who could, to continue the nautical metaphor, be aptly described as a siren. . .

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Remembrance of Pinks Past

When I recall my undergrad days, I pause in bemuse-
ment when I remember that I employed not only a personal tailor, but a personal jewelry designer as well. 

For I was hardly an heiress to a Molson fortune, but an earnest young English major devoted to the pursuit of beauty through multiple media. 

I remember that the first youthful female English professor I ever had made an impression with her English eccentric style and her wedding band: a Cartier tri-colored trinity "rolling" band.

I was smitten with the play among the colors and the overlaps of the three bands, so I asked a jewelry designer to please make me one.  But I asked for only one color of gold, and must not have explained myself clearly, because he made me a single band that sort of looked wavy.  Being a polite Canadian lass, I bought it but never wore it.

The memory of the rose gold lingers, though, and it can only be serendipitious that this week's NYT had a pretty mix of pinks to thrill me.  Below is a rose gold key from Tiffany. 

And this dress from Suno recalls an infant gown of mine: thick, stiff, ribbed cotton embellished with tiny rosettes.  It may not be exact, but it takes me back, via an emotional connection.

Finally, the dress above, a detail from a museum piece, conjures up princess gowns past and future.  My bespoke prom dress sleeve was not unlike this, though a smoky blue and a series of discs joined by tiny beads. 

So maybe it was utterly different but no matter: the recollected emotion is strong, whether this memory gatherer is tranquil or at play.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Canadian (At)tire**

Have been asked to walk in a fashion show celebrating international style.

I plan to conjure Josephine Peary, "first lady of the Arctic," who looked utterly chic in her parka.

But I'll also be going "Canadian," with tall black boots ( Mountie-inspired?), skinny black pants tucked in, a First-Nations-inspired colorful tassel scarf, and my parka with a nipped-in waist.

**If the title to this post is confusing, it riffs on another Canadian staple--Canadian Tire: the country's go-to shop for tires.  Every good Canadian knows that snow tires are part of a well-dressed car's winter wardrobe.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harper's Bazaar: The Downer Issue

Once, about 12 years ago now, when I was sitting in a salon waiting for my appointment, I began paging through a major men's magazine (as they say) to pass the time. 

When I came upon an article written by an ex about his exes, my heart began to race. 

Not of out nostalgic fondness, but from the horror of potentially being written about, without the opportunity to provide balancing quotes.**

It's a disconcerting thing, to read about one's self in a magazine (especially if the story is unexpected), or even, as I've just learned, to read about someone you know in an entirely different context.

What on earth am I talking about?  The most recent Harper's Bazaar, of course, also known by me as its "downer" issue.  (Cue Rachel Dratch):

From Drew Barrymore's downturned eyes and lips on the subscribers' cover through the interviewer's questions about her on-again-off-again mate Justin Long,

Cheer up!

through Galt Niederhoffer's abbreviated story of splitting from her partner (who was once my smart and gentle student, ages ago, when I taught elsewhere) to the distressing attempt at painting Balthazar and Rosetta Getty's marriage in a forgive-and-forgetty manner,

this issue's editorial features were punctuated by sadness.

If I want to wallow in writerly gloom, I'll just pull out a PMLA

**BTW, I was referenced, but obliquely.  This both relieved the private me and annoyed the diva me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

VPL by Victoria Bartlett

I ran a couple of miles this afternoon and am tired of running shoes.

Hence a visit to Barneys for some unsensible shoes (senseless shoes?).  These are VPL by Victoria Bartlett.

I like how the suede looks like velvet.  That makes good sense to me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rose and Gold: Stacy Lomman's Pretty Dress


Designer/blogger Stacy Lomman staged a fashion show today and ever since I saw this dress (the perfect shade of rosy pink with gold-dot trompe l'oeil bustier detailing) I've been dreaming about it . . .

And just to give you a hint of what a delightful person Stacy is, she sent me these two images of this unabashedly pretty dress to post.

Watch more about Stacy's innovative method of supporting her show on this HuffPost video.

J Crew and Silver Tear

It's clear that wood-enhanced vehicles are the big new thing in advertis-

Consider this Sunday's T magazine, for instance.  Just a few pages after Tommy Hilfiger's Woody spread comes this double truck from J Crew.

These two pages are a virtual buffet of convergence in advertising, with all the enticing props and URLs, and even though it's tucked away in the left corner, the woody Silver Tear trailer stands out.

Like J. Crew's catalogue mailing address, the Silver Tear is located in Roanoke, Virginia.  And yes: I like it (though I'd need a trio of them to accommodate my family).

What's next to be woodified?  My bets are on luggage, maybe handbags.  One could have an inside-out frame bag.

Two bottom images from the Silver Tear website

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ralph LauREN, Lady gaGA, and the VMAs

What do Ralph Lauren and Lady Gaga have in common?

Nobody knows how to pronounce their names.

Last night, while winding down, I turned on the telly and was swept up by the opening of the second showing of the Video Music Awards.  I was grateful to have heard Chelsea Handler introduced, because I could easily have mistaken her for Kate - Eight.

But that was the least of my consternation.  Throughout the 20-or-so minutes that I watched, Lady Gaga's name was inconsistently pronounced.  And it was pronounced frequently, as she was referenced in Ms. Handler's opening remarks, in the first award category, and again, as she won the first award.

So, Little Monsters, especially those who have seen the Lady in concert, is it . . .





I would like to put a halt to this Ralph lauRENification of Lady G, if necessary.

And by the way, she did look smashing in her Bedlingtons!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Victoria Beckham's Cadillac Pink

It's a well-known fact that the paint colors used for cars were also used on guitars--to stunning, collectable effect.

Victoria Beckham has followed that principle in her latest collection with the introduction of "Cadillac pink."  I first saw it on Kate Betts' Twitpic page (also to the right) and like both the dress and the color very much.

The other photo of a cadillac pink dress making the rounds on the mainstream media is this one:

My bets are on the first image, though, as this second one has a grumpy, Herve Leger-ish feel without the bandages.

Beckham continues her product namesake theme by looking to her pink gold Rolex to inspire her shoe color.  This, however, seems t.a.c.k.y. to me, as I like to call watches watches, not by their brand names. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Bee in My . . .

Love a messy beehive. 

It's kind of a blonde Amy Winehouse look . . .

Building Character

Have you seen the Alvin Ailey Company perform?  I've been fortunate enough to see the touring company perform, both in Canada and in the United States, and love the emotion that propels each dancer's move.

I'm well into dance rehearsals myself for our weekend show (5 perfs!) and am feeling a little Ailey--OK: ailing--too: my new character shoes have led to a subtle but unpleasant knee discomfort. 

But I shan't dwell on such things now.

Rather, there is this image of Linda Celeste Sims performing "Cry" at the White House to contemplate.

And happily, my bum knee does not provoke that emotion, but watching this glorious dancer surely does.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Scottish Slouchy Boots

Continuing with my Scottish theme, every so often I check in to Helen Bateman's online shop, where she sells shoes and boots.

Her line is quite proper, with sturdy ladylike shoes that my elegant grandmother would have liked (I often imagine HRH in some of the pumps), but there is often a shoe that catches and holds my attention.

These boots, for instance, would be ideal for stalking about on a moor or they could easily be transplanted to a more urban setting.  And I like the subtle slouchy element.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mad, Plaid, and Dangerous to Know

It is no secret that this part Scottish lass loves tartan.  Here are some new favorites:

Commes des Garcons coat, at right:

Another view, below:

The stylishly bulbous padding on the coat above reminds me of the initial description of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, how his overgrown muscularity has him bursting at the seams of his genteel riding clothes. Of course, that image was meant to portray him as a well dressed brute, whereas these images simply evoke being well dressed.

Back to my favorites.  This Carolina Herrera dress (love the Flamenco/Scottish mix):

and these (orange!) Bettye Muller shoes:

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Vogue even uses a literary caption for this image: "A Modest Proposal." 

But there's nothing Swiftian about this beautiful photo. 

Although the young lady *is* of Cavendish descent, on her mother's side . . .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chronically Overdressed

School has begun, and the weather is hot, humid, and ex-
hausting, especially when carrying large books around.  With this particularly uncomfortable weather, I experienced an equally uncomfortable question: what do I wear to class?

This is not a question that I ask myself often, probably because I haven't been reading fuss-budgety clothing stories in our rag of the trade: The Chronicle of Higher Education.  And that is a good thing because every time I do read a story on scholarly dressing, I become so annoyed that I want to deconstruct it, as well as my closet, stat.

The most recent article on clothing and--oy vey--professorial *hotness* was brought to my attention by the smart scholars and dressers chez In Professorial Fashion.

The "classic" and original take on academic clothing (in the words of the Chronicle's Ms. Mentor) is this piece, also from the Chronicle.  In it, Mr. Mentor notes that professors should err on the side of frumpiness and former enfant terrible, now cranky senior terrible Camille Pagila thinks that professors who demonstrate their personal style--even their personality--engage in a "corruption of education."

But seriously, presenting a drab physical shell doesn't consequently shine a brighter light on the ideas that one puts forth.

If this prof owned the above Louis Vuitton ensemble (I like how it's shown sideways), I would gladly wear it to class, perhaps one on the Bronte sisters or Edith Wharton.  NY Mag labels it "relaxed up top" (above the cut line) and a "party down below." 

I don't want to--and don't think we need to--toe the dingy party line that the Chronicle has been espousing, especially when there are so many glorious shoes to be worn.