Saturday, April 30, 2011

London Cowling**

In the 1970s my mother bought me a cowl-neck sweater.  I hated it. 

Ever since then, whenever the fashion world has swooned over cowls, I have sneered, as I truly have not liked them, not one little floppy, frumpy bit.

But then: what of Pippa Middleton's Sarah Burton-designed dress with a deep, prominent cowl neck?

I absolutely love it.

**With apologies to The Clash.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Separated at Birth?**

The delightful new Middleton coat of arms:

and Princess Beatrice's wedding fascinator:

**With props to the late, great Spy magazine's feature.

More to the Point: McQueen Details on Kate Middleton's Wedding Dress?

Once I had taken in the lace sleeves and smart plunging neckline of the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress, I became wildly curious about the lines of the skirt. 

The skirt itself is all about curves, as it billows very gently from the waist, but then, there's a wonderfully whimsical, McQueen touch, to my eye, as fabric that's gathered in back--a mini bustle?--peeks out from either side in subtle points.

Oh yes: I did think of those pointy McQueen shoulders:

as well as a certain Lady's "bone" structure.

Here is a close-up of the detail:

Kate Middleton's Graceful Dress

Even though the necklines couldn't be more different, I thought that the new Duchess of Cambridge's elegant, feminine wedding dress echoed that of Grace Kelly, another "commoner" who married a prince.

Just lovely.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coat of Charms

Why, yes: I do like how this pretty blue ribbon tied in a bow acorns adorns Kate Middleton's newly commissioned coat of arms. 

See you at 5 tomorrow?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interpret This!

The daffodils are blooming,

the grass is green,

and behind all these storm clouds,

there must be a silver lining . . .

or wildly cheerful Prada wedges.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's the Easter Bulldog, Encore une Fois!

My annual Easter Bulldog photo, taken by the savvy Bill Cunningham. 

Happy Easter, gentle readers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Harvey Faircloth: No Invisible Rabbit

Do you know the play "Harvey," which features an invisible rabbit?

Rabbits are all but invisible at our house this Easter weekend, and the name Harvey is rather prominent too, as I've been considering a dress (above) by the label Harvey Faircloth

Harvey Faircloth makes whimsical clothing, that can incorporate too many large buttons and general billowy-ness for my taste,

but this dress, with its mini capelet in back and wrap front, worn with a pair of very grown-up heels, could be just right.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Of Bonnets and Bunny Ears: Fascinatoring!

Love this New Yorker cover by Maira Kalman for Easter weekend.

My only suggestion: substitute a fascinator a la Kate Middleton for the (gloriously) outrageous Easter bonnet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bridal Blossoms? The Royal Hair

Gentle readers will doubtless know that the internet has been sprouting all sorts of speculation about whether Kate Middleton will wear a tiara or--gasp!-- flowers in her hair on her wedding day.

These flowers, should they be worn, will probably not be a nostalgic nod to the daisy wreathes worn by Flower Children, but may be spun sugar confections, a la cake couture.  Hmmm.

There are, of course, other kinds of flowers and ways to wear them in one's hair.  Maybe one of these will be the winning design:

Kate's sister-in-law-to-be wore flowers in her hair for her second wedding.  I do not think that there is the slightest chance that Kate will hoe this row.

And the Pre-Raphaelite look is too Pre.  Kate is definitely Post.

Frida'a flowers always looked beautiful.  But they are too associated with her iconography for a royal bride.

Chanel's paper flower headdresses are showstoppers, though this one is a tad too Verushka:

Oh, OK: nothing could be *too* Verushka.

Another view: beautiful, but awkward for the balcony kiss.

Do gentle readers have a preference?  Tiara or flowers?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Project Alabama and Morgane Le Fay

When reading NYT's Thursday Styles yesterday, I lingered over one fact: Morgane Le Fay was the new design director of Project Alabama.

Morgane Le Fay (see above) is a favorite design label of mine. It's primarly designed by Liliana Casabal, who's known for her ethereal, floaty, assymetrical, knotty dreses as well as her architecturally interesting outerwear. I try to visit her shop in Soho (Is it there any more?  Something tells me it's gone . . .) when I go to the city. 

NB:  The lovely designer herself emailed to say that the Soho shop is indeed there.  I am very glad and will visit this summer encore une fois. 

Project Alabama was the brainchild of Natalie Chanin. She employed seamstresses in Alabama to handmake pieces that involved traditional stitchwork, like rough-hewn applique or quilt-inspired topstitching. Each piece was collectible.

 [Circa 2005, when Natalie Chanin was in charge.]

(But then, when production was outsourced to China and India, Chanin left and started another label, Alabama Chanin, to her specifications.)

[Natalie and a model; Alabama Chanin was a finalist in the Vogue CFDA/Fashion Fund awards.]

I thought it was rather curious that Morgane Le Fay would be directing Project Alabama, as their aesthetic is quite different (light v. heavy, for instance).

And so today I found a correction in the NYT: Charlotte Greenough is the new creative director of Project Alabama and will reinvent the label as a more moderately priced brand. Plus, she has designed for Morgane Le Fay, so perhaps we may expect a winning blend of homespun and ethereal.

[This is the new Project Alabama.]

Except that, alas, the clothes continue not to be "spun" at "home."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Louboutin Shoes Are *Made to Measure*

These shoes by Christian Louboutin are indeed witty, but they also (unironically?) comment on the tyranny of the tape. 

For in some cultures, the size of one's foot *does* matter.  The most obvious reference may be the antiquated practice of foot-binding, but I have also heard modern young women in North America talk about how they want to squeeze their feet into a size 6 shoe because 7 or--heaven forbid--8 sounds too large.

When I was a teen, I wore 6.5-7 shoes, because that's what my mother wore and I somehow assumed that girls and mothers wore the same size.  Very foolish, I know.

But then I learned that 8-8.5 is my size, and I couldn't imagine looking back, suffering to fit into a smaller shoe size, not because it looked good, but because it sounded good.  And what is "good," anyway?

I'd like to think that the tape measures on these Louboutins are meant to celebrate size, not tattle, or remind women of the ever-present and impossible standards of bodily measurement, but I'm not so sure.

**Shoes discovered on the website of fabric designer / sewist extraordinaire Anna Maria Horner, who also shares some choice words about them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Mystery of the Familiar Fabric

My 8-year-old daughter has been devouring the Nancy Drew mysteries (she has six left to read in the entire series), so I was happy to come upon my own mystery today.

I visited the lovely Shrimpton Couture Blog, to enjoy the author's
commentary on and vision of vintage clothes, but found an enticing clue as well.

This image, you see, caught my eye. The photo is of a Ziegfeld model in the 1930s, but where on earth had I seen the fabric recently?  It looked soooo familiar.

Then an epiphany struck: I see that fabric every single morning when I pack my 11-year-old daughter's lunch, which she carries in a Vera Bradley Poppy Fields lunch bag.

Immediately clicking on the VB website, I was pleased to see that the company credited the influence of the dress (although it cites a different decade).

The text begins: "Inspired by a classic 1940s dress . . ."

As a scholar, I have to say that the company's research efforts impressed me.

And what fun now to think of Ziegfeld every time I pack my daughter's lunch!  Maybe I should sneak in a marabou feather for garnish. . .

McQueen at the Met

Did you ever see such a Bedlington

I can't wait to see it in person, along with these other extraordinary pieces,

at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's forthcoming show, "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,"

which runs from May 4 through July 31.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wayne Clark at The Bay

What is it about famous Canadians and the name "Wayne"?

There's Wayne Gretzky,* Wayne's World, and I was just reminded of Wayne Clark, a designer that Kate Betts @KateBetts mentioned during her generous and enthusiastic day of Tweeting her visit to The Room at The Bay, Toronto's fabled clothes shop.

She likens his designs to Oscar de le Renta, and indeed he does make cocktail and evening wear that's very ladylike and formal. Above is a rather noir-ish look by Clark.

Thanks, Ms. Betts, for promoting a Canadian designer.

*If you'd like to read about the time I, umm, followed Wayne Gretzky and his then-fiancee Janet Jones around a Canadian store, click here.

Pringle: Dressing Sheep to Chic*

Over a decade ago, when I visited Toronto one winter, I took a walk on Bloor (akin to NYC's 5th Avenue), and discovered, somewhere in the vicinity of Holt Renfrew, a very proper, old world clothes shop. 

Staffed by older gentlemen in suits and ladies in kitten heels, this shop sold designers that my Scottish grandmother would have approved of: Aquascutum.  Burberry.  Pringle.

I bought an oatmeal-colored Pringle sweater that day and was reminded of that pleasure upon seeing Pringle's latest ads for their woolen wear.

Here, via New York Magazine, which found these images via Design Scene, is Pringle's campaign:

I think that the toque, far above, is very sheep--I mean--chic.

*My (more obscure?) pun comes from that great old song "(dancing) Cheek to Cheek."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Royal Wedding Planners: At Liberty?

Lest gentle readers fear that I have Lego of my senses, let me reassure you that I am not at all obsessed with the upcoming royal wedding.

However, in a story recently Tweeted by NYT journalist David Carr (@carr2n), there are some individuals in this country who are organizing their April 29 schedules particularly carefully.

Me, I plan to rise, commes toujours, about 6:15, drive my children to school (or maybe Mr. C will take that shift :-) ), and watch a little bit of the wedding festivities on my computer, provided they're available online.

If I want to get truly decadent, then I might have my morning coffee rest on one of these Liberty of London coasters (detail above):

while enjoying a crumpet spread with jam from one of these Liberty trays:

Are gentle readers planning anything special with their April 29 schedules?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Liberty of London Kicks from Nike and Sperry

April showers brings . . . floral kicks, of course!

I've coveted a pair of Liberty-covered Nikes since their first collaboration, but never could seem to find a pair stateside.

These beautiful examples will all be available at Liberty soon.

But on this side of the pond, and in just about every major city in the States, these Sperry Top-Siders are prancing about in Nordstroms!  (Sperry has also covered a deck shoe in Liberty, but those are, to my mind, best to avoid.)

Would any gentle readers like their garden to grow in this manner?