Sunday, December 14, 2014

Autumn Wine

Every dress I add to my wardrobe has its own story. The story usually begins with me scouring the web, flipping through a magazine, or perusing my favorite boutiques looking for love. Sometimes, love finds me. It would seem that beautiful frocks and I have a mutual love that is constantly bringing us together. This particular frock found me in the way of a selfie. 

My girlfriend Jackie was searching for a dress for a holiday party when she preceded to show me selfies of a few options she was mulling over. I scrolled past a couple before this one caught my attention. This very perfect autumn dress, a jersey knee length LANVIN number the color of Burgundy wine from Pre Fall 2013. On the hanger, the dress doesn't have much appeal, but on the body you can clearly see the detail of the gathering on the neckline and the amazing drape work that ALBER ELBAZ is known for. It has a belt that ties at the waist and a dolman sleeve. The love was radiating from the picture on her iPhone. Immediately I informed her that the dress and I were meant to be together and that well, I'd have to buy it. She graciously let me have the dress and opted for a navy blue dress instead. Thank you, Jackie. 

I paired this piece with my CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Mariniere sandals from Spring / Summer 2014. Being crafted of black and white python, these were not exactly what I would call inexpensive, but they were an excellent investment to my shoe collection. They serve as a neutral option whilst providing texture. The shoe takes its name from the classic French sailors striped smock. No doubt a reference to the shoes horizontal straps. 

These pictures were taken on a crisp autumn day in the gardens at Maymount Park, a beautiful place for a fashionable stroll. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

From the Fashion Library - Queen of Fashion What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

Whilst conducting research for my upcoming book about the deeply rich world of haute couture, the art of hand made custom fitted clothing, I came across Rose Bertin, an 18th century Parisian milliner and dressmaker. I learned that Bertin was Marie Antoinette's favorite stylist and is credited for bringing haute couture and Fashion to French culture. She helped outfit the monarch in the extravagant outfits and accouterment that would solidify the French queen's place in history as a Fashion icon.

Google soon led me to Caroline Weber's QUEEN OF FASHION WHAT MARIE ANTOINETTE WORE TO THE REVOLUTION. In this book Weber, professor of French literature and culture, teaches us the impact that the queen's controversial clothing choices had on politics and the general public. After arriving in France at the age of 14, Marie Antoinette was severely scrutinized in every aspect of her life. Being of Austrian descent and a woman, her voice was limited. Marie Antoinette found a way to speak with Fashion and since the world looked to Versailles for the latest trends, everyone listened. Whether wearing expensive silks or dressing in a muslim chemise the queen was always making a statement. Women of these times had to use what was available to assert their authority or at the least appearance of.

With the marriage arrangements, it was ingrained in MARIE ANTOINETTE the importance of her appearance and presentation; she understood that she could wield power and influence with her wardrobe choices. Louis XIV had already established a strong culture of Fashion used to mark status in France well before Marie Antoinette came to court. In Versailles, Fashion was law and serious business. This was a time when the color of your shoe or the sash on your coat dictated your life and your political allegiance. Much like printed slogan t shirts or styles of clothing associated with members of various social groups today. A lot of cultures today still have strict dress codes for women and what they mean. The power to control what you put on your body can easily be taken for granted, but is not lost to me. 

Early in her tenure at Versailles, the queen incorporated masculine styles that led to accusations of homosexuality. She often hosted fancy soirees were she wore elaborate ball gowns; she was accused of bankrupting the monarchy. When she turned to more simple fashions, she was accused of sexual corruption. (The consensus was that the loose muslin garments she wore allowed for easy access to breast and genitals. Obviously, women were using them for secret rendezvouses!) The aristocracy was concerned that if Fashion lines were blurred there would be no way to tell the royals from the commoners and so Marie Antoinette's more casual choices were viewed as disrespectful to French culture. Because Louis XVI did little to quell Marie Antoinette's spending, it would seem that she ruled him and thus France. In reality, the queen's wardrobe budget was negligible to the nation's total deficit that resulted in the downfall of the Bourbon monarchy that was the French Revolution.

The French entertained the theory that because women were so eager to copy the Queen's Fashion they were at risk to exhibit loose morals to be able to obtain the latest bonnet or bodice. For even when they hated her for her perceived indulgence and for being a notorious spendthrift, women still followed her fashionable lead. She started trends that captivated not only a nation, but a continent.

Was too much emphasis and scrutiny placed on what the QUEEN OF FASHION wore? Of course, but its not unlike modern celebrity branding. My daily news feed is dominated by what the latest pop singer wore to dinner the night before and strategically placed campaigns featuring a popular actor. Eighteenth century Fashion advertisements of clothed miniature dolls and printed pamphlets serve as precursors to the way we are influenced to shop and buy today. There is no doubt in my mind that if social media and the internet had existed during her reign, Marie Antoinette would have been the ultimate celebrity endorsement. 

It's more than unfortunate that Marie Antoinette's wardrobe was not saved and preserved for posterity. Only a few pieces survived the raid at the Tuileries of what was undoubtably a magnificent collection of frocks. From reading WEBER'S book, I gained a clear understanding of how France's affair with haute couture is intertwined with Marie Antoinette and the dresses she wore. It is by all accounts a brilliant review of this very important part of Fashion history.

In the end, she may have lost her head, but she never lost her style.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lulu Frost New York City Store Opening

On a unseasonably warm Tuesday night LULU FROST hosted the grand opening of their first retail store in New York City. Housed in an all white second floor loft, the space was filled with baubles and custom art work including a piece by one of my favorite Fashion artist, Donald "Drawbertson" Robertson. Decorated with fresh green moss and succulents, the studio smelled of balsam and grapefruit candles. As customary, there was plenty of fancy champagne and colorful number shaped cookies, but I, was there for the jewelry. Walking the store and inspecting the wares felt like sifting through a sunken treasure chest. There were just so many beautiful things... 

Lisa Salzer caught the design bug early on from her grandmother who was in the antique jewelry business. After college, she created LULU FROST, jewelry big on mixed metals and lots of sparkle. The majority of the collection is made in NYC and the company offers custom made options with vintage and antique pieces. I love the idea of creating one of a kind pieces that can be passed down. For me, collecting jewelry and accessories is all about the adventure and the memories they create. 

During the course of the evening, I was able to snag a few minutes of Salzer's time. We talked about the mossy decor and she told me her favorite collection was the fine jewelry line, LULU FROST CODE. Precious stones are paired with letters and numbers allowing one to build combinations that are significant to you. Salzer has provided a fashionable way for you to create your own story on your hands, around your neck, or in your ears. The possibilities are endless.