Belgium’s famous painter and other anomalies

July 22, 2014
Raf Simons Mens SS 2015

Ceci ne pas Raf Simons Men’s SS 2015!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Might be Giants showed the world how much fun there is in Belgium.

Now I’ve been to Brussels I can confirm it’s true!

Lunching in the Hotel Metropole, I was surprised by door codes being the same for Hommes ou Femmes!  Mentioning this to a French speaking sharply dressed woman, I was told that this is the sort of thing the French are always saying is typically Belgian!

Was I seeing the springs of Surrealism at its roots?

Next day in the Magritte museum we heard that modern painters, including one or two James Ensors, would be found in the “Old Masters” rooms! I recounted the Metropole story to the British ex-pat on the desk and she agreed that there was something bizarre, rather Belgique, and similar to the door code oddness, in this curating arrangement.

The French can make as much comedy hay out of Belgian culture as they like! In the comic book museum, ‘Centre de Bande Dessine, each caption is written in the most exquisite version of four languages. My mobile phone was handed in within moments of losing it  and we learned that, instead of backwards-looking educational methods, graphic texts are used to teach reading across the age ranges.

In recent times this small country has produced the two most spell-binding, innovative, Fashion designers since Mori, Yamamoto, Miyake and Kawakubo.

Martin Margiela, who is about to put out a uni-sex cologne, uses the Art and influences of his country to help us wear our intellectual hearts on our sleeves.

Raf Simons has moved the worlds of music and apparel so subtly together we are already in the night club when we view his collections.

So three cheers for They Might Be Giants for putting my delight to music.

 

Artisanal 2011 by Maison Martin Margiela.

Artisanal 2011 by Maison Martin Margiela.

 

 

Gathering Moss…

May 5, 2014

Jayne Sheridan:

Is the ‘Business of Fashion’ a Moss conservative detractor? The last time they mentioned her was in Sept 2013, saying she had returned to her ‘first extracurricular activity’ – her design liaison with ‘Topshop.’ So far no boost from BoF for her Spring 2014 launch.

Originally posted on What would Roland Barthes say?:

For Harrods and House of Fraser in Grazia

For Harrods and House of Fraser in Grazia

Match made in Britain

Match made in Britain

A debate on Kate Moss stirs strange passions.  Young women either love or, a few conservative detractors, hate her.  British ‘Vogue’ in May is ecstatic over the continuing success of our British Fashion models, whether from the landed gentry or the street.

Moss, featured on the cover, is placed with other contemporary model successes and the long-running story of the Brits as a ‘punk nation!’

Writer Chloe Fox says, “we’re constantly challenging notions of beauty. Kate Phelan, the stylist and ‘Vogue’ contributing editor believes, “Our cultural heritage is hugely influential. We constantly challenge the norm and the fashion industry wants to harness that spirit.”

Kate Moss has hit the zeitgeist over decades, a heroin waif in the eighties, the face of London in the 1990s, high street sensation Topshop, and currently for Kering’s wild boy, Alexander McQueen.

A…

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Still lives and long lost footage

March 29, 2014

Jayne Sheridan:

The shoestring straps on the miniscule black dress and the high-heeled above-the-ankles boots in ‘Vanity Fair’s’ current Chanel ad make think of Deauville, ‘Boy’ Capel, Audrey Tatou, Ballet Russes and Stravinsky. How do they do it?

Originally posted on What would Roland Barthes say?:

So vulnerable - so not Chanel.

So vulnerable – so not Chanel.

In Woody Allen’s ‘Stardust Memories’ there’s a scene with a besotted fan saying, to a successful movie director, that his after-shave gives her a Proustian-rush.  When she asks what it’s called he replies, Proustian Rush!

Maybe you had to be there, but it makes the point that a perfume has the power to stir significant memories and evoke emotions.

Once a scent is established and carries a label’s essence it’s important that the associations from the Fashion house are continued in promoting its myths and legends. The Wertheimers who still run the House of Chanel are usually brilliant at this*

However Coco Chanel’s life and works left a legacy, which continues as the most successful Fashion label in the world. Images from her original inspirations are traced in every new collection by Karl Lagerfeld and his super talented team.

Marilyn Monroe’s short…

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The Nursery Slopes

March 9, 2014

MythologiesFairy TalesLucky children in a school near Hebden Bridge will be having their imaginations stirred when their Year One teacher shows them beans, painted with poster colours, which have been dropped by Jack after escaping from the giant.

I suppose my equivalent is having ordered Barthes ‘Mythologies,’ in French.  All my First Year students are going to read it,  I hope, in English.  A French student and I will try to find some ever more subtle nuances, in the words, by comparing notes.

As Barthes said, “We must not forget that an object is the best messenger of a world above that of nature: one can easily see in an object at once a perfection and an absence of origin, a closure and a brilliance, a transformation of life into matter (matter is much more magical than life), and in a word a silence which belongs to the realm of fairy-tales.”

The cover for the French version has the 1960s Dessus on it and so I can direct you to this page:

Forget the broomstick for London Fashion Week!

February 16, 2014

DevilIssieThe last time I saw Toby Howarth it was Hallow’een.  The seven years old ingenuous angel asked, “Haven’t you come on your broomstick?’ It wasn’t difficult to guess the sort of thing his aunt and mother had been saying about me!

I’m superstitious about wearing black when visiting children, so I expect he thinks I’m at least a white witch!

Because I’m going to see him again, en route from London, I’ll be clad in shades of blue from head to toe.  I did plan on wearing ‘Le Casual de Marithe Francois Girbaud’ in gris et noir for the Burberry A/W show in Kensington Gardens.

Must try to get to Sassoon’s on  way to the 2pm Fashion bash.  I need to have a look for the Anne et Valentin ‘Objet 3′ spex now necessary for the little blue-stockinged teacher rather than the post-Chanel, Parisienne, fashion writer!

If Christopher Bailey spots me at the show, in close-up, maybe his next collection will be the look this strange little narcissist can adopt whether as witch, blue-stocking or fairy godmother in glasses.

Rushing off to Dorset means I’ll miss the Isabella Blow at Somerset House but here she is, above left, in a scene from ‘FASHION MEDIA PROMOTION  the new black magic,’  with another wonderful maverick Anna Piaggi! I will fantasise a meeting with them on the train!

SUCH FUN!

December 8, 2013

Do any of us have enough ‘fun’?

The last time we can be sure we were glimpsing the idea of fun’s potential seems to have been the 1960s.  So now the word is the super signifier for that decade.

Used by Barbara Hulanicki on her ‘Desert Island Discs,’ by Miranda Hart’s fictional mother, often in interviews with Mary Quant; it expresses the possibility of freedom  and pleasure.

Fizzing with the excitements left over from the take-up of Modernism, in the 1950s, by the 60s for the first time in history the young had money to spend.  Quant, Hulanicki, et al were there waiting for their Art School educations to liberalise the rest and so we began to spend every night, ‘out’!

The moment when it was possible to be having the most fun is surely when Modernism morphed into to its ironic younger sister, the multifaceted, ducking, dodging, diving, diva, post-Modernism.

The revolutionary, tone-setting, Biba brought in well-designed clothes and accessories for a new object-of-desire-hungry demographic.

Brighton Art college graduate Fashion illustrator Barbara Hulanicki opened a mail order clothing company with her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon.  Their Postal Boutique was overwhelmed with orders for a sleeveless gingham shift dress featured in the ‘Daily Mirror.’

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Vivien Leigh – role model or victim figure?

October 15, 2013
Heroines from novels with green eyes.

Heroines from novels with green eyes.

Separating Vivien Leigh from  Scarlett O’Hara is almost impossible.

When she took on the role of the Pulitzer prize winning American Civil War heroine in ‘Gone with the Wind,‘ in 1937, she became the most viewed, the most famous actress of the 20th century.

In 1999 I was teaching in 6th forms in Yorkshire, and studying with Antony Easthope in Manchester.

Even so, one day, I caught Judy Finnegan and Richard Madeley on ‘This Morning.’ They were reviewing either the whole of the last century, or maybe it was just Cinema!

A viewer phoned in from around Cornwall.  She said Scarlett O’Hara was ‘powerful’ first and then ‘beautiful,’secondly.  So I had a Feminist role model to write about for a study on Film!

More surprising than this was the so called ‘confession’ from Richard.  He said he had carried a photograph of Leigh/Scarlett in his pocket ever since seeing ‘Gone with the Wind’ 20 years earlier!

‘Scarlett O’Hara and the post-bellum New Look’ became a chapter in ‘Fashion, Media, Promotion.’ I learned that the ‘post-war’ Latin tag usually referred to the American Civil War.  So people like my daughter, Sally, and my partner, Simon, thought I was better informed than in reality!  I chose it to go with the post WW2, Christian Dior, 1947 full-skirted sensation!

The V&A held a celebration of the ‘Golden Age of Couture’ in 2007.  There I discovered the tiny waist fetish and the massive audiences following Scarlett were part of the revival of Paris after WW2.  I also found actual connections between Vivien Leigh and Christian Dior.

Now I’m IT! On Wednesday 13th November at 1pm, in the Hochhauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre, I’m giving a lunchtime talk!  Here’s the listing from the V&A site!

Vivien Leigh – role model or victim figure?

‘LUNCHTIME LECTURE: David Selznick’s, ‘I’ll never recover from that first look,’ gives us a clue to Vivien Leigh’s stage-management of her initial meeting with important producer of ‘Gone with the Wind’, the 20th century’s most watched movie.

Her co-stars thought her ‘blind ambition’ cost her too much, and laid the plot for further exploitation of her enigmatic beauty.

A hundred years since her birth, Jayne Sheridan tells her story of brilliance and despair.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/whatson/event/2875/lunchtime-lecture-vivien-leigh-role-model-or-victim-figure-4246/

Shopping and partly shopping!

September 24, 2013
Petite Robe Noire Guerlain Party in Paris

Petite Robe Noire Guerlain Party in Paris

‘Cuddle Up’

I’m just about in control!  But last week the urge to own sensational things overwhelmed me.  Not because my senses or my emotions were running away, but because successful creative people were selling me dreams. I always review Burberry. Christopher Bailey is a friend of our university and a truly caring, creative designer.  His use of music is sensitive,  of the moment;  making Burberry Prorsum the most ‘must-hear!’

So I want to know what everyone else is saying about him. Reading Cathy Horyn’s review of the Burberry S/S 2014 show in the New York Times – ‘separates, the new super-soft double-faced cashmere coats in pastels and neutrals, the cardigans and the proposal of a semi-transparent lace skirt’ nyti.ms/15y4AJU

Then I found myself being irresistibly directed to ‘Upon Reflection, Anne Fontaine’s Feminine Touch’ nyti.ms/15uJY54 

As the director of ‘Coco Avant Chanel’ her work is essential viewing for me.  There she is in the New York Times demonstrating how she would not be without her mirrored compact lipstick in ‘Grenade’ by Guerlain!  It’s key to her success, she seems to be saying!

It was meant to be an interview about her latest movie ‘Adore!’  I had to have the lipstick!   pinterest.com/pin/4130652155  How many other ‘Coco Avant Chanel’ fans rushed out or to Paypal to join the party?

Through Fashion, perfume and jewels, rather than anything more practical,  we believe we can lead lives of love, romance and glamour.  And of course, we can!?

Every time I open up the intriguing little compact and apply the enchantingly scented stick to my lips I’m transported to the idyllic worlds of blue trains, Shalimar, Paris and the chicest little black dress on the catwalk.

More Audrey Hepburn than Bridget Jones – for Burberry babes off to the office!

September 16, 2013
A transparent vinyl jacket embellished with light-reflecting crystals. Cut with a clean silhouette, the design features hand-applied gemstone motifs in a geometric placement.

A transparent vinyl jacket embellished with light-reflecting crystals.

WATCHING Anna Wintour’s arrival to the black-cloaked coven of Fashion’s wizards and witches wonder if Christopher Bailey had stage-managed this contrast to his S/S14 show of  light, lacey, palest lilacs, peaches, and hybrid roses imaginable?

Counted among the Cartiers, the Tiffanys, the Armanis of World Fashion, for Burberry, there was no need to re-work images, or ethos, or make connections to officers in the trenches for this London Fashion Week!

Models appeared in jolly embroidered peach and pink with a grey slender belts.  The soft wool overcoat, thrown over filmy lace, is  four inches below the knee, slightly curved from the shoulders to the hem, in cream, white any number of delicious pastels.  Mortitia  Addams would be appalled!

Looking like elegant maiden aunts in wonderful perpendicular shoes everyone walked to acoustic guitar Nashville strains, surprising  choice for European post-Sloane rangers. Have cohorts of trust fund babies joined the working classes? Is the label set on more Audrey Hepburn and less Bridget Jones?

Applique blossoms,  a bit Gucci’s Autumn 2012 buttons, attached to a clear acrylic jacket, over cream short sleeved silk and a coral pencil skirt, the shape de jour, were echoed in a rose petals-falling finale.

This year the clothes are the story, rather than the dramatic reveal as darkness rolled back to show Hyde Park’s massive greenery in September 2012. Today we had Autumn’s own natural light and shimmering shades  to harmonise with looks for a returning summer.

Tired of London? – Not me!

September 14, 2013

IN town, on Tuesday, heard Audrey Hepburn’s son, Luca Dotti  speak of his family life with the broadcaster, Gianluca Longo, at the V&A. We celebrated the publication of the book ‘Audrey in Rome’, containing snapshots of Hepburn during the three decades she lived in the Italian city.

So far London Fashion Week is thrilling me, more than usual.  The clothes, the looks, the colours are Modern, again.  Not in a Givenchy, Quant way, but now more reliant on cut and drape for drama than since the 1970s.

Will see how Burberry fits into the scene  and let you know if Christopher Bailey is able to suggest the epaulettes  yet catch the moment?  I really do care. Have an unending faith in the Fashion system.  It’s a marvel.

The women who led UNICEF with her own younger son, Luca Dotti, in their garden in Rome.

The woman who led UNICEF with her own younger son, Luca Dotti, in their garden in Rome.


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