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 sleeevless gingham shift dress featureed in the ‘Daily Mirror.’ Enough Fashion and fun for the many!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fit for a queen!
Suzy Menkes and her sparky writing, don’t you just love her?
Currently saying, “As the fashion carousel spins ever faster, the concern is that, while the stream of newness never runs out, there’s going to be a good deal more crash and burn among designers in the future.”
Although she’s a complete oracle, I can’t help feeling she’s a bit over anxious at the moment.
It’s sweet Suzy’s concerned for the artistry and creativity of it all. But Industry, including Fashion, is not just about making people, who can afford the products, more democratic. It’s about providing ever more opportunities to create, innovate, and sell: making everyone part of the process.
What we are currently seeing is an inventive work-force keeping up with changing technologies. Sarah Burton, especially, as a woman designer is an example of democracy in progress. Trained alongside Alexander McQueen she’s able to keep his legacy going with her professional team, and their devoted followers, working with new chances to enchant us. If only Prince George had been a girl they’d have had the perfect collection to conjure with!
Tim Berners-Lee chose to name his universal computer platform, the ‘world wide web,‘ and opened up, more than just, the mathematically most enormous communications system. He involved us with feminine notions of weaving and webs!
We can no longer survive without connections, passing references, most importantly, irony. We need to know other things – the back story.
So to really enjoy the Audrey Hepburn Galaxy chocolate ad we have to be devoted fans of ‘Roman Holiday,’ (1953) ‘Sabrina’ (1954) and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). We should see the ‘Galaxy’ recreations as homage to William Wilder, Blake Edwards and their production teams.
Scenes with Vespa scooters, open air produce markets, immediately evoke Greg Peck’s life in ‘Roman Holiday’; the chauffeur and the open top car, the lives of the Larabee brothers in ‘Sabrina,’ the music, ‘Moon River’ – ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’
The ‘Framework’ crew worked tirelessly to recreate the actress’s smile, with a team of four hand-animating, carefully, posed expressions in every shot. Yet as CG VFX Supervisor, Simon French, explains: “It is amazing how unique and how recognisable a person’s smile is. When you see it in this detail, it really needs to look perfect.”
No film fan would think they had captured the spirit, the nuances, associated with the actress, but as a paid-for promotional vehicle it’s certainly absorbing.
And so, the clever team at ‘Framework,’ creating the Audrey Hepburn, ‘Galaxy’ ad, couldn’t help catching some of the star’s charisma to entice us to their shiny firmament. Yes, and of course, there’s a ‘but’ coming! What happened was that Marketing won out over Cinema Art for this technological miracle.
Why did they include, ‘Why have cotton, when you can have silk?’ No connections, whatsoever, with Hollywood or Hepburn! Separating Mars chocolate from competitors bars was unnecessary, here. Surely just having us identify with the the pleasure, the sophistication, the fun attached to Hepburn’s most successful movies is enough.
When I meet Luca Dotti at the V&A, in a celebration of his mother’s work, next week, it will not be a good idea to discuss all this Media muddle with him. So I’m back with the poets saying, ‘had we but world enough and time…..
IN Vienna’s streets there are no musicians. Just attractive girl students in brocade breeches and 18thC wigs, handing out leaflets on Mozart and the Strausses. Not even Richard, at that!
Playing lead roles in the creation of a city, Fashion shops draw on the identity of designers and promote emerging talent. It hasn’t happened in Vienna. The sharply dressed Viennese couple, photographed here, at Dusseldorf airport, were shopping for clothes in Italy.
Observing the conservative internationalism of Vienna’s shopping quarters it seems it’s the dirndl and the waltz which stops Vienna becoming a Fashion city. It’s trapped by its history.
In the plush red restaurant at Hotel Sacher there appears a couture dirndl in soft red wool, with broderie anglaise blouse, sported by slim, elegant, still blonde matron. ‘Wanderlust and Lipstick’ sells the whole kit, the Alpine coats, the edelweis motifs to absolutely everyone; worn for parties, weddings, national celebrations by all the young dudes!
Although Fashion is about status, money, and pleasure, in Austria’s capital, with its history of political upheaval and revolution, home of psychiatry and modern erotic art, there’s a more measured, less frenetic, approach to our seduction to shop.
With the ‘glittering’ German designer Phillip Plein, Mondial, COS, Musette, Girbaud and True Religion on view and on sale, script-writers hope that avant garde Fashion, represented by Dries van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, will be setting the scene alongside a ‘steady stream of young designers’.
Yet set up to please middle-aged, middle-brow tourists from home or abroad, not even Westwood’s post-modern ‘if only everyone wore the dirndl there’d be no ugliness!’ influence, on her protegee Lena Hoschek can halt the old world, ‘Austrian-ness’ celebrated everywhere. Hoschek’s clothes are probably not ironic enough.
Klimt does wonderful business in ties, scarves, trays and books outside the Imperial Palace in Belvedere but Austria’s lasting legacy for the Fashion world might be Sacha Baron Cohen’s camp, lederhosen-wearing travesty Bruno - the world’s most foolish Fashion critic.
Saying that he’s ‘master of the theatre,’ Jessica Bumpus saw rock chicks with immaculate styling and a rock edge aesthetic honed at Dior Homme, with Seventies billowy chiffon. Liking oversized hats, with every look, multiple neck bows, tuxedo jackets, super skinny trousers with their ‘rock credentials.’
Cathy Horyn, banned from the shows, was tentative in her report, for the New York Times. Viewed from streamed images, her words lack the tones of a disappointed critic. I think she really liked it, but isn’t saying! You wouldn’t either, if you weren’t invited, would you?
Business of Fashion loves the idea that Slimane has gone for “commercially lucrative” pieces but hopes the label won’t be too distracted away from its original YSL roots towards a sort of ‘All Saints Laurent!’
Reminding us of Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial 1971 Nazi-inspired show, seen as “a tour de force of bad taste” at the time, BoF thought Slimane’s collection might be a deliberate attempt by the ‘complicated designer to provoke negative reactions’.
For BoF, Suleman Anaya also asks the question about where YSL might be heading under Slimane’s baton. Is it another top luxury brand removing itself from the kind of high-concept fashion that receives ‘lavish editorial praise but performs middlingly in stores?’ Or is it going for ‘money in the bank for retailers.’
Isn’t this what everyone hopes will happen to all Fashion? Slimane’s tactics can’t be bad if YSL is also seen as a lifestyle brand for musicians and those who want to hang out with them. To me Anaya is totally on the button as he winds up with the assertion “It’s tough, but it’s luxury, down to those heavily embellished (and surely expensive) leather boots.”
How is Slimane doing it? It’s probably the seven years with Dior, designing menswear, which gives him the gift to capture traces from the extraordinary creative and vulnerable masters who preceded him. It’s also his schooling in Art History and Tailoring. His visit to the offices of Le Monde, when he thought he wanted to be a journalist is telling. For the creative spirit,I think, it’s all about wanting to communicate thoughts and feelings. It’s what makes Fashion’s heart beat.
Mary Quant’s late husband, the debonair lothario, Alexander Plunket Green, supporting his wife’s exceptional talent, told me that sharp, tailored, clothes, rather than peasant looks, are what’s needed to underpin optimism during an economic downturn.
Slimane, as a French Fashion national/natural, is doing it all. Re-interpreting Yves from beyond ‘peasant,’ through Punk, away from ‘grunge’ through to a democratised high street, to thrill Beats, Hippies, New Wave and Digital Natives. Keeping us all wanting to join the parade. So why is the Fashion jury still out on Slimane? The renaming to ‘Saint Laurent’ seems neat and his eclecticism, dazzling.
As an original Fashion victim, I want to look as much like the post-Modern witches on Slimane’s Paris Week catwalk, as the cyber princesses in their fluorescent trenches at Christopher Bailey’s S/S 2013 London show!