A Fashion Pandemic

AFTER months of misery the Fashion industry usually fights back and there is delight in dressing up and going out.  Paris, with its years of austerity, rationing and separation, during WW2, was revitalised by Christian Dior, Art director, dilettante, Europe’s other famous Norman.

With four years of Nazi rule Paris, ‘city of lights,’ was dim, but after liberation by the American forces there was the discovery of be-bop. It swept the city and black Americans stayed on, rather than return to the segregated USA.

On the streets the cult of cool was about to be born, and women wanted a designer to help them shake off the ‘horrible overalls’ and the boxy shapes of war-time clothes. They wanted to look sexy and feminine. It was then, in February 1947, that 30, Avenue Montaigne would become the world headquarters of Fashion.

Half a century before the internet Christian Dior, who had spent much of the war dressing the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators, revived pre-war looks for post-war customers targeted at Hollywood’s world wide audience. He created feminised ‘flower women,’ happy to turn their backs on careers and military uniforms.

NewLookDior’s New Look, in 1947, made every other dress look outmoded. There was an electric tension – ‘wasp waist of jacket, weight of skirt barely worn by human beings, real old fashioned corsets to create shape,’ in direct contrast to the 40s look.

Christian Dior’s publicity machine was so effective that in a Vogue feature, proposing numerous routes through Europe by car by inventive motorists, Dior was featured by the magazine rather in the way Alexandra Shulman writes of Victoria Beckham for Vogue UK, April 2008.

Dior’s New Look was very good for fabric manufacturers, and especially good for his sponsor, Marcell Bussac. The ‘Bar’ suit, famously photographed by Willy Maywald. With its padded, static jacket and its heavy 80lbs, long, black wool pleated skirt, depended for its sculptural form on the 19th century skills of the corset maker.   Coco Chanel said of her rival: “Christian Dior doesn’t dress women. He upholsters them”.

Dior became the ‘master of marketing;’ selling perfumes, and realising the ‘importance of the public identifying with the designer.’ Dior had his personal and business journeys mapped and followed by the Media, becoming the first celebrity couturier. Recognising the importance of trade between the House and buyers by 1948, he and his team include Cuba, Finland, Holland, Mexico, and Sweden in their contact lists. When Bettina Ballard, the journalist who was editor-in-chief of Vogue, America in the 1950s, heard that designs were being geared towards department store owners’ wives she said, “I would not put it past Dior!”

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The recovery of the French Fashion industry was in the hands of Dior, who saved haute couture in the face of a ‘growing market of ready to wear, especially in the United States’. Paris was put into a position where it was also able to set the template for London couture and Fashion training. During the war there was the fear that American design would take over. So the Paris group, Chambre Syndicale, put together ‘Theatre de la Mode,’ a collection of dolls which were on display during the V&A exhibition in London. Said, to have been designed to raise funds for war victims they, really, were commissioned to raise the profile of Haute Couture.

VOTES FOR WOMEN

We’re at a turning point in politics. Three remarkable LABOUR MPS spoke on BBC 1 television yesterday. For the first time in ages I’m back to feeling optimistic.  Now, so, “What about the women?”

Angela

Angela Rayner told Andrew Marr of her reason for going for deputy leadership of the LABOUR Party.  She assured him it was to make best use of her practical personality! She then proceeded to show her complete grasp of LABOUR’s ideologies and its intentions to have all of us reach our true potential.

Rebecca

Andrew next entertained Rebecca Long Bailey, campaigning for the Labour party leadership position.  Sounding very ‘cabinet’ material, the Shadow Education Secretary,  made the crucial point that the Labour Party will raise up society; providing support for aspirational classes through well funded, targeted, Health Services, Social Care and Education. These ‘transformational policies’  would be put into practice through improving productivity and restoring our economy.

Holly

Next on Sunday, (16.02.20) on ‘Politics England,’ our own brave heart Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax. In flood torn Calderdale she represented all her own constituents in the town and those of Calder Valley.   “We now know that Storm Ciara brought flooding to over 500 residential properties in Calderdale, over 400 businesses, 8 schools, 2 care homes and caused a great deal of damage to a number of roads and highways infrastructure. Unlike in 2015 the Government has not committed to making recovery grants available for either businesses or residents, with the problems exacerbated by the Government’s chaotic reshuffle.”

As well as appearing on this morning’s, ‘Politics England’  Holly Lynch’s efforts to support the people of West Yorkshire, our MP submitted an application for an Urgent Question to the Secretary of State for DEFRA, following the floods which the Government converted to an Urgent Statement.  She writes, “I was deeply concerned that the then SoS wasn’t across the detail of the situation and didn’t commit to any central Government funding towards Calderdale’s recovery, only reiterating what funding had already been committed in Flood defences. She agreed to a meeting but having followed her out of the chamber to arrange the details, it became clear, that even, she didn’t think she would still be in the job come the end of the week.”

Holly  is committed to continue her campaign to rescue the devastated people of Calderdale, and will be outlining a number of asks to George Eustice, Theresa Villiers,’ successor.

SUCH DEVOTED SISTERS

RODARTE, the  American clothing and accessories label, founded and headquartered in Los Angeles, California by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, is going Goth on the catwalk.

Laura and Kate Mulleavy added to the vampire pantheon in their 2020 Fall collection in the dimly lit nave of St. Bartholomew’s church in Midtown, Manhattan, NY, providing a fittingly gothic stage as the Mulleavys sent their army of the ethereally chic, undead, out to stalk the night.

When designers work with influences from Art, Music and Cinema they are drawing on inspiration from Elsa Schiaparelli, the star struck twentieth century Surrealist clothes maker and  trend setter. She was however less likely to use images from the dark arts and more to be gazing into the galaxy. Rodarte

Midtown Manhattan audiences were wowed by the 17th look to parade into view.  It reminds me of a 1950s fine wool, black, shirt-waister patterned with white, miniature, dancing sailors, worn by my mother, Trixie Greenwood–Sparks, as she explained the wondrous life of the legendary Schiap.  Do the tassels look like comets?

David Hockney, Terence Conran, and me…

IT’s confusing but is it a crime for a socialist to be interested in retail? Whatever, I am both! It’s probably genetic, not to say even a bit Marxist! Each time a department store or other shop opens, I like to be there.

Terence Conran visited each of his ‘Habitats’ launched throughout Britain in the 80s. So it was in the Chester branch, he exclaimed, “you snob,” when I told him, how now anyone could buy a print, David Hockney would no longer be my favourite artist.

But on Friday/Saturday I’m off to indulge in more of this old Yorkshireman’s brilliance at the Barbara Hepworth award winning gallery in Wakefield.

Lilies

In 1958 Alan Davie, Scots painter and musician had his first solo exhibition at Wakefield Art Gallery, which went on to tour nationally and launched Davie’s career. A young attendee at the Wakefield exhibition was David Hockney, then a student at Bradford College of Art!

The exhibition was a pivotal influence on Hockney’s artistic development and shortly after this visit, Hockney moved to London to take up a place at the Royal College of Art. Here he discarded, as Davie had, realist figurative painting in favour of colourful, gestural works that combined abstraction with coded text and symbolism.

Hockney:hepworth

The exhibition will bring together around 45 paintings and works on paper by Alan Davie and David Hockney, many of which have not been seen publicly for decades. It will trace the parallel paths of these key figures of post-war British painting, revealing creative convergences and shared themes of passion, poetry and love as their works of art evolved from figuration to abstraction.

Thanks to Conran, everyone knows Hockney. Now I’m about discover Davie who sounds like renaissance man!  Musically, Davie played piano, cello, and bass clarinet. In the early 1970s his interest in free improvisation led to a close association with the percussionist Tony Oxley. His paintings have also inspired music by others, notably the bassist and composer Barry Guy.

Set within the context of 1960s counterculture and the popularisation of art through diverse new forms of media, the exhibition represents an exciting moment in British art and the emergence of a radical new art world. Told you so. It’s why Hockney was my favourite until no longer radical, through the 80’s retail fiascos, I dropped him and went back to Picasso!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have to talk about Jeremy!

Cinema Fashionista

The BRITISH LABOUR PARTY, the largest political group in Europe, has over 512,000 members with more joining since this figure was published a couple of weeks ago.

Why is this?  It’s because Jeremy Corbyn has instigated the most radical form of democratisation to the Labour Party since Aristotle’s reforms in Athens.

Jeremy Corbyn’s inclusive strategies mean the Labour Party is equipped to handle the REAL CHANGE which happens because of exponential development of technology and its impact on industry.   LABOUR’s manifesto is researched and delivered by specialists from among its 512,000 members across the UK.

Economists from among LABOUR’s ranks have costed every part of the manifesto. ‘The Financial Times’ on November 30th, announced,  “It seems clear to us that the Labour Party has not only understood the deep problems we face, but has devised serious proposals for dealing with them. We believe it deserves to form the next government.”

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We have to talk about Jeremy!

The BRITISH LABOUR PARTY, the largest political group in Europe, has over 512,000 members with more joining since this figure was published a couple of weeks ago.

Why is this?  It’s because Jeremy Corbyn has instigated the most radical form of democratisation to the Labour Party since Aristotle’s reforms in Athens.

Jeremy Corbyn’s inclusive strategies mean the Labour Party is equipped to handle the REAL CHANGE which happens because of exponential development of technology and its impact on industry.   LABOUR’s manifesto is researched and delivered by specialists from among its 512,000 members across the UK.

Economists from among LABOUR’s ranks have costed every part of the manifesto. ‘The Financial Times’ on November 30th, announced,  “It seems clear to us that the Labour Party has not only understood the deep problems we face, but has devised serious proposals for dealing with them. We believe it deserves to form the next government.”

Jeremy Corbyn is able to achieve this life saving potential because of his charmed childhood. His parents not only liked him, but included him in their campaigns for peace, love and fairness. He in turn is loved and admired by his children who all work towards kindness and decency for everyone.

.Children

FASHION, DISTINCTION, DEMOCRACY

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IT’s possible that Fashion’s power reached its zenith when Kate Middleton married the heir to the British dynastic throne of the United Kingdom in April 2011.

Prince William had fallen in love with her, it was said, as she paraded down the catwalk at a charity Fashion show in their shared university town of St. Andrew’s, near Edinburgh, in Scotland.

Roland Barthes, the 20th century French philosopher and voyeur would have been fascinated by how the signs of the harem had transmitted themselves to a virile young royal.

Realising that the written garment is made by publicists and journalists, created through words, Barthes was interested in the way sign systems produce not clothing, not women, but the abstract notion of Fashion. He saw any number of extra meanings in everyday gestures and images. His genius was to write about them in a kind of reverse poetry; to reconstitute rather than condense.

Arch flâneur, he was consumed with a passion for observation. Speaking of Fashion as a ‘cross-subsidising organism’, he was enchanted by its vivacity, seeing it as a living thing. He thought it could do two things at once; extend everyone’s access to clothes, while making each wearer feel distinctive.

He writes of modern democracy, as if it were a universal given. In mid 20th century Paris it may have felt quite near.  Now not so much!