Scent Noir

No.5 Coco Chanel is the controversial figure of Fashion.  It’s part of the label’s allure!

Students working on cosmetic floors of department stores all want to be selling the fascinating brand yet the genius behind it is a calculating, nonchalant, femme fatale!

In Thursday night’s feature  on BBC 4  a story, I thought was just a re-telling of a rumour, proves to be about her actual devious plotting and career building subterfuge!

Coco Chanel’s revolutionary perfume concept was as audacious as her outlandish designer clothing. At its launch, in 1921, it was an instant hit but in the 1920s and 1940s the Number 5 brand was at the centre of a war between the celebrated designer and her entrepreneurial business partners, the Wertheimer brothers.

In the thrilling and dark development of the world’s most famous perfume friends and colleagues become enemies and adversaries!

During WWII, with the help of her high-ranking Nazi lover, Coco Chanel attempted to oust her Jewish partners – who had fled German-occupied France and were operating the business from New Jersey – to take control of the highly lucrative business.

On Thursday these shocking revelations were confirmed, with archive footage of Gabrielle herself and her secret staircase at the Ritz.  Directed by Stephane Benhamou, the Wertheimer brothers Paul and Pierre did not make personal archive appearances but were represented by animated cut outs!

“The No. 5 War,” documentary  premiered at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival in January 2017. Here director Stephane Benhamou told audiences that his long days burrowing in French archives, not only let him tell the story of one of the most popular fragrances in the world, but proved beyond doubt that Chanel was ready to exploit the Nazi race laws to increase her wealth and power.

Forget the broomstick for London Fashion Week!

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!

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.’

Image

Shopping and partly shopping!

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.

It’s a jungle out there

1960s heavy metal bangle which I have in a one row version.
1960s heavy metal bangle which I have in a one row version.
It wouldn't have made any difference to the surprising outcome but I wish I'd been wearing this.
It wouldn’t have made any difference to the surprising outcome but I wish I’d been wearing this Jil Sander.

I may be getting my Media muddled but the ‘Jungle out there’ heading will be for this piece and a Pinterest board.

Sad story about Pauline Boty’s short life. Photograph posted on ‘Romantic Moment of the week.’  Here I’m playing with Time, through Postmodernism, with the TimBL technology which  delights us every day.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery

Yesterday I wore an Italian black ‘She’s So’ skirt and a typical Marithe and Antoine Girbaud jacket, with the Jensen bracelet seen in this blog.  Others looked like escapees from the 70s and not in a good way!  Still looks  don’t count if you’re wielding the power.

To say there was a culture clash would be overstating it!  My colleagues know how fast the world is changing  but they held on to their tightly defined parameters like security blankets and I feel sad for them.  Why wouldn’t I?  Kate is about to buy a Yamaha piano, not a bike.  I’ll be able to sing with her as well as with John Wilson, every Monday.  He and I are developing a strange strident German songspiel style which makes us smile!  We’re also doing a Bridget Jones version of ‘Without You!’ As soon as we’ve made a short film I’ll post it here  instead of this slightly manic Fashion moment.

https://vimeo.com/62944208

L’homme Parisien, post-Modern witches and the dazzling eclectic

ysl-slimane-2Saint-Laurent-Paris-Fashion-WeekWe’re with ‘Vogue’ on Hedi Slimane’s  SL show for Paris Fashion Week.

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!

http://www.businessoffashion.com/2012/10/a-wake-up-call-for-ysls-pr-team.html

Vain hopes, vague waves – August is a wicked month

We love the glossies. They exist to distract us with their glamour.  It’s as if  Benetton’s, revolutionary 80s, advertising never happened for August 2012’s, UK editions, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

Subtle, conventional, uncontroversial, Louis Vuitton promotions feature liveried guard, luxury coach interior,  stern faced models in sculptural hats, vertiginous platforms, fine denier hosiery, polished leather gloves, and bejewelled, cupcake buttons, in Vogue.  The luggage company’s aspirational offering, for Vanity Fair, shows Muhammad Ali with boxing gloved, be-jeaned, glorious tiny grandson and unzipped LV holdall in luxuriant,  pooled garden.

Editorial in VF involves itself in matters of the moment.  Annie Leibovitz’s photos of Nobel Peace Prize winners create startling juxtapositions of Mikhail Gorbachev with the 14th Dalai Lama, Professors Jody Williams and Mohammad Yunus, Dr. Shirin Ebadi,  Lech Walesa, F.W. de Klerk with Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States.

Described as a ‘wayward teenager,’ the Yale alumna and the much missed, Marie Colvin, famously quoted as saying, ‘I never drink when I’m covering a war,’ is celebrated in  over 14 gripping pages, by Marie Brenner, as the world of Rachel Weisz’s scary fiction is contrasted with this real life drama of love and war.

In the revelatory economics of ‘Microsoft’s lost decade’ we discover that Google has ‘almost the same amount of cash on its books as Microsoft’ and that Steve Jobs blames Bill Gates for not putting enough emphasis on brilliant products, tending to ignore the humanities and liberal arts.  Well duh!

Latest trends in marketing are emerging through the rich West’s involvement with fabulous food provenance, sensed through the actual taste bit from the aesthetic list.  Stunning Art makes my mouth water and never more so than when devouring Fashion ads.   Gucci’s deep, dark oils across Vogue‘s double pages with spotlit glitter, glamour, glitz on belts, bags, rings and statement jewels are beguiling as Belgian chocolates.

Wondrous evocations of the Chanel legend drift across pages, one of pure white space. In a shade, dreamed from the sky at midnight, textured fine wool, with deeper contrast trim and sleeves appear on a porcelain and spun-ebony model. More genius styling from teams behind Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Prada, Armani, Burberry Prosum make up selling-copy as divine post-modern theatre.

Although it hardly matters, with all this other scrumptiousness, editorial remains a delightful, image-rich feast, too.  In this August Vogue there’s nothing more serious than the sobering thought, from editrice, Alexandra Shulman, ‘everyone loves a good diktat!’  So let’s just say, ‘Keep taking the tablets.’

http://www.hud.ac.uk/staff/fashionintheageoftheimage.php