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!”

1.4 - dior 4

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.

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

Le paradis des enfants

When I take Toby and Linus to St.Ives next month it won’t be as metropolitan as this but the light, the rock pools and the new Tate extension will be just as spectacular.

Cinema Fashionista

IN 1997 I read about a park in Paris donated by the Citroen foundation. Luckily I had a son and two grandsons who were exactly the ages to see such wonders. So we booked, sailed the channel and crossed the summer fields of la belle France by train.

Parc Citreon is pres le Tour Eiffel so we did both spectacular sites on our first day, only stopping for food and wine at the best restaurants we could find.

parccitreonParis is also the home to La Villette designed by Bernard Tschumi, a French architect of Swiss origin, who built it from 1984 to 1987 in partnership with Colin Fournier, on the site of the huge Parisian abattoirs (slaughterhouses) and the national wholesale meat market, as part of an urban redevelopment project. The slaughterhouses, built in 1867 on the instructions of Napoléon III, had been cleared away and relocated…

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Don’t you just love it?

Tommy Reilly  the latest British now signed act with his first single, a plea for a phone call, is a post-Modern Romeo.

Not only is he having trouble contacting Juliet but he ‘s doing it in front of cameras – his heart about to be broken. He has to focus on a new chart-topping album; so there’s no time to track down the love he left in a Scottish underground pass after sharing a pint with her. The lovelorn youth’s lyrical ballad becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy; part of a poignant pre-Valentine’s Day romance.

Still, let’s suppose, at least, he doesn’t have to choose between trainers, in a bag, or sodden moon boots to get him into central London in sub-zero climes. Pop Music success should keep him on warm tour buses, in studios, or dressing rooms from now on.

In our world, Hilary Alexander covered all the weather bases for the Telegraph this week; revealing how fashionistas are wearing expensive Italian gear and ‘ski accessories just unpacked from Verbier or Aspen,’ while researching stockists for thermals and boots that grip.

Writing from an electronic cottage on the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, it’s clear our hoary frozen days are bright and light as June. So that’s how Scandinavian winters are bearable. With such startling quality of light, from snow, less Schnapps and fewer ginger biscuits will be needed to see them through till Spring.

Back to the book, How Fashion promotes itself – the new black magic. It’s all very well planning a course in displacement activities but blogging for fun has to be a rationed treat.