Friday, September 30, 2011

Crystal channels Rita, Joan, Dovima ...

I'm becoming more and more convinced that Crystal Renn is one of the most dynamic and versatile models working today and these photos - from a selection from Vogue Germany, photographed by Sebastian Kim - demonstrate why. Every photograph is a wonderful transformation.
Enjoy some pretty for the weekend! It is a long one here in NSW.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Giveaway: Horrockses Fashions

To celebrate getting over the 200 follower mark (thanks so much to all my lovely readers!) I thought I'd run a giveaway of the divine Horrockses Fashions book from V&A that I've blogged about previously here.
Horrockes was a UK textile producer and fashion label of the 1940s and 50s. This wasn't couture but everyday style, and their fabrics were so spectacular that they were worn from Queen Elizabeth down. For Fabric nuts, this book is an absolute dream.
Below is a pic of me from the other weekend in my very own Horrockes frock, at the top of Barrenjoey Point looking out towards Pittwater and the Pacific Ocean. It's hard to believe, now that the wintry weather has made its drastic reappearance, that it was so deliciously warm only ten days ago.

Okay so if you'd like to win this book, all brand new and in its original plastic wrapping, please leave a comment on this post. For a second chance at winning let me know if you have a favourite designer label from the past. One that isn't around anymore and perhaps you'd like to see resurrected or that you'd like to collect yourself.
And for a third chance, post about this giveaway on your own blog, or you can tweet about it too. Just let me know that you've done so.
I'll draw the winner randomly next Tuesday 4 October.
P.S. The last book giveaway I did the winner received her book but I just realised I promised a book to a runner-up - actually Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - and I forgot to send it. Bad blogger. Bad book publicist. I'll trawl back through my messages to find her address, but if she's around please message me and I'll get onto it pronto.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mad Men Rewind

My friend Liana has finally gotten around to watching Mad Men (and is of course loving it) and after chatting with her about the show I was inspired to watch the 1st season again. There are so many layers to the show and to each of the characters, their hidden dreams and desires, that every time I view an episode, I see something new in it. And, after seeing Janie Bryant's Icons of Style exhibition at Chatswood Chase a couple of weeks ago (where Liana and I saw some of the costumes from the series up close and personal) I marvelled again at the brilliant costumes, so true to the period, and to each of the character's individual worlds.
The lovely 50s style floral dress that Betty wears when we are introduced to her in the second episode of the series was included in the exhibition. With it's wide blue cummerbund, it reminds me a bit of my own wedding dress.
Here are a few of my other favourites from Season 1 ...

Many of Betty's looks in season 1 are still very 1950s in flavour. After all, it is 1960s, and as a housewife in the suburbs, she'd no longer be on the cutting edge of fashion as she would have been working as a model in Manhattan. Having said that, she's always so put together that she's almost doll like, even in her house clothes. This one is one of my favourites of her house dresses.

I love the scene where she shows off some of her old outfits from her modelling days in Italy to Francine. This one is very, very cool and probably would have had Don in paroxysms of anger if she'd try to walk out of the house in it.

And this frock, which serves to show how out of touch Betty is with the modelling world of her past (she's at a casting call and check out the other would be models beside her), is quite simply breathtaking.

Joan wears so many great frocks but this - with it's very 60s op art like print - is my favourite from Season 1. Very arresting.

I love the character of Rachel Menken. She's a successful intelligent woman, ahead of her time, and one of the few characters in Mad Men with a working moral compass. I love her break-up scene with Don where she finally calls him out for being a fraud. You don't want to run away with me, you just want to run away.
As the manager of a high end department store, she's always very well turned out, and I particularly like the gorgeous pink suit with the matching hat she wears to a meeting at Stirling Cooper (are those ostrich feathers maybe?) and the blue nightgown she's wearing when a desperate Don turns up on her doorstep. There is no way I look that glamorous when I'm heading to bed, much to my husband's dismay. In my case it's over sized flannelette's all the way.
Do you have any favourites?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Designer Profile: Jacques Fath

I was excited to see the other day that actress Jennifer Morrison from House wore a vintage Jacques Fath dress to a film premiere the other day. And then I realised that I've never really blogged about Jacques Fath who, along with Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain, was one of the great French couturiers of the Golden Age. He started his small couture business in 1937 but it soon grew to be a large one after his creations proved so popular. In 1949 he signed an agreement with American manufacturer Joseph Halpert to design two ready-to-wear collections, which was one of the first such licensing deals (something that Dior would go in for in a big way).
Jacques was known for his hourglass designs and his genius with pleats, but alas he died young in 1954. His very chic wife, former model Genevieve Boucher de la Bruyere (see second from last pic) took over the running of the house until 1957, after which time it was closed. The label was reincarnated later as a perfume house, for a time it produced apparel again, and these days it makes luxury leather goods only, which is why the name doesn't have quite the same ring to it as the continuously run couture houses like Chanel and Dior. But Jacques creations were truly wow. Here are just a few examples ...

There is a great clip of a Fath show from 1956 on You Tube. The embedding function has been disabled, but you can check it out here. Oh that final gold evening gown.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Michelle Williams forthcoming film My Week with Marilyn must be opening shortly as she is the October cover star for US Vogue, all dressed up as Marilyn.
Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, I do love that they have replicated one of my favourite 'Marilyn reading' shots, but what do you think of the photos? I can see a bit of a resemblance to Marilyn in the photograph of her dancing in the park, but otherwise I don't think that Michelle looks anything like her really. She's a beautiful woman in her own right, but utterly different.
Having said that, while that may matter in a photo-shoot, I don't necessarily think it will matter in the movie. As long as she gets the voice right, the walk right and the heart right, it could be good.
And the interview with Michelle is an interesting read. Check it out here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

But wait, there is more Elizabeth ...

I've been collecting quite a few old magazines, especially those with interviews and photo-shoots with Elizabeth Taylor. These photos are from the March 1957 edition of Coronet, an American magazine - a bit like a Reader's Digest style mag - from the same people that published Esquire, I think. Calling her 'The Most Beautiful Girl in the World' the writer waxes lyrical on that face: 'a strange combination of aloofness and sensuousness, she walks in beauty as few others.'
The photos have been collated from a number of different shoots and the photographers credited are Bob Willoughby (famous for photographing movie stars on set) and Sanford Roth. The last picture I recognise from a shoot with her then husband Michael Wilding, and the cute picture of her winking is from the set of Raintree Country (an imperfect film that is nonetheless worth seeing if you are at all a fan of Elizabeth and Montgomery Clift. Elizabeth's performance in particular is excellent).

I'll also try and scan another great story from the magazine for you, about teenagers hanging out in 'milk bars' all Happy Days style. And this really was the 1950s, not the 1970s pretending to be the 1950s. Also quite cool is an advertisement for the Relax-a-cizor, a weight-loss machine so brilliantly parodied in the last couple of episodes of Season 1 of Mad Men.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Love of Late

I finally got around to reading Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger's account of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's relationship Furious Love (HarperCollins). Written with Elizabeth's permission and containing many of Burton's love letters to Elizabeth for the first time (they are legion, poetic, epic) - this book is a seriously guilty pleasure. Most biographies of Elizabeth devote a chapter to each of her husbands and perhaps two to her most beloved Richard, so it is wonderful to read an entire books worth of sex, gossip, legendary fights, films (some brilliant, others campy), jewels and jet setting. The book gives background on Richard's impoverished and rather unusual earlier life and is perceptive about his insecurities and his demons. And of course, Elizabeth was not without her own demons. One wonders if their love would have developed differently had they met today, and also what would have happened to their relationship had Richard not passed away so young.

If you love the movies, if you love Elizabeth, if you love Richard and if you love love, then get your hands on this book, the perfect beach read.

And now for a few other books I've read of late and loved.
Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad (Corsair) so wowed me that I think I've recommended it to about five friends and even bought a copy for my mate Emma. Each chapter is like it's own contained short story, but all are linked by a group of characters, most of whom are related through music. It's experimental but the characters are authentic and their situations searingly honest in their evocation of human foibles and the vagaries of lust and love. I'm going back now to devour Egan's earlier books.

My friend Sassica introduced me to this accomplished debut When God Was a Rabbit (Headline) from English actress turned author Sarah Winman. It beautifully evokes an eccentric British childhood, first friendship and sibling love.

I was blown away by Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty so I was beside myself to read The Stranger's Child (Picador). For me it didn't quite move me in the same way, but it sill kept me entertained and thoughtful. Spanning almost a whole century, the book is all about writing biography. Who do our stories belong to? And Hollinghurst writes so brilliantly about that English upper-class milieu.

I've read all of Ann Patchett's books and although I was initially sceptical about the whole 'New World girl goes to the Amazon' plot of State of Wonder (Bloomsbury) it really works here for me. A special writer and a special book (and she's currently in Australia too, for the Brisbane Writers' Festival).

And Skippy Dies (Penguin), set in an Irish boarding school, is one of the funniest books I've read in my life. I actually had to keep reading aloud passages to the husband it was so entertaining. But don't be deceived if you do decide to pick it up - and you should - because it is also a dark commentary on modern life, and a reminder of how tough it is to be a teenager.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Red-Carpet Prints

Sarah Jessica Parker has been on the campaign trail for her new film I Don't Know How She Does It proving that despite saying 'I don't think about fashion all day long' in US Vogue recently (and I hope no-one does really, except the people that actually create it ... although wasn't SJP one of them for a while?), she is still one of the best dressed actresses out there. Both these print dresses are Prabal Gurung.

And backing up SJP's assertion that prints are so hot right now (and always will be in my opinion) Keira Knightley was spectacular in Mary Katranzou at a photo-call.

She also looked spectacular in Valentino Couture for the premiere of her new film Dangerous Method which looks very intriguing by the way. David Cronenberg directs, Viggo Mortensen plays Freud, Michael Fassbender plays his protege Carol Jung and Keira is the patient Carl has an affair with. Check out the trailer.