Susie Clare shines!

June 17, 2010

Recently, I photographed Miss Clare and her vintage collection while working on a project for Jackalope Ranch, the art and culture blog of the Phoenix New Times.

I loved the post, but was sad that I wasn’t able to include all of  the amazing pics that I got that day, so… here we go.

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Snowy Spring

January 18, 2010

With a tip of the hat to the 1940s- 1950s day dress and a deep bow to the dojo, Bottega Veneta has created a Spring 2010  collection that is both classically feminine and karate-suit simple. Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta since 2001 says this collection is meant to showcase the  woman and not the clothes. And we can see in the easy elegance and clean flattering lines there is a sincere desire to connect with what a woman wants to wear. Even the more architectural pieces seem completely wearable.

And then there are the shoes.

The espadrille  platform is amazing, but my personal favorite: the all-grown-up gladiator in the most gorgeous yellow.

My prediction: We will be seeing this shoe in every variation and adaptation possible this spring and summer.

The Triumphant Return of Phoebe Philo

December 2, 2009

Ever since Phoebe Philo left Chloe three years ago and took time off to spend with her young family, I’ve been counting the days until her return to the fashion world and at last, the time has come!

Phoebe Philo is the designer who speaks most directly to my generation of women. Surely, we can remember a few years ago when the 60s-inspired smock minidress paired with oversized sunglasses and a GIANT handbag was “de rigueur” for any woman under the age of 35 (and some a little older). That was all Phoebe, and what she created while head designer at Chloe was nothing short of a social movement. She defined an era!

Now Phoebe is back, ready to reclaim her place at the top and not resting on any laurels, Ms. Philo is earning her title once again as the “it” designer for young or young-ish women.

Taking over the French house of Celine this year, Phoebe used the Resort 2010 to preview what the traditional French sportswear label is going to be about. And how sweet the preview is! Phoebe has taken Celine back to it’s essense and taken it with such skill that what might have seemed too basic under less deft hands, suddenly appears fresh and essential. She has also moved the main office from it’s Parisian abode to London. Hmmm, interesting! Anyway, I’ve fallen for her all over again and am so thrilled to have my go-to girl back on the scene!

And although I have never done this before, I would be remiss not to include the link CelineResort2010.

The dark fairy tale of Alexander McQueen

November 27, 2009

Alexander McQueen, the so called “l’enfant terrible” of the fashion world, has earned my admiration again and again. The former theatrical costumier is a master of contradictions. His designs are romantic but hard, lavish and abundant yet sharp and neat.

Always embracing fantasy, McQueen has yet to bore me… ever!!! And in an industry where the bottom line is money, just like every other business, I have never seen him compromise his artistic vision. How refreshing!

I fell in love with McQueen’s Pre-Fall 2009 collection from first glance and I quickly knew he had EARNED the “candy store” photo. The “candy store” photo is special and I’ve been holding it, waiting for the right time, the right designer to earn it’s insanely lavish loveliness. Simialar to McQueen’s designs, the “candy store” possesses a deep dark fantasy that will forever remain a mystery to me. And I respect its secrets!

In addition, I found a striking similarity between the design on the right and the gothic sculpture of the Margravine Uta and her husband Margrave Ekkehard II created in 1250 AD by the Naumbergermeister for the Naumberg Catherdral in eastern Germany . Rumor has it that Uta (let’s face it Ekkehard is irrelevant, it’s all about the gorgeous Uta) was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the  Wicked Witch from Snow White and you can surely see why some, including myself, would believe it. But something I found a bit stranger  while researching the piece  is that Uta was held up as the pinnacle of German womanhood  by the Nazis during World War II. Bizarre!

Thanks to Yale University Press for the image of the Margrave Ekkehard II and his Margravine Uta.

Ode to Jeannie Patchett

November 10, 2009

In the fashion world, what is iconic? In an industry based on constant change, what is timeless?

These questions are eternal, and anyone who has ever seriously considered the multitude of ways we live our lives, carry ourselves and drape our bodies knows there are no easy answers. For me, an icon is something that captures the spirit or culture of an era. Timeless describes something that can rise above it’s moment in time and obtain a universal appeal.

But can one thing be both?

I think so. As proof, I offer this image of Jeannie Patchett. Jeannie Patchett was a legendary model whose look exemplified the 1950s. An icon of the 50s, if you will. But, as well as being an icon for her era,in this photo, she has a touch of the universal.

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When I discovered this image,I absorbed its every detail and and after the shock wore off, I set out to find the source of its power.  There is beauty, of course, but there is more than just beauty. I see beautiful images everyday and very rarely do I get goosebumps!

So again, I ask, what is it? Is it one of those fantasies I can so easily weave about her and her life that holds such appeal for me?

Some little tale that would go something like this…It’s just after dusk, some time in early summer, the crickets sing along outside the open window to Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool that’s spinning somewhere in the house. Her skirt rustles as she paces and waits in those enchanted moments before her date will come to collect her. But this date is not any ol’ guy, he is special and he holds the promise of something great, something monumental. She is completely dressed, every hair is in place. All of her details have been checked and checked again. There is nothing left in her world at this moment but anticipation. Pure anticipation. And she is so full of giddiness that she has to hide most of it from us because the full effect of her joy would surely blind us.

In my imagination, which refuses to grow up no matter how much I bully or threaten it, this is her story and it is ONE reason why I love this photo so much.

But there is another, perhaps more serious, reason why I adore this image.

In real life, Jeannie Patchett grew up, lived her life and died in 2002. But in this photo, she is timeless. Jeannie could be any young woman, playfully peeking out at the world. She is no longer simply Jeannie Patchett, she is every woman who has ever known the feeling of femininity, the feeling of love. If I were Joseph Campbell of mythology fame, I might say she is an archetype. If I were an art critic, I might say the photo is an example of gestault, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts and all that.  But me? All I can say is this: I fell in love because my gut told me to, and when my gut tells me something, I try to listen.

And let me not forget to mention the era that is so brilliantly captured on film. Ahhh, the continental decor of the early 1950s summed up so well in a simple living room scene. Bravo to the photographer who shot this photo! Bravo for recognizing what he was seeing!

A few more of the lovely Jeannie Patchett

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I would like to thank Vogue for the first two images of Jeannie taken in 1951 and Clifford Coffin for the third taken in 1950.

And, that’s all.

Thank you for stopping by and until I post again- Be happy and be brave!

Oh my! Halloween in Phoenix

November 1, 2009

Thanks to my friends, Justin & Tianna, we were invited to an amazing Halloween party at the home of Carrie and her supercool husband, Jay.

Theirs is a mid-century modern home in north central Phoenix and it was so incredible. Tons of vintage furniture and great decorating thanks to Carrie’s creative eye!

Here are some highlights from the night, Speed Racer and his main squeeze, Trixie…

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No introductions needed for this one…

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I’m calling this the Bekah and Steve collage!

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Charlotte and Bob Harris came all the way from Japan for the occasion

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& the out-of-this-world music was supplied by Mix Master Astronaut

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This might be my favorite of all time…

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And finally some extras of the gorgeous mirrorball and some supercutie dolls that I desperately wanted to take home.

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Oh, and one more of me thoroughly enjoying myself!!!

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the hat

October 26, 2009

Last friday my super amazing husband found this hat at an estate sale in Phoenix. Somehow he knew I would love it, and I do. Unfortunately, there is no tag or identification of any kind, so who knows when and where it came from? My guess is the 1960s? If anyone has a clue, please let me know.

I decided a find like this deserves to be modeled and I tried to make Kurt wear it for the photos,but he flat out refused. Men!

So, here I am trying to give my best 60s pose without laughing hysterically

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and here I am laughing hysterically!

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this is Balenciaga

October 24, 2009

Cristobal Balenciaga founded his first fashion house in San Sebastian, Spain in 1918. His reputation quickly grew and he made the move to Paris in 1937.  The Balenciaga flagship  continues to reside in its original location at 10 Avenue George V.

In his heyday, Cristobal Balenciaga was considered to be “the Courturier to the Courturiers” and his influence on the fashion world is indisputable. He was responsible for the slimming of dresses in the 1950s when the full Christian Dior dress was de rigueur. In addition, he popularized the tunic dress, the empire waist and the cocoon coat. A few of his most famous proteges include Oscar de la Renta, Emanuel Ungaro and Hubert de Givenchy.

It was Balenciaga’s desire to recreate the female silhouette that is the lingering thread in the modern-day designs from the house now under the creative directorship of Nicolas Ghesquiere. The designs continue to push the boundaries of the avant- guard while maintaining wearability and elegance. Some seasons have been heavy on the futuristic vision while other seasons have felt just right.

As I’ve said before, I love the “in between” seasons and this year Balenciaga is no exception.

Here are a few of my favorites from the 2009 Pre- Fall Collection.

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And from the Resort 2010 Collection

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Remembering Biba

October 22, 2009

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After listening to Roxy Music with my great friend Erynn, I started to think about the swinging scene of London in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I went in search of iconic images that personify the transformational time in British pop culture and very quickly stumbled upon photos of the Biba store.

For anyone who is not familiar with Biba, I can say that it was the IT store of London from the day it openned it doors in 1965 on Kensington High Street until it ended in 1975. Biba was the creation of Barbara Hulanicki who not only designed the Biba clothing line, but was the first designer to create and sell a lifestyle. The Biba store was once called ” the most beautiful store in the world” by the Sunday times.  It was a place shop, but also offered a loungy vibe that encouraged visitors to stay and hang out.

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Biba clothes were worn by everybody who was anybody and the store was frequented by all rock stars, movie stars and hipsters of the time including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Brigitte Bardot, Twiggy, Mia Farrow, etc. classic_biba_stripes

The style of Biba went through a few distinct transformations, but the main themes were always the 1930s combined with  psychedelic, bohemian gypsy elements.

Here are a couple of examples from the late 1960s

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This is a more glam rock look from the early 1970s

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The Biba store was a place where the sales assistants were as beautiful as the clientele. In fact, the infamous Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue was at one time a Biba girl.

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After the closing of the Biba store, Ms. Hulanicki and her husband moved to Brazil and today she resides in Miami.

It is hard for us to imagine how revolutionary the Biba store was at the time. The idea of stores selling a complete lifestyle and look is now very familiar to us. But I ask you to imagine this… imagine a world with only department stores and then, one day ,there is a store called Anthropologie. A store that not only sells products, but sells a whole idea about how we define ourselves aesthetically. That was Biba.

Would we flip for it? I think we would.

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Mr. Bingley v. Mr. Darcy

October 18, 2009

Lately I’ve found myself musing on two of the relationships presented in P&P. I can’t get into Mr.& Mrs. Bennett’s sitch because that would take numerous chapters and several marriage  counselors to sort out, and I simply don’t have the time. But, let’s take a look at the two relationship choices Ms. Jane Austen presents to us in the forms of Jane and Charles and Lizzy and Fitzwilliam.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, I will simply rewrite the greatest  first line ever.

” It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Professor Doig would flip for the G-string lede, right? Although, it does not give us any W’s or How, so maybe not. Anyway, I digress. Back to the point.

And the point is this, will you be or are you a Jane Bennett, going the way of Mr. Bingley, the so called “ideal” where everything is perfectly copacetic? Or will you be (are you) an Elizabeth Bennett who will find love at the end of a long and hard “battle of the souls”  between yourself and your Mr. Darcy?

And you might wonder why this post is finding its way onto my “fashion” blog?  I myself did wonder the very same, and my justification is almost valid! It’s about style, maybe not clothing, but  “personality style” and “relationship style”. Now, usually with our fashions we have choice (hopefully nobody reading this is still being dressed by their mamas) and I would argue that our relationships are partially by choice, somewhat within our control,but I would also say that people just happen to us, and are therefore beyond our choice. And maybe that is what’s so interesting about Lizzy and Mr.D, Lizzy would NEVER have chosen Mr. Darcy, but he happened to her nonetheless. So what I’m getting at is this, we have some choice in who we are (the style of lady) and we have little choice, if any, in who we end up being with. I think this might be half-baked, but I will proceed anyway.

So, let’s look at Jane and Mr. Bingley. So nice, so easy. Some might say, the perfect love. And I think this is what most people view as the most desirable of relationships.

But, I am here to argue for the other, the darker, more complex courtship of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I mean, there’s a reason why they are the central figures in the book. Jane Austen was no dummy, she knew the power and hottness of the ” I despise you, but I’m super attracted to you anyway” dynamic! She knew that was “universally acknowledged” too!

Both styles are fine, and like I said, we don’t get too much of a choice. Maybe it will be the easy-going-friendship-thing where it’s like two halves of something (I don’t know, ummm, cantaloupe) that were seperated at birth and have somehow, in this great big world, found its other half. Or maybe,it will be the “battle of the souls” death-match-of-love where two smart, complex individuals duke it out for the greatest of causes, love.

People fall into our laps( Um, I realize that doesn’t sound quite how I intended it, but you get the idea) and we should be open to the possibilities because actually, there are very very few people out there that are custom made for us. When we’re young, we think, “Oh! There are so many boys I like!” But when you start to widdle away  at the options, the list gets decidedly shorter!

So, enjoy what comes along! And, personally, I wish for all my friends to have a Mr. Darcy at some point because they are definitely worth the struggle.

Just a note on portrayals of both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley.

I don’t even feel that I need to say this, but I will anyway, Collin Firth is the ONLY Mr. Darcy. I don’t even see anyone else. Is there anyone out there who would disagree?

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As for Mr. Bingley… I prefer Simon Woods. He’s beautiful and I love the way he says “untoward” !

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So, that’s it. Oh, you might wonder what made me think about this topic and care enough to write about it? I will just say this, Jane Austen is never far from my mind and as for the rest, it’s a secret. xoxo