I always love to visit the National Arts Club for their fancy decor and interesting programs put on by the National Arts Club Fashion Committee. This weekend I went to see a play starring Susan Claassen, Conversations with Edith Head. She’s been touring the country telling the Edith’s story for the last few years, but this was the first stop in New York. Quotables from the play include that she would make “…the girls look better than they were…, give them more butt,” and that she always wanted to “look like Shirley Temple.” Susan made everyone laugh during the play when she stated that “several young ladies come to me in blue jeans with no underwear on underneath.” When asked about Edith’s biggest regrets, she said it was “never dressing Marilyn Monroe.”
Susan took me back to sitting and talking with my grandmother, who was quite a master seamstress herself. Most of us these days do not think about putting together a beautiful dress as the ready-to-wear market has taken over and most likely people will not be returning to sewing their own clothing. Lots of folk came out to see the play and many I suppose were from Edith’s era. I even ran into Jean and Valerie, mature women bloggers who looked absolutely fabulous. Most of the crowd including myself wore a summer dress or suit,falling somewhere under that Spring Garden Party look. I also met Ellen Christine, a couture milliner, who showed off her beautiful hat for the camera. It was a great time.
If you’re not familiar with Edith Head, you should definitely check out the play and read these 6 things to know about her;
1. Edith Head had no prior experience in art or costume design before she was hired by Paramount Pictures as a costume sketch artist in 1924.
2. She’s the most honored costume designer in American history; she won 8 Oscars and received 35 Academy Award nominations
3.Edna Mode in Disney’s Pixar The Incredibles Movie (2004) was modeled after her
4. Her trademark “sunglasses” weren’t really sunglasses, they were blue-lensed glasses that allowed her to see what a costume would look like on Black and White film
5. From 1927-1979, she dressed about every important actress in Hollywood including Dorothy Lamour, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly
6. She presided over Alfred Hitchcock’s wardrobe department on 11 movies
I personally like shoulder pads in women’s clothing. Know they were big in the 1980s, I hardly ever saw my mom walk out to work without them in a fancy suit. They have recently made a come back but, are they here to stay?
I was sitting in textile class talking about how different fabric does different things for women’s wear and shoulder pads came up. We started chatting about if in ten years, we’ll look back and say absolutely not. I know that mohawks and shaving half of your head will definitely be a thing of the 2010’s but shoulder pads, I don’t know.
Elsa Schiaparelli, an Italian designer of the 1930s and 1940s inspired by Surrealists like Dali, is noted to have introduced shoulder pads in women’s clothing. She seemed to be into form and structure like what we are seeing in some of the newer designs today. Like, for instance, this skeleton dress with shoulder pads below.
Check out the detail on the shoulders of this dress worn by Mrs. Reginald Fellowes in 1933. Schiaparelli and Prada were featured and compared at TheCostume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) last year for their spring exhibition.
Schiaparelli had some great vision for her time. I think there might be periods when the shoulder pad will be more prevalent in fashion than others, like the 1940s and 1980s. But, my prediction is that the shoulder pad is here to stay.
She recently changed her hairstyle and I love it. And I think we all just can’t wait to see the fashion this weekend!
In 2009, Michelle Obama wore a lemongrass yellow Isabel Toledo shift dress for the day, and a gorgeous white off-the-shoulder chiffon gown by Jason Wu for the ball. WWDsays that more than 20 designers have sent in dress sketches in hopes to be chosen to dress her for the momentous occasion.
I can’t wait to see the looks for her and Sasha and Malia, who are quickly becoming style icons too. Check out a few of the fashion sketches from Chanel, Nanette Lepore, L’Wren Scott, and Monique Lhuillier for Michelle, Sasha and Malia for Inaugural Day below.
This Wednesday night I attended Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) Conversations with June Ambrose event at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. HFR is a company founded by HFR’s CEO Brandice N. Henderson interviewed June Ambrose on stage and chatted about everything from June’s first styling gig, childhood and how to be professional in an unprofessional environment. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have included a few highlights and tidbits below.
On June’s first styling job…
Hype (Williams) was like why are you here? She was the director of marketing for Cross Colors. Did product placement and creating marketing plans. She started working on R Kelly’s Down Low music video before MTV was playing black music. I was going to bring a costume design aesthetic to black music. It was about a cinema… that’s where June Ambrose was born
On working with Jay-Z….
I worked with Jazy-Z from inception he is to date my “best friend” if he took a job it was ‘June is doing the job or I’m not doing it.’ It’s different now… what I do has become publicized… there’s so many more of “me” and a lot of “you’re an artist your sister likes fashion your mother likes fashion… you’re going to keep the money in-house”
On clients leaving her…
I don’t even worry about it I just keep on. You know your self-worth you don’t worry about things going away.
On her first job ever at Kentucky Fried Chicken…
I had this job for 2 days… thought I would work at the register and the manager said I need you to go back and clean chicken. He called my mom saying ‘oh she’s spoiled.’ That is just not what I needed to do.
On using social media for branding…
Your social media is an extension of your résumé. You’re cussin. It becomes this reality ratchet moment. You don’t know where you are going to be 5 years from now. I treat my company like a corporate company. I’m taking you around high-profile people. Corporate America did that to me. And I’ve spent a lot of time being wall papered… and I’m the only sober person in the room. Social media is your editorial platform. I am the Anna Wintour of my own… (social media).
On her down moments and biggest challenges in life…
I was raised in the Bronx in a one bedroom apartment. Moved from St. Croix. Older sister is a nurse. My first name is Junemarie. Mom’s thing was get an education get a job. When you see your mom cry for the first time cause you couldn’t pay the rent it makes you say ok get out. I don’t have childhood friends what happened was I decided I was gonna get out and kind of didnt’ look back. My mom would take us downtown… (and I)… fell in love with Manhattan at a very young age.
On if she will return to VH1 for a second season…
June says she felt she had so much more to offer than creating this “drama content” that they needed to produce. Getting into a fight etc. She was afraid of that and basically, will not be returning to VH1 for a second season. “VH1 is not a network known for doing fashion…I just don’t have a space on the network and the content, it’s just not the place for me.” June said, however, that she will be returning to television later in the year for the launch of her footwear line on HSN. Check out the video of June speaking about this below.
I truly admire June for her hard work, ethic (i.e. 7:30 AM is sleeping in), and that she is in my opinion, a respectable black woman in fashion. I applaud you June for not doing another season with VH1 or falling in line with their needed “drama content.” You said that one of your biggest fears was not being relevant. Well, June, I think it’s safe to say that if you keep it up, that will never happen.
I remember when I first laid eyes on Diane’s collection, poking around the Fifth Floor at Bergdorf Goodman. I thought to myself, these prints are so cute, they kind of remind me of the 1970s. I ended up buying a blue dress that fit me like a glove and it is hard to fit my body perfectly.
My mother and grandmother were delighted to see it and asked who made it? I told them a new designer Diane von Furstenberg and received a chuckle from my mother. She explained that Diane was in no way a new designer; that she had been quite popular in the past with her iconic wrap dress.
Fast forward to today and I am still an avid DVF Fan. The clothes are so versatile; a number of pieces can go to work, a luncheon or a party. And after reading Diane’s new fairy tale book, The Empress’s New Clothes, I see that this feeling has been shared among many people from the 1970s to today.
The book is based on the incredible life (and LOVE) of Diane von Furstenberg. It is written by a London-based fashion writer, Camilla Morton, and illustrated by The DVF Studio. I especially love this illustrated page of the Empress and her new clothes below.
I won’t spoil the book but I will say that it is no wonder that Diane is a global fashion icon, business mogul, president of CFDA, and an inspiration to women everywhere. She has a slew of awards and achievements, and has revolutionized the fashion world by making clothes ‘easy’ with her wrap dress still sold and worn today. I told Diane at her book signing event this week at Bergdorf’s that I wanted to have a brand like hers. She responded with cool confidence that I can “be the woman that I want to be.”
I am deeply moved and in awe of Diane von Furstenberg. This fairytale story based on Diane’s life is not just a fairytale. It is an inspirational piece for little girls and women alike, a tale of a princess with an entrepreneurial spirit and a few sample dresses in her suitcase. Congratulations Camilla and Diane, this is a book that I hope to pass down to future daughters in my family.
The International Herald Tribune Luxury Conference started this past Wednesday and ends today. Since 2001, it is the annual forum for business and creative leaders throughout the global luxury goods industry. Suzy Menkes, IHT’s Fashion Editor hosts the annual conference and attracts all the top talent in the world.
This year they talked mostly about economic development and fashion in the Mediterranean and throughout Africa. This year’s speakers included Omoyemi Akerele, Creative Director and Founder of Style House Files, a Fashion Creative Development Agency in Nigeria and Manolo Blahnik, one of the world’s most influential shoe designers. I’m glad the Conference is talking about cultures that aren’t always in the limelight.
I was a fly on the wall all week watching some of the sessions and keeping up with @IHTLuxury on twitter! Check out more about the conference here.
Today is election day and I hope each and every one of you goes out and votes! Whether by email, going to the poll or finding an “army” truck in NJ to make it happen- just make sure you vote today!
I’d like to pay a tribute to the last four years of Michelle Obama’s style. It seems that we haven’t paid this much attention to what our First Lady is wearing since Jackie Kennedy Onassis was in the White House!
Our economy was a sinking ship before Obama took office and it has seemed to stabilize a bit with GDP and the DJIA up a bit since the market crash of 2009. However, things are still pretty rough.
According to the Harvard Business Review, Professor David Yermack of NYU’s Stern School found that following public appearances between 2008-2009, Michelle Obama created $2.7 billion in cumulative abnormal returns for fashion and retail companies associated with what she wore.
Professor Yermack also states brands chosen by Obama gain about 2.3% in value which by the way, is more than Sarah Jessica Parker at about .5%.
Let’s take a look back at some of her great looks over the past four years!