Tag Archives: clothes

Made in the ’70s

Where would this blog be without the ’70s? Where would my wardrobe be without the ’70s?! (And the ’60s, too, but let’s stick to one decade at a time).

I was reminded yesterday, whilst watching Frost/Nixon, of how valuable this decade is as a reference point for fashion today. The ’70s was, after all, the decade when ‘effortless chic’ became fashionable.

Rebecca Hall, who plays Caroline Cushing in the film (opposite Michael Sheen), is so statuesque and lithe that the jersey day dresses and backless gowns her character wears almost steal the show. Almost. Frank Langella’s sweaty upper lip does a fine job, too.

Rebecca Hall in Frost/Nixon

Italian fashion house Etro looked to the early ’70s for its S/10 RTW collection, which is currently available in the northern hemisphere. Combining romantic maxi dresses with tasselled bags and roomy silk blouses, the collection seems like it was designed with one of David Frost’s (many) beauties in mind. Here are my top three picks:

Etro S/10 RTW

Etro S/10 RTW

Etro S/10 RTW

Scare tactics

Among the trends to emerge from the northern hemisphere’s recent fashion month, including prom dress shoulders (Lanvin), barn chic (Chanel) and knee-high socks (Alexander Wang), Paris Fashion Week’s “horror” was the most unsettling.

Was it an attempt to shock desensitised critics, or had the designers just watched a few too many terrifying movies?

English designer Alexander McQueen, known to many for his use of tartan and penchant to shock, conveyed the horror theme by using unnerving symmetrical prints and having the models’ hair molded into horns. While McQueen’s shapes were princess-like and regal, fangs, eyes and claws could all be found in the abstract prints.

Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2010

Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2010

Taking a literal approach to horror, Ann Demeulemeester sent models down the runway with chains caging their faces, conjuring up images of the film The Silence of the Lambs. Black leather, with its power, pleasure and pain connotations, featured prominently in the collection in the form of high-waisted pants, mini-skirts and biker jackets with oversized, slouchy lapels.

Ann Demeulemeester Spring/Summer 2010

Ann Demeulemeester Spring/Summer 2010

Similarly, Belgian husband-and-wife team A.F. Vandevorst incorporated Hannibal Lecter in their collection, not only in their beige, fawn and tan colour palette, but also in their bolted body casts that looked as if they had been taken straight from the aforementioned film’s costume department. To make the collection work on a commercial and non-theatrical level, the couple also included delicate and sheer shorts, shirts and slips. The underwear as outerwear element provided a subplot of confusion and ambiguity.

A.F. Vandevorst SPring/Summer 2010

A.F. Vandevorst Spring/Summer 2010

With Christophe Decarnin at the helm, French brand Balmain continued with the slashed-and-trashed theme it has propounded of late, and for good reason – the brand’s sales have doubled in the last four years. In terms of the horror theme, the collection featured a raven-esque black mini dress, resplendent with exaggerated shoulders, fabric that looked like reptile skin and a jagged hem. Holed tees in slate grey and khaki green, laced-up “witch” boots and leather cigarette pants also featured in the collection.

Balmain Spring/Summer 2010

Balmain Spring/Summer 2010

For more designers dishing up harrowing collections, visit MiNDFOOD.com. Scary stuff, indeed.

Greased (and quiffed) lightning

It’s so easy to be struck by a cause or a movement.

Yesterday, for instance, I spent the morning at a press conference for Carlo Petrini, the Italian founder and president of the Slow Food movement. Even though Mr Petrini doesn’t speak my native tongue (English if you haven’t already guessed), I was thoroughly inspired by the philosophy he was propounding. That is, to buy locally-sourced food and to enjoy every meal you eat. Enjoy food? I was sold!

Then last night I attended the Sydney Vintage Clothing, Jewellery and Textiles Show. While I didn’t leave the show vowing to  open up my very own vintage boutique (an enticing career option, but no), I was tempted by the prospect of becoming a fully-fledged retro gal. 

The ’50s isn’t exactly a new reference point for counter-culturalists – Dita von Teese is probably to thank for this – but every time I encounter a Sandy or a Danny I am truly impressed by their appearance.

Scene from Grease

Scene from Grease

For women who follow the trend, it’s about elegant, knee-length skirts (whether they be full or pencil), cinched waists and coquettish heels. Hair is usually cut short with the kick of a curl and a quif. It’s no surprise to find a hardcore ‘50s woman arm-in-arm with a ‘50s man. He’ll have slicked-backed hair and be wearing a streamlined suit (à la Don Draper) or a bomber jacket with blue jeans (like Rebel Without a Cause‘s Jim Stark).  Now what lass wouldn’t want her beau to look like Jon Hamm or James Dean?

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Despite my fascination with followers of the ’50s, I do have reservations about certain aspects of the movement – the requisite inch-thick make-up and pre-feminist ideals make me squirm. That said, I’m not one to snub a gentleman who opens the door for me.

So what did I buy at the vintage show? A floor-length ’50s nightgown in nude, with a rust-coloured, floral trim. Baby steps to fully-fledged retro gal … baby steps.

Real style: Inglourious Basterds

OK, I’ll admit it, I haven’t actually seen Inglourious Basterds yet, though I’ve been bombarded with enough material (in the form of posters, trailers, magazine covers, YouTube clips) to get a gist of the film’s wardrobe – and it’s gloriously drool-worthy.

While Diane Kruger looks smokin’ in the film, it’s French actress Melanie Laurent’s character whose wardrobe I covet the most:

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds

Part ’40s glam, part country bumpkin, the look in question is definitely unique. If you’re looking to emanate the style of Laurent’s character, Shosanna Dreyfus, then here are a couple of designers to keep an eye on:

ISAAC MIZRAHI – Spring 2010 RTW

Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi

FRANCESCO SCOGNAMIGLIO – Fall 2009 RTW

Francesco Sognamiglio

Francesco Sognamiglio

How to shop…online

I live by the “all or nothing” mantra. And when it comes to my wardrobe this means a $3000 shopping slurge, or a 3-month shopping drought.

My shopping splurges normally take place in the not-so-cosy confines of the internet. My method is to open up five or so sites, put an unlimited number of items in my cart (as you would a dressing room) and meticulously plan my wardrobe for the upcoming season, seeing what items go with what, who has the best deal, etc.

Shopping online can be the cheaper option if you’re smart about it. Here are a few tips I live by:

1. Take your measurements and cross reference them with the shopping outlet’s sizing chart.

2. Buy styles that you know suit you – a size 10 in a tube dress isn’t the same as a size 10 in a fifties style dress.

3. Know your American and European sizes off by heart – it’s so easy to accidentally order an American size 10 thinking it’s an Australian 10 (it’s actually an Australian 14). Just in case, have a size conversion website opened in your browser while you shop.

4. Buy clothes slightly bigger and have them altered to fit.

5. Once you’ve found a branded pair of shoes or a dress, Google the style to see who’s offering the best deal. The website ShopStyle can help you with this.

6. Try to do a big order at once, rather than lots of smaller orders – you’ll save on postage and handling.

7. If you’re after a bargain, always rank the items from Low-to-High to avoid disappointment.

My favourite online shopping sites are Net-a-Porter, The Outnet (Net-a-Porter’s affordable cousin), ShopBop, BlueFly, TopShop, American Apparel, ASOS, StrawberryNet (for all your beauty needs), Opening Ceremony…and there are some seriously good bargains to have at these “shops”.

Just last week I bought this frantic Ostwald Helgason jacket/shirt from Opening Ceremony at half price.

Ostwald Helgason jacket/shirt

Ostwald Helgason jacket/shirt

Bring on the balmy spring weather!

Ready for battle

There’s something really powerful about a woman dressed for combat. Think Rachel Weisz in Enemy at the Gates or Demi Moore in G.I. Jane.

Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes and Jude Law in Enemy at the Gates

Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes and Jude Law in Enemy at the Gates

I was thrilled to find, during my weekly perusal of Net-a-Porter‘s new items, the following combat style cardigans from Clemence Ribeiro.

Clemence Ribeiro

Clemence Ribeiro: Admiral Embellished Cashmere Cardigan

Clemence Ribeiro - Soldier cashmere cardigan

Clemence Ribeiro - Soldier Cashmere Cardigan

Both items meld dainty cashmere with dramatic buckles – the juxtaposition gives the cardigans an edge. They’re also a nice way to incorporate the military look into a feminine wardrobe – a problem I often encounter as my closet is resplendent with full skirts, frilly blouses and Mary Janes.

To complete this combat-meets-high-tea look, add a pleated black skirt and a pair of Vera Wang Claire Combat Boots from ShopBop.

Vera Wang Claire Combat Boots

Vera Wang Claire Combat Boots

Hello Suffragette City!

Puberty brights

Does anyone remember the film Puberty Blues? It was about the sexual habits of two teenage surfer girls from Sydney’s southern suburbs (my neighbourhood). Directed by Bruce Beresford, the film was released in 1981 and caused quite a stir at the time.

Whilst chatting with Beresford yesterday about his new film Mao’s Last Dancer, I threw a curveball his way and asked him what he thought of the coming-of-age flick after all these years. His response: “I never thought it was any good. A drawback to my career really.” Alrighty then.

Despite the fact the film’s own director doesn’t like it, I think Puberty Blues is an Australian classic. And the costumes! Frayed jean shorts, block colour ensembles and asymmetrical shapes. Not much has changed really.

Puberty Blues

Jad Capelja and Nell Schofield in Puberty Blues

Want to recreate the look of Nell Schofield’s character Debbie Vickers, but with a high fashion+high street twist?

Start with a luxe chartreuse Lanvin blouse:

Lanvin Spring/Summer 2008/09

Lanvin Spring/Summer 2008/09

Add a taffeta striped mini from Top Shop:

Top Shop mini

Top Shop mini

And top it off with a vintage Moschino belt from eBay for good measure:

Vintage Moschino belt

Vintage Moschino belt

With an outfit like this you can’t help but get up to mischief.