Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Links a la Mode and Re: John Galliano

Galliano with Kate Moss in her wedding dress, designed by him (source)
Last week I made a post about the new position of disgraced designer John Galliano, which I'm happy to say made it into the IFB Links a la Mode. The post had a great response, and I'd just like to share a few of the comments made on it (I hope the commenters won't mind) because it's an issue which probably raises more questions than it answers, making it fascinating to discuss.

One of the points I thought most interesting was raised by Devon of Informed Style (incidentally one of my favourite and most thoughtful fashion blogs at the moment): "I think that the Galliano situation could be compared to that of Coco Chanel - who is now known to have been a Nazi collaborator during WWII. Has that evidence destroyed her legacy or status in fashion? Hardly. Her work stands on its own, despite dis-tasteful political/personal views." That's a really good point; I heard about the Chanel/Nazi scandal like everyone else, but that didn't change the fact that I still consider a Chanel handbag to be one of the main things I aspire to own one day. Of course, there is a difference since Galliano is still very much alive, but I think the Chanel episode demonstrated the fashion industry's rather forgiving attitude.

Several readers picked up on my comparison to Chris Brown and I concluded one main thing from their comments: pretty much everyone who reads my blog likes Galliano's designs and not Chris Brown's music. My friend Jas pretty much summarised the difference between the two cases: "I think the reason he's far more forgivable than Chris Brown is a) he wasn't sober b) he wasn't physically violent and c) he made a very good apology."

I think it's safe to say that (a) is the reason most of us agreed that Galliano deserves another chance: he was drunk. Becky of Becky Bedbug said "I think a drunken (and supposedly drugged) nonsensical rant is very different to someone repeatedly and viciously beating someone." and Amelia of Amelia is not Cross said: "Personally think that he deserves a second chance as it was a supposedly drunken outburst rather than continual abusive comments"

So in conclusion, I think I can safely say that, in the remote possibility that JG himself should ever see this post, he can draw comfort from the fact that I and my readers unanimously think he deserves a second chance. He's also better than Chris Brown.

If you want to read the comments, take a look at the original post (a few I've mentioned aren't there as they were made on my personal facebook profile) and why not add your own?

Practicing What We Preach

  Edited by Taylor Davies One of the most rewarding parts of working at IFB is seeing the fruits of our labor manifest itself in the brilliant and creative members of our community. As I browsed through this week’s submissions, I saw so many posts that applied many of the tips and suggestions we’ve offered in our past posts. While of course I can’t say for sure that we were the direct inspiration for all of this really great content, a blogger can dream right? No matter why it’s happening – it’s just wonderful to see! On that note, many of the selections this week delve into thoughtful discussions on style – from Galliano’s return and tired trends of 2012 to better blogging tips and a tongue-in-cheek look at successful fashion bloggers.


    SPONSOR: Shopbop Dresses: Vionnet, Rochas, Rxmance, Indah, Carven, Camilla, Giambatttista Valli, Marchesa, Jonathan Simkhai, Lela Rose, Paul & Joe Sister If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE where you see “Links a la mode next week’s date (official)". The HTML code for this week will be found in the Links a la Mode widget on the right side of the blog, and will be published later today. ~ Jennine

Monday, 28 January 2013

My favourite Austen costumes

Today is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice! To celebrate, I thought I'd pick out a few of my favourite costumes from recent adaptations of the novel and other works by Jane Austen. Let me know your favourites in the comments, and why not celebrate the anniversary by reading a bit of Austen?

You can also read my post for Winchester Fashion Week about style in Austen's time here.

Elizabeth's Netherfield Ball dress in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice

I really love how the Grecian style became prevalent again in the Regency period due to the surge in new Archaeological finds and the birth of neo-Classicism. The dress Lizzie wears to the ball is a good example of this and I like how it seems very simple but extremely elegant. It's also the dress she is wearing when she dances with Darcy, and that scene is just gorgeous. I pretty much adore all the costumes in this film becasue they're designed by Jacqueline Durran, and all of her work is magnificent (especially Anna Karenina, which I'm hoping will bag her an Oscar)

Marianne's yellow dress from the 2008 Sense and Sensibility

This may well be my favourite Austen adaptation ever - and that's not just because it has Dominic Cooper and Dan Stevens in it (though that's certainly a contributing factor). I just thought Charity Wakefield was a flawless Marianne, and her costumes are all lovely. For some reason though, I became obsessed with this patterned yellow day-dress. I think I just loved the young, fresh feel it had, and the way it matched her hair tie. This dress, a picnic, and Dominic Cooper reading me poetry and I think I could die happy.

Fanny's wedding dress from the 2007 Mansfield Park
Lots of people don't like Mansfield Park very much, and neither do they like its heroine. I'd say it's actually my favourite of the books, and also the one which hasn't had a completely satisfactory adaptation made of it yet. I did like Billie Piper in this version though, and this dress from the final scene took my breath away. It's covered with thousands of pearls, making it extremely heavy, but also somewhat ethereal. Despite that, it's still not overly-fussy, rather like Fanny herself.

Wickham's Militia uniform in Lost in Austen

If you like Pride and Prejudice and haven't seen Lost in Austen yet, I cannot recommend it to you enough. Anyway, there are several Mr Wickhams, all of them in exceedingly dashing uniforms, most of which are quite similar to each other. I have chosen this one mainly because I love Tom Riley's subversive portrayal of the character, but also because I'm fairly certain that gold collar is the largest one you'll see on any Mr Wickham (compare with Adrian Lucas and Rupert Friend). It seems flamboyant and at the same time friendly, and I like that.

Mr Woodhouse's picnic get-up in the 2009 Emma
Look at him, he's such a dapper older gentleman. Perhaps he owes this partially to the fact that he's very well-off, but there's still a lot of good taste going on here. He might be slightly infirm and wary of his health (and everyone else's) but his cane simply looks stylish, while his scarf to fend off the cold is a lovely pattern and goes his waistcoat wihtout being all matchy-matchy.

Isabella Thorpe's yellow day-dress in the 2007 Northanger Abbey

I still haven't decided how I feel about Isabella as a character. Obviously there are reasons to dislike her, though I've always had a bit of a thing for siding with the unsympathetic characters (hence my secret love for Caroline Bingley). This dress however suits my conflicting ideas of her character perfectly. It's bright, matching her energetic personality, and fairly flirtatious without giving too much away. Also Carey Mulligan could probably wear anything and look good.

Mr Darcy's shirt in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice...
Nah, just joking. There's not much remarkable about this shirt, but how could I make an Austen post without a bit of damp Colin Firth?

And one I didn't like...
Emma's hat in the 2009 Emma

I like all the other costumes, and I do think Romola Garai is capable of pulling off all sorts of styles, but I just did not like this hat. And it kept coming back, which was really annoying. It's not even that bad, I just took against it for some reason. I think it's because she would sometimes wear it with just a dress and no coat, and it looked bizarre.

What are your favourite Austen costumes?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Will Miss Vogue be a hit?

British Vogue have announced that they are going to launch a new teenage magazine alongside their June issue. As a long-time reader of Teen Vogue, I'm naturally very excited, and hope that Miss Vogue is going to take some cues from its American counterpart and, in the process, maybe it could sort out the teenage magazine market in Britain.

I've waxed lyrical about the strengths of Teen Vogue before, and even had a comment published in their letters page. The main thing I like about it is that it doesn't talk down to its readers. Most British magazines aimed at the younger market try to use what they obviously think is 'young person' lingo, the result of which is that the older readers are put off and by the age of about 14 you feel too embarrassed to buy the magazines which are meant to be aimed at you and move on to the adult versions. There's nothing wrong with this of course, but the clothes are often beyond a young person's budget and several of the features are about careers and long-term relationships. In short, it's difficult to find something suitable to one's age group.

I therefore have high hopes for Miss Vogue, since the only real thing which I find to be a problem with Teen Vogue is that it's very US-centric for obvious reasons. It will be good to have a publication of the same quality of Teen Vogue (which can inspire loyalty in readers who continue to buy the magazine into their twenties and beyond) that is also relevant to life in the UK.

I think Miss Vogue will fill a gap in the market and enjoy success, but then I could be basing that on my own desire for it! If you're looking forward to its release too then seek it out in May alongside the June issue of British Vogue.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Galliano's New Gig

Galliano at the end of a Dior show (source)

Yesterday the news emerged that disgraced designer John Galliano has been offered a temporary residency at Oscar de la Renta. Following his drunken racist outburst and subsequent firing from Dior, it may come as a surprise to many that Galliano is being given a second chance in the industry.

What do I think? I think it's risky. But I think that the man's talents are too great to give up on completely. It introduces an interesting and old question: is it possible to separate the behaviour of an artist from the value of their art?

When it was revealed that Chris Brown had become violent to his girlfriend Rihanna in 2009, several radio stations put an immediate ban on playing his music. Those who were already fans of his music were faced with a dilemma: it wasn't their fault that they enjoyed the work he produced, but how could they now listen to it without being seen to condone domestic violence? Much the same problem was faced by those who wore Galliano. Nothing had changed about the clothes, they still held the same appeal of escapism in flamboyant design, yet they were now associated with a man who had been filmed proclaiming his love for Hitler.

In Chris Brown's case, he now seems to have been given a second chance by everyone from the radio to Rihanna herself. Is this because he is believed to be reformed? Or is it because the world can recognise that someone should not be prevented from producing art on account of a mistake they have made which is unrelated to their work? I think it's a mixture of both in Brown's case, but in some cases it can be a tough decision: should you ignore art because you dislike the artist?

Keats once claimed in a letter to Richard Woodhouse that "A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no Identity - he is continually in for - and filling some other Body". If I am interpreting his meaning correctly, this means that an artist has no identity but his art. Everything that he is goes into the production of it. Depending on how you look at it, this could mean that someone's personality is inseparable from their work, or it could mean that their personality is immaterial; their art is all that counts. Basically, Galliano's work could be tainted forever by his reputation as a racist, or his mistakes could be eclipsed by the quality of his designs, rendering the past unimportant.

The Dior Midnight Poison dress on a poster at La Musee et Jardin Christian Dior
Some people will never be able to forgive him, but personally I wish John Galliano the best of luck in his future endeavours. As someone who has seen several of his best designs for Dior up close during my visits to the Musee et Jardin Christian Dior and the Rene Gruau exhibition, I know that we can expect great things to come.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

5 best suit-wearing TV characters

After my post about suits and their ability to look good on any man (so long as he seeks out the right one), I started thinking about those men who do manage to find a flattering suit which gives them a sharp appearance, and realised that some of the best-dressed men I've seen have had the help of a costume department. I ofcourse immediately had to make a list of my favourite suited characters on television.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the Downton Abbey Christmas episode yet, don't scroll any further. You have been warned.

5. Hector Madden and Freddie Lyons in The Hour

Alright yes I'm cheating a bit by having both of them, but I think there are benefits to each character's individual style. Hector has that classic look of a dependable, old-fashioned broadcaster. I think the way his suits sit on his broad shoulders hint at his military past, while the elegant hints of colour in his ties and pocket squares suggest the kind of man-about-town he is now. In contrast, Freddie has a more laid-back style which suits his type of story-pursuing journalism. In the first series he was often without his jacket, smoking in a waistcoat with his sleeves rolled up while he pursued a lead. While he has smartened up for the second series to become a presenter, his old quirks are still present in the slightly dishevelled way he wears his tie and the characteristic waistcoats.

4. Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey

Matthew is a paragon of good tailoring and a gentlemanly appearance in the face of the declining power of the aristocracy. He uderstands the importance of dressing for different occasions: dinner, hunting, the village fair, a wedding, all require different outfits. All the details are attended to (by his valet) and his expertise is so great, that he can even offer some to Tom when he returns to Downton as an outsider of the family. So why isn't he higher? Well, there are two reasons. Number one: he's dead. This might seem unfair, since his death in no way lessens how well he wore suits previously. It's just that I think that Tom will now take his place as the smartest young man in a suit. The other reason is that it's very difficult to choose between Matthew in a suit and Matthew in a military uniform.

3. Patrick Jane in The Mentalist

Patrick takes a relaxed approach to his work for the CBI by lounging on a sofa in the office and helping himself to tea at crime scenes, so it makes sense that his attire should be equally laid-back, but still appropriate for the job. I love his mismatched wasitcoats and open-necked shirts. He tends to go for a light grey colour which sets him apart from the othr agents who mostly wear black. All of it is part of his charm; he is at once a figure of authority and someone friendly who you can trust.

2. Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother

He coined the phrase 'Suit Up!' He is seldom seen in anything else. He even sang a song about his love for suits in which the rest of the cast showed off their own formal ensembles. Barney straddles the line between workwear and going-out wear with ease and is consistently well-dressed. You may be wondering, in fact, why on earth he isn't number one on this list. Well, there's just one man who I simply have to place above him...

1. Jim Moriarty in Sherlock

Debonair, attractive and utterly evil. Jim Moriarty's suits are part of his image as a sought-after Consulting Criminal, because nobody would trust a man who was anything less than impeccably dressed with a commission to 'take care' of someone. And of course, how could I not put my blog's namesake at the top of the list? Like others on the list, he knows the importance of detail, and so carefully selects each aspect of his suit to match his purposes. The rounded collar on the shirt above is a tricky look to pull off, but he knows he can make make it look good when worn with a well-fitting Westwood suit. To read more about why Jim Moriarty is so great, take a look at my most-viewed-ever post: 4 Reasons Why Moriarty is Better than Sherlock (Sartoriarally)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Nothing suits men like a suit

HIMYM - Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit by Flixgr

I've been thinking about suits recently. In fact, I've been considering them since I was in Paris at the end of the summer. Everywhere I turned there was a well-groomed man in a nicely-tailored suit, talking to his friend who was wearing a completely different cut of suit. Both, however, looked dapper and sophisticated while also seeming comfortable enough that they could have a casual coffee or go out for a friendly drink without feeling overdressed. When we went out for breakfast in the morning, a steady stream of suited businessmen would cycle past on hire bikes. In London, it is considered reckless to take your chances in the city traffic without reflective jacket, helmet and all manner of other protective clothing; in Paris, everyone just wears what they are going to spend their working day in. I even saw two suited men on bikes having what looked like an important business discussion as they waited for the lights to change.

2 stylish guys in Paris
If you get the right cut, material and colour suit, you can wear it at a moment's notice and look instantly ready for anything. It is a universally flattering piece of clothing. Of course, there are many unflattering suits out there, but it is my belief that all men can find one to suit their shape and personality if they know where to look (and often if they have money to burn).
Shop window in Paris

But what is the female equivalent? I'm not sure there is one. Yes, women can also wear suits, but I don't think that the female body is quite so able to pull the look off, so only certain people can carry it off. The thing about men's fashion as opposed to women's fashion is that its changes are much more subtle. Line up a display of menswear over the past century and you will be able to identify the changing size and shape of collars, cuffs, ties, pockets etc. but from a distance, many of the outfits will look very similar. Compare that to the dramatic lengthening and shortening of women's hemlines, necklines and every other other possible aspect of a garment and you'll see why the it is much easier to identify which men's look is THE classic one.

Could the Chanel skirt suit be the female equivalent?

The problem is that the components of a suit stay much the same, while candidates for the female equivalent, such as, say, the little black dress, re-define themselves every season. The shape of a dress changes far more drastically than a suit does. It seems awfully vague to say that there's a 'dress' for everyone. A suit requires small changes in its tailoring or sizing to flatter a man, but to change a dress so that it suits various different women might require radical reshaping.

But then, perhaps you disagree, or can think of another item which is universally flattering to women. Let me know what item of clothing you throw on if you want to feel instantly well-dressed in the comments section.