Friday, May 31, 2013

Bit-O-Inspiro 36

In my fashion this fashion book, 'Rock and Royalty: The ever-changing look of Versace's couture, as seen—and modeled—by the kings, queens, mega-models, and jokers of rock & roll' is too inspiring. Then photos of Kristen McMenamy are my favorite! This book was published in 1997, so its a great walk down memory lane of the 90's. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Style Maven: Diana Vreeland and the Met (Part 1)

On May 6, 2013, we all know that was the night of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute’s ‘Party of the Year’. In celebration of this year’s exhibition opening of Punk: From Chaos to Couture (on display til August 13th), I tuned into Vogue Magazine’s live stream of the event’s red carpet, and in my fashion, the feel of the night had a very ‘20s glam’ vibe to it as I was taken aback by languid, dresses paired with daring accessories (probably very much influenced by this year’s release of The Great Gatsby, and Vogue’s May 2013 issue featuring lead female of the film, Carey Mulligan). At the gala, I loved her sleek black dress and the classic 20s heels, but as always at #IMFblog, I was most impressed by those who go against the grain! Watching the beginning of the night’s festivities unfold with an enchanting looking Hilary Rhoda wearing Wes Gordon as co-host to Vogue’s, William Norwich, the names to look for, in my fashion, were: Kimberly Chandler (6:10),   Lauren Santo Domingo (10:20), Miley Cirus (28:17 and 31:14), Sara Jessica Parker (51:12), Cameron Diaz (59:57), Kristen Stewart (1:02:24), Katy Perry (1:05:07), Alexis Welch (1:11:06), wife of Amar'e Stoudemire, Anne Hathaway (55:03), Andrew Baven (1:17:18) who arrived with Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer Lopez (1:19:51). These were the stars of which I felt fabulous enough to have been inspired enough to add to my list of ‘Grand Style of the Night’ especially in coherence with the theme of the night, Punk. Reviewing photos of the event, I feel Kate Beckinsale never looked better, and my personal favorite of the night was, Nicole Richie. Try to catch the above celebrities' looks in the live stream below: 

If you recall from my last post, READing Your Style: Vogue Fashions (Part 2), Punk had “a social significance”, as Marc Jacobs (55:43) said when interviewed at the Gala. Andrew Bolton (46:20), curator of the exhibit said, “Punk has an integrity and authenticity that continues to engage people now,” and it is as model, Karen Elson (24:32), said it is, “ultimately what society is ultimately supposed to be.” Elson’s comment struck a chord with me because, in a sense, there is a bit a truth to that statement. Punk helped form our modern views on style for it made uniformity redundant, showing that style is about individuality, not conformity. Jonathan Van Meter looked back on Punk’s origins in Vogue’s May 2013 issue:

Mannequin wearing Guido Palau's rainbow colored headpieces, handmade
 - along with 100 other rebel-chic helmuts - for the Met Exhibition. Photos:
“Punk, like fashion, has always felt a bit like a competitive sport. No matter how outrageous or offensive or grotesque or radical you or your friends thought you were being, with your torn or splattered whatever, your shaved or spiked something or other, there was always someone more shocking, more mesmerizingly weird than you. There was always that one person who was more committed.” 

The Met Gala is the perfect example of my theme for the next two months, Fashion is Theater. The Met Gala began in 1948, and was originally conceived by Dorothy Shaver and Eleanor Lambert as a way of adding to the Costume Institute’s endowment and was primarily an industry event. Now, ‘The Party of the Year’ not only includes the fashion insiders, but celebrities make the glamour of the night that much more entertaining. An increasing number of notable athletes have even become prevalent at the Gala as well, which is another indication of how much fashion has touched all walks of life. It is a dramatic ceremony of the Institute’s grand opening of the Costume Institute’s spring exhibition; but, the drama that is associated with the Met Gala, and the Costume Institute’s mission to raise awareness of dress in human history did not become synonymous until 1973 when a certain fashion arbiter became the Institute's Special Consultant. Diana Vreeland was that catalyst for bringing life to the Institute, and to the field of costume curating as a whole. She was the embodiment of ‘Fashion as Theater’

I spent a lot of time over the past few months reading up on Diana Vreeland. I read ‘The Empress of Fashion’ by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, ‘Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel’ by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, and ‘Diana Vreeland’ by Eleanor Dwight. I really wanted to become very familiar with Diana Vreeland before I spent time on #IMFblog to highlight her as a Style Maven. Diana Vreeland’s work in fashion, and passion for life was inspiring to read about because her influence played a large part in the creation of the modern fashion industry. Diana Vreeland, born September 29, 1903, had a privileged childhood growing up amid the fashionable of New York’s Upper East Side, moving to Europe as a newlywed with her lifelong husband where she learned European luxuries and etiquette, developing her own striking style and reputation in fashion. When World War II forced her back to the states, she joined the staff of Harper’s Bazaar as a fashion editor under Editor-in-Chief, Carmel Snow, in 1936. After more than 25 years, in 1962, Diana Vreeland made the move to become Vogue’s next Editor-in-Chief, bringing a new energy and life not only to the magazine, but to fashion as a whole. With Vogue as her platform, Vreeland’s flair and ingénue personality led women in dressing during a time when women finally felt free to look as inventive and sexy as possible. After rearing countless models, photographers, writers, editors, and movie stars, to successful careers by highlighting the zeitgeist of the 60s in Vogue, her reign at the helm ended in 1971, and she took on the challenge of curating at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute in 1972. She oversaw the creations of fifteen exhibitions (Here later shows, "Man... for the Institute until the autumn of 1989 when she passed way. Diana Vreeland’s enchanting view of the beauty of life is something that carried her through life as she grew up alongside the development of the modern fashion industry. 

André Leon Talley working with Diana Vreeland for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute in 1974.
My quest on #IMFblog has been to examine where trends and social behavior originated as it pertains to fashion and style. I aim to find what fashion was, and what we are turning it into day by day going forward. Diana Vreeland having served as Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief at a time when fashion became a powerful tool of expression for women helped her to convey to America a concept of beauty that was aspirational and liberating for all women to follow. Diana Vreeland’s aura is still riddled in the excitement associated with the fashion industry, and the way that we think about fashion is a product of the mind of this visionary figure. That is why this month and next month I choose to delve into her work at the Costume Institute which is another arena of fashion where she brought her inimitable influence setting a standard that we still aim to achieve not just for fashion, but in the field of costume curating. I want to examine what we can learn from DV about style and fashion through her curatorial work. I figure, in light of this year’s exhibition opening, doing so will give us an eye into the difficulty of producing an exhibition, and Vreeland’s thoughts on how to create drama in presentation. In my fashion, one who has style has a recognizable character, and those who understand the character they play in life have the power to produce a life’s story that teaches others what it means to live a fulfilling life.

Remember, "Fashion IS theater!"
Diana would mastermind twelve exhibitions - one a year, beginning with her Balenciaga show, which opened in the winter of 1973, and ending with the 1983-1984 exhibition on the career of Yves Saint Laurent. Several later shows, "Man and the Horse," "Costumes of Royal India" and "Dance," contained her ideas, but were organized when she was not well enough to come to the museum. 

Diana and Met designer Stuart Silver in her red lacquer office. Photos: Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight

The subjects of the exhibitions were rich and varied. Tom Hoving found that her ideas were so good that she only needed to mention a possible subject to him and he would quickly approve it. Her exhibition themes ranged from the careers of particular designers such as Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent in separate shows, to groups of designers like Chanel, Schiaparelli and the others covered in "The Tens, Twenties, the Thirties: Inventive Paris Clothes 1909-1939." She also staged exhibits developed around a central idea, such as "Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design" or the costumes of different countries or empires ("The Glory of Russian Costume" or "The Fashions of the Hapsburg Era - Austria-Hungary"). Different personalities were highlighted in "American Women of Style" and  "The Eighteenth-Century Women." Some exhibitions, like the Russian and Hapsburg exhibits, arrived from out-of-house pretty much complete, while others were entirely worked up by Vreeland and her staff, borrowing from many sources, both costume collections and private wardrobes. Her greatest contributions were the exhibitions like the Russian show, which showcased clothes that were not only unfamiliar, but were also breathtakingly beautiful and of great historical interest.     

Her displays, which often included as many as one hundred mannequins, would appeal to the imagination and plunge the viewer into a milieu - perhaps a celebration of a great moment in Hollywood, or her version of the eighteenth century. She wanted the clothes to appear fashionable to the contemporary viewer. As Susan Train remembers, "These shows were not history - they were fashion. They were people wearing beautiful clothes." The viewer might see a mannequin representing Grace Kelly in a movie gown, a figure of pop star Cher, or Garbo as Queen Christina. Figures wearing the garments of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great of Russia, the children of the Hapsburg court, all would appear in impressive groupings in the basement of the Met. As she had done in her magazine pages, Diana Vreeland would give the viewer something more.  - From Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Style Watch: Fashion is Theater

In my fashion, having style is about having a particular point of view of life, and knowing how to reflect that view when people look at you. These three videos that caught my attention this month were from women who definitely have something to say about who they are, and what they stand for. Each of these videos project a certain vibe, and certain look that is attainable, meaningful, and inspirational no matter what your background is. Here's some video's for you to watch and listen to on this Memorial Day Weekend, and take away some style hints. 

Janelle Monae became one of my favorite artists in 2008 when she came out with her single Many Moons from her album, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase). I have heard her compared to a women-Andre 3000 (and we know how I feel about Three Stacks), and I can concur with that comparison.  Her quirky, tuxedo style has made her very recognizable these past years since she came out with 'Many Moons', especially as she adds 'Cover Girl' to her resume. I was very proud of her when I saw this video, Q.U.E.E.N., because in my fashion, this video is well suited for a wide audience for it's fun, simple, bouncy, and fresh. The video has an enormous amount of style, and is indicative of what type of girl she is with the 60's funk sound, monochromatic color scheme, and upbeat energy. She says, "Even if it makes other uncomfortable, I will love who I am." She just wants to be free to be, and all the dancing in the video is bound to set any viewer free because her energy is infectious. Erykah Badu, was a perfect touch for the video as she is one person who has stayed consistent to what she represents. 

This video has a bit more of an aggressive, hard vibe, but is so poetic, not just because of this artist's lyrics, but I was enchanted by the snake-like allure of this Miami Cuban's exotic sultriness as she raps. Her name is Kat Dahlia, and her sultriness is offset by the story she tells in her debut single, Gangsta. This song grabs me like a snake charmer hooks a snake to its tune. In my fashion, based off the experiences she raps about, she gives a new meaning to what we consider a "gangsta". I think she speaks for those girls who don't have the best influences in life, but she shows how even someone as pretty as she is surviving through it all. I love her sleek tops and bottoms, and heavy jewelry looking very Miami sexy, with her long shiny hair. Her skin tone seems to go with any color she wears, and she wears them boldly, just how they should be worn. According to Dahlia, this bombshell has learned some things in life, and she wants to share. 

I have always adored Selena Gomez! As old as I am, I would flip through the channels on TV, and I admit I use to stop on the Disney channel just because I would catch a glimpse of her play the spunky bohemian, Alex Russo, on Wizards of Waverly Place. In my fashion, while Selena was playing a character on the show, I felt that the 'edgy-girlie' style she rocked on the show was more than just role play. Selena's style was infectious to watch because her baby doll features are something we haven't seen for a while in entertainment. Now, with her transitioning from the show to her new role as an pop star, her girl-to-women transition is looking good in this video for her single, Come and Get It. Instead of disappearing and concocting potions on her Disney show, in the video she is majestic in a much more mature sense with her sheer, flowy dresses making her look much more spiritual and ethereal with the kaleidoscopic imagery of her Bollywood inspired dances. The eye contact she commands when she looks at us is most indicative of her transition, because as we all know the eye is the window to the soul, and in my fashion, her soul is saying she is coming of age so, "Come and get it!" Selena has been doing a good job communicating this to the world since the single's release as I have seen her on so many award show platforms. From her debut performance in April at the MTV Movie Awards, she has been promoting her song like a pop star should be, up to her most recent performance, May 19th, at the Billboard Awards. Her performances have provided her a smooth entrance into her new role, and  is perfect marketing for her, because she's been on Billboard Top 100 for the past six weeks (currently number seven)!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


My look on the way to Rihanna's Diamond tour in
DC. As you can see my intention was to be seen!
In my fashion, now a days, you are your own model. While fashion has always been about portraying your best self, in this digital era, not only can people show off to a world wide audience with social media, people have the power to market themselves just as good as any modeling agency could. Social media allows us to highlight our talents in more ways than one, and if you are creative enough, opportunities present themselves with each view of one’s profile, each “like” to one's photo, and each follower one obtains. Social media gives all of us the opportunity to do as Diana Vreeland said, which is to “be ingenious and make ourselves into something else." A new wave of sartorial expression via blogs and sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram has created the possibility to become our own models/entertainers in our own rights and connect with others who enjoy what we can do. We create photo albums on Facebook; Twitter and Instagram have quickly gained momentum as popular social mediums; and the authority of bloggers is continually on the increase. If you took a look at my last two READing Your Style posts (Part 1 and Part 2), the way we experience and interpret fashion changes with each generation, and in my fashion, I find it fascinating how digital media is this generations motivation for having fun with fashion.

This month is the Metropolitian Museum of Art Costume Institute's opening of it's exhibition "Punk: Chaos to Couture" (May 9 through August 14). I thought a good way to celebrate this month would be to take a look at the past exhibitions curated by the legendary Diana Vreeland. I choose to look at these exhibitions because as dress historian, Valerie Cumming, says in her book 'Understanding Fashion History', "Diana Vreeland reinvented costume exhibitions as glossy extravaganzas, fashionable social occasions and introduced the concept of hagiography of living designers. After her death in 1989 there were no more special consultants at the Costume Institute, but she had set a pattern that is still being followed: glamour, erratic scholarship and maximum celebrity appeal. It is a heady mix - fashion as spectacular theater - and its impact has permeated well beyond America." This being so, I wanted to take a look at the 15 exhibitions Vreeland curated and discuss their significance. What perfect way to celebrate this years opening on #IMFblog.

Diana Vreeland lived under the impression that fashion is theater, and in my fashion I tend to agree. Fashion is more than simply wearing the latest designs and being first to wear something outrageous - fashion is all about attitude! A few days ago I attended Rihanna's 'Diamonds' tour. The venue was packed with girls in little skirts and leather, but the pieces that stood out, in my fashion, was anyone wearing neon, and girls wearing colorful fur bolero jackets like the one Rihanna was spotted wearing in Paris last December. I was so energized by the daring ensembles I saw, for I know the amount of attitude and conviction it takes to be explicit in expressing your style. This month will be a month dedicated to how the joy of fashion comes from the theatrics accompanied with a particular look. Having style is about portraying a character, and to pull off a look, one must understand that a bit of dramatization in one's dress is what shows your commitment to being who you are. Like the early generation of punk rockers who strove to dramatize their alienation through their garb to make the statements they felt weren't being heard, the more effort you put into creating a radical look, make you that more intriguing to be heard. In my fashion, fashion is about finding what makes you so intriguing.