What Perfect timing. Just as the third week of the Harvey Weinstein sex trial got underway in New York, the Christian Dior Spring 2020 haute couture show in Paris delivered a powerful feminist message. The runway was in the shape of a womb. It was designed by 80-year-old feminist artist Judy Chicago who wore a gold pantsuit from the collection. The models resembled golden goddesses.
During the week of couture showings, the runways were filled with spectacular entrance-making gowns, many in gold. It was impossible not to think about the upcoming Academy Awards. Renee Zellweger is a shoo-in to pick up the golden statue for Best Actress in her role as Judy Garland. Ronald van der Kemp’s gilded gown is a perfect choice.
When I saw this spectacular Giambattista Valli green satin gown, I immediately thought of Cynthia Erivo. The actress, who is up for Best Supporting Actress in her riveting role in Harriet, loves to make a grand entrance. FYI, Erivo is the 11th black actress to be nominated for a leading role at the Oscars in the ceremony’s 92-year history and the only woman of color nominated in the acting categories this year.
Jean-Paul Gaultier’s farewell extravaganza was the well-deserved highlight of the week. While the focus was on JPG, the fashion world is carefully watching Virginie Viard as she settles into her role at Chanel. I commend Virginie for trying to find her own way and distance herself from Karl.
I liked her use of a black and white color palette, the monastic minimalism, the use of black loafers and white socks. But some of the couture collection looked frumpy and just plain dowdy. The oversized collars and often shapeless frocks did nothing for the young beautiful models. Can you imagine how they will look on mere mortals?
The idea of comfort and ease, not being overtly sexy, and playful boyishness is integral to the Chanel Mystique which continues to inspire. Its forever appeal really resonates today and there are vestiges all around.
I cannot stop thinking about what Phoebe Philo might have brought to the table; how she could have interpreted Coco’s aesthetic and quite frankly, The Row looks more Chanel than Chanel these days. The Olsen twins have that throwaway tomboyish elegance and luxurious insouciance down pat.
There is something unbelievably cool, effortless, and timeless about men’s oxfords, brogues, and creepers, whether worn with a pair of trousers, skinny jeans, or a cocktail dress.
More and more women are cutting off their long locks. In 1988, Joan Juliet Buck observed, “Short hair removes obvious femininity and replaces it with style.” Kaia Gerber and Zoe Kravitz are two women who exemplify this. They look far more beautiful and distinctive with their hair cut short.
In Black & White
At this time of the year, many so-called fashion ‘experts’ advise you to purge your somber all-black wardrobe and switch to color. Ridiculous! The shortcut to chic and the easiest, quickest, most effective way to add interest to black is to add white. It is the ultimate palette cleanser.
Take a page from the newly minted 2019 International Best Dressed inductee Tonne Goodman whose signature uniform consists of a perfect black turtleneck and crisp white jeans. It’s a proven fact that white jeans instantly refresh everything.
Adding white shoes or boots efficiently does the job as well.
Go for the Gold
Silver metal is chic and modern but gold is warmer and more flattering, especially this time of the year when many of us are pale. I love bold gold but smaller, more personal pieces that can be layered is always appealing.
The legendary Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, who brilliantly styled the recent Moschino Pre-Fall 2020 show, has mastered the art of layering gold jewelry on her almost all black simply chic wardrobe. She has made it a signature and it works.
Simply the Best
The Winter Antique Show Opening Night Party was held on Thursday. The vast Park Avenue Armory was filled with covetable antiques and well-dressed guests. But one woman, who was very pared-down, really stood out. Nicky Hilton Rothschild perused the aisles wearing a perfectly fitted black turtleneck and luggage leather skirt accessorized with a small Louis Vuitton bag and very simple, high heeled black suede Manolo Blahnik pumps.
The Chinese New Year begins on Saturday, January 25th. People born in the year of the Rat are seen as intelligent, charming, quick-witted, practical, ambitious and good at economizing as well as social activities. They work hard to achieve their goals, acquire possession and are likely to be perfectionists.
However, they are also likely to be timid, stubborn, wordy, greedy, devious, too eager for power and love to gossip. Recent Rat years are 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, and 2020. Shakespeare and Churchill are famous rats. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of fashion people who are also part of the ‘Rat Pack’: John Galliano (1960), Edward Enninful (1972), Brandon Maxwell (1984), Alessandro Michele (1972), Jonathan Anderson (1984). The latter two are among those designers who have created capsule collections in honor of the Chinese New Year.
It’s all about the ’20s. I’m referring to the 1920s. It was the vintage jewelry from the ’20s that caught my eye at the Winter Antique Show. Standout pieces from Cartier, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels filled the cases at James Robinson, Macklowe Gallery, and Kentshire.
Coincidentally, beginning this past week, The Metropolitan Museum of Art began selling a collection of Erté inspired jewelry, scarves, home goods, stationery, handbags and accessories in its gift shop. The Met first embraced Erté back in 1967, when it acquired an extraordinary total of 170 works, which it has proudly held ever since as an important part of its permanent collection.
My curiosity about the ’20s was fueled last November when I attended the press preview of “In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Institute. Some of the most exquisite pieces in the exhibition are from the ’20s. Standouts are the Madeleine & Madeleine evening gown, circa 1923, and a group of unlabeled “flapperish” dresses from the ’20s that are divine.
By the way, Sandy is in New York for a few whirlwind days and I am fortunate to have lunch with her on Sunday. She was one of several people who wrote comments following the posting of my article, “It’s Not Your Mother’s Fur: Part One” which obviously struck a chord. This is what she said:
“I’m a furrier’s daughter and proud of it! My dad was the protege of David Nemerov, Father of photographer Diane Arbus and owner of that grand old store, Russeks in New York and the branch in Detroit. Daddy learned how to be what he called “a master cutter.” He argued with me about whether being a furrier was a fashion occupation or a craft. He said the latter. But, he said, he was a man of God:
That in the Bible, ch 3, verse 22, it says “and the Lord God made coats of animal skins and gave them to Adam and Eve for warmth.” Daddy also insisted that minks were bred for their skins, not to inhabit the earth but to keep humans warm! Daddy would have found today’s anti-fur climate shocking, to say the least.”
Look for more “musings” in the coming weeks.