Category: PORTRAITS OF STYLE

Double Denim

CONFIDENCE & EASE – ALL ROLLED UP IN BLUES

If you’re fortunate enough to have found a few denim pieces that fit you the way you like, and are the colour that you prefer, then you are indeed a lucky one. A fitted denim shirt with straight leg jeans – double denim – in dark blue wash is stylishly sharp.

Which is exactly what Calvin Klein showed for Fall 2017. An ensemble elevated to perfection with shiny boots toe-tipped in silver metal.

A mix of light blue and dark blue washes appears slightly more casual, but still pulled together. Then there’s yet another possibility of white jeans with dark blue denim top – a definite personal favourite.

The appeal of denim is perennial, and rightfully so. It feels wonderfully reassuring on the body, encasing you in confident, easy nonchalance.

A.P.C. Fall 2017

The Eloquence of Scarves

My daughter once asked me, if I wear a scarf tied around my neck so regularly, because I’m cold?

Oh no, I answered promptly – I wear them for the chic, edgy feel they give me.

Bridgette Bardot photographed by Terry O Neill, Spain, 1971

The really interesting thing about a scarf is its ability to imbue a whole different feeling on each wearer.

Depending on the chosen print, the dominant colour, the size of the scarf – larger square or smaller square – and the way that you knot them, you attain something entirely different. 

One person achieves nonchalance, another demure polish, and yet another rebellious chic. There’s an attitude tied in that little knot.

A Film of Dazzling Polish

EQUESTRIAN STYLE IN ‘BELLE DU SEIGNEUR’

Belle du Seigneur based on the acclaimed novel by Albert Cohen is a film of dazzling beauty that remains hollow at its core.

It’s the summer of 1936 in Geneva. Jewish communities are being persecuted all over Germany. The Head of Cabinet for the League of Nations is a handsome Jew named Solal Solal (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). Solal is haunted, he says, by a beautiful Genevoise aristocrat, Ariane Deume (Natalia Vodianova), the wife of a man who works for him at the League. Solal seduces Ariane away easily and their love affair is the heart of the story.

In operatic style, Rhys-Meyers flies hot and cold, periodically striking the comic. Vodianova is vacant, whimpering and spineless. Their story, a tortured exploration of desire, power and obsession in a world of tremendous personal and cultural refinement is ultimately destructive.

Belle du Seigneur is sumptuous to watch. It titillates every sense with its vintage fashion, beautiful actors, glamorous interiors, shots of the Italian coastline, and of Geneva. The moody Gabriel Yared soundtrack, “a fragile waltz surrounded by sorrowful string adagios” intensifies the sensuality. Despite all this, the film remains emotionally paltry, but the equestrian style is sharply elegant.

Tailored Self-Possession

SLEEK TAILORING AT DIOR

Sleek tailoring – mainly visible in menswear – is the language of: soignée power.

Deft elegance, sophistication – dashing, debonair.

Maria Grazia Chiuri caught this in her Pre-Fall collection for Dior in 2018. Using luxurious suiting fabrics that echo menswear staples, her designs skilfully drape the body in long lines of poise.

Muse Jennifer Lawrence brings to these ensembles an air of confidence and easy self-possession. Self-possesion – that sense, that feeling of standing tall, proud, and comfortable in your own skin.

Svelte in a Dress

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG & THE WRAP DRESS

The wrap dress slinkily swathes the body in soft luscious fabric, dramatically nipping in at the waist, crossing across the breasts, shaping and contouring the body in a svelte silhouette.

Diane von Furstenberg did not foresee the success of her wrap dress:

“I never dreamt that the simple dress I launched in 1974, a dress that was easy, sexy, elegant, and affordable all at the same time, would catapult me into fashion history.”

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, THE WOMAN I WANTED TO BE
Diane von Furstenberg wearing her wrap dress

The story of the dress begins in 1968, when twenty-two year old Diane went to Italy to shadow tycoon Angelo Ferretti. At his factory, she came across “knitted silk and high-quality mercerized cotton jersey fabric” being manufactured, learnt about which designs make good prints, and how to create a repeat pattern. In short, “everything about jersey” was grasped from Ferretti.

Whilst on a trip to New York, Diane noticed a gap in the market place. On the one end “high-fashion hippie clothes,” on the other “stale, double-knit dresses.” Returning to Feretti, excited and full of new thoughts, “an idea began to percolate” in her mind. What if she made some dresses out of the colourful, printed Feretti jersey fabric, dresses both sexy and easy to wear – might that fill this gap?

At a fashion show in 1974 the wrap dress made its debut. There were snags along the way but Diane pushed ahead step by step, made lucky associations with talented associates and sales of the dresses rose dramatically. The wrap was established as the “it” dress of its time, and Diane became a celebrity.

“Back then, my main goal was to be free and independent. I was constantly on the go. I loved being that woman high on her heels walking in and out of places like a tornado, taking planes as if they were buses, feeling pragmatic, engaged, and sexy. I loved the idea of being a young tycooness… I loved having a man’s life in a woman’s body.”

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, THE WOMAN I WANTED TO BE
Diane von Furstenberg & Oprah Winfrey

But in 1978, the dress business took a nose dive. The wrap dresses disappeared from production. It was in the nineties that Diane, now approaching fifty, responded to the surge of nostalgia – her own and the public – who longed for fashion of the seventies, as she longed for her one signature item. The wrap dress was revived.

On 9 September 1997 the jersey dresses were launched at Saks, and took their place in the wardrobes of women and in the fashion cultural landscape.

“As a designer, Diane has always been more interested in the feelings inspired by clothes than in the technicalities of cut and fit. She knows that the true subject of fashion is romance—women in alluring outfits and the emotions they evoke. Sex was a big part of Diane’s life, and the force of her style came from the heat of sex flowing through it.”

GIOIA DILIBERTO,   DIANE VON FURSTENBERG: A LIFE UNWRAPPED

Hues of the Landscape

SAFARI, EQUESTRIAN, DESERT STYLE

In the movies they roam the desert, thunder the earth on the backs of horses, write history, love, live, and die.

Ensembles of earthy browns, strong rusts, hints of black, moss green, petrol blue, natural khaki, golden cream and crisp white. A melange of hues that reflect the landscape as it blends into the sky.

“The sky was rarely more than pale blue or violet, with a profusion of mighty, weightless, ever-changing clouds towering up and sailing on it, but it has blue vigour in it, and at a short distance it painted the ranges of hills and the woods a fresh deep blue.”

Karen Blixen, ‘Out of Africa’
Kristin Scott Thomas, ‘The English Patient’
Nicole Kidman, ‘Australia’
Ralph Fiennes, ‘The English Patient’

Styled in a suede or leather jacket, a white voile or crisp cotton shirt, khaki jodhpurs; a voluptuous silk pussy-bow blouse, an elegant printed silk neck scarf. Structure and form with layered softness.

Theirs is the glamour of the trailblazer that stirs the imagination with romance, and the restlessness to adventure.

A Badge of Individuality

THE TRENCH COAT

No one looks the same in a trench coat. Each person gets to stamp their own signature on the look, whilst borrowing its crisp, classic form. 

“The Trench Coat was once a uniform, now it is a badge of Individuality.”

Aquascutum

Originally a military uniform worn by army officers, designed with details to aid soldiers through the travails of wind, rain and the conditions of trench warfare, the trench coat found its way into the realms of high style, and persists today as a garment of elegance and functionality for both men and women.

Kate Moss for Burberry

The drive to develop fabrics for the manufacture of outerwear that protected one against the elements, began in the 1800’s.  As early as 1823, Scotsman Charles Macintosh invented a “rubberized cotton” and made outer garments called “macks,” that were worn by the military and civilians.

In 1853, British clothier John Emary, developed a better fabric, still weatherproof but more breathable, and appropriately renamed his company Aquascutum: “aqua” meaning “water” and “scutum” meaning “shield” in Latin.

It was in 1879, that Thomas Burberry, English gentlemen’s outfitter, invented “gabardine,” a “weatherproofed twill” that began the design development of the iconic Burberry trench coat.

“Embodying a certain cool, effortless, sexy feel with hints of masculinity…. A piece that will never date and a piece that will epitomise chic elegance no matter how you choose to wear it. Simply put, it is a classic to suit every woman.”

VOGUE (AUSTRALIA)

Black Suit Elegance

YVES SAINT LAURENT – LE SMOKING

In August 1966, Yves Saint Laurent introduced a classic black evening suit – the tuxedo for women – marking a revolutionary moment in fashion history. Despite the changes that feminism of the 60’s had wrought for women, wearing pants in public was still frowned upon, but this was to change, and did.

The original Yves Saint-Laurent Le Smoking Tuxedo for women, photographed by Helmut Newton, Rue Aubriot, Paris, 1975

The real appeal and iconic status of le smoking lies in the attitude and stance that a women wearing it seems to exude – confidence and a sense of her own power. 

Fifty years later, the tuxedo suit for women is still found in the collections of Saint Laurent Paris  as well as other designers – a testament to its embodiment of perennial chic.

“For a woman, le smoking is an indispensable garment with which she finds herself continually in fashion, because it is about style, not fashion. Fashions come and go, but style is forever.”

Yves Saint Laurent

© 2021 Bilkish Vahed

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑