Thursday, December 10, 2009

World War II Fashion

The influence of World War II - particularly the presence of military uniforms - had a profound influence on the shape of women's fashion . The silhouette, similar to a soldier's, emphasized broad, often padded shoulders and narrow hips. The War Production Board initiated Law 85 (L-85) to restrict the use of wool, silk, cotton and nylon. Women's suits could not exceed 72 inches wide at the hem and jackets could not exceed 25 inches in length. Because nylon stockings were unavailable, women resorted to leg make-up to cover their legs, and drew a seam line up the back with eye pencil. In an act of patriotism, America launched and embraced the opportunity to "Make-Do-and-Mend" and began recycling outdated or worn fashions into usable garments. Movies increasingly served as important conveyors. The underwire bra created a new uplifted silhouette, demonstrated by the busty actresses Jane Russell and Lana Turner.
During the Second World War Paris produced restrained clothing to match the economic atmosphere. The general wartime scene was one of drabness and uniformity, continuing well after the war finished in 1945. There was an austere atmosphere and people were encouraged to 'make do and mend'. A 'Mrs. Sew and Sew' featured in advertisements in women's magazines and propaganda cinema clips promoted the idea of recycling textiles. To working class women who had always had to make do and mend this was all rather patronizing and nothing new. Pillowcases would be turned into white shorts for summer. Wedding dresses would be worn several times, borrowed by sisters and friends, until the original 1939 bride in desperation for new items, remade the dress up into underwear, French Knickers or nightgowns. The only way to have feminine underwear was to sew it yourself. Skirts were made from men's old plus fours or trousers. Cast offs would be made into children's clothes. Collars would be added and trims applied all to eke out a limited wardrobe. Women who could sew dresses had trouble getting hold of fabrics so they used everything from industrial blackout cloth to parachute silk or the harsher new parachute nylon. Blankets were used to make coats and old voluminous swagger coats cut into smaller garments. Pillowcases were trimmed with lace and made into blouses. Nothing was wasted and even milk top discs were covered in raffia and made into handbags or accessories. Fashion items that became popular were the wedge sole shoe, the turban, the siren suit and the kangaroo cloak. The turban equalised people of all sorts. It began as a simple safety device to prevent the wearer's hair entangling in factory machinery. It doubled as a disguise for unkempt hair which women had less time to attend to being so busy running homes, jobs and giving extra help wherever they could. Knitting became a national obsession and leading designers worked on the Utility scheme, aiming to make the best use of materials to produce functional clothing. Christian Dior's New Look of 1947 was frowned upon by both the UK and USA governments and people were discouraged from wearing clothes that 'wasted' so much fabric. The advice was ignored particularly by Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret who were soon wearing it because it had influenced their own designers. Manufacturers read the public's need and their craving desire for newness and innovative change. They continued to manufacture replicas of the line and soon boxy uniform Forties fashions were consigned to the history books.
Elsa Schiaparelli, along with Coco Chanel, dominated fashion between the two World Wars. Starting with knitwear, Schiaparelli's designs were heavily influenced by Surrealists like her collaborators Salvador Dalí and Alberto Giacommeti. Schiaparelli, however, did not adapt to the changes in fashion following World War II, her business closing in 1954 while the house of Chanel flourishes to this day. Before World War II, for men's clothing, double breasted and single breasted suits were very popular. Men’s style after the War favored full-cut, long clothing. Part of the reason for this change was a reaction to wartime shortages. Long coats and full-cut trousers were a sign of opulence and luxury, coming in a full spectrum of colors from garish to delicate hues. Hand-painted ties were also popular featuring skyscrapers, exotic foliage, limousines, rodeos, Tahitian sunsets and even pin-up girls. One of the most extreme changes in postwar men’s fashion was the adoption of the casual shirt. In 1946 and 1947, Hawaiian or Carisca shirts were first worn on the beaches in California and Florida. Made in bright colors, the shirts sported fruit, flowers, flames, women or marine flora. About this time, a man walking the streets of New York without a jacket and shirt tails flapping, became a common sight. In 1949, Esquire promoted a new look by labeling it “the bold look”. Its characteristics were a loose fitting jacket with pronounced shoulders. Other style changes included single-breasted jackets with notched lapels and three buttons. Henceforth, peaked lapels were reserved for double-breasted jackets. These jackets also included a center vent. The end of the decade saw American men home from the war and craving a new look, tired of uniforms. American designers left their mark on the world with sportswear. Europe now looked to the United States for trends in sportswear. For the first time in history, young people were setting fashion trends and older people were following.

This Week in... Shoes

From top to bottom: Haider Ackerman knotty boot; Dries Van Noten oxford; Dolce&Gabbana suede loafers; Gareth Pugh wedges; 3.1 Phillip Lim stiletto.

This Week in... Bags

From top to bottom: Pauric Sweeney duffel; Marni slouchy bag; Lanvin reporter leather bag; Hugo Boss laptop bag; Alessandra Gucci limited edition purse.

Burberry Prorsum Pre-Fall 2010

Christopher Bailey loves trenches. For pre-Fall, like Spring/Summer 2010 RTW, mostly everything was a variation on the staple. When things weren't looking so determinedly militaristic, there were a few flouncy dresses and skirts, and even black satin ribbon bows on knits. Another winner.

Alexander Wang Pre-Fall 2010

In a collection filled with clean lines and somber minimalism, designer Alexander Wang veered away from his usual downtown chic for pre-Fall 2010. Wang still has a knack for sexual charge (breasts peeking through sheer here, bra peeking through blazer there) but it was the collection's display of the new outerwear-as-actual-garb theme that made it seem fresh. So too the elongation of skirts, shirts and jackets.

The British Fashion Awards!

The awards for the annual British Fashion Awards were handed out last night in a gala attended by Claudia Schiffer, Karen Olsen (whose onstage fall has been making headlines around the worl), Eva Herzigova, Victoria Beckham and Vivienne Westwood at the Royal Courts of Justice. Here are the winners in each category:

Swarovski Emerging Talent Award for Accessories
Holly Fulton

Swarovski Emerging Talent Award for Ready-to-Wear
Peter Pilotto

Designer Brand

Georgia Jagger

Accessory Designer
Katie Hillier

Menswear Designer
Kim Jones for Dunhill

BFC Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design
John Galliano

London 25
Kate Moss

Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator
Grace Coddington

BFC British Collection of the Year
Christopher Kane

BFC Designer of the Year
Christopher Bailey

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Model of the Week!

Tyler Riggs

Born: Tampa, Florida

Date: 1986

Represented by: Red Models NY

Walked for: Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Kenzo, Marni, Givenchy

Campaigns and editorials include: Details, i-D, Topman, V Man, D&G, L'Officiel Hommes

Factoid: In Feb 2008 during New York Fashion Week, Riggs gives an interview to Fashion Week Daily saying if it weren't for modeling, he'd be in school and working at Starbucks.

Sophie Theallet Wins Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund!

Sophie Theallet was crowned as the winner of the Vogue/CFDA fashion fund in New York last night. The French-born, New York-based designer, who started her own label three years ago after 14 years spent working with Azzedine Alaia and Gaultier, scooped the $200,000 prize, which will be used towards developing her company.
Theallet, 45, was up against nine other emerging designers for the prize, which last year was awarded to Alexander Wang. The philanthropic jewelry maker Monique Péan and the menswear designer Patrik Ervell were named runners-up, each taking home a $50,000 check.
Last night's award ceremony was co-hosted by US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and the CFDA's president, Diane von Furstenberg, and attended by designers Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, Vera Wang, celebrities Nicole Kidman and Alexa Chung, and models Karen Elson, Jessica Stam and Jaquetta Wheeler.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mateo Bijoux

As the purveyors of all things chic, it was only a matter of time before Plaids and Stripes featured the fab and ULTRA-glam Jamaican-born, New York-resident and scene-ster (and great friend) Mateo de la Harris! He's making a buzz in the fashion industry and with fashionistas all over; get to know him here!

1. How did the Mateo Bijoux line come about?

Well after college I started my own small marketing and management consulting business, Severe MGMT. I started marketing and account management for small jewelry designers, placing clients at Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus and other select high-end retailers. After successfully doing so, and through experience in jewelry, I decided to start Mateo Bijoux. I felt it was always difficult to find really great mens jewelry. So I wanted to take on this challenge and then move on to women fine and fashion jewelry.

2. Did you always see yourself designing jewelry?

I laugh at this question because I really didn't. Having lived in Jamaica, such things are far from your mind or imagination. In college, I studied for my undergrad, a Bachelors of Science degree in Hospitality Management (Hotel Management) at Southern New Hampshire University and for my Masters at Strayer University in DC, I did an MBA in Marketing and Management.
Me designing jewelry is so on the opposite side of the spectrum from what i have studied.

3. Do you see yourself NOT designing jewelry?

At this point no. I mean everything I see, whether it be a leaf, the zipper on my bag, ripples from the rain, I see jewelry. It has become a part of me. I like to think that when people wear Mateo Bijoux, they are carrying a piece of my heart.

4. How is living and working in NYC different than working and living anywhere else?

Well, its certainly different from living and working in Jamaica. (laughs)
People here are more open to change, they are more passionate, radical, and most just unique in their own way.
I live in Manhattan on the Lower East side, where I work from home and design in my studio. The Lower East side, as we call it LES, is very different from let's say the Upper West side. It's almost two different world in this Big Apple.
Working and Living in New York, you have to be focused as you can be sidetracked by the many distractions here. But overall it's great to be in New York; it's great for fashion, the arts, historical landmarks, theatre, and believe it or not you can get great Jamaican food here, too. (laughs)

5. Artistically, where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my daily life, culture, and just the desire to be different, innovative and always making a statement no matter how subtle.
For example for my upcoming Spring 10 collection you see a lot of nature in the collection. My mother is big on gardening and I remember I would watch her in the morning watering the plants. I did an 18kt gold leaf cuff with diamonds. The way the diamonds are set resembles water dripping off the leaves. Just Magnifique!!
But overall my inspiration comes from everywhere, you can see that in my current, somewhat unisex collection; I turn general tools into jewelry, like a wrench into a very strong and masculine cuff, a screw into a pendant... Sometimes the simplest and basic element can be so powerful.

6. Who's your fave celebrity and why?

Hmmmmmmmm... My favorite... That's a hard one... I mean there is so many out there... I am very old school. I still love the divas like Patti La Belle and Whitney. I love Rihanna because she is causing a stir in the fashion world and just the overall media, taking fashion risks, being daring and just damn fierce. I like Beyonce also, I mean these young ladies are certainly standing out in the crowd with there talent and style.

7. Tell me some of the famous people you have fitted, designed for or who has worn your pieces...

Well so far, celebs are just hearing about Mateo Bijoux. Rihanna, Mischa Barton, and Vivica A. Fox have been seen wearing pieces from the collection. Other celebs such as Estelle and Joy Bryant have pieces from the Mateo Bijoux cocktail ring collection.
Alexandra Richards daughter of Rolling Stones star Keith Richard, has shot for Mateo Bijoux.
Countless models have been wearing my pieces, too. Last week I caught Dree Hemmingway, Cover Girl and friend of mine is wearing Mateo Bijoux, a spider web necklace with 18kt gold spider and diamond.

8. Who would you love to have wear your pieces?

To be honest, I know the best answer for this question would be some hot, famous celebrity like Hally Berry, Oprah, Nicole Kidman or even Mrs Obama to be wearing my jewelry. But in truth, I really wish everyone to be wearing Mateo Bijoux, no matter how small or elaborate of a piece. I want Mateo Bijoux to be a household name.

9. In your business, which aspect do you like the best- the part where you sit down with pencil and paper and design? The part where you source material and start making the pieces? Or the business aspect where the pieces are sold and a profit is earned?

My favorite part of the business is certainly where I just sit down, turn my Jill Scott and Floetry play-list on and sketch away, while drinking some peppermint tea. I love designing a piece on paper and then actually hold the final product in my hand, not to mention how the piece sits on the body. It's like therapy for me. The experience does something for my soul. If one were to take this away from me, I honestly would be lifeless.

10. Have you ever thought of interning with jewelry houses like Harry Winston or Tiffany & Co.? What are your thoughts on that?

I have thought about doing an internship with a major jewelry house. I was actually hired by one. They had offered me a great position to close my consulting firm and join them to manage their accounts and co-ordinate their sales with high profile clients. I turned down the position as I was being loyal to a client of mine, as well as because I felt it was just not my destiny. I am doing what the lord and the Universe want me to do, which is to create Mateo Bijoux. One day I will get to where they are today- Mateo Bijoux worldwide. (winks)

11. What are some of the future plans for Mateo Bijoux? Where do you want to see your line in the next 5 years?

Well, when I started Mateo Bijoux, I didn't just want it to be about jewelry, but I wanted to create a luxury brand. To be one of the first major black owned luxury house. Within the next 5 years, I want Mateo Bijoux to be available nationwide at some of the best retailers including Saks Fifth Ave, Neiman Marcus, Maxfield LA and others. I would like Mateo Bijoux to be on its way to becoming a household name. In the next five years Mateo Bijoux should have already launched other luxury items such as a men shoe line, a clutch and women shoe line and bag collection using some of the best skins.

Be sure to visit the website for more info!!