Friday, October 21, 2011

Love Letter to Lacroix

Lately I have been thinking a lot about and collecting French Haute Couture from the mid 1980s to the late 1990s. The Paris runways are always decadent and über glamorous, but this particular time period bore fashions that were particularly Baroque in their luxe. Of course, Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel is an obvious example, with his icy elegance as are Galliano and McQueen, but lately I've been obsessing on Christian Lacroix and his legacy of fantastical creations that summed up that era with an exuberant joie de vivre. 

I first fell in love with the designs of Christian Lacroix as a young girl, hungrily flipping through fashion magazines. I recall the first image was of his iconic silver haired model/muse Marie Seznec in a giant poufy skirt and laced bodice, a dizzying cross between a towering strawberry shortcake and Marie Antoinette on hallucinogens. 

Unlike other designers, whom you practically need a chisel to crack through the impenetrable façade of reserved sophistication and cool, with Lacroix's creations you are invited into the fantasy to revel at the technicolor plumage, exotic patterns that rhapsodically clash in the most brilliant way, all tied together with endless ropes of sparkling rhinestones. 

During Christian Lacroix's runway extravaganzas, the models would invite you in to their cabaret with cheeky rouged smiles and flirty glances, making the clothes seem extra sexy, approachable, even touchable. Wearing Lacroix, you would be the life of the party or even the party itself, decked out like an iced pink champagne cake.

Next is a fantastic early Christian Lacroix runway show from 1988.

In the above video at 1:55 is a model in a yellow and black jeweled bustier with a canary yellow chignon who is wearing the large Christian Lacroix gold cross necklace that we are currently featuring in the Pearl Modern store.

                                                                                 available here


Below is an incredible black and gold ensemble from 2007.      

An artistic masterpiece from 2009.

Below, a gorgeous Baroque brooch by Christian Lacroix!

                                                                                                                                           available here

Next, we have a Christian Lacroix runway show from the Fall/Winter of 2002/2003.

I truly miss Christian Lacroix and the magic he created every Spring and Fall. He was a master couturier at the highest technical level, but most of all, he was a genius visual artist, a painter whose media was the lightest tulle, the richest velvet and the most divine feathers. 

In closing, we have a tremendous Christian Lacroix runway show from 2003.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall Fashion Inspiration Part 2 - Slightly Wicked

The arrival of Fall has me in a slightly wicked mood. I'm loving fashion that is wickedly glamorous or just downright wicked in a kind of naughty, black spiderweb stockings kind of way.

Below is a photo of the actress Melina Mercouri that reminds me a bit of Daphne Guinness and perfectly illustrates what I find glamorous right now. The combination of veil, brooch and black gloves is perfection.

I often look at the beautiful portraits of the last century for fashion inspiration. The clothing, hair, jewels and overall decor of the sittings were so expertly conceived, yet they allow the spirit (sometimes wicked) to shine through the artifice.

Below are three gorgeous photos of the actress Janet Leigh that beautifully show how the inner self can be revealed in a great portrait.

Recently I have been looking at portraits done of burlesque dancers. These portraits are not about nudity, but are much more about conveying a stage presence, an ownership of the stage and the complete possession of the audience's gaze. These photos were often displayed in glass window boxes in front of burlesque theaters. The photos had to be striking enough to lure in the curious.




Below are two photographs of Lana Turner. In the first photo, she is wearing a gorgeous beaded dress and has an incredible expression. In the second, she is almost androgynous, but is also a powerful woman atop her steed. This photo reminds me of the iconic photographs taken of Georgia O'Keeffe in the desert.



I recently found this photo of Boy George and it made me think about how beautiful he was in these early photographs from the 1980s. I was always entranced by how he expertly used makeup in such a genius way, highlighting those beautiful eyes and lips. In the current era of Lady Gaga, I feel that Boy George and Culture Club were way ahead of their time as far as styling and fashion go.

Below is a favorite performance of Culture Club's "Time (Clock of the Heart)" on Top of the Pops in 1987.

Below is a photo of the actress Sabra Samar looking fabulously decadent and a photo of the great Lee Meriwether (Catwoman in the Batman movie of 1966) looking wicked in leopard print with a gorgeous black cat.

Below are two photographs from the 1950s of scantily clad young men looking wickedly seductive. The first one is wearing a great leather jumpsuit with the perfect boots and cap. The second one is self explanatory and reminds me of a photo Karl Lagerfeld might take... at least for fun.

Next are two great photos of 1960s chic mod girls wearing first a matching black vinyl trench coat and fedora and in the second, just enough fur.

Below is my favorite photo of Claude Rains from "Phantom of the Opera" (1943).

Below is a gorgeous photo taken by Harry Langdon.

Next, a photo of Janice Logan from "Undercover Doctor" a film from 1939 adapted from the book by J. Edgar Hoover.

Below is an anonymous film still that displays wonderful light and shadow effects.

Below is a photograph of the actress Anne Francis. I love the way the cigarette casts a shadow under her lip that looks like a smudge. This photograph is absolutely perfect in its own mysterious way.

Beneath is a photo of Toby Wing wearing an amazing shirt that I absolutely covet!

Below is an inspiring photograph of a very young Barbara Streisand.

Below is an amazing photo of Jayne Mansfield posing seductively for the paparazzi while holding a small lapdog in one hand. The next photo is of Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren. I love the man walking into the frame on the left, his gesture and expression speak volumes.


Finally, here is a really entertaining video clip of another wild and wickedly sexy blonde, Mamie Van Doren performing a number in a nightclub from the 1959 film "Guns, Girls and Gangsters".