Sunday, September 28, 2008

Style: iphone Application

The iphone apps store is transforming an amazing phone into an all purpose internet computer. The application is free for us fashionistas.

The application allows you to see the latest runway shows, right in the palm of your hand. See the latest couture shows from paris and read the Style File blog.

From September 5th you have the ability to get updates from every major runway automatically to your iphone.

In addition to perusing every look from New York, Milan, London and Paris you can also stream and watch the library of runway videos.

The application also includes:
  • Couture shows from the Paris runways for fall including Chanel, Dior, Lacroix, Gautier, Valention and more
  • Style File Blog: All content images and text instantly updated.
  • Runway Videos: The video library of runway shows and feedback from front-row faces. hosted by Tim Blanks
  • Spring 2009 ready-to-wear shows instantly delivered

It's all there at your fingertips.
Andrea Nicole Baker

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy First Blog Anniversary

I just realized that it has been a year since I first started my blog. I have posted 61 times in 52 weeks which is something like 1.2 postings per week. My goal for the next 12 months is to increases that to 1.5 posts per week which translates to 78 posts between October and September 2009. There are certainly no lack of topics to blog about. This coming week (Wed-Sun) I will be at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta. It is the largest Transgender conference in the world. I'll be blogging about that when I return.

In the meantime thanks for all the lovely comments on my blog this past year. The photo is an ad for the fragrance "Beautiful" from Estee Lauder. One of my favorites.

Andrea Nicole Baker

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fashion: Miniskirts

The miniskirt (often hyphenated as mini-skirt) is a skirt with a hemline well above the knees (generally 20 cm—about 8 inches—or more above knee level). The mini was the defining fashion symbol of "Swinging London" in the 1960s.

The earliest known culture to have females wear miniskirts were the Duan Qun Miao, which literally meant "short skirt Miao" in Chinese. This was in reference to the short miniskirts "that barely cover the buttocks" worn by women of the tribe, and which were "probably shocking" to Han Chinese observers in medieval and early modern times.

After World War I, hemlines had risen rapidly in the Western world. By the mid-1920s, dresses worn by young "flappers" were often above the knee which was only allowed by the abandonment of the constraining corsetry of Victorian and Edwardian times.

The appearance of miniskirts in the West in the 1960s was generally credited to the fashion designer Mary Quant, who was inspired by the Mini Car, although the French designer André Courrèges is also often cited as a pioneer (the French referred to it as la mini-jupe). Some also give credit to Helen Rose, who made some miniskirts for actress Anne Francis in the 1956 science fiction movie, Forbidden Planet.

Recently, Marit Allen, a Vogue "Young Ideas" editor at the time, has stated that "John Bates, in particular, has always been completely unappreciated for his contribution to the innovation and creativity he brought to the London design scene." He bared the midriff, used transparent vinyl and, Marit Allen asserts, was responsible for "the raising of the hemline.

It was John Bates, rather than Mary Quant or Courrèges, who was responsible for the miniskirt." Bates' costumes and accessories for Diana Rigg, as Emma Peel in the ABC-TV series, The Avengers, from 1965–7, helped to define "Mod style". As The Avengers' filmed episodes were made several months before screening, Avengers producer Brian Clemens confirmed in interviews that the miniskirt designed by Bates was a "gamble", since they did not know if it would catch on in public or be seen as a fashion failure by the time the episodes aired. However, Emma Peel's fashions were accepted by the public and even spawned a line of replicas of her clothes for public sale. Another more "immediate" proponent of the miniskirt on television was Cathy McGowan, who introduced the weekly British rock music show, Ready Steady Go! (1964-6).

Mary Quant ran a popular clothes shop in the Kings Road, Chelsea, London called Bazaar, from which she sold her own designs. In the late 1950s she began experimenting with shorter skirts, which resulted in the miniskirt in 1965—one of the defining fashions of the decade.

Owing to Quant's position in the heart of fashionable "Swinging London", the miniskirt was able to spread beyond a simple street fashion into a major international trend. Its acceptance was greatly boosted by Jean Shrimpton's wearing a short white shift dress, made by Colin Rolfe, on 30 October 1965 at Derby Day, first day of the annual Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia, where it caused a sensation.

According to Shrimpton, who claimed that the brevity of the skirt was due mainly to Rolfe's having insufficient material, the ensuing controversy was as much as anything to do with her having dispensed with a hat and gloves, seen as the essential accessories in such conservative society.

The miniskirt was further popularized by André Courrèges, who developed it separately and incorporated it into his Mod look, for spring/summer 1965. His miniskirts were less body-hugging, and worn with the white "Courrèges boots" that became a trademark.

By introducing the miniskirt into the haute couture of the fashion industry, Courrèges gave it a greater degree of respectability than might otherwise have been expected of a street fashion.

The miniskirt was followed up in the late 1960s by the even shorter microskirt, which has been referred to derogatorily as a belt or pelmet. Upper garments, such as rugby shirts, were sometimes adapted as mini-dresses. Tights or panty-hose became highly fashionable, in place of stockings, specifically because the rise in hemlines meant that stocking tops would be visible.

Mary Quant cited this development in defence of the miniskirt: "In European countries where they ban mini-skirts in the streets and say they're an invitation to rape, they don't understand about stocking tights underneath".

Andrea Nicole Baker

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fall Fashion 2008

I love this time of year. The fall fashion magazines start arriving. The ones that weigh 20 pounds or more and are full of gorgeous ads. Of course it does not feel like fall when it is still 80+ degrees outside. Here is what I am reading with notes about what I like from each magazine.

"Beauty by the Numbers" - Mikiskirts (a few numbers): 1969 - The year high school girls suspended for wearing miniskirts took their cause to the Tennessee courts 28:Age at which women should stop wearing miniskirts according to a recent poll in the UK (ANB: Completely disagree)

Beauty 101 - Eyeliner: A great foldout on how to prep eyes, define lids, trace below and blend. The section always has "tricks of the trade", a cheat sheet of helping hints, and product advice (pencil liners vs liquids, creams and gels)

The "Fall Hot List" consists of shiny handbags, rich fragrances, scenic destinations and how seven stylish women usher in the season. (A selection of fab designers and models)

Fall Fashion Hot List - Falls best fashion trends on sexy cover star Jessica Simpson. While I don't consider Wild West outfits high fashion they look very sexy and cute on her.See page 542 for a cute ruffle top chiffon dress, western belt and suede boots.

Age of Repose - Falls clean architectural silhouettes recall the monumental design of Egypt's Pyramids. The fashion layout is stunning with the models using the pyramids as the background. Amazing views and silhouettes.

A perfect Stranger - dancing the night away in Venice can turn mysterious if you are exquisitely yet decadently dressedin Giorgio Armani. (see page 580+) Gorgeous setting of the city of Venice against a collection of silk organza dresses.

Fall fashion Fever: The best trends and how to wear them - Autumn Hues (Designers have delivered fall wardrobes in universally flattering hues); Art Prints (Bold, striking wearable canvases), Feminine Dressing (lace, ribbons, ruffles, pleating and bows); Floral (bombarded with bouquets. Gorgeous in-your-face flowers); Country (tweeds, plaids, checks and curduroys); Metallic (gold, sliver, bronze, hematite, copper and mercury); Slouchy (comfy, yet elegant draping) and Rocker (flas above the waist, Links, crisscrossing chiffon and velvet).

Fall Shoes A-Z: Ankle Boots, Bows, Chunky, Deal,Elongate your legs, Faux, Green, Hardware, Irresistible, Juicy Colors, Kilty, Leopard, Maximalist, Newcomers, Oxfords, Peep-Toes, Quick Fix, Rustic, Suede, T-Strap, Ultra-Violet, Versatile, Waterproof, Xtra Sexy, Your Obsession, Zipper.

Style on the Street Fall 08 Chicago - Always a fun feature where seven local women go to a hip neighborhood to find choose a collection of outfits and accessories. The girls always seem to do a great job of accessorizing. Does Lucky foot the bill? How do I volunteer for this shopping extravaganza?

The Best new designers of 2008 - ten new designers show off elaborately detailed accessories to the slickest of basics. I found myself enamored with "Gorgette" (by Caycee Black of NYC). She uses the elegance of the 50s and then adds modern flourishes and the result are pretty and flattering fashions.

The "Green guide to makeup" - The best items that are earth conscious and well as flattering. Tarte has an eco-friendly
natural mascara that is lush and long-lasting.

Lastly the editors of Lucky show their fashion selections for the fall. I love the ultra-feminine selections!

"Noir Redux" - very timely article about How the LIttle Black Dress (LBD) is back. Timely because of my September post about LBDs.

I also loved the spread called "The United Colors of Vogue". It asks the question about how the sensibilities of different editions (American, British, French and Italian) influence what comes down the runway. The article is basically a topology of the four different editions. Cute and insightful!

Lastly a wonderful spread about "Trend Spotting": Darling buds (forget the requisite earth tones. This fall the blush is on the rose); Jet Set (Dark shadow tones down the romance factor); Twisted Sisters (the seasons biggest hair trend is the UpDo)

Kiera Knightley - explores Berlin's vibrant art scene in looks that reflect the capital city itself. Cosmopolitan, forward-thinking, and modern. Amazing fashion and photography. Too hard to describe. Check it out.

Self-Reflection - The season's glossy, incandescent evening dresses. Lots of glitz and glamour!

Multi-colored prints topped with fun fur and bold jewelry (710). These outfits make a gorgeous fashion statement!

Andrea Nicole Baker

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gisele Bundchen new face of Max Factor

Gisele Bundchen, the Brazilian bombshell who is one of the last to earn the supermodel title, has the luxury of picking and choosing her assignments now. Starting in October, get ready to see Gisele Bündchen make a splash in a new print ad campaign by Max Factor. The newest face of one of Hollywood’s oldest makeup brands (Max Factor Cosmetics celebrates its 100th birthday in 2009), Gisele will appear in the ads for Max Factor’s Lipfinity Lip Collection and its ColorGenius Face Collection.

Gisele Bundchen - Max Factor, 2008 Behind-The-Scenes

A superstar in her own right, makeup artist Pat McGrath created the iconic looks that will be featured in the ads. Aren’t those wicked-sexy smokey eyes to die for? In addition to launching Gisele, MAX Factor is celebrating their 100th anniversary in early 2009. Mr. Max Factor, the father of modern makeup, revolutionized the concept of beauty 100 years ago on the Hollywood movie lots with the creation of his iconic makeup line. Designing looks for Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth and Katherine Hepburn, he transformed the leading ladies of his era.

Andrea Nicole Baker

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fashion: Little Black Dress

There is something timeless about the Little Black Dress (LBD). It feels so elegant to dress to the nines in a LBD not to mention all the compliments on your outfit and the fashion statement it makes.

Some Links related to the LBD
Little black dress wines
Little Black Dress Shop
edressme - little black dresses
How to buy a perfect Little Black Dress
Blogs about the Little Black Dress

Definition of the "Little Black Dress" (wikipedia)

A little black dress is an evening or cocktail dress, cut simply and often with a short skirt, originally made popular in the 1920s by the fashion designer Coco Chanel. Intended by Chanel to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, accessible to the widest market possible and in a neutral color. Its continued ubiquity is such that many refer to it by its abbreviation, LBD.

The "little black dress" is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers, who believe it a "rule of fashion" that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion: for example, worn with a jacket and pumps for daytime business wear or with more ornate jewelry and accessories for evening. Because it is meant to be a staple of the wardrobe for a number of years, the style of the little black dress ideally should be as simple as possible: a short black dress that is too clearly part of a trend would not qualify because it would soon appear dated.

History of the "Little Black Dress" (wikipedia)
Prior to the 1920s, black was reserved for periods of mourning and considered indecent when worn outside such circumstances, such as depicted in John Singer Sargent's painting the Madame X. A widow's mourning dress was closely observed at a time when details in fashion conveyed a sophisticated symbolic language. During the Victorian and Edwardian ages, a widow was expected to wear several stages of mourning dress for at least two years. “Deep” or “full” mourning required the woman to wear plain black clothing with absolutely no decoration for the first year and a day of mourning. The second stage lasted nine months and permitted the wearing of black silk. In “ordinary mourning” for three months, the widow could accessorize only with black ribbon, lace, embroidery, or jet jewelry. The final six months of “half-mourning” allowed the bereaved to wear muted or neutral colors: shades and tints of purple were most common. Because of the number of deaths in WWI, plus the many fatalities during the Spanish flu epidemic, it became more common for women to appear in public wearing black.

In 1926 Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in Vogue. It was calf-length, straight, and decorated only by a few diagonal lines. Vogue called it “Chanel’s Ford.” Like the Model T, the little black dress was simple and accessible for women of all social classes. Vogue also said that the LBD would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.”
The little black dress continued to be popular through the Depression era predominantly through its economy and elegance, albeit with the line lengthened somewhat. Hollywood's influence on fashion in North America helped the little black dress' popularity, but for more practical reasons: as Technicolor movies became more common, filmmakers relied on little black dresses because other colors looked distorted on screen and botched the coloring process. During World War II, the style continued in part due to widespread rationing of textiles and in part as a common uniform (accessorized for businesswear) for civilian women entering the workforce.

The rise of Dior's "New Look" in the post-war era and the sexual conservatism of the 1950s returned the little black dress to its roots as a uniform and a symbol of the dangerous woman. Hollywood femmes fatales and fallen women characters were portrayed often in black halter-style dresses in contrast to the more conservative dresses of housewives or more wholesome Hollywood stars. Synthetic fibers made popular in the 1940s and 1950s broadened the availability and affordability of many designs.

The generation gap of the 1960s created a dichotomy in the design of the little black dress. The younger "mod" generation preferred, in general, a miniskirt on their versions of the dress and designers catering to the youth culture continued to push the envelope - shortening the skirt even more, creating cutouts or slits in the skirt or bodice of the dress, using sheer fabrics such as netting or tulle. Many other women in the 1960s aspired to simple black sheath dresses similar to that designed by Hubert de Givenchy and worn by actress Audrey Hepburn in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

The 1970s did see some little black dresses. Some were lacy and feminine, some, like Bill Blass' were simple and normal. Others, like the one Qiana’s one-shoulder form-fitting little black dress, were skimpier. However, colors rather than black were preferred for women's fashion, especially for the disco or jet set.

The popularity of casual fabrics, especially knits, for dress and business wear during the 1980s brought the little black dress back into vogue. Coupled with the fitness craze, the new designs incorporated details already popular at the time such as broad shoulders or peplums: later in the decade and into the 1990s simpler designs in a variety of lengths and fullnesses were popular. The grunge culture of the 1990s saw the combination of the little black dress with both sandals and combat boots, though the dress itself remained simple in cut and fabric. The new glamour of the late 1990s and into the 21st century have led to new variations of the dress but, like the 1970s, color has re-emerged as a factor in fashion and formalwear again shows an aversion against black.

Andrea Nicole Baker