Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FAVORITE DESIGNERS SERIES: # 2 Elsa Schiaparelli




Elsa Schiaparelli (1890 - 1973) was an Italian fashion designer whose couture house was based in Paris.  Along with Coco Chanel, her greatest rival, she is one of the most prominent figures in fashion.
 hiaparelli considered designing an art rather than a profession.  She was influenced by, and collaborated with, avant garde artists of her day: Salvador DalíAlberto Giacometti, Jean Cocteau and others.  Cubist, Surrealist, Art Déco, and Futurist inspirations can be seen in her work. 

Elsa began designing in 1915, with help from famous couturier Paul Poiret.  Her clothes were individualistic and eccentric.  She held that good taste was less important than creativity, outrageousness and fun.  The woman who was attracted to her designs believed that wearing attention-seeking clothes made a woman chic.

Most of her ensembles were easy to wear, but featured outrageous embellishments.  Schiaparelli revisited various favored themes: military, zodiac, and the circus.  She could, however, also produce conservative clothing such as her severely-cut trouser suits and plain black dresses. 

She favored black-with-white, and in 1936, she launched a new color, known as “Shocking Pink,” which was forever identified with her couture house (it was the name given to her signature fragrance).

Unlike Chanel, she did not adapt to changing fashions after World War II and closed her business in 1954.

'Til next time.





Sunday, August 22, 2010

Free on Craigslist!

I confess to being fascinated by the items I see listed on craigslist.com/South Florida.  This ubiquitous site features a “free” section.  In it, people list a myriad of items that they’re giving away:  furniture, books, clothing, boats, electronics – you name it. 

Here’s a selection from my local craigslist for Friday and Saturday, August 20-21, 2010.  The original spellings were retained, as was the use of upper case and photos.   Some of the items are obviously valuable to someone – others you stare at incredulously (such as the camera case – is someone really going to drive somewhere to pick it up?).   But then again, I believe the philosophy craigslist’s based on: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.    


Haier Wine Fridge (Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise Blvd)
Had for 2 years, only used for 1. Power no longer works so someone with some electrical skills can certainly fix. And it's free!!
Avail on and off on wknds and after 7:00 during the week.

Various Womens and Mens Clothing (Sunrise)
I HAVE VARIOUS ITEMS OF MENS AND WOMENS CLOTHING THAT MY HUSBAND AND I HAVE OUT GROWN DUE TO A GREAT DIET WE ARE ON. THE MENS CLOTHING IS LARGE SHIRTS AND PANTS 36 X 32 THE WOMENS CLOTHING IS XL TO 3XL SHIRTS AND SIZE 16 PANTS, SHIRTS, AND DRESSES. SOME SIZE 18 BATHING SUITS. NO RESELLERS - ONLY GOOD KARMA.

Big Screen TV (Pompano)
56 inch big screen TV
Picture goes off and on
may be easy to fix.....just take it away
call 754 --- ----
Jimmy

2 Free Boats with Trailors (Homestead)
2 FREE BOATS WITH TRAILOR. TITLE WILL BE TRANSFERRED. MUST BE PICKED UP BY MONDAY 8 AM. PLEASE CALL NATHAN AT 786 --- ----


Tall Palms (Hollywood)
Please save the trees... They need to go this week or they will be chopped down. If you are interested in taking them please call Katrina at 954 --- ----

Canon PSC-500 Camera Case (Pompano Beach, FL)
CANON PSC-500 DELUXE SOFT CAMERA CASE (GREY), w/black Canon camera strap.
4"H x 2.5"W x 1.5"D.
Like New.
CALL: 954 --- ----


Free Laptop (Kendall)
I HAVE A LAPTOP COMPAQ, IS WORKING PERFECT, I GOT A NEW, IF YOU WANT CALL ME 305

Free Fish Tank $0 (Miami Gardens)
perfect condition, comes with pump and light, 30 gallon, moving give away, enjoy!
call tom @954

 Free Player Piano (Miami / Dade County)
Comes with over a hundred roles of music. Come pick it up and take it home -- for free.
  
HD Flashlights (Hollywood)
Free Yours free. 2 industrial grade flashlights.

Free Working Dishwasher and Range/Oven (Boynton Beach)
These appliances are in good working order but need to be cleaned. Especially the oven. They are were in the house when sold and believed to be over seven years old.
For immediate pick up by truck.

'Til next time.




Friday, August 20, 2010

MY FAVORITE DESIGNERS SERIES: #1 Oscar de la Renta






Starting this week, one of my blog entries each week will feature one of my favorite designers (living or dead).    Oscar de la Renta is my number one, and not just because like me, he’s Dominican.

De la Renta was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1932.  At the age of 18, he left the island to study painting at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid.  While there, he became interested in fashion and began an apprenticeship with the most famous couturier in Spain – Cristóbal Balenciaga.  Soon after, he left Madrid for Paris, where he became a couture assistant at Lanvin.  In 1965, Oscar launched his own label.  His star has been on the rise ever since.


Oscar de la Renta has won many accolades for his designs:  Hall of Fame in 1973.   CFDA* Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.  The CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award in 2000 and in 2007. 

From 1993 to 2002, Oscar de la Renta designed the haute couture collection of Pierre Balmain, becoming the first Dominican to design for a French couture house. 

In 1967, de la Renta married Frenchwoman Françoise de Langlade, an editor-in-chief at French Vogue.  She died in 1983.  In 1989, he married the American society woman Annette Reed.  Oscar has stepchildren from both marriages, and he is also the father of a child he adopted from an orphanage he founded in La Romana, Dominican Republic (La Casa del Niño). 

While Oscar might seem a little old fashioned to some of today’s younger couture customers, his fashions have been reliably chic, correct, and understated for over 30 years.  Heads of state, ladies who lunch, and aspiring socialites have all worn his clothing.  They are like a uniform for the well-dressed woman.  Like most modern designers, he has branched out considerably from his couture roots to ready-to-wear, accessories,  jewelry, fragrance, bridal, and fur.  He sits at the top of a fashion empire that no other Latin American designer has yet achieved.  



'Til next time.

*CFDA – Council of Fashion Designers of America


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Film Noir: The Beauty of a Genre

I’m a fan of movies from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, with the exception of musicals (they’re not my thing).  I have an exception there as well: I love Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals. 

One of my preferred genres is “film noir” those crime dramas that were in their heyday from the early ‘40s through the late ‘50s.  I’ve watched many of these black-and-white beauties over and over, and despite knowing some of the dialogue by heart, I swear there are still new things to discover every time I watch.  My list, in order of release date is:
An early favorite is “The Maltese Falcon” (1941), with Humphrey Bogart in a role I find delicious: the detective Sam Spade.  The cast of characters is ridiculous, the story’s melodramatic, but the whole is great, I think.  John Huston directed. 

Another beloved film is “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943) in which a young woman slowly grows to realize that the adventurous uncle she idolizes - her mother’s adored younger brother Charlie  - (played by Joseph Cotten)  is a murderer. Alfred Hitchcock directed.

Laura,” the 1944 detective noir directed by Otto Preminger is another marvelous example of the genre.  In this one, the detective (Dana Andrews) falls in love with what he thinks is a dead girl.  It’s also got great, fun roles for Clifton Webb and Vincent Price.  It’s a “whodunit” with a twist.  

Apparently, 1944 was a very good year for noirs…“Double Indemnity was filmed that year.  This is the one where Fred McMurray, as an insurance man, gets sucked into a let’s-murder-my-husband plot by Barbara Stanwyck.  Barbara is pure, sexy evil and Fred’s just stupid enough to fall into the trap.  Of course, it ends badly.  Billy Wilder directed.

In 1945, Wilder made “The Lost Weekend.”  In it, the alcoholic writer Ray Milland falls off the wagon, drinks himself out of house and home, gets thrown out of bars, steals money, and ends up in a psychiatric ward with the DTs in one long, binging weekend.  You may never drink again.

Nineteen forty-six was another banner year for film noir:  Notorious,” the famous Cary Grant-Ingrid Bergman spy/love story, is another film from that year.   It’s got a Miami Beach party-girl recruited to spy for the Americans, Nazi spies in South America, and perhaps the most protective, evil mom in cinema history (Claude Rains’s mother, played by Austrian actress Leopoldine Konstantin).  Hitchcock directed.  

Lana Turner is a true femme fatale in “The Postman Always Rings Twice(1946).  She’s married to an old man who owns a dilapidated gas station/diner.  After luring drifter John Garfield into her web, they kill the husband; but living “happily ever after” is not in the cards.

The Blue Dahlia,” again from 1946, is a complex whodunit.  It stars Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, two diminutive, good-looking actors who were well suited to each other.  Lots of twists and turns, and as in most noirs, mostly nighttime scenes.

In “The Stranger,” (1946), Orson Welles directs himself, Loretta Young and Edward G. Robinson in the story of a high-ranking Nazi who hides out in a New England town and marries an unsuspecting woman.  Robinson is with the War Crimes Commission, and is unrelenting in tracking down his man.  There’s the psychological element of a fragile wife who doesn’t want to believe what she knows to be true about her husband; the young brother-in-law who’s in on the chase; the will-he-kill-her suspense, and an ending that is quite satisfying.   


I also enjoy “The Naked City,” from 1948, something rather different.  It’s a half-documentary that features voice-over narration, and the added attraction of actual New York City locations.   The plot revolves around the investigation of the murder of a young model.  An older cop, played by Barry Fitzgerald, plays the lead investigator.  There’s also a young cop who’s learning the ropes, and who gets to do the door-to-door investigating of routine police work.  

'Til next time.









Monday, August 16, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom


Women have been coveting and wearing pearls for centuries.  They were once the preserve of royalty (Cleopatra; Marie Antoinette) or extremely wealthy individuals.  But, with the introduction of pearl cultivation (pearls created with the aid of science) and the manufacture of artificial pearls – all women were able to achieve a chic, put-together look.



While diamonds may be considered a “girl’s best friend,” pearls are for the self-assured woman who transcends fashion trends and is true to a classic vision.  The 20th century was blessed with women who embodied this philosophy, and who wore pearls to great advantage: 


Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy.  A very disparate group of women, but one that illustrates that pearls can be worn by anyone who wants to achieve a timeless grace. 


Whether with a simple choker (14-16”), opera length strand (26-36”), or a profusion of rope strands (37+”), modern women accessorize their looks with pearls.







Various iconic images have instilled in us the idea that pearls are luxurious, chic and regal (Coco, cigarette in hand, looking over her shoulder; Jackie, holding her young son, thoroughly enjoying his playing with her pearls; Audrey having breakfast at Tiffany’s; Grace in almost any movie…).  


If you’ve never worn pearls, let me encourage you to take the leap.  Whether you’re wearing a little black dress, jeans and a t-shirt, or a tunic and slacks, throw on some pearls and see what happens!


‘Til next time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Magazine Advertising: Looking Good




Magazines and I have a long history.  A love story, really.  Since the age of 13, I’ve been a faithful reader of fashion magazines.  To those, I gradually added décor magazines, lifestyle magazines, current affairs magazines, business magazines, and a “Psychology Today” or two. 

My heart is with the fashion and lifestyle magazines, though.  Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Town & Country, Marie Claire….It’s a cornucopia of fabulous editorial features and ads that come to me via both subscription and newsstand.  I have yet to get over the thrill of receiving the latest issue of one of my magazines, or for that matter, of wanting to peruse the magazine section at Barnes and Noble.

I love the ads; they’re fully half the reason any woman picks up a magazine in the first place.  Editorial selections tell us what the publication’s editors want us to see and aspire to.  Ads tell us what’s out there – much of which we may not be able to acquire – but which we covet.  Other than for emotional reasons, I love the ads for business reasons:  I admire the way the advertising industry gets us to covet those goods, and as an entrepreneur, I’m always on the lookout for good ideas. 

In leafing through some of my August magazines (and one September issue), I’ve thrilled at what I think are some great print ads.   Here are my selections:
I love this simple image: getting across the message that the green mud (“Fango”) goes on your body. 


This girl is on the move, and to me the photography showcases the looks she’s wearing for Blumarine.


  





I love the blurry movement behind the models, and I love the richness of the colors and prints.









It never hurts to pay homage to current tastes; this model is totally reminiscent of the “Joan Holloway” character on Mad Men.  Fabulous.


The blouse is gorgeous, the bag is great, and this one photo also sells the brand’s perfume and makeup (subliminally).

 The always clean, usually-product-only photography that makes Clinique a classic.  Love the image.



High fashion, stark and exquisitely posed.



























The model of the moment, Dominican Arlenis Sosa.  Simple, clean and sexy.  Good pairing of product and model. 


What’s not to love?  The actress, the lion cubs, the jewelry, the bag.   Beautifully styled. 

‘Til next time.