One of the most intriguing aspects of fashion is its ability to transport people, whether it is to another era or another mindset. What we put on each morning can define how we feel about ourselves that day and how we want to interact with the world. Fashion allows us to mold ourselves, put on a costume, and live a fantasy. This blog is primarily about using styles and trends of the past to transport ourselves today.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

To My Best Friend: "Finding True Love, Fashionably" Inspired by "The Notebook"

Rachel McAdams (Ally) and Ryan Gosling (Noah)
(Don't ask me why he is wearing a Newsboy hat on the beach, but her 1940's two-piece swimsuit is adorable)
The film takes place before, during, and after World War 2.
There are three kinds of people in the world:
1. Those who have seen "The Notebook," cried their eyes out and think it's amazing.
2. Those who have seen it and thought it was the cheeseball of cheesy romance films.
3. Those who refuse to see it because they assume it IS the cheeseball of cheesy romance films.

I am the first kind of person amongst these stereotypes. While I am a very sensitive person, I am also very cynical. This movie however, robbed me of my cynicism and replaced it with a box of Kleenex. Yeah it's a movie based on a book- so it "isn't real," but I think the story could actually happen...or maybe it is the amazing 1940's costumes designed by Karyn Wagner, that are getting to my head!!!

Just letting you know...I am going to discuss the entire movie, so if you haven't seen it....Mr./Ms. third type of person....go Rent it!!! Stop reading and go rent it!

Today is the last day of June, a month of loss for me and many of my closest friends and of course, family. It seems the month is not only populated with deaths, but also with Goodbyes. I am dedicating this post to my best friend who, like me, chose to part with a man she loves, knowing in her heart, they were not right for each other. I chose "The Notebook" as a posting today because in it Ally is faced with having to choose between two men she loves, one from her past, Noah, and one from her present, Lon Hammond. As young women in our 20's, we must choose the path that is right for us, even though the choice itself may be difficult, it is necessary. Sometimes that involves leaving behind a man you love, but know is the wrong man. Ally is faced with that choice and stylishly (this is a fashion blog after all) makes that that decision. Scroll/Read through the steps/elements to finding true love... hollywood style.

Noah and Ally's first date is an unlikely one considering they come from different extremes on the social ladder. She would not give him the time of day until "by chance" they had a double date at the movies. Noah continued to pursue her despite her deflection.
Not taking No for an answer= classic "romantic movie" tactic
Ally is wearing a floral print dress with wedge heels, and my favorite staple- a red cardigan.
He is wearing a plaid jacket, newsboy cap, and work pants. 
On their first date, Noah dances with Ally in the middle of the street and gets her to lay down under the traffic light, something wealthy Southern girl Ally, would never do!
Almost getting killed on your first date= priceless!
I think I have a dress just like in my closet- a little, red, handkerchief print dress
Everyone knows, enjoying each other's company is essential!

Ally and Noah were great at arguing. He told her "when she was being a pain in the ass" and she told him when he was being "a smug son of a bitch." The ability to have an argument, speak your mind, and still love each other is crucial.
This is just a cute romper she has on. love it.

While Ally's family was not accepting of Noah- they believed he was not the right man for her, Noah's father was very accepting of Ally and made pancakes for dinner. 

(Love the one-piece swimsuit)
Ally's family spent the summer in Noah's town, deeming their love- a summer romance, yet Ally and Noah believed it to be more than just a summer fling. Her parents disapproval caused Ally and Noah to break up. She was devastated to not only find her parents planning to leave Seabrook sooner than expected, but was not able to say goodbye to Noah.
After over a year of not hearing from Noah, Ally meets Lon Hammond while she is working as a nurse during WW2- a man who fits her parent's ideal, meaning: a rich, dashing Southerner. (played by James Marsden)

Ally fell in love with Lon quickly as I am sure he charmed the pants off her, well, not literally. He proposed to her, of course, with her parents approval.
Ally accepted Lon's proposal, but saw Noah's face in her head when she said Yes.
Ally sees Noah's face in the paper while she is trying on her wedding dress. His picture is next to a house he always wanted to buy, fix up, and make their home together. Ally faints at seeing the article where Noah accomplished his dreams, a dream that would have been, their dream. 

After seeing Noah's picture in the paper, Ally realizes that she isn't the girl she used to be. She "doesn't paint anymore" and has lost a part of herself in growing up. Subconsciously, she feels a part of her is still in Seabrook, with Noah.
(My favorite outfit in the entire movie. Red leather and tweed suit. I love red)

Ally revisits her and Noah's dream, thinking that she had moved on with her life. She finds Noah, "the same, but different," not realizing that all these years, Noah had been waiting for the day she would come back, and when she did, their house would be ready.
Ally believed that Noah had wanted to break up with her that summer, but finds out, as he rows her along the lake near his home in Seabrook, that that was not the case. 

Ally's pale blue button  up dress

Noah wrote Ally a letter once a day for an entire year, but never got a response. She says she never got one letter from him. Their anger results in a passionate affair under a rainstorm. How very cliche, but at the same time, metaphoric. 

Ally's mother shows up to Noah's place and gives Ally the letters he sent. Her mother kept them from her, thinking she was protecting her daughter from pain and a mistaken love.
Ally's mother shares a part of her past with her, showing her a man she was once in love with, a situation very similar to Noah and Ally's of two people from different walks of life. Ally's mother looks upon this man with regret, despite loving Ally's father. Here we see the difference between love and true love. 

Ally makes her decision....did you think I'd really spoil it?  
Now what would true love be without commitment? Through the best and worst time, even when your wife has dementia. "The Notebook" is a diary that Ally writes about finding love and her husband reads it to her to help her remember their story. No matter how painful it is when she can't remember, he continues to read to her.

(I can't end this on 19, that just isn't right)

To all who feel lost in love- making a choice can be the hardest, yet the most important part of finding who is right for you. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pomps, Curls, and Waves: Intricate Hairstyles of the 1940's

Women's style in the 1940's is directly related to World War 2.
While the hairstyles look glamorous and intricate to the modern eye, they were considered practical and part of the war effort. Many women worked in factories or as part of the armed forces and had to look attractive while not having high maintenance hair that risked getting caught in machinery or fell in their face at work.

A woman's hair represented her creativity and offered an opportunity to differentiate herself amongst other women. 

Hats and Accessories are signatures of 1940's style, adding extra visual interest. 

This article taken from "Modern Beauty Shop," April 1941
shows a diagram of pin curls on a woman's head. The direction of the curl affects the outcome of the wave. Pictured to the left is the end result after brushing out the curls into waves and teasing for volume.

Most women's hair was cut short so it was easier to manage.  Women needed a versatile hairdo that could be styled with either pin curls or a perm and did not require many visits to the beauty salon. Most women shampooed their hair about every other week, due to shampoo rationing. Even despite the lack of soaps, it was not usual for women to wash their hair daily as many women do today. 

Hairstyles were also designed to balance a woman's face. For example if her  "nose was too long" or "jaw too square"  styles added volume in the right places to balance the face.

The following images below are taken from a 1940's beauty magazine. I love how each style has a name.

Shorter hair that was cropped close to the face was considered a more "mature" look

This look is slightly more youthful

An evening look that requires a satin ribbon to complete the style

I love the asymmetrical looks...I think they are very architectural and modern despite being vintage.

While the woman of 2011 lives a very different life than the women of the 40's, we can emulate their intricate styles using modern technology, reintroducing a sophisticated elegance that is unique to every woman. Each hairstyle becomes a work of art, the hair as its medium.

Book Recommendation:
"Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Modern Techniques"  by Lauren Rennells
(For those who'd like to try recreating the styles.) 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Caravan of Carven:" A Vintage Design House goes Modern

1960's Carven dress
The House of Carven was established in 1945 in Paris, France by Carmen de Tomasso, a woman who renamed herself, Madame Carven. While her background was in interior design and architecture, Carven cultivated her interest in designing clothes due to of all things, her own height! A mere 5' 1," Carven found it challenging to find clothes that fit her small figure and used her design background to problem solve in fashion. She created clothes that lengthened the figure, maintaining an interest in the budding apparel category of Sportswear, that was new to the women's market at that time. 

Carven Collection, Spring 2011
I am in love with these voluminous shorts!!
Guillaume Henry, the current designer for the House of Carven, faces the challenge of  following Carven's aesthetic, while re-interpreting her vision of sportswear in a modern age. The Carven website describes him as "the guardian of the heritage of the Couture years," creating "chic, feminine, and pared-down fashion, free from ostentation."
The silhouette of his collection is vastly different from the 1960's design showed above, but captures a casual ease to sexiness, symbiotic with the French, yet with a sophisticated edge to sportswear. 

Vintage Carven
(photo taken from paperdollgirls)
Carven's muse was a "woman who was free and unshackled by convention," as she offered accessible luxury that followed with "Parisian chic."

Vintage Carven
photo taken from paperdollgirls

Vintage Carven
photo taken from paperdollgirls
Vintage Carven
photo taken from paperdollgirls

Didier Ludot is a vintage couture clothing store in Paris that features Carven designs.

Here and below are some of my favorite looks from Guillaume Henry's Spring 2011 Collection. His concept was "Classic student gets lost in the halls of the Louvre," inspired by "travel, without getting too literal, [and] built on nerdy, collegiate chic with proper tailoring." -Henry

Modern Trenchcoat with a vintage vibe and an collared dress with handkerchief hemline

Yay poofy short and French Minnie Mouse shoes! Even though the shoes are much more elegant that Minnie Mouse, that's what they remind me of...
The Blouse on the left reminds me of a western shirt.

The drapery is reminiscent of the statues at the Louvre, while the cutouts, and negative space make the clothes modern.