Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aspirational Jewelry

Überstylist Rachel Zoe has a thing for snake armbands, both on herself and on her A-list clients. Why? Because they work. The golden coils sit just above the elbow (here belonging to Keira Knightley), drawing attention to toned, well-tanned arms.

It's a a true glamour goddess look, and no wonder, since the image of a serpent slithering up a bicep is ancient and rich with allusion--to women's credulity (Eve), sorcery over the animal kingdom (the charmers of Knossos), and dramatic employ of a lethal accessory when the circumstances demand (Cleopatra).

But most interesting in this context, I think, is the age-old association of snake armbands with enslavement (note how the coils of the bracelet mimic a rough grasp on the arm). British painter John William Godward's With Violets Wreathed and Robes of Saffron Hue is a hopelessly over-romanticized view of a young lady kept in sexual captivity.

I'd always thought that the idea of a snake bracelet signaling enslavement was more myth than fact, until I read this description of one of the ancient victims of the volcano at Pompeii, in the Smithsonian Magazine:
"In a small room at an inn on the southern outskirts of Pompeii, a woman of about 30 died wearing two heavy gold armbands, a ring and a gold chain. Roman jewelry was rarely inscribed, but inside one of her armbands, shaped like a coiled snake, are the words: DOM(I)NUS ANCILLAE SUAE, “From the master to his slave-girl.”

Preserved in ash for all eternity . . . a piece of jewelry that lives up to its own myths.

Monday, June 29, 2009


The ethics of photoshopping has become a flashpoint in the fashion and general press over the past few years, attributable largely to the overzealous use of the technology not only to eliminate human imperfection in featured stars and models, but the follow-on impulse to improve upon eons-old parameters like leg length, cleavage depth, hair sheen, etc. with the ease of a click on a mouse.

The ubiquity of image improvement made Elle France's decision to feature a series of un-shopped, makeup-free models on its covers a revolutionary (in this world) event.

In reading the articles and commentary, one might think that the issue is new. But of course it’s not—the current mode of manipulation is nefarious only to the extent to which it belies the old idea that “the camera never lies”. No longer reliable is the adage that the camera adds ten pounds to the appearance of the subject, when today a skillful Photoshop manipulator can knock off twenty between sips of a coffee.

It would be so interesting to know whether, in times past, body-conscious observers decried the obvious manipulations by Sargent of Madame X’s waist (surely she’s cinched, but was she truly, as this famous painting depicts, nearly bisected?).

On a more humble level, consider the sketches on dressmaking patterns from the fifties and sixties (from the fascinating site So Vintage Patterns). Endless legs and waspish waists, courtesy of an anonymous pen. Did the girls and young women considering the styles feel daunted by the models, or inspired?

Personally, I’d like to see image wizardry left in the hands of of the photographer, lighting designer, stylist and model—the computer’s relentless ability to alter makes soulless machines of its output.

But it also must be said that I’ve got some gripes with nature’s own design program, as demonstrated on Monica Belucci au naturale (above). Most of us could be retouched till the cows come home and still never look this good.

(photo of Monica Belucci for Elle by Peter Lindbergh)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's the Zori

Nobody loves flip-flops more than I do, especially on a hot day. But here's what happens. I put on my Havaianas (shut up: they were a gift), step out to buy milk, and remember only once inescapably within sightlines that there are lots of cafes lining the street, filled with stylish women who invested the 30 extra seconds to put on actual shoes. And I regret taking the easy way out. So when I saw this picture of beautifully pedicured feet in traditional Japanese zori (or possibly geta, which is the same idea up top but with wooden platforms underneath) I thought -- yup, that's a much nicer look. And not substantially different in the all-important slide-on factor than its rubber cousin from Brazil.

In Japan one finds zoris with rectangular soles of vinyl, lacquered wood, rubber, or covered with bulrush or other plant fibre (reminiscent of a tatami mat). The thong element (known as hanao) could be of velour or thin vinyl, or, most beautifully, of brocade. The materials are dictated by the formality of the occasions at which the shoes are worn. Traditionally, in formal situations, these shoes are always worn with white socks.

Unless a formal tea ceremony is on your agenda, there's no need to wear the socks or obsess over the materials. Comfort and prettiness should rule. An eBay seller with some pretty examples is here. If you live in a city that has an Asian import store, it might be fun to have a look round there as well.

One bit of traditional zori lore to keep in mind: if you break a strap, it's bad luck. Not least because you'll be walking half-barefoot back home.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Black and White

I was going to title this entry RIP, Michael Jackson--but no, resting isn't right. The man found his genius in motion, and that's how I'd like to commemorate him.

As a dancer he followed in the steps of greats like Astaire and Kelly and Hepburn (who began her career as a ballerina).

The common marker of the jazz dancers' code: a black shoe--a loafer or jazz oxford, often patent--worn with white socks (or formally, with spats).

The white gap between trouser hem and shoe served to disarticulate the foot from the body so that its lightning-fast swoops, slides and slams registered clearly through its trace, like a hockey puck at half-speed, banking on ice.

Jackson is all over YouTube. Forget all the rest of it and watch the man dance, and see the thing he could command, utterly.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's That About: Scar Tissu

It's not often that I have to look up a word while reading a fashion article. Guy Trebay had me on the dictionary yesterday with a piece for the NYT, on the diet cutbacks of male model A.J. Abualrub (not him in the pic left, check him out on the Times' site).

Never mind about A.J., the word that puzzled was cicatrice. Which I vaguely recognized, but couldn't place in the context of Roberto Cavalli's snakey catwalk product.

As it happens, the word (which is plural) means "scars": the raised, pinkish keloids that result from a serious wound hurriedly stitched together. Cavalli is apparently inserting metal shims between layers of leather to create gleaming seams (seen--I think!--above). Whether the designer is intentionally evoking raised trails of trauma, or whether this is Trebay's interesting interpretation, is not clear.

What is is that current fashion is once again in a love-me-I'm-damaged mode. Balmain's $2000 ripped bleached jeans are the most egregious (and popular) example. British fashion magazines are perpetually urging readers to "toughen up" their sweet floral frocks with a nasty leather biker jacket, à la Amy Winehouse. It's somehow important to pay thousands of dollars to look as though one lives on the street.

This virtual toughness looks great in fashion photography, on professionally beautiful bodies, and undernourished, over-allowanced, under-23s, but let the ordinary buyer beware. If you really want to play hard, find your scarred leathers and ripped jeans and hulking shoulderpads in a charity shop/thrift store. If you get the size right (tight. Emaciated Milan Male Model tight) no-one, not even a Vogue editor, will notice the difference.

(photography by Marcio Madeira for VOGUE.COM)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How They Wore It: Ankle Bracelets

Or as they're more daintily known, anklets.

They're loaded with connotations, these encircling bands, beads, and bells, and no wonder, given that they're as ancient as adornment itself. The very first versions were arguably of gut or vine or twisted stems of flowers, decoratively braided, hung with shell, drawing attention to the grace and articulation of the ankles, in particular as they dance.

A girl could make one out of the simplest of materials, and no doubt did since the earliest days. Which is why it's odd that today, for many of us, ankle bracelets still hold associations with a femme fatale, and a trashy one at that, especially as worn with a pointy-toed stiletto.

For this we can blame Barbara Stanwyck, who, in the film Double Indemnity, hooked poor dumb Fred MacMurray with a flash of goldplate chain making its slow, seductive way down a set of stairs.

Despite its associations with femininity, anklets have of course also long been worn by men, particularly warriors. One especially astonishing example is this rattling dog's tooth version from Hawaii, whose making doesn't bear much contemplation, but must have been magnificent to see on the chief that wore it.

Likewise this brass anklet from Nigeria. This is a wonderful example of jewelry that displays rank not only by its material magnificence, but by the fact that it so hobbled the noblewoman that wore it that she couldn't possibly work.

This example, made of beads, feathers and porcupine quills, from a tribe on the Canadian High Plains, would have left its wearer far more nimble.

If you're disposed to try one on for yourself, consider these historical versions as the outer edge of inspiration. But be bold! If you choose well, and you might inspire an epic, as one young lady did 1,700 years ago.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When Anna Stalked the Earth

I cannot wait to see The September Issue. That is all.

Horsefeathers: Hats On at Ascot

The image galleries are up, the evidence is in: the plumage on the birds at this year’s Royal Ascot races was totally over the top. A fascinator is one thing (typically a headpiece with a feather or few, which is fascinating—even hypnotic—in the way the plumes gently waft about the wearer’s face).

However, when you multiply the feathers a dozenfold or more, the look shifts from compellingly avian into queasily algal, especially once said feathers become sodden in the inevitable spells of rain.

Looking at these pictures, I longed for the simpler, more elegant contours of the late 50s Dior and Schiaparelli-style cocktail hat, seen at right on Audrey in a still from Roman Holiday.

Conversely fascinating for the way they hug the head and gently elaborate its contours, with protoplasmic swells, ridges, curves, and horns.

Here's one I especially like from Vintage Virtuosa--a great little felt-feathered number. And unlike the Ascot confections, it doesn’t require an aviary when it's time to store it away.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Greek is the Word

No, this little pin does not read "eat" (though it would make an excellent gift for a chef). The letters are sigma delta tau, and it is a vintage pin from that sorority, made with (claims the vendor) authentic seed pearls, a little diamond, and 10 karat gold. My favorite element has to be the Doric column stem--this and its like often showed inspired decorative design.

For readers outside United States: fraternity and sorority pins such as this one were once a staple of American university life; even the fraternal versions are often embellished with gemstones and enamel, because in the 1950s and 60s a girl was "pinned" with her boyfriend's frat emblem, as a sort of pre-engagement notice that the lady was under claim.

I think they're just lovely purely as a flash of color and sparkle to wear on a lapel or collar. They can be found in their hundreds on the usual online sources like eBay and Etsy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fancy Pants: Historic Lingerie

Clever, clever Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, London. Instead of trying to compete for summer tourist attendance with some worthy show filled with bustles and snoods, they hit punters below the belt with a retrospective on lingerie. Elle McPherson opened the show, big brassiere names like Myla and La Perla contributed samples, and special sections like "Stars in their Bras" will guarantee that even the most museum-averse blokes won't need much encouragement for this particular cultural outing.

All well and good, but there are some examples of cracking WWII-era lingerie that this show missed. Examples that happen to be for sale on my favorite new vintage website, 1860-1960.

Now, to my eye these happen to fall more firmly in the category of historical curiousities than bloke bait, but that's the kind of thing you (and the bloke) must judge for yourselves.

Exhibit A: an unworn set of black rayon bra and zip-crotch (eek!) panties embroidered with slogans, for the wartime girlfriend left behind by her soldier guy. Click on image to enlarge, if you dare. If you don't, the slogan reads: "Keep your pants on honey until I come home." The fact that they're unworn has to make you wonder . . .

Exhibit B: a pair of burlap/hessian underpants, embroidered with black lace. I repeat: burlap knickers. Stenciled on the front: "Sugar/Spice". Stenciled on the back "And Everything Nice". That little red bow is just killing me. These, less surprisingly, also unworn.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Style Icon: Rene Lacoste

Have just learned, thanks the The New York Times, that preppy days are here again.

OK! So let's get it righter this time around. It's not an alligator shirt (as everybody, myself included, called it back in the day when we wore them layered one atop another, or underneath an oxford-cloth button-down, Fair Isle sweater optional).

Nope, the beast was in fact a crocodile. Rene Lacoste here wears a blazer embroidered with the primordial version of the famous logo. A professional tennis player, he got nicknamed the "crocodile" for his tenacity on the court, a quality that served him equally well off. In addition to lending his name to the line of sports shirts issued by Izod, he went on to develop the first ball machine (which saw far more returns).

Tip: if you're going for a vintage crocodile shirt, beware; counterfeits are rampant. One way to check authenticity? Look hard at the logo. Counterfeiters rush out blurry badly-sewn ones. It does vary with year and place of manufacture, but with a real Lacoste, you can see the teeth.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shutter Shades: What's That About?

Saw my first-ever pair of shutter shades on a guy on the street yesterday evening. My reaction was immediate and forceful: "Dude, no." And I don't even talk like that.

And so began the distasteful process of figuring out what these things were and why anybody would want to sport them in public. If you already know, apologies: you may now avert your eyes.

It all started, the legend goes, when back in the 1980s talented yet puckish eyeglass designer Alain Mikli thought it would be cute to jazz up the basic frame format, and issued a style whose lenses were sealed, apart from shutter-like slits. These caught on with some New Wave bands, whose most noteworthy creative achievement was setting the basic style template for Jack Sparrow. The glasses, also known as "venetian blinders" (I hope you're starting to see why this research was so excrutiating) quickly went to the trend mortuary.

Until heroic Kanye West decided to retrend them. Well done Kanye! They've since become a fashion phenomenon in the mode of trucker hats, worn ironically by hipsters, and with unalloyed glee by more credulous sorts who poignantly believe that the 80s were some kind of fashion nirvana.

If you feel you must ride this trend in a meta-vintage way, you can still find one pair of original 80s Mikli blinders on eBay. They're ridiculously well priced (and delightfully labeled by the German vendor). The thing: they're not only horizontally challenged, but vertically as well, forming a grate effect (note spelling) that will make friends going for the more moderate shutter look feel well and truly trumped.

Personally, I think the only people who should be allowed to wear slitted sunglasses are Inuits, and long-dead ones at that. Because truly, nobody should look through the world through rows-covered glasses.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to Wear It: 1920s fashion

Amazing YouTube clip, courtesy of your [great] grandmas . . .


Fashion Icons: The King

Sometimes the absolute height of fashion, in terms of popularity, occurs at ground level. I'm thinking about Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star shoes and their clones, which now deck the feet of every other man and woman in London.

I still have trouble accepting them as a personal style option, because my 86-year-old dad wears them (I'm pretty sure they're the same pair he's had since 1965).

So did this other guy, as a change from blue suede.

(And Lisa Marie's stepping out in re-trendy jeans!)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Eye Spy: Monocles and Lorgnettes

I must report my eyebrows recently achieved lift-off when I came across, for the first time, the BBC's long-running Sky at Night, hosted by the splendid Sir Patrick Moore (above). The reason? Not the discussion on different sorts of galaxies, interesting though it was, but Sir Patrick's stout orbicular embrace of a monocle.

Which got me wondering about these old-fashioned eyepieces, and why they seemed almost exclusively worn by men (cf the New Yorker's Eustace Tilly, and Planter's Mr. Peanut).

A bit of research revealed that there were a small number of female monocle wearers--like Una, Lady Troubridge, (left) sculptress and translator of Colette--who were by and large of the lesbian persuasion.

A more traditionally feminine bit of eye kit was the lorgnette, which unlike the monocle, has two lenses and a stem. These seem to me a lovely alternative to halfway-down-the-nose reading glasses. (painting by Henri Georges Jean Isidore Meunier)

Some gorgeous antique examples, like the fab art nouveau versions below, are readily found on eBay.

In the Muu-Muu

If cows wore dresses, you can be sure they'd wear muumuus. Not only are these late-60s frocks graceful on a generous figure, and typically covered with a riot of flowers, they're they only fashion item a heifer could ask for by name.

Essentially the ladies' version of the classic Hawaiian shirt, the muumuu originated on these islands (its name means "cut off" even though it's most typically ankle length). Close cousins to the glamourous kaftan, maxi, and hostess gowns of the same period, they are invariably a bargain in comparison, but, if belted and accessorized dramatically, give all a run for their money in the style stakes. If you're crafty, sew your own from a pattern from Etsy, or feast your eyes from the many examples at Rustyzipper.com, or keyword Alfred Shaheen on eBay--he is the king of high-end Hawaiian wear, and will get a "stealth brand" post of his very own in an entry to follow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

If You Liked Zoolander, You'll Love . . .

Brüno, coming soon to a screen near you.

Apparently, it's not a parody after all, thanks Simon Mills for dishing the dirt. Ferosh!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Brass Rims

Thoroughly enjoyed Eric Wilson's article for yesterday's New York Times, on why this year's cool sunglasses shape is round.

The piece does exactly what I wish more fashion articles would: examine a style outbreak as an art historian would examine an old master: seriously. Since it's the Times, the piece mentions at the obvious influence (John Lennon) but then digs comprehensively past it, citing art exhibitions, current theatre, and presenting the opinions of sources involved in their creation, marketing, and sale--in other words, the people who are putting round lenses square on the faces of the world's hippest buyers.

While it wasn't mentioned by those in the creative arena I wonder if there might be one influence more: steampunk.

For me this counts as the most exciting and original style movement in recent years. For those who haven't come across it, consider it Goth's nerdy younger sibling--a style amalgam of Victorian layered blacks and the mechanical contraptions of the same period. Brass gearing and rubber tubing and leather strapwork hold these looks together, just as they kept the engines clacking back at the turn of the century.

One of the signature looks of Steampunk is round brass goggles and glasses. I think they look incredibly cool. But brass isn't for everybody, which is why most of the rest of us will opt for tortoiseshell.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shag Pile, Chanel Style

Was thumbing through this month's Tatler, a publication whose faux-condescending chronicles of conspicuous consumption makes me alternately love it/want to set it on fire.

I felt equally bipolar about this incredible shot on its fashion pages (photo Jamie Brunskill, stylist Hannah Teare, model Edie Campbell). The dress is from Chanel, which has pulled out the stops with the silk crepe, fur and sequins, to awesome effect. If I had a spare £24,235 ($39,930), I'd buy it, and wear it into the great beyond, because even Satan would have to stop to stare at this frockapalooza of a dress.

But I don't. So instead, thinking hard about what I love most, and deciding it's those long furry cuffs (probably goathair); I'd have a cruise around eBay, keying in "fur cuffs", and turn up something like this, above, which sold for a deservedly high price yesterday, or this very cute (and far more wearable than either) ski sweater, left.

Tip: if you are wearing a top or dress with this sort of cuff drama, don't order the soup.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Charity Shops, Down and Dirty

Was royally entertained by last night's second episode of Mary Queen of Charity Shops--in which retail guru Mary Portas takes on the herculean task of bringing a traditional British charity shop/thrift store some leagues closer to the merchandising cutting edge.

Having some experience in this sort of thing, I found it to be all that and more. The real stars of the show are the volunteers, mostly ladies of distinguished age who just don't get the point of spending on new flooring and maverick pegboard-and-elastic- band display fittings when the mouldy old fixtures had a mere 20 years of service and are surely good for another twenty more.

My favourite quote: when one volunteer objects to an orange display unit as "too bright", especially when holding a pink handbag, an exasperated Mary loses it and counters with: "FANTASTIC! Look at the colors that Saint Laurent uses! Pink, orange, turquoise . . . the luxury houses of Paris, yet it doesn't fit in Orpington!!"

Which Orpington will no doubt NEVER forget . . . this is reality programming at its best: well-intentioned people who are deservedly proprietary about their turf and experience ramming into each other head on. Go Mary! Go old-age-pensioners! May the stubbornest woman win (it will be close)!

And if you love thrift stores/charity shops like I do, go immediately to the link above. The lovely BBC is streaming entire episodes online.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to Wear It: Plunging Neckline

Yesterday I mentioned a lucky find: a Veronique Branquinho silk and silk chiffon blouse in good condition (apart from a detaching hook from the hook-and-eye closures down the opening. Easily repairable with some fine thread and five minutes).

The blouse is lovely; constructed with really interesting details like a quilted silk bib front and back, silk "patches" at the elbows, and reinforcements of silk along the armholes. The high neck with its banded collar is vaguely puritanical, but the depth of the front opening is quite naughty indeed, enough so to make this blouse challenging to wear--and why, I believe, it wound up in a charity shop.

A Frenchwoman could wear this, wonderfully, with an absolutely gorgeous Aubade (or whatever) bra blatantly on display through the front opening. I've seen women doing this in broad daylight on the streets of Paris--somehow they have the gift for keeping it on the sexy side of the tart-o-meter, most likely because both blouse and bra cost a small fortune.

Similarly, An aspiring model with a gangly figure could wear it plunging low with no bra at all, and Carine Roitfeld would book her instantly for editorial.

Being from neither of these talent pools, I must find a more sensible way around the problem of my sternum, which unfortunately doesn't merit this sort of display. One alternative when faced with a plunging neckline is to cover the skin with a bib-like necklace, or tier upon tier of like beads or pearls.

Even more simply, one could layer a lacy cami or sheer skimpy tank/singlet underneath. With a blouse this arty, it pays to be artful in the way one wears it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

R.I.P. House of Veronique Branquinho

Another respected label down and out . . . Veronique Branquinho may not be a household name but this Antwerp designer was, in an under-the-radar sort of way, a distinct force in the world of high fashion. How many other contemporary women have muscled their way into guest membership in the ultra-elite Chambre syndicale de la haute couture, the French guild that promotes and stages the biannual shows in Paris?

Like Belgian counterparts Dries van Noten, Anne Demeulemeester and Martin Margiela, Branquinho's style might be defined by its often uncompromising art-school intellectuality. No Mediterranean flesh-flaunting here (Versace and Cavalli, I mean you). These designers love a purity of line, cleverness of cut, and (with the exception of Dries, who caught print fever in recent seasons) an austerity of tone that reflected the cobblestones-in-a-cold-drizzle base layer of their local environment.

Bizarrely, the day after the label folded I found a Branquinho blouse in one of my favorite local charity shop/thrift stores, for £6 ($10). I know, it's ridiculous, but this is not an unheard of event if the shop is within striking distance of a fashion-conscious neighborhood and the item's label is little-known (see Stealth Designers, elsewhere on this blog).

In tomorrow's entry, I'll describe how I'll make this blouse, which is "difficult", easily wearable. For now, here's a tip on another stealth brand: Delvaux bags. That's where Branquinho is headed as new head of design, and it's a name she will surely take beyond the moneyed Belgian and French housewives that currently favor them out into the wider fashion world.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gipsy Chic

Gipsy dress periodically captivates fashion's imagemakers for its free and flamboyant layering of pattern, and for the billow and tight trim of drape.

According to this superb article in today's Telegraph, the flamboyance is unchanged: read it and learn about a fascinating culture of contradictions.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Caviar Communism

Karl's got me puzzling again.

Above is the latest incarnation of that fashion juggernaut, the Chanel bag, fresh off the pages of British Vogue for A/W '09.

And here is a WWII Russian officer's flying cap, now up for sale on ioffer.com.

Is the Kaiser making a deliberate play at the heartstrings of Mother Russia, and all those bazillions (in the new austerity, mere gazillions) to be spent on luxury goods?

No, impossible. Nyet?

Take a Powder

OK, honesty time. Have you ever been out with a man and excused yourself to the Ladies' Room with the excuse "got to go powder my nose . . . "

You HAVE??!! Silly girl--the dude would be so much more impressed if you whipped out a beauty like this one and simply powdered your nose at the table.

A certain kind of guy would be all over the 8-ball.

His suaver, Wallpaper-reading counterpart would more likely be swayed by a sleek, chic powder machine like this one:

Whichever way you do it, powdering your nose at the table is one more long-lost flirty female gambit that deserves to be back in the arsenal.

(As long as you don't do it like a certain British supermodel, because that could land you in jail.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dressing for Two Wheels, Then and Now

I am so pleased to have seen Eric Wilson's article from New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn's blog On the Runway, about the winner of a contest to design cycling gear appropriate to women commuters--a subject close to my heart.

The challenge, as every cyclist-to-work knows, is reconciling the effort and exposure to grease, chain lube, splashes, etc. inherent in even a short ride with looking clean, professional and crisp at the office. Congratulations, Jessica Velasques!

If ladies' cycling costumes seem remote from your everyday interests, consider this: in fashion history terms, they were absolutely may-jah (as Victoria Beckham might put it). Because without lady cyclists, bloomers--those voluminous tight-ankled trousers pioneered by Amelia Bloomer, might never have gotten in gear (not literally, of course, that was their entire point).

Athletic Victorian girls who wanted a ride in the park made bloomers a part of the landscape. And bloomers, of course, eventually evolved into harem trousers, sailor pants, khakis, and jeans of all dimension we all rely on today.

So here's to you lady cyclists! Keep it up, and an entire new, entirely sensible garment may yet evolve into a fashion staple.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Coffee, Tea, or Pucci?

But if you think this is rich, check out the tv ad . . . .


Who designed those uniforms for Texas-based airline Braniff? Emilio Pucci, from 1964-1975. According to this great little article from the Dallas Historical Society, Pucci, an Italian nobleman, was himself a decorated pilot in the Italian Air Force, so was as familiar with turbines as he was with turbans. Speaking of which, check out the kicky "space helmet" caps he designed for the Braniff trolly dollies.

Not unheard of for Pucci-era Braniff items to come up for sale on eBay: since these were hard-working pieces many of them have seen better days, but if you like what you see, put on a search . . .

Monday, June 1, 2009

Stealth Brands: Je-Dol Sunglasses

Another new discovery early this morning on eBay, an accessory I've never seen before: the amazing, ultra-emblematic Je-Dol sunglasses.

When even Wiki has nothing to say about it, you know an item's arcane. As far as I can piece together on the fly, these sunnies--made in Lansing, Michigan--date to the happy decade from the late sixties to the early seventies when Mod made its way across the water from England and began infusing the American design ethos with clean graphic shapes and a healthy sense of humor. Think Austin Powers, American style.

Then check out these shades. The chains sling back over your ears, holding the frames on your face. Meanwhile, the discs dangle like big bold earrings midway between lobes and shoulders.

There are just a few examples going on eBay and they're pretty pricey -- worth putting a search on if you're interested in a style archetype; the kind that belongs in a museum collection. (Not to mention a conversation-starter extraordinaire!)

Here's another fab version from the online retailer Modern Handbag: