Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Passing of an Era

Elizabeth Taylor

Yesterday Elizabeth Taylor died. After a life packed with as much drama as any Hollywood film her legacy lives on in her work from childhood star to screen legend. Was she the last of her kind? A glimmering, shimmering beauty who could radiate ethereal grace or animal wildness with equal aplomb, always something going on behind those violet eyes and double layer of black lashes that gave away the real narrative of a plot whatever else the character did or said.   One wonders whether there can ever be such an on-screen presence in the future? Certainly there seems a lack of of that 'X factor' in the handful of female contemporary stars that look like the typical 'girl next door' type apart from the exception of Angelina Jolie who although model-beautiful has about as much screen presence as a plank of wood. Pretty girl after pretty girl is dressed up in period or contemporary costume, taking turns to act (usually pretty-well) before their real role starts as sales-people and clothes horses. These 'girls' do a fine job but where have all the awe-inspiring women gone when one had to look into their eyes to know what was really going on?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Quick Response for Typical Quotes

The Queen of Sheba's throwaway line

 "I work really hard so I deserve my megabuck car/house/handbag/diamond" 

I've heard this line too many times now and it's turning into a  fashionable mantra. It's OK when a real-life friend is talking to me, justifying this or that new 'naughty-but-nice' purchase, but what kind of lame guilt-ridden excuse is it when a stranger, unsolicited, says it while waving their latest and most ostentatious item in my face?

I can understand someone who earns lots of money wanting to spend it, it's theirs to do what they like with but when did how hard someone works equate with how much they make, who can afford to not work hard these days just to make ends meet? Better the rich spend their money rather than it sitting in a bank. I wouldn't think better of someone who just locked their money away, I would rather they spread it around a little. I can admire a luxury object from a distance without thinking dark and dangerous thoughts about the owner. I just wonder why someone needs to justify what they do with their money? Do they want me to absolve them of their faux guilt? They would have to pay me first.

Unless they're doing a bluff of course and sit around the house all day eating chocolates, drinking champagne and watching old black and white movies from their chaise lounge like me ;)

Fashion Flux: Influence Upwards and Downwards

Part I
Nineteenth Century 

Looking back through the decades, even the centuries,  there have been some crazy cool fashions as well as some just plain crazy but where does fashion generate from?  Gradual evolutions of certain styles that one can see develop from one year to the next but also marked revolutions which seemed to tear away everything, almost all at once that was thought mandatory in the preceding years. Of course, there have always been marked contrasts of what different sets of people wore contemporaneously,  at one time enforced by law, but there were also general style directions and shared desires in sartorial statements.  Regardless of the differences of the fashionable set in their uncomfortable finery or everyday folk in practical gear there was also  a shared silhouette or strong image that dates those clothes to a period of history, despite the class of who wore it. The influence of the so called 'upper classes' on the rank and file is well founded but the inversion of the influence was remarkable but not as exceptional as one might expect.

The winsome early nineteenth century when everyone appeared dressed as rural peasants (including the peasants) in looser fitting clothes, muslins, humble floral poplins and fleurs d'Indiennes for fear of being taken for an aristocrat and marched off to a guillotine (Révolution Française 1789-99). The multitude of depictions of the many times pregnant Queen of England with her hunter-gatherer Prince Regent in the mid-nineteenth century popularised and re-trenched notions of  female passivity and male responsibility. This is evident in the predilection for enormous round hoops century under ladies skirts and increasing amounts of fancy detail on outer garments that contrasted strongly with the ever-more sombre male attire from the same period. Notably couples were often pictured in what ever medium her sitting and him standing protectively by her side or behind. The fashion for frippery escalated to it's full fruition into an era that was named the Belle Epoque for its ethereal beauty only be swept away by the Great War which just about wiped all life as previously known to be replaced by the frantic dance of the 1920s.

to be continued...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monthly Vintage Advice Slot - Part 1

 Monogram Vs Stealth
More GG and LV per $£E

I know there are all sorts of classy stealth-wealth vintage fans reading, who probably already know the beauty of a bag is in the finest materials and the best Florentine/Parisienne craftsmanship money can buy but a lot of people of both genders love their GGs or LVs covering their bags.

For Gucci 
This means that original GG fabricGG Plus (coated-canvas) Guccisima leather (GG stamped leather) and large GG hardware logos command more money at on-line auctions even though the popular canvas models usually costed less on average than their plain leather counterparts new . So, if you want a fabulous bargain look out for a all-leather bag with less Gs on the outside.  Likewise, if you are a would-be seller of a beautiful vintage leather Gucci bag, perhaps you would do better at a high-ranking auction house like Christies (owned by Gucci group) rather than auctions aimed at the mass-market.

For Louis Vuittons
The same holds true if you want a quality Louis Vuitton. A beautiful Epi leather bag is often overlooked in favour of the original monogram canvas/vachetta  leather-trim version of the same model. So quality lovers, look for that rare and colourful Epi or classic Nomade leather item, much more £ for £ or $ for $, your cash, card  or paypal will go further in proportion to the original price paid and leave the monograms to those that cannot do without their fix of their mono-drug. Bare in mind that the reverse is true if you decide to re-sell your LV at a future date.

Ride that News Wave

Have you ever wondered why some news gets exposure day after day and some just disappears almost without trace? It's not because news is more fickle than fashion it's because of vested interests and need for sensational action. On United Kingdom's news channels Japan's earthquake hardly seems to create a tremor any more except the odd  update of the ever growing list of thought dead in the wake of the tragedy whilst Libya is never off the agenda.

Nothing gets the United Kingdom's press so excited as a new war or revolution, hundreds of willing participants to impart human interest stories and  plenty of mileage in the unpredictable sport, sorry war, of words and rockets. The BBC relish this hot-topic and have excitedly added it to their  never ending stream of Middle Eastern comment in what is an obsession about the region and surrounding area (you thought thought British mandate ended in 1948?) as usual lapping-up every skirmish with pronounced glee. While the Japanese go about putting their everyday lives together out of the rubble left behind after the earthquake, tsunami and potential nuclear disaster the rest of the world can fool themselves that they are witness to or about to witness the overthrow of despotic dictators.

I am glad for the people in the Middle-Eastern and North African countries, that through their strength and solidarity have overcome insurmountable odds and have optimism for their future but the Western media has made the revolutions look quick, painless and easy. In 1979 there was similar obsessive media coverage at the overthrow of the Shar of Iran, pictures of crowds of happy faces as the up-rising triumphed into revolution. Will the same amount of resources still be there when the fighting has ceased and the crowds have diminished and new dictators spring-up to take the place of those recently deposed and everyone picks up the pieces of their lives or buries their dead or suffers in silence as the Western world has moved on to something more exciting?