Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Paris Street Chic – What’s "en Vogue?"

I have always loved Paris street chic, particularly when the Chic are on their way to the Shows during fashion week. Street and runway reflect and inspire each other and photographer Philip Oh of StreetPeeper offers up some of the most delicious fruits of that collaboration for Vogue on line.

Here are some of my picks.

It doesn’t get more elegant and classic than this, or does it?? Giovanna Battaglia, Fashion Editor at L’Uomo Vogue and former model for Dolce and Gabanna, knows just how to put her own flourish on classic elegance.

This impeccably tailored, lady-like dress in classic white (the white hot color for spring!!) gets kicked up several style notches by the scallop-edged ruffles and hem short enough to reveal miles of long, shapely leg; instead of the classic pump, she has opted for a thoroughly modern take on the classic T-strap to stunning effect.

And, of course, no well-dressed European woman leaves home without a fabulous scarf, particularly on a typically overcast fall day in Paris.

I am also intrigued by the cool bracelet on her left wrist. Is it ornamental, functional or both? Since she’s not carrying a handbag, has she stashed her cell phone in there?

This is clearly a lady who knows how to pose while appearing not to notice the camera. How utterly chic!!

Here, Slovakian super model, Kinga Rajzak, shows us how to transition a summery print dress into a chic fall outfit.

The dark color of the jacket picks up the darkest color in the print and is then repeated in the scarf and the larger of the two handbags.

The smaller handbag takes its color cue from the lighter hues of the print.

The overall effect is of a seamless color palette whose interest comes from the mix of hues and textures.

The look is totally natural and effortless, the essence of true style.

My only quibble is with the length of the dress, which I would have shortened a few inches. I prefer to leave Paris street sweeping to the professionals.

My first reaction to this picture was………..OMG, how cute is this!! Vanessa Coyle, Senior Fashion Editor for Harper’s Bazaar UK is just adorable here. That’s the only word for it.

This outfit is fun, flirty and just edgy enough to suit my taste.

The colors are neutral with the interest coming from the mix of textures and the geometry of the skirt.

Just look at the playful, zig zag angle of that skirt. How cute is that?! It looks as if she just threw it on and dashed out the door.

That cat-that-swallowed-the-canary smile on her face tells the whole story. She looks fabulous and she knows it!

It’s hard to do casual chic better than this!

Here, Teen Vogue’s Senior Accessories Editor, Shiona Turini, shows us exactly how to do it -- accessorize, that is.

The lady-like, buttoned-up look is everywhere this fall, and this retro plaid, shirt waist dress is a great example.

Shiona has added a wide belt with a big, brass buckle to draw attention to a slender waist. The cropped leather jacket which fits like a second skin adds a great modern twist.

The platform shoes, while giving a nod to the past, have her feet firmly planted in the present.

The classic satchel in a dark neutral is perfect, and the size makes it perfectly practical.

In short, she is perfectly put together.

And now (drum roll, please!!) we come to my absolute favorite StreetPeeper shot.

For me, the photo of this unidentified couple represents the epitome of Paris street chic. Look at the artful way this stunning young woman has mixed colors, patterns and textures under a bright red Paris umbrella. Her look is purposeful, her stride is graceful and her companion holds that umbrella over her as if he were holding a canopy over the head of visiting royalty. 

Isn't it wonderful to think that you need only turn onto any cobble-stoned street or walk down any tree-lined boulevard in Paris to see the art of street chic at its finest?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Power of Fashion

The frenzy of activity pre-, during, and post- fashion week in the fashion capitals of the world is over. Designers and their entourages have folded their tents and gone home. Suddenly, all is calm and soothing silence. My notes have been filed away until the spring, when we will know which of those spring/summer trends will actually make it from the runway to the closets of real women everywhere. Will we throw caution to the winds and show up at that backyard barbecue in a crisp white frock? Will we risk looking like our grandmother’s favorite tablecloth and wear that lace dress to a garden wedding? Only time will tell. But, whether we decide to embrace or sit out the spring/summer fashion trends, we women have always understood and appreciated the power of fashion.

In 16th century London, Anne Boleyn, fresh from the French court, caught the eye of Henry VIII, a very fashion-forward monarch himself. She dazzled him as much with her elegant style as with her lustrous dark hair and flashing eyes. Her dropped bodice, long fitted sleeves and beaded headbands were immediately copied by every lady at the English court.

By the end of the 17th century, the first fashion magazine, Le Mercure Galant, was using elaborate engravings from metal plates to keep Frenchwomen up to date not only on the latest Parisian fashion trends, but on the lifestyles of the rich and famous that went with them. From these engravings would come the expression that a well-dressed woman looked like a “Fashion Plate.”

In the 18th and 19th centuries, American women could actually get their hands on a small piece of the latest Parisian designs. Articulated wooden dolls dressed in the latest French fashions from head to toe and from the inside out, accessories included, would arrive by boat to great fanfare. Local seamstresses would charge their clients a fee to look at them, and an even larger fee to take them home and study them.

Earlier this month, Vogue Paris celebrated its 90th Birthday with a splashy, over-the-top (quelle surprise!!) black-and-white bash. The theme “Eyes Wide Shut” was eerily appropriate.

Glossy fashion magazines and the designers they promote have run headlong into the reality of changing tastes, dwindling clientele and troubled economic times, all of which have taken a heavy toll on their bottom lines, not to mention high profile casualties such as Christian Lacroix.

Can they survive? Can Haute Couture survive the demands of a hyperactive society addicted to instant gratification? Or will the industry be forced to turn out McFashion to survive?

The death of Broadway has been predicted for more years than I care to remember; and yet, despite financial and artistic reversals, it continues to pick itself up, dust itself off and come back time and time again. Like the theater, change and innovation are the lifeblood of fashion. This is, after all, an industry which must ultimately give women what they want or suffer the consequences.