Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Go To Gals...

I don't claim to be a style guru myself. I am simply a follower. Though I understand the point of 'modernization' and making any vintage trend 'current' a'la 'Project Runway' or The Style Network, I have no interest in that. The 1940's and 1950's were the 'heyday' of fashion, in my opinion, and therefore I will always be influenced and inspired by it. My hobby right now is recreating hairstyles and makeup of the past as well as attempting to find companies that specialize in vintage reproduction clothing and accessories. Vintage clothing is ideal, especially in terms of construction. After all, w/out the 'stretch' that is present in most of today's fabrics, the seamstresses had to fit those dresses to their clients using their skills. Darting, shirring, and pleating is what made an item fit perfectly. But it also gave it some character and a tailored touch of elegance. Finding that perfect vintage dress and finding one that FITS you; that's a good day.

Unfortunately, there aren't many vintage shops out here in rural Tennessee. I rarely have a chance to vintage shop. Therefore, online retro reproduction companies are my favorite thing. We'll talk about those at another time.

The story today is about my Style Gurus. The ladies that I look to for motivation and the ones I always find to be faultless in the way they dressed up, dressed down, and generally presented themselves. I also pay homage to one person in particular that made it possible for these ladies to look so good on film:

1. Edith Head- Edith Head was principally known as a costume designer for the movies but that was a time when 'fashion' and 'cinema' went hand in hand. The most renowned fashion designers of the day also worked in the movies since their best 'models' and 'advertisements' were film stars. Edith was an essential part of Hollywood fashion in the fifties and made Grace Kelly the style icon she became. She was nominated 35 times for the Academy Award and won Eight times, more than any other woman. Because of her contracts w/ the movie studios, her styles were intentionally low key and classic, which prevented her fashions from becoming too quickly 'dated' and contributed to their logevity and appeal. Standout fashions she created were the gorgeous black and white dress worn by Lisa Fremont in Rear Window, Audrey Hepburn's tailored gowns in Roman Holiday that flattered her thin frame exquisitely, and the mink-lined gown Ginger Rogers made famous in the film 'Lady in the Dark'. She had a remarkable ability to create things that both flattered the wearer and made a statement.

2. Grace Kelly-It's no secreet that I find Grace Kelly to be the quintessential style icon. It wasnt just the way she wore was how she carried herself. The pride she exhibited w/out appearing conceited and the velvet sound of her voice. She had a power in the fashion world, almost beyond comprehension today. Never before or since has one woman held the monopoly on what was defined as 'class', like Grace Kelly. She was a great actress, a strong presence, and she never seemed to 'slip' from her pedestal. Over the decades, she has remained an inspiration on the red carpet and is referenced in almost every fashion report that carries the term 'glamour'.

3. Ginger Rogers-'She did everything Fred Astaire did. Only she did it backward and in high heels.' It's true. She was the elegant partner that suited Astaire's grace and style perfectly. However, Ginger Rogers also had a spunky sassy side that was evident in her performances and her private life. She had a tomboy quality that made her inherently likeable as well and it certainly didnt hurt that she had the face of an angel. She could change her hair w/out blinking an eye or suffering in popularity. She wore pants with lace blouses and sneakers with pencil skirts, displaying her 'boyish' side but never denying her sex appeal. Even though she moved like honey in those glamorous feathered numbers, I find her even more appealing in candid photos like the one above since it proves that grace and poise can also be rip-roaring fun!

4. Katherine Hepburn-Before Annie Hall and Diane Keaton's menswear, there was Katherine Hepburn. Her style was she-male, in a good way. She found a way to wear things no woman had been able to before. Loose fitting suits and spats were perfectly juxtaposed with her flowing hair and feminine flair. Though Marlene Dietrich had made the shoulder pads and manly inspired clothing suitable for female attire, Katherine is the one that made it enviable. Women everywhere wanted to have her confidence, her complete assurety of who she was and where she was headed.

5. Audrey Hepburn- There is no doubt that Audrey Hepburn is probably the most influential style icon of the last century. Without her would there be a Twiggy? A 'little black dress'? A doe eye? A 'pixie' haircut? Possibly. But no one could have made skinny, sexy, large eyed, waifishness more appealing, certainly. Though her 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' era is probably her most well known, I am even more fascinated and drawn to her screen entrance in Roman Holiday and the confident way she wore Edith Head at a time when she was considered 'an upstart' for doing so. The tininess of her neck, the carriage of her hands, the way she made roses look as if they naturally sprouted from her insides when she wore them-these were things that had never been more evident before she came along. And she never made a bad movie.

My love for Rockabilly music also makes me a fan of bluejeans and bandanas yes, but when I think of 'style', I immediatley come back to those five females. I also have a great affinity for pin up art of the 1940's and 1950's and am similarly inspired by the Petty Girl and the multi-tasking dames of Edward Runci, but that's a subject for another entry.

Now that you see where my fashion 'sense' comes from, hopefully you understand why it is my passion and why recreating the styles of the past is something I just gotta do. Come along with me and feel free to add your input and comments along the way.