I am not too sure how many of you are familiar with Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalottt”. For those of you that are not it is a Victorian poem by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
It is one of my favourite poems and has been the inspiration of many artists, writers and musicians.
It was loosely based on the Arthurian legend of Elaine of Astolat, as recounted in a thirteenth-century Italian novella titled Donna di Scalotta. Tennyson focused on the Lady's "isolation in the tower and her decision to participate in the living world, two subjects not even mentioned in Donna di Scalotta."
The Lady of Shalott lived in an island castle in a river which flowed to Camelot. She had been cursed and was doomed to constantly weave a magic web without looking directly out at the world. Instead she looks into a mirror which reflects the busy road and people of Camelot which pass by her island. Her world is changed forever when she sees the reflection of Sir Lancelot in her mirror. She stops weaving and looks out her window, toward Camelot, bringing about the curse. Which brings us to my favorite stanza in the poem.
Out flew the web and floated wide- The mirror crack’d from side to side; “The curse is upon me,” cried The Lady of Shalottt.
She then leaves her island tower, finds a boat on which she writes her name, and floats down the river to Camelot. She dies before arriving. Upon the people who see her, is Lancelot who thinks she is beautiful.
There can be many interpretations to the poem from the dilemma that faces artists, writers, and musicians: to create work about and celebrate the world, or to enjoy the world by simply living in it. I myself love it as a highly romantic and tragic story.
With many interpretations from a written sense it has also been the inspiration for many an artist. One artist JW Waterhouse painted 3 different pictures depicting different episodes in the poem all very different from each other. They are above in the chronological order in which they were painted.
The first done in 1888 is one of my favorite paintings. The third and last painting is in the Art Gallery of Ontario, hanging next to my favorite picture of the Marchesa Casati. A treat for them to be both together.
The verse containing the words "the mirror crack'd from side to side" gave the title to one of Agatha Christie's detective stories and parts of the poem are referred to several times throughout it. The cover by Tom Adams slightly modifies one of the Waterhouse pictures, to create an intriguing bewitching cover.
I always like to re-imagine things I have seen or written so how would it be if our main character were a man? Food for thought!
It is very rare that when I post that I will quote whole text as the bulk of a post. However I came across this little gem the other day from Time Magazine in 1961 giving a recap of the Haute Couture showings in Paris in 1961.
I am not sure who the author was, however a world of glamour and elegance is described at the eve of the beginning of the swinging sixties. Compared to the huge publicity grinding machines and spectacles that couture showings today demand, this seems like a dowager’s tea party. However I think that I would rather have tea with a dowager than attending a brash cocktail party which today’s showings tend to be.
“In the salons of haute couture in Paris last week, buyers and fashion editors from all over the world got their first look at the color and shape of the spring lines—and found themselves looking backward. The new look was the old look of the F. Scott Fitzgerald flapper in the 1920s. Skirts and coats were straight, short, with hemlines flaring. Shoes were square-toed. Bosoms were flat, backs bent and billowing, with designs that required the mannequins not only to slouch but virtually assume the posture of an expectant, concave catcher's mitt. Though Paris fashions have been irresolutely marching backward for several seasons, the big, bold step this year was apparently inspired by a hit movie running in Paris called The Crazy Years, a documentary of the '20s.
The Crazy Years designs produced as wild and improbable a week as the fashion world has known for many a year. At the house of Cardin, which drew the week's first applause for a superlative line, a mannequin was showing a new flat-chested dress to a U.S. buyer. She was suddenly interrupted with a scream from the vendeuse: "But darling, you're wearing it back to front!"
When Madeleine de Rauch's collection failed to follow the flapper trend, the audience began to leave, and waiters dashed in with champagne to stem the bored retreat.
The triumph of the week and cause of the most excitement was the work of Christian Dior's little-known, untested Marc Bohan, 34. The Parisian-born son of a modiste, Bohan broke into haute couture in 1945 as an assistant designer at Patou, left Patou in 1958 to work under Dior's Boy Wonder Chief Designer Yves St. Laurent. When St. Laurent, after an unhappy stint in the French army, "retired" from Dior two months ago because of "ill health," Bohan, one of the few married male couturiers in Paris, took over. Few in Paris expected much from his debut, and St. Laurent fans were openly hostile. Admitted the New York Herald Tribune's Eugenia Sheppard: "I had a poisoned typewriter ribbon ready."
But Bohan's hip-hugging skirts, exotic colors ("Laburnum yellow," "Provence apricot,"), and infinite attention to detail and neatness, generally embracing the flapper trend, stunned the salon and sent reporters into paroxysms of joy. "But Marc Bohan is wonderful," cried a converted Eugenia Sheppard. "Five minutes after the show started, I felt like a cat before a saucer of cream."
At the show's end, the audience was near delirium and jaded U.S. fashion editors at the outer tether of objectivity. "The shouting, clapping, surging mob at the press showing caused chaos in the elegant salon," reported the New York Times excitedly on Page One. "M. Bohan was pushed up against the boiserie, kissed, mauled and congratulated. Chairs were toppled. Champagne glasses were broken. People were knocked down." Breathlessly cabled another U.S. reporter to her office: "Just dashed out of Dior to share with you still-boiling excitement." Wrote the New York Daily News's Monique: "Thundering applause led by a newly blonde Duchess of Windsor rolled through the elegant grey-and-white salons of the House of Dior today, the happy ending to the suspense story of the fashion year."
As an addition to Savoir Faire, I have decided to launch another blog! I have found lately that I have not been able to devote the amount of time daily to Savoir Faire as I wish. Savoir Faire will still continue as will my new blog Mon Peche, which is an going to be visual only with no text and a twist! I a m not sure how running two blogs is going to give me more time. Mon Peche is going to be a visual record of what Savoir Faire is actually thinking.
They say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (especially if you are hunting), however these fabulous creations are more than that! An instant bit of Savoir Faire for a night out on the town in the Holiday Season.
Maison Martin Margiela
Just be careful you don't run into this man and his dog.
When one thinks of Pucci the Renaissance palaces of Florence are one the last things that come to mind and vice versa. However the Renaissance and Pucci are so intertwined you could not have one without the other.
Reaching fame through his highly psychedelic designs of the 1960’s and 1970’s Emilio Pucci was born in 1914 of one of Florence’s oldest noble families, and would live and work in the Pucci Palace in Florence for much of his life.
The 14th -15th Century Palazzo Pucci has been in the Pucci family since it was built and is a standing testament that old and new can coexist together.
Marchesa Cristina Pucci di Barsento, widow of Emilio Pucci, still remembers how astonished she was when she first entered the house, back in 1959: ‘I was very young and quite astonished: It was a heavy house, even severe, like Florence’. Still, what looked like a timeless palazzo outside was a living house inside.
Pucci can be given credit for revolutionizing couture in the 1960s with his vibrant designs and colour and an aesthetic that was totally out of place within the environs in which his clothes were created. However the history of the Pucci family and their business interests gave rise to an evolutionary trend that had its epoch with Emilio Pucci.
In the brown room, for example, the silk draperies and wall covering were made at Antico Setificio Fiorentino, a silk workshop founded by the Puccis and other families in the 17th century; Emilio Pucci took it over in the 1950s for the manufacture of his fabrics which would become the backbone of his designs.
The late-18th-century fresco in the dining room, by Luigi Ademollo, depicts Aenes leaving Troy. Marchesa Pucci and her husband added the Venetian chairs. The crystal glassware was made for the family in the 18th century.
The 17th-century bed in Emilio Pucci’s bedroom was made in Lucca and it was among Pucci’s favourite pieces. The gilt woodwork on the headboard echoes the embroidery on the canopy.
The Wedgwood room was created by an English artist in the late 18th century. The palette and Neo-classical plasterwork were inspired by the signature ceramics. An 18th-century marble sculpture of the goddess Diana is at center.
“My husband loved and respected this house, and we changed little. He was very kind to me and didn’t want to teach me. He understood that some things should be kept the way they are, but he didn’t say, ‘Do this; don’t do that.’ And it was not necessary, because I didn’t want to interfere with the palazzo.”
The house the current marchesa “came into” is still ancestral, layered in generations of incremental change. However after nearly 50 years, Marchesa Pucci has gently made it her own—and shifted the terms for the next fortunate generation.
It was raining all day here in Toronto. A steady rain that kind of penetrated everything. This can be great if you are inside. Only problem, was I had to walk the 1.5 kms to work at 7:30 this morning in the rain. Now that in itself is not too bad, however as puddles form quickly there is always the possibility that you will be splashed or in my case drenched by a passing car.
With many of you travelling this weekend, it is always a sinking feeling when you have arrived at your destination, waited patiently at the baggage carrousel only to find that your luggage has not made it to the same destination as you have. I know as it has happened to me several times!
So when you have to check your luggage, make sure it satnds out on the baggage carrousel.
Lately with all the hype over designers collaborating with clothing retailers for capsule collections for the so called masses (think Versace for H&M), one also thinks of other collaborations that have taken place especially where cosmetics are concerned.
We have those designers who have refused to collaborate at all for the fear that it might cheapen their image. On the other hand others have partnered up with every fashion-related endeavor under the sun. Some fashion stalwarts have taken an out of the box approach to their collaborations, bringing some designer cachet to our faces instead. It seems a natural step for some designers who want to achieve a total look.
With his original 2005 Estée Lauder collaboration, Tom Ford kicked off a small wave of designer-beauty brand partnerships. Tom Ford for Estée Lauder was short-lived, however, and intentionally so — the beauty giant turned the collection into a permanent, standalone Tom Ford beauty line in 2006.
Gareth Pugh, the fashion-forward Lady Gaga designer favorite, admits that even he uses MAC Cosmetics, so a partnership with the beauty brand seems natural. Pugh’s dark and stormy aesthetic has been translated into an array of dark pigments and angular packaging. The limited-edition line will be available from November 23 to December 23.
Okay, so Lagerfeld actually collaborates extensively, but his latest endeavor is too good to leave off this list. The designer’s new line for Sephora includes an eye palette and nail polish, and totally inexplicably, a Karl lookalike doll. Unfortunately for those of you in the Americas the range is only available at physical outposts of Sephora in Europe and Singapore.
The up-and-coming designer and CFDA award-winner Chris Benz has yet to dip a toe into the world of fast fashion. However, he’s already partnered twice with the venerable Parisian beauty brand Lancôme, first on a single lipstick and then on a complete beauty product-filled summer tote.
From a Paris couture house long-celebrated for its romantic use of pattern and colour, to the modern evolution of Ungaro today, this was an interesting debut. Live from backstage at the Fall 2008 collections, Ungaro designer Esteban Cortazar, and MAC came together to create a special colour collection as dreamy, refined, and, well, Parisienne as anything this side of the Avenue Georges Cinq.
Back in 2007 McQueen created a Cleopatra-inspired look featuring bold, beautiful blue and green shades for MAC. “Alexander McQueen was very specific about the makeup direction and I translated his ideas of Egyptian, graphic, bold colored makeup into a look that was strong yet hypnotic;” said Charlotte Tilbury, the key makeup artist for McQueen.
So if you missed out on lining up for the likes of Missoni, Versace and others for fast fashion at the crack of dawn, a little bit of designer glam for your face will go a long way and a much easier alternative.
I have always been a fan of knitwear. Having grown up with the Martha Stewart of Australia as a mother, I couldn’t help but love it. Jumpers, scarves, gloves you name it I love it. With the colder weather now here, it is the time to bring out the knitwear.
When I was younger I could show my talented mother any of these and say "please" and a couple of days or weeks later I would have an exact replica. I am forever indebted to her for keeping me supplied in fabulous knitwear.
Now I must say men's knitwear has come a long way in the last 30 years pr so. I love big bulky avant-garde styles, which unfortunately do not suit my rather small frame (and age). However if I was 20 something with model good looks I would definitely be saying please to my mother and donning some of these pieces!
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