Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Renaissance World of Pucci

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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


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.

So instead of looking like this in the rain

It was a bit like this!

How was your day?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Beaton Effect

Just proves that the great Cecil Beaton is still a force to be reckoned with.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Has Your Luggage Been Lost?

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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Put Your Best Face Forward

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.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Woollies

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!

Stay warm!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Braces or Suspenders????

If there is one look for men that I haven’t really got behind, is that of wearing braces or suspenders.

For a start what do you really call these things? Call them braces and I immediately think of teeth. Call them suspenders and I think of women’s stockings. One reason why they might be called suspenders is that sometimes they do look like they are suspended in space. So for an article of adornment that has no definitive name the problems are already mounting up.

Trying to find images of an actual man looking good in them was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. So we are already fighting a losing battle.

Primarily used to hold one’s trousers, pants, slacks or jeans up (which some of our youth today could use) I kind of have the feeling that they look a bit ridiculous. This is why trousers etc. have belt loops. We don’t really need the added pressure of trying to make suspenders or braces look good.

You cross a fine line if wearing suspenders or braces that you don’t look like someone’s grandfather, a Clockwork Orange wannabe or worse a hillbilly.

The social connotations of young men wearing them with close cropped hair is not a good one. Adopted by right wing politically motivated youth a political statement is being made. Do we really want to portray this sort of look?

Middle aged men wearing them and thinking that they a fashionably forward or quirky, seems a bit wrong as well. Picture Larry King here, it is a bit creepy.

Over time designers have valiantly tried to make them look good. We have had chains from dsquared and various other adaptions that basically do not work.

Oh, I do admit that they occasionally look ok, however for classic savoir faire do not go there!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chez Lanvin par Rateau

Many of us I am sure (being the voyeurs that we are) have always wanted to know, how some of
the most famous designers and personalities of history lived at home? We have seen their ‘public’ side however one always wants to know what were they like at home? For some there was very little distinction between home and ‘work’ so to speak. Such was the case with Jeanne Lanvin.

A lot of us who have been fortunate enough to have travelled to Paris no doubt have visited the
Musée des Arts Décoratifs. When Lanvin’s original residence was taken down in 1965, the complete decoration and furniture of the boudoir, bedroom and bathroom was saved and given to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs where the spaces have been recreated.

The interiors decorated by Armand-Albert Rateau in the 1920s are a lavishly Art Deco styled heaven and oasis of femininity.

Rateau also designed Lanvin’s fashion house and managed the Lanvin-Décoration department of interior design (established 1920) in the main store on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

He also designed the Lanvin spherical La Boule perfume flaçon for Arpège about 1925–34.

Lanvin was one of the first along with Poiret in capitalizing on the whole "lifestyle look”.
Living by example Lanvin used Rateau to decorate her private residence.

The interior design of her private quarters although classed as Art Deco, is quite removed from what we know today as quintessential Art deco. With hues of cornflower blue, known at the time as ‘Lanvin Blue’ and some remarkable bronze furniture, the interior was were more refined and individual than the current trends.

Lanvin blue was the basis for her bedroom in a monochromatic color scheme, and it achieves a striking yet reserved effect. The white-silk-embroidered fabric used on the walls, draperies
and bedding was made by the same seamstresses that embellished her robes de style, and add a sense of cohesion to the room.

The living room was decorated in a similar vein, which gave the whole apartment of cohesion.

The bathroom in stark contrast is something that could have been a relic from ancient Rome. The chic mixture of black and white tiles on the floor in a mosaic pattern is quintessential art deco. Again the fixtures were designed by Rateau, with accessories also including the spherical Arpege bottle.

Rateau's specialty was the creation of luxurious objects using a deliberately restricted but striking mix of materials which was influenced by disparate sources such as, the Wierner Werkstaette in Austria and the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy.

These preserved interiors not only give us a glimpse into the private world of one of the great couturiers of the twentieth century. Although some may argue that these interiors may not be
as refined and elegant than say the private apartments of Chanel, I tend to disagree. Whereas Chanel was trying hard to forge an identity for herself, Lanvin had already found hers.

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