Is Makeup a form of Resilience?

Makeup is often viewed as a means to please the male gaze. However, Arabelle Sicardi   compares movies with resilient heroines to modern day runway looks. Sicardi points out how makeup in these movies and couture collections can defy a “pretty” look and exude fierceness, power, and determination. In this brilliant article, Sicardi shows how makeup isn’t about covering up insecurities, but is “about power and taking it back, about resistance and glamour.”

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The Liberating Effect of Fashion

In honor of International Women’s Day, AnOther Magazine dug into to their archives and selected past quotes from inspiring women. One of my favorites was a quote from Rei Kawakubo that touches upon the liberating effect of fashion.

“Dress is a way to express one’s personality and I thought it could be liberating to be able to express various sides of one’s character at the same time through clothes. It’s up to each person to be free ­– how they feel each day, how they feel in general, what kind of person they are, whether they want to dress up or be themselves or experiment with something new.” -Rei Kawakubo A/W 2006

 

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My Life in Vogue

The “My Life in Vogue” personal mini-films showcases how fashion shapes the lives of six brilliant, successful young women. These vignettes show that whether she is a curator, design guru, financial planner, actress, or composer, style plays a significant role in a woman’s life. While these women have very different stories, they all view dress as a creative outlet and expression of one’s personality. Check out these intimate portraits of the fashionable lives of these six unique women http://www.vogue.com/mylifeinvogue/.

My Life in Vogue Contest. (www.vogue.com)

My Life in Vogue Contest. (www.vogue.com)

The Row’s Pre-Fall Collection 2014

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The Row’s Pre-Fall 2014 collection is a mix of sophistication, restraint, complexity, and simplicity. Describing the pieces calls for many paradoxes because the collection is paradoxical, yet entirely practical.  While the collection has its fair share of luxury leather, cashmere, faux fur, and mohair, there is a heavy utilitarian theme.  The Olsens penchant for exquisite fabrics is juxtaposed by the pieces’ functionality. Take for example, the waterproof extra long and generously A-line trench with a fanny pack. The collection includes the fundamentals of a working wardrobe such as trim blazers in sturdy wool and slid-on leather loafers. Gender-blending designs like the faux wrap midi-length skirt in men shirting strips and simple bias cut shift may even seem a bit anti-fashion, though pieces like the aforementioned have been bombarding the catwalks as of late. These gender-blurring pieces in women’s clothing can help with leveling the playing field between men and women. The functionality of the collection with the fanny pack, trench coat, shoulder bag, and loafers also encourages women’s mobility and presence in the corporate world. The Olsens said they were inspired by “classic American pieces” and by images of elderly men and women in their gardens. Their timeless, ageless collection successfully showcased their inspiration. Tonal floral motifs on silk blouses gave the collection a feminine touch and preserved remnants of summer and spring. However, the collection didn’t carry a note of verdant richness with most of the pieces in black, gray, crème, maroon, and navy. This traditional collection catered to the sophisticated, yet hardworking shopper with the 60-something entrepreneur Linda Rodin starring in its lookbook. With their new store opening in Los Angeles this summer, this pre-fall collection will be particularly important. The store looks as if it is on the path to success since the functionality of the collection carefully complements a California lifestyle.

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Suzy Menkes’ “Crossing Gender Boundaries Again”

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Suzy Menkes’ “Crossing Gender Boundaries Again”

Menkes’ article “Crossing Gender Boundaries” discusses the gender-bending designs of J.W. Anderson, Chistopher Raeburn, Richard Nicoll, and Craig Green. These A/W 2014 collections challenge Western notions of masculinity. According to Menkes, these designs elicit questions such as “if other cultures can present males in skirts and robes, shouldn’t they be absorbed into Western culture?” Read Menkes’ article in the NY Times to join the conversation on gender-playing fashion.

J.W. Anderson, autumn/winter 2014. Regis Colin, Nowfashion.com

J.W. Anderson, autumn/winter 2014. Regis Colin, Nowfashion.com

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Peter Haldmen’s “Liz Goldwyn: Making a Name for Herself”

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Liz Goldwyn at her launch for “Pretty Things”

Peter Haldmen’s “Liz Goldwyn: Making a Name for Herself”

The grand-daughter of Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn Liz Goldwyn has made significant contributions to fashion history and theory. After working at Soethby’s, Goldwyn noticed that the study of burlesque costume had largely been overlooked. Goldwyn set out to fill this vacancy in scholarship involving burelesque dress by assembling an archive and writing a book titled Pretty Things.

Read more about this eccentric vintage-lover turned scholar in Peter Haldmen’s “Liz Goldwyn: Making a Name for Herself.”

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The Cut’s “Kim Basinger Pulled on Her Menswear”

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The Cut’s “Kim Basinger Pulled on Her Menswear”

At the screening of Grudge Match in New York, Kim Basigner was the symbol of ’80s Wall Street greed, wearing a prideful pinstripe suit by Ralph Lauren Collection. The addition of a tie, a high collared button-down, and a pocket watch made it uber-masculine and antiquated. Her splash of bright red lipstick challenged an otherwise macho look. Though her pinstripe suit is commonly associated with masculinity and wealth, it does exude a bit of femininity, with the cinched waist and curve-enhancing cut. Ralph Lauren has often commented that nothing makes a woman look more sexy than a tuxedo. Do suits have an element of femininity and a touch of sexy to them? Whether they do or not, Basinger’s red carpet look definitely blurs the boundaries between masculine and feminine and begs us to question.

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NYTimes’” In ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ the Power of ’80s Clothing”

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NYTimes “In ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ the Power of ’80s Clothing”

According to Alex Williams’ article, contemporary Wall Street style is shunning the Gekko power suit of the ’80′s. It appears that Wall Street is trading in the powerful pinstripes of the past for a more tailored, “average-looking” suit.

Review of The Museum at FIT’s A Queer History of Fashion

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The Museum at FIT’s A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk is at the top of my list of exhibitions to see in 2013. This exhibition is groundbreaking as it is the first to explore the pivotal role that LGBTQ individuals played in fashion for over the past 300 years. The exhibition’s co-curator Fred Dennis comments that it “is about honoring the gay and lesbian designers of the past and present.” The exhibition not only highlights the significant contributions to fashion by gay and lesbian designers, but also illuminates the important role that fashion and style have had in giving the LGBT community a voice.

A Queer History of Fashion begins with frilly, ornate three-piece suits from late eighteenth-century France that were infamously worn by cross-dressing “mollies,” foppish “macaronis,” and “men milliners.” With their ruffled cravats and satin frock coats, these eighteenth-century men were subverting conventional sex and gender roles.

My personal favorites were the 20th century garçonne looks that challenged sex and gender taboos. The garçonne style was associated with a flapper who flaunted her “unconventional” dress and behaviors. La garçonne or the flapper transgressed the boundaries of the “proper lady,” with her rising hemlines and her “debaucherous” acts of smoking and drinking without a chaperone. The exhibition has costumes from the 1936 film adaptation of the novel La Garçonne. The costumes of La Garçonne’s emancipated wife, Marie Bell, who is seduced into a lesbian affair, reject traditional notions of femininity.

The exhibition’s gender-bending designs of the early twentieth century also includes Marlene Dietrich’s tuxedo that she notoriously wore in the film Morocco. The man’s tailcoat that Dietrich wore in the scene in which she kisses another woman flies in the face of conventional sexual morality. Dietrich’s men’s-inspired evening wear attire contributed to high fashion opening its doors to lesbian style clothing.

For instance, the exhibition points out that Yves Saint Laurent’s stunning 1982 Le Smoking was inspired by Dietrich’s tuxedo from the 1930’s film. Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic tuxedo was part of the second half of the exhibition that focuses on pieces that explicitly deconstructed gender norms. This second half incorporated Jean Paul Gaultier’s skirts for men with other gender-bending pieces that deliberately destabilized the traditional gender system. Also included in the second part of the exhibition was the evolved lesbian style of the Post-Stonewall era that transitioned from the butch-femme stereotype into an androgynous, anti-fashion style. This post-Stonewall style often alluded to subcultures and referenced movements such as the punk movement. The second half also showed proletarian men’s-inspired garments including work boots, plaid shirts, and overalls that many feminists wore in rejection of capitalism and patriarchy.

However, A Queer History of Fashion does not only showcase the gender-defying designs, but also exposes the inequality and hardships that the LGBT community faced over the years. The exhibition comments on Coco Chanel’s homophobic sentiments towards Christian Dior’s New Look and Cristobal Balenciaga’s Velasquez dresses. The exhibition displays Coco’s comment to Franco Zeffirelli: “Look at them! Fool’s dressed by queens living out their fantasies!”

A large portion of the exhibition is devoted to revealing the discrimination that gay, lesbian, and bisexual designers faced. The exhibition depicts how many gay designers were accused of caricaturing femininity through their designs for women. Dior’s New Look, which is on view at the exhibition, was seen during the 1950’s as an archaic, constraining, and frivolous feminine style with its crinolines, Merry Widows, and padded bust lines in comparison to Claire McCardell’s loose-fitting, Greek-inspired Monastic and Popover dresses made of cotton. The exhibition also notes how during the early twentieth century many gays gravitated towards a discreet and passive style to not “provoke” a homophobic society. It was not until the 1960’s that gays began to embrace unisex styles such as caftans. In addition to displaying several caftan designs, the exhibition notes how individuals like Rudi Gernreich, a founding member of the pioneering gay liberation group the Mattachine Society, integrated a more openly gay look with “mod” menswear styles.

A Queer History of Fashion conveys the strong similarities between the LGBT community and fashion as both care deeply about self-expression. Moreover, the exhibition unveils that fashion for the LGBT community is a means of recognition, power, and sexual freedom.

Alexander McQueen Dress http://www.fitnyc.edu

Alexander McQueen Dress
http://www.fitnyc.edu

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