bonjour paris!

August 31, 2012

In the wonderfully upbeat opening musical number fashion magazine editor Maggie Prescott (Diana Vreeland says hello) encourages us to “Think Pink“, to which Greenwich Village bookshop salesgirl and amateur philosopher Jo Stockton builds a stark and rather drab and dreary contrast. Wearing a, what my father would call, “potato sack” shy Jo Stockton’s workday is disturbed by a horde of fashionable young interns and photographer Dick Avery who flounce into the dismal-looking bookshop in search of an intellectual backdrop for one of their photoshoots.

Once convinced her “Funny Face” makes for some bloody good modelling, she’s rushed off to Paris where she goes in search of the “den of thinking men, like Jean-Paul Sartre” in

  1. a tan, almost trench coat-like parka, cuffing the sleeves,
  2. a small bow in her hair,
  3. a classic black turtleneck,
  4. cream suede gloves,
  5. slim fitting pants & black leather loafers.

Amidst all the more glamorous outfits chosen for the photoshoots that follow, it is this marvellously simple outfit Jo chooses to wander through Montmartre that is still as classic today as it was back in 1957.

“Heartbroken, suffering. You’re Anna Karenina.”
“Shall I throw myself under the train?”

“You’re walking out of the opera, leaving to the passionate music of Tristan und lsolde. You’re very unhappy.”
“What happened now?”
“A rendezvous at the opera. Two seats. He didn’t show up. You’re furious. When I say go, walk down with fire in your eyes and murder on your mind.”

Wearing a simple white shirt and once again slim fitting pants with loafers, Jo gets taught “How To Be Lovely“.

Philosophers wear black only, of course.

“Indeed, it is reasonable to reckon that you won’t see a prettier musical film—or one more extraordinarily stylish—during the balance of this year. If you do you may count yourself fortunate, for this is a picture with class in every considerable department on which this sort of picture depends.”

New York Times review from 1957 (x)


‘It is typical of Oxford,’ I said, ‘to start the new year in autumn.’

Everywhere, on cobble and gravel and lawn, the leaves were falling and in the college gardens the smoke of the bonfires joined the wet river mist, drifting across the grey walls; the flags were oily underfoot and as, one by one, the lamps were lit in the windows round the quad, the golden lights were diffuse and remote, new figures in new gowns wandered through the twilight under the arches and the familiar bells now spoke of a year’s memories.
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

my week with marilyn

August 20, 2012

“For Colin [Eddie Redmayne], everything was vintage 1950s. I wanted to show the difference in 1956 between American clothing and English clothing. In England, we were still very uptight, tailored—it was not as relaxed as the American cut. So you see that with Milton [Dominic Cooper], the publicist played by Toby Jones, and Arthur Miller [Dougray Scott]. They’re very American, to highlight our Englishness,” she says. (x)
“There was a different style, there were different fabrics used. We had not long been out of rationing in this country, after World War 2, so did not have as much as the American.” (x)

“What we wanted to represent was the private side of her,” explained Taylor. “She’s known for her show-stopping glamorous gowns, but after studying hundreds of books and photographs we found out that actually Marilyn dressed for comfort. She was ahead of her time in terms of style. The Fifties look was very much based on structuring and tailoring, but she was often chose quite American sporty clothes to wear. She was the Calvin Klein girl before there even was Calvin Klein. In private, she kept to very simple lines and silhouettes.” (x)

“What struck me was how she was way ahead of her time, in terms of simplicity. I’ve got loads of stills of her in England just riding her bike in a big chunky sweater in a pair of jeans and loafers. Very simple. Very easy.”

Crisp American tailoring vs. English tweediness. Glamorous simplicity. A gaggle of Eton schoolboys in top hats. Hugging the camel coat around your shoulders. Those short Audrey Hepburn bangs.