the continis

September 11, 2012

Come summer I always turn, in thoughts at least, to Rome with love. Even though this summer didn’t deliver, I did get to go to Florence back in February and passionately hold on to the belief that some day in the not too distant future somebody is going to take me to the Amalfi coast.

This film, of course, speaks of old time luxury – tells the story of Italy at it’s cinematic height. This is affluent Italy with all its speedy little cars and hip coffee bars. This is Italy with all its lakes and sunlight at the foot if its hills. A time when cigarettes where still smoked at press conferences and in lobbys. Long gone the Viscontis, Borgias and Medicis.

I seem to have a love for those upswept Audrey Hepburn bangs (here sported by Marion Cotillard’s Luisa Contini), though I would never dare to get them myself. While the rest of the costumes, as well as the movie, tend to veer towards the dramatic Luisa as the resigned wife, as opposed to the curvaceous mistress, shows restraint in her outfits, being very much one for delicate jewellery, defined, thick eyebrows and eyeliner done just so. Meanwhile the Fellini-like Guido, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, drives around Italy in a 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta in search of a seaside spa resort, preferably amongst beautiful ruins, looking the very picture of Italian elegance in slim suits, even skinnier ties and ever-present shades.

“I love the dark handsome guys with their skinny
little ties dressing mod looking out of sight
I love to watch them as they cruise with their pointy
leather shoes wearing shades in the middle of the nights
Whatever Guido does it makes me smile
He is the essence of Italian style.”


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)

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.