on bathrobes and pyjamas

September 17, 2012

Soft bathrobes and proper pajamas seem in this day and age – the age of a thousand towels, leggings and old moth-eaten sweatshirts – to be a rather outdated pleasures. And yet, staying in a hotel on holiday recently after a good shower my friends and I always found ourselves cozying up in the hotel bathrobes. As it is, the comfort of lounging around in a bathrobe seems to have been relegated to hotels, and hotels only.
I do own a bathrobe, it’s just that it isn’t necessarily up to par and I really just use it for the sole purpose of getting dry.

I can’t even remember a time, though, that I ever wore a proper pyjama – top and bottom of the same set, that is. Or one of those wonderfully old-fashioned silky ones. I’m not really sure why boring old stuff like pyjamas and bathrobes have been so much on my mind recently, especially seeing as they are garments for behind doors, garments not many people might get to see.
And yet, precision like that, like getting even your bathrobe and pyjamas just right & paying attention to these private details, speaks of grandeur in all things of life. It’s telling in the same sort of way wearing the right kind of lingerie beneath a slinky dress is.

True, a two-piece pyjama might not be the sexiest of sleepwear, but in all its rumpled gloriousness it seems just right for the upcoming fall and winter season.
And as the two ladies beneath show also the right kind of garment for showing your husband you are not the fool he thought you were & for receiving a suitor, while rubbing the sleep from your eyes. Plus, you can always open another button…

(Marion Cotillard in ‘Nine’ & Karine Vanasse in ‘Pan Am’.)


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)

‘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.


May 29, 2012

Read the rest of this entry »

the swedish ethos

May 12, 2012

Doesn’t everyone just love stories of people who weren’t trained in a specific field and still manage to make a name for themselves in spite of it?

“Because for one, perfume is very French—there has been this hierarchy in the industry for so long. Which is good because you have incredible talent, and a refinement, but it’s also become stagnant. So for me, it was all about simplifying, for better or for worse. So as opposed to working with fifty, seventy or eighty raw materials for a fragrance, I work with maybe five or ten. There are these beautiful raw materials—I fight with Chanel to buy specific Neroli—and I thought it was a shame to mask them and cover them with different stuff. Maybe it’s something to do with the Swedish ethos, the simplicity…it was just simplifying in terms of creating a clear idea. So when you smell Accord Oud, you get it. You like it or not.”

“If I took you in the lab for two weeks, and showed you a spectrum, you would probably be able to show me things that remind you of specific memories. You would be able to develop your vocabulary to create a perfume. And that was the first phase for me, trying to understand the possibilities. Now when I walk down the street I can smell a lot more—dirty laundry, etc. I don’t think it’s a heightened sense of smell, it’s just awareness.”

“Because I didn’t go to school for this I had to catch up, but at the same time I didn’t want to become too technical, because I had this possibility to work with two very talented perfumers that do a lot of big work and are immensely creative, and I didn’t want to offset their process. So my idea was to push them in the right direction. I did that with words and raw materials, but also with images, emotion, music and poetry. My briefs were about sitting in a room and getting them to feel something. And hoping I would land close enough to.”
Ben Gorham (x)