University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion History"

IS COUTURE RELEVANT IN TODAY’S WORLD?

COUTURE SPRING 2018
Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Fanciful, exquisite, luxurious, unique, all these adjectives come to mind when one thinks about the exclusive world of Haute Couture. While the spring 2018 couture shows in Paris have recently come to an end, we can all expect to see plenty of these dramatic, breathtaking creations on the Red Carpet on Oscar night. But the question remains, is couture relevant in today’s world?

By definition, Haute Couture is the French word for “high sewing,” “high dressmaking” or “high fashion”; it is the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. These one-of-a-kind creations are constructed by hand from start to finish by the most experienced and talented sewers, known in the biz as les petite mains. Check out the movie Phantom Thread to get a sense of how hard and talented these ‘golden hands’ work to create  magic, often on the most severest of deadlines. The fabrics used are the most luxurious and expensive textiles created. All of the beading and embroidery in couture are not only sewn by hand but take weeks and months to execute.

One cannot walk into a store and purchase haute couture. These unique pieces are created for the client and specifically tailored to her body. Considering the amount of time, money, and skill needed to create one piece, haute couture can only be purchased by the wealthiest of clients. Generally, there is no price tag when it comes to couture and the saying goes…”that if you have to ask the price, well then…you can’t afford it.”

The pre-history of couture dates back to the 17th century, when Rose Bertin, the first known designer, dressed Queen Marie Antoinette. But it would be Englishman Charles Frederick Worth who would receive the honor as the  ‘Father of Couture.’ In 1856, Worth and his future wife, Marie Vernet, opened the House of Worth, in Paris. As his muse, Marie attracted the attention of the French aristocracy and in 1860, Worth became the official court couturier under Empress Eugénie. Up until that time, stylish women would visit Paris and bring back clothing that was then copied by their local dressmakers. Worth was the first designer who would not let his customers dictate design, which had been the practice until then. Rather, he was the first to design and display, via a “fashion show” on live models, his own creations for women to choose from, four times a year. He would only allow the client to select the style, fabrics and trim.

In 1868, La Chambre Syndicale de la confection et de la couture pour dames et fillettes was founded by Charles Frederick Worth to organize Parisian design houses. The name was changed in 1910 to Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, to more accurately define the organization’s haute couture relevance and in 1973, the name was again changed to Fédération Française de la Couture.  Couture such as Callot Soeurs, Patou, Poiret, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Mainbocher, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior followed Worth. Some houses are still in existence today, in fact, Lanvin is the oldest!

Marie Antoinette (Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Magazine)

Marie Antoinette (Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Magazine)

 

After World War II, rules were implemented to prevent misuse of the name Haute Couture, and to outline certain criteria with regard to creativity, design, quality, and reproduction.  The term Haute Couture is legally protected — and fashion houses are granted the designation by the French Ministry of Industry. Originally, the number of required looks per collection was 50, but in 1992, it was cut in half. Then, in 2001, the goalposts shifted again, to introduce a qualitative assessment from the Fédération.  Only designers who fit their strict requirements are invited to present during the couture shows in Paris in January and in July. To become accepted, you have to play by the rules, and there are many, including that a label needs to produce at least 25 outfits per season and maintain a workroom in Paris.

 

Christian Dior fitting a client in the 1950's

Christian Dior fitting a client in the 1950’s

By the late 20th century, designers such as Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Theirry Mugler started their own couture houses, but due to the high expense of producing these collections, Lacroix and Mugler dropped their couture collection.

In today’s fast-paced, fast-fashion oriented world, where such a small percentage of the population has the wealth to buy Haute Couture, how do these houses survive? The answer is….luxury shoes & handbags, fragrances and cosmetics! While it once was true that the couture was a way for designers to try out new ideas, today couture shows serve as a vehicle for brand marketing and publicity. Yes, it’s true, some of these clothes are ordered by a small number of wealthy women or loaned to celebs for a walk on the Red Carpet, but by and large, it’s about brand-building. Those who can’t afford the hefty price tag of a couture gown, can purchase ‘a piece of the dream’ via a couture houses’s perfume, lipstick, ready-to-wear, shoes and bags.

 

Let’s take a look of some of those ‘dreamy looks’

 

 Armani Privé

Armani Privé's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Chanel

Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Christian Dior

Christian Dior's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Giambattista Valli’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Giambattista Valli's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Giambattista Valli’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Givenchy

Givenchy's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Valentino

Valentino's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Let us know your thoughts, do you believe couture is relevant in modern day society?

Finding “Infinite Hope” in the Fashion Industry

- - Fashion History

Today, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. The spirit, purpose and importance of this day feel weightier in the current political climate. And the change Dr. King brought serves as a much needed reminder that “we must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

As professionals in the field of fashion, we’ve always been committed to the idea that our differences are what make our works original.  Diversity in where we come from or how we think or how we identify ourselves brings rich variety to that which we create. And therefore, if everyone does not have an equal chance to make their voices heard, then we are all missing out on what the silenced have to offer. Read More

A Proud Look Back and a Sneak Peek into What’s Ahead at the University of Fashion

Happy 2018, U of F designers! 2017 has wrapped, and our hope for you in 2018 is that you take a moment to look back and recognize your accomplishments over the past year with as much excitement as you look forward to your new goals.

So, what are your top 3 proudest moments of 2017?

And your top 3 plans for 2018?

We’re asking ourselves the same questions. Read More

“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City hosts a fashion inspired exhibit, and its 2018 theme, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” could be their most controversial yet. The juxtaposition of fashion and religious artwork masterpieces will be designed to study fashion’s continuous fascination with the traditional practices of the Catholic Church. The Met has arranged to showcase a group of papal robes and accessories from the Vatican, highlighting the ongoing influence liturgical vestments have on designers.

The exhibition, which in turn prompts the theme for the annual, Vogue-associated Met Gala and its spectacular red carpet parade, will take place on the first Monday of May and the exhibit will open to the public on May 10th.  The Met Gala will be hosted by a trio of fashionable women: Donatella Versace, Rihanna and Amal Clooney. The exhibition will go beyond the usual confines of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, expanding to The Met’s medieval galleries and the Cloisters outpost in northern Manhattan.  According to The New York Times, the exhibition will be the Costume Institute’s largest exhibition to date; depending on how it’s executed, it may also be the most polarizing.

Christopher Kane spring 2017 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christopher Kane spring 2017 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

“We know it could be controversial for right wing or conservative Catholics and for liberal Catholics,” curator Andrew Bolton told the Times. But president and chief executive of the Met Daniel H. Weiss noted that he has “confidence that the exhibition will inspire understanding, creativity and, along the way, constructive dialogue, which is precisely a museum’s role in our civil society.” Bolton also consulted local Catholic leadership in New York, not to mention partnered with the Vatican for parts of the exhibition, hoping that this may help ease tensions felt by the faithful.

“The Roman Catholic Church has been producing and promoting beautiful works of art for centuries,” director of the Holy See press office Greg Burke told the Times. “Most people have experienced that through religious paintings and architecture. This is another way of sharing some of that beauty that rarely gets seen.”

Left: Manuscript Leaf With Scenes From the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian, c. 1320–42, tempera and gold on parchment; right, Evening Dress, Madame Grès, 1969 (Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Left: Manuscript Leaf With Scenes From the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian, c. 1320–42, tempera and gold on parchment; right, Evening Dress, Madame Grès, 1969 (Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The exhibition will not only present The Met’s own religious art collection but will also feature religious garments borrowed from the Vatican, attendees will be able to view 50 ecclesiastical masterworks from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which were never shown outside of the Vatican. These works will be showcased along with papal vestments, rings, tiaras and accessories from more than 15 papacies in the Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries. That area alone will highlight work from the 18th to the early 21st century. The Vatican has not made a loan of this scope to The Met since its exhibition in 1982 entitled, The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art, which ranked third as The Met’s most-visited show.

Clothing from 150 designer collections that pay homage to Catholicism, will have their work on display. Designers included are: Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Azzedine Alaïa, Christopher Kane, John Galliano for the House of Dior, Claire McCardell, Madeleine Vionnet, Isabel Toledo, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons for his own label and the House of Dior.

Jeremy Scott Fall 2017 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jeremy Scott Fall 2017 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The fashion component will be mostly woman’s wear from the early 20th century to present. The exhibit is meant to provide an interpretative context for fashion’s engagement with Catholicism. The designs are meant to be considered within the broader context of religious artistic production to analyze their connection to the historiography of material, Christianity and their contribution to the perceptual construction of the Catholic imagination, according to press material provided by The Met.

Chanel on the cover of Vogue, November 1988 (photo by Peter Lindbergh)

Chanel on the cover of Vogue, November 1988 (photo by Peter Lindbergh)

As you can see, fashion has long borrowed from the Catholic Church’s rich visual history; From Dolce & Gabbana sending religious imagery down the runway to pop stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga, using clothing to set themselves up as new ‘spiritual icons’. Fashion’s relationship with the Catholic Church and churches in general, have  always been somewhat provocative. During London Fashion Week 2017, a bitter row  erupted with leading clerics after Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu used an historic church to showcase her collection, with models dressed as devils and vampires sashaying in front of the altar. And who can forget Madonna’s controversy by inappropriately using Christian imagery in her songs, videos and concerts with songs like “Like a Virgin” (1984) to “Like a Prayer” (1989) and her Confessions Tour in 2005 ?

Do you think the Met’s exhibit is a marketing ploy to increase the number of museum-goers or one that hopes to bring the fashion world and the Catholic Church together?

Versace Spring 2018 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Versace Spring 2018 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Making the Mundane Meaningful at MoMA

T-shirts. Jeans. A little black dress. Underwear.

Not exactly garments you might think worthy of the MoMA’s first fashion exhibit in 73 years, and only second fashion exhibit—ever.

However, items many of us have had as staples in our own closets over the years are exactly the garments sparking current conversation in the fashion and art world since this collection of seemingly mundane clothes and accessories opened to the public on October 1, 2018. Read More

Most Fashionable Political Wives – Past and Present

Most Fashionable Political Wives – Past and Present

Kate Middleton's fashion inspiration is clearly her mother-in-law, the late Princess Diana (Photo courtesy of au.ibtimes.com)

Kate Middleton’s fashion inspiration is clearly her mother-in-law, the late Princess Diana (Photo courtesy of au.ibtimes.com)

Fashion is all around us, it’s at the tip of our fingertips with social media, blogs and fashion magazines, and in today’s society, everyone is a critic. We are constantly bombarded with images of celebrities, singers, reality television stars, artists and models on the pages of our favorite magazines, blogs and Instagram feeds. We remember their fashion choices – good and bad – and we judge them.

But today, more than ever, political wives are being critiqued, not only for their spouse’s political stance, but also for their fashion choices. Constantly in the public eye as they jet-set around the world, political spouses are expected to be intellectual, engaging, empathetic, strong, powerful, beautiful, and above all, be able to gain the trust of their people, all while fighting for causes that are close to their hearts.

Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy - two very chic first ladies in 2009 (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy – two very chic first ladies in 2009 (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Just like celebrities, political spouses are constantly on parade. They are criticized by the media and the public for their fashion choices and they are also judged as to whether or not they support U.S. talent.  Case in point, Nancy Reagan who wore Galanos at her husband’s inaugural ball, Barbara Bush wore Scassi, and let’s not forget those first ladies who came out in support of home-state talent like Laura Bush who wore a  local Texas designer, Michael Faircloth, and Hillary who wore Arkansas designer Sarah Phillips. Not since Jackie has fashion been so front and center, thanks to Michele Obama who wore Jason Wu to the inauguration and proceeded to elevate the profile of many young and up-and-coming designers. Heck, Michele even had the guts to make ‘off-the-rack’ J Crew cool and nearly crashed the internet when she decided to wear  bangs!

Here is a look at the world’s most fashion-savvy wives of political leaders worldwide, both past and present.

Jacqueline Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy wearing her signature pillbox hat in Paris, 1961 (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Jackie Kennedy wearing her signature pillbox hat in Paris, 1961 (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Jacqueline Kennedy was the epitome of chic and is still considered America’s most iconic first lady. Known for her impeccable fashion sense and  cosmopolitan lifestyle ‘Jackie’ captivated the American public both during and after her time in the White House. As one of the defining fashion trendsetters of the 1960s, women around the globe eagerly sought out the famous “Jackie look.” Department stores scrambled to produce affordable imitations of her sleek, classy dresses and hats. Nevertheless, her chic sensibility was often a point of contention. She was obsessed with pricey French couture and was criticized during the 1960 presidential campaign.  Once she became first lady, the Kennedy camp worried her taste for foreign clothing could make the family seem out of touch. To solve the problem she was paired with American-based designer Oleg Cassini. Cassini went on to design more than 300 of her most iconic outfits, and later dubbed himself the First Lady’s “Secretary of Style.”

In 1968 she married Aristotle Onassis and catapulted to fashion icon status worldwide wearing her signature oversized sunglasses, Gucci bags and printed headscarves.

Jacqueline passed away on May 19, 1994 in her Manhattan apartment in New York City.

 

Princess Diana

Princess Diana in Chicago wearing Versace, 1996 (Photo courtesy of Rex Features)

Princess Diana in Chicago wearing Versace, 1996 (Photo courtesy of Rex Features)

Diana, Princess of Wales, was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, who is the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II. The royal was famously down-to-earth and brought a breath of fresh air to the House of Windsor. Diana married Prince Charles at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the summer of 1981. All eyes were on Diana, approximately 17 million viewers from around the world tuned in to watch the ceremony. Princess Diana was in the public eye for the whole of her life—everything from her fashion choices to her haircuts became an international fad. Two decades after her tragic death, in the summer of 1997, people are still enamored with the Princess of Wales.

‘Princess Di’ ascended to the pantheon of the best-dressed women in history and favored British-based fashion by Bruce Oldfield, Catherine Walker and Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed her famous wedding dress.  She attended Gianni Versace’s funeral in a Versace and  just a few short weeks later, the Princess met a tragic fate of her own. She will always be remembered not only as a fashion icon, but as a great humanitarian, often raising awareness for AIDS and the poverty in Africa.

 

Grace Kelly

Princess Grace Kelly in Philadelphia hiding her baby bump with the iconic Hermes Kelly Bag, 1956  (Photo courtesy of Rex Features)

Princess Grace Kelly in Philadelphia hiding her baby bump with the iconic Hermes Kelly Bag, 1956 (Photo courtesy of Rex Features)

Grace Patricia Kelly was a successful and beloved American actress who became Princess of Monaco after marrying Prince Rainier III, in April 1956. Their fairy-tale wedding took place in Monaco and it is estimated that the royal event was watched by over 30 million viewers on live television. The event was described by biographer Robert Lacey as “the first modern event to generate media overkill.” Grace’s wedding gown, which took six weeks and three dozen seamstresses to complete, was created by MGM’s Academy Award–winning designer, Helen Rose.

While pregnant with her daughter Caroline in 1956, Grace was frequently photographed clutching a  leather hand-bag manufactured by Hermès.  The now famous ‘Kelly Bag’ was often used by Grace as a shield to hide her baby bump from the paparazzi. Kelly was inaugurated into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1960, giving her fashion icon.

On September 13, 1982, Kelly was driving back to Monaco from her country home in Roc Agel when she had a stroke. As a result, she lost control of her car and drove off the steep, winding road and down mountainside with her daughter, Stéphanie. At the hospital doctors attempted to resuscitate Kelly but because of the extent of not only her brain injury but injuries to her thorax and a femur fracture, they were unable to save her life.

After her death, Kelly’s legacy as a fashion icon lived on. Modern designers, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Zac Posen, have cited her as a fashion inspiration. She was known for introducing the “fresh faced” look, one that involved bright skin and natural beauty with little makeup. She is remembered for her “college-girl” everyday fashion, defined by her pulled-together yet simple look.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama in Jason Wu for both Inauguration nights - left: 2009, right: 2013 (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Michelle Obama in Jason Wu for both Inauguration nights – left: 2009, right: 2013 (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is a highly educated, incredibly smart, and by many accounts as warm and gracious as she appears.  Michelle Obama is an American lawyer and writer who was First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is married to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and was the first African-American First Lady. Graduated from Harvard Law School, she was her husband’s mentor, and she seems to have a marriage based on equality and love. Michele works tirelessly for her causes, advocating for kid’s health and inspiring young women.

Obama has been compared to Jacqueline Kennedy due to her sense of style and has quickly become a fashion icon and champion of young American-based designers. Her style has been described as “fashion populist.” She had the bravado to mixed high-end designer clothes with less expensive pieces from J.Crew and Target. She became a fashion trendsetter, in particular favoring sleeveless dresses, including her first-term official portrait in a dress by Michael Kors, and her ball gowns designed by Jason Wu for both inaugurals.

Queen Rania of Jordan

Queen Rania of Jordan wearing evening separates in 2016(Photo courtesy of EW.com)

Queen Rania of Jordan wearing evening separates in 2016(Photo courtesy of EW.com)

Rania Al-Abdullah is the queen of Jordan. Since marrying the now King of Jordan, Abdullah bin Hussein, she has become known for her advocacy work related to education, health, community empowerment, youth, cross-cultural dialogue, and micro-finance. She is one of the most inspiring royals in the Arab region. Throughout her reign as queen (1999 to present), she has taken a stand for gender equality, education, and entrepreneurship to name a few.

Queen Rania is known not only for her humanitarian efforts in the Middle East, but also for her impeccable fashion sense through the years. She is just as comfortable and effortless in both Western attire as well as some pieces that echo more regional influences; Queen Rania can wear an elaborate bright sapphire-blue gown or bold red dress as easily as a simple and conservative black dress.

Her style seems to always be the center of attention; always on point and done right. There’s no doubt that Queen Rania of Jordan is one of the most stylish royals in the world.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Dior coat in England, 2008 (Photo courtesy of Rex Features)

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Dior coat in England, 2008 (Photo courtesy of Rex Features)

 

The former supermodel caught the world’s attention as the wife of the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008 and has been compared to Jackie O.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is an Italian-French singer-songwriter and former model. In 2008, She married Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president and Co-Prince of Andorra. She held her role as First Lady of France from February 2008 to May 2012.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy epitomizes French style, its timelessness and classic. It may evolve over the decades but never strays too far from its hallmarks. As a supermodel, singer, and France’s former First Lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s perspective on fashion is one of a kind. She tailors her fashion choices by occasion, when attending state dinners or political functions its Dior suits with kitten heels, but on tour, she opts for jeans and boho blouses. She’s become a front row fixture during Paris Fashion Week, nailing it perfectly, relying on a fail-safe combination of skintight black trousers, stilettos, and elegant jackets from the designers whose collections she’s favored.

Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron

Brigitte Macron in a sharp tailored blazer, 2017 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Brigitte Macron in a sharp tailored blazer, 2017 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Scandalous even for the French, Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron is the wife and former high school teacher of Emmanuel Macron, the current President of the French Republic.  At 64, she is 25 years his senior and epitomizes a new spin of French style which is at once soignée and glamorous.

Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron appears to look more like a former model than a former teacher and dresses accordingly. Images of the couple together during their recent years reveal her chic sense of style, opting for mini-length dresses, skinny jeans and luxe accessories.

Her elevated French style does not conform to the low maintenance, relaxed vibe of many Parisian “It girls” but rather Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron ops for more figure-flattering looks – looking sensual, sexy and ageless. She has panache and a cool attitude pairing her designer tailored blazers with skinny jeans and kitten heels. She is definitely a fashion icon in the making.

Kate Middleton

Princess Kate Middleton in an Alexander McQueen floral gown, 2017 (Photo courtesy of Harpersbazaar.com)

Princess Kate Middleton in an Alexander McQueen floral gown, 2017 (Photo courtesy of Harpersbazaar.com)

She’s a modern-day princess. Catherine Middleton is the young Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Kate Middleton emulates her mother-in-law’s style (Princess Diana) as well as her passion for charity work and love of her children.

Princess Kate has quickly become a fashion icon and has been placed on many “best dressed” lists. Her Alexander McQueen wedding gown catapulted her fashion status on the world stage. Princess Kate can effortlessly transition from wearing a glamourous gown to running around in skinny jeans and sharp blazers – she  nails the casual look every time.

In June 2016, she participated in her first magazine photo-shoot for Vogue’s centenary issue; she appeared on the cover of the magazine. While she wears many new designers, she has also worn dresses by Catherine Walker, who designed many of Princess Diana’s favorite evening gowns and day suits. She is also known for recycling her looks – making her a modest yet modern royal.

 

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau

Sophie Gregiore Trudeau in Canadian designer Tanya Taylor, 2016 (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Sophie Gregiore Trudeau in Canadian designer Tanya Taylor, 2016 (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is a former television host with a passion for charity work, and is vocal about woman’s issues. She married Justine Trudeau in Montreal 2005 – a decade before he became Canada’s Prime Minister. The young couple has quickly become a stylish set in the political arena.

More often than not, one does not think of Canada as a fashionable country, often Canadian designers struggle to make their voices heard, but Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is changing the world’s perception on Canadian fashion.  She has made it her mission to expose the fashion talent in her country. While she has yet to earn the status of international style icon like Kate Middleton, Canada’s “first lady” has raised awareness at home for the fashion industry.

Fashion isn’t new territory for Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, She first started honing her fashion chops as a personal shopper at Holt Renfrew, and even helped design her own wedding gown. Today, she has made a point of wearing the designs of local brands, including Beaufille, Lucian Matis and Smythe at every opportunity.

Eva Perón – Evita

Eva Perón in 1947 (Photo courtesy of Huffpost.com)

Eva Perón in 1947 (Photo courtesy of Huffpost.com)

María Eva Duarte de Perón was an aspiring actress before becoming the wife of Argentine President Juan Perón and First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is usually referred to as Eva Perón or ‘Evita.’

Eva Perón broke gender rules in Argentina. As First Lady, she unofficially took over the Ministries of Health and Labor; she devoted a huge amount of time to meeting with poor Argentinians, visited hospitals and orphanages, and founded the Female Perónist Party, a political party comprised of female voters.

In 1947, Eva Perón traveled to Spain, Italy, France, and Switzerland. Dubbed the “Rainbow Tour,” Perón’s goodwill trip included meetings with Francisco Franco, Pope Pius XII, and Charles de Gaulle. Dressed impeccably in designer clothes, she gave money to poor children in Spain, visited the Palace of Versailles, and encountered protesters in Switzerland who threw stones and tomatoes at her. Some Europeans distrusted aspects of Juan Perón’s fascist rule and ties to Nazi war criminals, while others disapproved of what they viewed as her ostentatious “famewhoring.”

Eva Perón died of cervical cancer at the age of 33, on Saturday, July 26, 1952.

In July 2002, to commemorate 50 years since her death, Museo Evita (The Evita Museum) opened in Palermo, Buenos Aires. The museum features Eva Perón’s portraits and designer clothing—she famously wore Dior dresses, tailored suits, and eye-catching jewelry, especially after her return from Europe.

 Melania Trump 

All eyes are now on Melania Trump. For a designer, her model figure is the perfect canvas. She wore Ralph Lauren to her husband’s inauguration (a robin’s egg blue ensemble which was a very definite nod to Jackie) but some designers such as Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, Christian Siriano and Sophie Theallet have declared that they will not dress her. Many feel that dressing her could generate enough negative publicity to seriously harm their brand as was the case for Lauren, when #BoycottRalphLauren trended across social media. Since the inauguration in January, Melania Trump has worn more foreign fashion brands for public appearances and events than American. During his inaugural address in January, President Donald Trump declared, “We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American.” Is Melania seeking revenge against the American design community by not wearing American or is she caught up in a political cross-fire? Let’s hear your thoughts?

Melania Trump caused controversy when wearing a Dolce & Gabbana coat that coast nearly $70K in Scilily, Italy in 2017 (Photo courtesy of AP/Domenico Stinellis)

Melania Trump caused controversy when wearing a Dolce & Gabbana coat that coast nearly $70K in Sicily, Italy in 2017 (Photo courtesy of AP/Domenico Stinellis)

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The Impact of Immigrants on American Fashion

This 4th of July has stirred up mixed feelings.

Through the excitement of fireworks, friends, star-spangled fashion and food, we are celebrating living in the land of opportunity.  However, we can’t help but think about how the current political climate threatens the fabric of the US fashion industry. And as we honor those Americans who have come before us and have paved the way for successful lives and businesses in America, we are concerned about the future lives of those who make American fashion possible. Read More

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons:

Art of the In-Between  

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

Is fashion art? This has always been a debate among the creative crowd, but a walk through this year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute spring 2017 exhibit, the answer is clear.  The exhibition focuses on the avant-garde works of Rei Kawakubo, the reclusive founder and designer behind the cult label Comme des Garçons. The fashion forward exhibition, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, is on view from May 4 through September 4, 2017.

The show examines Kawakubo’s obsession with the space between boundaries. Her aesthetic can be viewed as unsettling at times, but upon close examination, her work wavers on creative genius. Kawakubo challenges the conventional perception of beauty, good taste, and fashion. A thematic exhibition, rather than a traditional retrospective, this is The Costume Institute’s first single-subject show on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983.

“Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Walking through the exhibit it is clear that Kawakubo has blurred the line between art and fashion. She is pushing us to think differently about clothing. Her creations are sculptural, intelligent and creative. She deconstructs fashion to the core. Her genius is that she is challenging us to think differently about fashion and beauty. According to Francesca Sterlacci, the Founder/CEO of University Of Fashion, “She challenged the status quo meaning of clothes and succeeded in disrupting the notion of  ‘traditional beauty.’ In light of the controversy over body fat and body shaming, Kawakubo sends a powerful message.”

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

The exhibition showcases approximately 120 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for Comme des Garçons, dating from her first runway show in 1981 to her most recent collection. The white-walled exhibit is broken into nine dominate and recurring aesthetic expressions in Kawakubo’s work: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, High/Low, Then/Now, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Each section examines the “in-betweenness.”  The exhibit guidebook suggests a pathway through the circular layout inhabited by puzzle-piece-like structures framing the looks, but guests also are encouraged to choose their own adventures and let their imaginations go wild.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

In her career, the 74-year old designer has been hailed a revolutionary; she has managed to break down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness. Her fashions demonstrate the endless possibilities to rethink the female body and feminine identity. The exhibit reflects Kawakubo’s enduring interest in blurring the boundaries between body and dress.

Studying Kawakubo’s work it becomes clear, she loves to experiment with forms and clearly ignores the norm — she is in a constant search for “newness.” Her clothes are sculptural objects, non-functional at times, but maybe we should forget about clothing and we should view Kawakubo’s work as a true contemporary artist whose tools involve fabrics, utility and the body.

Rei Kawakubo said, “I have always pursued a new way of thinking about design…by denying established values, conventions, and what is generally accepted as the norm. And the modes of expression that have always been most important to me are fusion…imbalance… unfinished… elimination…and absence of intent.” A hallmark of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-wabi.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

To learn more about Rei Kawakubo and other key players in the fashion industry, pick up the second edition of “The Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry” (due out in August) by UoF’s founder Francesca Sterlacci, as well as checking out Google’s latest project “We Wear Culture” – Now the world will get to see Kawakubo’s genius.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

 

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit