In the Bible there was Moses and the Ten Commandments. In fashion there was Diana Vreeland.
One of the most referenced commandments of the legendary American Vogue editor, who died in 1989, is this: you should always take one thing off before you leave the house.
She also said ‘Elegance is refusal’ which is another way of putting the same thing and I think one of the most elegant things anyone has ever said.
What it all boils down to is knowing when to stop. An outfit is not improved by constantly adding another little nicky/nacky, mixy/matchy, Gucci/Acne element. In fact each extra one you add takes it down another notch.
The problem with the Gucci dress that Diane Kruger is wearing here, is that she hasn’t got anything to take off. There’s very fine gold chain on her right hand, but that wouldn’t be enough.
The stylist has been savvy enough not even to add a pair of earrings to the ensemble, and the essential shoes and bag melt in as extensions of it. The hair is an object lesson in elegant simplicity.
Which leads to only one conclusion: the dress itself has too much going on. The dress is overdressed.
This is the kind of ‘piece’ (that’s a very fashion thing to say, it’s never a dress, it’s a ‘piece’) that designers dream up for fashion shows. This would have looked great on a catwalk. Frocks like this get used in newspapers and blog posts (like here…).
So it’s a perfectly justified bit of high fashion glory, but for the runway moment you would never put it on a model of Kruger’s style and build. It needs a glamazon, like Naomi Campbell in her prime.
On a woman as finely boned as Ms Kruger, even with her reasonably generous height (1.70 according to Google), the dress is wearing her.
Take, by contrast another look sported by the same woman in the same week at the Paris couture shows last month.
This flesh pink chiffon Chanel couture dress is lavishly, almost outrageously, embellished with huge coloured crystals, but the balance of them is so perfect and the background of the chiffon so quiet, the dress doesn’t take over from its wearer. Rather it makes Ms Kruger’s heaven-sent bone structure leap out at you.
Once again, the clever stylist has limited the add ons to one gorgeous jewelled bracelet, on top of the shoes and bag. The hair and the make up are exquisitely discreet (loving that nude lip…). The star of this picture is the person, not the dress.
This rule applies even more strongly to we mortals than it does to a ravishing model-turned-actress. Particularly those of us, like me, who are wanting in the height department.
This is why the long skirts for day wear which are a hot trend for next season will not be figuring in my life. I would resemble not so much a von Trapp dressed in curtains, as the actual curtain.
The same goes for the oversized floral prints which have been with us for a while. I peep out of them like a startled bush baby.
There was a reason Diana Vreeland wore a lot of plain black sweaters and white shirts.
There is a new Rules every Thursday in the Essential Style section of the Sydney Morning Herald and in M magazine with the Sunday Age.