Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Rule: Win at the races by following the dress code

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Note: this is a hemisphere-specific Rule, written to coincide with the start of the autumn racing season in Australia, but I could just have well have written it – with the appropriate dress code rules – for the UK summer races. People who wear bare midriffs to Ascot are really missing the point…


Sure you can go to the autumn racing carnival in a brightly-coloured strappy summer cocktail dress, open sandals and a straw hat. No one’s going to stop you, but it’s so much more fun to go looking truly fabulous within the quaintly old-fashioned ‘correct’ dress code.

Why? Because it shows you can work the system and still win – in the dress stakes, if not the equine ones. That’s another conversation entirely and not one you want to have with me. (‘Ooh, look! “It Bag”, what fun and the jockey’s wearing purple with yellow spots, that’s my favourite! I’ll have $20 on that to win, oops, hic, make that $50…’)

So what is the dress code for autumn racing? The key is all in the word ‘autumn’. Which is why, starting with the key part of your outfit: it’s a felt or fabric hat, never a straw*. No flowers on it – feathers are the thing. Moving down, covered shoulders. Gloves. A closed shoe.

Gen Theobald won 'Fashions in the Field' at the Donacaster in this dress code-tastic ensemble.

Whether you wear stockings with them or not is your choice. I believe it is deemed ‘correct’ to do so, but that’s one rule that I will never follow until the day deep snow is forecast for Randwick/Flemington. Hateful leg-suffocating waist-strangulating man-made fibre torture chambers.

(I always thought the time Princess Diana famously didn’t wear hose in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, in what passes for high summer in England, was one of her great charitable acts. The British establishment was so shocked it made the front pages of the newspapers the next day. ‘Nude Princess Leg Shock!’. What a precedent she set.)

Sarah Wynter working perfect vintage chic (with covered shoulders)

But while I think bare legs are fine, bare shoulders, not so much. This is one of the few occasions when the female armpit, lovely as it may be, should not be available to public view.

You can still wear your gorgeous sleeveless dress – and I think a fitted shift is one of the nicest things to wear to the races – just make it one with a matching, or complementary, jacket, bolero, or cloth coat. No, a pashmina doesn’t count. Or if it still feels too warm for layers, autumn or not, a fitted dress with little cap sleeves is very chic.

And if it all sounds very old fashioned, that’s the whole point. You really feel you’re going somewhere when you’re rigged out ready to go on set for an office scene in the first series of Madmen.

As well as putting a feather in my hat (autumn, remember?), it makes me want to put some pearls around my neck and a brooch on my lapel. All the better to hang my entry passes from. And to carry a structured bag I can hang over my arm Margaret Thatcher style. All the better to put those annoying leather or suede gloves in, after I’ve made the point of wearing the bloody things.

But if that all seems too hard, in comparison with getting dressed for the spring carnival in a gorgeous bright frock and a flowery hat, do what we’re all supposed to do before hitting the track: study the form. And there is no better form to study for race wear than Gai Waterhouse.

All those early mornings and she is never less than the perfectly attired for the season and the meeting. With perfectly judged serious jewellery. She’s even sussed out how to make a hat work with specs on.


* Thanks very much to Felicity Boevink for pointing out in the comments, that in the pic above – also used as the hero picture at the top of the post – Gai is wearing a STRAW hat, which is a massive fox paw for the autumn races. Oops.

I couldn’t see it clearly enough and thought it was made of that wired fabric that is used for bendy sunhats – and the pheasant feathers convinced me it must be an autumn hat. So sorry for breaking my own rule in the picture, but I’m leaving it as I still think the outfit is glorious.

I really want that frock.

Liz Taylor’s slip

In Famous people, Lingerie on March 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Take one length of silk satin, some ecru lace, add one of the most beautiful women who ever lived and you have a truly iconic garment. Liz Taylor’s slip in Butterfield 8.

Or, come to think of it, Liz Taylor’s slip in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

For as long as I can remember, the image of her in those petticoats has been for me the very essence of true womanhood. Femininity at its most powerful. And with no more flesh on show than you’d see at a cocktail party.

I must have been quite a young girl when I first saw those films, randomly catching them, as you did back then, on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I was entranced. I still am.

I watched Butterfield 8 again last night, as a tribute to Ms Taylor, who died on Wednesday, and was breathless with admiration from the opening shot.

By the moment when she’s trying the fur coat on over the slip, I was practically hyperventilating. Then she waltzes out to get a taxi in that combo, plus the perfect pointy gold pumps, of course. Cinematic bliss. I am woman, hear me roar.

Between hot flushes of worship I was trying to analyse what makes Liz’s slip so astonishingly amazing. Mainly her body, of course, the perfect hip to waist ratio, ideal boob size, also her skin, so deliciously dewy on the shoulders, but really it’s the fit of the thing.

That was a made-to-measure slip, for sure, with some kind of fiendishly clever firming undergarment on the stomachular/derriere area. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d stitched her into it.

It makes me want to rush immediately to Paris and have one fitted at Sabbia Rosa*.

The all-white slip in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is very nearly as good. It fits as beautifully and is only just a tiny bit less divine than the satin and contrasting lace of the other. Glorious against her tan.

And thanks to Tennessee Williams, that film also happens to have one of the best scripts in history (‘You no-neck monsters!’), the legendary white Grecian dress – and Paul Newman. I’ll be watching that tonight.

I’m sure those films were what inspired Helena Christensen’s fabulous vintage slip with a vintage cashmere cardie over the top look, which remains my favourite style moment of the 1990s. I worked that combo as hard as I could in my gorgeous Collette Dinnigan versions (all of which I still have…).

And in that same decade I went to a fancy dress party in just my black silk slip (bought in Hong Kong), pointy pumps, red nails and a big hair do, in my own little homage to Gloria Wandrous and Maggie the Cat.

I probably looked hideous, but I felt all woman and had a wonderful time. So thank you Miss Taylor for being an inspiration to us all. For all that – and the legendary fund- and awareness-raising for AIDS charities, she will be much missed.

And never equalled.

* Sabbia Rosa is the glorious lingerie shop where Madonna, Naomi and every other beauty you can identify by their first name alone buy the slips of chiffon they call underwear. They have a made-to-measure service, but nothing as vulgar as a website.

I used always to stay in a hotel a few doors up and while I would always look in the windows like a hungry dog, was too shy ever to go in. When I win the lottery, it will be one of my first stops.

Sabbia Rosa, 71-73 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris
tel: +(01)-45-48-88-37

More Foldies (Fabulous Oldies)

In Jewellery, Older women on March 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm

This is so brilliant, I had to do a mini-mid-week extra to share it with you. And massive thanks to the fabulous Liane Rossler (formerly of Dinosaur Designs, see below…), for pointing me to it.

Click on this for a video about some of New York’s finest Foldies, including the Grande Dame of them all and one of my all-time style heroines, Iris Apfel.

I will be writing more about Iris in future, but meanwhile, if you aren’t familiar with her, check out this fabulous book.

And now I come to think of it, I can’t think of a better place to start amasssing your Foldie jewellery (and you really can’t start too young…) than at Dinosaur Designs, where you will find fabulous things like this…

Find them online at London readers, you can also find their stuff at Paul Smith.

Rule: Men can be muttony too

In Designers, Men on March 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Why shouldn’t Calvin Klein have a gorgeous boyfriend nearly fifty years younger than him?

Were the legendary reinventor of gentlemen’s undergarments still adopting the heterosexual lifestyle he has enjoyed at various times in his life (he’s married two women, although not at the same time), no one would bat an eye at him stepping out with a gorgeous young lady model.

Especially as the fascinating perve that is, which does exactly what it says, estimates Klein’s fortune as around US$700 million, putting him well up in the Normal Rules Don’t Apply category of wealth.

See also: Trump, Donald (US$2.4 billion), hair. Ecclestone, Bernie (US$4 billion), relative height of (former) partner. Berlusconi, Silvio (US$11 billion), general behaviour.

But while money makes anything possible, including having a date younger than your jeans size, nature has its own rules and one of them is that if you stand next to someone of the same sex, but much younger and more beautiful, in a similar outfit, you’re not going to come off too well.

Take this from someone who once went shopping with Kate Moss and tried on the same trousers in a small communal changing room. (True story.)

It’s terribly unfair, because Calvin Klein is in terrific shape for a man of 68. It’s just unfortunate in this instance that his current partner is a 21 year old underwear model with a physique in the 0.000001 upper percentile.

Were Nick Gruber, a Nicola, her physical beauty would serve only to enhance her partner’s prestige. As they are both chaps, it doesn’t come out well for Calvin. And the very uncharacteristic style mistake he is making here, is wearing not only a similar outfit, but an identical hairstyle as his younger squeeze.

Viewed side by side, the tight t shirt stretched so attractively across Nick’s pert chest, serves only to display the downward trajectory of parts of Calvin’s.

Likewise the buzz cut that sets off the youthful openness of Gruber’s face, draws attention to the slightly strained upholstery of Mr Klein’s.

Life’s a bitch, isn’t it?

But while this is all very unfair for Calvin there is some good to be found in it. It does even things out a bit for women in the mutton stakes.

For while there is at last now greater equality with regard to older women dating younger men, ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ remains one of the cruellest fashion judgements that can be made against us.

It’s hard to define exactly what makes something ‘too young’ for a particular age group – although too short, too tight, too wacky, too bright, too shiny, or just too fiercely on trend, all figure.

Yet more than any other style crime, breaking this hard-to-define rule seems to open the female transgressor up to mean vilification, from her own sex, on a level with ‘Celebrity beach cellulite! New pics!’.

It appears to call forth a collective fury, as though the muttoneer’s lack of clothing judgement somehow brings womankind into disrepute. She looks stupid and somehow we all feel vulnerable.

So rather than sneer at Mr Klein for his ram dressed as lamb fashion faux pas – and it’s been pretty ferocious in parts of the US media – we should thank him.

By making it so clear that the age appropriate mutton dress code applies just as strongly to men, it lessens the shame of it for women.

I want to be a Sozzani

In Famous people, Fashion shows, Fashionistas, Older women on March 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I’m half-thrilled, half-peeved that the rest of the world has cottoned on to my long-held belief that the best thing about the big fashion shows has always been the audiences.

They’re such good copy I wrote a whole novel about them.

I’ve spent literally months of my life staring at Anna Wintour’s skinny shins and watching with interest how cleverly she segued her brunette bob around grey into streaked blonde (although I’m not so keen on the current auburn arrangement).

In more recent times my interest shifted to the French Vogue team, first Madame Roitfeld and then the amazing Madame Alt (see earlier post ), so I was thrilled when I discovered the excellent blogs ‘I want to be Roitfeld’ and ‘I want to be an Alt’ (see my blogroll for the links).

But ever since I went to my first Milan show, in 1989, I’ve had another style crush.

Really, I want to be a Sozzani.

Franca Sozzani (right) is the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia. Her sister Carla (left) owns the chicest shop/gallery/restaurant in Milan, 10 Corso Como.

Although well over the age when women are supposed to cut their hair into ‘flattering’ layered bobs, they both still have very long, blonde, wavy, centre-parted hair. And it looks great.

As you can see here, it has nothing at all to do with Donatella Versace’s long blonde hair. It’s from a different planet entirely.

The secret of the Sozzani beauty is proper fine bones – not just the face, the whole body. And although Franca is now twenty years older than when I first clapped eyes on her in Romeo Gigli raw silk cigarette pants, round neck sweater, flat shoes and antique chandelier earrings, she still looks amazing. Like a Boticelli angel in a Lanvin trench.

Apart from her exquisite little pointy-chinned face, rather like the world’s most glamorous elf, and most particularly those earrings (I would so love to see her collection…), what has always fascinated me about Franca is the quietness of her style.

For someone whose magazine features some of the wildest fashion pictures in the whole Vogue stable, she is European subtlety made woman. As luxe simple as the tagliatelle served with shavings of black truffle in autumn at Alla Collina Pistoeise (my favourite restaurant in Milan).

Not for her the fashion excesses of towering platforms, bug-eye sunnies and silly bags. Always a slight shoe, a simple shift/pants/skirt/trench, a tiny clutch – and wonderful jewellery.

I even love the way she sits. The very relaxed slumpy bad posture of the properly slim and properly posh, with one pipe cleaner leg twined around the other.

I used to try and copy it, turning myself into a human pretzel as the Prada show started. (Miuccia Prada shows in a very small space, with only three or four rows of benches, and I always found it the primo people watching venue. You’re practically on Anna’s knee there.)

So far she’s not as well known as Anna, Carine, Emmanuelle and Anna dell Russo (more on her another time…) and I secretly hope it stays that way.

All the pictures with beautiful natural light on this post are by The Sartorialist.

Rule: Do not go gentle into that good night

In Accessories, Famous people, Older women on March 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm

What are you going to be wearing when your next big birthday has an eight on the front of it? Comfort slacks and a fleece? Well, actually you could just about wear that and stay uber stylish as long as you followed the example set so perfectly here by Birgit ‘Gitte’ Lee, wife of Dracula/Saruman/Rasputin/Lord Summerisle (from The Wicker Man – shudder), AKA Sir Christopher Lee.

What this Danish former model (now 76) understands so perfectly is that the older you get the more you can carry off – and the more you need to wear – crazy statement accessories. Bolder is better the older you getter. Or Gitte, in her case.

The trick is to keep the actual clothes simple (and comfie), so the accessories burst forth distracting attention from the droopy bits of your anatomy and attracting it to your undimmed charisma. This technique is guaranteed to make people say things like ‘Isn’t she faaaabulous?’

I’m so excited I feel the need to coin a term for it. Do we like Foldie – for Fabulous Oldie?

Foldie Lady Lee first crossed my retinas on the red carpet at this year’s BAFTAs (above). Those knockout spectacles with the severe hair, the red lips, and that magnificent pewter collar projected me straight into a new style crush. And a frenzied Google search yielded even greater Foldie treasures than the outfit shown here.

At a charity gala three years ago she wore a jacket which appears to be made out of raven feathers, very much like a costume from one of her husband’s films. Another outfit was all black silk jersey brightened with just one short necklace of huge spherical red beads, exactly the same colour as her matt lipstick. So simple, so effective. So easy to copy.

Even more thrilling is the shoot she did with Italian Vogue, for their October 2010 issue (above and top), where she is again in all black, simple draped shapes, with her signatures specs and lippie, and the most outrageous oversized gold jewellery. Cuffs, collars, humungous rings. And a pair of humungous mittens like furry boxing gloves. Brilliant photography (by Tim Walker) with stylised Angus McBean-style poses.

The next goldmine I tripped over was my new favourite blog Advanced Style, which is photographs of stylish people found on the street, like The Sartorialist, but all the subjects are over 65. (On further investigation, his taste isn’t entirely reliable, but there are some great people on there – worth a look.)

The blog’s creator, Ari Seth Cohen, is a big fan of Lady Lee and in one she shares her pragmatic daywear style system. She always wears the same combo of comfortable loose pants and a T shirt or roll-neck top, with a long soft coat over the top (varying the weights for the season), with flat shoes – and always a wide-brimmed hat. Felt in winter, straw in summer.

Pic from Advanced Style

Then it’s scrape back the hair, on with the lips, the specs and several tons of costume jewellery, scoop up a large designer bag and out she goes. How simple is that? And once you’ve assembled the statement pieces – and remember by this stage you’ve had fifty adult years to do it – how economical? Just a few fresh tops for each season. Lady Lee says she’s stopped shopping. So chic.

Growing into such joyous Foldie style is one of the great compensations for growing older. You may not be able to flaunt your knees, but you can carry off spectacles bigger than your face.


In Jewellery on March 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm


I own these earrings. They dangle right down to my shoulders and I’m mad about them.* (see me wearing them at the link below..)

They were purchased in one of those most satisfying fashion moments when you suddenly realise you want a particular thing and shazam! there it is, a la mode and on sale.

In this case designed by Oscar de la Renta and bought from Net-a-Porter, which has the most fantastic selection of the big, bold, bad earrings I suddenly want to wear again. (All the pictures on this post are taken from there.)

There were two separate events that led me to buying these ear decorations worthy of a Masai queen. The first was I lost my forever ear bobs.

That has been my ‘thing’ for the past – eek – twenty plus years. I would have one pair of simple gold earrings, always something small and gold dangling from shepherd’s hooks, which I would wear absolutely every day with everything. They were as much a part of me as my wedding ring.

The only time I would wear something else was big dress ups. The simplicity of the forever earrings meant they went with everything and in that time I had four pairs of them. I’d wear them for years and then the terrible day would come when I lost one of them.

I particularly remember losing one of my ‘vita’ earrings (it was written on the little gold blobs). It was September 2000 and I was running up George Street, Sydney desperate to see Dawn Fraser do her stint of the Olympic Torch Marathon. I got so hot, I stopped to tear off my jumper and my earring must have pinged out. Shame, but it was worth it. I did see her.

Bijoux Heart

And I must say it still makes me well to remember that time. The scope of the Aussie torch relay was truly magnificent. It travelled over 27,000 kms, passed within an hour’s drive of 85 per cent of the Australian population, and was carried by 11, 000 torchbearers, in the longest torch relay in Olympic history.

I can only hope the London Olympics next year can come up with something equally inspiring.

Anyway, back to my earrings. Whenever I lost one like that, it became a quest to find the next Forever Earrings. The pair I had after those were my all-time favourites, but sadly I can’t remember who they were by, so when I lost them, last October, leaving them in the hair and make up room at the ABC Studios, Sydney, I couldn’t just replace them.


The odd thing about my earring shifts, was that they always seemed to coincide with big changes in my life. Almost like each pair marked a particular era for me. I lost the last pair just as my column in Good Weekend ended, which seemed very significant.

So for the past five months I’ve been searching for the new ones, but nothing is right. The only pair that came close cost nearly £1000 – reflecting the current price of gold – and I just couldn’t commit that much money to something I know I’m going to lose eventually.

In the meantime, I’ve been wearing different earrings every day, until I suddenly realised, that the search for a Forever pair is off. Different every day is my new earring mode. Just as it was back in the 1980s, when I would choose from my collection of enormous clip ons for every outfit, as an integral part of my look.

Oscar de la Renta

Then having re-embraced the feature earring, I realised I wanted to go large. Massive. Outrageous. Ideally touching the shoulder.

I’m loving it. When I decided to go to Paris last week, to see Collette Dinnigan’s show, that gave me the excuse to buy my outrageous red earrings.


I knew they would be my outfit. They were all I needed to add to a simple black dress, ankle boots and a me-vintage red Prada bag, I already had. The earrings made it pop.

And best of all, this new earring era has given me an ongoing shopping quest. Now which of these pairs shall I get next…?

Oscar de la Renta


* You can see me wearing them here on my friend Paula Joye’s fabulous new website LifeStyled. We caught up at Collette Dinnigan’s show in Paris last week and had a right old laugh.
Take a look at

Paula Joye, me and my earrings at Collette's show, taken from Paula's fab website Lifestyled.

Rule: You can leave your hat on

In Hats, Men on March 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm


Let’s get one thing straight from the outset: Geoffrey Rush can do no wrong (and obviously he should have won the Oscar). OK, now that’s settled we can talk about wearing a hat indoors, what it means, and whether it’s quite polite.

Yes, Rushie did look a little odd in his felt trilby at the Golden Globes, but there was a very good thespian reason for it. As revealed to a global TV audience of about one billion at the Oscars on Sunday night, he’s had to shave his head for the revived Belvoir Theatre production of Diary of a Madman, now showing in Brooklyn. Right now he makes a coot like hirsute.

Rush in Krusty mode

Who knows what made him change his mind about revealing his shiny bonce between one awards ceremony and another, or why he ever thought it was a good decision to wear a street hat indoors. But as he can do no wrong, it was all good.

Not so long ago, however, Geoffrey Rush would have been considered  downright ignorant for wearing his hat indoors like that. Depending which kind of indoors it was.

Because back when a gentleman wore a hat every time he stepped out of the door, because it was just plain wrong not to, it was even ruder not to take it off in certain circumstances.

There were all kinds of complicated rules about just tipping it to unknown ladies you passed, but taking it off to talk to friends you bumped into. But you could put it back on again if you then started walking along together.

You had to take it off during the National Anthem and in church (unless you were a Jew at temple and would obviously keep your yarmulke on). You could keep it on in a theatre or cinema, but not if it was blocking anyone’s view. You always took it off in a restaurant. And when a funeral cortage passed.

Opinions seem to have varied on lifts, but it was generally deemed to be safer to take it off, if a lady got in. But you had to put it on again the moment you stepped out again. You had to keep it on in the lobby of a hotel, an airport, or an office building, but never in someone’s house.

How exhausting. Between all that carry on and the advent of modern shampoo, you can see why some time around 1963 men stopped wearing hats as an essential part of every day attire.

Now it’s much more of a statement for a man to wear one than not to wear one and the rules are completely blurred. Is a baseball cap a hat, for example?

Some Americans don’t think they are and keep them on during their national anthem at sporting events, only to be set upon by other, more respectful members of the crowd. Others keep them on in restaurants and no one cares. Except sometimes they do (remember that Sopranos episode?).

So, is it rude for a gentleman to wear a hat indoors any more? Not rude, but kind of kooky. You’ll just look like an attention seeker for wearing a hat at all, when dangerous amounts of UV aren’t involved. Or, to put it another way, an actor with a very specific role.

And incidentally, the rules for women and hats are entirely different. No wonder Randy Newman wrote a song about it.

A hatless Rush at the Oscars with some other bloke

John Galliano

In Designers, Fashion shows on March 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I’ve seen many amazing fashion shows and several iconic ones (Alexander McQueen’s dance marathon springs to mind) in my time, but the one I desperately wish I’d been at was John Galliano’s show for spring 1995, at  Pin Up studio in Paris.

It was the one where Linda Evangelista was sitting on the 1950s American car in that yellow dress. The one that sprang forth from its nipped waist in a foam of tulle and feathers that looked almost alive.

I can’t find any pictures of it online, sadly, because that was way back before fashion shows were instantly available to view on line. Come to think of it, it was before all of us were even on line.

But what I have found is this documentary presented by the excellent Tim Blanks. This is Part 2, which features that legendary show – and the previous one at Sao Schlumberger’s house. It’s terrible quality, but so worth watching.

In the current context, it brought a tear to my eye. The incredible atmosphere, Madonna front row, all the supers at their ripe best walking for John for free and, of course…. the clothes. The amazing clothes, the hats, the hair, the make up, the shoes. The Galliano magic.

For anyone wondering what I mean by ‘the current context’: John Galliano has been sacked from the most prestigious job in fashion, as chief designer of Dior.

He is in utter disgrace after two separate allegations of drunken, racist abuse to members of the public outside a Paris bar, were followed by the Sun newspaper releasing a mobile phone videosold to them (for a huge sum by all accounts…)  taken by an observer of yet another such ugly outburst at the same venue.

I’m not going to put the link on here – it’s easy to find on Google. It’s a deeply upsetting thing to watch, with Galliano saying ‘I love Hitler’ and telling the people he was fighting with that they’d all be dead, gassed, their families and forebears too. Horrible stuff from anybody in any context.

So that’s the ghastly context that has had me revisiting Galliano’s finest hours. I desperately wish I’d seen that 1995 show – and, of course, his degree show from St Martins. The art college collection that was so extraordinary, that the owner of London boutique Browns and fashion icon, Joan Burstein, bought all of it and put it in her South Molton Street windows.

He became a fashion legend, literally, over night from that, although it took many long hard years living in his studio (without a fridge, I remember), to reach his current height of wealth, fame and prestige. The incredibly lofty heights he has just fallen from so hard.

Oh, John Galliano. London’s pride. What a tawdry end to such a scintillating career. Such a sordid sordid scene on that nasty bit of video, I felt almost unclean after watching it. Yet, was it almost predictable?

I don’t want to comment here on the whys and ifs of the events – the best coverage of all that is on under the post called ‘Karl’s take’ (doesn’t seem to be possible to put the link in here).

They have interviewed all the right people, including Joan Burstein (who answered with exactly the elegance and discretion I would expect from that wonderful lady). The site also has Galliano’s own official statement about the affair, which churned me up all over again. How terrible to know you have been sole the architect of your own destruction.

And I’ve talked about it so much to my fashion friends this week, my ear is hot from phone calls on the subject and I’m bored with my own opinions on did he really mean it or was he just being provocative and did they provoke him and what will happen next and will his own label close and is it the total end of him as a designer and what is he ON…? Only time will tell.

Right now I’m more interested in pondering whether the personality of someone with Galliano’s level of original creativity simply isn’t compatible with the big corporate machine high fashion has become.

Look what it did to Yves Saint Laurent. And more recently, to Alexander McQueen. Admittedly he came from a difficult childhood and his suicide followed that of his muse Isabella Blow, the death of a favourite aunt and right after he lost his beloved mum.

But it seems more than a coincidence that in the space of a year the two most creative designers in the fashion firmament have done themselves in. One killing his body, the other his career. Perhaps it is now It’s that the point where high fashion, high art and high finance meet is just not a comfortable spot.

It makes me wonder this:

Could Van Gogh have worked for Microsoft? Could Picasso have flourished at Pixar?

Rule: don’t be afraid of formal bling

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm

The gorgeous Julianne Moore correctly blinged up.

Last week this blog was all about taking it off. Paring it down. Keeping it sweet. Less is more. Even less is masses.

But like all the best rules, there is one exception to this, when you actually want to bling it up to the max: big formal occasions. Like the award ceremonies which reached their peak with Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Studying the form at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs over the past month I have noticed a continuation of a theme which first surfaced last year. Outfits which look, to my eye, a little undercooked.

Nicole Kidman looking undercooked at the Golden Globes.

This has a lot to do with the ascendance of the star frock. Not a dress on a star, but a dress which is a star itself.

The best thing about these occasions used to be the clips from the nominated films and the fabulous montages of bits of old ones (the dead people section).

But in recent years the filmy part of things has become overshadowed by interest in the red carpet frocks. It even matters which labels the men wear now – although since Tom Ford started dressing Colin Firth, I don’t really know why any other men bother turning up.

The dresses worn by the lady actors are so intensely scrutinised – and the best and worst so iconic in the public mind – the big luxury houses go to crazy lengths to get their gowns on the right shoulders. Or, currently, shoulder.

Meanwhile the actresses fight over the best dresses. Because the right frock on the right gal generates column inches and internet acres way beyond every publicist’s dream, for both of them. It’s win win kerching.

For the actress it’s a higher profile, with fees to match. For the designer it lodges the brand in the consumer collective unconscious in the area marked ‘Fabulous’, so the next time we’re choosing scent in a Duty Free we are inexorably drawn to their’s. Without even remembering why.

With the most gorgeous dresses in the world up for a borrow, still warm from the couture runway, Hollywood stylists (imagine the fashion version of Fronk from Father of the Bride…) squabble over them, with the frocks most coveted being whizzed around between actresses in their own limos.

All of which I think has led to a climate of over respect for the garment, as though it has some alchemical quality in itself, losing sight of the bigger picture of the outfit.

Stylists seem almost scared to accessorise, when the key thing formalwear needs is lavish amounts of fabulous jewellery. Or it’s like a Christmas tree without fairy lights.

Angelina Jolie wearing insufficient bling also at the Globes.

And considering that the glamour jewellers are as keen to get their product on the red carpet as the designers (they do perfumes too…) it’s surprising how unblinged some actresses are at the moment.

Julianne Moore has the perfect balance here. A diamond snake around one wrist (never both) and serious dangly earrings, set off by a hair do of classic Hollywood glamour. The perfect finishing touch? Her matt red lips.

Although I think I might have given her a fabulous little evening bag as well, just to add a little more interest to the frock in the mid zone, because even on a relatively petite person like Ms Moore, a floor length gown is a large expanse of one fabric.

But I’m not going to quibble with her stylist. It was Tom Ford.

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