Behind the Scenes at Max Mara: Celebrating Marilyn Monroe

Max Mara Fall 2015

Max Mara Fall 2015Marilyn Monroe by George Barris  
When fashion pays such a beautiful homage to cinema, I can only rejoice and try to delve deeper into the inspiration that led to the creation of a memorable collection, such as Max Mara’s fall 2015 line, which celebrates the classic chic, beauty and intelligence of Marilyn Monroe. Two icons of the two worlds, and I can not think of a better pairing. In a sea of androgynous silhouettes and collections, and of disturbing comments approving of a new genderless aesthetic, it’s refreshing and reassuring to see a celebration of the female form.

The Italian fashion house turned to George Barris’ famous 1962 Santa Monica beach photographs of the actress, the luminous colours and casual approach, accentuated by the show’s mise-en-scene, recalling the seaside landscape and its soft hues. It was especially this photo above, of Marilyn wearing a Norwegian cardigan, and wrapped in a camel blanket, that served as the essential source of inspiration. The cardigan was meticulously recreated and the blanket was used to produce some incredibly beautiful signature camel wool coats once again, worn “seductively with the allure of beach wraps”. It is about imagining a wardrobe “as light and soft” as the blanket Monroe wrapped up in and “as comforting and familiar” as the cardigan she wore.
 
Max Mara Fall 2015 Marilyn Monroe

Max Mara Fall 2015

.Shoes also came in studious tasseled loafers, a nod to another side of Marilyn. Above, a rare photo of Marilyn wearing loafers, and also a backpack, a clear inspiration for the accessory seen on the Max Mara runway.
 
The collection however takes on a vaster perspective, evoking Marilyn’s glamour and attractive power, as well as her casual evenings devoted to UCLA classes and reading. Sheath dresses, pencil skirts, body-hugging sweatshirts, bomber jackets, overcoats and high heeled pumps, as well as loafers, and Marilyn’s “me time” menswear classics – because, despite her predilection for skimpy clothing, she also embraced wearing men’s shirts and jeans, for example, off set – are reinvented in camel hair, cashmere, tweeds, alpaca and quilted silk, in oversized or shrunken silhouettes.
 
max mara fall 2015Marilyn Monroe bomber jacket

Max Mara Fall 2015-1 
Far more than a beautiful and provocative actress, Marilyn Monroe was part of the twentieth century culture, and far more sensitive and intelligent than Hollywood wanted us to believe. Why so many chose not to see beyond her appearance, I could never comprehend. Her electrifying personality drew the crowds to theaters and she wielded an extraordinary uninhibited appeal in front of the camera. More than half a century after her death, her legacy continues to endure.
 
MarilynMax Mara fall 2015

.Marilyn loved furs. Above, in a sable, a gift from Joe DiMaggio, in 1953. Underneath she is said to have been nude. The hints of luxurious details, like the fur on these sleeves or the silky quilting on skirts and bomber style jackets, are reminiscent of the 50′s glamour.

Max Mara fall 2015
 
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Style in Film: Ali MacGraw in The Getaway

Style in Film: Ali MacGraw in The Getaway

The most notable 70′s-style look in The Getaway.

 
American actress Ali MacGraw had a career in fashion before becoming an actress. She worked for Harper’s Bazaar as assistant to Diana Vreeland for $54 a week before fashion photographer Melvin Sokolsky stopped by the magazine and hired her right away, raising her salary. “Diana Vreeland had this beautiful girl for her secretary, who had legs that didn’t stop and a way-ahead intelligence and presence.” Art director and graphic designer Ruth Ansel recalls her as Sokolsky’s “muse and schlepper.” She stayed for six years, and in addition, she did stints at Vogue, as a model and a stylist, before going into cinema.
 
Style in film Ali MacGraw in The Getaway-1

Style in film Ali MacGraw in The Getaway-2

Style in film Ali MacGraw in The Getaway-8
.The suede trench coat is not only a staple for this spring, but can very well stand alone as a wardrobe essential.
 
 
 
When she did get her movie break, it was Ali’s own personal style that was central to her characters and turned out to be one of the defining fashion moments of the decade. Calvin Klein described her to Vanity Fair as someone who “exemplified the great American style”. “In the beginning, there was that rich-hippie period. But it went beyond that, and her style put her among the greats: Katharine Hepburn, Jackie Onassis, C. Z. Guest, Babe Paley.” It’s exactly that all-American ease, natural and undone stance, not the hippie looks, that I like about her. In the ’60s and ’70s she was among the very few trendsetting cinema stars who influenced movie-goers and the fashion world alike, along with Audrey Hepburn and Faye Dunaway.

The unbuttoned blouses, utilitarian jackets and skirt suits, the gold accessories, even if scarce, the suede trench, the browns and earth tones, and the most notable look, the dress with generous cleavage, that Ali wears in The Getaway, 1972 (costume designer: Barbara Siebert), along her then future-to-be husband, Steve McQueen, are very ’70s indeed, bearing the liberation spirit of the period (less structure and tailoring and being provocative enough), but staying on the minimalist side, thus having the potential to be easily adapted to the modern wardrobe. Because Ali MacGraw’s style still serves as a blue print for brands such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as Frida Gianinni’s noteworthy last collection for Gucci, Spring/Summer 2015 (I already miss her at Gucci).
 
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Vivienne Westwood: The Book

Vivienne Westwood by Ian Kelly and Vivienne Westwood 
“The first impact you should have in fashion is about making beauty, it’s about the beautiful woman. It’s about clothes that suit. That’s what chic means. It’s you. You can tell without the signature that it’s right… My work is rooted in English tailoring…and in the past. When you look to the past you start to see standards of excellence, the good taste on the way things are done and put together, formed. By trying to copy technique, you build your own technique.” Vivienne Westwood, from the book Vivienne Westwood, by Ian Kelly and Vivienne Westwood
 
Vivienne Wetswood by Ian Kelly and Vivienne Westwood 

I could barely put down this book once I started reading it. It’s that good! And this, as you may very well know, is hardly a common thing when it comes to books about fashion. But Vivienne Westwood’s is the kind of fashion that changed the course of the modern world when it emerged in the 1970s as part of the youth cult co-created and styled by her and which brought so many changes on the cultural, musical and political scenes. Neither memoir nor critical biography, the book was written by Ian Kelly, interlinked with Westwood’s own voice through her numerous quotes included, who nicely balances and aptly examines the professional and private life of the British designer. But of course it’s not just the writing that makes the book good, but Vivienne’s own extraordinary story, from the non-conformist child born in a working class family from Derbyshire, to the co-creator of the British punk movement and then the founder of a global luxury brand and the outspoken activist and climate revolutionary that she is today.

This is a revelatory book – painting a complex picture of the designer’s path and place in fashion, her hardwork and dedication playing the biggest role in that – and a very honest book – it sets the record straight when it comes to Westwood’s tumultuous relationship and creative partnership with Malcolm McLaren (and she does it by respecting his memory and giving him the credit he was due), which has always been a subject of interest and controversy to many. It’s pretty much what I was hoping for.

I think it’s the author who sums up best Vivienne Westwood’s designs: “Vivienne’s fusion of inventiveness and practicality, her fascination with silhouette, historical cuts and with fabrics, often British – tweeds, tartans, silk taffeta – combine the fearless unconformity of her punk years with a sense of tradition and with the verve and wit-in-sexuality that is pure British.”

photos by me

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Spring 2015 Trends I Can Work: Suede

Spring 2015 trends: suede 
From dresses and trench coats, to bags and boots, suede reigns high this season. Lighter, more elegant and more subtle than the pervasive leather, it is a rich as well as a sensual and feminine fabric, and it is a great way to make the transition from winter to spring. What I liked the most about the myriad of interpretations on the runway (from Loewe’s honey-toned beautiful long trench and patchwork totes, to Altuzarra’s caramel sheath dresses and shirts, and Jason Wu’s wrap coats and thigh-high slit dresses in shades of green) were the clean, modern, structured silhouettes, which steer away from the overly retro, 70′s style the look is often associated with. A quiet kind of luxury.
 
Spring 2015 Trends I Can Work-Suede-Altuzarra

Spring 2015 Trends I Can Work: Suede-Loewe

Spring 2015 Trends I Can Work: Suede-Loewe 
Spring 2015 Trends I Can Work: Suede-Altuzarra
 

The sleek suede shirt is the most

unexpected and appealing approach.

Spring 2015 Trends I Can Work-Suede-Jason Wu

photos: 1-Stockholm StreetStyle / 2,5-Altuzarra SS 2015 / 3,4-Loewe SS 2015 / 6-Jason Wu SS 2015, collection images via Style.com

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