Shirt Stories: Chloe Lonsdale

Shirt stories Chloe Lonsdale 
Perhaps I should better say “jeans and shirt” stories, because not only does Chloe Lonsdale impart this line as her signature look whenever asked to streamline her style, but as the daughter of Tony Lonsdale, founder of the 1970’s denim chain The Jean Machine, and goddaughter of Tony O’Gorman, founder of the denim label Made in Heaven, which she rebranded M.i.h Jeans and relaunched in 2006, one can safely say that she has been surrounded by denim her entire life. But, as she was telling W magazine, her love affair with denim truly began at 14 years old, when she discovered her dad’s trunk of jeans in the attic, full of old, classic stock from the 1970’s and collectors Silver Tab Levi’s. From that day, she wore his jeans every day for three years. If that isn’t denim love, then I don’t know what is. Chloe embodies the true blue jeans spirit and it seems this, too, is something that runs in her family, as she names her mother, who was the original model for the brand in the seventies, as her denim icon and muse: “no woman looks better in jeans and t-shirt than her.”
Shirt stories Chloe Lonsdale 
In Chloe’s case, however, it is the shirt she instantly pairs with her favourite pair of denim. “Jeans, a white shirt and Converse”, or “a classic pair of vintage jeans with a crisp white oversized shirt, always” (and how about the denim-on-denim-with-heels statement she makes above?) is her usual answer. Here is one lady to my liking! And, to round things up, her idea of dressing up is a silk shirt and lipstick, unless there is some sort of occasion that doesn’t allow jeans. Now she really speaks my language! I love to see a woman so comfortable in her own skin that she isn’t afraid to wear variations of the very same look over and over again. This kind of authenticity and effortlessness are at the core of the vision she projects on her brand, too. To instantly feel cool in what you wear.
Shirt stories Chloe Lonsdale

Shirt stories Chloe Lonsdale 
photos: 1-Nathan Pask / 2-M.i.h. Jeans / 3-We Are Design Bureau / 4-Laura Braun, The Telegraph / 5-Style Nest

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Summer Moodboard by Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Louise Dahl Wolfe photography 
Were you to see this top photograph for the first time, what year would you place it in? I am certain you wouldn’t go as back as 1950. Yes, it does look much more like a 2010s Céline campaign. This was the pioneering vision of Louise Dahl-Wolfe. A new book about the fashion photographer, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, is out, which made me revisit some of her work. Her photographs were infused with natural light, vitality and a new sensibility, which was an overdue departure from the stiff black-and-white society portraits that still dominated the burgeoning world of fashion photography when she was hired at Harper’s Bazaar in 1936. These photos here, for example, are a great reflection of her very relaxed and modern approach not only to fashion photography, but to a new, more natural and more casual look for women.
Louise Dahl Wolfe photography

Summer moodboard

Louise Dahl Wolfe photography
photos: Louise Dahl-Wolfe / 1,2,4-Hammamet, Tunisia, 1950 / 3-Mojave Desert, California, 1948 / 5-Tunisia, 1950 / 6-Miami, Florida, 1943

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A Laid-Back Approach to Life and Looks

Stefanel summer 2016 
There is one thought that’s been on my mind for quite some time. Everything doesn’t have to be so fast. And I believe that it’s up to us to get back in touch with things that are basic and important. Every stint out of town reminds me of just that. There are people who are city dwellers their entire lives. I once was on the same level. But every time I end up in the countryside or in any place close to nature, I feel a weight lift almost immediately. Suddenly, there’s a little more time for everything. It instantly becomes much easier to focus and enjoy life (a full life while at the same time fulfilling your own uncompromised creative pursuits) instead of constantly feeling the need to be in one place or another and to cram more and more to do’s into your day. It just feels right.
Stefanel summer 2016 -an approach to simpler things 
My laid-back approach to life doesn’t exclude fashion. I just apply the same ethos to my look and pay more attention to the brands that do that, too. Stefanel is one company that, for a few seasons has been encouraging us to rediscover the authentic and simplest things, confirming in fact the values that, for more than half a century, have distinguished the Italian label. In the era of speed and fast fashion, I love the commitment to slowing down and finding inspiration in a gentle pace of life.
A laid back approach to life and looks

Stefanel spring summer 2016 

No effort, no ostentation.
A way to communicate and be yourself.

Stefanel summer 2016 

Check out at certain points (at least).
Tread lightly in the world.
Empty your mind and stretch a new canvas.

A laid back approach to life and looks

photos: 1,4,7: Dan Martensen for Stefanel Spring Summer 2016, modeled by Carolyn Murphy (except for the last image), art directed by Clare Richardson/ 2-collage by me (clockwise from top left: 1,3-by me / 2-Dan Martensen for Stefanel) 5-collage by me (clockwise from top left: 1,3-Dan Martensen for Stefanel / 2-by me) / 6-by me

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Interview with Fargo Costume Designer Carol Case

Interview Fargo costume designer Carol Case 
Noah Hawley, novelist, producer, screen and tv writer, had this bold idea to create a television series based on none other than the iconic Coen brothers film, Fargo. Although loosely inspired by the 1996 (what can already be considered) classic, and showcasing different characters, the tv series Fargo still had some high expectations to meet. And thanks to a great storyline, team and cast, it has become a worthy production in its own right. Season one was a promising spin-off, but Hawley had another challenging idea and wanted to start all over again with season two, with a new cast and a plot placed a few decades back, in the late 1970s. The darkly comic crime drama is a period piece unfolding in the snowy parts of Minnesota and South Dakota, and the characters – brought to life by a fantastic casting, from Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, to Patrick Wilson and Jean Smart – had to look authentic, like they belonged to that time and place. And here is where the exquisite attention to detail throughout costumes and props comes in.

The series has garnered an increasing interest in the wardrobe department, mainly as far as Peggy Blumquist (played by Kirsten Dunst, who, if I haven’t yet mentioned, is magnetic in her role), a small-town fashion-savvy hairdresser with big dreams, is concerned. Fashion, especially in movies, is much more than just the surface of things, and the costumes in Fargo not only shape the characters and help reinforce the story, but serve as a moodboard of the real fashions of the 1970s, as well. I recently had the opportunity and the pleasure to speak with the show’s costume designer, Carol Case, about her early career inspiration, about the challenge to source era-appropriate clothes and about how Kirsten Dunst’s character managed to sell the particular look of the 70s to a modern day audience.
Kirsten Dunst costumes Fargo

Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blumquist, Fargo season 2

How challenging was it to work on Fargo given the legacy of the movie?
I think it was a bit daunting for all of us at the beginning, because it has such an iconic look, but the scripts were so intelligent, and the casting so phenomenal that it quickly became clear we were working on something special.

Yes, turning the Coen brothers much acclaimed film Fargo into a tv series in its own right seemed almost next to impossible, but Noah Hawley did it. Maybe an important factor to this is that the series is not exactly a remake, but rather inspired by the movie, with characters who may resemble the originals, but are different and new regardless. What was the Coen brothers involvement with the series?
The Coen brothers were involved as producers, but were not around during the day to day shooting, although I think their spirits certainly were.

What were you references for the wardrobes?
Well, I am old enough to remember it! (the film)

Do you start thinking of full outfits while you’re reading a script? Or you don’t allow yourself to have specific ideas about a character without having a face attached to it?
I think about outfits generally before I know who is playing the role. It is different on every show. I think about what that character wears and what works within the story. Usually I get a picture in my brain of the person, but I try never to solidify it until I know the casting .

Is the writer or the director usually a big part of the costume process? How about in the case Fargo?
In the case of Fargo, I work very closely with the writer and show runner Noah Hawley. In the beginning we discuss an overview of the feeling we would like and then I select looks. Noah is always very interested in the “look” of the characters and the visual feel of the entire show.
Kirsten Dunst costumes Fargo

Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons (as Ed Blumquist), Fargo season 2


Lately fashion seems to be in love with the ’70s. Have the collections influenced your work on the series?
I think that I worked more from the vintage side of things, but was very happy that there are a number of really good 70’s fall lines that we could access.

Kirsten Dunst’s character, Peggy Blumquist, has garnered the most interest in terms of fashion. Do actors give any input as far as their characters’ wardrobes? Because Kirsten seems to have managed the challenging task of selling the particular look of the 1970s. How was your collaboration with her?
Television by its nature is a collaborative art. I like to work with actors who are involved in what their characters look like. Kirsten is the perfect example. She rocked the 70’s look and totally sold it. The actors need to buy into the look you are creating or it will never be a part of the character and always look “applied”. Kirsten and I started discussing Peggy’s look early into prep and we exchanged a lot of ideas. When she first arrived we spent an afternoon just trying on all sorts of looks to see what worked for her character and body type.

How would you describe Peggy’s style? What do her clothes convey about the character?
Small town fashionista. She is very aware of high fashion and uses what resources she has to come up with interesting up to date looks. We know she has lots of magazine subscriptions if we look at her house.

Would she wear a daring Halston dress if she lived in a big city?
Well, she might aspire to one, but I doubt she would have that kind of money. Perhaps she would sew a dress that is similar from a pattern and adjust. Not sure she would be up for a super revealing look.

Is there any symbolism to Peggy’s beret? And the red gloves?
Red is a very effective colour to use on the screen, and I think any symbolism involved in the beret and gloves I will leave to the viewers’ imagination and speculation.
Kirsten Dunst costumes Fargo
The plot is placed in the harsh winters of North Dakota and Minnesota and I think that saying that the outerwear is important is an understatement. It is a matter of practicality and survival, first of all. But how do the coats read into the characters?
In a winter show like Fargo, you know right away that each character will have to have a signature coat acceptable for winter weather. Lots of the show is shot outdoors, so the actors have to be comfortable while still conveying the character. We sourced some dead stock winter clothes from the 70’s and built some items. A lot of the coats had added insulation to keep everyone warm. I tried to keep it to just one outdoor look for each character so that they were readily recognisable in the night scenes and all of the action that goes on. In real life people of that world would just have one or two winter coats. Perhaps an everyday one and a good one for church and special occasions, so that is what we tried to portray.

A costume designer’s job is to reinforce the story and help the actor form an identity of his/her character. But what exactly goes into the work of a costume designer today? How much off the rack shopping, how much vintage and how much making did the costumes in Fargo involve?
We did some off the rack shopping for items that have not really changed over time, and we altered modern items to give them a more 70’s feel, i.e. a lot of Ed’s (Jesse Plemons’ character) shirts were purchased and then the collars were replaced with more 70’s shaped collars. The majority of Peggy’s clothes were made, along with Floyd’s (played by Jean Smart). We did have to source vintage clothes from all over. Many of our characters go through some pretty extreme things, so they would need multiples precluding using any vintage, but we used as much vintage as possible on our characters and all background were in vintage clothing.

How challenging is to source era-appropriate fashion? Where do you start and where do you look for inspiration for period films?
It is always a challenge to find the right looks, but that is the fun of it. I started looking at old catalogues and fashion photos of the time. As our people were not really of the world of fashion, I spent a lot of time researching old family photos (particularly from that area of the world). The other thing I found useful were old sewing patterns of the time.
Fargo season 2 costumes

Fargo season 2 costumes
Do you think audiences today are more sophisticated in the sense that they expect a certain degree of realism on screen? Do you feel the need to retain a certain modern feel to the clothes even if the story is placed in a different decade?
I think we all look at things from the perspective of “now”, so it’s a fine line. Some of the clothing from the 70’s which did not seem outrageous at the time looks almost cartoon-like, so it’s finding clothing that is correct for the period, but works for both. I try to stay true to the period, but also make choices that don’t “bump” to the modern eye.

Is costume designing for television different than designing for the big screen? How?
I think in days gone by there was a bigger difference between feature designing and series. Lately the bar has been set pretty high for television with all the great new series. Each has their own challenges. Digital technologies and giant screen televisions have transformed filmimg television into a much more exacting art.

Do you feel that fashion designers are permeating the costume designers’ territory? How are you coping with that?
There is room for us all I think. The difficulty is integrating fashion and storytelling. We all come to it in our own way.

What inspired you to become a costume designer?
I started my career in the theatre working with some of the world’s most brilliant theatre designers. I spent many years at the Stratford festival in Ontario with the likes of Desmond Heeley and Susan Benson, and they showed me how vital clear designs are in portraying characters and how much they can aid in the telling of the story.
Interview Fargo costume designer Carol Case

Interview Fargo costume designer Carol Case

Jean Smart (as Floyd Gerhardt) and Angus Sampson (as Bear Gerhardt), Fargo season 2

Are there any fashion designers who influenced your work on contemporary-set films?
I like different designers for different shows.

Do you have a favourite movie? How about a favourite film in terms of fashion? What is your earliest memory of being impacted by the craft of a costume designer?
I grew up watching all the period dramas of the 70’s, so all those Merchant ivory films are close to my heart.

The best piece if advice you have been given, career-wise:
I am always most in love with what I am doing at the moment.

One thing you can’t start your day without:

Where would we find you when you are not working?
I love to travel, so almost anywhere in the world, and barring that my country home near the Alberta foothills.
photos: FX Network

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Festival de Cannes 2016

Festival de Cannes 2016 
The Cannes Film Festival kicks off tomorrow and I am excited about all the new movies that will have their premieres there and about all the movie talk that will ensue. Here are some of the films which have sparked an interest in me, before having the chance to watch them. Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta – the director is returning to a predominantly female cast and I am expecting good things from this one, especially that his previous film, Los amantes pasajeros, was such a disappointment. One of the actresses I admire the most, the great Isabelle Huppert, stars in Paul Verhoeven’s revenge thriller, Elle, and that alone was enough to get my interest in the Dutch director’s first film in a decade. Woody Allen’s Café Society will open the festival, playing out of competition, and, as usual, I can’t resist the curiosity of a new Allen film.

Andrea Arnold’s American Honey is another title on my list (I loved the British director’s Fish Tank), as well as Jim Jarmusch’s both Gimme Danger, as midnight screening, a documentary about Iggy Pop and The Stooges (I have a rock-punk lover of a husband and some of his music preferences have rubbed off on me) and Paterson – Jarmusch doesn’t make films that often and it has already been three years from his last one, Only Lovers Left Alive, which, if you still haven’t watched, I strongly recommend. Pablo Larraín’s Neruda (who also wrote/directed No – I wrote about it a few years back), starring the same Gael García Bernal, and Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog, both screening in the Directors’ Fortnight section, sound interesting, too.
Cannes film festival 2016 
The poster for the 69th edition of the festival evokes a golden era of the French cinema by paying tribute to Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 film business satire Le Mepris (Contempt). Director George Miller is this year’s president of the jury, and Kirsten Dunst (more about the actress in my next interview coming up later this week, which I am very excited about), Donald Sutherland, Vanessa Paradis, French director Arnaud Desplechinare and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen are among the jury members.
Cannes Cinema A visual history of the world's greatest film festival 
Just in time for the festival, I thought it would be nice to offer you a glimpse into the book Cannes Cinema: A visual history of the world’s greatest film festival. As the title suggests, it is brim-full of photographs, portraits of actors and film-makers taken by three generations of the Traverso family (I love the idea of sourcing all the images in the book from a single archive), from the beginnings of the festival, in 1939, to the present day. Originally from the Tende Valley, on the Italian side of the border, the Traverso family settled in Cannes in 1850. They are artisans, and their work consists of photographing important occasions in ordinary people’s lives, as well as prestigious events. “Their single concern is with the present, there is no social affectation, no obsession with following fashion.” I like that.

But even more than the visual gems, I appreciate the words accompanying each photo; the text captures the essence and the mood of the times and of the film world exceptionally well. It doesn’t hurt that the book has the approval of the Cahiers du cinema either (author Serge Toubiana was Editor-in-Chief of Cahiers du cinema between 1973-1991).


                                                                                                       “It was up to each person to invent a style, to be him or herself while at the same time giving the impression of belonging to the times. Times in which one learned to make one’s mark,
to stand out from the established order. Actors were better placed than anyone else to harness the zeitgeist.
It was up to them to express it, to establish its modes of expression and gestures. Here, Geraldine Chaplin
does so with some grace. Not just her father’s daughter, in 1967 she also presented Robert Hossein’s
out-of-competition film J’ai tué Raspoutine (I killed Rasputin), in which she performed.” (left image above)


“David Bowie is radiant. Nagisa Oshima is enigmatic. Their film,
‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence’, subtly shifted the line between
the East and the West. It was the sort of collaboration of which
every member of the audience secretly dreams. They faced their public with rare style.
They were not subdued rebels, but true modern adventurers.” (center image above)


                                                                                                       “The American stars arriving in Cannes brought with them glamour, without which there is no cinema. The festival would not have been able to survive
without showcasing and highlighting the magical aura of the stars. “Put the Blame on Mame”,
sang this sublime redhead, while slowly peeling off her black satin gloves.” (right image above)


Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Cinema A visual history of the workd's greatest film festival 
“In 1978, Jane Fonda came to champion Hal Ashby’s ‘Coming Home’. Her unequivocal opinions against the war
and in favour of the feminist movement were well known. But her appeal lay above all
in her elegance and her smile. She had the authenticity of an actress completely in control of her art.” (left image above)


                                                                                                       “Bardot could have been a one-summer wonder. Followed by a crowd of admirers, she had a gift for inventing style
that broke with the then rather out-dated image of French cinema.” (center image above)

“There are moments that have to be seized, when a good photographer owes it to him or herself to be there,
such as when a star offers him or her the simple but magical act of changing his shoes, right in the middle of the Carlton.
Yves Montand, it appeared, had forgotten his patent dress shoes and had just enough time to put them on
before the official screening.” (talking about style and class)(right image above)

Cannes film festival in pictures

“There is no doubt that Sean Connery’s appearance on the Croisette in 1965 was very popular.
But was it not James Bond that people were staring at rather than the excellent performer
from Sidney Lumet’s “The Hill”? In fact, the actor had travelled to Cannes
to show that he wanted his image as an actor to break away from the Bond character.” (left image above)

photos: 1-official poster of the 69th edition of Festival de Cannes, by Herve Chigioni Gilles Frappier, based on stills from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Le Mepris”/ 2-film posters via (Elle, Cafe Society, Julieta) / 3-by me from the book Cannes Cinema: A visual history of the world’s greatest film festival (original photos: Henri and Gilles Traverso, left-Geraldine Chaplin, 1967 / center-David Bowie and Nagisa Oshima, 1983/ right-Rita Hayworth, 1949) / 4-Eric Gaillard/Reuters / 5-by me from the book Cannes Cinema (original photos: Henri and Gilles Traverso, left-Jane Fonda, 1978 / center-Brigitte Bardot, 1955 / right-Yves Montand, 1959) / 6-by me from the book Cannes Cinema (original photos: Henri and Gilles Traverso, left-Sean Connery, 1965 / center-Isabelle Huppert, 2009 / right-Louis de Funès, Terry-Thomas and Bourvil, 1966)
quotes: the texts relating to the years 1939 to 1968 and 2003 to 2010 are by Serge Toubiana; those relating to the years 1969 to 1979 are by Joel Magny and those about 1982 to 2002 are by Thierry Jousse

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