My Debbie Reynolds Memory
The passing of Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher, stirred up memories of the perky mother and her complex offspring. HBO quickly streamed Bright Lights, a look inside the lives and fascinating relationship of the famous mother-daughter duo. I recalled my own personal “appearance” decades ago on stage with Debbie when she performed her hugely successful one-woman show at London’s famed Palladium Theatre. I had a front row seat. Debbie was delightful, singing, dancing and casually chatting about her life and career. She pointed me out to the audience, saying she “loved men with beards” and then she invited me to join her on the stage. Being a bit of a stage-struck ham, I jumped right up. We exchanged a few sentences and she sang a song to me. I cannot remember the song, but I will never forget Debbie’s warmth and her talent. Years later, I refreshed my memory of her when I created a Debbie Reynolds paper doll book, authorized by the star herself, published by Jenny Taliadoros’ Paper Studio Press and still available from paperdollreview.com.
|My Debbie Reynolds authorized Paper Doll Book.|
Two true fashion icons of the past are in the present, the subjects of new bio-pics. Both have been glamorized by the casting and coincidentally, I have created paper dolls of both in the recent past. Queen Elizabeth II is being profiled in The Crown, an ambitious multi-season Netflix production depicting her long reign. Currently playing Her Majesty as a young monarch is lovely Claire Foy (who only vaguely resembles the Queen), but other actresses will assume the role for subsequent years of her life. My paper doll of the young Queen was the dress-a-doll for a royal issue of Paper Doll Studio magazine. The other icon is Jackie Kennedy, portrayed on the movie screen by Natalie Portman who is beautiful but more delicate and possibly more cerebral than the legendary First Lady. The movie costumes are close to being authentic but Ms. Portman really should have been given a wig to replicate that famous bouffant coiffure. My Jackie paper doll is paired with Princess Diana in Fashion Icons, available from paperdollreview.com.
|Queen Elizabeth II, Claire Foy as the Queen and my paper doll from Paper Doll Studio's Queens issue.|
|Jackie Kennedy, Natalie Portman as First Lady and my “Fashion Icons” paper doll.|
Presenting Silent Screen Stars Paper Dolls
My next paper doll book for Paper Studio Press is well underway. It is volume number 5 in the series of my history of Hollywood fashions. “Silent Screen Stars” will feature six dolls who exemplify the distinct and specific fashion images of early motion pictures. Greta Garbo was passionate, Mary Pickford was “America’s Sweetheart” and Gloria Swanson exuded glamour. Lillian Gish was fragile, Louise Brooks was sophisticated and Clara Bow had “It.” Here are the portraits that will become the heads of the dolls that will be cut-out and dressed in costumes from the classic silent pictures that were worth a thousand words.
|Silent Screen Stars Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson.|
|Silent Screen Stars Lillian Gish, Louise Brooks and Clara Bow.|
Fragile Femininity in Fashion
Does fashion define the modern woman of today? It depends on the woman. Hillary’s ubiquitous pantsuits define her and Madonna’s dominatrixery makes a statement, too. The runway shows previewing spring’s in-coming fashions offered many different attempts to define femininity. One prevailing trend is fragile and delicate, a vision of ruffles, lace and sheer fabrics, a somewhat saccharine vision of a creature apt to swoon. Are such Valentine fashion designs a real reflection of modern femininity? Or are they a faux declaration of delicacy or an empowering subversive statement?
|Bora Aksu, Erdem, John Galliano.|
|Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha, Valentino.|
Rolling Out the Red Carpet (again!)
Trend spotting at a Hollywood Red Carpet event is like shooting fish in a barrel. Correction. Make that mermaids in a barrel. The sirens of the screen preen and pose as they self-promote in hopes of scoring a Golden Globe awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a rather small, but influential group. The fashion industry scrutinizes the star parade, desperately seeking a new trend, or at least a confirmation that glamour still stirs fashion consumers’ interest and envy. The stars wear gowns from the recent spring ’17 collections, a perfect example of “buy now/wear now” except they don’t buy, they borrow. That’s not always wise. For example, Kerry Washington’s fancy fabric, over-trimmed and awkward length dress by Dolce & Gabbana may have looked great on a tall model, but tiny Kerry couldn’t carry it off. The Golden Globes Red Carpet confirms the current state of fashion in the real world: No big change, no new general direction, but so many options that it’s easy to fabricate a trend or two. Sex appeal is mandatory, of course. Flesh is flashed with wide open, plunging necklines, cold shoulders, bare backs and a few bare midriffs. Jessica Biel, Kristin Bell, Drew Barrymore, Rosamund Pike and Sarah Jessica Parker took the plunge. Glittery glamour abounds and metallics continue to rule, most often silvery as seen on Ruth Negga, but more directional in color like the shimmering rose worn by Claire Foy. Metallic looked newest when splashed delicately onto sheer fabrics as seen on Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone and Sofia Vergara. Silhouettes are varied with slinky movie star form-fitting basics getting less attention than a few extremely full skirts worn by Lily Collins, Janelle Monae and Chrissy Teigen. Black is still playing it safe but not making news. Head-turning color included Viola Davis in bright yellow, Natalie Portman in yellow-green, Brie Larson in dark red, Jessica Chastain in sky blue and Zoe Saldana in hot pink and vivid rose. Of course, designer names are dropped and most are familiar. It’s no surprise that the few creations by red hot, right now Alessandro Michele of Gucci attracted the attention of every trend-sensitive fashionista watching this, the first of the Awards shows…more to follow.
|Rich metallic on Ruth Negga, Sarah Paulson and Annette Bening.|
|Sparkle-sprinkled sheers on Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone and Sofia Vergara.|
|Flashes of flesh on Drew Barrymore, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristen Bell.|
|Color on Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, and Jessica Chastain.|
|Romantic glamour on Zoe Saldana, Lily Collins and Claire Foy.|
Coloring Broadway Musicals
My compulsion to colorize continues, but this month I have temporarily abandoned vintage movie star coloring books for a new book, “Color Me Broadway,” drawn by Brian Kelly. It includes scenes from most of the classic Broadway musicals: Showboat, My Fair Lady, The King and I, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, On the Town, Mame and many more. The book is illustrated in a somewhat crude style that calls out for crayons or colored pencils (my choice). My copy was a gift from my friend, Sharry O’Hare. It is published by BrooklynArtDept.com and is widely available on line, price $15.
|Color Me Broadway” cover and “Hello, Dolly!”|
|“My Fair Lady” and “Guys & Dolls”|
New England Dandy is Dangerous!
If you think of the well-dressed English gentleman as a neat and natty modern Beau Brummell, a Jane Austen hero, think again. The London Men’s Fashion Week previewing fall ’17 style suggestions abandoned English elegance in favor of an apocalyptic action man dressed to do battle in a Marvel Comic dark metropolis. The male models were examples of the current anorexic androgynous lads, but when bundled up in massively oversize, aggressively militant and athletically inspired outfits, they seemed larger-than-life. Strong, manly overcoats and casual jackets were overwhelmingly sized with plenty of room to slip over relaxed jackets and pullover knits. Pants grew wider and wider, slouchy rather than pleated. Almost every collection included a big, bulky statement sweater. The inspiration for much of the exaggerated styling was the street where young men dress in a mix of modes, military and/or athletic plus jeanswear. Jogging suits and bomber jackets are popular. Black remains a staple color but there is a splendid assortment of accent colors, sometimes bright and bold, but occasionally light, too. Styling continues to be as important as design and there are sometimes discordant collisions of color, fabric and design in mad mixes.
|Survival style by Christopher Raeburn, Craig Green, KTZ.|
|Overwhelming overcoats by Casely-Hayford, Joseph, JW Anderson.|
|Sweater statements by Vivienne Westwood, JW Anderson, Topman.|
|New blue jeans by Topman, Christopher Shannon, Miharayasuhiro.|
|Modern ease by E.Tautz, Chalayan, Martine Rose.|
Fave Film Fashion on YouTube
“Fave Film Fashion.” That’s the title of a fabulous new YouTube series by my talented daughter, Professor Amanda Hallay. The weekly series of short films are a spin-off of her popular The Ultimate Fashion History channel on YouTube. Each film in this new series is devoted to the costumes and style in one of Amanda’s favorite vintage films like Imitation of Life, Double Indemnity, Taxi Driver and White Christmas. Every week, Amanda explains and explores in her own authoritative and amusing style, the important role that costumes play in so many films. She points out design details and fascinating fashion factoids about the stars and designers whose style illuminated so many great films. If you’re a movie fan and a fashionista, you’re sure to enjoy “Fave Film Fashion” on YouTube.
|Imitation of Life” Fave Film Fashion on YouTube|
|Double Indemnity” Fave Film Fashion on YouTube.|