Charming Yves

He says little more than “yes” and “no” as the panel tries to figure out who he is and he tries to figure out what the heck all these goofy Americans are even talking about, but Yves Saint Laurent, who died on this day in 2008, does it so sweetly, it charms. our. socks. off. Then when he finally utters a whole sentence, “Je suis enchanté de vous voir” (I’m happy to meet you), we just want to wrap him up, take him home and feed him glass after glass of warm milk. Incidentally, What’s My Line was way fashion friendly, also featuring the likes of designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Oleg Cassini, longtime Cosmo Read More »

How I Learned to Stop Taking Responsibility and Blame My Shoes

The offending shoes

Lately I’ve been wasting a good deal time on StumbleUpon, which has proved to be surprisingly addictive. No, apparently Facebook and Twitter, both of which I feel rather lukewarm toward, aren’t enough. It has been studied and documented that texts, Tweets and emails are actually physically addictive, giving us just a tiny jolt of dopamine when one arrives, because that infers that someone is thinking about you. StumbleUpon, if you’ve never used it, is a web browsing tool that learns about your preferences and recommends web sites to you that other people like you have also liked. So it’s kind of like the methadone to FB/Twitter heroin: it’s almost like someone is thinking about you. It’s just that that someone is an artificial form of life.

Anyway, I Stumbled on a story that got me thinking (enough to not get bored and check my email for at least seven minutes!). The story was a Vice interview with Steve Roud, a British folklore historian who knows everything there is to know about every kooky superstition under the sun. He was talking about clothing superstitions: how the color green is considered unlucky in Britain because of its demonic associations; how it’s important to put the right shoe on before the left because your right foot is more important and, you know, a stray battle ax could come flying through the air at any moment and you’d better have that dog protected. The olden folk used to also believe that if you put something on wrong, say, your underwear on inside out, Read More »

Cinemode: La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast)

One of the great defenses of the very existence of couture is that it’s here for dreamers. Whether it’s riches coming out our ears, a more peaceful world or just being a better person, clothes are both a means and an end to our fantasies. La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast), Jean Cocteau’s adaptation of the classic French fairytale that was released on this day in 1946, was a film both for and about dreamers—and by taking an unexpected hand in designing its costumes, a young Pierre Cardin saw his own dreams take a very different direction.

World War II had just come to an end in France, and Cocteau, feeling that the time wasn’t right for realism in cinema, wanted to make a movie that was all about fantasy. He chose La Belle et la Bête, originally written in the 18th century by Mme Leprince de Beaumont, the familiar story of a beautiful girl who falls in love with her furry captor, thereby freeing him from the spell that has made him a monster. Cocteau certainly must have been inspired by his own bestial struggles: Throughout filming, he lamented his various skin afflictions like eczema and impetigo, which causes ghastly blisters and sores on the face. “The more ugly Read More »

Fashion Designers, As Seen on TV

Two weeks ago marked the date that Andy Warhol, in one of his many 15 minutes of fame, made a guest appearance on The Love Boat. On the episode that aired October 12, 1985, a midwestern housewife fears that Andy, played by Andy, will tell her husband her secret past as a Warhol Superstar. We would have loved to have properly commemorated that show, but Warhol on The Love Boat has become a fabled lost episode, one so hidden that we would wonder if it had ever really existed—if it wasn’t for a screen shot captured from someone’s YouTube video that was here and gone in a fleeting Internet minute. While I’m dying to see Andy on The Love Boat again (I surely saw it as a kid and just didn’t know it at the time), the episode got us thinking about
people in fashion crossing over to appearing, and even acting, on TV—to varying degrees of success. And once we started researching, we were surprised at how many there were. Paco Rabanne on I’ve Got a Secret, Isaac Mizrahi on Fame, Edith Head on Columbo and Giorgio Armani, Jean Paul Gaultier and Paco Rabanne appearing on a Spanish series called Corazón, Corazón. Read on for a video list of our favorite designer appearances and let us know which ones we missed. Read More »

Cinemode: Qui Êtes-Vous, Polly Maggoo?

Fashionistas beware: This movie was made by someone who does not love fashion. One gets the sense early on, in the first scene of a fashion shoot where models are getting sliced up by the razor-sharp edges of their aluminum dresses, that this is someone who is pretty skeptical—okay, who detests—fashion. Who is this curmudgeonly scrooge, you say, what is the name and address of his first-born child and what the hell does he know anyway? His name, my dears, is William Klein, and when he released Qui Êtes-Vous, Polly Maggoo? on this day in 1966, he had just spent the last 10 years as a photographer for Vogue, so actually, he knew his stuff indeed.

The film centers around Polly Maggoo, a girlish and lanky American model (bearing a striking resemblance to Twiggy) working in Paris who becomes the subject of a French TV show called “Qui Êtes Vous?” (Who Are You?). With film cameras following Polly to and fro, Gregoire, the show’s host, tries to get to the bottom of who the girl is—in that French, existential sense of the question. They let Polly ramble on, dropping random trivia about herself, they analyze the shape of her face and the way she walks and carefully dissect her thoughts on what kind of vegetable she would like to be. But it’s to no avail. “I showed my producer the clip,” Gregoire at one point glumly informs Polly, “and he doesn’t think you exist.” Meanwhile, Prince Igor, the sovereign of a small country in the Soviet Bloc, has seen Polly’s photo and Read More »

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