Natural Envy: A History of the Color Green in Fashion

Google “green in fashion,” and you’ll get a ton of hits directing you to eco-friendly clothing. Earth-friendly fashion is a wonderful thing, but on St. Patrick’s Day I’d like to talk about green, as in no-finger-quotes-just-the-actual-color green. As seen in our earlier investigation of the color red, green is also a color with duplicitous meanings and weighty connotations. (I wonder if a seemingly innocent color such as pink also carries such complex histories and symbolism.)

Linguistically, green is related to the Old English verb, grōwan (“to grow, turn green”) and across cultures green is commonly associated with growth, regeneration, fertility and nature. Conversely, green is also used in reference to death, illness, envy and the devil. One iconic example is seen in Michaelangelo’s Last Judgement, where a pear-tinged Charon (the ferryman of Hades) is shown swatting the damned into Hell with his Read More »

Fashion Library: Ara Gallant

Whether it is strands sculpted into a frothy concoction or tendrils wildly unfurling in stilled momentum, hair is the central character Ara Gallant (Damiani 2010), the eponymous tome paying tribute to the work of the late American stylist and photographer. Were he alive today, Gallant might be dubbed the hair whisperer, for he made famous the “flying hair” that is featured in many of the book’s photographs, and he developed myriad ways of creating volume, including his ingenuous cardboard falls. From Anjelica Huston’s straight Egyptian-princess tresses to the wild tigress locks of Iman to the whipping tentacles of Twiggy, Gallant’s compositions, both photographs and coiffery, are featured throughout the beautiful, matte pages of this book compiled and edited by David Wills.

Gallant was born into a family of hair stylists and got his start at his uncle’s salon in the Bronx. His talent certainly belied his professed dislike of the work. As good friend and client Angelica Huston writes, Gallant did not style hair; he “did hair.” In addition to Huston’s introduction, contributions from an astonishing number of models, fashion editors and other who’s-who from the industry, including Lauren Hutton, Veruschka, Diane Von Furstenberg, Drew Barrymore and Steven Meisel, form a pastiche of Gallant’s life and work. With his talent for creating the ideal hairstyle to complement Read More »

Sinners and Saints: The History of the Color Red in Fashion

Red is a complex color. Oh boy, is it complex, and it has been through quite the proverbial tumbler in its time. Red has been tossed around with sinners and saints, warriors and prostitutes, kings and merchants. It has been on top and it has been on bottom: From associations with the sun to accusations that creating the color required consorting with the devil himself. Red is a color with a multitude of meanings.

It is not surprising, then, that chubby cupids get thrown into the mix with lusty lingerie when red shows up in time for Valentine’s Day. In honor of this most fiery of holidays, we wanted to take a moment to sort through the back stories. So whether we are swiping Revlon Red across our lips or are lucky enough to step out in a signature red Valentino, we get an inkling of the many messages we are sending. Read More »

Égoïste! Perfume Ads as Art or, a Video List of Some of TV’s Best Fragrance Commericals

In my 20s I never wore fragrance, unless it was a hippie-style, au natural essential oil. (I really like the smell of skin more than any other scent.) Then I became good friends with a woman who worked the fragrance counter at Nordstrom, and she would—and still does—shower me with miniature bottles on my birthday and Christmas. For the first time, I really got into perfume. And then two-and-a-half years ago I took part in a perfume workshop at the Ateliers Parfums at the Thierry Mugler headquarters in Paris, and I became no-holds-barred obsessed with the stuff. On that single day, a small group of us spent four hours smelling core scents and finished product and learning the history of perfume from one of the world’s experts on the subject, Elisabeth de Feydeau. (Oh, and afterward we got a private peek at the then-upcoming Spring 2009 Mugler collection—but that’s a Story Behind the Style in and of itself!) Ultimately, the workshop was a heady and magical experience that shifted my perception of fragrance from simple folly to subject of Serious Consideration.

Now I have my signature scents (Hiroko Koshino, Michael Kors’ discontinued KORS—I’m hoarding—and Mugler’s Angel, depending on the season and my mood) and wear a few other fragrances that strike my fancy on any given day (Givenchy Hot Couture—hate the name, adore the scent—Coco by Chanel and Hermes un Jardin sur de Nil). I even stepped up my French lessons and vowed to make the study of fragrance my Read More »

Model Persis Khambatta Goes Cue Ball for Kirk and Our List of the World’s Most Beautiful Bald Women

On this day in 1979, Star Trek: the Motion Picture was released. From a fashion standpoint, the film was not particularly influential (though those Space Age go-go boots and ridiculous minidresses are a guilty pleasure). But there is one person in the film who commanded our attention from a beauty standpoint: top model Persis Khambatta, who surprised audiences when she appeared on the screen with a fresh, new look: Bald. Khambatta got her start in modeling after she was named Miss India in 1965 and then quickly moved into print work, even signing a longterm contract with Revlon. She longed to launch an acting career but her Western-esque features apparently steered her away from leading roles in the Bollywood industry. When she landed the role of Lieutenant Ilia, a Deltan working a brief gig with the Star Fleet, she went for broke and shaved off her long, thick mane to authenticate the alien look.

Doing so was a good choice for the plum role: To this day, Khambatta is best remembered for it—though we concede that pretty much any association with the Star Fleet guarantees immortality among Trekkies, and the kinky qualities of her character, Ilia, didn’t hurt, either. Deltans exude phermones which arouse human males. Her powers were so great that at some point Ilia even took Read More »

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