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On This Day In Fashion on the radio!

A few days ago I taped our third segment for the radio program “KUOW Presents;” this one was about teen fashion, the bottom-up theory and two films that demonstrate the evolution and growing influence of street style versus designer style. The piece just aired, and it’s always kind of wild for me to listen to the conversation edited down after the fact. (I also have to say there is nothing weirder than listening to myself talk about teenagers and my students like I’m some hip old broad who’s totally down with “kids these days.” I’ve no doubt that every 13-year-old who is forced to hear this segment while trapped in their parents’ car will label me a majorly out-of-touch nerd.) Still, I feel like there’s so much more I can say (and clarify, natch) about this topic! But host Jeannie Yandel did an awesome job catching the core ideas behind the films, as well as my own gushing reaction to one of my favorite films when I was a teenager: Valley Girl.

Click here to listen to us chat about James Dean’s cool style in Rebel Without a Cause and how Nicholas Cage stole my 12-year-old heart in Valley Girl. Read More »

Annie Hall: How Cinema’s Least Likely Outfit Became Its Own Style Genre

Alvie: “I love what you’re wearing.”
Annie: “You do? Well, uh, this tie was a present from Grammy Hall.”

By the time this famous exchange takes place between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, the Oscar-winning film released on this day in 1977, the actress had already made an indelible sartorial impression in at least half a dozen scenes. From chasing lobsters to seeing movies to playing tennis, Annie consistently puts forth a one-of-a-kind style that combines a curious mix of dichotomies: masculine and neurotic, frumpy and tailored, haphazard and thoughtful. But the outfit that inspired the “Annie Hall Read More »

Cinemode: Stripes, Hats and Poor Boys: The Cool Style of Breathless

Breathless, the Jean-Luc Godard film released in the U.S. on this day in 1960, appears in just about every mention of most stylish films. Factor in actor Jean-Paul Belmondo’s late ‘50s adaptation of Humphrey Bogart’s renegade style, Jean Seberg’s pixie haircut and that unforgettable Herald Tribune sweater, and the “cool” factors hammer you over the head with as much subtlety as the Fonz giving the jukebox his signature punch.

But that may be because despite being a fashion lover’s favorite, Breathless is a filmmaker’s film more than a fashion film. This early entry into French New Wave is carved onto every film buff’s must-see list for its groundbreaking use of cinematography, outsider characters and suspended style of storytelling. Godard breaks from traditional narratives and translates his stream-of-consciousness writing into pictures, creating 90-minutes entirely unlike Hollywood’s standard delivery of story, images and experience. So while the clothing worn by the characters is appealing for its minimalism, the actors move about in frames created with maximum-style filmmaking. For fashion fans, this can be a disturbing dichotomy. If you’re expecting Funny Face, another late-50s film located in Paris, Breathless delivers the antithesis. Where Funny Face treats a catwalk’s worth of Givenchy showstoppers as if the designer is yet another top-billed star, Breathless doesn’t do its wardrobes any such favors, preferring to cast Listless Apathy as the primary supporting character. Read More »

Inception Inspiration, or How I Found Style Motivation in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Suits

Now I know I have expounded here numerous times on the saving grace of sweatpants. I have celebrated the ease with which designers have elevated the made-for-sport pant to a higher level. I have considered the merits of sweatpants with heels. I have deliberated over the confounding definition of sportswear and provided evidence of athletic-wear made appropriate for outside the gym. And yet, despite the wide acceptance of this comfy chic look, I am in the grips of another notion—the notion that I should get dressed. If you were inside my head right now you would be hearing this: Get dressed, Katrina. For goodness sakes really get dressed.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately; this idea of really getting dressed. The voice in my head recently magnified after seeing Inception. I know, I know. I am way behind the curve here. I just saw Inception and couldn’t help but be thoroughly Read More »

Cinemode: Armani Makes His Move with American Gigolo

Talk about capturing a moment. By the time American Gigolo was released on this day in 1980, audiences had already been introduced to southern California style through films like Shampoo, Bullitt, California Suite, Welcome to L.A. and even guilty pleasures like Roller Boogie and Cleopatra Jones. But American Gigolo offered something different: A hot, young, well-dressed and cultured American male. OK, so the guy is also a prostitute, but when it’s Richard Gere in the role, moviegoers seem to have no problem overlooking and idealizing sticky moral issues.

The movie had another draw: A sexy, can’t-look-away costar—and I’m not talking about supermodel-turned-actress Lauren Hutton, who plays Gere’s love interest. The alluring scene-stealer is this case was new to La-La Land, but still received more screen time than anyone—er, anything—else in the film. Then-unknown Armani clothing, worn by Gere (and supposedly Hutton, too, though the brilliant-but-forgotten Bernandene Mann is credited as costumer) throughout the film, doesn’t just hang on the actors’ bodies like any old garment. On Gere’s broad shoulders and pert ‘tocks—both of which also get lots of screen time—Giorgio Armani’s silk, linen and Italian cotton suits seem to have a life of their own. Not to say that the clothes wear the man; in fact a more perfect model couldn’t be had than Gere. But the beautiful fabrics seem to Read More »

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