15
May
2015
Posted by Nicole in Contest, Designers, Film, Style icon

Have you seen the new documentary about the House of Dior yet? It’s obligatory viewing of lovers of haute couture, as it gives a view into the makings of a new collection and launching it.

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It focuses on Raf Simons’ first collection in 2012 and is wonderful for an examination of how the historical legacy influences his designs, which he combines with his modern aesthetic.

What really impressed me was the skill and dedication of the team behind him – the women and men who have been with the House of Dior for a long time and developed an impressive skill at what they do. These are the people who ensure that Dior produces fashion of the highest quality and stays true to the ideals of the company, regardless of which designer is currently at the helm.

The tone steps confidently between showing the human flaws of the people involved, whilst presenting them in a positive light – and then there are the gowns. The couture market is much smaller today than it was in the ’50s but it’s an important part of the industry and creates fashion in its highest form.

It’s worth the price of admission just to see the glorious walls of flowers. It made me wish we still had smell-o-vision! Christian Dior loved flowers, and reinvented women as floral displays in his designs, so I’m sure he would have loved Raf’s display! It’s a forgotten fact that his ground-breaking collection of 1947, popularly renamed the “New Look” was actually called “Corolle” – “like a flower”.

Dior flower wall

Here’s the trailer:

Madman have sent me a few double passes and several more “two for one” passes – if you’d like one, pop into Circa or order something online and I’ll send one out. First come, first served.

Or – if you prefer – we also have some copies of the wonderful Advanced Style documentary on DVD – here’s my review, I love these wonderful women and their great attitude to dressing.

Just let me know which one you’d prefer and I’ll include it in your order. Thank you Madman.


12
Feb
2015
Posted by Nicole in Calendar, Style icon, Talk 2 Comments

Hi all,

For the past few months I’ve been collaborating with Lorelei Vashti, the super talented author of “Dress, Memory” on an event for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program and at last I can tell you all about it.

What: In Conversation: Fashion, Culture and Memory – Lorelei Vashti and Nicole Jenkins
When: 2pm Saturday 7 March 2015
Where: The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale St Melbourne
Cost: $20 incl booking fee and GST
Tickets available from Circa Vintage.

Here’s our blurb:

Join Lorelei Vashti (author of Dress, Memory) and Nicole Jenkins (author of Style is Eternal) for a vibrant conversation about women’s relationship to clothing.

We’ll uncover history’s most iconic ‘dress memories’, and delve into our cultural fascination with stories and fashion, both personal and historical.

Bursting with colourful images and lively conversation, this discussion will explore the many layers of history, culture and memory hiding within even the most utilitarian wardrobe.

We’ll have a slideshow and be discussing famous dresses in modern memory, like the beautiful green silk gown worn by Keira Knightly in “Atonement” and Marilyn Monroe’s “Subway” dress from “The Seven Year Itch” and what they tell us about the time they were set and how they resonate on your modern wardrobe.

It should be interesting and a lot of fun!

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29
Jan
2015
Posted by Nicole in 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Australian Fashion, Calendar, Exhibitions, Style icon 1 Comment

There’s a charming exhibition of a local style icon and fashion designer, currently on display in Ballarat. Here are some details from the website:

Fashion director, clothing designer, retailer, philanthropist, world traveller and local style icon, Jessica Simon was a key figure in Ballarat’s fashion history. She played a managerial role in her family’s business, Stone’s Drapery Store (in operation 1860-1965), which was widely considered the place in Ballarat for fashion purchases, in particular wedding gowns. She hosted a fashion program on local television station BTV6, and designed many of the garments for sale in the store.

Jessica was also a great philanthropist, hosting a wide range of charitable events in the region, and was actively involved in the establishment of the Gold Museum.


What:
Stone’s style: Jessica Simon, a life in fashion
When: 26th November – 1st March, 2015, 9.30am to 6pm.
Where: Gold Museum Ballarat, Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street Ballarat
Cost: see list here.
More information at the Gold Museum site.

I’ve had a number of frocks bearing the Stone’s label, mostly from the ’40s and they’ve always been excellent quality with a lot of hand-finishing. It’s nice to have an opportunity to learn more about the label.

There was a nice article in the Ballarat Courier about the exhibition and here are some images to give you an idea of what to expect.

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7
Nov
2014
Posted by Nicole in fashion parade, Style icon 2 Comments

Here in Melbourne we’ve just had the biggest fancy dress party of the year – if you guessed the Melbourne Cup, well done!

Well I was younger I used to be dismayed at the wild and wacky costumes of racegoers but now that I’m older I understand that Derby Day is for classic racewear and the first Tuesday in November is when we can all cut loose and make a statement with bold colours, out there accessories and wave the flag for fantastic!

I look forward to seeing people of all ages express themselves creatively with fashion and get their faces on the news. It’s a great opportunity for fabulous nobodies – as well as the already famous – to have a good time and push those sartorial boundaries. Lord knows, they need pushing.

Richard Nylon pic by Mark Stewart
Here’s the wonderful Mr Richard Nylon, who can always be counted on to create an interesting look. I love the pairing of the lapel rosebud with the multitude of similar rose behind. Pic by Mark Stewart.

MELBOURNE CUP 2014Wonderful ladies in beautiful, bold colours. Aren’t they glorious? Like a group of technicolour roses.

Amelia and and Anna Vivash - pic Facebook
How wonderful are these Sydney ladies? How can you not smile as you look upon Amelia and Anna Vivash – so much love for these outfits, ladies. Thank you. I love the Fastfood-Kali-meets-Barbie ensemble. Pic from Facebook.

Andrew Northridge and Peter Fitzgerald pic by AAP
Here’s a couple of chaps who look like they’ve wondered in from the local cosplay do – good work, Andrew Northridge and Peter Fitzgerald, you’re perfectly dressed for the Melbourne Cup (pic by AAP).

Darryn Lyons and Elissa Friday pic by Media-Mode
Mr Lyons, the Mayor of Geelong is well known for his flamboyant style and here he’s matched by his glamourous partner, Elissa Friday. I love the matchy-matchy hot pink and purple accessories. Pic by Media Mode.

Gabi Grecko pic by Alex CoppelGabi Grecko dressed as a Valkyrie superhero, pic by Alex Coppel. Gabi got dressed on the plane from New York, you have to admire dedication like that. Gold star, Gabi: I think you look fabulous.

Gracyn Marsterson pic by David CairdGracyn Marsterson rocks a nautical theme in that most daring of race day outfits – trousers! Pic by David Caird.

Much as it is for the more beautiful and tasteful outfits, the key to these outrageous looks is good use of colour and attention to detail – the accessorising is a big part of the success of these outfits, and outfits they are: the look is complete from head to toe. These are not people who grabbed any old handbag or wore their most comfortable shoes. A lot of work went into these looks and they deserve to be appreciated.

Anyone can be beautiful, or dress well, or be tasteful and appropriate – it takes a special person to weather the slings and arrows of unkindness that can come with dressing boldly and do something more interesting.

I salute all of you and thank you for your services to fashion!


2
Oct
2014
Posted by Nicole in Contest, Film, Style icon 13 Comments

The other night we were treated to the new documentary “Advanced Style” based on the New York blog.

From the official site:
Advanced Style examines the lives of seven unique New Yorkers whose eclectic personal style and vital spirit have guided their approach to aging. Based on Ari Seth Cohen’s famed blog of the same name, this film paints intimate and colorful portraits of independent, stylish women aged 62 to 95 who are challenging conventional ideas about beauty, aging, and Western’s culture’s increasing obsession with youth.

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It’s an engaging and life affirming film about some very interesting women and how they choose to dress.

Their age is irrelevant though: these are creative people who like to express themselves, and have fun with their look. For them, it’s not about “challenging…ideas about beauty”, it’s about enjoying life.

I liked Joyce Carpati’s attitude: “I never wanted to look young. I wanted to look great.” I’m sure she didn’t wait to reach age 80 before looking fabulous, it’s a way of life for her: an elegant and classic style, she resembles an aristocratic ballet director. Inspirational. She’s like the glamourous grandmother of your dreams – ladies like Joyce used to run finishing schools for young ladies but now thanks to the internet she can inspire us all.

It’s only the young that are surprised that older people can be interesting and stylish – we get so hung up on age, but you are who you are throughout your life, only more so as you get older. You’ve had more time to experiment, to discover yourself and your strengths. You’re less scared (hopefully) of the slings and arrows of others shallow opinions.

Those who are over sixty remember what it was like to dress in the age of hats and gloves, and knew better how to put an outfit together, to dress for your figure and make the most of accessories. Perhaps they’re better educated, well travelled and have developed more life skills purely from having more time to do so?

Some of the ladies in this film are in their prime, and far too young (I thought) to be “Advanced” but the title is a respectful one, even if Ari himself seems to feel as if old age is something that happens to other people. I think it’s easy, when you’re young to feel that there’s a lot of distance between you and your elders but time passes much more quickly than you expect (or would like) and it happens to all of us, assuming we’re fortunate to live that long.

The stars of “Advanced Style” are a reminder that life goes on, and can be as rich as you wish it – they’re a diverse bunch and part of the fun for me was seeing how different they are, and how put together into a group, they’re no more likely to get along than any other bunch of strangers but they share a joy of fashion, a love of colour and texture and are happy to invite us into their world.

Madman have sent me five double passes, valid at most cinemas screening the film around Australia – to win one, please leave a comment about the older woman who inspires you the most – she can be any age, because really, I believe that style is not about age at all, but an attitude. Entries close Saturday midnight and winners will be chosen at random – good luck!

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The stars of “Advanced Style” at the New York premier, photo reproduced courtesy “Advanced Style” blog.


13
Sep
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Style icon 1 Comment

Over the last decade I’ve noticed a worrying trend – dressing down to travel.

Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t get to travel enough and it’s always a treat.

Whether it’s for work or pleasure, the way you dress affects how you feel and how you’re treated. I get that you’d like to feel comfortable, but there’s no reason why casual clothes have to be as ugly and unflattering as tracksuits or pyjamas, items which are best kept for private spaces, not public ones.

An article in Slate by J. Bryan Lowder called “Take a One-Way Trip From Tatty to Natty” has the following to say:

When we dress well for travel, we are not only making ourselves look good; we’re also signaling that we are invested in making this shared experience pleasant for everyone around us. Think of it as a kind of sartorial social contract: Honor it and your minor efforts make transit a more pleasing activity; break it, and reveal your misanthropic narcissism to, quite literally, the world. What else to call putting one’s own base comforts above the comfort of all?

Here’s some inspiration from Mad Men – now wouldn’t it brighten your day to arrive at the airport to be greeted with fellow travellers dressed so boldly? Sit me next to any of those people please.

Made Men, season seven

Back in the real world, let’s look at what Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg wore for a flight in 1968.

Gainsbourg Birkin 68

Jane looks relaxed in a short, knit dress with over the knee socks and a long coat over the top. Gold hoop ear rings and simple and fresh hair and make up – her grooming is good, her style comfortable and yet smart, showing off her best feature (thighs to die for). I’m sure she has stylish low-heeled shoes, just out of frame.

Not to be outdone, Serge has a loose suit, open necked shirt and is that a cravat I see? Lace up oxford style brogues are vastly superior to sneakers and look infinitely better whilst not relinquishing much comfort.

They’re both dressed in quality clothes that are versatile as well as photogenic. Upon arrival, they could head straight to an art gallery or cocktail bar. This is an easy look for all of us with a little thought. This look, although from almost fifty years ago still looks pretty good don’t you think?

Similar techniques are favoured in these celebrity photos from the ’50s to the ’70s – comfortable but smart clothes, lowish heels, a jacket, coat or cardigan for warmth in air conditioned cabins and good grooming and accessories.

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Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda in 1965. No wonder he fancies her.

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Brigitte Bardot in 1966. Knits are perfect for travel – I’d have my camera out too if more travellers dressed like BB.

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Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1966. Luxury glamour – Liz could have anything under that fur coat, even a tracksuit but somehow I doubt it.

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Catherine Deneuve in 1961 – scarves are the ultimate in travel accessories, versatile and fold up in your bag.

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Faye Dunaway in 1967. Product placement, vintage style.

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Grace Kelly in 1950. The perfect coat for travelling, could double as a blanket on cold flights.

Jackie 66
Jackie Kennedy in 1966. Elegant white alaskine (silk and wool) coatdress with bracelet length sleeves.

Jagger Faithfull 69
Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull in 1969. I love her faux-Victorian style button boots.

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Jerry Hall in 1979 in hand-knitted cardigan and high waisted jeans. A concord flight tag makes a good lux accessory on her overnight bag.

Shrimnpton 66
Jean Shrimpton in 1966 – just beautiful. Surely someone will offer to carry her suitcase?

All photos by Getty – image source here, where you will find more glamour airport fashion.


13
Aug
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1940s, Architecture, Style icon 1 Comment

In my ideal world, I would live at the Dakota.

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Archival image from Wikipedia, circa 1890.

Built in 1884, the seven story Victorian European style building graces New York’s upper West Side with bohemian glamour.

Originally there were 65 spacious apartments over seven floors, featuring between 4 and 20 rooms each. Above, under the rooftops were smaller rooms for servants. On the ground floor there was a large dining room where residents could either eat, or have meals sent up to their rooms via dumb waiters. Next door was a large stables (later garage) for the families who called it home.

From Wikipedia:
The general layout of the apartments is in the French style of the period, with all major rooms not only connected to each other, in enfilade, in the traditional way, but also accessible from a hall or corridor, an arrangement that allows a natural migration for guests from one room to another, especially on festive occasions, yet gives service staff discreet separate circulation patterns that offer service access to the main rooms. The principal rooms, such as parlors or the master bedroom, face the street, while the dining room, kitchen, and other auxiliary rooms are oriented toward the courtyard.

Many of the ceilings are 14 feet high (4.3m) and some of the drawing rooms were 49 feet long (15 m)!

My neighbours in the building are all creative people, including most famously John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but also Judy Garland, Boris Karloff, Lilian Gish, Rudolf Nureyev, Gilda Radna, Leonard Bernstein, Bono, Paul Simon, Rosemary Clooney and Lauren Bacall. Of course, everyone interesting who has ever lived there, would still be there regardless of time or events.

Lauren

Vale Lauren – a remarkable actress, one of the greats from the Golden Era of Hollywood. You will always be my favourite ’40s movie star.

Here’s a pic of Lauren in her Dakota apartment – photo from Vanity Fair. She’s just passed away, aged 89. She chose an excellent home.

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I first discovered the Dakota in the Polanski film “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968). The camera pans over Manhattan, Central Park and the Dakota rooftop during the opening credits and I always tune in for this wonderful view –


Click here to view if you’re reading this via email.

Here’s a shot of it covered in snow (from Wikipedia).

Dakota under snow - Wikipedia

The interiors for the film were shot in a studio but for me, this is what I expect the Dakota to look like inside – lots of dark wood and space. Hopefully a little more furniture but sacrifices must be made for a wonderful abode.

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Of course, hopefully not the sort of sacrifices that Rosemary and her husband make in the film, but I understand their devotion.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet and the enthusiasm real estate agents have for selling their properties, I can offer you some actual interior shots from an assortment of apartments – these all come from Curbed, which has a lot of information on the Dakota.

Over the years the original apartments have been split up and subdivided, and large rooms converted into multiple smaller ones – aided no doubt by all the entrances off hallways and interconnecting doors – and additional bathrooms were inserted but beneath the differing tastes in interior decoration and updated floor plans, you can see the bones of this incredible and unique building.

Let’s go inside….
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I once saw an enormous book with plans for the building, including layouts for all of the floors – they’re much changed of course, but it would be wonderful to see how it was and how it’s been altered over the years. If I ever find it again, I’ll have to buy it.

Here’s the original seventh floor:

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And here’s one of the modern day apartments: you can see how some of the large rooms have been turned into multiple smaller ones.

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When I went to New York, I was surprised at how small the building is, as it looms large in my imagination. It’s incredible though and you can’t fault the location opposite Central Park. I’m unlikely to be amongst the fortunate to call it home – even supposing that I could afford it, you also have to be approved by the board, but one day, perhaps, I’ll have a peek inside.

If you’re interested in the history of this building, I recommend the book “Life at the Dakota” by Stephen Birmingham, an excellent read. There are lots of great exterior photos at this site too.


26
Jun
2014
Posted by Nicole in 1950s, 1960s, Film, Style icon 1 Comment

Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy – one of the greatest collaborations in the history of fashion.

I’ve been treating myself to some Audrey films lately: first Sabrina, and then Charade. She’s wonderful!

I was travelling on the Metro in Paris, when I noticed the headlines: “Audrey Hepburn est morte”, so for me Audrey and Paris will always go together: I’m sure she would approve. She loved Paris, and Paris loved her – both Sabrina and Charade feature scenes in Paris and it was here that she met the young Givenchy at his first, informal fashion show. Audrey was sixteen but she didn’t forget: “when the time came and she could choose, she thought, ‘That’s the guy.’”

Audrey was impossibly slim and chic, and yet, childlike and joyous. You got the feeling that she would be enormous fun, that she didn’t take herself too seriously and that for her, dressing well was about taste and quality – and then wearing couture like it was the most natural thing in the world!

She became Givenchy’s muse and wore his designs in her films – here are some snaps I found on Pinterest. I love her style, it’s simple and elegant and uniquely Audrey. Fussy clothes would swamp her delicate frame but these allow her to shine.

She said of Givenchy “His are the only clothes in which I feel myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality.” Something tells me that Audrey had copious personality, it was Givenchy’s fashions that offered the freedom to express it.

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24
Sep
2013
Posted by Nicole in 1960s, Calendar, Exhibitions, Style icon

Recently I watched a James Bond marathon with back to back movies, starting with the first one “Dr No” and it revealed a lot about the appeal of the British secret agent.

Unfortunately I gave up once we got to the ’80s films but I’d already decided that they worked best as futuristic style porn – a fantasy world of riches and talent. I particularly enjoyed the architecture, interiors and of course – the wonderful costumes.

James Bond parties are not unheard of, and if you’re going to one I recommend for the ladies to go for a sexy but classy look: glamourous and revealing but still elegant. Emphasise one part of your body and remember that a little mystery goes a long way.

Soon the Melbourne Museum is hosting an exhibition of 50 years of Bond Style – as well as costumes, I hope to see gadgets and plenty of them, plus set designs. Hopefully a car or two – preferably the one from “The Spy Who Loved Me” that was also a submarine.

What: Designing 007
When: 1st November 2013 to 23rd February 2014, 10pm to 5pm daily (closed Christmas Day)
Where: Melbourne Museum, Exhibition Gardens.
Cost: Adult $24, Child $14, Concession $16, MV Member $14
More information here. Bookings recommended.

My favourite Bond films were the ’60s ones which were just glorious escapist confections, where anything was possible and the kitsch was unbelievable.

Here are some snaps – thankfully the latest film, Skyfall has rescued the franchise for me. Daniel Craig makes a splendid Bond and I loved Judy Dench as M. I’m going to have to go back and see some more of their work now.

Daniela Bianchi
Daniela Bianchi in “From Russia With Love”

Dianna Rigg
Diana Rigg in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

Honey Ryder
Ursula Andress in “Dr No”

Honor Blackman
Honor Blackman in “Goldfinger” managing to combine the appeal of Lauren Bacall and Jane Russell and give it a ’60s update.

You only live twice
Sean Connery and lovelies in “You Only Live Twice”.


14
Aug
2013
Posted by Nicole in Style icon

As you know, I’m looking forward to this Sunday’s Vintage Fashion Day at Labassa for the National Trust.

I’ll be joining Lady Divine Hats for what will no doubt be a great day. Lady Divine have kindly stepped in to replace the hat display that Paris Kyne was going to host, after Paris suffered a heart attack and suddenly passed away. A great shock as this talented and creative man was full of life and enthusiasm, health and energy. I saw Paris twice in his last days and still find it hard to believe that he is no longer with us.

Paris was a great supporter of the National Trust and the Costume Collection. We worked together for the past few years on the annual vintage clothing sales and the next one will be a sad occasion without him. During his short life he made a positive contribution to many people’s lives: as well as friends and family, those he dressed with his wonderful millinery creations and those he taught, as well as people like me who he collaborated with. We had talked about one day combining my vintage with his hats for an event, but it was not to be.

Here is a pic I took at his Spring Racing Carnival launch in 2011 at Madame Brussels – you can see immediately what a remarkable man he was. He is joined by one of his wonderful models.

Thank you Paris – it was a pleasure and privilege to work with you and through your teaching, your students will continue to practice your techniques and create beautiful works of art.

You always signed off your emails with “Expect to be amazed” and I love that positivity. You are loved and missed. Vale Paris.


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