Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dress of the Day - May 8, 2012

Madame Grès, cocktail dress, ca. 1960

Madame Grès is one of my most featured designers on Dress of the Day. Famous for intricate draping and absolute integrity of craftsmanship, Grès identified with the sari during her visit to India in the 1950s. She recognized in the sari an emphasis on the quality, texture, and color of the fabric, and the use of draping as the key styling tool as well as the source of meaning in the garment.

In this dress, the gold-bordered and fringed fabric is draped on the bias and wrapped over the shoulder in keeping with most traditional Indian styles of sari. But the dress fits in with 1960s cocktail length, and the overall sense of naturalness and freedom are also characteristic of the decade.

From the Metropolitan Museum collection

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dress of the Day, May 3, 2012: Cecil Beaton / My Fair Lady

Yesterday, quite by chance, I caught the beginning of My Fair Lady on television. As happens whenever I glimpse one of my favorite films, I was hooked. Three hours later, I had cried and laughed and marvelled again at the perfection of this great production - music and lyrics and acting and costumes. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical rendition of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady (1964) stars Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison in a brilliant cast including Wilfrid Hyde White, Stanley Holloway, and one of my favorites, Gladys Cooper.

Cecil Beaton's costumes are breathtaking, not only for Audrey Hepburn's Eliza Doolittle but for a large cast in ensemble scenes such as Ascot and the embassy ball. The fashion design is a sumptuous evocation of late Victorian and Edwardian fashion with a whimsical twist.

Here is the famous Ascot gown in the dazzling scene in which Beaton dresses the women in all black and white and the men in dove gray (except Professor Henry Higgins).

At the embassy ball, Audrey Hepburn is stunning in a neo-classical gown, simple in form with beaded embellishments. Gladys Cooper, playing Henry Higgins's mother, is also in a Grecian gown and hairstyle.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Excitement at Whole Foods

Something very unusual happened today. While shopping at Whole Foods, the power went out in the store. The staff swung into action to protect the items that need to be kept cold, wrapping plastic around the raw meat cases. The cash registers operate on battery so we were able to check out and leave. In all the commotion we forgot rosemary for roasted chicken and potatoes but when we went back, the store had closed. I can't think of anything sadder than a power outage at Whole Foods.

The fellow doing check out was wearing this pin. Naturally when I saw it I thought it said "composing" not "composting." I commented on this and he gave his pin to me.