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Lud, a Russian Exile, one of Horst P. Horst’s favorite Models

4 Oct
Lud by Horst P. HorstLud wearing Cartier jewels, ph. Horst P.Horst

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Lud looked, and was, solidly Russian. She had the cheekbones, the lips at once frankly sensual and playfully amused, the slightly upward slanted eyes that hinted at something distantly, fantastically oriental. Those eyes were her greatest feature, because they were different in every photo, from every angle the blue of ice one moment, the blue of warm bright gemstones the next, powerful proof of the Russian’s proverbial variety of moods.
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Lud by Horst P. HorstLud by Horst P. Horst
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Born Ludmila Feodoseyevna in St Petersburg in 1913 to a vice-governor of Vladimir province, Lud escaped with her family to the Crimea after the Bolshevik revolution, thence to Constantinople, Greece and France. In exile, Lud proved to be more than just a pretty face. While her widowed mother struggled to make ends meet, Lud took high grades at a French lycée and planned to enter university to study philology.

Fate determined a different course for Lud when the famed photographer Horst espied her delivering dresses to Vogue’s Paris studios (she got the wrong ­studio and ended up throwing it at the photographer in a temper, and became one of his favourite models) . Thus at age eighteen, Lud began what was to be a fabulous modeling career, first with the house of Countess Vera Borea, then Patou, then Chanel. She married a French marquis, and knew the delicious experience of having rivals Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel vie graspingly for her services. In 1937, wearing a draped white gown from Alix  (Madame Grès) and posed like some lethally beautiful Medea between fluted columns, Lud was photographed by Horst in what Alexandre Vassiliev  (writer of ‘Beauty in Exile’) describes as “one of the immortal images of twentieth century fashion.”

Alix Dress, Lud, 1938 Horst P HorstLud in Alix (Madame Grès) Dress, by Horst P Horst, 1937
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We all know beauty and wealth do not guarantee happiness, but the gods sought to use Lud to press the point home. First her marriage to the marquis failed; she married again, to a naval engineer, and began to appear in films. She left France for a time, living first in Argentina and later in the United States, and her second marriage broke up. By the time she returned to France in the early 50’s and began working for Balenciaga, she sensed that somehow her sun had set. There were financial woes, brought on by her unflagging addiction to high living. She ended up taking a job at the Slenderella beauty institute, earning some cash on the side by singing in the chorus of the Paris Opéra. In 1959, the once glorious Lud was living in the resort town of Le Touquet, where the only work she could find was as an airport clerk. When that job ended, she found a new position, as head of curriculum at a private school, and when that job ended, Lud was hired as director of a home for aged Russians, where among the charges she oversaw was another faded Russian model, Princess Maria Eristova. Still, there was a little happiness for Lud at the end: in 1982, she married a childhood friend, Pierre de la Grandière, and lived with him in the French Alps until her death from cancer in 1990.

Lud in more photographs by Horst

Ludmila Feodoseyeva aka Lud in Chanel 1937 Ivory cuff bracelet by Verdura Photo by Horst P. HorstModeling a Chanel dress & Ivory cuff bracelet by Verdura, 1937
Schiaparelli hat modeled by Lud photograph by Horst 1946Moddeling a Schiaparelli hat 
Lud by Horst P. Horst
Ludmila Feodoseyeva (aka Lud), 1937
Lud by Horst P. Horst
Lud by Horst P. Horst

In describing her mother, Lud’s daughter also gives a fair account of most of the other artistic Russian émigrés. Lud feared nothing and no one, remembered her daughter, never hesitating to sail a boat out onto a stormy lake or take a stroll through a crime-ridden Paris purlieu. Lud was in love with living: “She was the daughter of Epicurus”.

Life for Lud, and indeed, for most of the Russian exiles living in Europe or Great Britain, America northern or southern, was far more colorful and probably far more blessed with longevity than it would have been had they or their parents remained in Soviet Russia. Thanks to Alexandre Vassiliev’s  study of just where these many-colored threads began and ended, we can know that there was, after all, a future for them.

1937 Paris Vogue cover. Lud by Horst P. Horst1937 Paris Vogue cover ph. by Horst P. Horst
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Lud was once described as “a lethally beautiful Medea”.

It is said that she cut off parts of her breasts and thighs to make her figure the perfect silhouette for Horst photographs! Prove of this cannot be found…..


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Book

Bookcover

Beauty in Exile

The Artists, Models, and Nobility who Fled the Russian Revolution and Influenced the World of Fashion

by Alexander Vassiliev

http://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Exile-Nobility-Revolution-Influenced/dp/0810957019

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The Russian model Lud, a favorite of Horst 1939 photographer unknown.Lud in 1939, photographer unknown

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Info:

http://www.vassiliev.com/review.htm

http://dianesmakeup.com/horsts-very-modern-muse/

Marianne Faithfull, the Original Rock Chic (Part One)

5 Oct

Marianne Faithfull

 Marianne Faithfull is one of the Sixties’ greatest fashion icons and the original rock chic.

Once every so often along comes a genuine style icon – someone with such originality and flare that they capture the attention of millions. A lot of younger girls (and boys) think Kate Moss invented the boho style, but it’s the wardrobe of Marianne Faithfull that originated this style. Marianne Faithfull’s life and wardrobe have made her a cultural phenomenon.

 marianne faithful

Short Biography

Marianne Evelyn Gabriel Faithfull, daughter of Eva, the Baroness Erisso, and Major Glynn Faithfull, a WWII British spy, was born on 29 December, 1946 in London. She was a bright, fashionable and lively teenager, who plunged in the London social scene. In 1964, barely 16, she began to take on gigs as a folk music performer in coffee houses.

Her career really began when she attended a Rolling Stones launch party and was discovered by Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Her first major release, As Tears Go By, was, in fact, written by Andrew Loog Oldham, Mick Jagger and  Keith Richards. More hit records followed, including Summer Nights and This Little Bird.

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Marianne seemed to have it all, an instant career and she married John Dunbar on 6 May, 1965, with whom she got son Nicholas on 10 November the same year. But turmoil was on its way. Marianne fell in love with Mick Jagger and left her husband. Years later she told journalists:  ‘My first move was to get a Rolling Stone as a boyfriend. I slept with three and decided the lead singer was the best bet.’

The start of her affair with Mick Jagger was also the start of Marianne’s use of drugs. The glamorous couple became a notorious component of the London Swinging scene.

 
Marianne with the stones
 Marianne & the Stones 
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Marianne & Mick Jagger

Faithfull & Jagger

Jagger, Faithfull & Delon

Jagger & Faithfull

Jagger & Faithfull

Mick Jagger & Marianne Faithfull (7)

Jagger & Faithfull

Faithfull & Jagger

Scandal

Marianne was found wearing only a fur rug by police executing a drug search at Keith Richards’ house in West Wittering, Sussex. In an interview 27 years later for Details, she discussed her wilder days and admitted that the drug bust fur rug incident was devastating to her personal life: ‘It destroyed me. To be a male drug addict and to act like that is always enhancing and glamorising. A woman in that situation becomes a slut and a bad mother’.

In 1968, now addicted to cocaine, she miscarried a daughter before ending her relationship with Jagger and losing custody of her son in 1970 – an incident which caused her mother to attempt suicide. Together with her personal life her career spiraled into a failure. She only made a few appearances, including a 1973 performance at NBC with David Bowie, singing Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe”.

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 She lived on London’s Soho streets for two years, suffering from heroin addiction and anorexia nervosa. In 1971, producer Mike Leander found her on the streets and made an attempt to revive her career, producing part of her album Rich Kid Blues. The album would take until 1985 for it to be appreciated.

Speaking of this time she’s astonished that she managed to survive: ‘It’s very, very strange to think about it. It was such a degraded moment, to live on a wall and shoot drugs’.

‘It was complete anonymity. I wanted to disappear – and I did. I wanted out. I wanted out of that world. It’s not that I didn’t love Mick, or I didn’t love the people in my life. I did. But I wasn’t cut out for all that. I certainly wasn’t cut out – although it is a great honour – to be a muse. It is a very hard job.’

Marianne the Muse & Fashion Icon

Singer Marianne Faithfull blows smoke from her mouth as she poses in a dress by Ossie Clark in 1973.Marianne Faithfull wearing Ossie Clark dress
-Marianne-Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull

Marianne faithfull
 
Marianne Faithfull wearing Ossie ClarkMarianne wearing famous Ossie Clark snakeskin jacket 
Marianne Faithfull
 
Marianne Faithfull

Her career restored in full force in 1979 with the album Broken English, one of her most praised albums. It was partially influenced by the punk explosion and her marriage to Ben Brierly of the punk band the Vibrators. A severe laryngitis, together with constant cocaine abuse, permanently changed Marianne’s voice, leaving it cracked and deeper in tone. While her new sound was praised as “whisky soaked” by some critics, a journalist of the Sunday Times, wrote that she had “permanently vulgarised her voice”.

Since then, Marianne Faithfull produced many records, appeared in movies and collaborated with famous photographers (pictures published in the Part Two)

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Movies

Aside from her successful singing career, she also enjoyed success as an actress. In 1967 she starred in the film I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘is Name, in which she was the first ever to say the F-word in a movie. A year later, she amassed a cult following as the leather-clad motorcyclist in the French film The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968). After minor appearances in film and television in the 1970s, followed by a fourteen year hiatus, she made appearances as “God” in the adored and well received British-comedy series Absolutely Fabulous (1992). And in Sofia Coppola’s, Marie Antoinette (2006). Marianne played the part of Empress Maria Theresa. A year later, she starred in the film Irina Palm (2007), she played the central role of Maggie, a 60-year-old widow who becomes a sex worker to pay for medical treatment for her ill grandson. Her performance in the film was nominated a European Film Award for Best Actress.

Marie Antoinette

Marianne Faithfull, mother Marie AntoinetteMarianne Faithfull as the mother of Marie Antoinette, Empress Maria Theresa 
Marie-AntoinetteSofia Coppola & Marianne Faithful  

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The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968). A must see for all lovers of 1960s cult and retro British cinema.

Absolutely Fabulous

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New Book

Bookcover

 Book description

A tribute to the life and work of one of the great musical icons of the twentieth century, reflected through the lenses of the world’s greatest photographers. Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the release in 1964 of her groundbreaking debut single “As Tears Go By,” this is the definitive book on Faithfull, one of the most beloved singers of the twentieth century. As a folk singer in London, Marianne Faithfull was discovered in a coffeehouse in 1964 by the manager of the Rolling Stones. Over the five decades since, her work as a musician, her performances as an actress on stage and screen, and her presence as an icon of style have made Faithfull an undisputed icon of pop culture. Edited by the artist herself, with accompanying handwritten captions, this book represents a personal collection of images that tell the stories of her life—from her explosive success in London in the 1960s and her infamous relationships with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, to her rise as an actress and her collaborations with artists as diverse as David Bowie and Nick Cave. Including never-before-seen snapshots from Faithfull’s collection, specially commissioned photographs of her home in Paris, and iconic images by many of the world’s best-known photographers—Steven Meisel, David Bailey, and Anton Corbijn, among many others—this is a revealing celebration of an extraordinary life in popular culture

Official website Marianne Faithfull: http://www.mariannefaithfull.org.uk

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Info: http://www.dailymail.co.uk, http://www.queensofvintage.com/marianne-faithful-vintage-style-muse/, Wikipedia

Veruschka in perhaps the Most Epic Fashion Story

13 Jul
The Great Fur Caravan
Veruschka, Richard Avedon & Polly Mellen
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In 1966 Vogue did something extraordinary: a team was to Japan in the middle of winter to shoot perhaps the most epic fashion story of all time. The editorial was pre- PETA and it was dedicated to the beauty of furs. 

This editorial is often credited to Diana Vreeland, who was the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief at the time, but actually the editor on this story was Polly Mellen. It was one of her first assignments for Vogue and she set about on the five-week trip to Japan with supermodel Veruschka and legendary photographer Richard Avedon.

Fifteen trunks of clothes are hauled into the snow-covered mountains. Hairstylist Ara Gallant creates a wig eight feet long for Veruschka; Vreeland’s response when she sees the wig is, “I want 20 feet!”

The Great Fur Caravan, 1966

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan. A Fashion Adventure Starring the Girl in the Fabulous Furs Photographed for Vogue in the Strange Secret Snow Country of Japan…” took up a whopping 26 pages in the October 1966 issue. The Girl character was first introduced in the January 1963 issue as an idealized version of Diane Vreeland, sort of a dreamer, an adventurer. In Japan, the Girl takes a first class train to the middle of nowhere, where she explores the glorious snow mountains in her “fabulous” furs, and eventually falls in love with a gentle Japanese giant. It’s not like the story needed to make a lot of sense. It was dreamy and fantastical, and the type of travel story that Vreeland liked to entertain Vogue readers with. “The eye has to travel,” she famously said. Years later, Avedon remarked, “it’s without content. It’s without any meaning in it. It’s just this exquisite creature. Diana imagined her walking through the snows of Japan.”

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

The Great Fur Caravan

 

The story is rumoured to have cost $1 million dollars back in the day — that would be equal to $7 million today. But that’s how legends are made.

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The Blitz Club, Music & Fashion Revolution in the 80ties

1 Jun
visage
Steve Strange
 

Steve Strange was born in 1959 in New Bridge, South Wales as Steven Harrington. He moved to London as a teenager and became active in the punk movement. He hung out in the scene known as The Bromley Contingent, which included acts such as the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie Sioux, and Billy Idol. He worked with Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls. The Punk movement helped free creativity and allowed people to express their look through fashion and music.

But eventually, Steve Strange found that Punk was starting to be perceived as unoriginal and that Nazi Punk created a negative political statement. Looking for a way out in 1978, he originally created The Photons.  But he knew The Photons were not going to be a successful band and hated the bright multi-colored suits they wore. When the band The Rich Kids were splitting up and weren’t intending to use the rest of their studio time at EMI, Strange jumped at the chance to get in there and record, which is how Visage started.

The sound was new, and pioneered electronic music. “Fade to Grey” was the band’s first release and most acknowledged song.  The video was extremely low budget.  Trying to come up with a creative idea that would have lots of impact, Strange shaved his body hair and painted himself silver.  A hand-painted snake with glittering scales had the effect of coming to life and turning into Strange.  The crew worked for 36 hours straight on the video to get all the looks and changes.  When it was time to remove the make up and paint, painful Brillo pads were used.

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The first club night that Steve Strange started was a Tuesday night at Billy’s in Soho, London.  This is where the first of the New Romantics hung out, a branch of the New Wave movement.  Strange created an environment of creativity with hairdressers, art students, budding designers and eclectic club kids.

In 1979, he moved his “private party” to the shabby Blitz wine bar off Covent Garden. Outrage secured entry. Inside, precocious 19-year-olds presented an eye-stopping collage, posing away in wondrous ensembles, emphatic make-up and in-flight haircuts that made you feel normality was a sin. Hammer Horror met Rank starlet. Here was Lady Ample Eyefull, there Sir Gesting Sharpfellow, lads in breeches and frilly shirts, white stockings and ballet pumps, girls as Left Bank whores or stiletto-heeled vamps dressed for cocktails in a Berlin cabaret, wicked witches, kohl-eyed ghouls, futuristic man machines.

 

Steve Strange
 Steve Strange, ph. Janette Beckman
 
Gods of the Blitz George O’Dowd and Stephen Linard at the Spandau Ballet concert in Heaven, Dec 29, 1980. Both became international icons, one as popstar, the other as fashion designer, both eagerly devoured in Japan.
The Blitz club
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.“The Blitz ruled people’s lives. Exactly that,” says Stephen Jones, then making hats at St Martin’s School of Art. “A nightclub inspired absolute devotion of the kind previously reserved for a pop idol. I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real.”

Shrouding any pleasure in ritual magnifies its intensity and the Blitz was all ritual. Everyone supped and danced on the same spot every week according to some invisible floorplan: downstairs near the bar stood the boys in the band (no make-up), their media and management by the stairs, credible punk legends such as Siouxsie Sioux along the bar, suburban wannabes beside the dancefloor. Deep within the club, around Rusty Egan’s DJ booth, were the dedicated dancing feet, the white-faced shock troops, the fashionista elite – either there or near the cloakroom, ruled first by Julia Fodor (still going strong as DJ Princess Julia) and later by George O’Dowd (less strong today as ex-jailbird Boy George). Downstairs, the women’s loo was hijacked, naturally, by boys who would be girls. Upstairs on the railway banquettes might be respected alumni from an earlier London: film-maker Derek Jarman, artists Brian Clarke and Kevin Whitney, designers Antony Price and Zandra Rhodes.

 George O’Dowd a.k.a. Boy George

Boy George , rightBoy George (right) 
154c293af64d73594ddeaa72be8c30b5
Boy George (middle) 
Boy George

No longer a weekly secret society, the Blitz became a publicity machine for the pose age. Attendance became a statement of intent – to lead a life of style seven days a week. When Bowie visited the Blitz he hauled away four of the kids to strut with his pierrot through the video for Ashes to Ashes. It earned each of them £50, helped Bowie to No 1 and launched a fad for Judi Frankland’s ankle-length liturgical robes (inspired, she says, by the nuns in The Sound of Music). Steve Strange helped launch the careers of many artists in the early 80’s through The Blitz Club.  These acts included Depeche Mode, Boy George, Spandau Ballet, Soft Cell, Human League and Duran Duran.  Not since the Beatles had British pop music dominated the charts this strongly in America. With the birth of music videos, MTV brought fashion and music together for the first time in history in a 24 hour format.  . . If you recast the 80s as a subcultural timeline, the decade actually spanned six years. They began in June 1978 when David Bowie’s world tour hit the UK and ended with Do They Know It’s Christmas? in December 1984, when Band Aid confirmed rival groups who had risen on the same wave as a new pop establishment. As clubs became workplaces and nightlife the essential engine of cultural evolution, they liberated music, design and, especially, ambition. In 1978, London offered only one hip club a week; by 1984 Time Out magazine was listing 50, while the British Tourist Authority reported that dancing was a serious reason visitors gave for visiting the UK. London Transport rolled out a whole network of night buses. .

Blitz style/ Blitz kids

Scarlet

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a89d6b6f60fa7bed6cd05558b816be86

Blitz kids at Bowie Night

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John Galliano & Blitz

john-galliano

Fallen Angel suit

john_galliano ‘My fashion has been a constant evolution of ideas… All that experimental cutting led me to understand precisely how a jacket had been put together in the past; how to put it together correctly in the present and then, from that, I was led to dismantle it and reassemble it in a way that would point to the future.’ Galliano’s final year collection at St Martin’s School of Art was influenced by French revolutionary dress. But, like many art school students, Galliano also found inspiration in London’s night life. ‘The club scene fed me… Being with other creative people like Boy George was a crucial experience for me.’ .

Sketch for Levi Strauss & Co.

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In 1986, BLITZ magazine commissioned 22 designers to customise denim jackets provided by Levi Strauss & Co. Fashion Editor Iain R. Webb recalled, ‘The magazine gave us a stage on which to present our version of the world, an alternative way of looking at fashion… The pages of BLITZ were intended to inspire readers to experiment with fashion rather than go shopping’.

1984  John Galliano graduated show from St Martin

 
 1984, John Galliano graduation show from St Martin
1984 85 Galliano show
1984 -85 Galliano show
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Joseph Jumper

Joseph Jumper

Joseph Ettedgui founded the chain of Joseph boutiques in London in 1977, stocking innovative designers such as Katharine Hamnett, John Galliano and BodyMap. He also created the Joseph Tricot knitwear label.

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Stay Alive in 85

4_t-shirt_katherine_hamnett_1984_1000px (1) Katharine Hamnett was one of the most well known designers of the 1980s. She pioneered the vogue for stylish, casual clothing made in crumpled cottons, parachute silks and stonewashed and stretch denim. Her designs were often based on utilitarian boiler suits and army fatigues. In 1984, Hamnett caused a sensation at a fashion reception hosted by Margaret Thatcher by wearing a T-shirt that read, ‘58% Don’t Want Pershing’. Hamnett was protesting against the controversial siting of US Pershing missiles in the UK. Her T-shirts were a platform for her anti-war and Green politics.   .

‘BLITZ’ Denim jackets by Levi Strauss & Co

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BLITZ magazine commissioned Leigh Bowery to customise this denim jacket in 1986. It has fringes created from hundreds of golden hair grips, making the jacket extremely heavy.
 
Leigh BoweryLeigh Bowery
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‘Blitz’ denim jacket customised by Vivienne Westwood, 1986
 
Vivienne Westwood Viviënne Westwood
 
 
 
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Bodymap: Shaping the 1980s

Amidst the colourful extravagance of 1980s fashion, one label in particular stood out thanks to their pioneering approach to making and showing their creations: BodyMap. 

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BLITZ: A History, and the Tale of 22 Jackets

In July 1986, era-defining style magazine BLITZ published an issue featuring images of 22 Levi’s denim jackets that had been customised by some of the world’s most lauded designers – Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano and Katherine Hamnett among them. 

BLITZ founder and publisher Carey Labovitch and the magazine’s fashion editor, Iain R. Webb speak about the thrills of setting the magazine up, its unique editorial approach and give us the full story behind the designer denim jacket project.

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Book

http://www.amazon.com/As-Seen-BLITZ-Fashioning-Style/dp/1851497234/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401285686&sr=1-4&keywords=Blitz .  “Like the lightning in its name, it struck us in 1980 and kept us spellbound the whole decade. ‘Too fast to live, too young to die’, that is BLITZ for me. Every month we would run to the news stand to be ‘BLITZed’ with irreverent, glamorous, chic and iconic images. BLITZ was Iain R. Webb’s brainchild that corresponded perfectly to the era; it was one of its best expressions. He used emblematic faces that were so inspiring, and that I used for my shows, like Martine Houghton, who later became a photographer. BLITZ, we miss you but we are ready for your attack again!” Jean Paul Gaultier In London at the start of the 1980s, three new style magazines emerged to define an era. It was a time of change: after Punk, before the digital age, and at the dawn of a hedonistic club scene that saw the birth of the New Romantics. On the pages of BLITZ, The Face and i-D, a new breed of young iconoclasts hoped to inspire revolution. As BLITZ magazine’s fashion editor from 1982-87, Iain R. Webb was at the center of this world. His images manipulated fashion to explore ideas of transformation, beauty, glamor and sex. The magazine’s arresting, subversive fashion pages, and its profiles of disparate designers and creative types, let the imagination run free. Lavishly presented here are over 100 BLITZ fashion stories, with previously-unseen archive content, original images and tear-sheets. A separate section features original BLITZ interviews with the key designers, and there is also a vast amount of completely new material: Iain R. Webb has gathered the memories of those involved into a gripping oral history of an under-documented time. Characters and contributors include: Leigh Bowery, Amanda Cazalet, Boy George, Princess Julia, Nick Knight, David LaChapelle, Paul Morley and Anna Piaggi. Featured designers include Bodymap, Judy Blame, Dean Bright, Comme Des Garçons, Jasper Conran, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Katharine Hamnett, Hermès, Pam Hogg, Marc Jacobs, Stephen Jones, Calvin Klein, Andrew Logan, Issey Miyake, Franco Moschino, Vivienne Westwood, and many more. .     BlitzSteve&Rusty2011a

 Steve Strange and Rusty Egan, partners in the Blitz Club, (2009)

. . info: V&A museum site, http://www.theblitzclub.com,  David Johnson for The Observer &  Nancy Black  for http://www.thefashionspot.com  (STEVE STRANGE, STYLE ICON PART 1 and 2)  

Adel Rootstein changed the Face of the Mannequin

18 May

 

vintage rootstein couple

vintage Rootstein mannequin couple
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Rewind to the early 1950’s, when a young Adel Rootstein immigrated to London from South Africa (born in Warmbaths, 1930) to discover the city’s fashion scene in the midst of a glamorous post-WWII revival – a creative wave that would later make way for the likes of Mary Quant, Jean Muir, Ossie Clarke and Barbara Hulanicki’s BIBA. As a window dresser at Aquascutum, Adel grew tired of the faceless forms that stared back at her from under the label’s elegant trench coats. What use were beautiful garments, she thought, if you have only bland and featureless dummies upon which to admire them? Unbeknownst to Adel this question, born of boredom, would dictate her life’s work.

“Adel lived and died in Jean Muir and Mary Quant,” exclaims Kevin Arpino of his late employer, who he describes as a glamorous fixture of the London fashion set, a woman whose personal sense of style and panache remains embedded in the lifeblood of the company. As Adel’s successor after her death in 1992, Kevin has seen over three decades at Rootstein’s London and New York offices, and even turned down Stephen Jones for a position in the makeup department in 1979! Just as well, perhaps?

Twiggy and her mannequin by Rootstein

Twiggy and her mannequin by Rootstein
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“Adel started her company making wigs for windows in her Earl’s Court apartment,” explains Kevin, ushering me through a hallway of partially painted faces above the company’s sleek salon showroom. “She was really breaking boundaries in those days. Her idea was to bring to life the models that were selling clothes in the magazines”. The first model to be sculpted live by her lifelong employee John Taylor in 1968 was a girl called ‘Imogen’ – a slender, exotic figure whose significance has become somewhat lost amongst the bevy of top models Rootstein has since immortalized in fiberglass, plaster and oils. It was Twiggy who put Rootstein truly on the fashion map. “Having a mannequin made is good luck for a model,” says Kevin, “It’s slightly Dorian Gray I think. For us it is more about choosing people who epitomize the time”

Luna Donyale

Donyale Luna, the first notable African American fashion model and cover girl, was also the first African American to have a mannequin created in her likeness. It was produced in 1967 by the leading mannequin manufacturer, Adel Rooststen, as a follow-up to their famous Twiggy mannequin of 1966.
Michael and China Chow with an Adel Rootstein mannequin of Tina Chow in a 1973 printed chiffon evening gown with satin sash by Zandra Rhodes, 1975
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Michael and China Chow with an Adel Rootstein mannequin od Tina Chow in a printed chiffon evening dress by Zandra Rhodes, 1973
 
 
 
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Since Twiggy, countless beauties have stood before Rootstein’s sculptors (for hours and days at a time), their sizes and body shapes fluctuating with the trends – from Pat Cleveland, Violetta Sanchez and Joan Collins in the early days through to a young Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss and more recently the flame-haired Canadian beauty Coco Rocha. Their replicas form series comprised of various figures and poses, which are then dressed and displayed for sale in the New York and London showrooms twice a year.

Pat ClevelandPat Cleveland mannequin joancollinsJoan Collins mannequin jerry hallJerry Hall mannequin linda evangelistaLinda Evangelista mannequin  (comment from JP:  the Linda Evangelista head is not by Rootstein. Linda was made by an artist/fant and placed on a Rootstein body)
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Aside from their famous faces, like any savvy fashion designer Rootstein have a commercial collection too – from mannequins with various heel heights to those in reclining or seated poses, glamorous gestural mannequins and more somber styles. All must be considered when working with a solid, fixed form upon which to showcase the dynamic trends of any given era. “I think that the mannequin, when used properly, can give off a very strong image but unfortunately the people who know how to do that are a dying breed,” says Kevin, who labels the mannequin business as a ‘cottage industry’.

Even so, today Rootstein’s regular clients include designers from Tom Ford, Lanvin and Ralph Lauren to high street giants like Zara and department stores from Harvey Nichols to Bergdorf Goodman and the Galeries Lafayette. They’ve worked on exhibitions with the Costume Institute of the Met since the 70’s, including none other than Diana Vreeland’s iconic Yves Saint Laurent retrospective and her Ballets Russes show. Photographers too have entertained a veritable love affair with Rootstein’s static beauties, a fact Kevin is quick to demonstrate with a wall of black and white photographs signed by the two legends. “Helmut Newton loved mannequins, and photographed many of ours. He was obsessed with them and used to collect them. Also David Bailey. We have made mannequins of all his wives!”

Catherine DyerCatherine Dyer, fourth and recent wife of David Bailey, with mannequin. ph. David Bailey
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All well and good, you may be thinking, but where does one find Stephen Jones amidst Rootstein’s particular cave of wonders? Firstly, Kevin explains, Stephen often makes hats for Rootstein’s showrooms. “When I phone and say ‘I need four hats in two weeks’ he’ll say ‘Oh that’s nothing dear, John (Galliano) used to give me a day!’” Secondly, and despite Stephen’s failed interview back in ‘79, the answer still lies in the makeup room, just upstairs past the wigs.

“The people who work here are artists, not makeup artists,” explains Kevin, of the team of six artisans in their makeup division who, under the watchful guise of head artists John Davis & Judith Fain, apply delicate oil paints to the finished mannequins in a four-day process which includes painting, drying, over-painting and eyelash application. “You may get an order of fifty mannequins and have five artists doing the same makeup. John’s job is to make them all uniform, he’s what you call an overpainter.”

Rootstein Biba.

Rootstein mannequin for Biba

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In terms of styles and limitations, “We can do anything,” Kevin regales, “We’ve been inspired by Biba for decades – in fact the next season we’re doing very Biba petrol blue eyes. Actually Barbara (Hulanicki) came in here when she was working on her book recently. Adel originally did all the 1930’s heads for her shops. Barbara was fascinated, and so chuffed”.

Despite recent trends for faceless mannequins somewhat detracting from Rootstein’s demand for made-up faces, new commissions have had the division working overtime – including last year’s worldwide takeover of Louis Vuitton by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, a project that saw the luxury house’s window displays overrun with white tentacles and mannequins (including one of the artist herself) covered in red polka dots. “Every dot had to be in the right position. That was art, you know,” muses Kevin.

Yayoi Kusama

Louis Vuitton window Selfridges London Yayoi Kusama spots

Yayoi Kusama mannequin for Louis Vuitton
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Stephen Jones himself commissioned a bevy of busts and heads for an installation last November, when Mrs. Prada took over the Café Royal on London’s Regent Street for her 3-day women’s club called “The Miu Miu”. Charged with decorating the halls of the 3-level interior and one window (the second was offered to another British icon, Dame Vivienne Westwood), Stephen crafted three swirling vortex headpieces that grew out of glossy pink busts, each adorned with an assortment of Miu Miu’s sunglasses, bags and shoes. For the window he turned Mrs. Prada’s skirts upside down as headdresses on the floating heads of Rootstein models like Erin O’Connor, Jade Parfitt and Yasmin Le Bon. “Three weeks before Stephen came in and said ‘You’re going to hate this dear, but what can you do?’” recalls Kevin.

 Stephen Jones for Café Royal, commissioned by Murcia Prada

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“I just love the fact that Stephen is so hands-on,” he enthuses, winding up my tour by bestowing upon Mr. Jones a compliment that clearly reflects his own ardent dedication – not to mannequins or hats, or even fashion itself – but to the weird and wonderful labyrinth and the artisans over which he presides.

 Agyness Deyn mannequin by RootsteinAgyness Deyn mannequin
Jade-ParfittJade Parfitt and her mannequin

Coco RochaCoco Rocha and her mannequin
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Text by Dan Thawley
This article originally appeared in A Magazine Curated By Stephen Jones
Kevin-Arpino

“Mannequins have been around an awfully long time. They date back to the 1850s if not before. When Adel Rootstein came along in the 60’s she brought youth culture into mannequins, because before – they looked like your mum.”

Kevin Arpino
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