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Salvatore Ferragamo, searching for ‘shoes which fit perfectly’

7 Jul

Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo was one of the most influential footwear designers of the 20th century, providing Hollywood’s glitterati with unique hand-made designs

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Salvatore Ferragamo was born, the eleventh of fourteen children, in 1898 in Bonito, a village about 100 kilometres from Naples. After making his first pair of shoes when he was only 9, for her sister to wear on her confirmation, young Salvatore decided that he had found his calling.  He studied  shoemaking in Naples for a year, and opened a small store based in his parent’s home. In 1914, Salvatore emigrated to Boston, where one of his brothers worked in a cowboy boot factory. Salvatore was fascinated by the modern machinery and working procedures but at the same time saw its quality limitations  After a brief stint at the factory, Salvatore convinced his brother to move to California, first Santa Barbara then Hollywood. In the early Twenties he moved to Santa Barbara, California, to join another brother. It was here that Salvatore found success, initially opening a shop for repair and made-to-measure shoes, which soon became prized items among celebrities of the day, leading to a long period of designing footwear for the cinema.
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Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

Greta Garbo

Garbo & ferragamo

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Marilyn Monroe famous movie scene in Salvatore Ferragamo heels

Marilyn Monroe

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California was a dreamland in those years . For more than 30 years he shod the whole galaxy, from Lillian Gish in the first silent films to Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch. Greta Garbo purchased 70 pairs of shoes in one visit to the shop in Florence. One of his most celebrated pieces are Dorothy’s ruby slippers for the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile Salvatore himself, in his constant search for ‘shoes which fit perfectly’ studied human anatomy, chemical engineering and mathematics at university in Los Angeles. When the movie industry moved to Hollywood, Salvatore  followed. In 1923 he opened the ‘Hollywood Boot Shop’, which marked the start of his career as ‘shoemaker to the stars’, as he was defined by the local press. His success was such that he couldn’t keep pace with the orders, but American labour wasn’t capable of making the shoes Salvatore wanted and in 1927 he decided to return to Italy, to Florence, a city traditionally rich in skilled craftsmanship.
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Salvatore Ferragamo
Ferragamo Workshop
Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore

From his Florentine workshop – in which he adapted production line techniques to the specialised and strictly manual operations of his own workers – he launched a constant stream of exports to the States. Then came the great crisis of 1929, which brusquely interrupted relations with the American market, and the firm had to close. Salvatore didn’t not lose heart however, turning his energies instead to the national market. By 1936 business was going so well he started renting two workshops and a shop in Palazzo Spini Feroni, in via Tornabuoni. These were years of economic sanctions against Mussolini’s Italy and it was in this period that Salvatore turned out some of his most popular and widely-imitated creations, such as the strong but light cork wedges. Cork, needlepoint, lace, hemp, wood, metal wire, raffia, felt,  glass-like synthetic resins  cellophane and raffia, – he even tried fishskin- were among the innovative materials that Salvatore used to creatively replace the leather and steel which trade restrictions prevented him from using.

 Ferragamo FamilyFerragamo family
Neiman Marcus Award (Salvatore second from left, Christian Dior standing at the right side)
1947 Ferragamo Dior

On the strength of his success, in 1938 Salvatore was in a position to pay the first instalment for the purchase of the entire Palazzo Spini Feroni, which has been Company headquarters ever since. In 1940 he married Wanda Miletti, the young daughter of the local doctor in Bonito, who had followed him to Florence and who was to bear him six children, three sons (Ferruccio, Leonardo and Massimo) and three daughters (Fiamma, Giovanna and Fulvia). In the post-war period, all over the world the shoes of Salvatore Ferragamo became a symbol of Italy’s reconstruction, through design and production. These were years of memorable inventions: the metal-reinforced stiletto heels made famous by Marilyn Monroe, gold sandals, and the invisible sandals with uppers made from nylon thread (which in 1947 were to win Salvatore the prestigious ‘Neiman Marcus Award’, the Oscar of the fashion world, awarded for the first time to a footwear designer).

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Cage heel 

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Greta Garbo shoe by Ferragamo

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When Salvatore Ferragamo died in 1960 he had realised the great dream of his life: to create and produce the most beautiful shoes in the world. His family was left the task of carrying on and fulfilling the plan that Salvatore had nurtured in his final years: transforming Ferragamo into a great fashion house.

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Salvatore Ferragamo was always recognized as a visionary, and his designs ranged from the strikingly bizarre objet d’art to the traditionally elegant, often serving as the main inspiration to other footwear designers of his time and beyond.

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Dorothy’s ruby slippers for the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz

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“A bikini is not a bikini unless it can be pulled through a wedding ring.”

2 Jun

ursula andress

This bikini made me a success.”

 Ursula Andress

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The History of the Bikini

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The history of the bikini begins far before the official introduction of the bikini swimsuit in the summer of 1946. Some historians believe that the bikini may have been one of the first public swimming costumes in existence. Drawing evidence from 300 A.D. Roman mosaics, historians point to the bikini as the swimsuit of choice for ancient Roman women. The history of the bikini, however, may begin nearly 2000 years sooner than even ancient Rome! Minoan wall paintings from approximately 1600 B.C. also depict women wearing the seemingly quite popular two-piece bathing costume.

The official history of the bikini, under that name, begins in the summer of 1946, just one year after the tumultuous end of World War II. During that summer, as France was seeking to recover from the dreadful effects of the war, two French designers almost simultaneously created and marketed the bikini swimsuit. Barely leading the charge, Jacques Heim, a fashion designer and beach shop owner in the French resort town of Cannes, introduced his swimsuit creation, the “Atome,” early in the summer of 1946. The swimsuit was named the Atome because of its miniscule size (as compared to the then smallest known particle of matter, the atom). Heim intended to sell his swimsuit in his beach shop. To drum up business and increase awareness of the new swimsuit, Heim sent skywriters high above the Cannes sky, proclaiming the new Atome to be “the world’s smallest bathing suit.”

Jaques Heim
Jacques Heim
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“Women shop for a bikini with more care than they do a husband. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.”
Erma Bombeck
 

Sadly for Jacques Heim, another French fashion designer was also hard at work creating a remarkably similar swimsuit in the summer of 1946. Just three weeks after Heim began marketing his swimsuit, Louis Reard, a mechanical engineer who had decided to dabble in swimsuit design, sent out skywriters over the French Riviera. The message these skywriters carried was simple but powerful marketing: “Bikini—smaller than the smallest bathing suit in the world.” Perhaps due to Reard’s obvious marketing skills or a simple turn of fate, the name bikini became the official tag for the two-piece swimsuit.

The bikini made its first proper introduction to the world of fashion design on July 5, 1946, as it is was worn and displayed at a Paris fashion show by French model Micheline Bernardini. Reaction to the bikini was immediate and explosive. As one American correspondent put it (in typical Texan style), “All of a sudden, a blond named Micheline Bernardini ambles out in what any dern (sic) fool could see was the smallest bathing in the world, including West Texas. Why folks, that suit was so small that…” Any number of phrases could complete this statement and would adequately describe the male reaction to the bikini. Needless to say, most of those who viewed the new swimsuit were equally shocked and titillated by its minimalist style.

“A bikini is not a bikini unless it can be pulled through a wedding ring.”
 
Louis Reard
Louis Reard

The bikini began to be marketed and sold in the United States just one year after its introduction in France. Reaction to the swimsuit was great, but sales were initially quite slow. Men and women alike assumed that the suit was simply too bare and scandalous for conservative American women to don in public. American women did indeed approach the swimsuit quite  cautiously until the revolutionary decade of the 1960s, in which bikini sales soared tremendously.

The bikini has now become such an entrenched part of swimsuit design that it is a wonder the modern swimsuit is only 60 years old. True to its explosive nature, the bikini has inspired even more shocking innovations in swimsuit design, including the short-lived monokini and the immensely popular thong bikini. It would be interesting to learn if Louis Reard has the foresight to
know of the far-reaching implications of the scanty two pieces of cloth that comprised the original bikini.

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot
 
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Ava Gardner
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Betty Page
Betty Page
Joan Collins
Joan Collins
Rita Hayworth
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Jayne Mansfield
Jane Mansfield
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“Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”
Aaron Levenstein
 

The word bikini has rather an interesting etymology. Unlike the word swimsuit, which is entirely functional and descriptive in its purpose, the word bikini implies much more about the bikini’s history than it does the bikini’s purpose.

Most scholars assume that the bikini swimsuit was named after the famous Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. While it may seem strange for the birthplace of the actual bikini swimsuit to be in France and the birthplace of the name bikini to be in the South Pacific, these two areas of the world actually had quite a bit in common during the historical time period of the introduction of the bikini.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Sally Field

Sally Field

Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly
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“At Sports Illustrated we would try on hundreds of bikinis. It’s important to find one that complements your body and not try to fit into something that doesn’t work.”
Kathy Ireland
 

When the bikini was introduced to the world in 1946, World War II had just ended the spring before, and the world was still rollicking from the horrendous nature of that war. After detonating the controversial atomic bomb on two Japanese cities to end the Pacific war, the United States was setting off further test bombs on the Marshall Islands during that same summer. Needless to say, the destructive power of the atomic bomb was still quite a shock to people around the world. While Jacques Heim and Louis Reard were simultaneously inventing and marketing their own versions of the bikini swimsuit, people all over the world were marveling at the awesome power of the atomic bomb.

No one knows for sure whether Louis Reard was inspired enough by the atomic bomb detonations in the Bikini Atoll to christen his swimsuit the bikini or if he chose the name at random. Whatever the reason, the name bikini stuck as the official title of the midriff-baring, two-piece swimsuit. Many etymologists have assumed that Reard believed his swimsuit creation would create a shock equal in its reverberation to that of the atomic bomb (as it proved to do in the following years). The term bikini has now become so lodged in the vocabulary of swimsuits that several new types of swimsuits have spawned from it, including the bandini, tankini, camikini, monokini and burkini.

War bikini
 
Wrong bikini
 
Not so sexy bikini

Betty Page

Vintage bikini's

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“A bikini is a thoughtless act.”

Esther Williams

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Modern Swimwear

Vogue Italia Swimwear 2013 by Steven Meisel, model Kristen McMenamy

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most information for this post can be found on: http://www.everythingbikini.com/

Linda Evangelista, the Chameleon

14 Apr

vogue-italia-march-1993-linda-evangelista-by-steven-meisel “I love, love, love fashion so much, that’s why I became a model in the first place.”

A kind of Stradivarius” of models, Karl Lagerfeld, the Chanel designer, said of Linda Evangelista. “You can play her like you can play no other instrument.”Unlike some who are more famous for their temperament than their actual professional skills, Evangelista seems to win the respect of everyone she works with. In 2009, the photographer Steven Meisel recalled the first time he shot the eager young model, in the late eighties. He was working with the makeup artist François Nars and the hairstylist Oribe. “It was like crystal, like champagne corks popping. That smile! Her gums! Her eyes just twinkled! We were just very, very inspired and in love.” (The adoration was mutual) . Julien d’Ys cut her hair into what she described as “a bowl cut with sideburns”. She cried during the haircut but it turned out to be the defining moment of her career.
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I was intrigued by Linda Evangelista during the 90ties. She was one of The Supermodels, but for me she was the one. She had more courage than any other model! Her constant changes in hairstyles and colors and her drive, passion and commitment in front of the lens. She was the one that inspired even other models. “Linda probably loves modeling more than anyone I know,” her colleague Amber Valletta once observed. “That’s why we all love looking at pictures of her.” I loved her appearance the most in the photographs by Peter Lindbergh and Steven Meisel.
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The 90ties supermodels
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Linda Evangelista’s place in fashion history has been cemented at the level of icon. She appears ageless. “I decided when I was twelve that it’s what I wanted to do, and I count my blessings that I got to realize my dreams,” she said in 2006. “Being a rock star was out of the question. I can’t sing.”
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Linda
Linda
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Short Biography

linda evangelista

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At nineteen Linda moves to New York, where she where she stays at Elite’s Upper East Side apartment for models until the agency sends her to Paris. She becomes engaged to Elite agency owner Gérald Marie at Christmastime. “He put the ring on my finger and I went into shock.” she later recalls. They get married when Linda is 22 and stay married till 1993.
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In the meantime Linda poses for Steven Meisel, Arthur Elgort, Wayne Maser, Bill King, François Halard, and Alex Chatelain in Vogue. Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington (the Trinity) are booked together for the Paris shows.
In october 1988 photographer Peter Lindbergh requests Julien d’Ys to crop Linda’s long brown hair supershort. “I thought I was finished when they cut my hair,” she will later recall. But the daring do only adds more fuel to her career: “Within two months I made the grand slam: covers of American Vogue, Italian Vogue, British Vogue, and French Vogue.” Women everywhere ask their hairdressers for the Linda; a British wigmaker even dubs one the Evangelista. “Sure, I like my short hair. It also quadrupled my rate. I did get sick of seeing it on everybody, though—every stewardess, every salesclerk, and in every restaurant,” she later says.
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 Super Linda: W magazine Dec ’12, by Steven Klein

stylist: edward enninful
hair: julien d’ys
make-up: peter philips
manicure: bernadette thompson
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In 1990  Linda features alongside Turlington in “Pretty Women,” Jonathan Van Meter’s profile on the top models and best friends; Evangelista jokingly utters what will become one of the most famous phrases in the fashion world: “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.” The comment—once described as the “Let them eat cake” of the twentieth century—triggers a backlash against Evangelista and the Trinity, “until it drove the whole supermodel train right off the tracks,” Van Meter will later note. “I feel like those words are going to be engraved on my tombstone.” Linda Evangelista later says.
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Peter Lindbergh makes the fantastic documentary Models: The Film, in which you can see Linda Evangelista at work.
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To see the whole movie ,click on the following link :     Models/ The film
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In 1992 Linda meets Twin Peaks actor Kyle MacLachlan at the Barneys New York’s fall campaign and soon separates from her husband. Linda and Kyle become a couple.
Linda & Kyle
Linda is so taken by the talent of John Galliano, she walks his first catwalk show for free.
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A couple of years later, Linda and Kyle MacLachlan split up and she begins dating French World Cup soccer player Fabien Barthez.  In wake of negative press—calling her out of shape and run-down—during her run at Portugal Fashion Week, retires from the runway. “I was in love and wanted it to work. I was tired of traveling, tired of the whole scene, just tired,” she will later tell. In 2002 she appears on the cover of Vogue with the headline, “Linda Evangelista’s Stunning Return.” Jonathan Van Meter pens the cover story.
Linda
In 2004 the magazine i-D devotes its cover and an eighteen-page fashion portfolio to the modeling icon. Linda also begins a long-running role as ambassador for the Viva Glam V charity campaign of Toronto-based M.A.C. Cosmetics (which gave a teenage Evangelista free makeup when she was just starting out).“Now I get out of bed for a much better reason,” she will later say. “I’m part of a team that raises millions of dollars and raises awareness of HIV and AIDS all over the world.” This is not the only charity she works for, she even started her own charity with the singer Brian Adams years before she joint Viva Glam V.
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Linda gives birth to a son in 2006, Augustin James Evangelista. (The father is unnamed) In late June 2011, she files court papers that revealed her son was fathered by billionaire Frenchman François-Henri Pinault, by then the husband of actress Salma Hayek. After several court appearances aimed at establishing a child support agreement, on August 1, 2011, Linda formally filed for a child support order in Manhattan Family Court, seeking $46,000 in monthly child support from Pinault.A heavily-publicized child support trial began on May 3, 2012,and included testimony from both Pinault and LindaEvangelista, with Evangelista’s attorney claiming that Pinault had never supported the child.Several days into the trial, on May 7, 2012, Evangelista and Pinault reached an out-of-court settlement.
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In 2010 pondering the decade to come, stiletto maestro Manolo Blahnik tells WWD,I think Kate Moss will have huge longevity, and Linda Evangelista will be eternal”
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Linda Evangelista by Mario Testino for V Magazine, Fall ’06

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Linda Evangelista as Katharine Hepburn, photographed by Steven meisel

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Love Magazine, s/s 2012

The Misfits, Photographers: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, Stylist: Katie Grand

Linda Evangelista

Linda Evangelista

Linda Evangelista

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(Linda Evangelista has modelled for more than 300 magazine covers)

Hedi Slimane, Fashion Wizard (part 1)

24 Mar

Hedi Slimane

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News Flashes

On Facebook it caused a worldwide negative stir, but Karl Lagerfeld declared: “Paris needs some new things, some stimulation….. I love the idea. I think it’s interesting and it’s important. Something fresh was needed.”, after Hedi Slimane (just appointed new fashion director at YSL  in 2012) decided the company name Yves Saint Laurent would change into Saint Laurent Paris.

YSL logo

Saint Laurent logo

Years before (November 2000) Karl Lagerfeld decided to lose weight in order that he could adopt Hedi Slimane’s new skinny silhouette. “Until then, I had got along fine with my excess weight and I had no health problems, or – which would be worse – emotional problems, but I suddenly wanted to wear clothes designed by Hedi Slimane, who now creates the Dior Homme collections,” Karl told the Telegraph. “But these fashions, modelled by very, very slim boys, required me to lose at least six of my 16 stone.” He lost more than 90 lbs over the course of the year.

Karl Lagerfeld & Hedi Slimane.

Fashion Biography: Dior, Yves saint Laurent & Photography

Hedi Slimane  ((French pronunciation: ​[eˈdi sliˈman]), born in Paris on 5 July 1968, learned the art of photography before he even reached his teens and began making his own clothes at age 16. He studied History at the Ecole du Louvre, before he began working with fashion consultant Jean-Jacques Picart in 1992 on an exhibition celebrating the centenary of Louis Vuitton’s iconic monogram.

In 1996 Hedi was recommended by Jean-Jacques Picart for a first-assistant job at Yves Saint Laurent and subsequently hired by Pierre Bergé as a consultant for YSL’s menswear. In less than a year, Slimane is made director of men’s ready-to-wear at Yves Saint Laurent. Yves Saint Laurent himself attended his debut menswear show and applauded enthusiastically from the front row.

But in 1999 Yves Saint Laurent is purchased by the Gucci Group. Gucci creative director Tom Ford is also made creative director of all YSL lines. Hedi departs, objecting to having to report to Ford. He declines the creative directorship at Jil Sander and accepts a role at the helm of Christian Dior’s men’s line.

Hedi Slimane’s revolutionary slimline designs for Dior Homme

Dior-Homme

Dior Homme

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Dior Homme

Dior Homme

In January 2001 Hedi presents his first Dior Homme collection. Karl Lagerfeld documents the scene backstage with a camera. Yves Saint Laurent himself attends Hedi’s show, leading a standing ovation, but he skips Tom Ford’s debut collection for his namesake label…. And Hedi headed up the launch of Dior Homme’s first fragrance under his creative control – named Higher. He designs the packaging and works with Richard Avedon on the advertising campaign to ensure all elements tallied with his new vision for the Dior man..

In 2002, Hedi Slimane became the first menswear designer to be named the CFDA International Designer of the year, presented by Hedi Slimane  fan David Bowie.

In 2003 Hedi was given nonexclusive contract with Dior and in the meantime he maintained his interest in photography. He published several books – including Berlin, featuring his photographs of the German club scene and street kids, Stage, about the rock revival and London Birth of a Cult, about the then-unknown rock star Pete Doherty –  in the early Noughties.

Berlin , Hedi Slimane

Pete by Hedi Slimane

Hedi Slimane,,Stage

by Hedi Slimane

Pete by Hedi Slimane

Hedi Slimane’s inspiring online photographic blog, The Diary, is launched in 2006 – featuring his pictures of unknown cool kids as well as some of the music world’s biggest stars.  

http://www.hedislimane.com/

In the summer of 2006 Hedi chose not renew his contract at Dior Homme after negotiations with the French house surrounding his eponymous label broke down (LVMH is said to refuse to grant the designer enough autonomy). Dior proposed to fund Hedi Slimane’s own collections but the designer was reportedly reluctant to lose control of his name. Dior announces that Hedi will be replaced by Kris Van Assche, his former assistant. Hedi moves to Los Angeles to pursue photography.

In March 2011, following John Galliano’s dismissal from Christian Dior, Hedi is linked with the job of new Dior creative director. But Hedi never talked about – or even implied- to go back to work at Christian Dior, or any other luxury house in particular. He did publish Anthology of a Decade, a book in four volumes about the past ten years in the four cities – Paris, Berlin, London, and LA – where he had spent most time. Also an exhibit of photographs, “California Song,” debuts at Los Angeles’s Museum of
Contemporary Art.

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by Hedi Slimane

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In early 2012, Hedi is again linked with two of his former employers – Christian Dior  and Yves Saint Laurent – both of whom were seeking a new creative director following the departures of Galliano and Stefano Pilati. In March Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, parent company of Yves Saint Laurent, announces that Hedi Slimane will replace Stefano Pilati as creative director. The label’s design studio will be relocated from Paris to Los Angeles, Hedi’s adopted city.  And in June Yves Saint Laurent announces that it will be renamed Saint Laurent Paris, sparking a media furor and protests from critics and fashion bloggers; Hedi insists that this rebranding will merely return YSL to its 1966 identity, when the Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line was launched.

Hedi Slimane’s first show for Saint Laurent, Paris   S/S 2013

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In the lead-up to Hedi’s first women’s RTW runway presentation for Saint Laurent Paris in October, the house issues a slew of instructions and rules to the press, sparking media chatter about Slimane’s supposedly controlling nature. He shows his first full womenswear collection for Saint Laurent Paris, which references Saint Laurent’s bohemian influences in the 1970s. According to the fashion press Hedi failed to deliver the visceral, game-changing act of rebellion which the industry expected from this most mythic of contemporary fashion designers. The 1970s haute-groupie looked nostalgic and familiar, rather than agenda-setting or challenging.  The reviews are mixed.

Pre Fall collection Saint Laurent, Paris   2013

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

And in March 2013, Hedi’s second collection for Saint Laurent Paris is inspired by the grunge period, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. The disconnect with the Saint Laurent customer seems at times alarmingly wide. In California, where Hedi lives and to where he has moved the design studio, nineties grunge is a deeply felt part of everyday folklore; but in Paris, it is an abstract concept. And the grunge roleplay did not provide much in the way of roles for accessories. There were almost no handbags in this collection – this girl, with her unwashed hair and kohled eyes and fishnets, has no yen for an expensive handbag. Yet the YSL woman, surely, loves her handbag. This was a second act by Slimane which leaves the stage intriguingly poised for the next.

Saint Laurent, Paris grunge fashion show  A/W 2013

Saint Laurent Paris a/w 2013

Saint Laurent Paris a/w 2013

Saint Laurent Paris a/w 2013

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Hedi Slimane

Next week more about Hedi Slimane‘s photography

 

Anna Piaggi, one of the last great exotics (part 2)

30 Dec

Anna Piaggi photographed by Edland Man

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Anna Piaggi: ‘My nature has always been to be superficial’.

Manolo Blahnik dubbed her ‘The world’s last great authority on frocks’.

Anna Piaggi stated she had never been photogenic and, as she got older, she adopted Queen Elisabeth I’s technique to style her appearance, white face, cartoon features painted on like doll-cheeks and mouth, blue and silver waves on her cut-short hair (because it was better to support a small cockamamie hat).  She made the International Best Dressed List repeatedly and joined its hall of fame in 2007.

She combined history with eclecticism and electrified this with eccentricity. Her collages of garments were styled to tell a story, like her famous Doppie Pagine (D.P.) in Italian Vogue were collages of pictures which told a story.

She became a spectacle, an entertainment and both a commentary on as a remark to what was shown on the catwalks. Whatever it was, Anna had one already and had been wearing it for years. Predicting what would come next, through knowing what had come before, was her talent.

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Anna Piaggi and her husband Alfa Castaldi

Alfa Castaldi & Anna Piaggi

Alfa Castaldi

Alfa Castaldi (1926-1995) has been one of the key figures in Italian fashion photography. He started his career in the ’50s as a reporter in post-war Milan where he worked in a close relationship with Ugo Mulas. The base was the ‘Bar Jamaica’ in Brera where all the artistic and literary intelligentsia of the city used to gather in a sort of bohemian lifestyle. Alfa was a sophisticated intellectual, coming out of an academic career in History of the Arts at the University of Florence. But becoming a critic didn’t appeal to him and soon he became fascinated by the editorial world and the new photographic reportage language. So he turned to photography and started to collaborate as a free-lance with the major italian magazines of the time.

Anna Piaggi met Alfa Castaldi while working as a translator for publishing house The Mondadori Group. They got married in 1962 in New York. Alfa charmed Anna into his bohemian word and encouraged her to work in fashion. Clothes were not her original interest.

In the late ‘60s Alfa opened a studio to work on portraits, still life and fashion in association with Anna. His range of collaborations spanned from the main italian fashion magazines to weekly news magazines until Condè Nast opened the italian Vogue edition in 1969 (Novità became Vogue Italia in 1966) of which Alfa became a regular contributor.He has published two books on the italian fashion scene: “Mass moda” with Adriana Mulassano in 1979 and “L’Italia della Moda” with Silvia Giacomoni in 1984.  He expanded into advertising, creating campaigns for the likes of Giorgio Armani, Laura Biagiotti, Fendi, Gianfranco Ferré, Karl Lagerfield and Ottavio and Rosita Missoni. His magazine coverage also expanded, with his work appearing in L’Uomo Vogue, Vanity, Vogue Bambini, Vogue Sposa, and, outside the Condé Nast Publications, Amica, Panorama and L’Espresso.

Alfa Castaldi photograph of Bar Jamaica

Anna Piaggi: ‘It has been a pleasant and moving experience, thanks to the quiet determination and the pure ‘being Aries’ of Paolo Castaldi (both of us were born under the sign of Aries – Paolo on March 21st, I on March 22nd). Fate and for me, the detached but deep sensation of feeling a mother-son bond.

I’m grateful to Alfa and Paolo for this reason, too. I’ve never had children and my story with Alfa was, in a certain sense, ‘monomaniac. We shared a deep affection and the love for our jobs: my admiration for Alfa’s culture had no limits and the same can be said for his ‘entity’ through the bond between us, which gave us a mutual freedom. The shots selected by Paolo express Alfa’s spirit at its best in the world of the Bar Jamaica. I cannot help but thank Paolo and the Bar Jamaica, where I met Alfa in the late 50’s. This was a world that really belonged to Alfa; thanks to his pictures, it still belongs to him today…’

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Anna Piaggi at work

Anna Piaggi at work

Anna Piaggi at work 2

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Anna Piaggi’s Fashion-ology exhibition

Poster for Fashion-ology exhibition

Anna Piaggi Fashion-ology with Stephen Jones

Anna Piaggi Fashion-ology

Anna Piaggi Fashion-ology

The Victoria & Albert museum displayed an exhibition on Anna Piaggi in 2006, named Fashion-ology, which attracted 25.00 visitors. All items were drawn from Anna’s personal archive, which was stored in Milan. fashion-ology highlighted her extensive collection of vintage couture and designer clothing including garments by Balenciaga, Fendi, Galliano and Poiret. Drawings, photographs, faxes, storyboards and Polaroids revealed Anna’s working style and a film brought to life her extraordinary home and archive.

Anna was reluctant to spell out what she did and only very rarely showed her methodological hand. The –ology suffix which transformed the word fashion in the title was an attempt to capture her world of contradictions, her illogical logic as she called it, as well as revealed systems of frivolity, patterns and angles in her work, her algebra of intuition.

The exhibition also celebrated Anna’s love of fashion illustration, drawings by Karl Lagerfeld of her inimitable style, the dramatic spreads for Vanity magazine by Antonio Lopez (see my posts on Antonio Lopez), and a specially commissioned 3D tableau by Richard Gray, the British illustrator who for years contributed to her pages. Luca Stoppini, art director of Italian Vogue and the designer of her Doppie Pagine spreads, had together with Anna created a dramatic work especially for the exhibition. The presence of collaborators showed her loyalty and explained the thirteen ‘favourite’ outfits in the final section, created by the designers she promoted at the beginning of her career. They were displayed on a final A, painted in the bright red used by Ettore Sottsass for the 1969 Olivetti typewriter which Anna Piaggi used daily – and of course the red of her lipstick.

The Red A with 13 favorite outfits ,Fahion-ology exhibition

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Anna Piaggi and milliner Stephen Jones

Anna Piaggi & Stephen Jones

Anna Piaggi & Stephen Jones

Anna Piaggi & Stephen Jones

‘Stephen Jones is the maker of the most beautiful hats in the world’ : Anna Piaggi once said.

She was the muse of the British milliner and one of his most loyal fans. She suggested the title Stephen Jones & The Accent of Fashion, referring to the unique accent Stephen Jones brings in every new collaboration with designers.

For the exhibition  and accompanying catalogue, Anna Piaggi, paid homage to Stephen Jones in the form of a photo collage, especially designed for the exhibition. Together with Jones, Brado Fabiani and Luca Stoppini, she created a series of images of her own collection of Stephen Jones hats, in the familiar environment of her apartment in Milan.

Anna Piaggi's collage for Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones between a collection of hats he made for Anna Piaggi

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Marc Jacobs winter 2012 inspired by Anna Piaggi and Lynn Yeager

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Anna Piaggi by fashion illustrator Joana Avillez