Sonia Rykiel, 1930- 2016

Sonia Rykiel by Dominique Issermann, 1980.  Image GETTY IMAGES

Sonia Rykiel by Dominique Issermann, 1980. Image GETTY IMAGES

It’s truly heartbreaking news when a monumentally talented person passes away. French designer Sonia Rykiel died on the morning of August 25th at her home in Paris from the effects of Parkinson’ Disease. She was 86 years old. She’d been battling with her illness for almost two decades, but it’s still shocking news for me to digest. You just can’t imagine someone like her dying. She was a woman who was always appeared happy, emblematic and full of energy- someone bursting with life- and it’s quite hard to imagine the fashion world without her.

Sonia Rykiel, Polaroid by Andy Warhol, 1986.  Image THEREDLIST.COM

Sonia Rykiel, Polaroid by Andy Warhol, 1986. Image THEREDLIST.COM

Sonia Rykiel was born Sonia Fils in Neuilly-sur-Seine on 25 May 1930. She was raised in a mixed Romanian- Russian Jewish household, and was the eldest of five sisters. She started working in fashion in her teens, when she was hired to dress the windows of a Parisian textile store at the age of 17. In her early 20s, she married Parisian boutique owner Sam Rykiel, with whom she had two children, Nathalie and Jean-Philippe.

Sonia Rykiel, Sam Rykiel and their children in their apartment in the  mid 1960s.  Image PARISMATCH.COM

Sonia Rykiel, Sam Rykiel and their children Nathalie and in the mid 1960s. Image PARISMATCH.COM

While pregnant in 1962, Mrs. Rykiel was unable to find fashionable maternity garments, and resorted to making her own clothes in an attractive style: a long sleeved, slim fitting dress and sweater in knitted jersey that clung to the body like a second skin. Practical and modern, her knits were sexy, stylish, and extremely comfortable, and became an instant hit among her friends. Known as the ‘Poor Boy’ sweater, she began receiving commissions for her designs and soon garnered such interest that her husband began selling her clothes in his shop.

Sonia Rykiel working in her husband's boutique, Laura's, in 1967 (top left, right) and in 1965 (bottom). Images WWD/ROGER VIOLLET

Sonia Rykiel working in her husband’s boutique, Laura’s, in 1967 (top left, right) and in 1965 (bottom). Images WWD/ROGER VIOLLET

Mrs. Rykiel designed all kinds of knitwear between 1962 and 1968: playing with shapes, textures, bright colours and motifs to create daring new looks. She was the first modern designer to incorporate stripes into her designs, a pattern that became one of her signatures because “…on clothing they follow a woman’s movements.” At the time stripes were considered dated and dowdy, but she reinvented them for a younger, more fashionable set by pairing them with modern silhouettes and colouring them in bright rainbow shades. Everything she ever did was about enhancing the beauty of the body in motion, and she was always interested with how unusual fabrics — fur, wool, feathers, etc. — moved with women as they walked.

Sonia Rykiel's experiments with textures and movement playing out on the runway: (clockwise from top left) Spring 2008, Resort 2006, Fall 1998 and Fall 2007.  Images WWD/VOGUE.COM

Sonia Rykiel’s experiments with textures and movement playing out on the runway: (clockwise from top left) Spring 2008, Resort 2006, Fall 1998 and Fall 2007. Images WWD/VOGUE.COM

In December 1963 Mrs. Rykiel made history when Elle magazine featured one of her famous jumpers on it’s cover. It was the first time that a women’s magazine or fashion journal had ever featured prêt-à-porter on it’s cover, and as such it was a big sensation. It was the beginning of the Swinging 60s and the Parisian youth were entranced by the new style that was taking London by storm. The demand for Ms. Rykiel’s designs spread like wildfire across Paris and a younger, more modern clientele began flocking to Sam Rykiel’s boutique. Almost immediately Audrey Hepburn visited the shop and purchased fourteen sweaters in every colour, Brigitte Bardot and Sylvie Vartan were photographed wearing Sonia Rykiel jumpers, and icons like Anouk Aimée, Francoise Hardy, Catherine Deneuve and Lauren Bacall began collecting her work.

Early Sonia Rykiel covers: (from left) her history- making first cover- Francoise Hardy by Marc Hispard for Elle France December 1963, Britt Ekland by Gianni Penati for US Vogue April 1969 and Elle France April 1971 by Tony Kent. Images HOSTORIEDEMODE.ORG/VOGUE.COM/SONIA RYKIEL.COM

Early Sonia Rykiel covers: (from left) her history- making first cover- Francoise Hardy by Marc Hispard for Elle France December 1963, Britt Ekland by Gianni Penati for US Vogue April 1969 and Elle France April 1971 by Tony Kent. Images HOSTORIEDEMODE.ORG/VOGUE.COM/SONIA RYKIEL.COM

Demand for her garments grew so strong that she founded her own fashion house, the Sonia Rykiel Company, in 1965, and opened her first boutique on Paris’ Left Bank in 1968 (the same year that she divorced her husband). Further success followed and her business grew quickly. In 1969 she opened an in-store shop at Galeries Lafayette, and her clothes were soon picked up by Bloomingdale’s and Henri Bendel in New York.

Sonia Rykiel in her atelier in 1968. Image

Sonia Rykiel in her atelier in 1968. Image ROGER VIOLLET

In 1972 Ms. Rykiel was dubbed the “Queen of Knits” by Women’s Wear Daily, a title that was used throughout her career. She was one of the first designers to join the Chambre Syndicale as an exclusively ready- to- wear house and stage prêt-à-porter fashion shows. She was also the first luxury ready-to-wear designer to collaborate with mail order firms, partnering with French company 3 Suisses for a capsule collection in 1977. In time, she went on to collaborate with La Redoute and H&M, and was one of the first major designers to explore the idea of ‘affordable luxury.’

Sonia Rykiel in 1973 (top, right), with Kenzo Takada and Karl Lagerfeld, and in 1984 (bottom, fourth from right), with Jack Lang (seventh on left), French Minister of Culture, and her contemporaries: (from left) Kenzo Takada, Anne-Marie Beretta, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Chantal Thomass, Alix Gres, Yves Saint-Laurent, Sonia Rykiel, Issey Miyake, Pierre Berge and Emanuel Ungaro. Image WWD/CNN.COM/GETTY IMAGES

Sonia Rykiel in 1973 (top, right), with Kenzo Takada and Karl Lagerfeld, and in 1984 (bottom, fourth from right), with Jack Lang (seventh on left), French Minister of Culture, and her contemporaries: (from left) Kenzo Takada, Anne-Marie Beretta, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Chantal Thomass, Alix Gres, Yves Saint-Laurent, Sonia Rykiel, Issey Miyake, Pierre Berge and Emanuel Ungaro. Image WWD/CNN.COM/GETTY IMAGES

Over the next few years, she continued to work with knitwear, developing new techniques like inside-out stitching, no-hem finishings and unlined knits. She started trends that have endured to this very day, like printed slogan sweaters, quilted jackets and cropped knits. She has also been credited with the popularization of wearing black, a colour that she wore everyday. “My color is black,” she once told an American fashion editor, “And black, if it’s worn right, is a scandal…it’s indecent when well worn, intense and disturbing, striking and stops the eye.”

The runway of a 1975 show staged in the Sonia Rykiel atelier (top left), the designer working with a model in 1973 (top right) and 1975 (bottom).  Image JEAN- LUCE HURE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

The runway of a 1975 show staged in the Sonia Rykiel atelier (top left), the designer working with a model in 1973 (top right) and 1975 (bottom). Image JEAN- LUCE HURE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Ms. Rykiel remained creative director of her company until her retirement in 2009. Although her daughter Nathalie replaced her as the company’s director and Julie de Libran became the head designer, Ms. Rykiel maintained an active part of the brand even after her retirement.

Sonia Rykiel taking her bow on the runway for her Spring 2002 (top), her Fall 1994 (centre) and Fall 1984 shows.  Image GETTY IMAGES

Sonia Rykiel taking her bow on her Spring 2002 runway. Image GETTY IMAGES/FRANCOIS GUILLOT/GERARD FOURE/AFP

Throughout her career, Ms. Rykiel experimented with every type of design- branching out into other ventures including children’s clothing, menswear, lingerie, accessories, fragrances, chinaware and chocolates. Along the way she also tried her hand at costume design and interior decorating. She published several books, many about fashion, but also wrote a collection of children’s stories and several novels that explored her thoughts on erotica, philosophy, feminism and life in general.

Sonia Rykiel's various ventures: (clockwise, from top left) Sonia Rykiel makeup by Lancôme, towels from the 2011 home collection, various pieces of costume jewelry, the 2009 Sonia Rykiel Barbie and the famous 'Canard Vibrant' sex toys from her 2011 collection.  Image LANCÔME.COM/STYLEFRIZZ.COM/ELLE UK/1STDIBS/SHOPSTYLE.COM/VESTIARECOLLECTION.COM/MATTEL.COM/DOITINPARIS.COM

Sonia Rykiel’s various ventures: (clockwise, from top left) Sonia Rykiel makeup by Lancôme, towels from the 2011 home collection, various pieces of costume jewelry, the 2009 Sonia Rykiel Barbie and the famous ‘Canard Vibrant’ sex toys from her 2011 collection. Image LANCÔME.COM/STYLEFRIZZ.COM/ELLE UK/1STDIBS/SHOPSTYLE.COM/VESTIARECOLLECTION.COM/MATTEL.COM/DOITINPARIS.COM

Sonia Rykiel was awarded many honours during her lifetime, including being appointed a Commandeur of the Légion d’honneur, a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit.

Sonia Rykiel with former French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy at the 2009 ceremony where she bacame a Commandeur of the Legion d'Honneur.  Image GETTY IMAGES/FRANCOISE GOIZE

Sonia Rykiel with former French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy at the 2009 ceremony where she bacame a Commandeur of the Legion d’Honneur. Image GETTY IMAGES/FRANCOISE GOIZE

In 2012 Ms. Rykiel revealed that for the previous 15 years, she had been battling Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder. She had kept her illness a secret- even from her family, until she could no longer hide the symptoms. Her death was directly caused by complications of the disease.

Sonia Rykiel by Elias for Garage Magzine December 2013.  Image GARAGE MAGAZINE

Sonia Rykiel by Elias for Garage Magzine December 2013. Image GARAGE MAGAZINE

Throughout her career Sonia Rykiel was likened to the great Coco Chanel because of her ability to liberate women from the constraints of traditional fashion. Just as Mademoiselle Coco eschewed corsets, high necks and uncomfortable clothing, Ms. Rykiel avoided the restrictive “New Look” style that had become the norm during the 1950s. Lean and sensuous, her garments placed great emphasis on the allure of the female form, bringing attention to natural curves without any excess paddings, linings or fuss. Her designs were practical, but sexy, and were meant to be lived in and worn numerous times. She was one of the few designers who actually understood how women wanted to dress and saw her garments as what they were meant to be- tools that service a woman’s life, not things that defined her. She never took design too seriously, and simply made clothes that she liked and wanted, garments that reflected her daily moods and her ever changing needs.

Looks from the runway: (clockwise from top left) Spring 1994, Spring 1976, Fall 1989, Fall 2007, Spring 2007, Spring 1975.  Image WWD/VOGUE.COM/JEAN- LUCE HURE/DIDIER DESTAL/GETTY IMAGES

Looks from the runway: (clockwise from top left) Spring 1994, Spring 1976, Fall 1989, Fall 2007, Spring 2007, Spring 1975. Image WWD/VOGUE.COM/JEAN- LUCE HURE/DIDIER DESTAL/GETTY IMAGES

Sonia Rykel reshaped women’s perception of luxury and freedom, and introduced an edgier approach to style that was unlike anything ever seen before. Before her, knitwear was usually homemade and was an ugly, chunky, unsexy affair. She introduced the notion of machine produced luxury knits in jersey, lurex and tinsel- blended knits, and she single-handedly transformed them into the fitted, feminine wardrobe staples we know (and love) today.

Rykiel Runways: (top) Spring 1989, (bottom) Spring 2011.  Image GAMMA RAY/VOGUE.COM/GETTY IMAGES

Rykiel Runways: (top) Spring 1989, (bottom) Spring 2011. Image GAMMA RAY/VOGUE.COM/GETTY IMAGES

“First I made a dress because I was pregnant and I wanted to be the most beautiful pregnant woman. Then I made a sweater because I wanted to have one that wasn’t like anyone else’s,” she told an interviewer in 2006s. “I don’t know if I’m perceived as being provocative, I suppose it’s an attitude that I’ve had since Day One. I am not swayed by anybody else. Who cares what they think?…I’m a fashion fraude. I never studied couture, I don’t know how to knit and still I became the queen of knitwear.”

Sonia Rykiel by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 1990.

Sonia Rykiel by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 1990. Image THEREDLIST.COM

She was a true individual, and and a living faunt of high design. She will be deeply missed.

Xx – Ana

Friday Fierceness!

Alexandre Vauthier X Mellerio dits Meller Haute Joaillerie Fall 2015

Gown: Alexandre Vauthier Haute Couture, Jewels: Mellerio dits Meller by Alexandre Vauthier Colombian emeralds and white diamonds necklace and earrings in white gold. Image ALEXANDRE VAUTHIER/MELLERIO DITS MELLER/ MATHIEU CÉSAR

Model: Kate Bogucharskaia
Photographer: Mathieu César
Hair: John Nollet
Makeup: Saraï Fiszel

Oscar de la Renta has passed away

Oscar de la Renta photographed for the Koket design blog. Image KOKET

Oscar de la Renta, the prolific Dominican- American designer, has passed away at the age of 82. I’ve been in mourning since.

The exact cause of death is not yet known, but Señor de la Renta had been battling cancer since 2006. This sad news comes just a week after the designer had appointed Peter Copping as the creative director of his eponymous brand.

Classic Oscar: clockwise from top: Benetta Barzini (far left, far right) and Jane Darby (centre) by Irving Penn for 1977 editions of Vogue, Bettina Lauer by Irving Penn for a 1965 edition of Vogue, Marisa Mell by Bert Stern for Vogue 1967 and Wilhelmina Cooper by Irving Penn for Vogue 1965. Image VOGUE

In a career that spanned over 50 years, Señor de la Renta dressed the world’s important women from almost every major field- royalty, first ladies, politicians, socialites, film stars… the designer dressed them all and became a fashion and style icon in his own right. His older work is treasured, while his more recent collections have become synonymous with an easygoing, glamorous past with their structural, feminine gowns and impeccable style.

More vintage Oscar: Angela Lindvall by Arthur Elgort for an early 90s edition of Vogue, Gail Hunnicut by Bert Stern for Vogue June 1968, Karen Graham in 1974. Image VOGUE/ARTHUR ELGORT/CORBIS/BERT STERN

The designer began his career in fashion at the age of 18 while studying art in Madrid. He was mentored by the legendary Cristóbal Balenciaga before starting work as a design assistant at Lanvin in Paris. He moved to New York in 1963, working for Elizabeth Arden’s made-to­-order clothing line in her Fifth Avenue boutique. Mr. De La Renta founded his own prêt-à-porter line in 1965, which has since grown into a multi- pronged $600 million per annul fashion and lifestyle business. As well as designing prêt-à-porter, bridal couture, furniture, custom fabrics and jewelry under his label, he has created collections for Lanvin and Balmain.

Oscar on the Red Carpet: (clockwise, from left) Amy Adams at the 2013 Academy Awards, Leighton Meester on the set of Gossip Girl in 2010, Emma Watson at the March 2014 NYC premiere of Noah, Jennifer Garner at the 2014 Academy Awards. Image GETTY IMAGES

Oscar de la Renta first made a name for himself in the early 1960s when he became the favourite designer of Jacqueline Kennedy, former US First Lady and world renowned socialite and style icon. Since then he has been a staunch favorite with the glamorous globetrotting crowd, with his designs having been worn by trendsetters and world figures including members of numerous noble houses, Audrey Hepburn, Hilary Clinton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock. Most recently he designed Amal Clooney’s (née Alamuddin) gorgeous wedding gown for her September 2014 wedding to George Clooney.

Oscar and friends: (clockwise, from left) with muse Nati Abascal in a 1960s photograph by Richard Avedon, with Diane von Fürstenberg at the 2014 Medal of Excellence Gala in New York, with Audrey Hepburn at a 1988 gala. Image VOGUE/RICHARD AVEDON/GETTY IMAGES/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/CARNEGIE HALL

Señor de la Renta was has won a bevy of achievement awards during his career, including two Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) Designer of the Year Awards, a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award and two COTY Awards.

Graced with an indefatigable charm, the designer has always appreciated every moment of his high-profile life, saying to Gotham magazine, “A huge mistake we make is forgetting that one day we will die. We think that we are going to live forever. I always say life is a little like a garden. There is a time to plant, then a time you have to weed. Just think about people you’ve deeply cared for. And then think of the people you wish you’d spent more time with…I always say this: Live, love and laugh.”

Oscar de la Renta and Annette de la Renta at a 1991 state dinner at the White House. Image REUTERS/GREGG NEWTON

The designer is survived by his wife Annette and son, Moises, as well as stepchildren and step-grandchildren.

The fashion world has lost one of it’s brightest stars. Like millions of others, I grieve the passing of one of my favourite designers. It’s almost impossible to envision anyone working today who can match or emulate his incredible talent and impeccable style.

Oscar de la Renta with models Linda Evangelista and Yasmeen Ghauri at the end of his F/w 1991 collection at the Louvre in Paris. Image CORBIS

Rest in Peace Oscar de la Renta. Yours was a life well and completely lived. You will be greatly missed.

-Ana

The Art of Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Virginia Stewart (in Joset Walker) by Louise Dahl-Wolfe for Harper’s Bazaar, May 1948. Image HEARST PUBLISHING

Recently, I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic…. I’m putting that down to the fact that I’ve been clearing out a lot of old clutter in my life. Oddly enough, amongst the sorting everything out, I’ve found artistic inspiration in that I’m currently going through a very creative period. Hope it lasts for a long time! But enough about me, on to the fashion!

Tan Arnold (in B.H. Wragge) at the Hearst estate in San Simeon, California, by Louise Dahl-Wolfe for a 1958 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Image HEARST PUBLISHING

As with last week’s jewelry post, today’s is inspired by a picture- an old editorial photograph to be exact. You can see the picture below, and if you’ve been on our Facebook page recently, you’d recognize it as our new profile picture. It’s a 1957 shot of Jessica Taft by the legendary Louise Dahl-Wolfe that was taken on the original (now eroded) Clifton Hill beach in Point Fortin, Trinidad- a place that means a lot to me. Finding this shot has made me extremely nostalgic for so many reasons, but especially because it was taken just steps from my grandparent’s and then father’s home in Shell Petroleum Trinidad’s Clifton Hill Camp.

Jessica Taft by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1957. Image GETTY

When this picture was taken, Clifton Hill was in its heyday- the glittering social hub of Shell Trinidad and a place of elegant parties, afternoon high tea and after dinner cocktails at the Clifton Hill Club. With one picture, I was transported to a world I knew from countless family stories; similar in many ways to mine, but different- mostly in its simplicity. Its simplicity that makes this image so striking- using nothing more than natural light, good clothes and setting, a gorgeous model and the brilliance of Ms. Dahl-Wolfe, an image of lasting, completely un-retouched fabulous-ness was created. I’m always floored by the the work of the great photographers of the fashion’s golden days, and this picture certainly reminded my why that is.

Jessica Ford (in a Nelly de Grab beach outfit and Mr. John hat) by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, for Harper’s Bazaar May 1957. Image HEARST PUBLISHING

As you might have guessed, this post is about Louise Dahl-Wolfe, one of the most celebrated photographers of the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s. She’s primarily known for her work with Harper’s Bazaar and her collaborations with editorial legends Carmel Snow and Diana Vreeland. She pioneered the use of natural lighting in outdoor and location shoots as well as in fashion photography, and is renowned for her role in integrating color into fashion editorials. Her work has heavily influenced many great photographers from Horst P. Horst, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn to Steven Meisel and Annie Leibovitz.

Betty Threatt by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, for a 1949 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Image HEARST PUBLISHING

Born in San Fransisco, California, in November 1895, Louise Dahl-Wolfe originally intended to be an artist. She began attending the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Institute of Art) in 1914, where for six years she studied design and painting; taking courses in life drawing, anatomy, figure, composition and colour.

Mary Jane Russell by Louise Dahl-Wolfe for a 1955 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Image HEARST PUBLISHING

During her time at school she became acquainted with a close friend of photographer Anne Brigman, who then also became a friend of Louise. Ms. Brigman invited Louise to her studio, where she viewed some of the photographer’s work. After examining some nudes set in ice caves and amongst cypress trees, Louise fell in love with the art of photography, and set about getting herself a camera.

Dappled Nude by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1944. Image HARVARD ART MUSEUM

She began taking pictures in 1923, eventually moving to New York to study design and architecture at Columbia University within that same year.

Her growing genius in photography soon began to attract attention, and in 1932 she was hired as a food photographer by Woman’s Home Companion. Soon after, acting on the suggestion of a friend, Louise sent some of her test portraits to the editor of Vanity Fair. It was this step that was the first true milestone of Louise’s career- her work was featured in the November 1933 edition of Vogue Magazine.

Diana Vreeland by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, for Harper’s Bazaar January 1942. Image HEARST PUBLSHING

Vanity Fair was so impressed by her work, that soon after her feature was published, they offered her a chance to join their staff as a portrait photographer. However Louise turned them down, preferring the artistic freedom that freelance work offered her, and set up her own independent photography studio.

Elizabeth Treatt (in Hattie Carnegie) by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, for a 1951 edition Harper’s Bazaar. Image HEARST PUBLISHING

Shortly after, Louise began working with Saks Fifth Avenue, taking pictures for their catalogs and advertisements. This was her first experience with fashion photography, and her new job required her to create beautiful images that portrayed designer clothing in an interesting, but natural way. She began experimenting with showroom models and clothes to perfect her style, practicing different lighting techniques until she was able to develop new ways of making the women she shot look chic, elegant and beautiful while remaining completely natural.

Designer Jaques Fath (foreground) in the studio with model Bettina Graziani (right, wearing a Jaques Fath evening gown), by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1940. Image GETTY

Louise joined Harper’s Bazaar as a staff fashion photographer in 1936. She started small, photographing accessories and still lifes, and gradually working up to shooting portraits and fashion editorials. Louise remained with Bazaar for 22 years, during which time the magazine published thousands of her images- including 86 covers, 600 colour photographs and thousands of black and white pictures.

Cherry Nelms (in Lilli Ann) by Louise Dah-Wolfe, for Harper’s Bazaar February 1953. Image HEARST PUBLISHING

Louise Dahl-Wolfe had a very distinct style of capturing subjects in full focus. She often styled her compositions against striking backdrops (often in the outdoors) and repeatedly featured light-reflecting props like mirrors and crystal chandeliers in her photographs. She drew upon the skills she learned during her time both at university and after to produce unusual and striking photographs. She saw light as an artistic medium, and by manipulating the play of light on the figures in her compositions, Louise conveyed her subjects in relate-able- but fully chic- terms.

Mary Jane Russell (in Balenciaga) by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, for a 1950 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Image GETTY IMAGES

Louise often said that she preferred portraiture to fashion photography and during her career she photographed many notable people of her time- Mae West, Mary Jane Russel, Orson Welles, Edward Hopper, Sidonie-Gabriell Colette and Josephine Baker, to name a few. She is also credited with discovering Lauren Bacall (GASP), who she photographed as a teenager for a 1943 cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

Lauren Bacall (in Maurice Rentner) by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, for Harper’s Bazaar May 1943. Image HEARST PUBLISHING

Her career at Harper’s Bazaar ended in 1958, when she left amidst a shift in editorial management. Louise disliked the notion of being told how to work, and preferred to keep her artistic freedom, saying, “I could never work in someone else’s studio. I am of an independent nature and need my own surroundings.”

After leaving Bazaar Louise returned to freelance work, doing features for Vogue, Sports Illustrated and many other publications.

Millicent Rogers (in a Charles James blouse and Balenciaga skirt) by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, for a 1940 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Image MILLICENT ROGERS MUSEUM/LOUISE DAHL-WOLFE

Louise Dahl-Wolfe lived many of her later years in Nashville, Tennessee, eventually dying of pneumonia at the age of 94 in New Jersey in 1989.

Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s work has literally changed the face of fashion and defined an entire era of iconic American history. She elevated the skill of fashion photography to a true art form and her work continues to stay current regardless of her craft’s ever changing style. Her images are still, and will continue to be regarded as a measure of sophisticated glamour and elegance in photography.

Model in White Dior Ball Gown with Mirror Mary Jane Russell (in Dior) by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1950. Image MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY

This post is for you Ms Dahl-Wolfe. Thank you for constantly reminding us of beautiful times!

Oh RiRi!

Rihanna (in Elie Saab) stars in Rihanna of Arabia by Ruven Afanador for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia June 2014 cover story. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR ARABIA/RUVEN AFANADOR

Rihanna just keeps getting better! Rihanna is the July cover star of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia- and it’s her most fabulous editorial to date! Photographer Ruven Afanador perfectly captures the Bajan chanteuse as an Arabian princess in this piece entitled “Rihanna of Arabia.” It’s a perfect fit for Rihanna, who’s resplendent in an incredible wardrobe of Middle Eastern-inspired couture by Dolce & Gabbana, Atelier Versace, Balenciaga, Ralph Lauren and more. There’s a lot of jewelry (it’s Cartier), plenty of rippling silk, an excess of fabulous sequins, embroidery and beadwork, but surprisingly… not much of Rihanna!

Rihanna appears in the July 2014 edition of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia in this one-of-a-kind couture gown by Michael Cinco and a sequined mask by Bradley Douglas Jordan of Couture Mask. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR ARABIA/RUVEN AFANADOR

That’s right. RIHANNA is completely covered from head to toe. This issue focused on modesty, and the interpretation of traditional values with modern twist- hence why we see so little of RiRi’s enviable body in this spread. It’s a bold move by the Harper’s Bazaar editors to choose such a risqué star to depict new ways of adapting such an important custom, but Rihanna brilliantly executes this challenge. Her hair is covered throughout, and in many cases her face is veiled as well, but her superstar brilliance shines through all of this.

Rihanna (in Ralph Lauren) shines from behind a fringed mask in her new Harper’s Bazaar Arabia spread. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR ARABIA/RUVEN AFANADOR

I think this is one of the most beautiful editorials that Rihanna has done in a while and the public’s response to this cover has been incredibly positive. While commentators have been praising Rihanna’s top model worthy modelling abilities, most are surprised that she was able to pull off this ultra conservative mode of dress so fiercely. It’s a far cry from her last headline making editorial and a huge change from the barely there ensembles that we’re so accustomed to seeing her in.

Stark contrast: Rihanna (in Palace Costume shorts (left), a towel by EROS and diamonds by Neil Lane and Dior) by Mario Sorrenti for the May 2014 issue of Lui Magazine. Image LUI MAGAZINE/MARIO SORRENTI

Its refreshing to see Rihanna like this, and I am not in the least bit surprised that she was able to execute this challenge so well. Remember her Gucci “Tattoo Heart Collection” ads? She’s been working it hard for years, always reinventing her public image and developing her modeling abilities along with her music and style.

Rihanna (in Alexander Wang and Givenchy) by Mariano Vivanco for the April 2013 edition of Elle UK. Image ELLE UK/MARIANO VIVANCO

Rihanna has been in the entertainment business for almost ten years and in that time she has probably reinvented herself dozens of times. I’ve enjoyed seeing the progression of her style from that of a fresh faced island girl to the daring and fashion forward Rihanna of today. During that time she has experimented with almost every style and developed her own sense of personal style by incorporating different features from her experiments, always adapting them to fit her current image. Along the way, Rihanna’s started a number of popular trends herself; who could forget her asymmetrical bob, her cherry-red curls, or the ton of nail trends that she has sparked?

Rihanna (in Yves Saint Laurent) by Ellen Von Unwerth for the September 2011 edition of Glamour Magazine. Image GLAMOUR MAGAZINE/ELLEN VON UNWERTH

In many respects her sense of style and her musical artistry can be seen to parallel one another. Just as she likes to play with samples of reggae, dubstep, rock and house in her music, we can see influences the of punk and gothic culture, hip-hop and island inspired street style, along with high fashion glamour. Rihanna has become one of the most influential figures in fashion, and has been praised and criticized for her daring (and often revealing) approach to style.

A punked-out Rihanna (in Acme Jacket, Chapel NYC vintage Tee, and jewelry by Lynn Ban and Repossi) by Inez & Vinoodh for the Winter 2013 editon of 032c Magazine. Image 032c MAGAZINE/INEZ & VINOODH

Rihanna is a bona fide style setter and along with the endless magazine covers and editorials she has faced, she’s fronted major ad campaigns for cosmetic giants Covergirl and MAC, and has been the face of Armani, Gucci and Balmain collections and campaigns.

Rihanna by Inez & Vinoodh for the Balmain S/s 2014 campaign. Image BALMAIN/INEZ & VINNODH

She has described her approach to design as being, “about taking a risk…I always look for the most interesting silhouette or something that’s a little off.” In 2008 Rihanna joined a number of other celebrities to collaborate with H&M for it’s Fashion Against AIDS line, a fund aimed towards helping raise awareness and combat HIV/AIDS. Her success in this has resulted in her designing capsule collections for Armani Jeans and River Island in addition to her four independently released fragrances.

Models (from left) Tati Cotliar, Milou van Groesen, Nyasha Matonhodze and Ji Hye Park star in Rihanna’s F/w 2013 River Island campaign by Lachlan Bailey. Image RIVER ISLAND/LACHLAN BAILEY

Rihanna’s contribution to fashion has not gone unnoticed, and she has been rewarded for her work with numerous style awards and nominations. She was the Glamour Magazine’s 2009 Woman of the Year, in 2013 she received the first-ever Icon Award at the American Music Awards and earlier in 2014 she was presented with a Fashion Icon Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) by none other than Anna Wintour herself!

Rihanna attends the winners walk during the 2014 CFDA fashion awards on June 2nd in New York, where she received the Fashion Icon Lifetime Achievement Award. The singer wore a custom gown by Adam Selman, diamond jewelry by Paul Morelli and Jacob & Co. and a blush-coloured mink stole, her gown was covered by over 230,000 hand-applied Swarvoski crystals mounted on sheer net. Image WIREIMAGE/ANDREW H. WALKER

I’ve always been a fan of Rihanna’s daring style, and this Harper’s Bazaar Arabia editorial has made me even a bigger fan. This shoot not only silenced many of her critics, but proved to the world that Rihanna isn’t a person who should ever be underestimated. Her talent and mastery of her craft and her ability to keep people guessing make her one of the most engaging and provocative celebrities alive today.

Rihanna (in Wagner Kallieno shorts, Otávio Giora straw hat and jewelry by Turpin, Talento, Jacquie Aiche and Francesca Romana Diana) by Mariano Vivanco for the May 2014 edition of Vogue Brazil. Image VOGUE BRAZIL/MARIANO VIVANCO

Here’s to RiRi: Always glamourous… …always brilliant… …and always fierce!

Queen Letizia of Spain

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain share a kiss on the day of their coronation as the new Monarchs of Spain. Image GETTY IIMAGES

On June 2nd, King Juan Carlos of Spain announced his intent to abdicate the throne in favor of his son Crown Prince Felipe. Since that moment, the ever-watchful eyes of the world have been fixed upon the Crown Prince and his family; particularly his wife, Princess Letizia of Asturias, the then future and now current Queen of Spain.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia attending a dinner hosted by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands ahead of her abdication at Rijksmuseum in 2013. Queen Letizia wore a black Chantilly lace and silk gown by Felipe Varela, which she accessorized with a silk clutch and suede sandals (also by the designer) and the famous platinum and diamond Mellerio Floral tiara. Image GETTY IMAGES

King Juan Carlos’ abdication has undoubtedly caused a stir. Spain is currently going through a period of economic stress and political upheaval and King Juan Carlos’ decision will most definitely have an impact on the country’s future. The Spanish press, has given the announcement a broadly positive reception, calling it an important moment in democratic Spain since the Spanish Parliament had to approve and pass Prince Felipe’s ascension.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia in Madrid in July 2012, where they delivered the Iberdrola scholarships and research grants to students. Queen Letizia wore a striped dress by Ailanto, which she paired with nude peep-toed pumps by Magrit and a crystal-studded clutch by Malababa. Image GETTY IMAGES

The Spanish Constitution did not previously provide a specific process making abdication and royal succession possible, so the Spanish Parliament created and passed new laws allowing King Juan Carlos to pass the throne to his son. On June 19 Crown Prince Felipe of Asturias was crowned King Felipe VI of Spain, with Princess Letizia becoming Spain’s Queen. The new king’s popularity is high and though there is a faction of Spaniards against King Felipe VI’s ascension- and even the continuation of the monarchy, Spain’s future is bright and the international community welcomes Europe’s newest and youngest monarchs.

Queen Letizia wore this printed silk dress by Zara on two separate occasions: (left and right) during public audiences at the La Zarzuela Palace in Madrid in July 2012 and at a meeting of the Principe de Girona Foundation in June 2011. In both instances she accessorized her look with taupe-coloured belts and patent leather slingbacks by Magrit. Images GETTY IMAGES

Queen Letizia has long been a figure of media fixation in Spain and is thus no stranger to public scrutiny. Being beautiful, a recognized news reporter, a previous commoner and divorcee, and then marrying into the royal family in deeply Catholic Spain has made the Queen a media magnet. Throughout, she’s proved herself with unparalleled grace and has long been one of the Spanish royals’ most influential and loved members, celebrated as the country’s first “middle-class” Princess and admired for being a representation of modern womanhood: independent, cultured, and successful in her career.

Queen Letizia (in Lorenzo Caprile) and King Felipe VI attending the Danish Crown Prince’s Wedding in Copenhagen, in May 2004. Image GETTY IMAGES

Before we start on the Queen’s renowned style, let’s take a look at this remarkable woman’s life and achievements.

Future Queen Letizia Ortiz was born on September 15th, 1972 in Oviedo, Asturias. Her father was a journalist and her mother a registered nurse and hospital union representative. She was the eldest of three daughters. Her parents divorced in the late 1990s, with her father re-marrying in 2000.

Queen Letizia wears a grey sweater and printed chiffon dress by Mango to the opening of an exhibit in Castile and Leon in September 2010. Image GETTY IMAGES/LIFE MAGAZINE

Letizia wished to pursue a career in journalism and attended the Complutense University of Madrid, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree and a Licentiate’s Degree in the Journalistic branch of the Information Sciences. Letizia then achieved her Master’s Degree in Audiovisual Journalism at the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism.

During her studies she worked for the newspaper La Nueva España and later for the newspaper ABC and the news agency EFE (Agencia EFE, S.A). After completing university, she moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, where she worked for the newspaper Siglo XXI.

King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia and their daughters Infanta Lenor of Austurias and Infanta Sofía in July 2012 welcoming the returning Spanish national football team back to Madrid after their victory at the European Cup. Queen Letizia wore a pleated chiffon dress by Max Mara and gold Magrit sandals. Image GETTY IMAGES

Letizia then returned to Spain where she worked for the Spanish version of the Bloomberg channel before moving to the news network CNN+. During this time (1998 – 1999), she married and then divorced Alonso Guerrero Pérez in a civil ceremony. From there, she went on to work with Televisión Española in 2000. In 2002 she was sent to Galicia in northern Spain to do several reports on an ecological disaster that occurred when an oil tanker, the Prestige sank. It was on this assignment that she met Prince Felipe, who was in Galicia dealing with the crisis.

Queen Letizia wore this eggshell-blue satin gown with a glittering train to the 2009 Gala Dinner welcoming the then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to Spain. This gown was made by Lorenzo Carpile before the Queen’s 2004 wedding and was altered for her to wear to this event. Image REUTERS

Their relationship was kept secret for over a year, before they announced their engagement on November 1st, 2003. They were married in a lavish ceremony on May 22nd, 2004 in the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid. The now- Princess Letizia wore an off- white gown by Spanish couturier Manuel Pertegaz, her bridal shoes by Pura López and her veil (which was a gift from Prince Felipe) was hand embroidered and made of silk tulle. She donned the same diamond and platinum tiara that her mother-in-law Queen Sofia wore at her wedding to King Juan Carlos in 1962. From the moment of her marriage, Letizia became HRH Princess Letizia, Princess of Asturias.

The Prince and Princess of Asturias in their wedding finery at the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid. Image GETTY IMAGES

Letizia and Felipe have two daughters: Leonor, Princess of Asturias who was born on October 31st, 2005, and Infanta Sofía, born on April 29th, 2007. The family lives in a residence located a few dozen meters from the Palace of Zarzuela in Madrid.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia on vacation with their family in Mallorca in 2009. Seen here at the Saint Mary of Valencia Cathedral, the Queen wore a loose colour-blocked cotton dress and lilac espadrille wedges. Image GETTY IMAGES

As the Princess of Asturia, Queen Letizia focused her attention on social issues such as children’s rights, culture and education. Among her favourite causes are research into combating rare diseases, education and support for the World Health Organization’s programs on nutrition.

Princess Letizia (in an Uterqüe skirt and Magrit suede pumps) arrives at a conference on Rare Diseases: Urea Cycle Disorders on July 19th, 2012, marking the 80th anniversary of the Rare Diseases Charity. Image GETTY IMAGES

In the last decade she has attended 190 official events and has held 107 audiences without her husband. She has toured extensively on behalf of the Spanish Royal Family, traveling across Spain in representation of King Juan Carlos, as well as visiting other countries like Jordan, Mexico, Hungary, Serbia, Brazil, Sweden, Japan, China and Portugal alongside her husband as a Royal Ambassador of Spain. Queen Letizia has also attended royal gatherings in Luxembourg and the Netherlands for the silver wedding anniversary of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, as well as the 40th birthday celebrations of the Prince of Orange.

Queen Letizia (left, in Felipe Varela) and former First-Lady of France Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (in Christian Dior) meet on the steps of Madrid’s Zarzuela Palace in April 2009 during the French President’s tour of Spain. Image AFP/GETTY IMAGES

With King Felipe she has taken 73 trips to 38 countries.

Since the year 2007 Queen Letizia’s solo agenda has grown in the quantity of events she performed by herself and the King and Queen’s agendas have become more distinct and separate.

Queen Letizia attends a dinner celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Copa del Rey in August 2011. She wore an embroidered silk Hoss Intropia dress. Image GETTY IMAGES

Queen Letizia is highly regarded as a style icon and she regularly tops best-dressed lists at home and worldwide. She has an effortlessly classic style that is complimented and emphasized by her support of Spanish designers. She notably champions Spanish high-street fashion brands such as Zara, Uterqüe and Mango, as well as couturiers like Felipe Varela and Lorenzo Caprile.

Queen Letizia (in a lace shift dress by Mango) visits the Mango Factory in Barcelona in April 2011. Image ZIMBO/GETTY IMAGES

Her style is simply, elegant; she dresses with the sophistication and good taste that a lady of her position is expected to have. When she steps out, every part of her outfit- from her hair to her jewelry and accessories never looks overdone, is always appropriate and always true to her style.

Queen Sofia (left), King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia attending the British Royal Wedding in 2011. Queen Letizia wore a blush lace morning dress by Felipe Varela to the wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Image GETTY IMAGES

For daytime she prefers simple looks with clean lines and minimal fuss, but pieces that incorporate unexpected details such as beaded hemlines, embroidery and bright prints. Think sheath dresses, full skirts, crisp button-down tops, tailored trousers, jumpsuits and (deep gasp) jeans (that are immaculately tailored). She accessorizes with easily-adaptable wardrobe staples like sharp blazers, cardigans, braided leather belts, GREAT bags and clutches, nude heels, platforms and peep-toe pumps galore!

Queen Letizia (in Adolfo Dominguez) attending audiences at La Zarzuela Palace in Madrid in July 2013. Image GETTY IMAGES

Formal events are when she goes all out! Queen Letizia is a lady who was made to wear couture and her black-tie choices never disappoint- she goes for drama! Jewel-toned fabrics, luxurious ruffles, embroidery, extensive beading and flowing layers of lace have all been features of her famous gowns- many of which have been produced by her favourite Spanish couturier Felipe Varela.

Queen Letizia in four stunning Felipe Valera gowns: (from left) in a beaded gown of titanum lace and tulle (and a María Nieto fascinator) for the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in April 2013, in ruffled red silk at the 2010 Swedish Parliament’s concert at the Royal Concert Hall in Stockholm, in an embroidered lilac tulle gown at the British Royal Wedding in 2011 and in an emerald chiffon gown at the 2013 Prince of Asturias Awards Concert in Oviedo, Spain. Images AFP/GETTY IMAGES/REUTERS

Her street style is similarly un-bothered, and she always looks amazing while dressed for comfort. Queen Letizia is often spotted in T-shirts, sweaters, loose dresses and boot-cut jeans. She often pairs these with fashionably laid-back accessories like fringed shawls, slouchy jackets, hobo bags, distressed booties, sandals and sporty flats.

Queen Letizia and her daughters Infanta Sofía (left) and Infanta Lenor of Austurias (centre) on holiday in Mallorca in 2013. The Queen was perfectly resort-ready in an embroidered cotton blouse and turquoise jeans, which she accessorized with the Thela bag by Meli Melo and crystallized Uterqüe sandles. Image AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Queen Letizia is known as somewhat of a ‘thrifty’ royal as she often wears her outfits more than once, mixing and matching key items of her wardrobe to create new looks. Here, comparisons with the Duchess of Cambridge can be drawn, but Queen Letizia has been making waves in the fashion world for far longer than Duchess Catherine- and in my opinion her style is a bit more polished.

Queen Letizia counts this black guipure lace Felipe Varela shift dress amongst her favourite ensembles and wears it quite often; seen here (from left) on a visit to Portugal in May 2012, in July 2013 to a United States-Spain Council Forum dinner in Santa Barbara, California (centre), and in an official portrait celebrating her 40th birthday in 2012 by Cristina García Rodero. Images GETTY/CRISTINA GARCIA RODERO

At her coronation Queen Letizia did not disappoint! On midnight of June 19th, 2014, King Juan Carlos officially transferred the Crown of Spain to King Felipe by signing the Act of Abdication in a public ceremony. Later that day, the official coronation took place at 10 am, with the new King and Queen being presented to the public for the first time. Queen Letizia wore a simple black and white patterned Felipe Varela dress to the Abdication ceremony, while for the coronation she donned an impeccably tailored white sheaf dress and matching coat, also by Felipe Varela. On both occasions jewelry and accessories were kept to a minimum, with only earrings and a black clutch being worn to the midnight ceremony and solitaire earrings, a bow decoration (of the Order of Charles III), and beige clutch finishing her coronation look. She wore the same pair of nude pumps to both events.

Queen Letizia (in Felipe Varela) and her daughters, Leonor, Princess of Asturias (centre) and Infanta Sofía of Spain (right), at the midnight ceremony surrounding the signing of the Act of Abdication. Image GETTY

In today’s world, the roles of the Spain’s monarchs are largely as figureheads who represent the legal personality of the state to their subjects and the international community. The major roles of the King and Queen are to perform ceremonial and official duties as the Heads of State, including representing Spain to the rest of the world, and to provide figures of stability during tumultuous times. They encourage public and voluntary service (i.e. encourage the citizens to join the army and Navy) in the population and recognize and reward outstanding examples of achievement and excellence. The King is the Head of the Spanish Government and has the authority to call elections, announce the start of Parliament and can elect and dismiss Government Ministers on the advice of the President. He also oversees the operation of the Spanish Parliament and ensures that the Constitution and Laws are sustained and that the rights of all citizens are respected and sustained.

Queen Letizia at her coronation. Her outfit was by Spanish courtier Felipe Varela and was a suit of matching white separates: a simple sheaf dress and jacket with a crystal-studded neckline. Image Getty

As Queen consort to King Felipe, Queen Letizia shares her husband’s rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the King’s monarchical titles, however she doesn’t share the King’s political and military powers (the King is the head of both the Army and the Navy). Despite this, a consort is often recognized as being among the King’s most trusted advisers; there are many examples in history of the queen consort has been the chief power behind her husband’s throne. Queen Letizia basically has to act as her husband’s greatest supporter and provide him with unconditional support in his decisions, while upholding her family’s and country’s reputation.

King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia and their daughters Infanta Lenor of Austurias and Infanta Sofía for an official portrait marking the Queen’s 40th birthday in 2012. The queen wore a red Mango blouse and white trousers by Hugo boss, which she paired with nude Magrit peep-toe pumps. Image GETTY IMAGES

I’m hoping that the reign of King Felipe and Queen Letizia is a long and prosperous one, and that they do manage lead Spain into a lasting period of prosperity and growth. Meanwhile, I will be paying attention to Queen Letizia’s style and keeping an eye out for more fabulous fashion.

Wishing the new King and Queen all the best!

Charles James: A life of Angels and Demons

Designer Charles James (left) fits socialite Austine Hearst into a gown for Harper’s Bazaar in 1947. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR/GETTY

Ever since the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Centre opened it’s spring 2014 fashion exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, it seems that the name on everyone’s tongue is that of legendary British-American couturier, Charles James.

Two of James’ designs captured by Eliot Elisofon in the October 1950 issue of LIFE magazine. Seen here are examples of James’ Lampshade Gown (worn by model at left) and an evening ensemble complete with with a voluminous coat. Image ELIOT ELISOFON/LIFE MAGAZINE

Until this opening, he was a largely forgotten figure in today’s fashion world; a relic of the past from the time when today’s biggest fashion houses (Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, etc.) were just starting out. How could this have happened? Put simply, to have forgotten Charles James was a travesty. He was a creative genius and self-taught master-cutter, possessing the ability to transform plain fabrics into elaborate and stunning gowns of almost architectural construction. His ability to transform the contours of a woman’s body into something almost mythological in proportion is akin to the genius we still celebrate in creations of Madame Grès and Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Style icon and socialite Babe Paley poses in a Charles James gown in this 1950 John Rawlings photograph (left), different views of the gown on display in the MET exhibition. Image GETTY/JOHN RAWLINGS/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

He was praised and admired by his peers, being lauded icons like Paul Poiret, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Coco Chanel, and was one of the most sought-after designers of his generation. Christian Dior credited James with inspiring 1947’s iconic “New Look,” referring to him as, “the greatest talent of my generation,” while Balenciaga praised James with raising the craft of dressmaking to a “pure art form.” He was considered a master of his day and accordingly, his client list included legendary names like Millicent Rogers, Lily Pons, Austine Hearst, Gypsy Rose Lee, Jennifer Jones, Babe Paley and Marietta Tree; women who only had time for the best!

It is no wonder that he believed himself to be “properly regarded as the greatest couturier in the world,” since at that time, he quite likely was.

Le Groux Souers Hat, created by Charles James in 1952 and shot by Norman Parkinson. Image GETTY

Again I have to ask, HOW could such an inherently talented and famous figure in the world of fashion have slipped so easily into the realm of anonymity?

Sadly, the answer seems to be that James did this to himself. Brilliant designer and couturier that he was, Charles James suffered from several demons that made him a miserable person to be around. Erratic, wildly arrogant, extravagant and scathingly articulate, James rubbed everybody the wrong way. Karl Lagerfeld once remarked that James was, “a tiny little midget with dyed hair – the most unpleasant man I ever met. I think he was his own worst enemy.” These inconsistencies are today thought to be manifestations of bipolar mania, but these were ultimately the some of the tools of his downfall.

Two views of a rare 1941 evening dress, on display at the MET exhibition. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Like his personality, James’ business practices were similarly discordant. Being born and raised in great wealth, Charles James operated on this level of affluence at all times- no matter how dismal the reality of his financial situation was. His extravagant business practices left him constantly fleeing debt and his perpetual habit of moving and starting over left him unable to ever fully establish his design house. He moved all over London, Paris and the eastern United States, never able to achieve the financial stability required to build a successful brand; much less that required to allow his brand to grow.

Different views of Charles James’ Butterfly Dress circa 1952-53, including a peek at the underpinnings of the skirt. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

James was driven by one desire: to be completely original. He looked upon his creations as works of art (as did many of his customers) and wanted to produce things that no one had ever seen or even thought of before. Throughout his career, he worked continually to realize this vision. He ignored the venerated schedule of the fashion seasons, perpetually reworking original designs and ideas to create something new. It is perhaps right to look upon to his constant moving as a sort of self-inflicted exercise to keep him creatively “open” by constantly exposing himself to new situations.

A silk dressing gown, constructed of ribbons of silk, was created by James in 1944. Seen here in an undated photograph (left) and on display in the MET exhibition. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Since the components of his designs were interchangeable, James always had access to a never-ending fund of ideas on which to draw upon. He therefore spent his time refining patterns, documenting his dresses, writing and theorizing. This pursuit of originality trumped James’ commitments to his clients, manufactures, stores and basically everyone and everything, resulting in his ultimate downfall and- for us today, a relatively small number of finished pieces. Years of this behavior eventually led the Internal Revenue Service to shut down his business in the late 1950s, whereupon he retired from fashion.

James’ Tulip Gown, photographed in an issue of Vogue in 1950 (left), and on display at the MET exhibition. Image VOGUE/GETTY/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

In the fall of 1978 Charles James was living in a three room apartment in New York’s Chelsea Hotel when he fell ill with bronchial pneumonia. His cavalier attitude was still intact however, as Vogue records that he reportedly kept the ambulance meant to take him to the hospital waiting while he primped his face and clothes, telling them, “it may not mean anything to you…I am what is popularly regarded as the greatest couturier in the Western world.” He died later that night.

James’ Swan gown, circa 1954, is made of silk taffeta and tulle and boast a skirt that is 6 feet in diameter! Nancy James in a 1955 photograph by Cecil Beaton (left), a view of the gown’s bustle, which was constructed to resemble the folded wings of a swan and the gown on display in the MET exhibition. Image GETTY/CECIL BEATON/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

With the MET’s exhibition, some of his former acclaim has been restored and hopefully will continue to grow. The display has received almost universal recognition and is quickly becoming a spring blockbuster. Perfectly curated, the exhibit returns the spotlight to James, focusing on and highlighting his incredible talent and workmanship, while staying away from his tumultuous personal life (thankfully).

Different views of two silk wedding dresses that James created. The top gown was created in 1948, and is on display at the MET exhibit, the bottom gown dates to 1932, and was created by James in London during an early part of his career. It is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART/VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM

The exhibition comes in two parts. The first floor displays a collection of 15 James gowns mounted on special exhibition platforms. Each platform is equipped with a video monitor that dissects the garment into it’s individual pattern pieces, then puts it all back together. Thus we begin to understand the kind of architectural experiments that James must have taken to construct these wondrous gowns.

Three versions of James’ La Sirène evening dress on display in the MET exhibit. This was one of James’ most popular designs and he created them on order throughout his career, the purple version (centre) is the oldest in the collection and dates back to 1939, the white (left) is from 1951 and the black (right) is from the 1940s. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Downstairs in the former costume space (now Anna Wintour Costume Centre), two whole galleries are filled with an account of over 35 years of James’ work. Items from James’ archives document the development of his work during his twenty-year career, spanning from the 1930s to the 1950s. Judging from the dense display of materials it is clear that the MET is dedicated to portraying James’ talent fully. On show are over 20 recent acquisitions of his work, as well as over 40 garments from the Brooklyn Museum’s Costume Collection, which the MET procured in 2009.

Different views of James’ iconic Tree Gown, circa 1955, including a view of the voluminous underskirt. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Here the museum seeks to track James’ design process and the progress of it’s sensibility, from the fluid silk sheaths and sparse lines of the 1930s, to the increasingly structured work produced in the 1940s and ’50s. James’ genius is conveyed in his hats, jackets, coats, and most famously, his gowns. The MET presents these pieces in four themes that were predominant in his designs, “Spirals and Wraps,” “Drapes and Folds,” “Platonic Form” and “Anatomical Cut.”

One of James Clover Leaf gowns, this version is patterned with a flowing print of fern leaves. Seen here in a 1954 photograph (left), on display in the MET exhibition, and in the original sketch by James (right). Image GETTY/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

The MET has displayed James as an artist rather than a designer, with Harold Koda, the co-curator of the show describing him as a, “sculptor in cloth.” How accurate as it conveys the image of an artist interested in visual spectacle and a true craftsman of design- hallmarks of Charles James’ work. He literally built his gowns, constructing them using techniques he learned while working as a milliner, and this exhibit reveals an artist capable of producing work in line with the extremes of Alexander McQueen, but with a more subtle sense of ostentation, classically set in architectural expression. Not bad for a man who was practically self-taught in the art of dressmaking!

Two views of James’ Diamond evening dress, circa 1957, on display at the MET exhibition. Due to the extensive boning techniques employed by James in constructing this gown, it was a fully self-supporting garment. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

When a woman wore one of his gowns, she was instantly noticed. Nothing he produced was meant to be worn by the faint of heart. A good example of this took place in 1961 when artist Lee Krasner was preparing for her first solo exhibition in London. Krasner contacted James, saying she wanted an outfit that would not draw too much attention to herself, instead allowing it to focus on her work. James replied, “That, Mrs. Pollock, is the one thing I cannot do for you.” She immediately commissioned three outfits.

Two views of the coming-out gown that James created for socialite Cynthia Cunningham’s debutante ball in 1951. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

James constantly used asymmetry to capture the eye and did much the same with his logic-defying seams. He used these seams to bring attention to the details of his design. Sometimes his touch was subtle- a single seam spiraling up the body, while at times they are elaborate, sectioning off pieces of the garment to achieve a tighter fit, while creating points of interest that direct the eye towards specific features- the waist, the knees, pelvis or across the shoulders. His handling of these techniques often transcended the ostentatious aspects of his design to convey the female body in all it’s glory, many times in startlingly erotic terms.

Socialite Millicent Rogers is captured in a Charles James evening gown in this 1948 Gene Fenn photograph for Town and Country Magazine. For this gown, James drew inspiration from the work of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, and one can see the stylized eroticism in the sweeping curves of the over skirt and in the tight pleating at the front of the underskirt right below the peaked bodice. Image GENE FENN/TOWN AND COUNTRY MAGAZINE/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

His innovative shapes can easily be seen as highly stylized eroticism. James described fashion as an art form that, “is rare, correctly proportioned and, though utterly discrete, libidinous,” and often referred to his design as, “a high form of eroticism.” His driving passion was to convey, “form related to movement and, above all, to erotic grace,” and with this in mind, one can see how he used his talent to exhibit his ideals.

Two James innovations: the Figure Eight skirt (left and centre) and the pyjama-styled Lounge trousers (right). The skirt, seen here in separate editorials in 1948 and 1941 editions of Harper’s Bazaar, was called the Figure Eight because it was cut to swirl between the legs in two circles and gave the skirt a full shape without using a lot of fabric. The Lounge trousers boasted what is called a Pavlovian waistline- a comfortable feature designed to expand the garment’s waist to accommodate the stomach after a meal. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR/ CONDE NAST PUBLISHING/GETTY

A Charles James gown transforms a woman by altering the contours of her body. His distinctive and complex draping defines a sinuous line sweeping down the length of the torso, while his elaborate and masterful layering creates skirts that bloom into a voluminous cloud that spreads out in shapes resembling forms only seen in nature. Butterfly wings, tulips, swan’s wings, fish tails, four-leaf clovers and peacock plumes can all be seen in James’ later creations.

James’ Puffer Jacket was created in 1937 for Mrs. Oliver Burr Jennings, seen here in an undated photograph (left) and on display at the MET exhibition. The jacket is made out of eiderdown-stuffed silk satin and was constructed in the same manner as a quilted blanket. Image GETTY/METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

James’ mastery is also seen in the details of his pieces, granting every aspect of his garments- from the seams, to fabric, the embellishment and the colour, a certain autonomy; you can appreciate each feature for themselves and as part of the whole. It is details such as these that confirm that James design struck a perfect balance between passionate artistry and technical innovation.

Charles James’ most regarded gown, and one of his most technically complex creations: the Clover Leaf Gown, which he created for heiress Austine Hearst in 1953. Worn by Mrs. Hearst in 1953 (left), a look at the boning techniques needed to construct the gown, and the gown on display in the MET exhibit. Images METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART/GETTY

He presented the design world with genuine originality. His extensive use of the millinery techniques of blocking and boning made the majority of his garments fully self-supporting- a lady only had to add stockings and shoes to complete her look. A true revolutionary, he is credited with having promoted strapless designs during the rationing of the 1930s, inventing the puffer jacket, the figure-eight skirt, the expandable Pavlovian waistband, the spiral zipper, the spiral layering cut and the “Taxi Dress”- a garment so easy to wear that it could be slipped on in the backseat of a taxi. Basically, many designs and techniques that saturate today’s fashion market (like puffer jackets and the wrap dress) can be traced back to the genius of Charles James.

Three of James’ revolutionary designs: (from left) a silk taffeta evening dress circa 1952, the Taxidress circa 1932 and the Spiral evening dress circa 1950. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Charles James has given the fashion world so much, yet to all our shame, his work has been mainly forgotten in the 36 years since his passing. Thankfully, with this exhibition, James’ raw talent and vision have again been allowed to shine, to be admired, to be celebrated. I hope that his legacy and name will again be acknowledged and that he is so justly recognized as a founding titan of today’s fashion world.

Two views of a silk satin evening dress and matching cape, produced by James in 1937. Image METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Oh Tilda!

Tilda Swinton as the 2013 face of Pomellato Jewellery’s Ad Campaigns, she starred in three consecutive collections which were shot by Paolo Roversi. Image POMELLATO JEWELRY

I love Tilda Swinton. Apart from being one of my favourite actresses, I absolutely love her style!

She is a lady who was made for fashion- her unusual but striking looks and unconventional approach to style have made her a trendsetter, never a follower. Her statuesque carriage and her intuitive grasp of glamour have made her a powerful presence in the world of entertainment.

Tilda Swinton in Craig Lawrence, photographed by Craig McDean for the 2009 S/s edition of AnOther Magazine. Image ANOTHER MAGAZINE

With her ability to play a multitude of roles, Tilda Swinton is a force in the acting world, being able to transition seamlessly in everything from the Archangel Gabriel in ‘Constantine‘ to Karen Crowder in ‘Michael Clayton‘ (for which she won a BAFTA and Oscar) and Elizabeth Abbott in the ‘Curious Case of Benjamin Button‘. She is widely recognized for delivering wide and multi-layered portrayals, her career is one any actress can rightfully envy.

Tilda Swinton is flawless.

Tilda Swinton as Eve in a still from the 2013 film “Only Lovers Left Alive.” Image SONY PICTURES CLASSICS

I have loved her in almost every role that she has played, and I admire how she has never strayed far from her art-house film roots- despite stepping into more mainstream roles with the progression of her career.

Tilda Swinton photographed by Tim Walker for W Magazine’s August 2011 cover. Image W MAGAZINE

Fashion wise, Tilda has a simple philosophy- art was her start and is a major interest, so her ensembles are viewed as wearable art. From wearing head-to-toe couture for editorial shoots (something not everyone can do), to her Red Carpet looks and even her street-style, Tilda Swinton has always stayed true to form.

Tilds Swinton as the face of Chanel’s pre-fall 2013 “Paris-Edimbourg” Collection, photographed by Karl Lagerfeld. Image CHANEL

Her style is best described as unorthodox luxury, with androgynous and futuristic elements being frequently incorporated into her overall looks. Her angular features, flawless porcelain skin and edgy pompadour have made her a favourite with designers such as Viktor and Rolf, Jean Paul Gautier and Haider Ackermann. She has been the face of Scottish luxury brand Pringle of Scotland and has starred in Chanel’s 2012-2013 Métiers d’Art Collection.

Tilda Swinton as the face of Pringle of Scotland’s F/w 2010 collection, shot by Ryan McGinley. Image PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND

At 53 she seems almost ageless and her inimitable looks have, if anything, improved with age. Her fierce command of style is a refreshing departure from the typical ultra-sexy, feminine looks that have become the norm in Hollywood today.

Tilda Swinton in the May 2013 edition of W Magazine, photographed by Tim Walker. Image W MAGAZINE

Tilda Swinton, you are perfect. Don’t ever change!

Van Cleef and Arpels: Imagination and Opulence

Van Cleef and Arpels “Pierres du Caractere Variations” High Jewelry Collection S/s 2013 Campaign features models Du Juan and Bonnie Chen, photographed by Richard Ramos. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

I love jewelry. I have loved jewelry ever since I was a little girl and now it’s one of my favourite things to collect. I may have mentioned a few posts ago that I love flipping through magazines to look at the jewelry advertisements- and one jewelry house whose ads I particularly look out for is Van Cleef and Arpels.

The Van Cleef and Arpels ‘Pongal’ ring in yellow gold from the 2005 ‘Pierres de Caractère’ Collection is studded with rubies and diamonds and features a 27.81-carat Colombian emerald. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Van Cleef and Arpels is a French design house specializing in jewelry, watches and perfumes. It was originally founded in 1896 as a company specializing in precious stones by Alfred Van Cleef and his father-in-law Salomon Arpels. In 1906 it became primarily a jewelry design house when, following Salomon’s death, Alfred Van Cleef was joined by his brothers-in-law Salomon and Julien Arpels.

The company has become famous for its intricate and whimsical gems, its particular expertise in precious stones and its use of the groundbreaking gem-setting procedure known as the “Mystery Setting”. Their designs often feature flowers, animals, fairies, dancers and mythological creatures and their collections draw inspiration from literature, ballet and nature.

Van Cleef and Arpels bird clip (1963) in platinum and yellow gold, set with turquoise, sapphires, white diamonds and coral. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS/BOWERS MUSEUM

Van Cleef and Arpels’ first store opened in 1906 at 22 Place Vendôme, Paris, across from the Hotel Ritz. Place Vendôme was a symbol of Parisian luxury and elegance and attracted international businessmen and aristocrats. The business grew quickly and Van Cleef and Arpels opened boutiques in resorts such as Deauville, Nice, Monte-Carlo, Le Touquet and Vichy.

The Van Cleef and Arpels flagship store in Palace Vendôme, Paris. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

The Van Cleef and Arpels company continued to grow in fame and prestige as they opened stores in Geneva, Milan, and Germany, eventually becoming the first Parisian jewelry brand to open boutiques in Japan and China. There are now standalone boutiques in major international cities worldwide such as Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, New York, Tokyo and Berlin. There are also boutiques within shopping centres and major department stores worldwide, as well as a seasonal store in Aspen, Colorado in the US. The company today holds a major international presence, stemming from a long history of producing fantastic jewelery, commissioned by prominent international luminaries. Van Cleef and Arpels has created jewelry for royalty, public figures and celebrities, with their pieces having been worn by style icons like Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Jaqueline Kennedy-Onassis.

Actress Eva Mendes wore the Van Cleef and Arpels yellow gold and platinum ‘Panka’ necklace to the 2009 Golden Globe Awards (her gown is Dior). The necklace is set with turquoise and diamonds and was produced in 1974, it is in the company’s private collection. Image STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE

In 1978 Van CLeef and Arpels forayed into the fragrance market with their premier scent ‘First for Women.’ ‘First’ quickly became a best-seller and remains as a popular scent today. The continuing success of ‘First’ (1978 – present) has paved the way for other fragrances such as ‘Gem’ (1987), ‘Féerie’ (2008), ‘Oriens’ (2010), as well as their scent collections ‘Collection Extraordinaire’ (2009), ‘Collection Les Saisons’ (2004). The house’s best-selling colognes include “Tsar” (1984), ‘Zanzibar’ (2001) and ‘Midnight in Paris'(2012).

The 2013 Van Cleef and Arpels Haute Parfumerie Campaign for the scent ‘Fèerie Spring Blossom.’ Image Van Cleef and Arpels

Yet, Van Cleef and Arpels’ claim to fame has and will be for for its stunning jewelry. The company has produced many innovative pieces such as the ‘Passe Portout’ (Take-me-anywhere) convertible bracelet (1939), the ‘Zip’ necklace (1950); which can be open and closed like a zip and can be converted into a bracelet, the iconic ‘Alhambra’ necklace (and subsequent design motif-1968) and the ‘between-the-fingers’ collection of rings which was launched in 2001 with the ‘Lotus’ ring.

The Van Cleef and Arpels ‘Zip” necklace (1950) in yellow gold is set with white diamonds, rubies and pearls. Shown here in it’s semi-zipped necklace and it’s fully-zipped bracelet forms. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

The company has also been producing jeweled timepieces since the 1920s, but it was not until the 1936 release of the ‘Cadenas’ (Padlock) wristwatch bracelet, that Van Cleef and Arpels garnered notable acclaim for its inventive watches. The ‘Cadenas’ was followed by the ‘Tourniquet’ bracelet watch in 1937 and 1939’s ‘Montre Clipfleur’ timepiece; a brooch with a small watch mounted beneath a jeweled cover. Jeweled ladies’ watches and chronographs have since been included in the company’s seasonal jewelry collection.

In celebration of it’s centenary in 2006, the company released it’s first full collection of haute horlogerie, ‘Quantième de Saison,’ a compilation of limited-edition watches designed specifically for women. These gorgeous timepieces featured details such as beautifully enameled watch-faces, moving bejeweled watch hands and mechanical movements that tracked the passage of the seasons. This collection was such an enormous success that new editions are now produced each year under the label of ‘Complication des Amoureux Poetic’ (Poetic Complications).

Examples of the 2006 Van Cleef and Arpels ‘Quantième de Saison’ Ladies watches: (from left) The Lady Arpels Centenary, the Tourbillon Cadran Unique Colbri and the Lady Arpels Fèerie. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Another notable Van Cleef and Arpels innovation is the 1930 introduction of the Minaudière, a small precious box or handbag, originally made of precious materials and just large enough to fit in a woman’s palm on a night out. Apart from these small handbags and boxes, the company’s Minaudières also include jeweled money clips, pill boxes, lipstick cases and compact mirrors.

The 1926 Van Cleef and Arpels ‘Roses Minaudière’ precious box. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

The company’s perfection of the Mystery Setting, a ground-breaking technique for mounting gems, is an achievement considered to be design evolution. The Mystery Setting involves individual stones being hand-grooved onto a mesh form of gold or platinum wire and results in the stones being set without any visible prongs. While this method was introduced by Parisian Jeweler Chaumet in 1904, it was perfected by Van Cleef and Arpels in the 1930s, and it is now used with propriety ownership by the company.

An example of the Mystery Setting is seen in this clip from the Van Cleef and Arpels 2010 ‘Papillions’ Collection; it is platinum and set with rubies and diamonds with a hanging baroque pearl. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Van Cleef and Arpels has grown into one of the world’s most successful and prestigious jewelry companies with more than 40 stores worldwide and and huge international revenues (it’s 2010/2011 sales revenue was estimated to total €500 million). It was formerly managed by different members of the Arpels family until being acquired in 1999 by Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A., a luxury-holdings group based in Switzerland.

A carved ivory and yellow gold bangle set with rubies, emeralds and white diamonds from the Van Cleef and Arpels 2005 ‘Pierres de Caractère’ Collection. Image VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Stunning. Here’s to many more years of fabulous jewelry!

The Fierceness of Calvin Klein Advertisements

Calvin Klein Jeans S/s 2014, featuring models Vanessa Axente and Clark Brockleman, photographed by Mario Sorrenti. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS

I love seeing Calvin Klein advertisements when I flip through magazines- they are so much EVERYTHING! Hot, oil-slicked models and celebs in jeans and underwear posing like there’s no tomorrow. Even the fully-clothed campaigns are to die for!

What could be better??


(Top) Andie Macdowell in a 1982 Calvin Klein Jeans commercial. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS Compare with:
(Bottom) Kristen Stewart as the face of Chanel “Paris-Dallas” Collection S/S 2014. Image CHANEL

Now what does Kristen Stewart have to do with this post? Strangely enough, she inspired it.

A few days ago I saw one of Kristen Stewart’s new ads as the face of Chanel’s spring “Paris-Dallas” Collection and it reminded me of old Calvin Klein Jeans ads. Now to be honest I’m not a huge fan of Chanel’s new campaign, but you can’t deny that Kristen Stewart is quite a capable model. In addition to being Karl’s new girl, she’s the face of Balenciaga’s “Florabotanica” and “Rosabotanica” scents and she has appeared in couture shoots for many magazines.

But this post isn’t about Kristen Stewart’s modelling skills, nor is it about Chanel’s spring campaign; this is about the impact and complete fierceness of Calvin Klein ads!

Calvin Klein Jeans S/s 2010, featuring models Liu Wen and Constance Jablonski and photographed by Craig McDean. Image CALVIN KLEIN

From the early 1980s Calvin Klein ads and commercials have been heating up television and the pages of our favorite fashion magazines. From the infamous 1980 Brooke Shields CK Jeans commercials to the current S/s 2014 collection (starring models Vanessa Axente and Clark Bockelman), Calvin Klein has constantly toed the limits of sexuality in advertising.

Fashion is not and has never been a world of prudes, but Calvin Klein has always been at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of what society and fashion buyers would accept. Nudity, body oil and compromising positions have become staples of their campaigns- causing some of their ads to be banned for being too racy, but catapulting the brand into legendary status for their impact on both Calvin Klein consumers, and modern culture as a whole.

BANNED: Calvin Klein Jeans F/w 2010, featuring Lara Stone, Eric Anderson, Grayson Vaughan and A. J. (not pictured but also in campaign Sid Ellison) photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS

Basically, people love to talk, and Calvin Klein’s ads have ensured that people have been talking about them. The brand has historically been at the forefront of some pretty serious debates with the debut of many of its campaigns. From the controversy of showing semi-nude teenage models (like Kate Moss’ 1990s ads- shot when she was 18) or for being “sexually provocative” and “demeaning to women” (like Lara Stone’s banned 2010 campaign), Calvin Klein ads have struck chords with…. well basically everyone.

Eva Mendes and model Jamie Dornan were the faces of Calvin Klein Jeans S/s 2010 campaign; shot by photographer Stephen Klein. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS

Think about this for a second. Whether you are offended or not by what their campaigns present, the brand has publicly opened up conversations on topics that might not have been deemed acceptable by many. Talk changes the world and they have quite literally helped in this change with each season’s shoots and in the widest of scopes. You want to talk about women’s liberation? Think no further than Eva Mendes’ 2010 CK Underwear ads or basically any that Kate Moss has been in.  The building of powerhouse celebrity careers? Look to Mark Wahlberg’s underwear campaign shot in his days of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

See the power of fashion advertising?

Kate Moss, the face of Calvin Klein’s Fragrance “Obsession” in 1993, shot by Mario Sorrenti. Image CALVIN KLEIN

To the fashion world, Calvin Klein ads have been practically heaven-sent for the amount of public interest- and money- that they’ve injected into the industry. Granted that a lot of the fashion industry is buoyed on hype, it runs on money and these campaigns have been very successful; so much so that they were a huge part of bringing the brand back from bankruptcy in the early 1990s, while constantly injecting needed billions in the sector as a whole.  Many top models and actors also owe much to these Calvin Klein campaigns with the publicity that they garner. The careers of many of today’s top models like Kate Moss, Toni Garrn, Natalia Vodianova, Adam Senn and Scott King were established with shots advertising the brand’s products.

Model Natalia Vodianova and football star Fredrik Ljungberg, the 2006 S/s faces of Calvin Klein Underwear. Image CALVIN KLEIN

Now-unforgettable names owe much to this label, and  really, where would the entertainment world be without Antonio Sabato Jr., Mini Arden, Eva Mendez, Andrew Stetson, Zoe Saldana, Doutzen Kroes, Garett Neff, Jerry Hall, Christy Turlington, Alexander Skarsgard, Jamie Dornan, Scarlett Johansson and many more.

The ads bring new customers with each release, bolstering fashion sales while further extending the range of fashion’s infiltration in modern culture.

Model Emily DiDonato for Calvin Klein Jeans S/s 2010, photographed by Sebastien Kim and Fabien Baron. Image CALVIN KLEIN JEANS

Personally, I have always been a fan of the ballsy attitude and perfect photography that’s seen in Calvin Klein campaigns. The pictures are beautiful and memorable, chock-full of gorgeous clothing, people and places, and as for the semi- nudity, well I’ve never seen that as a problem. Like most consumers I have always based my shopping on how good the clothes make me look and I appreciate that Calvin Klein sells their products by insinuating that they’ll make you look and feel so good, you’d instantly be irresistibly sexy to everyone.

Calvin Klein Swimwear S/s 2010, featuring models Edita Vilkeviciute and Vladimir Ivanov, photographed by Sebastian Kim. Image CALVIN KLEIN

Just much too fierce!
I approve