The Roar of the Greasepaint, the smash of the Crowd

Sag Awards in LA Red Carpet Musings: Hollywood is out in their finest threads and dazzling sparkles.   

The SAG awards was in fact the first big awards show we did, back when it was just a baby awards show.  Everyone thought we were nuts to do it, but here we are today one of the audience favorites celebrating the actors and their year of highs and lows.  So, with the clothes playing a major part in the fun, here’s below a few crowd snaps (*thank you to Darci Scanlon, event Production designer & gal in the gallery) who furnished these ‘street photos’ for us.  More about Darci, a bit later.   Now, to the fashions!


Wow, Cynthia Erivo basically won the carpet. Her Schiaparelli gown was stunning, powerful, sexy and made the statement that she is ‘here to stay, thank you, very much’.  And speaking of (wow) some of the ladies learned their lessons from the GOLDEN GLOBES (*Jaylo, that’s you dearest) who (if you were lately under a rock) wore the largest Christmas Wrap bow ever seen on the carpet. I am sure that those “Valentino” people had a blast making that bow and wanted to see how large it could get (meow) telling poor Jaylo it was the height of fashion (Twitter told her  “NO” ) thus, no need for me, to go on.  Jaylo responded, with a black strapless gown (whew) was both elegant and sexy.  She’s really getting that she is a superstar, so why not ‘ultra elegance’ instead as Queen of a road show?  Renee (bless her) had the 1950s sculptured strapless on “A La Judy” and it was a fitting tribute. She is super petite; her small frame was not engulfed by the dress though her hair was a bit ‘unexplained’.  The Duchess’ can get away with a messy bun, but few can measure up to her example. Renee always looks great in a Chignon, or French updo a better choice for her.

Tops in my book is Zoe Kravitz who having just been married in Paris over the holidays has taken vintage GIVENCHY “A La Audrey” to heart.  She has made it new and modern again. Her salmon toned silk dress will revive and modernize many trends in the industry. I hope the gloves were made of kid leather (*not easy to know that from a distance) were a bit over the top for California (*yes, Mrs. Clooney) but nevertheless the look was a game changer for Zoe.

Charlize Theron took on the super simple and sexy athletic look almost wearing a yoga top and slit front skirt that was truly a surprise and a trend of things to come. How far can a couture house go towards “athleisure” looks?  Jennifer Aniston, a true LA beach girl wore what we all could fantasize about; if we threw on a gown and headed to the beach (sounds sorta casual) but the results was a 1930’s style Harlow gown that really looked elegant and unfussy. Sophie Turner is enjoying her reign as the ‘corset queen’ in a hot pink number that was belted and reminiscent of the sort of Gaultier gown worn by Madonna.  She is certainly on the right track. She is a warrior, and it suits her. There was some hot pink, black, silver and even that royal blue showing up on the carpet. There were a few pantsuits and mixes of the two (some better than others) and apparently an entire spring garden of puffs and clouds ( I personally think are just silly in January).  Many are Oscar(tm)  hopefuls, so let’s see if this high level of couture and red carpet savvy will continue.


Editor’s Note: All photos used with courtesy of Darcy Scanlin and must be licensed for further use.  Ms. Scanlin’s photo backdrop for the awards was designed by her and her team, bravo.  See our Instagram feed for more of those fun photos @artificeworld




The Mad Hatter of Venice: Nicolas Fouquet

Here is what happens when ‘unconventional’ style meets the typical men’s hat in Los Angeles.

There was one evening on the Grammy stage when several notable stars wore stunning hats on and the rest is hat-history. The beaver fur hat, a unique felted fabric that is rendered into post-historic shapes decorated with multi-colored bands of fabric or bits of inspiration from the Colorado mountains; you are now taking in the NICOLAS FOUQUET hat made in Venice, CA by the mad hatter himself. The name is distinctly French, his origins both American and French with a worldwide journey in between. Only a world traveler with a curiosity for the things that move or inspire him could also be in the midst of reviving a 1970’a geodesic dome in Topanga Canyon that is sure to be another stylish creative project.

Nicolas also recently opened his 2,000 square feet location in Venice he supevised and designed himself; a mix of spare desert style (inspired perhaps by Georgia O’Keefe) with the clean lines of a beach lifestyle just a few blocks away. Mixed with mid-century furniture create there is a luxe lounge area in the center of the space with the surrounds displaying an eye popping collection of hats, accessories and jewelry. There is a core collection of hats available in the store but he is always busy with his endless supply of custom designs created for a unique cast of celebrity clients.  What we say is, Mad Hatter or not, he is on to something to, well, take your hat off to. Nicolas  adds his name to the unique artists that make up the LA fashion scene that has taken off and is attracting attention around the world.

What Were They Thinking? Forgettable Emmy Red Carpet Moments 2019

Sometimes bad gowns, happen to very nice people…..Oh dear, this Emmy’s red carpet was perhaps the worst ever. Here are a few examples of looks that should not have left the house. Where do we start?

The simple fact is September in Los Angeles, is not the Fall Season in New York, and I have always been of the opinion the season on the Emmy’s Carpet is just like a TV sitcom: “Forever Spring” . There were Emmy looks too heavy for this theme, some are terribly made, some are so ridiculous in their seriousness, that even the Fab Four managed to look better on the carpet in their fashion send-ups by comparison. The Emmy’s has become a clown parade and the entire event has lots its purpose of celebration, becoming like a TV prom parade of very bad fashions. There were some bright spits from both the ingenues and some veterans, who chose to take their moment carefully and in keeping with their brand, and those merit their own separate blog post. I hope if you suffered the slings and arrows of the fashion press and learned the hard way, you will do better next year.

The Wardrobe Mistress

Murder Mystery Fashions: The Golden Age of 1930’s Cinema

The Kennel Murder Case” (1933) starring William Powell and Mary Astor.  As the character PHILO VANCE some say is is a “preview” to his later career as “The Thin Man” which debuted later in the decade and into the 1940’s as audiences could not get enough of his crime solving skills and debonair manner.  The THIN MAN series gained much acclaim and success.  It’s a favorite series on many TCM lists of Detective genres but this early mystery is considered one of the best.  It’s a short skip and jump to the “Film Noir” genre that is related though not the same.  My obsession with these films is the look and feel of the atmosphere, and especially the costumes. The 1930’s was the era of the depression when the movies provided the a lifestyle that audiences could only dream of.  The perfect suit worn by William Powell is in stark contrast to his cohorts down at the police station as he is a cut above in social class. The big stars of the film would have had their clothes especially tailored  and designed and Mary Aster’s clothes would have been created by a studio costume designer to reflect her high social class and taken from the pages of a fashion magazine.

ORRY KELLY was a well known costume designer known for his elegance for both women costumes and his filmography is long and contains some of Hollywood’s most famous films.  This film was one of his works and you can easily see Mary Astor and a few of the female main characters wearing his elegant designs.  The looks of the film were contemporary, and not fantastical.  A wardrobe mistress would have dressed the remaining cast members and extras.  Bill Powell most likely has a tailor who made his suits (at least 3 for the shoot) and costume stock from studio wardrobe would have dressed the cops, extras, and smaller characters in the film.  Before there were huge 531572240costume houses in Hollywood, there were huge wardrobe departments and stock that provided the costumes.



The black and white film is a challenge that is unique to the art of costume and scenic design. Exploring the tones, textures and lines of the clothes is an important aspect to telling the story of the characters. When captured in black and white, the story becomes even more stark as the lights and shadows become as important as the fashions depicted.

What makes the genre of the detective story so fun, is the rooms are often bathed in shadows, characters emerge into the light, their clothes sometimes blending into the background until they are revealed and often with critical plot points. Satins and fur trim are important fabrics of the period as are silk crepes lending the look and feel for the bias cut dresses, coats and gowns; they lend specific textures and play with light which was the second most important aspect of the clothes next to the depiction of character.  Murder mysteries and ‘who-dunnets’  are peculiar in their aspects of “conceal and reveal” of each character in a story line; characters experience a progression as plots unfold and giving things away too soon can ruin the best plotlines.  The art of making sure the characters can both tell their stories and also emerge from the shadows at the right moment is a key aspect of a design.  Orry Kelly was a unique designer in his relationships with female stars as well as his unique ability to design both an ‘everyday’ look that also rises to the heights of movie star style.

The familiar faces of the often repeated cast of actors in this film are like old comfortable sweaters; you are happy to see them as they appear in yet another role perfectly cast for their personalities. The marvelous characters of the film seem to have been lifted right out of the pages of the original novel in their dusty and rumpled clothes; the stars pop off the screen in their beautifully tailored clothes that are a testament to both the designers and craftsmen who created them.

Editor’s Note:  Film historians such as William K. Everson, who pronounced The Kennel Murder Case a “masterpiece” (in the August 1984 issue of Films in Review) consider it one of the greatest screen adaptations of a Golden Age mystery novel; ranking it with the 1946 film Green for Danger.

Mary Astor and Her Dirty Diary via @DixieLaite

The Kennel Murder Case”  is available to Amazon Prime Members and a fun mystery to watch for the early career for William Powell.

Related Costume Research: for more information on the genre of the Murder Mystery in Hollywood’s Golden Age.

San Francisco University of Art

2019 Graduating Class of Future Fashion Stars

Graduating  Class of Fashion Forward Future Stars 2019

by Pikke Allen, Editor at Large

Graduation Fashion Show 2019

The history of the SF Art Academy is a unique one and particular to the city of San Francisco.  Their students and graduating class are a part of fashion history, as the school hasimage1developed and put out into the fashion world many luminaries over the years. It is always a unique and wonderful experience to see what students are doing, their vision of the world and their wonderful spontaneous take on what fashion really means.  The Academy of Art is the largest school of art disciplines in the US today, so it may surprise you that its importance to both fashion and culture on the West Coast, can’t be compared to anything else for fashion education in the country today. So, the over 2,000 attendees of the graduating class this year made it the hottest ticket in town.


Drawing on their own personal experiences that are a combination of the naive, or perhaps tentative. Some of the work might even pulled from both internal or external cultural references; sometimes the work is outside the box and inspiring.  Some of the designer’s work and creations are so non-commercial as to be commendable. Always, the students present their knowledge gained in this program whether it be textiles, fabric cutting, patternmaking or handcrafts, there is a unique mixture of disciplines expressed in their final collections.  Here are some of the highlights that I truly enjoyed and those I felt had real promise in their future in the fashion industry.

One of the unique areas in the show was the menswear, with CHRISTOPHER CABALENA a stand out with his series of white suits, vests and truly futuristic looks that will be a unique addition to a brand looking for new directions in menswear.  I feel his work has already predicted a red carpet choice for any music or cinema star and ready for Pharrell Williams, for example would be quite at home in these looks.

My next favorite designer was CLARA M CHANDRA & JACK GUNNIN whose unique placements of textiles and colors harkened back to one of San Francisco’s most unique designers, the team of JEAN MARC who were a powerful duo in the 1970s. mood board says it all and sketches say it all.  With contrasting colors and sculptural sleeve extensions, I urge them to go back to see the work of this unique team as they can learn from them. Her cultural heritage from China and Indonesia are expressed in remembrance of her mother’s courage and beauty.  Together they worked some magic, whimsey and fun.

My next choice for designer favorite, is ZIYI  YE who used her cultural experience of a Chinese folktale to begin her inspiration that ended up in a collection of feminine and soaring shapes in shades of pink red and rose tones.  The clothes had a chance to breath on the models are the first steps of what I feel will be a successful evening wear or bridal designer in the future.  Her lovely eye for color and shape will be an asset in bringing her ‘youthful’ eye to clothes that will be very appealing to both young and old.

HANAN SABIR ARGAW was another woman designer who really put the graphics and pop back into a runway show, and her work was a crowd pleaser. Her outfits featured the pill-popping colors you see below in her mood board and the circles of pills and related shapes were built into garments that really had a sense of fun and point of view. This is a critical moment for any young designer, trying for and getting a worldview that is just the open door to more exciting things.

ANAN YINAN ZHOU was a remarkable show of how black can have a variety of moods from sad to exultant. The mood board says is all; both despair, extreme emotions and also a poetic glamour that reminded me of work by ALEXANDER MQUEEN in its devastating approach to glamour.   There is an opportunity to go beyond the black; I hope this young woman will envision the light as well, but her exploration of the dark side was a standout.

Her runway looks were crowd pleasers, almost mystical and strange but beautiful. Her use of Black in all its forms made us take a closer look at the color, that in itself is both a mood, a design point of view and one of fashion’s favorite ‘non-colors’.  I understood the fabrics though basic, were molded into unique shapes. A higher fabric budget will allow her to soar to great heights in the fashion world as she has a deep understanding of the way fabrics can work in sculptural elegant shapes, and so her future looks bright, indeed.

Here are some links for you to see the show in person, yourself in this online reportage of the show.  More information on the show is also below.

WATCH the fashion show: For more information, please visit

School of Fashion Blog:


About the University:  ‘Academy of Art University is the largest private university of art and design in the United States. Established in 1929, the Academy imposes a rigorous curriculum that requires the students to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates a mastery of their field’.

Luminaries and Attendees:

Livia Stoianova, Co-founder and Designer, On Aura Tout Vu (2019 honorary doctorate recipient) Yassen Samouilov, Co-founder and Designer, On Aura Tout Vu (2019 honorary doctorate recipient) Edwin Mohney, Fashion Designer

Andre Walker, Fashion Designer (2018 honorary doctorate recipient)

Sara Kozlowski, Director of Education and Professional Development, CFDA

Olya Kuryshchuk, Founder and Editor in Chief at 1 Granary

Lara Lettice Johnson-Wheeler, Writer, Editor, Broadcaster / Contributor with SHOWstudio Bernhard Wilhelm (artist / designer)




Discover Organic Fragrances: Henry Rose

33AA3244-8BBF-4DA4-92B2-0F511E9403BBThe New Organic Fragrance collection by Michelle Pfeiffer.

HENRY ROSE, named for the line up of creations approved by Ms. Pfeiffer are offered in full sizes and you can sample the collection for a mere $20.00 plus shipping. It is a nice way to be introduced to her collection and this is just what I did.

Frankly, what has happened in the fragrance industry is nothing short of criminal as chemicals begin to replace real essences, what you see, is not always what you get. The amount of fillers in fragrances is legendary, and can give rise to many allergies. So, getting personal with Michelle Pfeiffer’s own tastes in fragrances was an exciting thought for a fragrance addict like me. I was also impressed by her desire to create a organic formulated fragrance, devoid of anything that many people are allergic to and blessed by the organic powers-that-be. This was going to be a fragrance adventure, and I was all in.

So, the reality is that the modern world is a pretty stinky place and filled with chemicals that are doing us no good at all. However, I can say from experience that the mass market fragrance world has literally been turned on its ear by boutique fragrances and namesake brands that have littered the grave yard of either big failures or success. One of them (believe it or not) is Elizabeth Taylor’s own series of fragrances that are still available and selling very well. While not my personal taste, its just shows you how important a fragrance and its namesake, or “zeitgeist” is so important for its success. So, a Michelle Pfeiffer fragrance that she has lovingly worked on is admirable, and with the gaging of which ones are the most successful, it will be interesting to see which ones will take off.

Enter the organic, curated and uniquely formulated HENRY ROSE fragrance collection.

What I believe to be true, is that this is not just a selection of options, but a collection that is meant to be worn alone or mixed with other from the collection. Their names are:

  • JAKE’S HOUSE – Green /Woodsy
  • DARK IS NIGHT – Oriental – Patchouli
  • TORN – Fruity /Sweet
  • LAST NIGHT – Candy Sweetness
  • FOG – Mysterious

So do you see the moods here? I suggest that by trying the sampler you can literally create your own mood, and this is very successful for many higher end fragrances.

So, I suggest you order the set and mix away, and let me know what you think. I took my many fragranced arm and shared it with the girls in my local coffee shop. Well, they responded to with “that’s nice” or “I have smelled it before” and “Might only want to wear that one at night” or “I like that one the best” etc.

I found the fragrance collection to be a unique mixture of moods. Organic fragrances are new to me; but these will add to the wardrobe of many who are allergic or prefer ingredients that are not technically “natural” but formulated with essences that meet the standards of the organic stipulations.

Enjoy the collection and let me know if you find a combination you wish to share.

Full Disclosure: Ms. Allen sells fragrances by INDIA HICKS at: These fragrances were originally formulated for Crabtree & Evelyn and now are sold under the namesake of INDIA HICKS, Inc.

Versailles: Fashion Trends for the Ages

Popular culture often hints at trends and moods or ideas that influence fashion. The show VERSAILLES now on NETFLIX is a unique viewpoint into the court of Louis 14th at Versailles during the years before the French Revolution (and two kings) afterwards.

Versailles should be on everyone’s list who is a fashionista, or history buff. It is more than a chateaux, more than a place. For a fashion historian, it is the backdrop of extraordinary parties, revelries and fashion for a court that has little more to do than intrigue and maneuver politically. The many fashion creators, and craftsmen were all part of this extraordinary machine of style that furnished the fashions for the nobility of France. This was the period of the first discovery of Champagne, the invention of the lace and brocades, furnishings, silver plate, porcelain and many other luxury goods. Production and costumes for the show are beautifully rendered in period style but with modern fresh approach to the Baroque period. What is essential to this period that still seems fresh today? Here is just s short list of trends you will see on the show that have shown up on the fashion runway.

  • Brocades with rich jeweled colors and tones
  • Jewelry with a mix of bold stones and raw pearls
  • Lace and Lace
  • Leather slippers with buckles
  • Ribbons & Embroidered trims
  • Pearl chokers & embroidery
  • Pleated skirts with deep Box style pleats
  • Tailored men’s vest and buttons
  • Corsets & laces
  • Men’s tailored Coats, Capes and Jackets
  • Updos and hair jewels and clips.

Raise your handblown glass goblet, fill it with champagne and have a nibble on some lovely cheese and baguet while  enjoying the binge-worthy world of the kings and nobles of VERSAILLES.  Then, join me and the rest of the world as the final season 3 ends this year (alas, they producers have said there will be no more) and then start it all over again, as the clothes, the fashions, the parties, the passion, are all entertaining and (mostly) adapted from real historical events.