Emma: Clothes, Manners and Men

The Delights of Jane Austin’s World

She’s back and better than ever. Emma. Feisty, vain, elegant and well meaning she is one of literatures favorite busy bodies. If you are not familiar with the story, the young woman of Jane Austin’s collection of characters is known for her matchmaking skills that go woefully wrong. Not once. But several times. A defined social structure is important to the story, with each segment of society well displayed and the characters interacting between them creating both a flow and tension to the plot. All ends well; but on the way to a foregone conclusion, the characters are sharply drawn from Austin’s wellspring of experiences that continue to delight us. You cannot help but feel that she knew each of them very well. She was the quiet woman at the back of the sitting room watching carefully as her stylish relatives and betters interacted. Her wicked pen would finally gain some reputation while she was alive but sadly, she died before her great fame was achieved. Many consider her stories the greatest in the English language in novel format.

A backdrop for elegant clothes and furnishings: The English countryside

The views. The chairs. The warm fires. The windows looking out onto the garden; each express the experiences of the life led by the men and women of this period known as the Regency. The dinner parties alone give one pause, for the sheer amount of food consumed by candlelight. The Treats and Teas displayed should be of note to the London Hoteliers, who should use them as a theme; the set decorating crew and food stylists of the film, simply amazing.

The clothes; ah yes, the clothes. Scrumptious and delicious in their particular fussiness. Fabrics were all imported during this period. Cottons from India, silks from China, Italy or France and the wool manufactured in England. Each beautifully tailored into long coats, high waisted dresses and all with the deftness of a fairy like touch. The men are “beau brummel” rogues and the women feigned an almost biblical sense of purity in their carefully tailored coats and bonnets. The design team is to be commended for not only exquisite details but the particular (slight) exaggeration of some characters such as the parson, whose winged chasuble gave him a particular comic relief in the local parish. The hats, the ribbons the lace and other parts of the garments were made in England and represented the industry at home during the prosperous 19th century Industrial Revolution.

A word about the men’s styles:

Remember the suit? The famous English tailoring we have come to know was all invented during this period. The coats, vests and breeches (oh my) are all displayed in part of this film that gives Austin fans what they crave: romance, intrigue, luxe interiors and views as a backdrop for their beloved characters. Our heroic pair, Emma and Knightly are well matched for their wit and almost dangerously sensuous edginess. We can see the actors hold back their enjoyment of each other in their tightly wound scenes that take an acre of English gardens to finally resolve.

This version of the story has a certain comic and broader feel to it, with music playing a great part in the cadences of each scene. The lighting and interiors are a marvel giving us day and nights in the drawing rooms, hallways, dining and garden rooms of these stately English homes. Seeing how manners, feelings and intentions were so important for the period will be a marvel for the first time viewer. The truth of human experience is always well shown in an Austin story and this one has both fun and some seriousness of intention. Bravo. This one is on its way to some big awards at the Oscars and Golden Globes next year.

You can rent this movie and binge it or share on Amazon Prime with the whole family.

Oscar’s 2020: Bring it

At the epicenter of the earthquake known as the Oscars Red Carpet the awards season came to a close.   Tonight the gentlemen and ladies brought the awards to a great fashion finish. All season long nominees worked that carpet and so did the celebs (that’s you, Jaylo) who have collectively raised the bar. There was not a swan costume in sight, just extraordinary style moments. 

With costume designers completely out of the actress dressing business (except during a film or series) the fashion couture house has stepped into the breach and filled the gap. Unique collaborations have become the new way to appear in one-of-a-kind gowns that are never seen on the runway. Some designers featured were:

  • Versace
  • Chanel
  • Oscar De La Renta
  • Vera Wang
  • Dior
  • Siriano

Rebel Wilson, fresh off her turn as a kitty cat wore a gold number that was flattering and gorgeous, only to be outdone by her appearance as a cat, with James Corden.  The ladies who have been to this rodeo before brought it to the carpet, like Jane Fonda, Sigourney Weaver, Gina Davis all looking beautiful and stylish in Classical Hollywood looks.  Jane Fonda, wore a gown she has worn before in a nod to recycling.

What trends have shown up on the carpet for those of you who are counting?

  • Bodices and Corsets creating fitted and smooth looks
  • Trains that flow and swing or swish
  • High Low Hems (short in front, long in back)
  • Beaded Bodices and decorations (Laura Dern)
  • Jewels to Die For (everyone)
  • Huge Structured Skirts
  • Sleeves and off Shoulder Designs
  • Picture book necklines and sleeves
  • Pops of Winter Colors: Electric Blue, Pink, Green

Some of our favorites are pictured here with an entirely different story going on with those who simply thought they were at the wrong event.

Big Statements at the Oscars
The Many Shades of Black & Navy
Neutrals in Gold

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.

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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

 

 

 

Shoulders are the New Black

 

SAG Awards Red Carpet Review: 2019

The 25th Anniversary of the SAG AWARDS brought back my memory of doing the very first version of the award show before its zenith in popularity and fashionable buzz. Yes, the awards show started small and now the SAG red carpet is one of the most popular in the run up to the Oscars. Trends that start here are often carried on through to the Oscars. It’s always fun to predict “who will wear what” as the red carpet season marches towards the finish line. 

Major Trend: Shoulders and more Shoulders. There was the ‘Off the Shoulder’ gown, the sheer or tulle capes that covered and revealed and also gowns with unique shoulder embellishments as well. For example, a swirling shoulder piece on Emily Blunt by Michael Kors or Mandy Moore’s black and crystal Off-Shoulder sheath  by Jason Wu. Emma Stone wore a one shoulder top with a necktie worn like a bow that topped her pitch perfect silk slacks by Louis Vuitton.  A beautiful white off shoulder gown festooned with bird feathers, the lovely Danai Gurira wearing Ralph Russo. Constance Wu work a lovely Oscar de La Renta gown that was strapless and simple; its elegance and minimalism highlighting her shoulders and upper chest area which were jewels in themselves. Elizabeth Moss wore a princess gown with rows of lace that showed off her clean shoulder line and accented the waist with a black ribbon that had a chanel inspired vibe by French designer L’huillier.  White gowns seemed to have taken over the pre-spring carpet fortelling a trend of wedding inspired gowns that work both for brides and red carpet worthy evening wear. Sandra Oh also wore a one shoulder look that is almost becoming her signature lucky color RED by British designer Jenny Packham. Patricia Clarkson wearing another Goddess inspired gown in a creme silk chiffon (scads of layers) had gold embellishments that also highlights both her waist and shoulders prove that while cleavage is a Hollywood staple the shoulders have entered the fashion pantheon as the next place to focus on. Lady Gaga stunned us all in her shoulder bearing and grand skirted DIOR gown that she was easily able to work with its thigh high slit that suited her personality. Television can be unkind to miles of cleavage; few can pull it off but a set of lovely shoulders is always elegant, appropriate and the look is always perfect. I believe this trend that started a few seasons ago is not dead, but better then ever and the ladies are working it. 

 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (10072501ff) Emma Stone 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA – 27 Jan 2019

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Black is the New Red: Red Carpet Looks for 2018

What we know for sure:  Black Tie or formal gowns will never be the same again.  The ladies of the Golden Globes showed us that the meaning of solidarity is both as a fashion statement and a statement of support.  The actress who did not show up in a black or black inspired gown at the Golden Globes, didn’t get the memo.  In case you missed it, the wearing of black at the Golden Globes launched the “Times Up” movement for the men in  Hollywood and in fact, the world (timesupnow.com) and as we head into the awards season the movement will continue in one fashion statement or another.  Think of this as another version of the “Pussy Hat”.  Here are some of our of our favorite looks from the Golden Globes. Emphasis on the big gown, cultural, elegant and almost death-defying with the accompanying jewels is what we all look forward too.  Even Pants made their way onto the carpet, and well, we couldn’t be more pleased.

The Wardrobe Mistress

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1920’s Style: Miss Fisher Mysteries

Ultra Chic 1920’s Style in the PBS Mysteries series “Miss Fisher” where the world of the Roaring Twenties in Australia is in full velvets and beadings.  The world of Miss Fisher is one of mysterious crimes, unique characters, glittering interiors and beautiful scenery of the Australian outback. But wait, there’s more.  The costume designs for the show are filled with beautiful details, luxurious surfaces, beading, furs, and millinery designs.  The unique part of these costumes is that they are very good at telling the story of the scenes as well as the strong and willful character of the lead, Miss Fisher.  This delicate balance of story vs. character is what a good costume designer can do for a show.  We also love the details that we think are timeless:

  • Beaded details
  • Fur Trim
  • Velvets
  • Fur Trims
  • Accessories

Take a look at the show on PBS.com for schedule, and join the club of fashion fanatics who adore this period and its expression of style and chic Art Deco flair.