Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The iconic Hermes Bags... Kelly and Birkin

A woman knows she’s made it if life if she owns a Hermes Kelly Bag or a Hermes Birkin Bag. These bags are an iconic elite status symbol that can be recognised from a mile away by their signature padlock and key. They are both exquisitely hand crafted by one artisan from start to finish taking between 25 to 65 hours each bag.

Created in the 1930’s the Kelly bag is the more formal, grown-up of the two. It is a very tailored, sophisticated bag that looks like a small briefcase. It is a bag you would take to a business meeting, a dinner or a night out on the town. It is named the Kelly bag after the gorgeous 1950’s actress Grace Kelly. The story goes, after her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco Grace Kelly used her favourite Hermes Handbag to cover and hide her new pregnancy from the press. There was so much media coverage and hype surrounding both the pregnancy and the infamous bag that Hermes decided to name the bag, the Kelly bag.

The Kelly Bag

Grace Kelly and the infamous Hermes Bag

The Birkin bag is almost the opposite of a Kelly bag. It’s informal, spacious, casual and young. Where the Kelly bag is an occasional bag, the Birkin bag is an everyday bag. It was also named after a famous actress, Jane Birkin. Apparently on a flight Jane Birkin’s overloaded large handbag broke and her belonging scattered in front of the president of Hermes, Jean-Louis Dumas who was on also on the flight. A few years later in 1984 Hermes launched the Birkin Bag inspired and guided by Jane Birkin. The Birkin bag has the longest waiting list of any luxury bag, over 6 years unless of course you are someone like Victoria Beckham who apparently has over 100 Hermes Birkin bags.

The Birkin Bag

Coco Chanel

Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel is truly a fashion icon. She was a woman sure of herself and her style and founded one of the most well known and respected French fashion houses. Chanel’s liberation of women during the 1920’s was revolutionary. She freed women from the corset and introduced them to the concept of casual sportswear which borrowed fabrics and elements from traditional menswear. Chanel’s style was simple and uncomplicated which women embraced during WWI because it was more practical. The legendary perfume Chanel No. 5 was launched in 1923 which continues to be a best seller even today.

During the 1950’s after WWII, Chanel introduced her version of a woman’s suit. Chanel didn’t believe that Christian Dior’s New Look range celebrated a woman’s natural form and decided to create her own Chanel suit. Chanel also recognised the power of her personality and how this could influence the brand of Chanel. Packaging was fundamental including the iconic interlocking double C logo.

Karl Lagerfeld took over as head designer of Chanel in 1983 and each seasons reminds us of the heritage of Chanel.

Coco Chanel

Chanel Shirt 1935-39

Chanel evening dress 1926-27

Chanel Day dress 1924

Chanel Spring Couture 2010

Chanel Spring Couture 2010

Chanel Fall Couture 2009

Chanel Ready-to-wear Spring 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour has been editor in chief of Vogue US since 1988 and is considered the most powerful woman in fashion. She can make or break a designer in an instant and no one in the fashion world succeeds without her approval. She will always have the best seat in the house at every major fashion show and the show will not start until she arrives.
If you haven’t seen The September Issue then go right now to the video store and HIRE IT!!! You will then know what I am talking about when I say Meril Steep portrayed Anna Wintour extremely well in the movie (which was based on the book) The Devil Wears Prada. Everything from her attitude and facial expressions to the perfect hair and big sunglasses was spot on.

As scary as she seems, Anna Wintour has done very well since taking over US Vogue. It is basically considered the best fashion magazine in the world and Wintour works to not just have high fashion in the magazine but also advise affordable options for Middle America. Wintour also does a lot for charities and social issues as well as nurturing young talented designers.

Ps. While you’re at the video store pick up a copy of Valentino: The Last Emperor. It’s about Valentino’s last collection before he retired. Amazing.

Anna Wintour

Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil wears Prada

The September Issue

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A creator of memorable images... Steven Meisel

Steven Meisel is one of fashion’s most iconic photographers. His work is stunningly creative, pioneering and always thoroughly enjoyable. Meisel is the main photographer for both Italian and American Vogue and has shot the cover of Vogue Italy since 1988. Meisel has also photographed advertising campaigns for countless fashion houses such as Prada, Lanvin, Dior, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and many, many others. For me, I love Meisel's work because it's memorable. In the vast world of fashion where images are everywhere Meisel's photography resonates.
Take a look...

Lanvin Spring Summer 2009

'La Dolce Vita' American Vogue Feb 2009

Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 2009

Missoni Spring Summer 2009

Phi Fall Winter 2008

Cover of Vogue Italia February 2010

'A mad cap world' American Vogue February 2009

'Silent' Vogue Italia August 2008

'Morroccan Holiday' Vogue Italia May 2009
"Air Supply' Vogue Italia November 2009

'The great pretender' American Vogue May 2009

Image Source:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A rule breaker and style maker...Carrie Bradshaw

Carrie Bradshaw taught women how to break the fashion rules. From the very beginning of Sex and the City, Carrie’s outlandish style and confidence to pull off anything made her an instant fashion icon. Each week viewers would be hanging out not just to see the next instalment of the Carrie/Mr. Big narrative but to see what Carrie would wear next. And the shoes!! No wonder she used her oven for extra shoe storage, each episode featured a different pair of to-die-for sky scraper heels. Carrie inspired women all around the world to have fun with fashion and to have enough confidence to be creative.

Here are some of her inspirational looks

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LBD – The Little Black Dress

A little black dress or an LBD as it’s affectionately known should be a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. It is that perfectly simple and elegant but sexy dress that can be dress up or dress down for any occasion. Over the years designers have continually tried their hand at a LBD and some have made more of an impression than others. I hope to be one of those designers although I think it will be a little aubergine dress rather than black, but same thing really!

One lady that definitely had a lasting influence was Coco Chanel who has been credited as the designer who first made a little black dress. The year was 1926 and Chanel made a simple versatile black dress that brazenly broke the fashion rules at the time. Black was a colour reserved for either mourning attire or servants uniforms as it didn’t show dirt. American Vogue loved the LBD naming it the ‘Ford’ dress because it was like the Ford cars; simple, accessible, popular and it only came in black.

Here’s a look at some iconic and modern little black dresses.

Audrey Hepburn

Princess Diana

Michelle Obama

Helen Mirren

Roland Mouret


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Duke of Windsor

Edward, the Duke of Windsor was considered one of the best dressed men in the world and his influence on men’s fashion is still seen today. Fern Mallis, the director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America once said; ''The Duke was sort of like Princess Di in contemporary times, a fashion icon for the monarchy.

In 1936 King Edward the VIII abdicated the English throne to marry American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. The people of England apparently would never accept Simpson as the Queen so Edward abdicated to his younger brother George VI and was given the title Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The Duke of Windsor loved to mix and match patterns and colours. He would layer checks on stripes on patterns of all contrasting colours. Edward pretty much invented relaxed clothing for men. He was a great fan of zippers and elastic waistbands especially for sports and country wear. The Duke also liked a good tailored suit and he would customise his suits to make him appear more prominent as he actually had quite a small build.

In 1998 the belongings and wardrobe of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor went to action at Sotheby’s fetching US$23.4 million.

Images: Flickr

Friday, April 16, 2010

The creator of perfection, Christian Dior

I think the first time I fell in love with fashion was the first time I saw Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look range. If I am ever having a bad day or feeling uncreative all I have to do is look at the images of ultra chic Parisian Dior models and feel instantly better. If there was one designer I could ever work with and learn from it would be Christian Dior. I just love everything about his design! The contrast between the volumous skirts and tiny waist... the perfectly rouged lips... the elegance of the draping mixed with the control of the tailoring...Oh, I could go on forever!

The Corolle line or the ‘New Look’ collection was Dior’s revolutionary debut collection. During the Second World War the fashion in Europe was minimalist and utilitarian. Fabric and consumer restrictions were in place and the popular approach was ‘mend and make do’. So when Christian Dior came along at the end of the war and used copious amounts of luxurious fabric in just one skirt, fantasy fashion was brought back to life.

image source: flickr