On the Cote d’Azur

Which scarf for Michelle

What an amazing month! October on Cote d’Azur in the South of France. We love this area and I had the pleasure of conducting image workshops.   Home base was an adorable little apartment in Le Cannet, about fifteen minutes from Cannes.

Traveling in a foreign country is always an experience. We had a fabulous view from our living room – French door opening onto a small balcony and a view of the Mediterranean. Cruise ships would arrive in the morning and spend the day so passengers could shop in the quaint little shops in Cannes, departing that evening to arrive at the next port for a new visit. The sunsets were spectacular. My husband, Joe, walked down to the nearby patisserie for our daily baguette, that we enjoyed with coffee while taking in this amazing view.

Of course, we always got a chuckle out of the city sponsored motorcycle  patrolling the sidewalks several times a week equipped with a vacuum to pick up the dog droppings!  None of this owners walking around with a little baggie here!

You really parked like this?
You really parked like this?

Presenting workshops was great fun!  Each workshop had fifteen to twenty in attendance.  The ladies attending live, at least part of the year, in the South of France. They were a fantastic audience. Although the presentations usually followed a luncheon, hostess Sara decided to hold one in the evening so ladies who were unable to come at noon could attend. We expected four or five ladies.   The final attendance was nineteen! Such enthusiasm!   Many kisses on each cheek, and warm compliments.   How rewarding to be involved with such a group.

View from our apartment
View from our apartment

Our apartment was not without challenges. The hot water had a mind of its own! Each time I got the temperature just right, it would continue until I was covered with shampoo and then turn to ice! I just learned to anticipate and work with this little quirk as it always happened.  And then there was the internet.  You haven’t seen regular blogs for a good reason!

The local streets and roads are well known for being narrow and crooked, often changing from two-lane to one-lane without warning. The car rental company wisely didn’t even offer to allow me to drive!  Joe, on the other hand, loves the challenge. I have included a picture of our nightly parking. It takes real skill to parallel-park that close to a building, bumper to bumper between two cars and never make a scratch! I was grateful that Joe could execute this with confidence!

It has been exciting returning home to get to spend time with two new clients in their closets and have to conduct two workshops. My husband teases me that I enjoy my work too much to call it work! He is right and I appreciate each and every one of you!

A bientôt. – Until next week.

 

 

As seen in the shops in Cannes

Paris Fashion Week - Chanel - Inside Arrivals We are in Cannes in the South of France for the month of October working with friends who live here.  I have been privileged to present several workshops and have an evening presentation on Monday. It has been so rewarding to see how enthusiastic these ladies from all of over the world have been. The workshop on travel wardrobe was received with great enthusiasm. Our internet works on occasion so I am writing this from a Hotel lobby!  Of necessity, it will be brief.

I love walking down the main street in Cannes and looking at all the designer shops with their fall fashions.  We probably would not find some of the designs inmode__christian-dior_automne-hiver-2014-2015_paris_madame-figaro_22 Atlanta.  In addition to the Cannes Film Festival, this city hosts dozens of events throughout the year.  The Muppets were just here last week.  Obviously, women visiting here from all over the world have a less conservative fashion image than we do in the South.

Two designers who especially caught my attention were Christian Dior and Chanel.  Dior has some very interesting colors as you can see from the pictures.  The complementary colors are in their full intensity in the blue and orange, while the red  has been softened to pink with bright green and the blue and lilac is an unusual combination not often used.  These all take lots of energy to wmode__christian-dior_automne-hiver-2014-2015_paris_madame-figaro_23ear!  If you are a quiet person, these are not for you!  They also rmode__christian-dior_automne-hiver-2014-2015_paris_madame-figaro_20isk being memorable.  It does look like the under dress is solid and can be worn separately which will give you more opportunity to wear it.  The use of these unusual color combinations is not seen frequently so I had to share it.

Chanel is another story.  Yes, there is color and unusual designs but I am wondering if designer Karl Lagerfeld has too many lines to design and simply lost focus!  Chanel is known for beautiful tweed suits which work well for a sporty personality.  One design in the window showed a black and white plaid tweed jacket with matching tight trousers.  Really?  Who could wear that?  Then there were sparkly knit tweeds.  Yes, the tights matched the tops in multi-color knit.  Each suit showed matching sneakers – one pink plaid tweed suit had knee-high matching pink tweed sneaker/boots.   The one picture is probably enough to get the idea!  Even Miss Piggy would not wear this!

I will certainly not be adding any of these fashions to my fall wardrobe but it is always fun to see what actually is worn in other parts if the world!

 

 

The New European Royals

William and Kate
William and Kate

Who doesn’t enjoyed reading about what the European royals are wearing?

Princess Diana was the darling of every fashion pundit, starting with the see-through skirt when she was first engaged to Prince Charles.   We followed her through many fashion disasters and watched as she grew into her own style to become a beautiful royal fashion icon.  Unfortunately, we also followed the tabloids through the turbulent  years, of her marriage, her  tragic death and Charles’ marriage to Camilla. Now it is Will, Kate, and baby George who are in the spotlight. It will be a long time before William becomes king but all eyes are again turned to England and this winsome young couple represent the royal family with youth and proper royal decorum. They both know their own style and carry it off with dignity–the perfect image for a young couple whose primary role is ceremonial.

William and Kate
William and Kate

Royalty became personal for us when our beloved Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco and became Princess Grace. Grace was a fashion icon before becoming a princess but she continued to carry out the role beautifully in spite of the headlines made by her children for all the wrong reasons. Now, son Prince Albert, is the ruling monarch of Monaco. He and his lovely wife, Charlene, have just announced that they will become parents late this year. Charlene is a former Olympic swimmer

Prince Albert and Charlene
Prince Albert and Charlene

from South Africa.  She is shy and will probably not be in the spotlight as much as Grace used to be but she seems to enjoy a simple but elegant style of her own.

Joining the ranks of young, handsome European monarchs is newly crowned King Felipe of Spain. His father, Juan Carlos, restored Spain to a democracy following the reign of dictator Franco back in the 1970’s, thus the position is more ceremonial like England.

 Felipe and Letizia

Felipe and Letizia

Felipe brings to the thrown his beautiful wife, Letizia, and two young daughters. Like both Prince Albert and Prince William, Felipe chose to marry a commoner. Letizia was a TV journalist prior to their marriage and her sense of style is evident.  It remains to be seen whether the youth and elegance of this young couple garners more attention in the press but my guess is that we will probably see a lot more of them.

Royalty in Europe is changing and we now have three young, dynamic royal families representing three important European countries. The future should bring a royal fashion feast!

Customer turns Designer

Ulyana Sergeenko wearing her own design.  WSJ
Ulyana Sergeenko wearing her own design. WSJ

It is rare when one who loves designer clothes is able to pull off going from top couture house client to designer, offering her own haute couture line of $30,000 dresses and $80,000 coats. Ulyana Sergeenko has done just that. Ms. Sergeenko caught the attention of fashion photographers a few years ago when attending runway shows wearing her own creative designs. Although she has no formal training, she made her own clothes under the adoring eye of her grandmother (her babushka) growing up in Soviet Kazakhstan.

2014 Fall Collection
2014 Fall Collection

Cabbage rose prints, a symbol of grandma-style flowers, are often included in her designs. Ulyana’s collections are inspired by fashions from former Soviet Union satellite countries, fantasies from her childhood, and old-world techniques carefully researched by her and her partner. Her collections are noted for their difficulty and attention to proportion.

Fall 2014  KGB inspiration
Fall 2014 KGB inspiration

Ms. Sergeenko’s husband is billionaire head of Russia’s largest insurance company. The couple has two small children but this is not just a little hobby for Ulyana. She and her partner, Frol Burimskiy search out the villages that make the finest embroideries or the best enamels and then send their studio staff out to work with the local artisans. During the Soviet era, wives of party members went to private ateliers to buy their clothes. Ms. Sergeenko and her partner want to preserve this history of unique designs, beautifully executed.

Fall 2014
Fall 2014

It all began with Ulyana creating unique looks for her own wear. Then she encountered super-model Natalia Vodianova at a party. Natalia complimented her on her dress and subsequently made introductions to the right people in Paris. One of those was Alex de Betak; industry show producer. He found her modest high necklines and long skirts refreshing compared to recent loud, over the top Russian designs. Betek’s stamp of approval has enabled Ulyana to participate in the Paris runway shows since 2012.

Fall 2014
Fall 2014

The Ulyana Sergeenko line is not available in stores but clients are measured and orders taken direct from her atelier.

Fall 2014   A grand entrance.
Fall 2014 A grand entrance.

Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are among her famous clients.   At this point, her partner says they are at the break-even point in their business.   Key players in the fashion industry are encouraging the label to include handbags, sunglasses, fragrance and décor. I think we will see much more of this talented young designer.

“Cool” lottes

 

Young and Smart
Young and Smart

Have you had a culotte experience? I have had several pair throughout the years but they are one of those fashions that are never really “in” but are often “out”. This fall they appear to be a featured style instead of just an afterthought some designer tossed into their collection. I have one of those: A beautiful navy wool culotte skirt. It will certainly be cycling back into my fall wardrobe to give updated variety.

Nautical and Sporty
Nautical and Sporty

Culottes need to be chosen carefully to fit your style and body. Although they come in many lengths, we generally think of them ranging from below the knee to just above the ankle. They are wide at the bottom, which can visually shorten and widen ones silhouette. This is not the ideal image for a petite frame.

Summer Cool
Summer Cool

I have selected several images to show some of the many 2014 choices.  My navy wool culottes are best worn with a pretty silk blouse or a jacket or sweater. Their vibe is more church, lunch, business meeting or workshop. However, if your style is sporty, the above nautical look would be perfect for barbecue, meeting friends for a drink, shopping, or of course boating.

I read one article where the writer told of feeling very chic in her print culottes paired with a white blouse, jacket and loafers for a dinner in London. She went on to describe other pairings, including dressy sandals and a racer-back top for a wedding. This black and white print in a silk fabric could be that “wear everywhere” piece.  By choosing different tops and shoes you get much more mileage out of that one pair of culottes than you

Classic and sporty
Classic and sporty

would from a dress.

Fun and Versatile
Fun and Versatile

Culottes do have several pluses. They are dressier than trousers but with all of the advantages of easy movement. Since they are usually fitted at the waist and flair out toward the bottom, the waist area appears slim while the flared legs provide a perfect camouflage for wide hips or thighs. This line also helps visually widen the hips of an inverted triangle build.

I have never seen such variety in culottes as appear in fall collections. I hope these images here will get your creative juices flowing and lead you to be adventurous enough to try some. You may find that perfect piece to give just the right update to your fall wardrobe. And this year, with culottes being a featured look, they probably won’t be “out” until after you are ready for a change!

International Iconic Style

 

Who would have ever thought that Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and Ronald McDonald would have anything in common?

They have both hit the news with their style!

Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan
Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai, crowned in 2002 as the king of chic by designer Tom Ford, has been identified with his shimmering fur hats, flowing silk overcoats and collarless tunics. He is known as being the most stylish leader in the world. Now Afghanistan is hold elections for Mr. Karzai’s replacement. Both candidates know they cannot compete with the president’s unique classic style so they are choosing to other tactics. They choose business suits for Kabul and mirror ethnic dress in the different regions of the country. No matter what style they choose, it will have to be their own and not a copy of Hamid Karzai. To quote one young Afghan, “Our generation is not illiterate. Neither candidate can fool us.”

Then there is Ronald McDonald.

A new look for Ronald McDonald
A new look for Ronald McDonald

Are you ready for McFashion? Somehow the “Bozo the Clown” look from the 1970’s has gone the way of the polyester leisure suits.   Ronald McDonald had to enter the 21st Century as well. Ronald has a new look!   He is still clownish but a much more updated look. Thus far, there are mixed reviews. We always hate to lose the familiar but then again, does anyone want the leisure suit back?

With all my years of training and experience, I would not take on either of these projects but I can help the businessman or woman in projecting his or her best image for their clients – authentically.

Ladies, start your engines!

What’s with the motorcycle jackets?  Just when I thought they were a one-season fad, here they are again as the “new” look.   I’m not sure what’s the attraction.

Biker Jacket
Biker Jacket

That said, a leather jacket, selected to fit your style and color palette, can be a key wardrobe staple.

I just read an article featuring moto-jackets used as accessories from evening gowns to jeans.  The jeans I can see but, in my mind, there is disconnect between a motorcycle jacket and an evening dress.  Sienna Miller, a beautiful actress with her own edgy style, appeared at the Met ball wearing just that.  Not only was the jacket black covered with silver studs, but the sleeves were down to her knuckles, giving the illusion that she was playing dress-up in her big brother’s coat.

So, why is this not a good look?  And, is there a way you can pull it off with aplomb?

First, know your style.  There is a big difference between a sporty outdoor look and classic or romantic.   Many motorcycle jackets have a “bad girl biker” look instead of fashion forward or edgy.  I attended a training class in Toronto a couple of years ago where one of the image consultants was clad in black leather trousers and a black leather motorcycle jacket.  She was an attractive blond with a classic persona.  All that leather in black gave her a harsh appearance.  No one wants to look like Marlon Brando in “The Wild Ones”.

Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando

Authentic motorcycle jackets are accented with heavy zippers, studs and other hardware, adding to the masculine, tough impression.  They were designed to protect the rider in case of an accident, not be a fashion statement.

 Classic Moto softened
Classic Moto softened

If you love an edgy look, how about considering the classic moto-jacket in a softer color?  This light pink jacket has simply softened the look by choice of shape, color and less hardward.  This jacket still has an edgy look but could be paired with skirts or dresses as well as jeans.  It does not read. “I’m going for a spin on my Harley.”

Classic leather jacket
Classic leather jacket

The bright pink jacket steps away from the “biker” look and goes much more traditional while maintaining a fashion forward appearance.   This jacket can easily transition from slacks to jeans to skirt, or over a dress.  Choosing a color in your palette, this could be a great accent over neutrals that will be your go-to topper.

Is a leather jacket in your future?  Start looking now for your best style and color,  making a perfect addition to your year around wardrobe.

The Canadian Tuxedo

 

Canada is known for a more casual way of dress:  think lumberjacks with red and black plaid shirts, denim, cowboy hats, etc.  They have also been the recipient of some not so kind jokes about denim on denim.  Thus the tag, Canadian Tuxedo.

Fashions come and fashions go.  I was amused to see matching shoes and handbags this fall, remembering “matchy, matchy, has been scorned for the last several years.  Wearing denim with denim has been cast into the same category.  I am not am not a big fan of a denim shirt and jacket with jeans but some people can pull it off.

After spending a month in Europe, I can attest that denim is IN, really IN!  Although I didn’t see much denim on denim, jeans were worn by everyone.  I saw no faded, distressed, or baggy examples but for men and women alike, jeans were the go-to article of clothing.   One often saw men pairing jeans with a sport jacket and dress shirt.  Women generally wore skinny or close-fitting jeans with a sweater, boots and always a scarf.  They looked casually chic.

Jeans jackets offer a more casual completed look for those who don’t need to be business professional at work.  Keep your individual style in mind.  The blue jeans and jacket look is great for the athletic or natural look but doesn’t reflect an elegant or romantic persona.  Pairing colored jeans with a feminine blouse will be much more reflective of these styles.  Jeans jackets are extremely versatile and come in many colors.  A soft color will be much more feminine than traditional blue denim.  If your style is dramatic, add a touch of drama with a scarf or other accent.  Someone with a traditional style can always wear dark jeans with a traditional blouse and a jacket, jeans or other accent.

If you are a triangle or oval body shape, try wearing a snappy tunic to camouflage the wider area of your body.  Jeans look great with ballet flats which help keep the leg line long.

You don’t have to make it a Canadian Tuxedo to rock a jeans look!

Oh, Nostalgia!

Have you ever gotten a nostalgic knot in your throat when looking at beautiful gowns of the late 19th century and wondered what it would have been like to live in that era?  Those gowns seemed so elegant, every lady was beautiful.  Who would not want to look like one of the lovely ladies from a Monet, Renoir or Manet painting?  Maybe it’s because the impressionist era is my favorite, but I get a little misty when I look at that romantic era.

Okay, it’s time for a reality check.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is just coming to the close of their exhibit of impressionistic paintings featuring clothes from the 1860’s to the 1880’s.   With this exhibit came some revelations of what it really was like in that era.

Black became a fashion color, not just reserved for mourning.  Since black is the most complex color, the dying process is more difficult.  Thus it was considered a luxury because of the additional expense.   Women, however, decided black was  universally flattering so it became popular with the masses.

New textile production technology made detailed garments and accessories affordable making many previously unaffordable pieces available to the lower class.  Upper class ladies with private tailors were no longer the only ones able to afford luxury fashion items.  As you can imagine, the upper class began clamoring for unusual details to distinguish them from the masses.

This opened the door for luxury label designer clothing.  Charles Frederick Worth from England brought in the Designer’s signature style – styles that were distinctive and recognizable by other fashionistas.  He even added his own designer label inside each garment.

Wearing voluminous trailing skirts was often more than a little cumbersome so some creative genius tricked them out with long ribbons called tirettes, within the skirt.  These could be pulled up to shorten the skirt as desired.   This was no doubt appreciated on a picnic!

Despite the modesty of these styles, fashion police didn’t hesitate to weigh in on what they considered unseemly.  In one painting by Thore, the model was criticized for wearing “bluestockings” (unseen under her gown) because they were “comfortable”.  Oh, where have I heard that before?  Manet’s painting of a young lady with two buttons unbuttoned at the neck, met with cries of horror.  So unfeminine!

Okay, nostalgia gone!  I will remain content to admire these fabulous paintings featuring beautiful ladies magnificently attired but I am grateful that we can wear capris to picnics, suits to the office and fun dresses without hose to a party.

Run for the Roses

 

Run for the Roses or Fashion Parade, Orb was clearly the winner at this year’s Kentucky Derby.   Having never attended the event, I have always envision it like Ascot in My Fair Lady; elegantly dressed ladies in extraordinary hats and handsomely attired men with the horse race supplying an excuse to be there thus clad.  What a shame that we don’t have more such occasions!

Rain reduced some of hats to indistinguishable colors wrapped in plastic but many chapeaus survived, at least for a photo op.

Of course, there were the usual bizarre ensembles as well.  Wouldn’t it be disappointing if some people didn’t want to inject a bit of humor into this proper, 139 year old tradition?

If you didn’t get to be there, enjoy the event vicariously.