Masha d'Yans

Masha d’Yans

The illustrator and artist Masha d’Yans is very much like her work: colorful, whimsical, imaginative, playful and a bit Peter Pan-ish… through her work she refuses to grow up.

I was first introduced to Masha when she and I were paired up for a children’s story, The Big Bad Mood, that I wrote for Romy and the Bunnies. Masha perfectly and colorfully illustrated the story, giving it an energy and excitement that all kids’ stories should have. It still remains my kids’ favorite story… many thanks to Masha’s pictures.

An Image from The Big Bad Mood.

An Image from The Big Bad Mood.

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I love Erin Fetherson and her always entertaining ideas. And I especially love her latest little film series called “Charmed, I’m Sure. Lessons in Beauty, Style, & The Social Graces,” which is filmed and directed by Rebecca Forteau (the very cool daughter of Ellen von Unwerth). They make a perfect ladylike and slightly tongue-in-cheek team.

What is so great about these pretty little, vintage-like, minute-long lessons? Well, a lot! They are cute, funny and useful.

I love how Erin uses a mascara wand spritzed in hairspray to keep her side-swept bangs, well, side-swept.

I also like how she sweetly tells you that chewing gum is unladylike, but if you must, then how to do it… all the while with a little sparkle in her eye and that cute little wrinkle in her nose when she sassily pops a model’s bubble.

And I will be showing my daughter the “Sitting Gracefully” footage presently. We’ve been seeing a little too much of London and France these days…

Need a few pointers on how to getting your cat-eye eye liner to point in the right direction?

Here you go:

This is such a great way for Erin to showcase both her collection and her personality. She might be putting on the stern finishing school mistress voice, but the rest of her is real… especially her facial expressions! Makes me smile from afar…

I can’t wait for more!!!

 

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It’s August… and my excuse to wear and share as much vintage with you as I can.

To start out the month, I finally get to wear two 1950s dead stock (which means it came straight from the original store’s stock… still with tags attached… never worn) summer looks that came from Sielian’s Vintage in Los Angeles (which I featured here last year). I received these looks at the end of last August and I’ve been dying to wear them since then.

The day look is perfect for hosting friends and serving cocktails in the garden. I love this sweet little printed ensemble – it totally made me feel like a Stepford Wife… and I kind of got into playing the part. Dressing up in vintage is a lot of fun…

Our Belgian friend (and amazing photographer, sports trainer and physical therapist), Benjamin Theys, took these photos.

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Brigitte Bardot

We just got back from 2.5 weeks in St. Tropez…

As happy as I am to be home – we are moving across the Atlantic in eight days and I need to pack – I do miss that little fishing village-turned-glamourous-vacation-spot… even if the music everywhere is a bit too loud for my mommy ears.

What do I miss?

1. I miss wearing all my resort wear. I think playing a modern Brigitte Bardot, but a brunette, less voluptuous and much paler version, could keep me amused for the rest of my life… St. Tropez allows for overt sexiness in an undone, hot and sweaty French kind of way. Unbutton your skirt all the way up to your panties (or bikini bottom – it’s safer)… wear a sheer white silk dress with white lace underthings… no bra with a knit top… messy, salty hair… a cat-eye… bronzed shoulders and tan thighs… hats… perky little bottoms peeking out from white cut-offs… I like having permission to be a bit saucy in St. Tropez, but I like seeing all the toothsome bods even more…

St. Tropez Whites Chanel

White looks from the Chanel Resort collection that was shown in the Port of St. Tropez a few years ago…

dress from The Reformation

Dress by Reformation (Yep – I bought it.)

A sheer white lace look worn by Giovanna Battaglia for Interview Magazine. (She came for a visit, so this is quite appropriate ; ).

A sheer white lace look worn by Giovanna Battaglia for Interview Magazine. (She came for a visit, so this is quite appropriate ; ).

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Anne Fogarty

I LOVE Anne Fogarty. She designed dresses throughout the 50s,60s and 70s that epitomized wearable glamour. So when I found out that her name and brand was to be revived, I wanted to jump over the moon.

Since that wasn’t possible, I wrote all about it for Curate on shrimptoncouture.com instead.

Here you go:

Anne Fogarty Dress
Anne Fogarty was a wonderful, classically chic dress designer who made her mark in the 1950s and 60s. She is best know for taking Christian Dior’s “New Look” – that fetchingly feminine nipped-waist/full skirted silhouette – and interpreting it for American women.

American women have always been fond of versatile, easy to wear looks that are fashionable and, ideally, affordable. You know, the kind of thing that isn’t too precious to wear running errands in town, a quick pit stop for a round of bridge with the ladies before running home, throwing an apron over herself, shoving a pot roast into the oven, and then, with barely enough time fill the silver shaker with vodka and ice, whip off the apron as husband walks in the door. His lovely wife standing there ravishing and perfect in her neat, fashionable dress, a smile on her face, his drink in her hand.
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As the haute couture shows are filing down the runways in Paris, I’m on holiday with my family, surrounded by relatively glamorous women (in a resort kind of way), dreaming of reasons to wear couture.

Going out to dinner with my husband in this chic little town completely paved with cobblestones is a reason to dress up, but it doesn’t exactly constitute couture. That said, I would have no problem slathering sunblock on the tiny limbs of my children wearing a pair of Valentino leather lace-up Grecian sandals, all wrapped up in a Romantic (as in Roman-tic) teal tulle gown. No problem at all… except perhaps budget and my OCD about getting sunblock stains on my clothes.

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My kids are at swimming lessons, so I am perusing style.com, picking out my favorite couture looks and dreaming up situations in which I can wear these made-to-measure looks. As couture isn’t particularly practical, and since I’ve got a pretty good imagination (and because it’s between the hours of 11-3pm and I’m terrified of sunburn), I’m sharing my favorite looks and situations in which to wear them below.

Disclaimer: My kids asked me to write them a story while they were at swimming lessons… so this is a “two birds” kind of thing.

Here you go:
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Here is my latest story from Shrimpton Couture’s Curate:

The last story I wrote for Curate focused on what one wears on her wedding day. Not long before that I wrote about the power of a red dress. This time I’m combining the two… Well, not wearing red on your wedding day (which, btw, is quite traditional in Eastern countries like China and India – red represents good luck and auspiciousness), but on someone else’s wedding day.

Recently my husband and I were invited to attend two back-to-back formal weddings. This meant I would need to come up with a total of four “formal” looks for the two weekends: cocktail ensembles for the Friday evening events and evening gowns for the actual weddings.

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Liza Urla

Liza Urla

I have a girl crush. She’s really pretty, has hair longer than mine, is Russian-born, but also grew up in China, Vienna, London and New York City (she is now London-based), has a business degree, and she loves jewelry. Her name is Liza Urla, but a lot of people think her name is Gemma, which is not that surprising…

Liza is the founder of the blog Gem-a-Porter.com. If you like jewelry/want to see what’s going on in the jewelry world/want a new bauble and need to do a little research/just like to dream in jewel tones, her blog is for you.

Liza has amazing taste, great style and she’s a cool, easy-going girl, which not the typical image that comes to mind when I think of someone dealing with precious stones. I guess that’s why I like her: she has a fresh face and a fresh take on jewelry.

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Crossing CondottiRooms in Rome

Originally written for www.thegildedowl.com.

I’ve always been a fan of a boutique hotel. The fewer the rooms, the more interested I am. So when my husband suggested we stay in a five-bedroom hotel in the center of Rome that he came across on Mr. & Mrs. Smith, I said, “Perfect!”

Since it was my first time in Rome, I definitely wanted to be in the middle of it all, which Crossing Condotti literally is. It’s right off of off Piazza di Spagna and half a street away from Prada/Miu Miu/Valentino/every other luxury Italian brand. Oh yeah, and you can walk to the Colosseum/Pantheon/Trevi Fountain/The Vatican/every other major Roman site. A pretty sweet location if you ask me. There is also a really good-slash-healthy breakfast place, Grano, Frutta e Farina, around the corner, which is nice since, as far as I can tell, most Italian breakfasts consist of espresso and, maybe, a cookie.
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Romy Soleimani

Romy Soleimani

Romy Soleimani is known for making skin glow. You’ve seen her work in Vogue (American, French and Italian Vogue), Harper’s Bazaar, Allure and Vanity Fair. She’s the one who make models and celebrities’ (like Rihanna, Demi Moore, Diane Kruger, Sofia Vergara…) skin glisten and radiate in a way that even PhotoShop can’t fake.

Romy has some serious skills and knowledge when it comes to makeup and beauty… which is probably why she is also the Beauty Director at Large for Beauty.com. (Check out her beauty.com blog here.)

I first met Romy about ten years ago (maybe more… which is scary), when she was doing the makeup for a Tuleh shoot. I was lucky enough to be one of the girls whose faces she was prettifying and, being a budding beauty writer at the time, asked her about ten thousand questions. Loving how fresh and non-made-up I looked when she was finished, I asked her which products she used so I could try to get the same look at home. To this day, I still use the same products… they are even the ones I carry with me in my handbag (and I don’t carry very much): Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (which is a super-concentrated concealer), Kevyn Aucoin The Creamy Glow in Apricot, and Weleda Skinfood which works for everything, from prepping your skin for makeup, to hydrating dry lips, to adding a little otherworldly sheen to cheekbones.

Kevyn Aucoin Concealer

Years later, Romy and I connected again through friends, and I felt compelled to harass her for more beauty tips.

Some things never change…

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Here is an article I wrote for my column on Shrimpton Couture’s Curate. I’m kind of obsessed with wedding dresses…

It’s also about the new fashion exhibition, Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, open now at London’s Victoria and Albert museum.

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Inside my shoe closet...

Inside my shoe closet…

Hi, my name is Erin and I’m an ESFP.

I’m addicted to aesthetics.

“ESFPs have a very well-developed appreciation for aesthetic beauty, and an excellent sense of space and function. If they have the means, they’re likely to have to have many beautiful possessions, and an artfully furnished home. In general, they take great pleasure in objects of aesthetic beauty. They’re likely to have a strong appreciation for the finer things in life, such as good food and good wine…” and, in my case, good clothes, accessories and beauty practices.

We ESFPs are also not particularly modest either…

My friend Ada Polla, the founder of Alchimie Forever, knows what I’m talking about (she went to Harvard where they make everyone take the Myers-Briggs test at some point). She has known me and my closet full of clothes for a while now. Even so, I can pretty much promise she’s never seen me wear the same thing twice.

When I saw her a couple of weeks ago in Geneva, she asked me how she should wear a pair of nude-colored, peep-toe pumps, or if she should even be wearing them at all. That led into another question or two about style… and then the following day I received an email from her asking for a list of all of my rules for style (and beauty) for her column in the Huffington Post.

Since this is the topic I love most, I happily obliged, typing out 23 rules on my laptop as my husband drove us down the highway to the South of France, the sun shining, pointy Provençal trees arching in the wind and centuries old, dust-colored mas farmhouses sitting motionless in green fields as we sped by.

I tend to work efficiently when surrounded by beauty…

Without further ado, here are my 23 tips for style on the Huffington Post:

Fashion:

1. As Diana Vreeland once said: “Too much good taste can be boring.” To offset this truth, I often find myself using leopard as a neutral. There is a fine line between being vulgar and interestingly chic. That said, never take your clothes too seriously. A little touch of humor — or extravagance — can make an otherwise uninteresting look seem instantly smart.

Leopard coat

2. Keep it neat. If you are going to wear something oversized on top, keep the bottom skinny. If you are going to wear billowing trousers, tuck in your top to show off your waist or opt for something that is closefitting or waist-skimming, otherwise you risk looking messy.

3. Dress for your body type, not for the latest trends. A cropped top and high-waisted trousers is a current look I like… but that doesn’t mean everyone should wear it.

Learn to work with your body, highlighting the parts you like. Belt a small waist. Show off your shoulders. Camouflage the parts you are uncomfortable with. Narrow shoulders and no boobies? A deep V creates some shape up on top. My best friend thinks her hips are too big, but she has a tiny waist, so her favorite proportion is a full skirt with a high waist. Poof! Her hips are hidden under a swish of fabric, only her tiny waist left behind to be admired. I’ve also adopted this look for myself, but for the opposite reason: my hips are too narrow and I like to give the illusion of a more hourglass shape.

Natalia Vodinova in American Vogue 2004

Natalia Vodinova in American Vogue 2004

If you don’t like your arms, don’t wear sleeveless tops, even if you love the top. You aren’t going to feel comfortable wearing it, your arms constantly on your mind. If you don’t feel great, you don’t look great.

4. Lulu Lemons are wonderful and flattering, but they are intended for the gym and, at a stretch, grocery shopping on your way home from the gym. Try to wear real clothes when you are not working out.

5. A boat neck is always flattering… and elegant.

6. My mother taught me to always buy high quality coats, shoes and handbags. They are the things you use everyday and the things everyone will notice first.

7. It’s almost spring: show off your ankles. Trousers that hit just above the ankles are always chic… think of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Pair these trousers with flat sandals or college loafers for day and choose an elegant pump or high-heeled sandal for evening.

Audrey Hepburn in trousers

Which brings us to shoes:

8. Just say no to big platform pump. I don’t care how short you are, there is no excuse for looking like a stripper. If I see another actress walking the red carpet in a pair of these uniformly colored hooves, I’m going to start a petition.

If these kinds of shoes are hidden under a floor-length gown, fine — no one can see them. But if you can see them? No. Absolutely not. If you need height opt for a sculpted wedge or an over-the-top, Miu Miu, proclamation platform or a shoe with a subtle, hidden platform, but if you think a two-inch platform is invisible because it’s the same color as the rest of your shoe, guess again.

I’d sacrifice an inch or two of height in the name of fashion any day.

9. Everyone should own a nude shoe. Because the shoe matches your skin tone, there is nothing highlighting where your leg ends, which helps to give the illusion that they go on for much longer than they actually do. I’ve never heard anyone complain that her legs look too long.

nude Valentino

Whether it’s a flat sandal, a simple pump or high-heeled sandal in the perfect shade of nude, you can’t go wrong: they go with everything. I usually pair mine with floral prints or bright colors… nude and red is a classic combination.

10. The black pump. It seems obvious, but there is nothing more useful than a black, closed toe pump. Elegant and timeless, this shoe adds quiet elegance to any look. A slight point to the toe is more modern and helps to add elongate the leg.

11. If you feel your outfit is a boring, the best way to make it more dynamic is to dress it up with an embellished shoe. Leopard print, gold or beaded and embroidered are among my fancy shoes of choice.

Other accessories:

12. Just like on Wall Street, more is never enough. A little gold letter on a chain around your neck isn’t going to change your look, but a huge cuff on each wrist? Or a shining statement necklace or oversized Eddie Borgo tassel necklace peering out from under a white button down? Kind of brilliant.

“Too loud?” you say? Open up any J. Crew catalogue and ask yourself again. Prodigal is the new preppy.

13. Don’t be scared of a fancy cell phone cover. A golden gate motif, a bejeweled peacock, a Chanel perfume bottle on a chain, or a cover entirely encrusted with pearls? Why not? Cell phones are already kind of obnoxious. Embrace it.

Giovanna Battaglia with the iPhone cases she designed for Case Senario.

Giovanna Battaglia with the iPhone cases she designed for Case Senario.

14. Pearls never go out of style. Never. I’m a big fan of wearing them in a more sensual or slightly punk way — never too literally. I love a pearl choker, a Dior pearl “piercing” or one of Ana Khouri’s pearl ear cuffs. I leave the tidy, boring single strand to my mum.

15. Handbags are another great way to add some character to a look. Never buy a boring one. If you go for a classic shape, why not buy it in red or kelly green? That said, it is difficult to wear a color everyday, so you will inevitably resort to a black, brown or nude everyday bag — we all do.

This “everyday” handbag is the one you will wear most, so while it may feel boring — it has to go with everything — make it special. Let this bag be the one you spend the most on. Go for luxury. Hermès is obviously the ultimate choice, but perhaps not the most realistic. Look for a bag by your favorite designer or brand and make sure it’s not an “it” bag… one that you’ve seen in every magazine or on the arms of all of your girlfriends. You want it to last, not look dated by next season. You also need to make sure it is big enough to hold all your stuff and has a shoulder strap. Being dominated by your handbag isn’t chic, but being able to maneuver your way through the day with both hands definitely is.

If you the bag passes these tests, hold you breath and blow the better part of your paycheck. This is an investment piece.

Mira Duma with an Hermès Constance. Photo by Tommy Ton.

Mira Duma with an Hermès Constance. Photo by Tommy Ton.

Beauty:

16. Take care of your skin. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. The worst thing you can do is to constantly change your beauty routine. You’ll aggravate your skin. I like a gentle cleanser, a lightening serum, a light moisturizer with SPF for day and something a bit heavier at night. Find an eye cream targeted to your “issues”: dark circles, puffiness, fine lines. I also use a gentle, at home, tri-weekly peel to keep my pores clean and my skin glowing.

17. A light foundation hides a multitude of imperfections. Even skin tone is a must. Find a great foundation that perfectly matches your skin. (I like “invisible” formulas like Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Make-Up and Koh Gen Do Manifanshi Moisture Foundation). Apply with your fingers or a foundation brush and then cover up any residual spots and under eye circles with a cover-up (I swear by like Kevyn Aucoin’s The Sensual Skin Enhancer).

18. Mascara or discrete eyelash extensions are really all you need to finish your makeup look for day. Healthy-looking skin and long lashes can take you quite a way…

19. If you need more, a bronzer or taupe/brown eye shadow brushed in a straight line and blended under your cheekbones adds instant definition. A bright pink or apricot blush on the apples of you cheeks makes you look fresh and awake. Like you just ran a 10K.

20. Try to keep your nails neat. If you don’t have time to paint them, cover them with a clear coat of shine. This will also add an extra layer of protection against splitting and chipping. If you do have time for color, I’m partial to the classics, only using reds, almost invisible pinks and the occasional beige.

I go wild with jewelry, but nail art terrifies me.

21. Hair. Hair is a tough one. I’d love to get a blowout every other day, but that’s not realistic (more like once every three months). Keep a travel-sized brush in your handbag or car and run it though your hair when no one’s looking (preferably not in public) and you’ll look like you just walked out of a salon… until the wind hits you, then game over.

22. I might get some flack for this, but don’t dye your hair unless you have to. Chances are your natural color looks pretty good, even if you find it boring. Un-chemically treated hair often looks healthiest… and it won’t go brassy or green after a few months. If you do need to color, opt for a natural, vibrant shade and then take good care of it. Nothing looks worse than dried out locks, ratty roots and artificial color.

23. I once met a countess who told me she always wears her long hair up in a chignon when she went out in the evening. That always stayed with me and a standard I often follow. But since my husband really likes my hair down, I break this guideline for him… sometimes.

Chignon

 

A few years ago, when her company was relatively new, I did a post about my friend, the handbag designer, Sara Battaglia. (Yes, that’s really how she looks. She’s a little bambolina… which means “doll” in Italian.)

I wrote the piece way back when her bags were not as easily recognizable as they are today, but they were definitely just as attention-grabbing. Whenever I wore my Acheora, fringy leather tote in a myriad of beautiful green tones from her first collection, people would stop me left and right to ask me who designed it. I said, with great pride, “My friend Sara!”

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Here is a piece I wrote for Shrimpton Couture’s CURATE this week… How making an old brand “new,” while staying true to it’s aesthetic roots, sometimes takes more than just one innovative creative:

Fashion houses are being re-vamped left and right this season. Jeremy Scott went to Moschino. Alessandro dell ‘Aqua went to Rochas. Marco Zanini, formerly of Rochas, went to Schiaparelli. Nicolas Ghesquiere went to Louis Vuitton… and there are apparently ten new somebodies to Courrèges.

Courrèges recently hired not one new designer, but a new design team to dream up their autumn 2014 collection. I use the word dream lightly: Courrèges is such a unique and iconic brand that it is quite important that they keep their collection very, well Courrèges: square, but in a very cool, white way.

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Sometimes you need a reason to run.

My most recent excuse was that it was winter. Winter in the Alps, where we live. Running in the winter has never been something I’ve chosen to do. Never. I also don’t run on treadmills. I don’t do a lot of things, secluded here in the winter.

A few weeks ago I realized I needed to stop making excuses. I was sitting on my bed with my laptop on my lap. I was planning a family trip to Paris on March 1st, when our kids would be on their winter holiday. It also overlaps with fashion week, which is great because I’ll be able to see a lot of friends I don’t often see anymore, but kind of annoying because I’m not working like I used to, therefore I have no reason to go to a million shows… and then to parties… and to be too tired to take care of my kids the next day.

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Inga Savits wearing boots from her a/w 2014 collection.

 

Inga Savits Hanon is tall, blond and beautiful. The Estonian-born, Milan-slash-Venice-based model, mother, wife and shoe designer has undoubtedly turned a few heads in her life. Her flaxen head draws you in, but it’s her coolly clad feet that will leave you wondering… Who made those shoes?

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Maison Martin Margiela 2014 couture looks - tattoo jacket

 

Cherie from the sublime vintage boutique, Shrimpton Couture, just asked me to write a short piece for her CURATE blog about the sheer amazingness of Maison Martin Margiela’s 2014 Couture notes. Below I have the words I wrote for CURATE, but be sure to click through to see the notes alongside the looks from the show… Reworked “vintage” at its absolute best:

 

Show notes, the pieces of paper or little folders that are lying on your seat when you arrive at a fashion show, are not a uniform thing. For me, someone who used to make her living reviewing shows, they were usually quite useful, sometimes even saving me a trip backstage for a quick interview with the designer. Other times the notes were so abstract, they left me no choice but to go back for a proper explanation in layman’s terms.

Show notes will sometimes give you details about fabrics (sometimes not), tell you what influenced the designer that season (or maybe not), who styled the show (usually not), with special thank-yous to whoever did the hair and makeup, etc.

But never have show notes been as clever and straightforward as they were at Maison Martin Margiela’s recent 2014 couture show. With details about the provenance of the vintage materials that were transformed to make each piece, the hours it took to make each piece and the artist who designed the fabric prints he often re-used, the Maison raised the show notes bar to a whole new – well, frankly, noteworthy – level.

Below we dive in deeper to Margiela’s show notes, reprinting them with their corresponding looks in order to show you, firsthand, the amount of time and extraordinary detail that went into each piece…

 

Stefani Padilla

Stefani Padilla

I first met Stefani Padilla when my friend Erin Fetherston commented that my husband’s hair was looking a little “young Republican.” (Which he totally is, by the way… I just don’t want people to automatically assume anything by looking at him. That’s too boring.)

This was a few years ago. Erin, who is now married to Gabe Saporta, the lead singer and founder of the band Cobra Starship, suggested that Stefani, Gabe’s hairstylist and someone who also often styles Erin’s hair as well, come to our apartment to cut my husband’s hair. Even Brook, who had had the same hairstyle for a decade, was super excited.

Stefani cut his hair and made a subtle, but potent difference. She didn’t turn him into the lead singer of a synthpop band (that wouldn’t be right either), but she managed to transform him from a young Republican into something cooler and slightly messier, but still very neat, if that makes any sense. She made his hair a little choppier and added a paste that gave it some texture. Et voilà, he still has the same haircut today.

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A Little Lanvin History…

January 22nd, 2014
Photo by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, 1935

Photo by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, 1935

From an piece I wrote for Shrimpton Couture’s Curate (click to see lots of historical images… as well as many other great vintage fashion stories):

As you may or may not know, Lanvin is France’s oldest fashion house. And, as you may or may not know, Lanvin is celebrating their 125th year this year. To commemorate, the house will be freely educating the fashion masses via various social media outlets, unveiling, day by day, photographs from the archives, videos, drawings by Jeanne Lanvin and Alber Elbaz, as well as noting other benchmarks from the fashion house’s past.

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Martine

I’ve been obsessed with this (click above) sexy, moody song since I heard it on this short film for Yves Saint Laurent’s 2012 cruise collection a while ago. The only hint of what song it might was at the end when music was credited to Martìn Gutierrez, but when I went searched to find him or her, (it wasn’t clear; the vocals were undeniably feminine, yet Martin is a man’s name), the song was nowhere to be found. Not one of his/her songs on iTunes either.

So I Shazamed the video, no luck. The song didn’t seem to exist. I looked up every possible title I could think of for the song: Silver Tongue, Tears from a Gun, We Goin’ Bigger than Before, Shootin’ Up the Floor, Be My Love, Put Your Hands Up, Don’t Cry, My Love, You Shot Me Down. Nothing.

I became obsessed, playing the song over and over. I started typing the lyrics into a Google search and finally found the song on Bandcamp.com. But I still could’t download the song and add it to my mercurial writing mix I so desperately depend on to get me “in the mood.”

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