Monday, May 20, 2013

Hats of the The Great Gatsby (Hereafter "The Great Hatsby")!

At the moment there are seemingly two things the whole world is going super-over-the-top-hyper-crazy for; the new Daft Punk album and The Great Gatsby.
Different eras, different media, but the same impossible dreams, hopes and expectations of people who have shaped our collective cultural pasts with their opulent and often genius showmanship. Will these people; Bangalter & De Homen-Christo, and Luhrmann, all prone to brilliance, prone to shallow self-indulgence, capable of magic yet equally capable of dropping turds, deliver what we want them to?
Their PR machines have certainly done a fabulous job of getting us drunk in hope and anticipation, but (and let it not be true) will in all likelihood, eventually leave us with the mother of disappointed hangovers when that dream was less wet than we had hoped, and the contempt bred from an omnipresence too much for even the die-est of die-hard fans to bear, has set in. Really? Horse & Hound are doing a Daft Punk special? Really? No. before you ask, they aren't, but they could be!


And that is what we will do; just add to the omnipresence and admire some splendid millinery creations of the Great Gatsby era. The era of Art Deco, flappers, beaded headbands and a cloche for every occasion.

So lets talk a little about the cloche; french for bell, which explains the shape. Invented by Parisienne milliner to the stars (Dietrich no less) and icon of the trade, Caroline Reboux in 1908. The style was invented to replace the rather tired bonnet, and was created by placing the unstructured felt on client's head and styling it, by cutting and folding to achieve madame's desired shape. The curves of a cloche are very reflective of the geometric Deco styling and together with the beading and applique trimmings make it so fitting of the era, that said it enjoyed fashionability for some time after Deco had died out with the depression.

Caroline herself seems quite a character and surely deserving of her own post someday, the first person apparently to add veiling to a hat, which is a millinery revolution in itself, but today is all about the cloche and the glamour of the era. Enjoy!

Caroline Reboux herself, inventresse of the cloche
Mr Granville, inventor of the Charleston, having an airborne twirl (source: Cult of Aphrodite Vintage)
Rudolph Valentino & wife Natacha Rambova in 1925 (source Cult of Aphrodite Vintage)
Jean Harlow
From the current Great Gatsby windows in Harrods, London 
From the current Great Gatsby windows in Harrods, London

** Confession time, I will need to do a Tron special too as I have had many a lightcycle fantasy since the Daft Punk themed opus, but that was their last album, much too passe for the likes of here!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Creative Ménage à trois – milliner, designer, ISABELLA BLOW

Blow me down if it’s not an Isabella Blow exhibition set to hit London later this year!

Announced yesterday was the upcoming exhibition ‘Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!’ organized by the Isabella Blow Foundation and Central St Martins, London.

For those not familiar with the legend of Isabella Blow, she was a highly influential VOGUE and TATLER stylist, cheeky celebrity bon vivant, style queen and daring wearer of hats, most famous during the 1980s.   During her time at Vogue, she single-handedly launched the career of then Royal College of Arts student Phillip Treacy when she commissioned him to make a headdress for her medieval-inspired wedding to Detmar Blow.  She quickly moved him into a studio basement below her house where they spent months together dreaming up more and more outrageous headwear creations for her to wear.

Whilst Philip Treacy’s career was propelled by his relationship and collaboration with Blow, the indomitable talent of Alexander McQueen completed it.    Blow was also renowned for launching McQueen’s career around the same time, when she purchased his entire graduate collection whilst a Master’s student at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design.      Blow encouraged collaboration between McQueen and Treacy, and together with her contacts and role within the media, helped shoot all three talents to fame, and they remained an formidable hyper-creative ménage à trois until the suicidal deaths of both Blow (2007) and McQueen (2010) respectively.   (yes like many a creative genius, she was a depressive)

Anyhoo, the exhibition is curated by Alistair O’Neill with Shonagh Marshall, designed by architectural firm Carmody Croarke, with installations by set designer Shona Heath, and will show 100 pieces from her epic collection of shoes and HATS, now owned by Daphne Guiness.  Among the labels featured in the show, in addition to McQueen and Treacy, are Jeremy Scott, Julien Macdonald, Viktor & Rolf, Fendi, Escada, Prada and Marni.


Sometimes it’s a bitch living in Australia.

Exhibition details:  2 November – 30 March Somerset House, London.

Photographer Donald McPherson 'Isabella and Philip', portrait at Claridges, 2002.  
Blow wears Haute Couture Mother of Pearl top and trousers by Alexander McQueen and Treacy ‘Tiffany pink DuPont Lycra stretch disc with feather arrows’ (online) 

The first hat Isabella commissioned Phillip Treacy to make, for her wedding to Detmar Blow, 19

More Phillip Treacy/Blow collaborations:

"I wear hats to keep everyone away from me.  They say, 'Oh, can I kiss you?  I say, no, thank you very much.  That's why I've worn the hat.  Goodbye.' I don't want to be kissed by all and sundry.  I want to be kissed by the people I love".  
(from an interview with Tamsin Blanchard 2002)

"The Spirit in which she wore hats was like visual entertainment for everybody else and a tonic for her."
(Phillip Treacy)

Isabella Blow, portrait at Claridges, 6 May 2002. Styling by Amber Desborough, Phillip Treacy disc hat, orange acrylic, 2001.
                   Silk Victorian jacket by Alexander McQueen.  Vanity Fair, July 2002.  Photographer Donald McPherson.

Some other highly recommended links to all things ISABELLA BLOW: