Breakfast at Tiffanys
Some Iconic Women’s Items
Men Fashion Icons
Some Iconic Men’s Items
CARTIER TANK WATCH designed by Louis Cartier in 1916, an icon of modern watchmaking.
Breakfast at Tiffanys
Some Iconic Women’s Items
Men Fashion Icons
Some Iconic Men’s Items
CARTIER TANK WATCH designed by Louis Cartier in 1916, an icon of modern watchmaking.
With terms like gender fluidity, gender-bending and androgyny becoming buzzwords, designers are sending men in skirts and women in tuxedos onto the catwalks.
Until the eighteenth century, both men and women of the elite class decked themselves out in elaborate dresses. An abundant use of silks, velvets, laces, as well as wigs and scented powders, were the norm. Men in pink embroidered jackets, gold and silver jewellery, high heeled shoes, were considered very masculine.
Fashion became feminised again in the nineteenth century when sexual difference through clothing was important in the social order.
It was Coco Chanel, in the 1920s, who first made trousers popular for women, pioneering masculine tailoring. She took inspiration from the country wardrobe of her lover The Duke of Westminster.
In the 30s, the golden age of Hollywood glamour, Marlene Dietrich appeared in white tie and tails in the film Morocco. Audiences were mesmerised!
The attitude was forced to change during the austerity years of the 40s and 50s.
And then, with the unisex fashion of the “Swinging Sixties” and the social revolution, the gender lines became somewhat less clear.
David Bowie & Rod Stewart
David Bowie and Rod Stewart’s psychedelic outfits we’re the epitome of androgyny.
Yves Saint Laurent & Catherine Deneuve
In 1966 Yves St Laurent introduced “Le Smoking”, a tuxedo for women. The masculine line was revolutionary. Later, he would interpret the mannish silhouette in gangster striped suits and safari jackets.
With the introduction of trousers, it was said that Chanel liberated women, and Yves St Laurent gave them power.
When Nan Kempner, a New York socialite, was refused entrance to a Manhattan restaurant wearing her YSL suit, her answer was to drop the trousers and march to her table wearing only the jacket as a mini dress. Et voila!
Bianca Jagger married Mick in St Tropez in a white version of “Le Smoking”. Today, style icons Kate Moss and Alexa Chung wear theirs with or without trousers.
Fashion has always been a mirror of its time – in art, politics, commerce…
Since the 1990s, it has been trying to blur the gender lines, and today gender-neutral clothing is back in vogue.
Dries van Noten
Because of globalisation, fashion houses have to be constantly innovative and think outside the box. When international brands started turning their shows into girl-boy platforms and decked them in similar outfits, it was indicative of a gender political wave that will only get bigger. It reflects the social and sexual changes.
Harry Styles & Pharell Williams
Fashion houses and jewellers claim that men are beguiling to buy pearls earrings and necklaces that were once associated with their grandmothers. An assortment of celebs, including Harry Styles and Pharrell Williams are helping to spread the idea that a modern man can wear pearls.
Today, the younger generation has a different attitude towards sexual identity. They often borrow elements of clothing from each other’s wardrobe – shirts, sweaters, blazers, hats, and caps.
Labels like The Kooples, encourage gender-swapping clothes, and unisex underwear is now a big thing. Clavin Klein was the first designer to cash in on it.
At a college last year, a group of male students stepped out in skirts proclaiming to counter the heatwave!
The A-list often swap their cocktail or evening dresses for something masculine. Among the sheer dresses and split skirts, tuxedos are bucking the trend. This does not mean forgoing flesh. Just leave off the shirt.
Young men care about their appearance, spend a lot of time at the gym, and money on clothing, skin and hair products.
Some men labeled “Metrosexuals”, are prepared to experiment with a man-skirt. It has been trying to go mainstream since the 1960s, and Jean Paul Gaultier has been its pioneer.
While this trend has still to find many takers, Hollywood celebrities like Kanye West, Jared Leto, Jaden Smith have shown their support. Remember David Beckham in his pareo?
And it’s not just young men who have changed their attitude towards fashion. Those who, ten years ago, might have regarded them as “gay clothes” are now wearing rainbow colours to go to the pub or the football match. Pink has been adopted by very masculine guys.
(see “La Vie en Rose”post)
Recently, “cross dressing” has become a subject of press interest, and an antidote to concepts of society and gender. Grayson Perry as Claire his alter-ego, has become an accepted figure in the art world.
The Victoria & Albert Museum recently displayed a kimono owned by Freddie Mercury, pointing out that he was drawn to the garment for its ability to challenge ideas about gender and sexual norms.
In 2017, the #MeToo movement opened our eyes to gender roles and behaviour, and to the importance of equality between the sexes. In a very short time, we have become aware of identification. It has probably been the fastest evolution in history, thanks to the internet and social media.
Backed up by the voices of new generations, “genderlessness” has become a hot topic.
Technically WHITE is not a colour. Well, it’s my favourite colour!
It is the symbol of purity and romance. The list of clichés is endless. The dove of peace; the meringue dress of the bride; the linen sheet; the carpet of snow; the sheet of paper in front of the writer or the composer; and, in history, the famous Malevich painting “WHITE on WHITE” which opened the door to avant-garde art; or the floating icebergs symbol of our changing world.
Over the years I have designed WHITE clothes and WHITE rooms. My house in the South of France is all WHITE. I have also given some memorable WHITE parties (see White Parties post).
Vintage Roland Klein
Chez Moi en Provence
For me, home has always been a special place, somewhere I can shut the door to the outside world and feel calm and refreshed. At the end of any trip, business or pleasure, the best moment is when my keys open the front door.
A WHITE space can be like the perfect little black dress – simple, stylish, classic, and yet modern.
ALL WHITE ON THE NIGHT
The coolest way to upstage the guests. The only rule – keep red wine at distance.
Time and time again I have referred to Coco Chanel’s motto “Le luxe c’est la Simplicite” (luxury equals simplicity).
Think beyond flat white.
It’s a misconception that a WHITE room looks cold. WHITE is not just one colour. There is an enormous palette of WHITES, all different shades and tones, but nonetheless WHITE.
WHITE not only brings a room to life, but it also accentuates architectural details, mouldings and woodwork.
I often use several different tones of WHITE to decorate one room. In a recent project, I used WHITE with a tinge of lilac for the walls, chalky WHITE for the cornices, and plain WHITE for the ceilings.
Lighting is very important. Too bright and the room can then look sterile.
One of the joys of decorating a WHITE room is that one can play by adding colours with rugs, cushions, plants and flowers.
And a WHITE wall provides the perfect canvas to display artwork.
You can give a new lease of life to any old piece of furniture with a coat of WHITE paint. A wooden floor painted WHITE will look regenerated and stylish.
In today’s hectic life, a WHITE room can be more valuable than anything in the search for peace and harmony.
Old age ain’t what it used to be!
“You must never think your age, and you must certainly never dress your age.”
1. Helen Mirren, 2. Diane Von Furstenberg, 3. Jean Dujardin, 4. Glen Close, 5. Giorgio Armani, 6. Grace Coddington, 7. Christine Lagarde, 8. Brigitte Macron, 9. Charlotte Rampling, 10. HRH Queen Elizabeth, 11. Jane Fonda, 12. Andre Leon Talley, 13. Iris Apfel, 14. Ralph Lauren, 15. Christina Scott Thomas, 16. Catherine Deneuve 17 Prue Leith, 18. Emma Forbes, 19. Dame Edna Everage, 20. Sean Connery.
Let’s face it, no-one likes the ageing process, but since you can’t stop it, you might as well embrace it. Look on the bright side – no more exams to sit, no more job interviews, no more objects of desire to impress… It’s freedom! And there are ways to make it more palatable.
Here are some of my tips…
1. First and foremost is your attitude to life. We live in an increasingly stressful world, it’s the modern disease. Be positive, open up to new ideas, new faces, new adventures.
2. By now you know who you are and don’t give a damn. Who cares what people think? So, express your true nature.
3. Never indulge in bitterness. Do that and you end up a bitter person. Let it go.
“The price of peace is forgiveness.”
4. Live for the moment. Today is the most important day of your life.
5. Too many people are wrapped up in the past, “In my days …” You often hear from older folks. Things were not all better. They were just different. That’s why I strongly advise having young friends. Let them be your role models. They bring to the table different viewpoints as well as educating you to the modern way of life. Remember “it’s never too late to teach old dog new tricks”.
6. Make some plans for tomorrow, as well as for next year.
There are also practical ways to embrace the ageing process:
1. The key to good health is what you eat. The Mediterranean diet is often recommended by nutritionists. Eat lots of vegetables and make sure your plate is half filled with vegetables, preferably green ones.
2. Don’t drink alcohol to excess. You will regret it “the day after the night before”. Drink lots of water instead.
3. Next is exercise. Do some form of excise every day – a long walk, yoga … Get off the bus one stop before your final destination. Mental exercises, like crosswords, Sudoku… keep your brain active.
4. Sleep is very important. If you have difficulties falling asleep, don’t try, just relax. If you had a bad day, don’t dwell on it. Think about tomorrow and the pleasures it will bring.
5. Only a few minutes of meditation will clear your full head.
6. Smile a lot. Everybody reacts positively to a smiling face.
7. Travel helps your brain, with new experiences and challenges – foreign languages, money systems… And while new places bring new pleasures, new faces feed the soul.
My Fashion Tips
1. Don’t gain weight, but don’t get too thin either. Women who diet themselves to a stick don’t look good.
2. Plastic surgery? The problem is, one only notices badly done jobs. Successful processes can achieve miracles.
3. I think hair and make-up are a giveaway. Don’t stick to the ones you wore in your twenties, and please cut off the locks falling halfway down your back. Nothing is more ageing.
7. Beware of this season “must haves”, they are not necessarily going to be your best friends. Last year’s outfit will look “right on the money” with this season’s shoes. This season’s outfit with last year’s shoes definitely won’t.
8. Because you can just about zip up your old favourite frock, it is not going to make you look slimmer. Au contraire!
9. Don’t let clothes wear you. The maxim of Molyneux, a Thirties couturier, was that you should not notice what a woman is wearing, only how wonderful she looks.
13. Invest in a pink shirt. It’s cheaper than a facelift, and it will make your skin glow.
14. Don’t wear a designer head to toe (unless they are paying you).
15. Finally, dress for yourself, not for others. It will make you feel good and therefore look good.
4. A good hairstyle, a good pair of shoes and a good handbag. Everything else is about attitude say French women.
5. Not too much flesh on show. Watch the neckline and the hemline. But short skirts are fine if you have great pins – “if you got it, flaunt it”. People won’t notice your wrinkles so much!
6. Wear simple clothes, always with good accessories. Less is more in every way. This may not be breaking news, but it’s sound advise. Chose quality over quantity. Invest in quality basics. They will form the base of your wardrobe.
10. Don’t underestimate the importance of being comfortable. Tottering around in high heels is never a good look and you certainly are not going to relax. Comfort, until recently was a dirty word. Today it’s cool, a way of signaling youth and dynamism, the two most important status symbols of our age. Which means elegant flats, brogues, loafers and even trainers.
11. Don’t try to be sexy, be sensual.
12. Clear your wardrobe, it’s therapeutic. Make three piles: one for clothes you wear regularly, one for the one you wear from time to time, and the third with clothes you haven’t worn for a couple of years. Send these to your favourite charity. You will feel liberated. Next time you go shopping, look at what’s left and build around it.
1. “Bad HAIR days” can be avoided with a good hair cut. Short is probably the best option, but if you have nice locks, it can be attractive, as long as they are controlled and washed regularly.
2. BEARDS are currently fashionable. Well trimmed, they can look good on young faces. But they are definitely aging and should be avoided by any one of a certain age – Graham Norton.
3. TATTOOS are my pet hate. David Beckham used to be very attractive before he covered his body with them. Think about what they are going to look like when the skin starts to age.
4. GLASSES can enhance a face if they fit their shape. Trust your optician for a professional opinion.
5. Clothes that fit properly will always make you look slimmer and younger. So avoid anything that’s too loose or too long. Make sure your trousers don’t fall heavily on your shoes, like Simon Cowell’s. A slightly shorter trouser will make you look taller.
7. There is nothing more youthful than a crisp white shirt.
8. Keep the wrinkles on your face, but off your clothes.
9. A pair of simple white trainers can look smart and modern when worn with chinos or jeans, or even a suit (not stone washed and no holes, please).
6. Avoid black, it’s a harsh colour to wear against older skin. Navy is far more flattering. However being a little older doesn’t preclude you from wearing strong colours, but only as accessories. Stick to one or two – shirt, tie, sweater, or a pocket square. But if you dare, go the David Hockney way.
10. However appealing a chunky cable knit sweater may look, it won’t be flattering if you are already a little chunky. A crew neck is a safe option. It looks great when worn under a blazer. Roll neck sweaters are back in fashion. They can effectively hide a multitude of chins.
11. You must call your old blouson a bomber jacket. No one says blouson anymore.
Rembrandt’s, Titian’s, Monet’s, Picasso’s, Hockney’s work never slacked with old age. Marie Curie learned to swim in her later years, Tolstoy learned to ride a bike in his seventies… and Cher, seventy-two, stole the show in “Mama Mia, Here We Go Again”.
Happiness is the goal we all try to reach, but the goal is a result of your attitude and your actions. Often people believe success makes people happy, but happiness is success.
As the French say, “Entre bien dans sa peau” – being happy in your own skin.
“Dream as you live forever. Live as if you die tomorrow.”
The Colours of India
Diana Vreeland, the Grande Dame of Fashion, once wrote “Shocking pink is the navy blue of India“
For my first trip to India, I chose to visit Rajasthan, the land of palaces, princes and maharajahs. India was a real culture shock for me, a mind-blowing potpourri of sights, sounds and colours.
From the kaleidoscope jumble of chaotic old Delhi to the breathtaking splendour of the Taj Mahal, floating in the morning mist like a dream, I travelled to the pink city of Jaipur overlooked by the colossal Amber Fort, and to Udaipur on the shores of the tranquil Lake Pichola.
As a Fashion and Interior designer, I was bowled over by the vibrant colours worn by the women, and sometimes by the men.
Back in London, I was thinking – could these colour combos be translated into European fashion? Probably not.
But I do feel they would work in interiors, and I am certainly going to use some of them in my next projects.
Here are some of the fashion images I came across during my travels…
That “Je ne sais quoi”
(also see Dinner Party Dressing)
In my not so humble opinion, style is one of the most used and abused words in the English language. Style is an elusive quality. No amount of money is able to buy it, although millions have been spent trying to do so.
A myriad of books and the media have wanted to demystify the allure of French women’s style. The old clichés abound. But, in essence, style is about attitude.
“Etre bien dans sa peau” (feeling good in your own skin).
French women know that the secret is not beauty, but style. And style is an attitude which permeates every aspect of life, from the decor of their homes to their cooking and, of course, the way they dress.
Ever since Brigitte Macron arrived on the arm of her much younger husband, she became a style icon and a role model to women everywhere. The lady has allure, a great smile, along with a sense of style.
So, what is it about French women? And what is their secret?
My 10 tips to get the French look:
1. Keep it simple – As Coco Chanel once said “Le Luxe c’est la Simplicité”
(Luxury equals Simplicity)
2. In order to create the right impression, French women know they have to invest in three things: a good hairstyle, a good pair of shoes and a good handbag. Everything else is about attitude.
3. French women wear simple clothes, often classical, always with expensive accessories.
4. Less is more in every way. This may not be breaking news, but it’s sound advice. Choose quality over quantity. Invest in quality basics. They will form the base of your wardrobe.
5. French women are often prudent with money. After all, they invented the capsule wardrobe, where one jacket will go with several different skirts or trousers. Instead of spending money on a glitzy dress you might only wear a couple of times, create your own capsule collection. It will serve you well on different occasions.
As Karl Lagerfeld said: “Some things never go out of fashion – jeans, the white shirt, and the Chanel jacket“. I would add a pair of well-cut black trousers.
6. Beware of this season’s “must haves”. They are not necessarily going to be your best friends. That’s when French women make the most of using good quality accessories to jazz up an old outfit. Last year’s outfit will look “right on the money” with this season’s shoes. This season’s outfit with last year’s shoes definitely won’t!
9. Do not let your clothes wear you. The maxim of another couturier from the thirties, Molyneux, was that you should never notice what a woman is wearing, only how wonderful she looks. Once again, it’s all about the attitude.
10. Dress for yourself, not for others. It will make you feel, and therefore look good.
7. Don’t underestimate the importance of being comfortable. Tottering around in high heels is never a good look and you are certainly not going to relax. Elegant flats, brogues, and loafers won’t cause any pain and can be worn day or night.
8. Clothes are often used by French women as a tool for seduction – the opening of a button allowing a glimpse of cleavage… but be aware, one wants to see less, not more. Subtlety is key.
How to Wear a
Keep your shirt on
From Left to Right: 1. Marks & Spencer 2. Gerard Darel 3. Ralph Lauren 4. Heidi Klien 5. Burberry 6. Marks & Spencer Men ‘s 7. Agnes B 8. Victoria Beckham 9. Palmer/Harding for John Lewis 10. Roland Klein Vintage 11. Princess Diana 12. Anne Fontaine 14. Marks and Spencer 16. No name 17. Tom Ford 18. J Crew 19. Fope 20. Marks & Spencer 21. Sharon Stone own 22. Sportmax 23. Ralph Lauren
1. There is no quicker way to style your wardrobe, without too much cash or effort, than investing in a white cotton shirt or simply rummaging through your boyfriend/husband’s wardrobe.
2. Whatever the season, it’s a true all rounder – whenever you are at work, out on the town, on the beach, or invited to a VIP party. Sharon Stone wore it on the red carpet for an Oscar ceremony.
3. There is the classic variety, the longer tunic length, the cropped, the collarless, the sleeveless, the flared sleeves…the list is endless.
4. Some shirts you can wear as a dress, or as a jacket, unbuttoned over a vest, off the shoulder, even back to front- why not?
5. Burberry’s last show was a symphony of white shirts, with lace panels, frills, pleated fronts etc… and of course every shop on the High Street is selling endless different versions.
6. Figure out the best shape to fit you. If you are of a certain size, discard anything too fitted, or with darts at bust or waist. A man’s shirt can be the best option.
7. The list of devotees is endless: it became Patti Smith’s trade mark. Agnes de la Fressange (Chanel muse) wears it for day and night, Victoria Beckham designed her own. Today, style icons: Kate Moss, Alexa Chung, Gigi Hadid, Heidi Klum… have all been seen wearing a white cotton shirt.
Join the club
fashion inspiration – Mexico
the blue house
Frida Kahlo collection
the textile museum
Currently at Kensington Palace is the Exhibition:
Diana – Her Fashion Story
The exhibition features sketches of some of the clothes I designed for The Princess of Wales.
I had the privilege to dress her over a period of 15 years. First, when she was Lady Diana Spencer and had just become engaged to the Prince of Wales. Vogue fashion editor Anna Harvey had been asked to advise the future Princess on her wardrobe. She chose for her this maroon taffeta evening dress, which became an instant success. The stores kept on re-ordering the “Lady Di Dress”!
Later, the Princess used to pop into our shop in Brooke Street. She purchased many outfits, including the knitted sweater and linen skirt she wore at a polo match, at the time Prince Harry was a little boy.
But her most photographed outfit was a navy and white silk three-piece she wore time a time again – at Ascot, on an official visit to Australia, at a friend’s wedding…
The last dress we made for her was this blue sapphire crepe dress. By then she was very confident about her look. When she examined the hemline in the mirror, she urged “shorter, shorter”. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Whatever I wear I’ll be criticised, so let’s go for it” was the reply.
Diana was the nicest client. She was very informal and we treated her like any other client. One morning, she arrived earlier than planned (the driver of a very ordinary little car was sitting outside waiting). The girl who ran our showroom was in the kitchen washing some cups. The Princess picked up a cloth, sat on the corner of the table, and helped with the drying up!
Vintage Roland Klein
Guests often ask “what should I wear?”
Deciding what to wear can be a minefield – especially nowadays when the dress code can be interpreted in so many different ways. “Smart Casual ” – two words that can cause jitters for the most fashionable woman. Long or short? Are jeans allowed?
Any party is an occasion, and like all occasions, you should dress up, or at least make some effort and “scrub up”. It’s not only a compliment to the hosts, it puts you in a party mood. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to put on different clothes, since you might be going directly from your place of work, without time to go home and change.
Day-to-Night dressing is not very clear today. Clothes once considered as evening are sometimes worn during the day – a sequinned skirt paired with a chunky sweater can be acceptable in some offices, or a lace skirt with a t-shirt and blazer… Remove the t-shirt, add a chunky necklace, you have a sexy outfit and ready to party!
Vintage Roland Klein… and very now.
Here are some of my rules…If you want to look the part.
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of being comfortable. You are not going to relax if your skirt is too short, or too tight and rises up, or the neckline too low -one wants to see less, not more, or your heels are too high and you can’t stand up.
1. Keep it simple – As Coco Chanel said:
“le Luxe c’est la Simplicité – “Luxury equals Simplicity”
Another couturier from the thirties, Molyneux. His maxim was that you should never notice what a woman is wearing, only how wonderful she looks.
4. Short skirts are fine if you are over 40 as long as you have the legs for it.
“If you’ve got it, flaunt it”
My gorgeous God Daughter Chez Moi
5. Miss match – Over your day clothes, fling a brilliant coloured scarf or a shawl. They can add instant pizzazz to the plainest clothes. Draped over one shoulder it looks dramatic, or worn like a halter tucked into a belt, some exotic jewellery, an interesting belt, and possibly a pair of high heels, will turn the simplest outfit into a glitzy affair. An Ethnic jacket, bought on your travels, will stand out and might start a conversation.
6. Beware of this season’s “must haves“. They are not necessarily going to be your friends. Use them sparingly to update an outfit and refresh your look, not revolutionise it.
Primark bag and belt, under £20
7. Anything in excess should be avoided. Too much make up, too much jewellery. It is irritating to listen to your neighbour’s clanking bracelets, or to be overpowered by her strong perfume.
8. Crop tops are a “No No” unless you are in your 20’s or you are called Naomi Campbell and wearing vintage Roland Klein.
my little black dresses
9. When you are not sure how formal the occasion might be “The Little Black Dress” invented by Coco Chanel, or a version of the Yves St Laurent “LE SMOKING” which he introduced in The Sixties, are always the perfect answer. Bianca Jagger married Mick in St Tropez in a white version. Kate Moss and Alexa Chung, today’s Style icons, wear the jacket with everything, from skinny jeans to mini skirts, or even on its own like a sexy dress.
Or why not try some Vintage Roland Klein!
It seems easier- tie or no tie? But today, men are often as interested in their appearance as women. Young men sometimes go shopping in groups, like girls do, and pick up each other’s purchases.
Comme des Garçons
For a Dinner Party men may choose to put on a jazzy shirt, or add a flamboyant tie or a scarf, an interesting belt, or swap their jacket for a colourful sweater. And what about a pair of moccasins in a contrasting colour?
One of my favourite looks is a crisp white cotton shirt, well fitted Chinos, and good quality shoes. Nothing is more attractive. But be careful how many buttons you undo – two you are cool, three you could be taken for Hasselhoff, four for J-Lo.
Vintage Roland Klein
White shirts also work well for females. It became Patti Smith’s trade mark. Sharon Stone wore it on the red carpet for an Oscar ceremony, and Ines de la Fressange is a devotee.
Guys, no excuse to wear a badly fitted suit. John Lewis in Oxford St is launching a made to measure tailoring service. Prices start at £495. You can chose from 100 different fabrics, 30 linings and a range of buttons to create your perfect suit (www.JohnLewis.com)
Confidence is key. Dress for yourself, not for others. It’s like the French say ” Être bien dans sa peau ” – feeling good in your own skin.
It reminds me of an old story about Margaret Thatcher when invited to a gala at Buckingham Palace, she called the Queen’s office in order to avoid clashing colours with the Sovereign. Back came the reply: “Mrs T may wear what she likes, Her Majesty doesn’t notice what anyone else is wearing”. How great is that!
To the hosts – don’t try too hard, let your guests shine