Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sarah Moon

Greetings Folks!  Today is February the 29th - leap year! Technically. according to popular legend, today is the only day in the year on which a woman is allowed to propose to a man... I think, in my case, if I wish to do this, I might leave it another two, three or four leap years. :) When I was a small child at the beginning of primary school, I used to hate February for the odd day number. Aged four, ot was bad enough learning the days in all twelve of the months going, "Thirty days hath September, April, June and November. All the rest have thirty-one save... February..." and then I would go wrong.
Oh, did you know, on this day in History, in 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African-America to win an Academy Award for her role as Mammy in 'Gone with the Wind'
Anyway, today I am going to do a brief 'thing' (so to speak) on the photographer, Sarah Moon.

She was born, Marielle Hadengue (since she is of French Origin) in England in 1940.  She studied drawing in an Art School and, by 1960, was a recognised model. In 1966, she switched to being behind the camera. 
Her work was noticed at the Modinsolite Exhibition of Avant-Garde Fashion Photography, Delpire Gallery, in Paris in 1968.  Sarah Moon became known for her impressionistic style -  Her work is noted for a sort of softness, a vagueness that's suggestive of the impressionist painters. Though, apparently this came quite naturally since she, like myself in fact, is short-sighted (myopia) I will not say that this is the only reason for vagueness, but it could easily be contributing. After all, when describing the world with my glasses off, the easiest way I have found to do so is saying that everything simply looks like a Monet, though maybe not that bad.

She photographed for Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar (Great Britain), Marie-Claire and other magazines.

 In 1968, Sarah Moon introduced soft-focus visions or illusions as personifications of new fashions with a turn-of-the-century silhouette (on a side note, a silhouette which I am personally fond of)

Her work generates a sense of mystery.  For example, this photo:
<<< 'Pour Madame Figaro'

There is a certain essence of fancy, luxury and, maybe more to the point, melancholia or simple nostalgia manifested in her pictures.  Another point to her photography was her use of distressed prints to give her photos a feeling of age.
The same fancy and almost melancholia, is also clear in Moon's interpretations of Fairytales. For example, in 1985, she gave a personal interpretation to Little Red Riding Hood by directing adult models in sequences.  Another example is her most recent exhibition which looks at the story of The Little Match Girl.

Since 1980, Moon has made hundreds of photos and adverts for  a diverse range of brands.  She has also done regular fashion campaigns for Cacharel. 
In 1990, she was an honored guest at the Fashion Festival of Budapest (which I need to find out about. I have never actually heard of it, and I like knowing things)
 In 1992, Sarah Moon had a solo exhibition at the Staley-Wise Gallery, in New York.
Oh, and taking a step back down my slightly warped tineline, she also received the International Center of Photography Award for Fashion Photography in New York in 1983.
<<< I love this photo. It is a lot more modern than it looks and I really like the use of distressed print to create this charming effect. It looks like a photo taken in the 1920s. Though, on the other hand, it does have a feeling of timelessness to it. I adore the hat, and think the expression on the model's half-concealed face is beautiful in capturing the feeling of the picture. The pearl earring also draws a perfect amount of light into the picture as well.

"I believe that if I didn't work in commercial photography, I would never work in colour. I don't really like colour. To make it work for me, I have to mess with it." Sarah Moon

 "What I aim at is an image with a minimum of information and markers, that has no reference to a given time or place, but that nevertheless speaks to me, that evokes something which happened just before or may happen just after."

On a last note, in honour of Davy Jones who died this morning of a heart attack, aged sixty-six, I am going to include a song by 'The Monkees' in this post (Though I honestly only know two Monkees songs) I hope you enjoy.

Thank you for reading. Please comment and do follow!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Saturday Musings

Greetings folks! Having spent a day doing what feels like a lot, all of which is generally useless, I am resolved to come and post something on my blog.
This morning, I was from half past nine until three o'clock at my Drama Club where I managed to drive myself hoarse for a moment or two while trying to be sufficiently angry for one of my pieces, realised my skirt was a little too short for dancing and failed at mimicking a south african accent.

Having returned home in one piece, I proceeded to emptying the fridge and making my way through a collection of Powell and Pressburger films while simultaneously working on the actual script for one of the plays I am writing (Result! After months of writing out my detailed plan, I have finally gotten down to the actual script: stage directions, semi-witty comments and all. Take that Procastination!)

^^^ The above expression is one I have very much experience of, especially during Mathematics Tests and when being asked what my phone number is.  

So... Powell and Pressburger? Honestly brilliant, though I have not let myself watch more than two of the films since I do not actually wish to have finished the whole boxset of eleven films by the end of this weekend. So far, I have 'A matter of Life and Death' and 'Black Narcissus' under my belt, and I think both are really beautiful. 'Black Narcissus' involves nuns going mad, and 'A matter of Life and Death' involved heaven, WW2 pilots, switches between b&w and technicolour before ending with a quote from Sir Walter Scott. What more could you want?

"In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed;
In war, he mounts the warrior's steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
In hamlets, dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above;
For Love is heaven, and heaven is Love."

 Onto my outfit for the day. Here I have donned a coat thrifted from ebay and originally bought fot £3, my sister's skirt from John Lewis, a white blouse bought in France at Monoprix while I was in Fontainebleau visiting family. I am not sure how this sort of brooch is called, although I am quite sure it has a specific name. The hair and face are my own.

Underneath the coat, I actually have a jacket of practically the same sort of colour, so you do not notice it  very well apart from in the last photo where I had taken off my coat.

The satchel is a new find of mine, bought while I was in Cambridge last week, and from the Cambridge Satchel Company, which do gorgeous satchels like this in every colour - classical black and brown as well as metallic and fluorescent.
They are not very cheap, but made in Britain out of leather and, by the looks of things, hardwearing and quite practical. I believe they come in two sizes, 13" and 11" though to metric people like myself, that basically means the bigger one and the smaller one.

The weather has actually been rather mild this past week, especially in comparison to the beginning of the week, otherwise I would not have worn something so light. There is very little I detest more than being cold.

 Having now ruled out watching any more powell and pressburger films, I have been spending the last hour playing at being Nostalgic on Youtube, including playing certain artists repeatedly: Juliette Greco, Suzanne Vega, Louis Armstrong and the usual songs from musicals. I shall just post two of these videos. I think they are both particularly poignant, and it was the sort of music I was in the mood to listen to.


"Si tu t'imagines..."

Thank you for reading my Saturday Musings, which should probably have been named my 'Saturday Ramblings'
Do leave a comment, and please follow. :)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

I was dreaming of sparkling red gowns...

Greetings! Fresh from watching 'You Can't Take It With You' with James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore and Jean Arthur, directed by Frank Capra, and feeling stupidly happy. I am going to buy a harmonica.

On that note, do any of you remember way back to the 8th February and the beginning of New York Fashion Week, debuting with the Heart Truth's Red Dress Fashion Show? (The Heart Truth Campaign has as goal to raise awareness of women’s heart health educational programs)
Well, whether you do or do not, or have never heard or come across this in your life, feast your eyes on Minka Kelly in this glittering Diane von Furstenberg Dress.
I had not realised it at the time, but this picture had fed a growing seed, at the time still subconscious. However, it has now come to the point that I am not simply randomnly daydreaming of sparkling red gowns... I am obsessing over perhaps eventually owning one.

So we all know what red symbolises. We know when looking at a tap that the red is hot. It is the colour most widely chosen by extroverts and can mean temper or anger. In China, on the other hand, red is the colour of happiness and prosperity, which is why brides wear red and doors are often painted red.  
Red is the color of blood, which in turn symbolises life and vitality. Oh, and red is also the colour of passion, love and lust.
There you go. Although I know it is impractical and well, there may be connotations, I am still going to state quite clearly "I want a floor-length sparkling red gown!"

After all, they look like they can be a lot of fun - as these fantastic videos prove:

Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac in 'Les Demoiselles de Rochefort' - an absolutely beautiful film, beautifully shot and not one to be missed. Watch it in English if you must, but it is better in French.
In terms of the dresses, this shows a different option. Without sleeves and thigh-high slit at the side... which could easily be adapted as a a three-inch-above-the-knee-high slit for practicality. :)

"Chantez la vie!
Chantez la pluie!
Chantez le soleil!
Chantez les villes et les champs!"

Of course, where would the world of sparkling red dresses be without the inimitable Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe? We're just two little girls from little rock... and although this film (Gentlemen prefer blondes) has a much more famous number in the form of Marilyn Monroe singing 'Diamond's are a girls best friend' (Which I love too!) for some reason it has always been this one that has tune which I hum obsessively for a couple of days everytime I see it.

And because I wanted to show even more variety, I included the wonderful Jessica Rabbit. Though this is the point when this dress is a cartoon and therefore serves to illustrate a point about the character and, in doing so, about sparkling red dresses. A point I will probably consider if ever I get the chance to buy a sparkly red gown... well, for a moment or two. My Brother might not be happy of course, but it takes a lot to keep him happy.

On a last note, it might - after all - be this wonderful photo of Graham Norton in a London Production of 'La Cage aux Folles' that really set me off. I think that is the most likely explanation.


(To clear up any possible misunderstandings, I do want to make sure that everyone knows that was a joke. I don't mean the fact that Graham Norton looks surprisingly at home in a sparkly red dress, but the fact it was my prime inspiration. In all honesty, it was probably fourth on the list of inspiration)

Well, thank you for reading and apologies for the minimal amount of writing accompanying this post. I need to go and I am too tired out to think of anything witty to say.

Comment and do follow if you like.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Genius of Guy Bourdin

Salutations! Having spent a week doing too little revision for too long and watching Capra films, I realised with a jolt that I had not posted since last Monday and, since I did not wish to do the whole Monday-Monday (whoops! I have not posted for a week) thing, I felt I should post this sooner than I otherwise intended to. Anyway, the caffeine and bruise on my head is keeping me awake so I came to the conclusion that posting would be a more valuable use of my time than surfing BBC iPlayer or Youtube in order to find a random video or programme that I would be happy to watch until I felt ready to curl up into a ball and sleep.
I am here to present those of you who do not know to Guy Bourdin. Photographer - one of the greatest fashion photographer's of all time.

Guy Bourdin was born in Paris on the 2nd December 1928. When his parents separated, and his mother left approximately a year after giving birth to him, he went to live in Normandy with his paternal grandparents who owned a brasserie. When his Father remarried, he moved back in with his father, stepmother and stepsiblings. By all accounts, he only met his mother once and his only abiding memory was of a sophisticated parisian woman, with pale skin and red hair, an image that was recurring in many of his photos. Abandonment became a personal and professional motif. At the age of eighteen he went on a tour of Provence and met Lucien Henry, an art dealer. He stayed with Lucien for six months where he seriously applied himself to drawing and painting and initially decided to become an artist. When it was time for his military service he ended up in Dakar as an aerial photographer in the Air Force.
After his military service he returned to Paris. He still drew and painted and started taking pictures for himself. He was influenced by Surrealism and of all the Surrealists. His greatest influence was Man Ray (a notable work is the Violon d'Ingres) with whom he became friends. Man Ray  even wrote the catalogue text to Bourdin's first exhibition in 1952.
It was two years later that, at the age of twenty-seven, he was offered a job at French Vogue. His debut was four pages of hats. One of the pictures featured a woman standing below three skinned calves' heads. It was a statement that marked out the direction of his style as a photographer.

He was best known for his work for French Vogue from the mid fifties to the mid eighties.... and it was typically dark, theatrical and even disturbing. In fact, I'm going to set this straight, to a relatively innocent 1970s audience, some of it was perversely shocking (for general appearance in a Fashion Magazine) and much of it was macabre. Guy Bourdin's advertisement for Charles Jourdan shoes showed the chalked outline of a woman on an apparently blood spattered pavement, her gorgeous red shoes and red sunglasses abandoned near where her body had fallen. A lot of the darker pictures that Bourdin did take were never even published. One such unpublished photograph, taken in 1978, showed a naked woman draped across a desk, her throat cut, surrounded by blood. So yes, there is something more than a little strange about his obsession with death and desire. People have called him a misogynistic puppet master, which is perfectly fair considering - Guy Bourdin was a short man with an apparently whiny voice, and had a reputation of being incredibly demanding. Dark rumours (which were not really rumours, more unpleasant truths) surrounded him: his mother abandoning him as an infant, the suicides of his wife and two of his girlfriends, and the cruelty in which he treated his models.

Whatever can be said about Guy as a person, (and obviously, a lot of controversial things could easily be said) his photos are incredibly striking and incredibly recognisable. He shattered taboos (though I think the made-up ten year old is still something rather disturbing to anybody)
In many ways he was like Warhol and Hitchcock, using photography in a more psychological way and using the personal understanding of an outsider looking in.

He died of Cancer in 1991.

His son Samuel Bourdin released a book with the finest prints of his father's work, called "Exhibit A" in 2001. His first retrospective exhibition was held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London 2003, and then toured the National gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and Jeu de Paume in Paris.

In 2003, Madonna's music video for Hollywood (which I have posted here, purely for the purpose of illustrating my point than any great love of this song) was greatly influenced by the photography of Bourdin, so much so that a lawsuit was brought on against her by Bourdin's son for copyright infringement.

Anyway, thank you for reading - if you did indeed read, and did not simply glance up and down the pictures. Please comment and feel free to follow (Really. Do so.)
I should be back with something lighter next time because, after a post in which I listed forms of human sacrifice then this one, in which I discussed someone who very much thought of himself as 'un poete damne' whose emotional pain was self-inflicted, I think something lighter would clear the air.


Monday, 13 February 2012

We are Creatures of the Wind...

Greetings! Today is Monday. Normally that would mean fatigue, mild headache and a semi-wasted day spent doing the minimum but, since I have a week's holiday, it still means fatigue, mild headache and a completely wasted day doing nothing - other than writing this, of course. :)
Anyway, so today I have decided to present you with a collection that I was intending to present you with as far back as Thursday or Friday where I believe my commentary would have still been quite fresh. Instead, I am posting it today. Ha - I care not a jot for the limitations of time... except when I have a coursework piece to hand in and I am being threatened with detention.

"This bridge will only take you halfway there
To those mysterious lands you long to see:
Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fair
And moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
So come and walk awhile with me and share
The twisting trails and wondrous worlds I've known.
But this bridge will only take you halfway there -
The last few steps you'll have to walk alone."
 - Shel Silverstein

So, in contrast with my relatively reserved Giulietta post, here comes 'Creatures of the Wind'  - Autumn 2012 collection.

Shane Gabier and Chris Peters are designers with a unique, offbeat vision. Their latest collection, they explained, was inspired by The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies, a seventeenth-century book by the Scottish Episcopalian minister Robert Kirk in which he collected his parishioners' tales of the supernatural.
I do not think there was anything extraordinarily otherworldly, per se, about the clothes, but they were certainly creations with a difference. Exhibit A: a white button-down blouse embroidered with a quote from The Last Unicorn.
Also appearing was a trim blazer constructed from distressed leather and Lurex-shot striped wool with a heat transfer of multicolor Swarovski crystals on its back... and a lace skirt dipped in silver.
The overall feeling was folksy, but with a couture touch - though if I had organised the show it would have finished with morris dancing or a 'rite of spring'-alike sacrifice. We could have picked the one with red hair and the beautiful black dress (one of my favourite items in the collection) and tied her to a stone table. Alas, that may have shocked the audience slightly and I might have failed at encouraging them to join in with the maypole dancing.

"What is plucked will grow again,
What is slain lives on,
What is stolen will remain
What is gone is gone...
What is sea-born dies on land,
Soft is trod upon.
What is given burns the hand -
What is gone is gone...
Here is there, and high is low;
All may be undone.
What is true, no two men know -
What is gone is gone...
Who has choices need not choose.
We must, who have none.
We can love but what we lose -
What is gone is gone."
- Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn
Probably not a recipe for surefire retail success, and I am all the more relieved for it, but Gabier and Peters might have something better: a finale gown made from tiers of pale blue chiffon and taffeta with a silver lace yoke that, should it be worn at the Oscars by the right Hollywood Star (one of the ones I have heard of) could earn them renown.          

<<< I think this is strangely gorgeous. I thought the colouring was similiar to this pre-raphaelite painting painting on the right - >>> - since I can't resist any opportunity to thrust the pre-raphaelites under my willing victim person-who-I wish-to-educate's nose. Oh, and this is the one we're going to sacrifice. (That is a Joke. I do not in any way recommend or support any form of human sacrifice or ritual killing, including having people entombed in walls, buried alive, strangling them with colourful silk scarves in the name of Kali,  building wicker figures with humans inside which are then burned, Sati/Suttee, any form of sacrifice involving an altar, headhunting or cannibalism. Unless of course, you wish to fight a war against Troy, where I would promote it.)

<<< Another beautiful dress, though less waist than I generally like. If I were a hollywood star (which I should be ;) I think I would wear it, although this sort of layering in the skirt is not normally what I opt for. It would look nice with a bun or half-ponytail, simple heels - maybe bright red - and no jewellery .
>>> Evidence of some peplum inspiration in the collection. I would have said that I would not be seen dead in that skirt, but I have a new policy of giving anything a go - apart from that strange cardigan concoction. *Shudder*
If I had the money to waste (because, never in a million years am I going to find a high street alternative) I would possibly wear the skirt with a simple black turtleneck, a high bun, some black high heels, a slick of red lipstick and a tape measure about my neck.

<<< Clashing patterns add to the Folk feeling... though I think the shoes are horrendous. If there is no figure in an outfit then, at the very least, a pair of stiletto heels should be worn. That's just the laws of common decency. ;)

<<< This one is actually really cool. I am still wholly unappreciative of the shoes, though I am sure a lot of hard work was put into creating them. On the other hand, the hat looks really sumptuous and I think that (with the possible addition of a slim belt) the clothes themselves look gorgeous too.

^^^ Absolutely gorgeous hairstyle. Maybe I can find someone to do something like this for me since (when it comes to hairstyling) I am all thumbs. ^^^

On a last note, anything slightly 'The Wicker Man' about the collection?

"All the ancient classic fairy tales have always been scary and dark." - Helena Bonham Carter

Thank you for reading my wild ramblings (I wish to stress one more time that I do not actually approve of human sacrifice, or animal sacrifice for that matter) and I encourage you to comment. I enjoy reading them, even if they are negative, just as long as they are based on a fair and informed judgement. Oh, and please follow. :)


Sunday, 12 February 2012

Slightly ecclesiastical Giulietta

Salutations! Forgive my temporary absence in the face of a dreadful cold and variety of other things. So, having spent a day obsessively listening to The Ditty Bops and Doris Day, watching Anime, probably being the last person I know to find out about Whitney Houston's death, and drinking Pepsi Max like the addict I am, I am quite tired. More commercially, I have also been keeping an eye on all the updates from New York Fashion Week and watching the BAFTAs, where The Artist rightly won Best Actor, Director, Screenplay and Film. Moi = Satisfied.

So... what from New York Fashion Week? Well, although I intended to analyse something else first, I have come to Giulietta's Autumn/Winter 2012 Collection... which was far better than the Spring 2012 one, in my opinion at least.


 Of course, there was rather a lot of brown (not necessarily a bad thing in most circumstances) but I was sold on the pussybow blouses and dresses. Puffy, whimsical or lady-like blouses have always been a clothing win for me. I do not have enough of them. I need Poet Shirts, and Pirate Blouses... Pussybow blouses are (in many ways) simply a toned down version. The Official 'I-want-it-so-badly-it-hurts-that-I-can't-afford-it' of this collection, was this beautiful yellow dress with gorgeous sleeves and pussybow. *Sigh* I think I am going to try the sweet, ingenue look again. If I could only find a dress somewhat like the white one to the left, and some beige/black ballet pumps with strap... then I could tie my hair back in a half-ponytail with a white ribbon and have a go at the wide-eyed innocence. I can act as candid and wholesome as Mary Pickford - though she was a good 10cm less than me and often played children. I shall re-evaluate. I can act as candid and wholesome as a less-blonde version of Doris Day. Until I get angry, of course. On that note, when it has all been arranged, I will make sure you are the first to know. Cross my heart and hope to die. I read with interest the suggestion that Visconti's 1963 Italian film “Il Gattopardo” (which I know under the name 'Le Guepard' and, for the english-speaking, the Leopard) set the tone for Sofia Sizzi’s Autumn Giulietta outing. It started with a brown cashmere vest worn over a white collared blouse and pleated skirt - it felt a bit ecclesiastical yet was still wearable - culminating with the fancy ball gowns, such as a citrus green below-the-knee dress with crystal beads. I suppose I see where the suggestion comes from, and it gave me a wonderful excuse to pop the DVD into the player at two o'clock in the morning, just to evaluate how true. Any reason to be watching Alain Delon circa 1963 is appreciated... oh, and Claudia Cardinale in beautiful dresses.  Otherwise, what else can I say about the collection? Waists on every outfit, which is always nice to see. Great collars and some fantastic monochrome patterns as well as a few floaty skirts (Yes!) almost none of which were too short. Some lovely shoes, mostly in neutral tones, with a couple of light blue metallic colours, some shiny red and orange. Very simple hair. Low Ponytail (which I honestly prefer to the high one on most people's faces)  and white tights. Indeed, if I have picked up anything, then it is the belief that investing in a nice pair of white tights would be a valid style decision.

 Suffering from immense fatique and the beginnings of a migraine, so all I have left to do is to say 'over and out', ask you to comment and encourage you to follow.

On a last note, just look at this blouse on the left! *Flails hands wildly* Gorgeously, luxuriously wonderful sleeves. I am going to have a huge amount of trouble finding a charity shop or high street equivalent. Wish me luck.