The Fashion Fiend's Illustrated 4th of July

The 4th of July is the official start of summer here in the Northeast, launching my absolutely favorite time of year. To celebrate, I decided to do an homage to one of my favorite illustrators, Antonio Lopez, who illustrated many a head scarf in his day. He also came up with a clever way to express the exuberance of stripes by bleeding them off the garment, like so:

I am not sure which I like better, the unfinished state of the drawing above, or the way It's been resolved in my finished piece here: 


Happy 4th, y'all! 

The Fashion Fiend's Illustrated French Dictionary: Peter Pan Collar

The Peter Pan collar is indeed named after the fictional character from J.M. Barrie's book (which also popularized the name 'Wendy'). The 1905 stage production starred Maude Adams as Peter Pan, and the collar on the costume she wore to play "the boy who wouldn't grow up" was thus immortalized, though it was a style worn previously.

The French name for the round collar style, col Claudine, is also derived from literature, named for the title character in Colette's 1900 book 'Claudine à l'école'. The collar has always been associated with youth, being a popular style for infants' clothing as well as for female school uniforms in France.

As a fashion perennial, if not an item in every woman's closet, it imparts a certain youthful and adorable French-ness to the wearer.

The Fashion Fiend's Illustrated Guide to French Film: Le Mépris

Brigitte Bardot became even more world-famous for her French pout and bouffant blonde hair after starring in Contempt (Le Mépris, directed by Jean Luc Godard in 1963) as Camille, the tempestuous wife in a disintegrating movieland marriage. The film ran parallel to the director's ongoing bitter dialog with his on-again / off-again beloved, Anna Karina.

The Fashion Fiend's Illustrated French Dictionary: Sailor Pants

What we Americans call sailor pants are a fashion classic that are worn typically this time of year (can't imagine them without espadrilles!) and are an easy, breezy way to look put-together and chic. The pantalon à pont is usually a high-waisted (taille haute) style with a buttoned flap at the front, often with a flared leg. Sailors in the US Navy apparently originated the "bell-bottom" in the 1800s as a practical matter, since the flare shape made it easier to put on and remove heavy work boots and to roll up when swabbing the decks!


The Fashion Fiend’s Illustrated Guide to French Film: La Baie des Anges

The 1963 movie La Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) from Jacques Demy, of Umbrellas of Cherbourg fame, is the woeful tale of a naïve young man who falls in love with Jackie, a woman with a serious roulette addiction and nothing left to lose.

Most of the movie takes place on the Côte d’Azur in the south of France, but the gorgeous wardrobe worn by Jeanne Moreau in the film is definitively Parisian.  From her chic, if slightly worn, little white skirt suit to this long black tie-back gown with feather wrap (purchased with their winnings), Jackie has managed to not quite gamble away the shirt on her back despite winning and losing millions of francs on a nightly basis.


The Fashion Fiend’s Illustrated Guide to Paris Fashion Week: Giambattista Valli

The Spring 2015 collection from Giambattista Valli was utterly lovely, delicate and floral but with arty touches like tunic shapes over stovepipe trousers striped with bands down one leg and giant silver disk necklaces worn as chokers. Although not necessarily ready-to-wearable, it was definitely a breath of fresh air that stood apart from other designers’ offerings for it’s couture flourishes and ladylike take on modern fashion.

This illustration was my entry in this month's Instagram DrawADot open call:

The Fashion Fiend's Illustrated Guide to French Film: Vivre sa vie

The 1962 film Vivre sa vie (My Life to Live), directed by Jean Luc Godard, tells the story of Nana, an increasingly desperate woman who has turned to prostitution as her life crumbles around her. Originally from Denmark, the actress who played Nana was actually rechristened 'Anna Karina' by none other than Coco Chanel shortly after arriving in Paris, where she initially worked as a model. Although she was angry with the director (her husband at the time) for making her look ugly in the film, her silent-film-star looks give the character a chic tinge of tragedy.

The Fashion Fiend's Illustrated Guide to New York Shopping: Tiffany's

I recently had occasion to pop into Tiffany's (Tiffany & Co, to be formal) - not to buy a new bauble unfortunately, but to get a clasp fixed on an Elsa Peretti necklace after many years of daily wear. Tiffany's, of course, is the New York institution standing proudly on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street and immortalized in the Audrey Hepburn movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. (You cannot be a Fashion Fiend without loving this movie, by the way!)

If you are in New York, whether you're a longtime resident like me or a visitor, you absolutely must brave the insane crowds and step inside Tiffany's at some point in your life. It seems like a cliché, but these types of things are famous for a reason. First you will find the most handsome of men standing near the entrance, wearing a Tiffany's blue tie, ready to greet you but also keeping an eye peeled to make sure no one steals anything. Then you will notice the jewels winking and sparkling at you from every corner of the grand main room that stands 24 feet high!

After being whisked by elevator to the sixth floor, my experience at Customer Service was equally heavenly, like stepping back to a gentler time when people wore hats and gloves all the time and called each other 'Mr.', 'Mrs.', or 'Miss'. The level of politeness will cause you to raise your grammar game, slow down a bit, and take the time to offer a smile and a sincere THANK YOU (not just a tossed off "eh, thanks") to each and every employee you encounter. It was even a pleasure to return the very next day to pick up my repaired necklace, put it back on, and saunter back out into the melee that is Fifth Avenue nowadays...

The Fashion Fiend's Illustrated Fashion Dictionary: Talons Aiguilles

Having spent a lot of time over the years trying to improve my French, I have found a favorite source for new terms is fashion magazines. Luckily, I am a Fashion Fiend along with being a fashion illustrator, so this is not a problem (and the expense is deductible!)

A stiletto (or "stillie" as a friend of mine calls them) is a fashion classic, albeit murderous to the health of the human foot. No matter, un talon aiguille is a staple on the pages of Vogue as well as holding pride of place in many sophisticated closets. The term is apropos in French, as une aiguille is a needle.

Some silly girls have been known to spend their rent money on a pair of "Loubous" (not me! not lately, anyway...)