Archive for the ‘Costume’ Category

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House

January 26, 2014

I was expecting hats, hats and more hats and Somerset House’s Isabella Blow retrospective did not disappoint. As well as some of her own designs, visitors were invited to feast their eyes on the mad and magnificent outfits Blow pulled together from her protégés’ collections. Because, above being a great milliner, a fantastically mad dresser, and a fashion editor who pushed the boundaries of many established magazines and newspapers, she was a sparkling talent spotter and developer.

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The exhibition starts with aristocratic family albums and an incredible hat featuring several taxidermied crows as well as a shoe, swiftly followed by some lace pieces by Alexander McQueen (discovered by Blow). Not the best presented room but it got better…much better.

Upstairs, hats Blow wore (her own designs and Philip Treacy’s), a collection of personal objects such as her favourite shade of lipstick, her fantastic shoes (including the mismatched ones Andy Warhol noticed her for)…

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My highlight was a (typed) letter she received from a friend after a party, which described entrance and her outfit, and really captures that when Isabella was in the room, no matter how mad her outfit, or casual her approach, she attracted people like moths to a flame.

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Two further rooms showed off further outfits worn by Blow. Because not only did she find new talent and hone it, she launched it by wearing it, wearing the designs by McQueen, Treacy, McDonald and Chalayan… What better endorsement for a designer than having the Fashion Director of The Sunday Times Style wear your clothes, accessories, shoes…! From an aristocratic background, she was very interested in armour and the hunt, wearing pieces by McQueen featuring feathers and antlers.

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Another room presents a striking black and white photoshoot she styled, and helped discover the models for. A magazine article displayed nearby tells the story of how she discovered Sophie Dahl, a completely random encounter.

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The final room downstairs presents key pieces and a viewing from the show McQueen and Treacy put together as an homage after her untimely death. Because although she was very good at putting others forward, and despite her outrageous, attention grabbing clohtes, hats and shoes, Blow was actually always hiding behind these costumes, deflecting attention onto others.

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All in all, a very interesting look at the boundary-breaking style of an elusive woman, who honed so much British talent, transforming UK fashion forever. Lady Gaga eat your heart out.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! ends on 2 March 2014 at Somerset House.

[Tip: no bags bigger than A4 size are allowed in and have to be checked into the (paying) cloakroom]

Sucker Punch

January 22, 2013

What a film! Combining action, thriller and fantasy, it also has a real video game feel about it, and the girls kick ass!

A quick plot summary for those who haven’t seen it (although you should! NOW!!) – a girl is put into an asylum by her evil stepfather as she accidently killed her sister in self-defence against him. She imagines the asylum is a club, where the girls are all clients.

Each time Babydoll dances, the girls are transported into an alternate reality, where they need to complete a mission to gain an object. Hence the video game feel.

The visuals are breathtaking, with 3 different levels of reality presented.

The Asylum:

The Club:

The Game Levels:

Great characters, great costume design and visuals!

I love the fact that the girls are empowered by using their sexyness and are amazingly skilled, strong warriors!

The soundtrack is excellent combining Bjork’s ‘Army of Me’ and re-makes of ‘Sweet Dreams are made of these’, sung by Emily Browning (the lead character). The music is strong, wistful, sexy and energetic, progressing the plot as much as the action.

As the Wiseman said: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

The amazing Hollywood Costumes exhibition at the V&A

January 20, 2013

This exhibition at the V&A really exceeded my expectations. Often when you go to costume exhibitions, they involve, if you’re lucky, 20 film costumes (most of which you have never even heard of!). Not the case at the V&A though, one of my favourite museums in London.

The exhibition is split into 3 huge rooms, each showcasing about 50 costumes, from the Addams Family to Indiana Jones, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz to Neo from the Matrix…and explores the way costume designers choose specific materials, textures and colours to create a character. The show also looks at how actors, directors and costume designers collaborate to create characters, such as Meryl Streep to create Donna from Mamma Mia or Johnny Depp portraying Jack Sparrow (based on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards).

The costumes were really well staged, with quotes from costume designers, directors and actors putting them in context. And the whole thing was accompanied by epic movie music.

Here are a few highlights, although you have to see it to believe it!

Below (left to right): Viola D’Alessops wedding dress and Shakespeare from Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth costumes, a costume from Les Liaisons Dangereuses and (this brought a tear to my eye) two of the beautiful dresses from the Marie Antoinette film by Sofia Coppola.

The Addams Family:

Below: The green dress from Atonement, Rose’s outfit when she boards the Titanic (at the back), Satine from the Moulin Rouge (on the swing), Audrey Hepburn’s opening outfit from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady (sitting).

Below: Borat, Legally Blonde, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, John Travolta’s famous Saturday Night Fever white suit, the Blues Brothers and Austin Powers

Below: The Bride from Kill Bill, Jack Sparrow, Braveheart, James Bond and Superman above.

One of Elizabeth Taylor’s many Cleopatra costumes…

Fight Club…

Charlie Chaplin…

Santa Run 2012, Greenwich Park, in memory of Elsa

January 19, 2013

In December, I took part in the 5k Santa Run around Greenwich Park, for Teenage Cancer Trust.

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Although I enjoy running, I don’t do it often…well not for exercise anyway! I run for buses practically every day but that does not require stamina!

So running 5k was a challenge. But running 5k with 2,000 other people dressed as Santa was amazing! Each with their own good cause!

Here’s us warming up to Gangnam Style!

My friend Emily came with me for emotional and physical support (she carried my bottle of water!) – thanks Emily!!!

I was running in memory of my sister Elsa, who passed away from skin cancer aged 17. Teenage Cancer Trust is a great charity that supports teenagers and families during this ordeal. Thanks to all the people who donated! I managed to raise £483.76!!!

Voodoo Doll Halloween Costume

October 22, 2012

It’s that time again…Halloween! Or All Hallows Eve as I prefer to think of it. Yes it has turned into a commercial monstrosity, a night when neighbourhoods get terrorised by trick or treaters, when carefully carved pumpkins get smashed and everyone ends up crashing from all those sweets…

But, it’s also an opportunity to get creative on the costume front and explore the dark side! Time to face some fears and highlight the grim and gruesome…death, torture, pain, suffering, decay, spirits, ghosts, the unknown and unexplained…I’m not trying to be morbid! Just saying sometimes it’s good to think about these things, recognise they are part of normal life. And what better occasion to do so than Halloween!

So, with that in mind, I tried to think of an original yet twisted Halloween costume and, after some research on Pinterest, I came across this awesome costume:

 

I love the fact that the girl IS the voodoo doll! Totally glamorous and totally used for another’s suffering, which means she has suffered herself beyond repair. The simplicity of the dress with the stitched cartoon heart and big needles really work! I wish I could sow as I would definitely give this a try…maybe I will try anyway!

I did some further research to try and find a readymade costume but only found this one which isn’t selling in my size for less than £25 approx. Shame as it has nude sleeves which create the right effect but would totally keep me warm on the cold October night!

 

 

I guess I could go down a more traditional Tribal Voodoo route like in this awesome shoot:

How about you guys and dolls? Any awesome Halloween costume ideas this year??

Marilyn at the getty images gallery

April 1, 2012

My fabulous friend Cara (up and coming fashion photographer!) whisked me off to the Marilyn exhibition at the getty images gallery behind Oxford Circus yesterday afternoon and what a treat it was!

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Not only were there some fabulous photographs, both iconic and less known, of Marilyn Monroe but also some of her costumes from films, ads and premieres!

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This beautiful piece was worn by her in an ad. quite surprisingly innocent looking though in the ad she plays on that innocent/sexy look (this corset highlighted her ample cleavage!), a look she would play on again and again until making herself into a world famous brand.

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Here is the iconic red dress from Some like it hot! Incredible sequin detail though up close it’s less glamorous. Definitely made so by Marilyn though!

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Next to it is a dress she wore in a film which was considered scandalous at the time as it is see through around the bosom and stomach. To be honest, it’s still pretty raunchy even by todays standard!!
It was apparently so tight that she had to be lifted onto the piano!

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This wiggle dress surprised me as it is made of sturdy, thick cotton I think but on Marilyn it looked incredible, rather than matronish, enhancing her hour glass figure!

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Then came the photographs of Marilyn herself, creating a portrait of her as a very self aware glamourous film star, always ready for the cameras, with her trademark red lipstick dazzling smile…

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It also created a portrait of a woman trapped by her own image, an image she tried to escape in her films and yet constantly turned into the dumb blonde character by others.

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This was not a stupid woman.  Marilyn played on her assets to succeed but in the late 1950s, it was still a world where you had to impress men first to get ahead.

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She was the ultimate pinup but trapped by it.

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Truly a fascinating exhibition about an incredibly brave woman in a man”s world.

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Zombie Housewife Costume

February 21, 2012

Ingredients:

  • A black and white 50s polka dot dress
  • A red and white poka dot apron
  • Some rubber gloves
  • A wicked curly wig
  • White and black face paint
  • Red lipstick
  • Clothes pegs (optional)

 

Mexican Day of the Dead Costume

February 19, 2012

I wanted to recreate a sugar skull for the Dia de Los Muertos, aka Day of the Dead.

This Mexican festival, held on the 1st of November, faces death head on and remembers loved ones who are no longer on this earth. Mexicans go to the graves of their deceased and have parties in their honour, bringing presents for the departed, eating their favourite food, remembering all the good things and seeing death not as a terrifying thing but as the next stage…

Anyway, here are a few images which inspired me:

Children traditionally dress up as skeletons and faces are covered in bright painted designs depicing flowers and swirls. Death becomes  more acceptable, reachable by it’s link to the world of colour.

Here is my attempt…!