July 19, 2015

Fair Game

Audrey Hepburn and Nicole Kidman

In 1956, Cecil Beaton costumed the debut Broadway production of My Fair Lady, which would earn the prolific photographer and costumer designer a Tony for Best Costume Design. Seven years later, Beaton was celebrated once more for his Eliza Doolittle costumes, this time worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film adaptation of the ...

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January 31, 2015

Stay the Course

Stay and Valentino

A “stay” was the word of choice for the understructure later referred to as a corset in the 19th-century. Today, the corset conjures up notions of tight-laced, wasp-waisted hourglass figures, however, the stay of the 18th-century was intended to lift the breasts and straighten the back rather than nip in the waist. The ...

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November 29, 2014

Lampshade Dressing

Paul Poiret and Valentino

Paul Poiret’s 1913 costumes for Le Minaret were followed soon after with similar versions available for his avant-garde patrons looking to shock in Orientalist ensembles. Poiret’s translation of harem-style dressing for the Parisian set resulted in a stiffened, oversized tunic paired atop his columnar hobble ...

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October 24, 2014

Banana Dance

Josephine Baker and Miley

A pioneer for African American women, Josephine Baker is commonly associated with her seductive banana dance performance at the Folies Bergère, costumed in a skimpy skirt constructed with a string of artificial bananas. Miley Cyrus would follow suit in a banana skirt lookalike, sporting the provocative ensemble almost a ...

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August 20, 2014

Rise to the Challenge

Stephen Jones and Matt Lauer

The oeuvre of milliner extraordinaire Stephen Jones contains hats both wearable and conceptual. His 1993 acrylic headpiece, cleverly titled “wash ‘n’ go,” simulates the look of splashed water atop the wearer’s head. Charity, not fashion, is the reason many celebrities are partaking in the wash ...

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August 6, 2014

Take Note

Elsa Schiaparelli and Valentino

Iconoclast designer Elsa Schiaparelli is most remembered for infusing a sense of wit and irony into her designs through surreal touches. Schiaparelli’s Fall 1939 music-themed collection celebrated music, quite literally, with drum-shaped button closures, embroidered musical notes and music boxes designed into belts and ...

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May 26, 2014

Cat’s Out of the Bag

Tokio Kumagaï and Charlotte Olympia

Before launching his own collection in 1981, Japanese-born Tokio Kumagaï attended the Bunka College of Fashion (where Kenzo and Issey Miyake would also matriculate) and soon after began designing footwear for Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre d’Alby. For his eponymous label, Kumagaï went beyond the expected, ...

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May 11, 2014

Cross Check

Christian Lacroix and Urban Outfitters

Peter Lindbergh’s 1988 November cover for Vogue Magazine (also Anna Wintour’s debut cover) featured a black jacket by Christian Lacroix, encrusted with a Byzantian-like bejeweled cross. The couture jacket, provocatively styled with a pair of the model’s own acid wash jeans–the model being Israeli ...

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March 22, 2014

A Good Sport

Geoffrey Beene and Tom Ford

With a design philosophy that flouted trends in favor of his own whimsy, Geoffrey Beene marched to his own fashion drum. Lauded for his expert construction and skillful seams, his pieces were not without a touch of the unexpected. In the vein of Chanel and Patou, Beene would employ a simple jersey in the design of an ...

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January 21, 2014

An Arm and A Leg

YSL and Jean Charles de Castelbajac

A year after Yves Saint Laurent debuted his Mondrian-inspired shift dresses, the designer continued his appropriation of art into fashion with his Fall/Winter 1966-67 “Pop Art” dresses. This crop of dresses featured fragmented silhouettes of the female figure printed atop columnar shaped gowns, perhaps ...

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