Breaking for Spring Break

I won’t be posting regularly over the next two weeks because I am on Spring Break.

landscape-near-montecarlo Claude Monet, Landscape near Montecarlo, 1883

See you soon!

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Charles James 1936 Leaf Print Dress

It’d be easy to start posting Charles James’ dresses from the vantage point of elaborate and visibly over-the-top, but some of his work is deceptively simple.

The Brooklyn Museum has this dress by James in their collection and in my High Style book put out by that same museum.

hb_2009_300_687

hb_2009_300_687_av1 (from metmuseum.org)

While most of his work is literal like Schiaparelli’s: the butterfly dress is shaped like a butterfly; the swan dress looks like a swan; this dress is a more traditionally pretty example of what he could do with prints. James was known for masterful drapery throughout his career. The neck looks like a simple halter, but it’s actually made of five different pattern pieces. He cut the pattern pieces on different grain lines for this dress, so not only do the pieces hang differently but they also look like they have more texture. I have to admit that I don’t understand all the technicalities of the Met’s writeup, but I’m working on that.

Charles James will be the first exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum’s new Costume Institute from May 8 to August 10. (Source: Class and Vogue.) Don’t miss it.

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Tubereuse Criminelle Fashion Illustrations

Despite it’s originality, Tubereuse Criminelle has always depressed me. In my review I basically wrote that it’s the liquid personification of a hardened, washed out cougar drinking Coors Light in a truck stop bar on the side of the highway in Indiana.

Here I’ve given her more agency than the above description does, which I think could have been accomplished in the perfume by using more evergreen notes or galbanum to balance the menthol. My Tubereuse Criminelle is drinking good beer in a legally incorporated town.

Tubereuse Criminelle

I dressed her in that preppy staple: white jeans. On her they look sophisticated and set her apart from everyone else in her bar. (Maybe she’s the owner. She knows everybody but they don’t know as much about her as they think.) The flannel shirt is just fitted enough and shows her sexy top underneath. I gave her some embroidered cowboy boots that remind me of my gorgeous Luccheses. Her suede jacket could look like denim from a distance, but the fringe implies otherwise. When you come closer you see that plush glow.

I’ve always liked Western stuff because of the anti-establishment ethos of the Western Expansion. I think my modern-day sartorial interpretation fits right in.

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Histoires de Parfums 1899 Hemingway

nd_18846 (from fragrantica.com)

Histoires de Parfums’ 1899 Hemingway has a concept that begs you to get involved: it’s based on the writer’s Mediterranean travels that, as respected by the copy on Histoires’ website, must have culminated in copious amounts of booze. I read a few short stories by Hemingway in college as well as The Old Man and the Sea. I’m not a minimalist in perfume, books, or anything else so I didn’t really connect with his work, even though I see how his parables were made more powerful by having less details.

While it’s a lovely, confident scent, 1899 has none of the melancholy evident in Hemingway’s stories or his life. It opens with a wallop of vetiver and bergamot, like an expensive aftershave that a dandy might wear to impress the ladies at his Italian hotel bar. As the fragrance moves on (and it has good lasting power) a candied vetiver note emerges along with a strong orange blossom and a cinnamon accent. At that point it gets even more foppish. This is definitely the sweetest vetiver fragrance I’ve ever tried. This unmistakable note lasts for a long time before smoothing out into a vanilla-vetiver drydown. There’s a refreshing lack of gentleman fragrance fallbacks like tobacco and musk. I don’t see myself wearing this as a woman but it would be on the verge of transgressive for a guy while remaining sufficiently manly.

I found this picture of Hemingway fishing in Key West when he was young. It’s the happiest-looking picture of him so it fits best with this scent:

EH8124P (from fishingpro.tumblr.com)

The notes in 1899 Hemingway are bergamot, juniper and black pepper; middle notes are orange blossom, iris and cinnamon; base notes are vanilla, vetiver and amber.

I’d wanted to try Histoires de Parfums ever since I saw their display at Bergdorf’s with all the perfume cones lined up on the shelves. It makes it easy to try them, as opposed to the other brands that make you spray them in the air or on a strip where the scent gets lost; or on your body, wasting precious space on which to try all the other perfumes you’ll want that day. I was drawn to the tuberoses first of course; they had Tubereuse 1, Tubereuse 2, and Tubereuse 3 perched up next to each other like the Three Little Pigs. (All are well-done but you want #2; it’s bodacious.)

I plan to try more of these quality fragrances but I’m hoping the next one is better able to match its’ own story.

Perfumer: Gerald Ghislain
Price Range: Very Expensive
Recommended Occasion: I’d say more casual
Release Year: 2013
My Rating: 7.5

P.S. I noted Hemingway’s prescient quote on the back of my sample, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He must have seen the era of the personal essay coming because it’s never been easier to find a subject to write about, but never harder to sound sincere.

Read Kafkaesque’s detailed review. She emphasizes the juniper and sees it as a lot more rugged. Her assessment is less favorable than mine.

Posted in Ambergris, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Iris, Juniper, Orange Blossom, Vanilla, Vetiver | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Elsa Schiaparelli Music Dress

Here’s another Schiaparelli piece. I love Schiap; she wasn’t afraid to take kitsch further than kitsch has ever been taken before.

And this piece really takes the proverbial cake. Or lobster. Or in this case, music box.

51_33_35a-b,1995_10a-b_front_CP3

51_33_35a-b_detail2_CP3

51_33_35a-b_detail3_CP3

51_33_35a-b_detail5_CP3

This spectacular dress embroidered with music notes was part of Schiaparelli’s fall 1939 collection based on music. It’s made of gossamer organza so it can move as fluidly as the music it’s inspired by.

And look, those are MATCHING GLOVES!

1995.10a-b 0002 (from defunctfashion.tumblr.com)

That isn’t even the best part. Schiap used a working music box as the belt buckle.

images (all images but gloves from metmuseum.org)

The dress was worn by Millicent Rogers, who was also a customer of the equally innovative Charles James. I scoured Google for an image of Rogers wearing it but alas I couldn’t find one.

So there you have it: the gloves and undoubtedly other accessories match the dress for which the concept matches the fabric which complements the fact that there was an actual music box buckled around Millicent Rogers’ waist. I know this is technically a fashion critique, but I have nothing to critique here. I’m in awe, and that is the only appropriate reaction.

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Bottega Veneta Fashion Illustrations

Bottega Veneta Designs

I had the idea for these stretch cotton pique dresses and buckled wool boucle coat a long time ago, and I just redrew them. I thought they fit perfectly with the polished feel of Bottega Veneta’s first fragrance.

Bottega Veneta is a smooth scent, but the signature tight leather weave on their bags has texture. I used cotton pique for the dresses because it also has a discreet texture. Note that the color of Bottega Veneta’s leather weave below is the same color as the coat.

bottega veneta bag (from men-bags.com.)

The weave is called intrecciato. It was developed by the company. I didn’t draw anything leather because this is inspired by the company and the fragrance, not made to fit the brand.

Bottega Veneta smells mauve to me for some reason, so I stuck to a muted color scheme. The shapes are 1960′s-esque, because the perfume brings to mind a put-together lady who is delighted that it’s okay for her to jump into her career. She has her bag and her coat that match her dress, and she’s wearing silk stockings. Bottega Veneta’s customer is soft and has class, but she’s sharp too.

I’ve tried to make these dresses for myself but I never got it quite right, since stretch cotton is hard to work with without making it look cheap. I’m hoping to offer them in a multitude of colors one day.

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Flat Branch Pub & Brewery (Columbia, Missouri)

Ok, I had a lot of work last night so you get a prewritten review of Columbia’s finest restaurant!

flat branch (from offbeattravel.com)

When I was in Columbia it seemed like every other person I met worked at Flat Branch. It took me a while to get around to going there because it’s huge and you’ll spend at least a half-hour waiting for a table, but when I finally did I could see why it was voted Best Restaurant In Columbia¬†for four years straight.

Flat Branch has a big outdoor seating area and a bigger indoor seating area. If you choose the indoors you’ll be directed through the moose lodge themed building to your table. Flat Branch accustoms large groups, so there’s plenty of breathing room inside. I went with four other girls and all of us were ravenously hungry by the time we’d endured the 45-minute wait.

We ordered two loaves of their homemade beer bread. It’s served warm in a mini-loaf and tastes a little like warm beer. The mix of beer and bread is perfect, because they’re both yeast. They add a lot of honey to the bread, and it’s served with honey butter. The crispy fries are also really filling. We all dove into those before any other food had come out. For another appetizer you can order the Chokes and Cheese: a salty artichoke dip that goes great with their beer battered onion rings. It’s delicious. Flat Branch should win the prize for Best Carbs in Columbia.

My veggie burger was decent. The patty was made of beans, “dirty rice”, oats, tofu, pecans, and mushrooms. I couldn’t taste each of the different components, though, and they didn’t have a cool texture like the burgers at Jack and Zach’s. Another time I ordered a flatbread cheese pizza. It was pretty good: maybe a 7. My friends Kay, Summer, Anli, and Maoling all liked their food too.

Flat Branch is obviously also a brewery. Their claim to fame is the Green Chili beer, which is okay but nothing to write home about. I don’t like chiles, so maybe that’s why. I trust that the other beers are as good as their reputation.

I only paid $20.20 for Chokes and Cheese, beer bread, green chili beer, and the veggie burger. For what looks like an expensive restaurant, Flat Branch is pretty easy on the wallet. It’s pretty much a Columbia landmark, so if you take a trip there make sure you check it out.

My Rating: 7.5
Recommended Dish: homemade Beer Bread
Atmosphere: Big, homey, looks like a moose lodge. Usually crowded.
Price Range: $15-30 per person
Clientele: Everyone

115 S 5th St Columbia, MO 65201
573-499-0400

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Elsa Schiaparelli Lobster Dresses

I just wrote a report about Elsa Schiaparelli (nickname: Schiap), one of the most influential designers from the 1930′s. She incorporated concepts from modern art and other inspirations into her designs in a very literal way. She is sometimes called a Surrealist designer, partially because she did a lot of collaborations with Salvador Dali.

Schiap was unabashedly kitsch, and her work could be hilarious. Take for example this lobster-inspired dinner dress from her summer 1940 collection:

hb_2009_300_1210 (from metmuseum.org)

See how it looks like a lobster? The shirring on the silk jersey at the top is like the claw of the lobster, and the rest of the silk faille dress is like the water it lives in. The buttons at the waist are shaped like fish heads.

hb_2009_300_1210_av1 (from metmuseum.org)

I love how the dress is called a dinner dress, so you know that the lobster is for dinner.

The dress is at the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dali Collaboration Lobster Dress

lobster-dress5 (from vandoak.com)

Salvador Dali handpainted the lobster image on the front of Schiaparelli’s iconic silk organza dress. The simple cut shows off the imagery.

The dress was made for Wallis Simpson, the American wife of Edward VII, the Duke of Windsor. He abdicated the British throne to marry her. She was a divorcee, so she was considered unfit for queendom at that time. Here she is in Schiap and Dali’s dress, as photographed by Cecil Beaton:

wallis-simpson-photographed-by-cecil-beaton-1937 (image and information from thequeenbeetch.wordpress.com)

This illustration of the ready-to-wear version appeared in appeared in July 1937 Vogue.

Schiaparelli-773705 (image and information from paperpursuits.blogspot.com)

The dress is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but the website says it isn’t currently on display.

I’ve been inspired by Schiaparelli ever since I saw pictures of her work in my book High Style: Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m planning a trip to the museum soon to see her clothes in person.

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Tuberosa by Profumum Roma Fashion Illustrations

I did three illustrations for Tuberosa: two blouses, one dress.

Profumum Roma Tuberosa

I chose silk charmeuse because there’s something shiny and loose about the feel of Tuberosa. It could be considered a femme fatale scent, but an ethereal natural one instead of the va-va-voom that a more structured fabric would convey. I included lace trim at the bodice of all three garments and the bottom of the blouses because it’s even more feminine. To me, Tuberosa is a perfume that enhances natural sexiness.

I picked the color because it’s the color of the perfume itself.

Illustration-wise I’m working on my proportions so that they’re slim enough to be industry-accepted but not anorexic. I bet she’s about 5’7 and a size 4. The poses were taken from an old 1940′s fashion illustration book.

Hope you enjoy these!

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Tuberosa by Profumum Roma

33915 (Picture from Lucky Scent, which also gives an apt description of Tuberosa’s simple appeal.)

I’ve had a lovely little roll-on sample of Tuberosa by Profumum Roma from Osswald in my perfume refrigerator for a while now. It looks like this:

Tuber 024

Isn’t that cute? It says “tuber” on the sticker. It’s about the size of my upper thumb.

Tuberosa is the most stunningly gorgeous tuberose perfume I’ve ever smelled. It turns heads. It shocks. It’s like the most striking person you see shopping on Fifth Avenue on a Saturday afternoon and everybody turns around to stare. That was the effect I got when I first opened the bottle and that effect held when I tried the musky, smooth scent on my skin and my clothes.

However, that’s all it is. It’s a breathtaking tuberose and jasmine bomb with no schtick and not much substance.

If you don’t want a story though, that doesn’t matter. It lasts a long time and it radiates to just the perfect extent. The jasmine and tuberose are also beautifully calibrated so that the jasmine softens the tuberose and the tuberose makes the jasmine smell more alive. The result is sexy in a very accessible way, because both flowers in their natural state contain indole. Indole is an organic compound that smells musty and decaying; in humidity and musky compounds it can smell animalic and sometimes even fecal. I’m not saying this perfume smells like shit, because it’s exactly the opposite. But there is a human element in there. (I got the information about indole from Perfume Shrine.)

So here’s your tuberose guide as of today’s post:
Profumum Roma Tuberosa = striking tuberose
Beyond Love By Kilian = textbook tuberose
Carnal Flower = femme fatale tuberose
Cocoa Tuberose by Providence Perfume Company = edible tuberose
Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia = Stepford wife tuberose
Fracas = exuberant tuberose
Good Girl Gone Bad By Kilian = hot mess tuberose
Juicy Couture = Barbie tuberose
Poison = club tuberose
Tubereuse Criminelle = truck stop waitress tuberose

Somebody please do a noble tuberose. Do the kind of tuberose that Jackie Kennedy would wear when meeting Queen Elizabeth. If there’s anything like that out there, let me know.

Price Range: Very Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Any
Release Year: 2007
My Rating: 8.5

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