Monday, January 30, 2012

New Schoos

A shoe with the hue of Tiffany's

In my previous posting about Simon Doonan and his new book, I was reminded about how important it is for a girl to have gay friends because they are invaluable for giving personal style consultations and advice. For example, a few days ago I came home from a long day of serving on a jury (another story, but you won't hear about it here, not much style in the courtroom). There was a package waiting for me. It was from my muy guapo friend Lorenzo.

Inside the package was this darling pair of Jimmy Choo sandles. Lorenzo saw them in a consignment shop while traveling in Texas. Knowing my size and style he bought them thinking they would fit his sister or me. Lorenzo thoughtfully dresses all the women in his life. He has found quite a few treasures for me over the years -- a wild sequined pair of snakeskin print pants, a dramatic black beaded macrame top, beautiful vintage scarves and jewelry. And now these elegant shoes.  How sweet is that? I love them and him.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Charming Man in the Floral Shirt

Simon signing books at Barney's, San Francisco, last Saturday. 

When I heard that Simon Doonan would be at Barney's to sign his new book, Gay Men Don't Get Fat, I made sure I was there to meet this funny and wise man in person and hopefully do a mini interview for BV. I've laughed out loud reading his columns on Slate. And The New York Times calls him "A post-feminist writer cloaked in the drag of a sly fashion insider." Just reading the book's dedication page proves it: "I dedicate this book to the straight women of the world, whose lives seem insanely more complicated than my own and whose shoes must surely hurt like hell. I feel your pain, girls!" 

Simon and moi. 

I purchased my copy and stood in the short line with barely enough time to nervously formulate my questions. I did come up with two passable ones: 

BV: What's one item that you like to wear because it has meaning for you?
Simon: I always wear a floral print shirt. When the day is grey it brightens things up. 

BV: What's one item that would not be considered classically elegant, but you have it anyway because you like it?
Simon: My Ed Hardy iPhone cover. (He pulled out his phone in a candy pink case with white skulls  and Ed Hardy's signature scrawl.) Simon added: You're not going to find this at Barney's, but I like it because it's such a contrast to everything else. 

Simon was so charming and calm, I felt like he would've given me all day to chat to with him. But I sensed the pressure of people in line behind me so I kept it quick. Perhaps someday I'll have the chance for a longer conversation with him. 

Simon's a prolific writer, next on my list is Eccentric Glamour: 
Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You
A quote from this book: "Eccentric Glamour, a unique personal style, 
is every woman's birthright. Conformity is the only crime 
and dressing-down is the only faux-pas." Yes!

The premise of GMDGF is there are two categories of food, gay and straight and it's important to combine them for a balanced healthy diet. If you order a steak (very straight), don't order the side of potatoes (again, straight). Instead order the organic mixed field greens salad (gay). And the gayest food of all are Laduree macaroons. At the signing they thoughtfully served these beautiful macaroons (how do they do those colors?) and champagne. Gay and gay and divine. I had one of each macaroon with a sparkling flute of bubbly. The green was the best, rosemary with dark chocolate.  The server was so cute and he sweetly kept offering so I couldn't say no. However hubby Matt was not the least bit interested in even a nibble. How very straight of him.

Funny floral Simon. The once window dresser is now the featured star.  
For some fun, take a look at Simon's website and click on "Random Scribblings". You'll see a word cloud. I clicked on "Smiling" and this is what I learned: "If someone is snapping your picture, for God's sake, say, "Thursday" and not "Cheese." The word "Thursday" puts your lips, tongue and teeth through a miraculous series of animated articulations, all of which are fascinating and camera-friendly."

Every girl needs as many gay friends as possible for the real dish on personal style. Or as Simon puts it in GMDGF, "We fags are a bottomless source of killer tips." So much to learn! And so fun. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

In With the New and Diana Vreeland

Muchas gracias to mi amiga, artist, illustrator and graphic designer Hilary Mosberg. She designed this elegant new blog header and Bien Vestido identity. It's got color, grace, style and openness. No more generic header for BV! We are steppin' up and out. And readers, I also send a big thank you for your support and comments in person and online. BV is ten months old!

Now for a little style inspiration...

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel by Lisa Immordino Vreeland
My fashionphile friend Karen loaned me this substantial book to explore over the holidays. I've been reading and rereading and every time I open it, I see a new evocative photo or read a great new quote. I may have to get my own copy. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel is a book written by and a documentary directed and produced by her granddaughter-in-law. The book is available now and the documentary made a well-received debut at film festivals around the world last year and is due for distribution in mid-May. 

DV, photographed by Richard Avedon in 1977; looking original,
elegant and on the verge of delivering one of her bon mots. 

"The first thing to do is arrange to be born in Paris. After that, everything follows quite naturally." So said Diana Vreeland. Raised in a worldy and sophisticated family, Diana was witness to major cultural events of the time; attending the coronation of George V, riding horses with Buffalo Bill and seeing Charles Lindbergh fly. Her mother compared Diana with her "beautiful sister" saying too bad that "you're so extremely ugly." This seemed to fuel Vreeland's fire and determination to create her larger-than-life personality. 

Vreeland invented the job of  fashion editor for Harper's Bazaar from 1936 to 1962 and then Vogue from 1962- 1971. She created the fashion magazine that we know today, inspiring  fashion and not just reporting on it. At Bazaar she wrote her "Why Don't You?" column offering outrageous and imaginative style advice ("Why Don't You wash your blond child's hair in dead champagne, as they do in France?"). She discovered the talents of Richard Avedon, Lauren Bacall, Veruschka, Twiggy and many others. After shaping and influencing fashion for thirty-five years she took her talents and personality to revive the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute as a special consultant from 1972 until her death in 1989.

So cool still today. Graphic and dramatic covers from the 40's. 

Vreeland is quoted: "I met Chanel in 1926, which was really the moment
that the world's clothes totally changed: the clean shirt, the little jackets and skirts."

Diana focused on the cultural personalities as well as fashion. 

From the 40's. I would love that hooded coat right now!
Photo by George Hoyningen-Huene, Bazaar, 1945

Diana Vreeland immortalized herself with her dramatic quotes:

"But you gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It's a way of life. Without it you're nobody. I'm not talking about lots of clothes."

"Someone once said, 'Genius is the capacity for taking infinite pains.' Therefore, when dressing, be absorbed completely and utterly in yourself, letting no detail escape you. However, once dressed, be interested only in those about you."

"Passion for passion, you can learn anything, you can do anything, you can go anywhere. Don't you think passion is very rare? And I think that it is getting rarer because there is so little around us."

Audrey fabulous in Givenchy
Photo by Bert Stern, Vogue, 1963

Embracing all that was happening in the 60's, Diana does a spread on  
futuristic Courreges, Vogue, 1965

Georgia O'Keefe
Photo by Irving Penn, Vogue, 1970

Gorgeous Fortuny gowns, worn by Gloria Vanderbilt and from her collection.
Photo by Richard Avedon, Vogue, 1969

Vreeland wrote her autobiography, DV and Allure, with her thoughts on the allure of style. I have both on order. Allure was originally published in the 80's and reissued in 2010. I would love to find an affordable early edition.

Why Don't We meditate on this DV quote?:
"The energy of imagination, deliberation, and invention, which fall into a natural rhythm totally one's own, maintained by innate discipline and a keen sense of pleasure. These are the ingredients of style"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Helloooooo Twenty-Twelve!

New Year's Day. Even Matt's sculptures wear party hats around here. 
Hats wore worn, champagne was drunk and kisses kissed at midnight. Then a lovely New Year's Day spent at the Legion of Honor, admiring the colors and beauty of Pissarro's paintings and later watching the light change on San Francisco Bay at dusk. And then bam! Here we are already a few days into the new year and back at work. But I'm still basking in the contemplative glow and thinking about all the possibilities of this year and how I would like to shape and style my 2012.  

There's a bunch of stuff that I usually have on my list of resolutions like study Spanish, exercise more and drink less...but I'm not feeling excitement about those. And there are two things I learned in 2011(thanks to my D.O.T. sisters) it's the radiating power of focusing on one thing and that a good dare gets me motivated.

So, for 2012 I'm DARING myself to focus on STYLE! 
My plan:

1. Better lounge wear! As much as I like to dress up, when I get home from work I can't wait to change into something comfy. My version of this has devolved into complete schlub wear. The Urban Dictionary defines schlub as unkempt in appearance either due to lack of effort or lack of awareness. Yikes! Sadly, after work I'm in the terrible habit of pulling on my "Lick" sweatpants and a black T shirt. 

Funny, I know. "Lick" refers to my stepdaughter's high school,
Lick-Wilmerding (local historical reference). She graduated in 2005,
I've been wearing these way too long.

2. Consciously seek style inspiration from all sources; people, magazines, movies, art, books, online, museums, everything.

3. Take an inventory of my closet and make a shopping list. Maybe even seek the advice of a professional stylist. (I'd like to write about that.)

4. More color! I rely on black a lot. 

5. Clothing maintenance. Four months ago I spent a pretty penny on two pairs of Theory pants. Perfect for work. But they are still hanging in the closet because they are about a foot too long - gotta get them to the tailor. Plus some vintage items I would love to wear but they need repair. And renewed attention to detail like making sure my shoes are always polished.

6. Custom made clothes. For years I've thought about bringing a photo or pattern and fabric to a tailor and asking them to make an outfit for me. This is the year to try it.

Maybe a "Chanel" suit for Spring 2012?

Twenty-Twelve has a nice crisp alliteration. I like that and the fresh start.