“The Passion for Fashion Comes from the Missoni Women”

Outside the 92nd St Y, Fashion Icon Conversation with host, Fern Mallis

Outside the 92nd St Y, Fashion Icon Conversation Conversation with the Missoni’s – wearing my Missoni for Target tee: Photo credit, Linda Colarusso

The passion for fashion comes from the Missoni women.” ~ Angela Missoni

It was the second time I had spent an evening at the 92nd Street Y in NY, in the audience of Fern Mallis’s Fashion Icon Series (the first conversation was an interview with Barney’s Creative Ambassador at Large, Simon Doonan).  Last night, I witnessed a warm and wonderful conversation with the two powerhouse women behind the Italian brand, Missoni: matriarch Rosita, and her daughter, Angela. A fashion icon herself, Fern Mallis, knew what to ask of these remarkable women, in order to tell the true story of Missoni. Here is what I now know:

Rosita Missoni is now 84, born under the sign Scorpio. Rosita met Ottavio Missoni when she was just 16 years old (he was 27) in London; he was an Olympic athlete – track and field. Then, and now, Rosita Missoni follows the signs and is somewhat superstitious. When she saw Ottavia’s number (3-3-1) on his track uniform she knew it was a good sign – 7 was her lucky number. She fell in love with him at Picadilly Circus in London, under the Statue of Eros (cupid) and to this day she wears a cupid necklace around her neck. Rosita grew up reading fashion magazines and says she learned a lot about patterns and style from those magazines.

Angela Missoni is 57, the youngest child of Rosita and Ottavio, and the only girl. She was there for the very first Missoni fashion show in 1965 and has been to every fashion show since. She describes herself as late bloomer and a silent observer, and says that it took her a while to find her path. She always knew she wanted to be a mother at a young age, and had her three children: Margherita, Francesco, and Teresa, before she seriously contemplated joining the family business. Continue reading

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Nothing Tops the Turtleneck

Courtesy: The New York Times

Courtesy: The New York Times

Today is the perfect day to pull out my black turtleneck; I was reminded of something I wrote just a year ago. This New York Times’ article inspired me to find my own black turtleneck and bring me closer to my fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn. Here is the piece … 

Reading “The Turtleneck’s Comeback” in the New York Times by Erica M. Blumenthal inspired me to seek out a classic black turtleneck – one with a modern, playful edge. Blumenthal’s news that the commanding black turtleneck is making a fashion statement, and is far from basic black, was enough to push me out the door to find one of my own. Says Blumenthal: “Not for nothing did Audrey Hepburn and Diana Vreeland make the black turtleneck a signature look. It lends the wearer an air of discipline, of authority. But it doesn’t have to be sexless or strict. This fall, the style is back with a vengeance, and the new crop, far from being stern, is built for fun.”

I love that fashion reinvents itself to fit the times while understanding that what makes a classic, a classic, is at the heart of fine dressing. A turtleneck surely fits that bill. And who doesn’t want to capture the iconic look of Audrey Hepburn for herself?

 

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Harper’s Bazaar Through the Years

1867: The first issue of Bazaar, devoted to fashion and literature, is published on November 2.

1867: The first issue of Bazaar, devoted to fashion and literature, is published on November 2.

The Harper’s Bazaar staff has been celebrating Vintage Week, by taking a look back at the best vintage Harper’s BAZAAR covers through the years. Notable covers include: 1873 – announcement of the big the fan trend; 1900 – the popularity of the mechanical sewing machine leads to more elaborate sleeve designs; 1936 – the iconic Why Don’t You …? column first appears; 1943 –  Diana Vreeland discovers Lauren Bacall, giving her the first magazine cover on the March WWII-inspired issue of BAZAAR; 1950 – the summer issue also features a Junior BAZAAR; 1956 – Audrey Hepburn is photographed by Richard Avedon; 1963 – an Emilio Pucci design is featured on the December issue; 1965 -Avedon’s iconic cover starring Jean Shrimpton taps into the space craze of the decade.

Harper’s Bazaar is the oldest continuously published fashion magazine in the world; fashion history has been told through the covers and the pages of this honored magazine. Fun to step back in time and see fashion trends and culture unfold before our eyes!

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Scatter my ashes at Bergdorf’s

Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf Goodman – courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman website

I love a good story; I especially love the story behind the story. It’s the reason that I started writing this blog. Because I believe that we all have a story and that magic happens when you look behind the curtain. And I love to peak – especially when it’s about fashion! A few months ago I saw a documentary about the legendary editor Diana Vreeland; today I watched an intriguing documentary – more of a love story – about New York institution and luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman. Scatter my ashes at Bergdorf’s tells the story of Bergdorf Goodman; why designers want to showcase there, why people want to shop there, and why employees love to work there. And oh yes, there is a little history about the two men who started it all …

New York tailors Edwin Goodman and Herbert Bergdorf joined forces and founded a luxury store, Bergdorf Goodman, in the Garment District in 1901. The business moved in 1914 to Rockefeller Center and again in 1928 to its present location, 5th Avenue and 57th Street, the corner of luxury-and-everything-elegant-in-New York. The site was originally the location of the Vanderbilt Mansion, which occupied the entire city block. When Andrew Goodman inherited Bergdorf Goodman from his father, he took the department store to its almost-mythic heights. Too much, you ask? Those interviewed contend that we need stores like Bergdorf Goodman to foster the American Dream.

Top fashion designers both domestic and international, including Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi, and Giorgio Armani, shared their voices and love for Bergdorf Goodman. But it is the stories of the internal Bergdorf family that I found the most inspiring: a family that includes senior vice president and highly influential buyer Linda Fargo, creator of its world-renowned windows David Hoey and spot-on, outspoken personal in-house shopper Betty Halbreich. These intimate glimpses give Scatter my ashes at Bergdorf’s its true appeal. Amy Fine Collins, special correspondent to Vanity Fair describes the glamour and allure of this one of a kind icon: “Bergdorf Goodman has decades and decades of accumulated history. Every nook and every cranny is a story.”

What do you think?

The Goodman Family. Courtesy of

The Goodman Family. Courtesy of Entertainment One Films US

 

 

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“The Empress Vreeland”

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Diana Vreeland in the office of Vogue
Photo courtesy of film, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, her granddaughter-in-law

I wasn’t a fashion editor – I was the one and only fashion editor.” ~ Diana Vreeland

My holiday break has been about spending time with my family … and watching movies. Movies like, Hitchcock, Lincoln, Argo, The Silver Linings Playbook, (all wonderful films, by the way), and today a movie just for me: the documentary called Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. I must confess that I did not know very much about the iconic editor before seeing the film. The woman and the movie are fascinating and I was moved by her life and her story; much of the documentary is told in her own words, in her own voice.

She was born in Paris in 1903, during La Belle Epoque, to a life of adventure and beauty and Le Ballets Russes, where, according to Mrs. Vreeland: “my education was the world,” and to live a happy life, “the first thing to be done is to arrange to be born in Paris. Everything else happens quite naturally.” But it was her mother, who told her that she was the ugly duckling of the family, who may have inspired Mrs. Vreeland to dream her big dreams, spark her desire to stand out from the crowd, and be where the action is. After she met and married the very winning bachelor, Reed Vreeland, she says that her mother’s words no longer hurt her, and “Reed made me feel beautiful no matter what my mother made me think.” Oh and by the way, while living in Paris, she met Coco Chanel, with whom she says she was very close.

Her family later moved to New York, and eventually, as a grown and married woman without any formal education or training, found her first job as a columnist for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine. Her column? Why Don’t You? A sort-of-how-to, way out, eccentric but  tried and true fashion Q&A, that represented her first step into a career in fashion, which she continued writing until the onset of World War II. She stopped when she believed the column to be frivolous. But Mrs. Vreeland’s role at Harper’s Bazaar grew and she would eventually become a fashion editor: the first of her kind in a role that she truly invented. Before that, magazines like Harper’s Bazaar didn’t have fashion editors; the role of women and fashion was more about society ladies dealing with the social do’s and don’ts of running a household, including how to make pies. But Mrs. Vreeland revolutionized that: she gave fashion a bigger, exotic life, she took people to new places they couldn’t reach on their own, she launched the careers of actors like Lauren Bacall, and put bikinis and blue jeans on the map. And after 26 years as editor of Harper’s Bazaar, she moved to Vogue, where she would become editor-in-chief during the explosive 1960s and set the world on fire again, turning a sleepy magazine into a global fashion runway.

She did it all her way. She was an original with a vision – always a vision. And I wonder, as I often do, what gives someone that indescribable drive? I am left with a compelling thought; that beyond her success in the fashion world, it is perhaps her personal story of drive and determination to find her own way and step away from the ugly duckling messages that her mother placed on her, to stop at nothing to express who she really was: magnificent. Here she is, in her own words:

I think when you’re young you should be a lot with yourself and your sufferings. Then one day you get out where the sun shines and the rain rains and the snow snows and it all comes together.” ~ Diana Vreeland

What do you think?

A young Diana Vreeland

 

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