Fashion in Song – Sticky Fingers, 1971

Although none of the songs on this Rolling Stones album was about fashion, it’s hard to ignore the novel cover art that includes a working zipper that reveals white cotton undies. Widely considered one of the most influential album covers of all time (usually placing second after the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s album), Sticky Fingers was scandalous but successful at promoting the Rolling Stones ‘bad boy’ image. Designed by Andy Warhol, the model used for the photograph was never revealed, but it’s not Mick Jagger or any member of the band.

Damage was caused by the zipper to the vinyl disc when the record was stacked under other records, so to alleviate the problem, the fly was usually sold unzipped so that any damage would not occur to the recording.

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Glues for Conservation

Ran across these charts — might be useful:

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As Predicted: Upcycling Inspires 2020

Margiela, and Viktor & Rolf both presented shows this week that picked up on environmentalism and sustainability for the fashion industry with collections inspired by upcycling. Although these avant-garde shows probably used no actual scraps or upcycling, the look opens up possibilities…

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SAG Award fashions

More for my own edification, it’s interesting to see what looks are trending:

Old fashioned Hollywood glamour – it still works, although Jennifer’s nips are a bit… noticeable…:

Interesting – not sure if they all work, but at least they are new ideas – Phoebe Waller-Bridge is quickly becoming a favourite of mine for her style…

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it — nothing new to see here – they look great, although maybe there’s just a bit TOO much chest showing on the orange Valentino — that’s bone, not boob we are seeing…:

Nope — The cummerbund goes UNDER the jacket… What’s with the King and Queen of the 1975 Prom?, and Sorry Christine Applegate — it’s just TOO much.

And that’s my two cents…

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Fashion in Song – How to Do That (1989) – Jean Paul Gaultier

Gaultier announced a couple of days ago that he will be retiring from fashion design after his final couture show on January 22. Back in 1989, at the height of his ‘enfant terrible’ reputation, he produced this dance video: How to Do That.

The video is all about the visuals, because the lyrics are repetitive and non-sensical:

What do you think about working with some one ?
– Euh… I think I should… Eeeeuh…

« How to do that ? How to do that ? How to do that ? Make new wave »
« How to do that ? How to do that ? How to do that ? Make new wave »
« How to do, How to do, How to do, How to do »
Hihihi

« Bravo »

« How to doodoodoo that »

Bring some technic
Bring some technic
Bring some technic
Technic idea

I’m sure that I can’t do that, you know.

« How to doodoodoo « Bravo » that »

Euh
Euh
I think I should
Euh
I think I should
Euh
I think I should first… euh…

« How to doodoodoo « Bravo » that »

What’ll I have w
What’ll I have w
What’ll I have with that
[Tell me mather with me]
What’ll I have w
What’ll I have w
What’ll I have with that

« How to doodoodoo « Bravo » that »
« Les Français parlent aux Français »

Non, non
Oui, oui
Euh, non-non
Oui ah

« [Sifflement d’Ouvrard] »
« [Sifflement d’Ouvrard] »
« [Sifflement d’Ouvrard] »
« [Sifflement d’Ouvrard] »

I think I should…
Tec-tec-tec. Bring some technic idea. Euh !
Tec-tec-tec. Bring some technic idea. Euh !
Bring some technic
Bring some technic
Bring some technic
Technic idea

How to hum-euh-hum-euh
How to hum-euh-hum-euh
How to hum-euh-hum-euh

Euh… I think I should… 
Non, non
Oui, oui
Euh, non-non
Oui ah
I think I should
Bring some technic idea
Euh
I think I should… 
Tec-tec-tec. Bring some technic idea. Euh !
Euh… I think I should… 
Tec-tec-tec. Bring some technic idea. Euh !

Bye-bye

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2019 Academy Award Costume Design nominees

2019 was a good year for costume films. A plethora of period, fantasy and sci fi films streamed online, and through the theatres: Downton Abbey, Harriet, Dolemite is my name, 1917, The Highwaymen, Rocketman, Judy, Dumbo, Aladdin, Star Wars, Maleficent, Captain Marvel, Avengers Endgame… even complete crap films like The Aeronauts and Cats had one saving grace – their costuming.

So I knew it was going to be an interesting mix of nominees and three were not a surprise: The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Jojo Rabbit.

The 60s and 70s ‘Jersey chic’ of middle class mobster families was dead on in The Irishman. IMDB credits both Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson as the costumers. Powell has scores of nominations for her film work including three Oscar wins for costuming The Young Victoria (2010), The Aviator (2004), and Shakespeare in Love (1998). Sharing the nomination, Peterson has often worked as Powell’s assistant on films including Carol and The Wolf of Wall Street.

The Irishman

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a masterful slice of Hollywood in 1969, with some flashbacks that include recreated clips from TV shows like Hullabaloo, and Green Hornet. The film captures fashion reality extremely well, from television Westerns and Hollywood chic to real Hippies with dirty feet. Arianne Phillips is the costume design talent behind this and was also behind films like Walk the Line, A Single Man, and W.E., but she has never won an Oscar.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

 Jojo Rabbit captures the downfall of Hitler’s Germany in a fantastic blend of prewar saturated-colour Nazi pageantry with a covering of postwar dust – it’s a mix of Nazi idealism and WWII realism. The costumer Mayes C. Rubeo has worked primarily in fantasy films (Thor: Ragnarok, Warcraft, World War Z), which gives Jojo a fresh, almost comic book like approach to the costuming. 

Jojo Rabbit

Then there are the two films I was surprised to see nominated for an award: Little Women, and Joker (Dolemite is my Name and Rocketman should have been nominated in their stead.) 

Little Women is politically sensitive this year as many feel Greta Gerwig was snubbed from receiving a directorial nomination. The film’s costumer, Jacqueline Durran, has rarely been a favourite of mine because she pays more attention to mood boards than historical accuracy. Her past work includes an Oscar for Anna Karenina, and nominations for: Beauty & The Beast, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, Mr. Turner, and The Darkest Hour. In all fairness, she is costuming a work of fiction, but when you are going to all that work of creating costumes, why not also make them period perfect – it helps with the suspension of disbelief in an historically-set story.

Little Women

And finally, Joker. The film is a fantasy set in a dystopian urban setting that closely resembles late 1970s New York. The costuming is great at capturing that gritty, broken-down world, but the costuming was dark, dull, shapeless and unremarkable. The only memorable garment is the Joker’s final red suit with orange vest that also inspired the #1 Halloween costume of 2019. The costumer Mark Bridges did an excellent job, but the difficulty level for this film was low. Bridges has won two Oscars for previous work: Phantom Thread (2018), and The Artist (2011).

Joker

For me, Joker is the dark horse – well done, but not a ‘costume’ film and I am not sure why it was even nominated. Little Women shouldn’t win but may get sympathy votes because Greta Gerwig didn’t get nominated. I loved the costuming in Jojo Rabbit, but the majority of its sartorial success was in the recreation of various Nazi uniforms, and the Nationalistic ‘trachtenkleide’ worn by Scarlett Johansen. The Irishman was excellent and there was a lot of costuming in crowd scenes, but the movie was flawed in other ways (too long…) that may hurt its likability. I think Once Upon a Time in Hollywood edges out The Irishman. The work was creative and authentically rendered, and Arianne Phillips is long overdue for an Oscar.

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Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario – a city of fashion in 1940

Found this interesting article from the July 15, 1940 issue of MacLeans Magazine, about the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. A large part of the article ensures readers that although the population has a large German heritage, it is not in support of Hitler. Details in how the cities raised money for the war effort then gives way to an overview of local industry, of which fashion related industries are detailed. 

According to the article, the Kitchener Board of Trade boasts that the city “makes more shirts, builds more furniture, manufactures more tires, fashions more footwear, and tans more leather than any other city in Canada.’’ 

Twenty-five percent of the 42,000 who live in the two cities arrived in the previous twenty years (1920 – 1939) and were employed in the city’s industries that included:

“The B. F. Goodrich Rubber Company of Canada makes not only Goodrich tires, but rubber footwear there. The Kaufman Rubber Company, a Kitchener institution from away back, also makes rubber footwear, as does the Merchants’ Rubber factory, now affiliated with the Dominion Rubber organization…

There are ten Kitchener companies engaged in the manufacture or processing of textiles, two of them rating international status. Here is the head office of Cluett Peabody and Company of Canada, producing the Arrow lines of men’s shirts and furnishings. This organization, of course, is linked with the original Cluett Peabody company of the United States.

John Forsyth, Limited, making Forsyth shirts, underwear, pyjamas, cravats and handkerchiefs, is entirely a Kitchener enterprise, and its growth is a matter of considerable local pride. The Forsyth company has two plants, one in Kitchener, the other in Waterloo. Mr. J. D. C. Forsyth, president of the organization, maintains two homes in the Kitchener-Waterloo district, a city residence and a farm where he raises prize cattle.

Other Kitchener textile products include glove linings, knitted fabrics, rayon, jersey cloth and twine. There are five companies making buttons—the town has always been a big button producer—and three of these, the Dominion Button Manufacturers, Limited, Kitchener Buttons, Limited, and the Mitchell Button Company, sell their goods all across Canada.

Twenty-three Kitchener companies manufacture boots and shoes and other leather products. Eleven companies, Ontario Shoes, Limited; Valentine and Martin. Limited; the W. E. Woelffe Shoe Company; Western Shoe Company; Charles A. Ahrens, Limited; the Bauer Shoe Company; the E and S Shoe Company; the Galt Shoe Manufacturing Company; the Hydro City Shoe Manufacturers Limited; and the Kitchener Shoe Company, make leather footwear. The Bauer and Western shoe companies also make skates. Other concerns turn out cut soles, shoe patterns, leather washers, and leather ties and braces.

The L. McBrine Company makes the widely known McBrine line of trunks, bags and other travel accessories in Kitchener. The names of Breithaupt and Lang, associated with the leather industry since its first beginnings in this area, are represented by three companies; the Breithaupt Leather Company, the Lang Tanning Company, and John A. Lang and Sons. There are three companies producing gloves, mitts and gauntlets; the Barrie Glove and Knitting Company, the Huck Glove Company, and the Ontario Glove Company. Canadian Consolidated Felt Company, and the W. G. Rumpel Felt Company make commercial felts.”

Click here to read the full article

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Canada’s Silk Steam Trains

Bales of silk in the hold of a ship

From 1887 until the 1930s, raw silk from the Far East roared across Canada in trains from the port of Vancouver.  Within two hours of the boat docking at Vancouver, stevedores unloaded the 90-kilogram burlap-wrapped 12-inch by 24-inch by 36-inch bales of silk to waiting custom agents in a warehouse. Because raw silk is perishable, it is necessary to get the silk to the mills as quickly as possible. Special boxcars were developed that held 470 bales of silk each. Built on passenger car trucks for better suspension, the boxcars were also shorter than normal boxcars to take curves at higher speeds. 

The first shipment of 65 bales of raw silk arrived at the port of Vancouver on June 13, 1887, aboard the Abyssinia from Hong Kong. During October 1902, the Vancouver Daily Province reported the arrival of two ships from the Far East with silk cargos of more than 2,000 bales each, worth more than one and a half million. The same paper estimated on October 25, 1902 that “Vancouver, the silk port of North America: Over four and a half million dollars worth of raw silk will be received within thirty days”.

The following year, the Daily Province reported on Jan. 10, 1903, the silk train “makes the regular express time appear as but a snail’s pace.” The train the newspaper was referring to had travelled from Vancouver to Kamloops, 400 kilometres northeast through the mountains, in 10 hours and 45 minutes — an hour faster than the express passenger train. On the prairies, the steam trains could travel up to 90 kph where other trains rarely exceeded 70 kph. Every 200 kilometres there was a pit stop that lasted about seven minutes to add oil and water, or change engines and crew.

Canadian Pacific (CP) operated both a trans-Canada railway and a transpacific shipping line that dominated the silk trade and made Vancouver the major port for silk entering North America. Canadian National (CN) began to compete with CP with its first silk run across Canada in July 1925, however CN lacked ships and relied upon British and Japanese ships to bring the raw silk to Vancouver. CN trains crossed the border at Niagara Falls and handed over their shipments to the New York Central Railroad while CP carried their silk to Canadian destinations including Galt, Toronto, and Montreal. 

By 1929, rayon was becoming more used than silk for underwear, stockings, and ribbons. That October, the Great Depression began a series of cost-cutting measures that made shipping by ship cheaper than rail. The Panama canal, which had opened in 1914, began attracting more business and the railway’s share of shipping silk quickly fell from 94 percent of all silk in 1928 to 40 percent in 1931. The value of silk also dropped to $1.27 per pound by 1934, down from $6.50 per pound a decade earlier, making it less profitable.

CP stopped running silk-only trains in 1933, and instead hitched two or three silk cars onto their regular trans-Canada passenger trains. CN’s last silk-only trains ran in 1935. In 1940 CN shipped only 504 bales of silk for the entire year. The last shipment of silk from Japan arrived in August, 1941, months before the war expanded to include Japan. Existing stocks of silk were quickly used up or were requisitioned for wartime use. For more information on the silk trains see this article.

Express silk train, 1928
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Canadian Fashion Connection – Regal Sportswear

In business by 1946, this Winnipeg sportswear company declared bankruptcy in 1953. Another business also called Regal Sportswear had opened in Montreal by 1958.

From a suede windbreaker, c. 1950 (image courtesy of JohnS)

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The Golden Globes 2020

Apparently trained red dresses are big this year – Helen Mirren did it best, Olivia Coleman did it the worst:

Trying too hard – The eye doesn’t know where to rest — on Jennifer Lopez’ Christmas wrap or Gwyneth Paltrow’s absent slip and pointless jewellery…; Kerry Washington just needed to start over again, and Joey King tried to mix sex with avant-garde, unsuccessfully…

Better safe than sorry: They fit and they are flattering… and frankly, a bit boring

ALMOST worked… why the peek-a-boo midriff on Taylor Swift’s dress – it doesn’t add anything; from the waist up Zoe Kravitz looks amazing, but your eyes are too busy connecting the dots on her skirt; love the dress Reese, hate your hair and makeup; As for Charlize, I want to like it – I really do, but I just can’t…

BRAVA! – Kirsten Dunst’s sweet and sexy dress evokes the 1930s while Zoey Deutch’s statuesque 70s style is perfection; Phoebe Waller-Bridge wins best pant suit of the night (including all the men), and I can’t stop looking at Kaitlyn Dever’s print dress, offset by her really toned down makeup and hair – really well styled!

And that’s my two cents…

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