RBG and the lace collar

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last week I didn’t memorialize her on this blog because i didn’t consider her a fashion influencer or icon. However, in the week since her death, her collars have become a symbol of feminism, justice, democracy, and revolt. Numerous articles like this one and this one have been written about her that talk about how her lace collars became a symbol of her legacy. So, with that in mind, I have to recognize Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an influencer that the fashion world lost in 2020.

Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Max Raab

Max Louis Raab was born in Philadelphia on June 9, 1927 to Herman and Fanny Raab, who owned a family-operated apparel company that specialized in making shirtwaists – affordable blouses worn with skirts by women of all classes for a variety of tasks and trades.

When Max returned from wartime service, he began working with his brother for the family business. Max soon realized that the postwar world was upwardly mobile and tastes and pocketbooks were allowing for a higher end product, especially for the younger teenage consumer in the growing post war suburbs. 

Max defined the new suburban preppy look by taking the tailored man’s shirt and turning it into a full-skirted shirtwaist style dress for women. Their new upscale country look was perfect for the suburbs that was neither the city nor the country, and was launched in 1958 under The Villager label. Around the same time he also launched Rooster ties, which made square ended straight grain ties in great textiles.

The Villager dresses were typically made in cotton or cotton blend fabrics, the style was the ultimate WASP dress, appropriate for the office, school, home or date night. The style was also quickly picked up by Hollywood, who used shirtwaists as go-to looks for TV moms.

Produced in men’s shirting, and then prints from companies like Liberty of London, textile artist Marielle Bancou Segal was brought in in the mid 60s to create prints in the textile studios of Kenmill, in New England. The brand was typically sold through a shop-within-a-department store locations that catered to the preppy chic customer. A younger line was created in the 60s called Lady Bug fashions that featured turtleneck sweaters, kilts, tights, slacks and simple dresses. The look grew into a collegiate look popularized by actresses like Ali McGraw, who wore Villager clothes for the filming of Love Story in 1970.

1970 was also the year, Raab recognized that fashion was heading a different direction and he sold all his companies to Jonathan Logan and turned his interest towards film production. Max returned to the fashion industry in 1974, setting up the company J.G. Hook, which specialised in women’s sportswear, often with a nautical flair. In 1989 he opened Tango, a necktie manufacturing company.  Max Raab was dubbed ‘The Dean of the Prep Look’ by Women’s Wear Daily. In 1998, Max sold off his share in the company and retired. He died in 2008. 

Fashion in the 1990s – posted on 19/9/9!

I found links to three fascinating hour long documentaries that look at the creative fashions and fashion industry of the 1990s.

The first film done in 1992 is by Henry Stein and looks at the origins of an avant-garde fashion event called Untamed Fashion Assembly. This was an annual event held in Riga, Latvia, from 1990 to 1999. The creativity exhibited in these shows that bridge the period when the country was breaking away from Soviet control is surprising!

The second film Antifashion was released in 2012, but looks at the fashion rebels of the 1990s including Martin Margiela, Rick Owens, Alexander McQueen, and Ann Demeulemeester…

The last of the three films, from 1995, is called Catwalk which looks at that moment when the supermodels reigned the fashion world:

Glamour Magazine, 1939 – 2019

Glamour magazine is packing it in after 80 years. Founded by Condé Nast in 1939, Glamour is the latest women’s/fashion magazine to come to an end. Condé Nast pulled the plug on Teen Vogue last year, and Hearst publishing announced last week that as of next year, Seventeen magazine would no longer be regularly published. The once lucrative business of print publishing is quickly winding down. Condé Nast reported making 120 million less than projected last year which has resulted in some serious belt tightening, including putting up several magazine titles for sale including Brides and W. The last issue of Glamour will be January 2019.

Was there ever a summer without a tennis fashion scandal?

When tennis really was a fashionable, social game…

This year the big tennis fashion todo is over Serena Williams’ black catsuit at the French Open. I think she made a mistake by suggesting it was for health reasons since there are plenty of options for loose clothing and compression tights that would have been within tournament rules that were also suitable attire for avoiding blood clots.

Serena and her sister Venus have a history of shocking attire on the courts, wearing outfits of non-traditional colours and patterns. The controversy over the catsuit shouldn’t have come as a surprise since there was already precedence set by Wimbledon when it banned catsuits in 1985 after Anne White wore one, even though it was white, in compliance with Wimbledon’s all-white clothing rule. However, next to shorts and a polo top, Williams’ catsuit was a practical choice and, in black, looked far better on Serena than the long-johns look of the white catsuit worn by Anne White.

This sport has a history of fashion controversy: Baby doll dresses, logos and branding, coloured outfits, lace trimmed panties, nude coloured panties, no bras, flag sweatbands, flashy jackets or bags, jewellery, skirts cut too high, tops cut too low – it’s always something.

With catsuits now banned, Serena opted yesterday to wear a tutu instead…

Messy Nessy had an interesting photo essay about the history of tennis fashions:

From Corsets to Culottes: The Women who Dared to Change Wimbledon


Message in a Battle

Probably this year’s biggest fashion faux pas (akin to Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl pasties incident of 2004) just hit the fan two days ago. On her way to meet migrant Mexican children separated from their parents at the Texas border, Melania Trump wore a $39 (U.S.) jacket from Zara with a graffiti scrawl across the back that proclaimed “I really don’t care, do u?”

2017: Dolce & Gabbana jacket $51,500 U.S.

The mind boggles as to why any First Lady – especially this one, who is a former model and known for her expensive designer tastes should pick a cheap, foreign made jacket with a smarmy quip. The aghast reaction to the crass coat was swift, and attempts to spin the issue by the Whitehouse were clumsy. POTUS tweeted that it was Melania’s attempt to show her disdain for the media. I don’t buy it. I also don’t buy FLOTUS handler Stephanie Grisham’s story that it was ‘just a jacket’ and meant nothing. Grisham’s attempt to shame the media into their coverage of the coat story insulted the media’s ability to cover both the coat and the children’s separation story (it is possible to chew gum and walk at the same time.)

Now the question being asked is whether the coat was a stupid or evil choice – because there is no good answer. The chic-storm hit the fan even before Melania had landed back in Maryland where she donned the coat AGAIN in muggy Washington weather (a jacket was not needed) – so she clearly wanted the coat’s message to be seen. Melania is not someone who throws on clothes without thought – she is always impeccably attired to the point of being over-dressed. Her towering high heels on a trip to see Hurricane Harvey’s devastation was a poor choice, as was the $1000 (U.S.) designer plaid shirt to garden in, but this coat breaks new ground, because it was on purpose.

Does the coat’s message mean that she doesn’t care about the families being ripped apart by her husband – or perhaps it means that she doesn’t care about her husband? Whatever explanation, Melania doesn’t deserve a pass on this fashion faux pas because the best answer is that it was a stupid choice.

In response, American journalist Parker Molloy purchased the domain IReallyDoCare.com where people can donate to charities helping immigrants, and the brand Wildfang quickly launched their version of the coat with the slogan “I really care, don’t you?” All proceeds are going to refugee and immigrant support in Texas.

So maybe more good than harm will come out of this in the end.

Cartoon reactions to Melania’s jacket

Canadian Fashion Connection – Fashion Prosthetics

In 2013, Ryan Palibroda and McMauley Wanner, who had met at the University of Calgary two years previously, formed the Alleles design studio. Their goal was to create affordable and accessible fashionable options for lower limb amputees using their skills in fashion, architecture, and digital marketing. Their digitally designed and made prosthetics can be created as unique statements for users, elevating prosthetics from the realm of medical necessity to fashionable accessory.

Canadian Fashion Connection – Canada’s Top Models

Canada has produced a number of famous fashion models, but until the 1980s Canadian models worked almost exclusively within Canada. As fashion became more international in the 1980s, so did the reputation of Canada’s models.

Canadian-born Linda Evangelista, with her chameleon looks and sexy confidence, is often credited with sparking ‘Supermodel’ mania and has been cited as the ‘founder of the supermodel union.’ Born May 10, 1965 to Italian parents, Linda was raised in St. Catharines, Ontario. Discovered by a talent agent at the 1978 Miss Teen Niagara Contest, Linda appeared on the cover of nearly seven hundred magazines during her career, and modelled for every major fashion designer who could afford to hire her for their catwalk shows or photo shoots. When Vogue magazine asked in 1990 about how she and her fellow supermodels were calling the shots in the modelling world she quipped “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.”

Style icon Mary Tyler Moore, 1936 – 2017

Sad news today to hear Mary Tyler Moore has passed away. Unbelievably, she is only the second major cast member from the Mary Tyler Moore show to pass; Ted Knight died in 1986 but everyone else is still with us!

My favourite show growing up in the 1970s was The Mary Tyler Moore Show, especially the first few years when the characters Mary Richards, Rhoda Morganstern, and Phyllis Lindstrom shared the same house. Those three characters pretty well covered everything you need to know about early 1970s fashion. Mary was the modest career girl (except for that one episode with the green dress…), Rhoda was the Bohemian, and Phyllis the artsy, society type.

MTM’s influence on fashion goes back into the 1960s when she played Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke show. Unlike all the other TV moms of the time, Laura Petrie had sex appeal in her Capri pants or tight skirts.

The Green Dress episode: https://youtu.be/hbvOrmQonDs

Look familiar?

I have been watching The Crown, and thought I would see if I could find some of the real garments worn by HM in the early 1950s when I came across this image of her wearing a black dress that reminded  me of the dress Diana wore back in c. 1980, before she married Charles. She was photographed getting out of a taxi in the dress showing cleavage – for which she was criticized for not anticipating the paparazzi’s intent. Interesting that her mother-in-law wore very nearly the same dress – but in a formal portrait…

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