Monday, February 22, 2010

fashion icons for all occasions

[I wrote this article about five or six years ago for a zine my dear friend Mrs. N was editing. She had asked a number of people to write about a subject dear to them and I naturally chose fashion. In the end, the zine never came out, and this article remained hidden on the desktop of my mom's computer. So here it is, my short and very subjective list of fashion icons. I would love to hear from some other people who their list of fashion icons would include.]

Perhaps with the world on the brink of crisis as it is today, it seems frivolous to write about fashion. Well, it is. But with so many horrible things going on from our foolish and arrogant foreign policy, to our frightening lack of reproductive freedom (and everything that lies in between), I thought I'd choose a feel good subject. And fashion should make you feel good. Unless, of course, you take it too seriously, because as we all know, being well dressed will never make you a better person. It will, however, lift your spirits and on most occasions make you feel more confidant.
There is a famous quote, which ironically, I can't remember, but the gist of it is that geniuses steal. To this end I present my list of fashion icons for all moods and occasions. Please steal from them at will.

For ruling the world: Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland controlled the fashion world for nearly five decades. She is the one who first coined all those obnoxious fashion phrases like "leopard is the new black" (or whatever happens to be the new whatever at the moment). [light is the new dark, Mr. K.?] Diana Vreeland has too many awesome fashion moments to recount here, but there are numerous books ranging from affordable to downright insanely expensive, which explore her in depth. I will however leave you with some typical Vreeland advice: "Why don't you have your cigarettes stamped with a personal insignia as a well known explorer did with a penguin". And really, when you think about it, if you are planning on ruling the world, why wouldn't you?

For being crazy: Little Edie Beale

Little Edie's wardrobe in the movie Grey Gardens is just fantastic. Watch that movie and it will forever change the way you view clothes. Why shouldn't you wear a hand towel as a head covering? And who says you need to fastenings the way they were intended? On those days when you find raccoons eating the walls of your house and semi-feral cats relieving themselves in your bedroom, just go with it and wear you nylons over your shorts.
If you happen to be independently wealthy, you could also go the route of the Marchessa Casati. Drop some belladonna in your eyes and buy yourself a cheetah and make like the Italian marchessa.

For clubbing: Diane von Furstenberg

Think 70's Andy Warhol & Studio 54. Diane von Furstenberg is my favorite version of the Cinderella story: after marrying the prince, she realizes that being a princess is boring and opts to become a fashion designer instead. Scoring a DVF dress will probably set you back considerably, but don't worry, just get yourself some fabulous slinky fabric with a bold print and knock off one of her wrap dresses. She even published a "health & beauty" book in the 70's for those of us plebs who aspire to fabulousness.

For making the scene: miscellaneous debutantes of the 20's & 30's

Any copy of Vogue from the 20's or 30's is full of fabulous and forgotten women. On their own they are hardly remarkable, but as a whole they are ripe for style plundering.
Here are a few to get you started:

Lady Lavery - posed for the banknotes of the Irish Free State

Marquise de Casa Maury - renown for her exotic looks and listless manner. She dressed like a nun on her wedding day and vaselined her eyes.

Baba d'Erlanger - wore jewels on her bathing suit and painted the tips of her fingers maroon

Countess Haugwitz-Reventlow nee Barbara Hutton - changed nail polish and husbands to match her dresses

For being a vindictive little bitch - Mrs Reginald Fellowes

Daisy Fellowes made a hobby out of seducing other women's husbands. She gave dinner parties composed entirely of people who couldn't stand one another. While staying aboard he yacht, she fed her guests tinned food while she ate caviar. Her style philosophy was this: wear whatever will make other women feel foolish. A favorite trick of Mrs. Fellowes - tell people the dress code is formal when it is, in fact, casual (This is not a very nice trick girls, and is only recommended for those of you who don't mind making enemies quickly).

For being adorable, but slightly unhinged - Amy Sedaris

I'm afraid I am more familiar with Amy Sedaris through her numerous interviews than any of her actual performances [this is no longer true - I relished every little morsel of the Strangers with Candy series a few years ago]. But whatever. She makes my list because she always has on the most wonderful little 50's dresses. I also love that her house is fill with taxidermy and surreal Todd Oldham pieces. I would consider dressing in this sugar-sweet manner if you are going to be engaging in bizarre behavior. It makes it that much more confusing for you victims and that much more fun for you.

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