Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WWRHW: What Would Rita Hayworth Wear?

Rita Hayworth is always an under-rated icon of glamor, style, and femininity to me.  If we were dressing Miss Hayworth in the modern styles of this season, what would she wear?

I love her black and white dress here.  It's so elegant and really rather modern, with its sculptural, simple quality: 
I loathe the endless ways that celebrities now feel obliged to sell stuff with their names on it.  Will celebrity branding never stop?  I'm just waiting for Kim Kardashian to start appearing on TV hawking luxury toilet paper made especially for her renowned rear.  Anyway, this dress is actually so lovely and well-made I just had to include it: Victoria Beckham Embellished Stretch-Crepe Gown $7,755 netaporter.com
Sonia Rykiel Fall 2011
Emilio de la Morena Fall 2011
Bottega Veneta Fall 2011
I love the juicy citrus orange of Miss Hayworth's suit, and its playful mod quality with the white circle and that deliciously silly flying saucer hat!  As some of you know all too well, I have a great weakness for silly, witty little hats.  My cherished Christian Dior hat from the early 60s, with its wild blossoming of fake flowers and plastic fruit on top, comes to mind.  I look completely insane when I wear it, and that's part of the fun.  I will feel my life's mission is fulfilled if I can re-introduce the superbly frivolous hat back into public life.

Anyway, this very graphic, punchy orange found its way into a lot of suits this year.  It is crisp and modern with white, business-worthy with mustard, and irresistible paired with fresh raspberry in this eminently desirable little Bottega Veneta coat.  A lot of people are shy of orange, but it can be a very flattering shade.  Orange lipstick is also very flattering and au courant.  I wore it a lot when I was still blonde, and people always wanted to know my shade:

Orange lips from the Spring 2011 runway
Rita Hayworth looked delectable with orange lips when she was blonde:

Orange lips also look amazing with caramel and mocha shades of skin where they truly pop in a playful way:

 It's hard to wear orange lips as a redhead, but Rihanna looks quite naughty in this electric orange shade paired with her wild dark red curls.  I still haven't found a good orange shade to wear with my red hair.

Rita Hayworth as Carmen
Dolce and Gabanna One-Shoulder Printed Silk Chiffon Gown 3,595 netaporter.com
Comme des Garcons Fall 201
 The 1948 film "The Loves of Carmen" has many flaws, but watching the shy-in-real-life, maneater-on-screen Rita Hayworth playing the free-spirited Carmen is a true delight.  For more modern gypsies, we have the mad-cap, devil-may-care mix of prints and florals that are everywhere right now.  Tom Ford famously made off-shoulder, lace-up gypsy-style absolutely mandatory for a few seasons, and if you still have pieces from that collection, or inspired by it, consider yourselves invited to bring them out again!  It's a lovely, sensuous look for LA's breezy warm nights.

Somehow, in some magical way of her own, Rita Hayworth manages to make a transparent white lace gown look like the final word in erotic elegance.  I found a modern equivalent in this frothy, delicate, fairy-tale Marchesa gown:
Marchesa Fall 2011
Rita Hayworth wearing a timeless 40's white gown
A modern take on the sculptural white gown: Halston Fall 2011
I love this white Halston gown with its very modern, clean, crisp lines.   It has an easy, effortless luxury.  I would just throw this on for one of those end-of-summer parties in the hills, or perhaps for yachting on the Mediterranean with friends -- something which I fully intend to dedicate myself to doing more of, as my tough New Years resolution for next year.

In my opinion, if you have not seen Rita Hayworth as Gilda in the 1946 film of the same name, you have been living a life of quiet desperation!  In all of cinema, this scene has to be one of my absolute favorites:

On screen Rita Hayworth has her own special animal grace and sensuality, and you want to reach out and pet her glorious hair.  She is just so irresistibly feminine.

I own a pair of long, black satin gloves from a glove shop in Florence, and for my own Gilda re-enactment, I would wear this modern dress.  I have a pathological weakness for gold lame, even in its tackiest 80s incarnations, but here I think it is just very sensual.  Now I just need to work on my song and dance routine and getting a few extra thousands for the dress and I'm set!
Marchesa draped lame gown 5,500 netaporter.com

Friday, September 16, 2011

The First Supermodel: Redhead Suzy Parker

As a new redhead myself, I want to salute Suzy Parker, sometimes called the world's first supermodel, who was an amazing presence in the advertising of the 50s and 60s.  She has that ineffable chameleon quality, sometimes luscious and feminine and seductive, sometimes cool and laconic and remote, sometimes looking breathless with joy, sometimes sculptural with boldly graphic elegance.  Her collaborations with Avedon remain some of the most exquisite, inventive, simply delightful examples of fashion photography.  I look at these photos and feel so inspired.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Red Queen's Coat

Valentino Fall 2011
Two friends of mine are going on a fall trip to Venice, Florence, and Rome next month.  I couldn't be more envious!  If I were going with them, I would probably wear this coat.  Except it looks like it's a bit soaked in fur, and who knows how much it is.  But in my fantasy, it's faux-fur, I can afford this coat, and I'm walking down the ramps of a private jet onto the roof of a Renaissance villa in Venice, where I will be soon whisked away on a gondola to adventures legion and untold.  This Versace coat has a very modern, sleek silhouette, with a classic belt, and if I wore this with boots and leggings or tights I wouldn't have to worry about wearing anything else.  It's just exquisite and slightly carnivorous all on its own.

RED by Valentino Ruffle Hem Wool Coat $895 nordstrom.com
My second-choice for a red coat to go to Italy would be this coat.  Like the Versace coat, it's by an Italian designer, Valentino.  I often love Valentino's designs for their femininity and their attention to craft, but sometimes they don't fit me well at all.  So I'm not sure this would actually fit me.  But it's a charming little coat, Valentino practically owns this shade of red, and it's a little Audrey Hepburn movie in one piece of clothing. 

Oh, I might also add these:
Red Bow Wellies 38 pounds riverisland.com
There's something to be said for traditional Wellingtons, and then in the last couple years we've had all kinds of stylish and Pucci-esque prints and variations, but these are just so adorable.

Vintage red coat/dress $800 thefrock.com
Ok, of the coats so far this is the least practical, because it's vintage and velvet and would not survive one average 15-minute downpour of rain.  On the other hand, it's enchantment itself.  I have been dreaming about this coat for years.  Years!  Literally.  This coat is featured on one my favorite sites, thefrock.com, and sometimes their pieces of stunning vintage are up there for a very long time.  I love how classically beautiful this coat is, how sumptuous.  Now that I am a redhead it's actually harder for me to wear one of my favorite colors (red! har har!) but this deep fruity persimmon color would actually complement my hair.  If I were wearing this to Italy, it would have to be to the opera.   I love opera (yes, you will notice me at the LA opera from time to time, the only person there under 200), and how amazing would it be to be wearing this coat and go to La Scala?

La Scala Opera House would match my red coat perfectly
Even though I didn't go to the opera, my last trip to Italy had some incredibly sensuous, beautiful moments.  I was in one of those beautiful, marble-drenched, ancient Italian cafes and ordered an espresso.  It has to be said I've traditionally preferred tea and found most American coffee to be bitter and unappealing.  The smell of coffee is so intensely coffee, a smell I adore -- it's one of those smells, like fresh summer basil or a real English rose, that seem to short-circuit your nose and go directly to your brain, a jolt of pure sensory electricity.  But the taste of coffee, after the smell, always seemed such a disappointment -- watery, bitter, over-roasted, flat.  Then I had coffee in Italy.  Coffee in Italy was nothing like the coffee I'd had before.  It was lyrical, bittersweet, complex, a little cup of espresso being a perfect world of smell and flavor.  But in Italy it's quite common to put sugar in your espresso, and I hate sugar in my coffee.  I thanked the Italian waiter for the espresso but refused the sugar, and he said in deeply-accented English, "Your life must be so sweet since you can drink your coffee so bitter."  And that, my friends, is my final word about the charms of Italy.
The charms of Italy: I would stay at The Four Seasons Firenze, drink good coffee, and meditate on the sweetness of my life
The quality of coffee has improved so much in recent years, and after my Italian jaunt I found myself open to exploring it.  At the moment I have brown bags of Indonesian coffee in my cupboards, delivered by a friend fresh from her latest trip home, and the smell of this real Indonesian coffee -- let me tell you, it is a smell you will never forget, almost floral, musky, primal, with hints of sweet toffee and earth.  If it were a color, it would be scarlet red.

If I were going this year on a fall trip to Europe or New York, I would buy one perfect coat this season.  It is always better to have one, truly beautiful, expressive coat than a whole closet of so-so ones.  And a red coat, while so in vogue at the moment, is also truly classic.  You simply can't go wrong, as this gallery of iconic vintage and more recent images attest.  Enjoy.