Josephine Baker: The Edible Entertainer

By Alex Holderstyle icon3

Long before sultry, entertaining, feather-wearing Las Vegas showgirls, there was Josephine Baker. Long before we were shocked by the outfit choices of Cher, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj, there was Josephine Baker. And long before Angelina Jolie adopted every other child she met, there was Josephine Baker, who adopted twelve children of various races and called them her “rainbow tribe”. Josephine, born Freda Josephine McDonald, was born in St. Louis, Missouri – shout out to my hometown – in 1906. At 15, she began dancing for the St. Louis Chorus Vaudeville Show, but in those times Josephine was considered a second-class citizen due to her skin color. So, she packed up and moved to “The City of Light”, aka Paris, in 1925 and rose to fame. She was a triple threat – singing, dancing, and acting – for over four decades as the ultimate entertainer of her time. She even became the most photographed woman and was a muse for several including Pablo Picasso and Christian Dior. The color of her skin didn’t matter anymore; Josephine was a star.

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Her sultry dance moves and outrageous costume choices have made her one of the most memorable and fashionable entertainers of all time. Her style was elegant and her success afforded her the opportunity to indulge in luxury goods such as her pet cheetah that often accompanied her on walks through the streets of Paris with a diamond-encrusted collar. Talk about a fancy feline! This was the age of Art Deco in Paris, and Josephine epitomized this look with sleek lines and geometric shapes. But perhaps her most memorable fashion moment was from her “Banana Dance” where she performed in almost nothing but a skirt made of bananas, yes, as in the fruit. Who on earth could make dancing in a banana skirt look sexy? None other than Josephine Baker. I mean it though… Beyonce tried back in 2006, and even though I love that Halo singing diva, the whole thing was a total flop.

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Luckily, Josephine’s style has impacted us in several positive ways as well. Miuccia Prada paid homage to Josephine in her Spring/Summer 2011 collection with banana prints and finger waved hair. The geometric patterns and accessories obsession during the Art Deco movement and Josephine’s reign on fashion can be seen all around us today. Modern-day fashionistas can emulate Miss Baker by overindulging in accessories and making daring, fearless choices. So load on those pearls, gigantic earrings, and cocktails rings and never look back. If you’re a little more hesitant, try a beaded headband or a neat print. Women of all ages, shapes, and backgrounds can take a cue from Josephine’s style and her confident attitude. Here’s the key: be yourself and don’t be afraid to make a statement. Her impact on our world and our industry is indisputable and many famous entertainers can thank her for teaching them the meaning of “pushing the envelope”. Just remember, before Lady Gaga wore a meat dress, Josephine Baker wore bananas.

Bananas for Josephine Baker?

An Icon: Josephine Baker. Retrieved from http://vintagefashionblog.co.uk/blog
/2012/09/23/an-icon-josephine-baker/

Blume, L. M. (2010, Oct 16). Icons Of Style Series: Josephine Baker. Huffington Post.
Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lesley-m-mblume/
josephine-baker-style-photos-lets-bring-back_b_764734.html#158198

Wermick, A. (2012, May 27). A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Josephine
Baker. Retrieved from http://www.collegefashion.net/inspiration/a-history-
of-style-fashion-inspired-by-josephine-baker/

Fashion in Film: Belle de Jour

By Callie Oliver

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I know that there are many nights that we college girls just sit around twirling our thumbs and think what should I do tonight. Yea right! However, if you ever find your self-saying that you should watch Belle de Jour. Yes, it is a French film there are subtitles and yes, it is about a prostitute. I will get back to that part. I mean you should watch it just for the pure love of fashion and classy style.belle de jour2

Your probably still think about the prostitute part right. Well this movie centers around a young woman Séverine and her double live. So she is married to this doctor Pierre he is tall, dark hair, he is super sweet, and his eyes! Anyways, she can’t have marital fun with her husband, so she hears about this “upscale” brothel and goes to check it out. Well she is intrigued and starts working for Madame Anaïs, her customers are well lets just say they are no panty droppers. Then she commits to a regular work schedule of two to five every day, so she is given the name Belle de Jour that means beautiful day. She encounters a new customer, Marcel the thug, he drops by and pick to be with Belle de Jour. Let me paint you a picture of him, all gold teeth and he looks like he hasn’t showered or anything in about a week if you could smell a movie he would reek. Well he become entranced by her and falls for her, she falls for him too. Well he “loves” her so much he tried to kill Pierre not being a good shot he leaves Pierre as a veggie. Don’t worry Marcel gets shot too! At the end Pierre finds out from a friend about his wives unfaithfulness and is heart broken. I was really mad at her at this point. Then the movie ends, yup that’s it.

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If you are not interested by now then let me tell you about her style. Have you heard of Yves Saint Laurent? Well you can thank Séverine and her handbag for helping launch YSL. I am! While she was not working she had the best clothes. Her wool coats and perfectly tailored dresses give her the perfect minimalist classic look.  belle de jour3In the opening scene she is wearing a double-breasted red coat and Michael Kors just made a similar red coast for his Spring 2013 line. She is seen a lot in her A-line neutral colored dresses, which has been replicated for years. LOFT recently made a dress similar; with the simple lines it is a dress that is a wardrobe staple. Many women have copied her style and sophistication since this movie was made in the late 60’s. I mean who wouldn’t want to always look polished and perfect all the time. So we might not take professional career advice from Severine but we can take some her fashion, since that is the only thing she is doing right.

“Red Hot .” Habitually Chic. N.p., 1 Feb. 2012. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. <habituallychic.blogspot.com/2012/02/red-hot.html >. (Red Coat from the opening of the movie)

“Simon Nessman for Michael Kors Spring/Summer 2013 Campaign – | The Fashionisto: The Latest in Fashion from Runway to Print.” The Fashionisto: The Latest in Fashion from Runway to Print | The Latest in Menswear. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. <http://thefashionisto.com/mode/simon-nessman-for-michael-kors-springsummer-2013-campaign/&gt;.

Simpkins, Travis . “Belle de Jour (1967): The Elegant Catherine Deneuve in a French Erotic Masterpiece.” Cinematic Thoughts. N.p., 22 Sept. 2012. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. http://cinematicthoughts.blogspot.com/2012/09/belle-de-jour-1967-elegant-catherine.html.

“Women’s Clothing, Dresses.” LOFT: Women’s Clothing, Petites, Dresses, Pants, Shirts, Sweaters. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. <http://www.loft.com&gt;.

Austin Coolhunting: The Edgy Older Generation

By Hannah Maynard
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Going to Austin the first Saturday of South by Southwest, I figured there would be nothing more to see than young adults wandering the streets in the weirdest outfits, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There were some teens and college-aged people dressed head to tow in thrift shop buys, but the more stylish of them all were the moms.

old2The older generation blew me away with their rocker clothes, clunky shoes, and “I don’t care” hair. Maybe its the because the younger generation is more worried about what others think, and the moms are well past that trying phase. I was truly impressed with the older generation and what they had to say with their effortless clothing.

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Chinese Influence on Fashion

By Lauren Dulweber

I distinctly remember getting off the plain from America to China wearing wrinkled sweatpants and a t-shirt thinking, “What a first impression I am making on this place”.  However, my unkempt appearance didn’t stop a little Chinese girl from asking to take a picture with me because of the red hair and pale skin that she had never seen before.  I quickly realized how much I had to learn about Chinese culture.

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Traditional Chinese dress was usually an oversized tunic made out of vibrantly woven cotton or animal skin.  The vibrant colors used in those garments inspired the intricately embroidered Opera costumes that remain the same even today.  While the Chinese economy has struggled to remain afloat in earlier decades, there was always money in their treasured Opera.  The costumes featured in these operas are world renowned for their distinct cut, detailed head dresses, and flamboyant makeup.

Today there is a huge Western influence on Chinese clothing.  If you stop by a news stand and flip open a magazine, you will find mostly Western celebrities.  I met a boy who could hardly say a sentence in English, but he could sing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” at the top of his lungs, word-for-word.  Of course there are Chinese celebrities that are admired, but the government has such a strict hold on censorship and funds that all of their media is very low budget; therefore, they look to the West for fashion icons.  Another factor that affects the Chinese street wear is transportation.  The most popular means of transportation is the bike or the subway, so the majority of people have to wear very functional clothing.  In big cities, Chinese women will only been seen in heels and a modest dress, and the men will be wearing slacks and a nice shirt.

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These women are tough: they can ride a bike, climb up to the Great Wall, and run to catch a bus, while sporting five inch heels.  They are also unbelievably on trend to fashion in the states.  The two unfortunate fads of China are knock-offs and graphic shirts.  The knock-off industry is outrageous in China, to the point where there are six-story buildings dedicated to everything from OPI nail polish and Ray Bans, to Beats headphones anWorld cultures4d Louboutins.  These knock-offs are smuggled around the world for their cheap imitation of quality goods.  The graphic tee fad includes bright colors and adorably incorrect English phrases.  I’m sure they think the same thing when they see Americans sporting a back tatt that says something incorrect in Chinese, so we’re even.

Recently Chinese influence has been found in the obvious Qi Pao, a dress that is form fitting, has a mandarin collar, and uses the traditional red or black patterned silk.  These have taken a modern look by current designers, especially in the 90’s.  Other than that, we have seen great sewing techniques come from China, like the Hong Kong technique of sewing a hem.

In Vogue for Spring

By Claire MajorImage

This week I dove into Anna Wintour’s spring fashion bible, the March issue of Vogue in search of 2013’s hottest trends. The March issue is the second largest next to the September and feels like more of an encyclopedia than a magazine. I have thoroughly studied all 618 pages so you don’t have to and found three trends everyone should know about for the upcoming year.

The most evident trend in the March issue is a springtime standard: floral. I know, I know, “Floral…for spring. Groundbreaking.” Before you go all Miranda Priestly me, hear me out. In an abundance of floral prints, I found many instances of the trend done differently. ImageFlowers with texture through some kind of fabrication like fabric manipulation or beading. I like to call this sub-trend “eccentric floral.” Chanel showed some otherwise plain dresses adorned with raised, beaded flowers, like this one worn by Elle-you’re never too young for Chanel-Fanning. Erdem made a particularly quirky dress covered with flower appliqués. Image

This trend has crossed over to accessories. Just look at this Oscar de la Renta rose necklace. Overall the eccentric floral style looks youthful, but the trend is for all ages.

Another trend worthy of remark is laser-cut leather, leather that has had a design cut out, leaving open spaces in the hide.

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This breathable trend was all over the Spring 2013 runways, in collections such as Proenza Schouler, Roberto Cavalli, and Giles. One of my favorite looks was this laser-cut houndstooth trench by Sportmax. Ahead of the game, Valentino created this dress with amazing red, laser-cut leather for their Fall 2012 RTW collection.This trend doesn’t come cheap—this dress can be yours for a mere $9,800. While laser-cut leather bags have recently appeared in the scene, the trend started several years ago with shoes. The trend of laser-cut apparel will probably be adopted by the young, as leather is an edgy textile.Image

The last trend I found is springtime fur. A strange choice for the warmer seasons, Prada, Fendi, Saint Laurent, and Versache showed looks with fur as the main feature. The furs are heavily dyed and embellished. Most tried to make a heavy textile look warm-weather appropriate, however Saint Laurent showed a long sleeved, ankle-length version, which seems like Hedi Slemane admitting to us that he doesn’t expect us to us to adopt this trend anyway. Fur is found in spring accessories by Celine, J Mendel, and Prada. Because fur is already daring (the constant fear of the activists’ red paint), only the most dedicated fashionistas will adopt this trend due to its impracticality, high cost, and risk.Image

Different as they may seem, these three trends have a few things in common. They are all a new take on a classic. They are also more difficult to adopt than your average fashion trend, due to higher complexity, which leads to higher cost. All of the trends are also seen in apparel and accessories. Overall, it seems embellishment and fantasy win over minimalism and functionality this spring.

Want to be in vogue this spring? Find out more about the trends here:

Adams, B. (October 25, 2012). Designers laser in on leather for spring. Style.com. Retrieved March 5, 2013 from: http://www.style.com/stylefile/2012/10/designers-laser-in-on-leather-for-spring/.

Givham, R. (September 21, 2012). Miuccia Prada and Emporio Armani: Milan spring 2013 collections. The Daily Beast. Retrieved on March 5, 2013 from: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/21/miuccia-prada-and-emporio-armani-milan-spring-2013-collections.html.

Johnson, K. (February 28, 2012). Shop the trend: laser cut leather. Lucky Magazine. Retrieved on March 5, 2013 from: http://www.luckymag.com/blogs/luckyrightnow/2013/02/shop-this-trend-laser-cut-leather.