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The Greatness Of Gatsby

22 Jun

If you haven’t seen The Great Gatsby yet, it is the equivalent of being dropped in the middle of your favorite town with a black AMEX card and 24 hours to splurge.  You are overwhelmed with sights, sounds, flash, opulence, excess. Baz Luhrmann is the King of over-the-top productions and this one does not disappoint. From the jazz/rap/ethereal sounds of the soundtrack from artists like, Beyonce, The XX and Jack White to the extravagant sets that scream conspicuous consumption and eccentricity, the film never lacks in giving you something to absorb. Of course the fashions designed by Miuccia Prada and jewelry by Tiffany are reason enough for us to sit and drool in front of the screen for 2 hours.

Here are some of our favorite scenes from the movie, and from Carey Mulligan’s fashion shoot with Vogue magazine.

Tom and Daisy’s parlor with the flowing curtains and Daisy’s frothy tea dress. We also love that Jordan is bold enough to wear pants.

ImageGatsby in Nick’s cottage after he had “a few” flowers delivered for tea with Daisy.

ImageThis scene made us fall in love with head scarves all over again!

Of all the characters, Jordan was the one that kept surprising us in her costumes. Here, for their outing to the city, she is prim and proper in her dress, capelet, hat and bag. A far cry from the rebel who wore pants in the earlier scene.

ImageHere, at Gatsby’s largest party, she is daring in her cutaway halter dress with the low back. The hat she holds in her hand is actually a headband with a veil worn over the eyes.

ImageThe mayhem that was Gatsby’s parties.

ImageCarey Mulligan graces the cover of Vogue in this amazing chartreuse velvet gown from Oscar de la Renta and those jewels from Tiffany. GAH!!

Oscar de la Renta Fall 2012

Our favorite spread in the Vogue issue. Chanel Haute Couture sequin dress, headpiece by Julien d’Ys.

In these increasingly warm summer Texas days, it’s nice to be able to escape to the coolness of a movie theater. This movie will make that theater even cooler.

2012 Emmy Fashions. The Good, The Bad and The January

24 Sep

So, I came late to the Emmy party this year and did not get my standard hour long E! Live from the Red Carpet preview of the fashions of the evening. I was en route home from visiting my older daughter at the University of South Carolina and even though our flight went off without delay (thank you American Airlines!); the baggage took 45 minutes to make it 4 gates over (gotta love DFW). Nevertheless, I caught the broadcast during the award presented by Lucy Liu and was so taken dumb by her gown that I didn’t even know what award she was even handing out. I have since done my obligatory research on what I missed and have purposefully tried to avoid reading other Best and Worst Dressed lists so I am not influenced by people who think they know better.

It appears that the color of the evening was citron/chartreuse/lemon/antifreeze/you get the idea. NOT an easy color to wear and attempted by women with varying skin tone and hair color.

Leslie Mann in Naeem Khan probably was the most successful of all the golden girls, but I also liked Julie Bowen’s boldness in her Monique Lhuillier mermaid cut gown.

Now for my favorites:
Lucy Liu in Versace. I know, I’ve already mentioned her, but the entire look was so amazingly fierce and powerful. It fit her perfectly and did not overwhelm her tiny frame.

Ginnifer Goodwin in Monique Lhuillier. Normally I’m not a fan of the “mullet” dress, but this one was subtle enough that it worked. I love the crewel-like embroidery that gives it a vintage feel and the color works so well on her. I DO wish she would not have been so matchy-matchy with her Louboutins though.

Michelle Dockery in Louis Vuitton. NO, I don’t like her just because she’s on Downton Abbey. I thought the navy color was so unexpected and different for the Red Carpet and seriously, who doesn’t love an evening gown with pockets AND a giant bow in the back!

Nicole Kidman in Antonio Berardi. I know what you are thinking and you are right. It’s been a while since Nicole has impressed me on the Red Carpet, let alone succeeded in vacating her permanent spot on the Worst Dressed List. And I DO find it painful to look at her frozen Botox face for too long. BUT, she apparently found a new stylist because this dress has amazing detail, fits her perfectly, and definitely gets her back on the “Best” list.

Brooke Burke in Tony Ward. OK, yes, I know she has a killer body and can pretty much wear a burlap sack and look great. With white being such a hot color this year, she found a way to make it appropriate and not wedding-y. Stunning.

AAAAND for the not so fabulous. In the words of my nephew, “she tried.”

Edie Falco in Stella McCartney. Hate the Wonder Woman belt, hate the cut-in bodice, and it looks like they just ran out of navy fabric. Honestly, the whole look is too youthful for her. You can tell she has a great body, just not shown off in the right way.

Elisabeth Moss in Dolce & Gabbana. First of all, what in the world did she do to her hair?! I would have loved to have seen this dress on her with her auburn hair and see if that made it any better. Again, I’m not a fan of the mullet hemline, and the print with the ruffles and the peplum is just too overwhelming for her. Looks a bit like a can-can dancer.

Julianne Moore in Dior. *Sigh*, you noticed I didn’t include her up there with the other Golden Girls. There’s a reason. I think the number one rule for red-heads is to know what colors you can wear. I’m not sure it’s entirely the color that is so bad, it’s just that there is too much of it. The high neck and long sleeves don’t allow her beautiful skin tone to be seen. For the record, no, I don’t like her but yet see how I can come up with a compliment?

Jena Malone in J. Mendel. I do love the Grecian goddess look as much as anyone, but this cut in this color doesn’t seem to do anything for her. And she obviously has Angelina Jolie Leg Syndrome with this pose. It was a bit pandemic last night; Heidi Klum and Lara Spencer also suffered.

The last commentary is reserved for January Jones in Zac Posen. I am still on the fence on this dress. I love the avant-garde-ness of it. I can see it being the winner for the Avante Garde Challenge on Project Runway. It fits her well and looks great against her fair skin, but I do wish the makeup was not so severe. The dress has enough going for it, no need to compete for attention with the severe bun (again!) and dark eyes. A pop of color in her shoes would not have been bad, either.

What did you think? Questions? Comments? Challenges? Who did I miss? OK, off to watch Fashion Police. Until next week!

All photos courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter. Individual photo credits available in file details.

A Spin around the Abbey

20 Aug

Downton Abbey has been in my Netflix queue ever since a good friend asked me if I was watching it a few months ago. Knowing how much I loved period movies and TV shows, she told me I should definitely check out season one that had just been released on video. I had heard about it and knew it had won an Emmy or something, but her recommendation was all I needed to make it a “must see”. If you are unfamiliar with the PBS series, Season One begins in 1914 on a country estate in rural England. It is a drama about an aristocratic English family and their sometimes overwhelming number of household staff. Think Pride and Prejudice set 100 years later and at Pemberley rather than Longbourne. (If that sentence means nothing to you, stop reading this blog immediately and go watch the Keira Knightley version of the movie. And not the edited for TV version either, it leaves too much out.)

Lord Grantham, the Earl of the estate, resides at Downton Abbey with his wife and 3 daughters; not a fortuitous situation for the family in early 20th century England. The major story line centers around the future heir to the title as well as the estate, but there are enough side stories regarding the lives of the daughters, maids, footmen, kitchen staff, etc to make things interesting. One of my favorite characters is the youngest daughter, Sybil. As the youngest, she knows she stands last in line for marriage and pretty much has to take whatever is offered to her. Sybil, however, is not one to allow her future to be dictated to her. She is interested in politics, especially the growing women’s suffrage movement and determined to make a life for herself beyond that of a daughter and wife. While her oldest sister is adamant about not marrying someone who her parents select for her and makes sure her parents know of her determination; Sybil is the quiet baby of the family, and much more discreet about her rebellion. Secretly helping a housemaid find a job as a secretary one minute, while she sweetly kisses her father on the cheek as she requests the use of the carriage the next. In a recent episode, it is Sybil’s turn to go to the dressmaker for a new “frock” (love that word!). She complains that there is nothing new to have made, fashions are boring, she is sick of wearing corsets, and on and on. You can almost see in her, the evolution of modern dress and the desire to not only express herself but to have fun with fashion.

I have to say that the costumes on the show are exquisite. Every day suits and riding costumes are classic, tailored skirts, blouses and jackets worn with the perfect hat to complete the ensemble. But in an era when everyone of stature “dressed for dinner”, it is the evening gowns that are the most breathtaking. Layers of silk chiffon in brilliant colors, embroidery, brocades, and lace adorn ethereal empire waist gowns that float around the sumptuous drawing room. There is a definite distinction among women of different ages in regards to the dress, as the grandmother is clearly still in her comfort zone of stuffy, high collar Victorian dress.

Lady Sybil sees her turn for a new frock as her opportunity to express herself, and isn’t that what a new dress or pair of shoes should do for all of us? Even growing up in an affluent family where we assume money was not an issue, the selection of a new frock was a big deal. It had to be perfect. It had to represent who she was as a young woman and who she aspired to be. Her last new one was possibly 3 years ago when she was a young teen. This was her prom dress. The dress of her future. When the time comes for the big “reveal”, Sybil is painstakingly dressed by her maid with minute detail given to every aspect of her appearance. She keeps the entire family, including her Countess granny, waiting to go in to dinner until she makes her debut. And while Granny is shocked by the final product, Sybil beams and makes a grand sweeping curtsy to her speechless family.
I often feel sad that we do not have occasion to dress up anymore; to enjoy the time spent selecting a frock and the perfect shoes and accessories to complete the ensemble. We have lost the joy of dressing in beautiful fabrics and impeccably constructed garments. We opt for ease, comfort and practicality and think nothing about throwing on a dress that “will do”. I think that is why one of the many things I love about vintage clothing is that it allows us to go back to a time when women were more intentional about what they put on. Don’t get me wrong, as I sit in a car driving cross country for 12 hours, I’m glad I didn’t have to put on my corset, stockings, dress, jacket, hat and gloves before I lft the hotel. But what I would give for an opportunity to wear a peacock blue silk chiffon harem pantsuit!

20120820-204221.jpgFor more info on Edwardian clothing, click here.

All images courtesy of

Mad Men Midseason Madness

9 May

I don’t know where it all went wrong, but I’m so glad it’s back to be right. Mad Men, that is. We are several episodes into the new season and I can finally say with confidence, Mad Men is actually GOOD again. Great even. I can’t get over how well written this season is, and how it actually keeps my attention, and doesn’t just drone on while I fold my laundry, or do a thousand other things around the house that never seem to get done. Mad Men is back, with a vengeance. I’m not sure what has changed: new writers? Jon Hamm directing? Perhaps it is the era we’ve found ourselves heading into, in the show. Whatever it is, it’s working, and if you aren’t watching it, you are missing out on something special.

The world became obsessed with Mad Men in the summer of 2007, and we continued to watch through every mistress, every cocktail, and every boring second we spent watching Pete’s life pass by. The first few years were something great, but still had its moments of drab. In the years just before the “quiet” writers’ strike, the show had become mundane, and I found myself just watching ’cause I always had. It’s like that show you watch on TV that would make a great movie, but then they drag it in to six seasons and suddenly there’s a polar bear on a remote island and you question whether or not the writers are sober, EVER, writing this crap. The style has always been there, the fascination with the past, and watching the events up to JFK’s assassination unfold were nostalgic and gripping to relive for some. But let’s be honest: Mad Men had become “old hat”. The outfits seemed to come in repeat. The arguments were the same. Roger still womanizing, Don still hating his life with Betty but somehow still making children, and Peggy, poor Peggy, always be a side character and not getting her fair share of spotlight. The highlight for most was Joan and her curvy attitude and bright hair. It definitely wasn’t Pete’s sweatiness that brought people back every week. Why does that guy always look so greasy??? Sure, Mad Men had it’s moments of excitement. I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the time Roger had a heart attack with one of the twins and Don had to slap his face to remind him his wife’s name was Mona. I still snicker when I hear that one replay in my head. What is it about men and twins?

I recently heard someone say that they couldn’t watch Mad Men because of all the sexism. They said it really bothered them and they just couldn’t stand to watch it replay on TV. I should’ve told her to take a walk around. We do live in Texas after all. C’mon! You’re telling me the sexism, (which to me is few and far between, not to mention funny at times), on the show is too much for you to handle, but living in the deep south doesn’t bother you…at all? If anything I think Mad Men has been a beacon, a little light shed on how men and women settled into what they thought were their roles. My stone cold example lay in this past week’s episode. Don “let” Megan quit her job at the agency because she wanted to follow her dreams. If he were any kind of A-typical 60’s man, shouldn’t he have told her to take off her shoes and get in the kitchen? Instead he and her were working side by side, something which he thoroughly enjoyed. I do believe it broke his heart a little when she quit, but he also understood the importance of letting her follow HER dreams, and not just be in his. He didn’t want her ‘to wind up like Betty, or worse, her mother.’ While Don has his faults, I think he’s shown everyone that he appreciates having a woman in the office to challenge him. He does and always has with Peggy. He believed in her and gave her an opportunity when no one else would. She stands up to him and puts him in his place when he needs to be put there, which is often. Ok, I get it, all the women are secretaries, and they all wear dresses, and most aspire to be housewives. Isn’t this still something we see every day anyway? And something we definitely see a lot south of the Mason Dixon line. I’d have to say to each their own, and I’m no more ready to throw stones at a glass house than anyone else. Mad Men just brings certain era-appropriate issues to light. It throws these issues that were swept under the rug for years and puts them in your face, but in that classy, stylish kind of way. You know, like the back-handed compliment from a frenemy.

Something a little less serious, is the style to which Mad Men has always alluded. It’s officially the swinging sixties. And things are getting into full swing. Young women like Megan are chasing their dreams instead of succumbing to their husbands’ aspirations. Peggy is moving in with her boyfriend. Not to mention the colors and patterns are getting more and more vibrant! I don’t know what it is about the 60’s that makes me wanna get up and dance, but I’m pretty sure I was born in the wrong era. The sixties brought about shorter skirts, louder music, and the beginning of the free-love movement that the 70’s are utterly famous for. There is definitely a change in the air. Poor Don. His daughter Sally is about to be a child of the sixties. I see more drinking and grey hair in his future.

So Mad Men has finally gotten better. The stories are better. The characters are more fun and complex. The drug use is as blatant as the drinking. I have to say I’m excited for the 60’s. I’ve been told I have an old soul. Apparently, my soul loved the sixties, because I can’t help myself and I can’t get enough of them. Why is Mad Men so much better this time around? Is it just because they had more time to work on the storyline? Is it the era we are wandering into? Is it the deliberate care they are taking to build each character for you? Is it because Betty is heavier than her normal, unfair, perfectly thin body? Nah, that can’t be it. Maybe it’s the fact that Roger is back on the prowl and we know disaster is looming around the corner for that guy. Oh Roger, you       never disappoint. Whatever it is, it’s working and I am hooked again. And I’d bet another Pete affair that you’re hooked as well.

I Love Lucy…and so should You!

17 Apr

There were very few people that made my grandpa laugh from the bottom of his stomach, so hard that it would send him into acoughing frenzy. John Candy was one of them for sure. But I’m pretty sure his favorite, and it wasn’t just because she was funny, was Lucille Ball. See, Pop had been in the army in the 40’s, right around the same time Miss Ball was a Pin-Up girl in the Army’s weeklies. She was an unconventional beauty, but lets face it, isn’t that the best kind? There’s nobody who can wear that shade of red better than her, and here is why I will ALWAYS Love Lucy…

Lucille Ball was born August 6, 1911. Even 100 years after her birth, people still gather in her honor as look-alikes to celebrate the awesomeness that was Lucy. I knew my husband was the perfect man for me when I came home one day to find him watching old reruns of I Love Lucy on our television at home. I have the fondest memories of sitting across the room from my grandpa, or nudging his elbow to sit on the arm rest of his recliner, and laughing with him while watching Lucy get herself into something else. Some people say the best part of that show was “Ricky” always misinterpreting or mispronouncing some word of the English language. Sure, that hand you a few giggles, but nothing was better than watching Lucy get herself in and out of each predicament, usually going to the good ole woman’s trick of crying incessantly in order to gain sympathy. I have to wonder, did women think that worked before she did it?

While my memories of Lucy all stem from reruns of I Love Lucy, some people remember her vibrant movie career, or her days as a model. I use the term “vibrant” very loosely here, as she was recognizably know as “Queen of the B’s”, because she started in so many “B movies”. Lots of people have made successful careers out of “B movies”. Lucy may have been one of the first. She, like one of my other favorite “B Movie” actresses, Tori Spelling, was maybe not the most wildly successful actress of her time, but she is one that is still relevant to this day, and even more memorable. Sure, she was no Garbo, but she had a quality that made everyone smile when they saw her. Personality is a big part of being admired, and being thought of as beautiful. While you couldn’t necessarily call her a fashion icon, I do believe her style that was portrayed through her TV series resonates even today with the younger generation. Who doesn’t love a good day dress, head scarf, and peep toes! She made being a house wife look chic.

She was highly influential for her time, and quite controversial too. When she married Cuban band leader, Desi Arnaz, she was six years his senior. She was also sited as being part of the Communist party, although Desi refuted this, saying ‘The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that’s not real’. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Lucy was actually a BLONDE.

As if any of that wasn’t enough, she also divorced, quite publicly, in 1960. This was not something many people did during this time period, but for her, she knew it was right. Desi and Lucy’s relationship had turned tumultuous, with the great success of Desilu came great stress, which turned into a not so great drinking problem for Desi. It has been said that during one of their spats, Lucy put a gun to Desi’s head and pulled the trigger. When only a flame came out, he stepped up to the gun and lit his cigar. A once desperate to be together couple had taken a turn for the worse, and Lucy knew it was better for them to be apart than stay together. A brave woman she had to be to divorce a man in the sixties. No matter how disastrous their relationship had turned out, they still spoke very fondly of each other, and remained friends until Desi passed away in 1986. Maybe Lucy wanted to teach the women of her time a lesson here. Get out while you can still respect one another for your children.

I Love Lucy for so many reasons. I love that she was a bottle redhead. I mean, lets be honest, is there really any other kind. I also love that though she was a blonde, she still chose the route of something different, perhaps risky, and definitely unique. Her hair color was just the precedent for the way she lived her life. They say blondes have more fun. I’d have to disagree. Lucy lived her life to the fullest, took her success to a new peak, and made everyone fall in love with her along the way. She was the first reality TV star, in cooperating her life with Desi into a show that gave them a way to spend more time together, and share her life with the world. She was and is and always will be an icon for Hollywood success, an inspiration for women in a “man’s world”, and a legend of class and beauty that was one of a kind. There’s so many reason why I Love Lucy. And I think you’re crazy if you don’t!

SPOILER ALERT: Mad Men recap follows…

27 Mar

Well its been almost two years since we’ve been blessed with a Mad Men season premier. Last night they debuted their new season with a two hour long show, as if that would make up for its disappearance for so long! So the question remains, does Mad Men still have what it takes to reel us in, even after all this time? The jury is still out on this blogger’s opinion. Beware, spoiler alert coming! If you haven’t watched the new episode yet because you are harboring it on your DVR to share with a nice Pinot Noir, please do not continue reading. But please do come back and read after!

When we meet the Mad Men again, we see an older, hopefully wiser Sally. Her voice has changed, and the kids are obviouslyolder. Guessing from what happened prior, I would put us about a year from where they left off. Joan has had her baby, which we know is Roger’s, and so has Trudy, but hers is her husbands. No judgement, Joan, you know I love you, and your curves. Don has married Megan, and they have a lavish apartment in the city. From the the looks of it, Betty and Henry have moved out of Don’s house and into, what Don made a reference to , a very Adams’ Family style home. While Henry and Betty did not make an appearance in this first episode, I did see in what’s to come next week that they will be back in the picture. I had to wonder if Betty’s character was left out due to January Jones’ pregnancy, cutting it awfully close to production and what not.The temperature at Sterling Cooper Draper Price as certain taken a wee bit of a turn. Peggy is a much more confident woman, which is nice to see after all these years, extruding her “Don-ness” on the people around her, and not leaving the clients out of that mix as well. Megan has adopted a new job in what looked to be like Peggy’s first job with the firm. Jealousy definitely exists among the ranks, but nonetheless, she is the boss’ wife after all. Don, who always arrived late pre-Megan, still arrives late but it is heavily noted as the pair entire the building, being compared to royalty. Everyone has always known this is Don’s show. The clients come, for Don. Even the big bosses recognize they are merely there for the drinks.

What I found interesting is how each character did not progress in a different direction of their own willing, but adopted another characters persona. I heard it discussed on the radio this morning and I have to say I agree. Peggy is the new female “Don”. Pete is the new “Don”, but in the miserable, commuting husband kind of way. Saddled with a wife who doesn’t take care of herself as she used to, and a house in the ‘burbs. He comes home late, looking dreadfully bored and stuck. I smell an affair in the works for Pete again.

Back to Peggy. She is everything she always admired and hated about Don. She is confident, cocky, but says too much, one thing you could never say about Don. She is still with the liberal, underground journalist; an odd mix, the two of them, but definitely interesting. She dresses better, but still not the way Joan would like her to dress. She has definitely come full circle, but not into her own her, but more into Don’s own.

Joan is still gorgeous as ever, just maybe a little tired. New mothers have the look of sweet desperation that screams from across the room, HELP! However she is still Joan, and ready as ever to come back to work. This, I admire and get. She may be needed at home, but being needed by twenty grown men is so much more of a compliment than a drooling newborn. The fact that Roger greets her as if nothing has changed is a little heartwarming, and yet disheartening at the same time. Her eyes light up when he yells “There’s my baby”, but the light wains as she realizes he’s talking about her, and not the boy. Sad really. Another man in the firm has fathered a child with another woman in the office that he doesn’t admit. They’re batting two for two at ol’ SCDP.

So this brings us to Don. Oh, Don. Everyone just thinks you are so charming and handsome, it seriously makes me ill. Jon Hamm has got to be a jerk. I just can’t think of him any other way. He plays a jerk so well, and people telling him how handsome he is??? C’mon, can I get a EGO with a side of Hamm. So Don is married, again. Shocking, I know. However this marriage seems different. Is he a changed man? Is he just still in that honeymoon phase? Is he really happy or this just an act? I was convinced we were going to see a new Don, but then sorely disappointed after the jab he made at Megan over the party. After that, I thought, same old Don. When he came back to the house to apologize and further explain himself to her, it made me think of Don in a good light again. Maybe he has changed. He is definitely happier, and less uptight. Only time will tell, because if I know Don, the way we all know Don, it is only a matter of time before that ticking, time bomb of a insecure, confused orphaned boy goes off. People like that cannot ever enjoy their lives for too long. They find themselves destroying anything and everything in their path that makes up their lives, and that brings them an ounce of happiness. That Don is still in there. Unless we’ve got another Anna on our hands, in Megan, I don’t see the self destructive Don Draper wandering too far from home. It was however a shock to see that Don’s irritation about the party was about the people, and said nothing about the sexy little number Megan put on for every one there. Can I get a little hum of the now classic, Zou Bisou Bisou? Not to mention that every wife in the country is hitting the gym this week in order to be more confident while cleaning the house in their bra and underwear. I see your game, Megan, and I like it!

In the end was the season premier of Mad Men really worth the two hours it cost me? Probably not. It was definitely a slow build, but looks to be a promising season. I look forward to the twists and turn it always delivers, and having to rewind my DVR in order to catch what Pete just said because I was distracted by another amazing dress Joan will be wearing this season. Gotta love that 60’s fashion!