Style: what we make of it

Do you ever wonder how we develop a so-called Style?

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in Bonnie & Clyde
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in Bonnie & Clyde – makes me want to rob a bank!

What does having style really mean? Does it start from childhood or develop later in life? How much does our upbringing have to do with it, from our parents first dressing us to peer pressure and beyond? Do we dress in a way that shows rebellion, sophistication, trendiness? Do we dress to impress? How much of what we see in magazines /the internet influence us?  Does having a style come naturally or does one work at it?  How much time do you spend thinking about what to wear every day or evening? Do you just get up, get dressed and go, or spend serious thought time planning how you want to appear each day?  Or do  you wear a uniform? Do you think that spending a lot of money on an item makes you look better? Is wearing vintage cool or just a better word to use instead of saying you shopped second hand.  Do you dress for yourself or for someone else? Does your dress style carry over to other areas….like for instance basic lifestyle choices in art, food, décor and beyond?

Style Icons Karl Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel, Diana Vreeland & Yves Saint Laurent.
Style Icons Karl Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel, Diana Vreeland & Yves Saint Laurent.

Just questions to start a conversation.  It can get complicated because it’s personal and what works for someone and how they can carry off a certain look might not work at all for someone else.  Real style cannot be taught but it can be innate and/or developed over time (think Princess Diana & Kate Middleton). Money and Stylists certainly help but these women already had a keen sense of it to begin with.

Catherine Deneuve in a head turning LBD

Probably some of my favourite role models (icons) would be the likes of Audrey Hepburn (I mean who else could make cropped pants & flat shoes look so chic?), Grace Kelly, Lauren Hutton, Jackie O, Coco Chanel, Catherine Deneuve & Kate Moss.  I love the polished looks from Palm Beach society women to Michelle Obama.  I can go from simple Chic to Princess Chic.  No, but really; my favourite look is classic, comfortable but individual and never boring (although sometimes….).  Accessories and fabric have become more important but I tend to appreciate anyone’s (regardless of age, social income or gender) overall style if it’s unique to them and flattering.  I think herein lies the true meaning of “Style”  –  not copying someone else but interpreting a style your own way and putting your own signature on it.  Your own personal style.  Real style transcends the ages.

The twins, Grace Kelly, Iris Apfel
STYLE – they all have (had) it! Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen (of the ROW) Grace Kelly & Iris Apfel

So thought I’d share some thoughts from famous designers/people who have words to say about life + style.  Maybe we can understand how they choose to evolve their brands a little better by interpreting what they believe the customer (us) wants.

Designer Philip Lim

His seamstress mom was salt of the earth and could make anything with her hands.  His dad was a professional poker player ( I don’t know why but I found this quite intriguing).  He grew up in conservative Orange Country and his dad used to pick him up from school in a pimp mobile when other kids were getting picked up in station wagons, etc.  But he was successful at poker and it was what he wanted to do so………..we can judge.  We tend to judge.

On what he loves most about making clothes…
“What I love the most about making clothes is that clothes are the most powerful expression of self. Because no matter where you come from, no matter how you got there, no matter where you are, you put on the right clothes, you can be anything you want. In a world where people judge, let’s admit, judge all you want, because I got it! Not me, but it’s true, when you wear something beautiful, judge me, look at me, at least you’re looking at me. It’s true.”

Designer Derek Lam (His New-York based ready-to-wear label enjoys a loyal following of downtown types)

“I try to capture what the customer is excited by, what she is intrigued to travel toward, and make that my approach to designing.”

Designer Marc Jacobs

Real fashion is something you don’t need, it’s something you want.” He can’t really say what makes his fashion work.  “It’s all about creative choice.”  “Sometimes the design team inspires me and brings in things they’re interested in.  I think, Oh, I’d like to use this.  Other times I don’t know what I want.  It’s a magpie aesthetic: If something is hideous, that’s interesting.  It’s kind of the same sensibility that Andy Warhol had.  He was interested in everything and soaked up what he saw like a sponge.”

Designer Carolina Herrera

“Glamour is beyond beauty and beyond age.  It’s like sex appeal.”  “Fashion is magical, a fantasy.  It’s madness, and it doesn’t last.  It’s changing all the time.”

Jane Birkin –  actress, singer, muse.  Namesake of the popular Hermès Birkin bag.

Photo: Courtesy of The official Saint Laurent Twitter page / @YSL
Photo: Courtesy of The official Saint Laurent Twitter page / @YSL

For years her look oscillated between jeans with a white shirt tied at the waist and a mini dress paired with thigh-high boots.  Funnily enough her omnipresent accessory was a wicker basket which became her calling card.  That is until her then boyfriend, the director Jacques Doillon ran over it with his car…on purpose. He said “It’s terrible for you to be known for your object.”  But good fortune struck again in 1981, when, while rushing for a flight, she spilled the entire contents of her replacement pouch in front of Hermes chairman Jean-Louis Dumas.  They started chatting and she said “You should do the Kelly bag, but three times bigger and not shut it.”  He was intrigued, so she drew on one of those vomit bags and said “Can you make it for me?” The rest, as they say, is history.  Thirty-five years later, the Birkin bag is still one of the most in-demand accessories in the world.  And in case you were wondering, the namesake of the Birkin bag only owns one. All the others were put up for sale for Amnesty International, and Anno’s Africa about 10 years ago.  Her influence extends well beyond the fashion realm.  Yet the industry is always watching, trying to capture her effortless joie de vivre and spirit into its own collections.  You’d be hard pressed to find a style blog (ahem, ahem) that doesn’t feature her as its all-time favourite poster girl.  This past March she appeared in Saint Laurent’s Spring 2016 ads shot in stark black-and-white wearing a white button down shirt and a black le smoking blazer.

Kate Middleton, Sienna Miller, Jackie O & Madonna - individualism.
Kate Middleton, Sienna Miller, Jackie O & Madonna – Individuals who have (had) a look and set trends.

Where the gang make their getaway:

Designers pack their bags for resort, staging runway shows that span the globe in some of the world’s most picturesque and Instagram (very important) friendly locations.  At Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière opted for a futuristic backdrop, Oscar Niemeyer’s Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, which is perched on a cliff overlooking the bay in Rio de Janeiro.  The U.K. got a double dose of fashion with Dior and Gucci.  Dior’s guests partied at the London pop-up pub the Lady Dior and the following day boarded the chartered Dior Express train for the show at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.  Archival looks from Christian Dior’s famous presentation there, held in 1954, as well as of the 1958 outing by Dior’s successor Yves Saint Laurent, were on display.  Gucci’s Alessandro Michele brought his punk-Victoriana collection to a church: Westminster Abbey, filling the front row with starlets including Elle Fanning and Kate Mara.  (resort by Lauren McCarthy for Bazaar Magazine).

Why?  For more style inspiration!  Because they must keep things alive, cool and hot at the same time. Because maybe we haven’t seen it ALL before.

With travelling and depending where, we gather fresh and different ideas about the way people dress.  We love to find unique items where people will ask “where did you get that?” All in the name of Fashion…which goes a long way towards helping us improve our Style so things never become Boring.  Does that make sense?

I know I haven’t really answered any questions here….because there are no set answers.  It’s just fun to think about and play around with.  It’s why we love to dress up once in a while, it’s a chance to show a different side of ourselves… a grown up side, a naughty side, a business side, a crazy side.  Aside from all that,

How do YOU define style?

Source for Jane Birkin: Bazaar Magazine


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