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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

READ THIS: Vogue: The Gown by Jo Ellison Our Coverage Sponsored by Paul Mayer Attitudes

Paul Mayer's luxuriously, comfortable designs keep women coming back for multiple -- even dozens -- of pairs. Classic, yet contemporary and always comfortable, his shoes are an addiction that we highly recommend. A staple of the Paul Mayer collection is the simple ballet-flat, with true ballerina construction for a perfect fit that comes in a variety of colors and materials. A cult favorite is the cozy, a flat with lavender-scent infused soles adding style and fragrance to collector's closets as Paul's designs emerge in sophisticated design incarnations season after season in the most incredible hues, textures and modern innovations in luxury footwear because we know firsthand how incredibly brilliant he is. Mayer founded the brand in 2004 with partner, Jeff Levy. All shoes in the line are manufactured in Spain’s Valencia region, along the Mediterranean coast by a skilled staff of 12 artisans. They craft each pair of shoes with an old-world attention to detail that includes in-house embroidery, quilting and stitching as well as custom tanned leather. This allows the brand to cater to each retailer’s specific demands in with timely and consistent alacrity, with orders completed in an unheard-of 3 to 5 weeks. When not in New York, Paul can be found traveling to his myriad of stores across the country meeting his loyal clientele or vacationing in his favorite spot, the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach.

Of course, you need the right shoes to go with your gown Peachy says!

"The notion of dressing like a princess is one Vogue has actively encouraged.   Over the years, the magazine has been a portal into the world of the Windsors, and its photographers - Cecil Beaton, Lord Snowdon, David Bailey, and Mario Testino among them - have captured the most candid moments, from Royal weddings, birthdays and coronations, with a sense of unbridled celebration and a stirring of sentiment befitting the best fairytales." (Ellison, p. 58 Fantasy).  If you read Whom You Know, we are guessing you like to dress like a princess (Tenley!).  

It's the holiday season and high time for your own best gowns to emerge!  Or, you may be in the midst of designing your next one.  An incredibly inspirational book is being released this December by Firefly and it chronicles the history of the gown through the glorious incomparable international archives of Vogue.  It was a distinct pleasure to read and peruse the phenomenal photography, and the photography was just as superlative as the gowns themselves.  This should not surprise you if you've been reading Vogue throughout the years!  Vogue itself started in 1892 to cover the lifestyle and fashions of New York High Society...and we imagine the gown was the central focus of this upper echelon!  We love the underlying history lesson going on: we quote and concur with page 91: "history lessons have never been so breathtaking" and seeing covers with a price of one shilling is indeed a riot.

Written by the Fashion Editor of the Financial Times (we have read this paper and did you know it is printed in a PEACHY hue...we read it in our Canary Wharf days), Jo Ellison, this work is testament to all the Cinderella dreams any girl has ever had and is a concrete manifestation of the word gorgeous.  We love that Ellison is formerly the Features Editor of British Vogue; we think Americans have a lot to learn in Fashion from those on the other side of the Pond.  (Have you seen our multiple posts on Lotus, since 1759, oldest English shoe brand.)  We were psyched to see Mover and Shaker Zandra Rhodes featured on pages 101 and 162-3.

Alexandra Shulman, Editor of British Vogue, states in the foreword:
"...and what is more desirable than a gown?  Gowns are exceptional and often excessive.  They have little to do with daily life and are part of a world of imagination and indulgence."

In this work, gowns are sorted according to their mood.  It does not read chronologically but rather by category, the five being:

Classical presents beaucoup de draping flowing throughout the decades seamlessly.  Architect of the Bias cut, Madeleine Vionnet was quite the advocate of fluidity in Grecian design.  A lot of thought must have been put into the arrangement of the pages and thinking about how designs should complement one another; the photographs of the horizontal designs (yes we think you do need to be this tall and thin to wear them!) on p. 290-1 exemplify this.  
Of course, earlier years are drawings rather than photographs, however the p
ages not to miss in photography are:
p. 170 Clifford Coffin, July 1948, Stonehenge, Matilda Etches
p. 193 Cecil Beaton, October 1948, Queen Elizabeth, Norman Hartnell
p. 278 Norman Parkinson, September 1957, Dresses in London East of the Tower Bridge
p. 244-5 Norman Parkinson, December 1957, Christmas Red Dresses
p. 46 Helmut Newton, April 1966 Rolls Royce/John Bates/Christian Dior (NOT the Downton Abbey Version)
p. 274 Peter Knapp, September 1971, Pierre Cardin Taffeta Flower Gowns
p. 234 Horst P. Horst, November 1986, Silhouette Versace
p. 236 Patrick Demarchelier, October 1987, Linda Evangelista in Saint Laurent's feathers
p. 154 Peggy Sirota, June 1991, The Birth of Venus, Giorgio Armani
p. 108 Arthur Elgort, December 1995, Cindy Crawford in Red Isaac Mizrahi
p. 147 Regan Cameron, June 2005, Cate Blanchett in Red Alexander McQueen
p.65 Tim Walker, July 2005, Blue dress, spiral staircase, Stella McCartney
p. 93 Tim Walker, August 2006, 'England Dreaming' Alexander McQueen

Of course when we review a book we are looking for content, but we always notice presentation.  This is one of the most beautiful books we've ever seen, cased in a matching royal aqua hardcover and matching box, complete with Vogue permanent ribbon bookmark.  Escape it all and enter the ultimate in the world of beauty between two covers!  It's an excellent gift for the fashionable as well, and every princess you know.

Vogue: The Gown by Jo Ellison has earned our Highest Recommendation.

“What is more desirable than a gown? Gowns are exceptional and often excessive. They have little to do with daily life and are part of a world of imagination and indulgence.” - Jo Ellison

Vogue: The Gown (Firefly Books, December 2014, $125.00 hardcover) is an exquisite limited-edition portfolio of 300 of the most desirable haute couture gowns in modern fashion history. The inspired creations from over 135 designers are photographed by more than 90 of the industry’s most cutting-edge image-makers. 

More than a collection of photographs of dresses, Vogue: The Gown is a curated exploration of the art of fashion photography: how, inspired by literature, art and current trends, elaborate and detailed fantasies are created in which the model and her gown become the focus.

In selecting the gown, British Vogue features editor Jo Ellison noticed that five themes emerged based on the mood the gowns evoked. “Gowns may be a surprising outlet for emotional expression, but they capture a whole range of moods – mystery, darkness, tragedy, triumphalism, seduction, indulgence, malevolence, magnificence. They offer us an easy shorthand for every nuance of the human condition.”

Vogue: The Gown is organized into five categories that speak to those moods, as much as to style: Classical, Fantasy, Decorative, Drama, and Modern. 

The earliest gown is from 1917 and the latest are from 2012. They are not in chronological order however and it is quickly apparent why: they are timeless.

“The trends in dressmaking have followed clear revolutions: silhouettes shrink to the slimmest of lines only to explode into great clouds the following year; hemlines rise and fall like the tide, and waistlines scuttle up, down and around the female frame with exasperating impatience. What is dernier cri for a moment will disappear for years before making a reappearance decades later, reinterpreted for a new age,” says Ellison.

The Classical gowns draw on the simplicity of early Grecian robes that envelope the woman in folds arranged to perfection. The introduction of jersey materials in the Thirties allowed master drapers like Madeleine Vionnet to summon Greek goddesses to their ateliers.

A little girl’s Fantasy dress must have a sweeping skirt and clouds of taffeta. Vogue 
understands: “Vogue has always seen itself as fashion’s fairy-godmother – blessed with the power to fulfill all our wishes, no matter how outlandish”, filling its pages with “make-believe ball gowns spun out of thin air.” 

Fashion shoots have a “story” behind them. “Who might wear such a dress, we wonder? Where might they be? As Ellison explains, Vogue prints “the stories that explain the clothes” and the gowns in Drama put no limits on Vogue’s imagination.

Not surprisingly, the Decoration gowns are all about the ornamentation— “Hedonism, decadence, embellishment and sparkle – so much sparkle!” —that designers lavish on haute couture creations. 

And, what makes a gown Modern? “Sometimes it presages a sea-change in fashion, an entirely different outlook and approach.” It could be a new silhouette, a technical innovation but it must be challenging, visionary and timeless. 

Vogue: The Gown is both an evocative celebration of almost a century of fashion history and a stunning collection from the very best fashion photographers, and many of the fashion superstars of the modeling and the acting world. The book is a mesmerizing exhibition of the best and most iconic images from the pages of the world’s most fashionable magazines.

About the author: 
Jo Ellison is the fashion editor of the Financial Times. Former the features director of British Vogue, Ellison has worked extensively in the Vogue archive and has written numerous features about the magazine’s illustrious relationships with photographers past and present.

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