Style Icon: Katherine Hepbern

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Katharine Hepburn’s sense of fashion raised more than a few eyebrows in the 1930’s !. In those days, women’s fashion had not yet been liberated by the practicalities of World War II, (when women had to get out and take positions in the workplace in order to provide a living for their families while the men were at war). Women in the 1930s were actually arrested if they were seen in public wearing pants!. In those days clothing was still perceived as a manifestation of one’s gender, and “mannish” trousers were feared to reflect a perversity within women. But Katharine Hepburn stuck to her guns when it came to fashion and insisted on wearing those practical and comfortable pants that looked just perfect on her!

Katharine had her jeans custom made on Savile Row of all places!. I just love how she wore her wide legged, high waisted jeans with the beautiful long coats in the pictures above.

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I truly love her style and always have her wide high waisted pants look in mind when I’m shopping for pants or when I’m putting a looking together ….. And I love finding hints of how much her style and especially her pantsuits still influences luxury brands till today ….. I always find her influences in brands like Céline and Max Mara to name a few!

Style Icon: Dürrüsehvar- The Ottoman Princess

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It’s not easy to portray simple, elegant, timeless, and regal style when wearing a traditional or should I say a national dress. Yet Durru Shehvar has somehow managed to pull all that in this one picture! This picture alone turned her to a style icon in my books! That necklace is beyond beautiful. Her makeup is perfection and her eyebrows are on point! Wish I knew what color her Sari was!

Born in Istanbul on January 26, 1914, she was the only daughter of Abdülmejid II, the last Sultan to rule over the Ottoman Empire. Growing up in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, the princess was exposed to a world of art and literature at an early age thanks to her father, a cultured man who spoke several languages including Turkish, Arabic, French and German. In addition to composing music, he was an accomplished painter, producing landscapes and scenes from Ottoman history, which in later years she went to great lengths to buy when they surfaced at auctions.

With the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire, in 1924 the sultan and his family went into exile splitting their time between Paris and Nice in the South of France. She was soon sought by the Shah of Persia and King Fuad I of Egypt as a bride for their respective heirs, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and Farouk. But also vying for Dürrüsehvar’s hand was the Nizam of Hyderabad, who wanted her to marry his eldest son Azam Jah, Prince of Berar and heir apparent to the throne of Hyderabad. The Nizam won and in 1931, 18-year-old Dürrüsehvar married his son Azam Jah. `The wedding took place in the south of France, and their marriage was widely hailed as a “union of two great dynasties”.

After the honeymoon, the couple returned to Hyderabad, where they settled into the lakeside palace of Bella Vista. Already fluent in French, Turkish and English, the princess quickly learned Urdu and took to wearing French chiffon saris embellished with Art Deco embroideries by the leading Paris couture houses of the day.

Her arrival in Hyderabad would also cause a seismic shift in the lives of local women, and it began with her efforts to end the practice of purdah. Until the reign of the seventh Nizam, the women of the royal family were never seen in public; that is until the princess moved to Hyderabad. In 1933, Dürrüsehvar became the first female member of the Nizam’s family to attend a tennis match where she presented the winning team with a silver cup. It would be the first of many public appearances including charity events, polo matches, and state banquets. Over time she became a respected public figure who advocated for women’s rights and the education of young girls, establishing a junior college for women as well as a nursing school and hospital that still carry her name today.

In 1937, she traveled with her husband to England to attend the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Westminster Abbey. Although statuesque and regal in public, Dürrüsehvar was also intensely shy and private. Known for shunning publicity, she closely guarded her friendships, which included one with the noted fashion photographer Cecil Beaton and the famous actress Greta Garbo, who often referred to the princess as “our Turkish friend.”

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A few years after the marriage, she realised her incompatibility with her husband, and left with her 2 children, Mukkaram Jah and Muffakham Jah, to London where she lived and visited Hyderabad occasionally. Her last public appearance was when she presided over the opening ceremony of the Nizam’s Silver Jubilee Museum in 2000…. She passed away in her London apartment on Queens Street in 2006 at the age of 92.

Velvets Are Back!

I am thrilled that the 90s velvet trend is back! I felt so nostalgic when I saw all the FW collections… I loved this trend back in the 90s…. I still remember Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s long black velvet gloves she wore with her Yohji Yamamoto dress like it was yesterday!

Designers like Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren (below), Valentino and much more, have included velvet in their Fall/Winter collections. I honestly haven’t seen this much velvet since the 90s… I’m loving it! I’m loving the wide range of colours and the wide range of designs from those extra wide pants to the victorian style dresses…

There are many dos and dont’s on the net of how to wear velvets… None really make much sense to me… One particular “dont’s” that I’ve been reading everywhere and that made no sense to me at all don’t wear velvet on velvet!… I personally think that velvet on velvet can look great if done right! I’m on the hunt now for the perfect velvet heels to wear with a matching colour velvet dress! Those Gianvito Rossi signature heels in velvet are one of my favorite out there!

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 I just wanna run in those heels!

Movie Wardrobe: The Thomas Crown Affair

There are many movies out there that inspire us in terms of fashion and/or interior design…. So I thought I’d start a new segment on my blog about movie wardrobes that I love and that have influenced my taste and style throughout the years…

I’ll start this segment with one of my favorite movie wardrobes from the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair which was designed by Kate Harrington. I loved Rene Russo ’s lead character, Catherine Banning’s wardrobe. The wardrobe was so impeccable and still relevant today, despite the fact that it was done 17 years ago.

 Harrington was hired with only two months “to pull the clothes together,” which left no room for her to create anything from scratch: not a sketch, a pattern, or garment. She settled on a wardrobe for Russo’s character from the 1997 Celine F/W collection by Michael Kors (one of Russo’s suggestions) and a few Halston creations.

Harrington’s approach was like doing a magazine spread. “That’s how I saw it. I’d just act like I was doing an entire Vanity Fair issue, cover to cover, only with Pierce and Rene.”  I’ve learned many lessons from Kate Harrington’s approach for this movie. Here are a few “lessons” worth thinking about:

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1. You don’t have to have a colorful wardrobe to make a variety of looks. Rene’s character in this movie rarely wore the same thing twice even though she wore a lot of the same neutral colors like cream, camel, grey and black. She never looked boring because she mixed and matched her neutrals all the time.

2. You must play with textures and materials. For example, Rene wore a cashmere turtleneck with a leather skirt…. and I love the look above where she stayed within a colour scheme but added interest by mixing 3 textures cashmere, fur, and leather.

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3. Invest in classic cuts because they will never go out of style.  All her clothes are in classic silhouettes – that sequenced black dress, the turtleneck sweaters, the mandarin collar on her gown, that stunning biker cut leather jacket and the list can go on! Her wardrobe was full of items that are a must in every wardrobe and that have stood the test of time.

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4. Always add a touch of “cool” to your look!. Rene’s character always looked cool even though she always wore very classic clothes…  Like those cool aviator sunglasses with her conservative turtleneck and skirt, those unexpected earrings with a traditional gown, and that bustier over a classic white shirt (above).

Maria Callas The Exhibition

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The Exhibition is the first major exhibition dedicated to the greatest soprano of all time Maria Callas. Curated by Massimiliano Capella, the presentation marks the 40th anniversary of the death La Divina. It includes costumes and props jewelry, Private clothes, especially those by Biki, the Milanese stylist who fashioned the ‘Callas look’ during the Milan years, as well as several opera costumes; there are personal treasures and stage jewellery; hats, wigs and glasses; telegrams, letters, newspaper articles and photographs illustrating the successes, the scandals, and her loves.

The exhibition is on display until September 18, 2016, in Verona and will soon begin its international tour, from Athens to New York, from Paris to Mexico City…. I don’t have information about the international tour yet but I’ll add it at the bottom of this post as soon as I find some!

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The Curator Massimiliano Capella has used 2200 mannequins and has divided the exhibition into fourteen sections starting with America and Greece and ends in a small dark room with a video of Callas’s ashes being scattered on the Aegean Sea.

Here’s a quick background of her life for those of you who are interested:

I’m going to start from her “Milan years” because to me that’s where she rose and gave her greatest performances and, of course, it was at La Scala where she recorded many of the EMI recordings. On 17 September 1947 Callas had auditioned for La Scala with Casta Diva and O Patria mia, but the Artistic Director, Mario Labroca, didn’t think she was suitable. However, a substitution for Renata Tebaldi on 12 April 1950 in Aida launched a relationship that would continue for more than a decade. Between 1950 and 1962 she would sing 23 different operas, appearing on the Milanese stage 181 times.

Although critics and public were mostly enthusiastic about her vocal performances between 1947 and 1953, comments about her physical aspect were less favourable. Although she was quite tall at 1.73 meters (5’ 8”) she weighed almost 100 kilos (220 lbs); quite a large girl. In 1952 a tactless critic wrote, “It was impossible to distinguish between the elephants’ feet and those of Aida.”

So between the summer of 1952 and the spring of 1954, she lost 35 kilos, and in doing so – with the help of Biki – transformed herself into a style icon. Many of her outfits are reunited for the Callas exhibition. (The iconic portrait by Jerry Tiffany in New York for EMI in 1958 demonstrates how the transformation was complete).

In 1952 she made her debut at the Royal Opera House in London as Norma. London would later be the place of her last appearance in a complete opera, in 1965, and one of the dates of her final concert tour with Giuseppe di Stefano in 1973. But London was to also be the setting for a famous… infamous encounter.

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In 1959, when Callas was one of the core members of the international jet set, a party was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel after the opening of Medea at Covent Garden on 17 June 1959. The event was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel after the opening of Medea at Covent Garden on 17 June 1959. The event was hosted by Aristotle Onassis. the picture above was taken at the event!!!! The next month Callas and her husband were already guests aboard his yacht Christina and the fatal relationship began.

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Her relationship with Onassis ended in 1968 when he left her for Jacqueline Kennedy.

In 1969 she did interpret one of her opera characters again for Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film of Medea; though on this occasion she wasn’t required to sing. Piero Tosi’s magnificent costume for the film is part of the exhibition, so is the favourite black leather jacket that Callas wore during this period. Various documents on show illustrate the intimate nature of the friendship between the director and his leading lady.

The final rooms contain some of her hats, bags, shoes, turbans and other accessories which Biki so carefully labelled in the early years to help her young protégé coordinate the right hat with the right gown. Biki continued to dress her when she lived in Paris, as well as Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Hérmes and Alexander for her wigs.

In the early ‘70s she appeared at Juilliard for the legendary workshops, directed I Vespri Siciliani together with Di Stefano in Turin, and Di Stefano convinced her to join him on an around-the-world concert tour which finished in 1974.

27 November 1973: Maria Callas gives a farewell concert at the Royal Festival Hall.

In 1975, Onassis died in a Paris hospital, a few months later Pasolini’s murdered body was found on the beach at Ostia near Rome, and the following year saw the death of another friend and mentor Luchino Visconti, who once said that he’d only started directing opera because of Callas.

She died of a heart attack on 16 September 1977. She was 53.

Style Icon: Dame Zaha Hadid

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It’s been almost 2 weeks since the Dame Zaha Hadid has passed away and I still am in shock!!!

It’s not often an architect makes international headlines…But this Iraqi/British architect was often part of controversies. She was the first woman to win the Pritzker Award for architects. Some of her unforgettable works include the London Aquatics Centre (used in the 2012 Summer Olympics), the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein in Germany, China’s Guangzhou Opera House, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London, and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.

In addition to her breathtaking buildings, she designed furniture, cutlery, shoes and jewelry with a similar modern aesthetic in mind, most recently she designed a beautiful cuff (that’s on my wishlist!) in partnership with the Danish firm Georg Jensen shown below.

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I must say that what I loved most about her was her style!! I thought (and still do think) that it was as unique as her designs and architecture … She was a fan of fashion designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, and Miuccia Prada…. She could be spotted in the front row of Christopher Kane shows during London Fashion Week .. she loved the fashion world and the fashion world loved her back!. Her many friends and fans included Stella McCartney, Donna Karan, and Karl Lagerfeld, who held his Chanel Resort 2016 show in her DDP building in Seoul.

“I like things that when you wear them, the form becomes very different from when it’s flat. I was fascinated first by Yohji Yamamoto and his asymmetry, or Comme des Garçons in the ’80s. There is a connection between architecture and fashion because of the way the body is placed within that space. I’m interested in fashion because it’s the immediate thing that shows you the temper of a particular moment”.

I personally loved seeing her in black capes, particularly ones by Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake…

What a great loss! May you RIP Zaha.

Style Icon: Daphne Guinness

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I love creative people, I love people who create their style and lifestyle rather than copy others! Daphne Guinness is one of those creative people whose style I have always admired. She has a truly unique and artistic expression when it comes to how she dresses and how she decorates her home….. It’s really true to who she is… no stylist no interior designers… it’s purely her!

Book Of The Week: Rebel Chic

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Katharine Hepburn is another one of my style icons!!!…. She was glamorous when she wanted to be and tomboyish when she didn’t and as a result, she developed a personal style and public image as a style rebel…. She never intended to change the face of American fashion; she just didn’t like wearing skirts!!!. I love this quote from the book that Hepburn told Calvin Klein “I realized long ago that skirts are hopeless….. Anytime I hear a man say he prefers a woman in a skirt, I say, ‘Try one. Try a skirt.’”

Via Amazon.com

Style Icon: Sofia Coppola

I’ve long admired Sofia’s style. Her looks are always simple but never boring and very graceful!…. Her sense of style isn’t restricted to the way she looks but extends to the way she lives as well!…. I love her Paris apartment…. It’s so chic and simple yet classy…. so her….. I especially love her Elizabeth Peyton painting above the dining table … I think that it reflects her personality!!!

It’s no wonder that she is Marc Jacob’s muse!