Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

January 5, 2010

Twenty Ten Fashion

Filed under: Fashion,Fashion History — Tags: — Miss Plumcake @ 4:52 pm

What the H-E-Double swizzle sticks is going on here? Because yesterday’s post was an earlier draft and I spent HOURS writing a totally inspiring edit that had pretty much nothing to do with that one and it disappeared like a senator after an intern’s pregnancy test.

Anyhoodle, it’s Tuesday which means I really ought to do one of those “What Plumcake Is” things, but I’m not going to because I’ve pretty much been in a Christmas coma for the past 11 days. Basically the twelve days of Christmas find me in a sort of perma-stupor, all hopped up on Mr Kipling’s “exceedingly jolly” miniature mince pies and bad champagne, which has been magically turned into GOOD champagne by the cunning addition of Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur:

So culturally speaking, I’m pretty useless until Twelfth Night which is one of my favorite feast days because I get to wear jewelry on my head and there is mandatory cake. I LOVE mandatory cake. Do you know what I also love? Booze Emotionally unavailable men with hot accents having a really good lawyer Pretty much all of Kiyonna’s dresses right now, which are all an additional 20% off until midnight tonight if you use the code RESOLUTION.

Here are some of my favorites.

Can I tell you how much I’m loving this? It’s so Studio 54. Not in a Liza or a Bianca way –although if any of you say a harsh word against either of them I will Ban You Forever– but sort of in a Marisa Berenson, sleeping with a Rothschild/wearing Grandma Schiaparelli’s old furs  continental chic way.  Plus I love the way they styled this model.

Also, how glad am I that the early 90’s are back? Back when models were models and Gianni was the only Versace that mattered (oh wait, he still is).

I love the full-on Cindy/Naomi/Christy/Linda supermodel look, and I’m hoping this lush look will bring more voluptuous models back to the catwalk because the skeletal waifs who do bizarre and other-worldly so well don’t do the glamazon thing any justice.

In a continuing theme of cat, check out this purple leopard print wrap dress:

CLEARLY not for the shy, this wrap dress is a sign that the colored animal print brought famously to the forefront with Lanvin SS09 –as notoriously sported by Maggie Gyllenhaal– can be done at a boutique level without looking like a hot mess.

Maggie Lanvin1

although I don’t believe for a SECOND that MyBoyfriendAlberElbaz didn’t have another leading lady in mind when he designed a one-sleeve blue leopard gown:
Female Trouble
Love. Her.

On a more conservative note, you know how I’m always yammering on about getting investment pieces that look amazing and you can wear to work/dinner/theater for three seasons if not all four?
THIS is what I’m talking about. In fact, if I didn’t have two blue dresses in almost this exact cut, I’d buy this up with a quickness. They’re also DEAD easy to dress up –think Big Jewelry- or down –flats and my own personal trick, an Hermès foulard tied kerchief-style in your hair– get it in both blue and merlot. You won’t regret it.

Finally my favorite guaranteed-to-look-good-on-everybody pick:
flaunt front
flaunt back

The “Flaunt” dress.

I. Love. This. Dress. I love that it’s simple enough for it to be one of those things you just throw on but the back is sexy without even a hint of skank. Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks “princess seams” are for apples, because they’re just not. Pretending you have a waist will not make it so. The key to dressing an apple shape is neckline neckline neckline. The particularly wide square one on the Flaunt is perfect for our apple tarts, while the a-line shape does lovely things for our pear-shaped jewels.

November 20, 2009

Friday Fierceness: Isabella Blow

Isabella Blow was a genius, and she got screwed.

her signature slash of red inspired MAC to create a color called Isabella

La Blow, former Tatler editor, muse, star-finder and influence-wielder would have turned 51 yesterday, and her tragic story was fashion legend even before it ended with her death-by-weed-killer in March, 2007.

She was not a pretty girl.

No true fashion visionaries are traditionally beautiful (Miuccia Prada, Diana Vreeland, Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, etc), she had a weak chin, droopy eyes and perhaps the most painfully British set of teeth to be found outside the Royal Family.
In one of her more tame chapeaux

But she had an eye.

BOY did she have an eye and she decided to follow Oscar Wilde’s commandment: if she could not BE a work of art, then at least she would wear them.

Thus created was the woman Lady Gaga wishes she could be.

She was an Evelyn Waugh character come to life: high born, brilliant and hopelessly self-destructive.  Blow left England in 1979 and wound up in New York, working as Anna Wintour’s assistant (the Devil may wear Prada, but the Assistant discovered McQueen) and then for André Leon Talley.

an homage to the Dali/Schaipirelli "Lobster Dress"

She returned to London to work for Tatler, which is like American Vogue but smart and interesting, first as an assistant and then as its Fashion Director. She also bounced around the rest of Conde Nast and did a stint as the Sunday Times Style section (London, not New York).yet another Elsa Schiapirelli homage

During that time she developed her relationship with boy-genius milliner Philip Treacy and became his muse, constantly daring him to create a hat she would not wear (as noted above, lobsters were not a barrier to millinery).

She discovered straight-then plus-then straight-sized model Sophie Dahl (Granddaughter of Roald, which explains why the heroine of The BFG was named Sophie), Stella Tennant and perhaps most legendarily, discovered Alexander McQueen when she bought young Lee”s entire student collection for ₤5,000 –paid for in ₤100/wk allotments as she couldn’t afford it all in one go– in 1992.

one of Treacy's more intricate works

Her personal life was not a happy one.

Disinherited by her father in the early 90’s she was married briefly in the 80’s and then joined her lot with Detmar Blow in 1989. Their marriage was not a success as Isabella battled with depression and could not conceive a child. Detmar, needing to carry on the family name in order not to lose the familial manse designed by his muckety muck architect ancestor (also a Detmar Blow) temporarily left Isabella when her I.V.F. didn’t work so he could knock up some girl.  Charming, no?

Recalling Avedon

As Isabella continued to suffer from depression and a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, the people she discovered and nurtured –particularly McQueen– were moving onwards and upwards.

Her friend Daphne Guinness said “She was upset that McQueen didn’t take her along when he sold his brand to Gucci. Once the deals started happening, she fell by the wayside. Everybody else got contracts, and she got a free dress” which was especially hurtful as Blow was cripplingly low on cash and was rumored to have personally negotiated the Gucci deal.
Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow by David LaChappelle
Blow tried several creative attempts at suicide, finally succeeding by drinking Paraquat in the bathroom of the family manse her husband had left her to save.

Blow’s memorial service was, as you’d imagine, well-attended and there has been a great deal of guilt –both public and private– about her treatment by her fashion friends and colleagues. Read Simon Doonan’s self-punishing recollection –published shortly after her death– here.
McQueen's Homage to Isabella S/S 2007

As a personal note, I wept when I saw Alexander McQueen’s S/S 2008 show, an homage to Isabella chock-full of Philip Treacy confections (including a quivering mob of feather butterflies which I came up with for a Halloween costume in 2001. I have proof.)

Isabella Blow did not have a happy ending, nor indeed a happy middle or beginning, but she was one of the few great characters of the post-couture era and her eccentricity has inspired a new generation of  fashion daredevils.  Have a great weekend, and wherever you’re going, put on a hat. Do it for La Blow.

November 12, 2009

From Francesca’s Inbox: Thursday Edition

Filed under: Events,Fashion History,From Francesca's Inbox,Sales — Francesca @ 10:44 am

First, remember that many of the sales and codes listed in Tuesday’s FFI are still working.

YOOX and the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum (in New York City) are teaming up for an exhibit and online project called “American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion.”  Information is hereicon. YOOX is one of our favorite sources of designer shoes and accessoriesicon.

Catherine’s is having a buy one get one 50% off sale on brasicon today and tomorrow. Also, enter code 777001900 for $10 off any purchaseicon of $50 or more (through tomorrow). Full sale page hereicon. Clearance hereicon.

Avenue: If you make an order that happens to come to  $50 or more, enter code AV91148 and they’ll throw in a little wristlet purse for you too (through Sunday). Here is their sale page.

Igigi‘s  free shipping on everything ends tomorrow.

Swimsuits for All will

give you free shipping (US) with code SHIPITFREE. International customers: use code WORLD5 for $5 off shipping. Francesca does not know how long these will last. Their website is here.

Bloomingdales will take 20% from your Fashion, Kids, or Home purchase through Sunday with code HOLIDAY. Also, if you spend $500 or more, you’ll get a $100-off coupon to use the next time you spend $250 or more. Plus-size apparel here.

One Stop Plus is having a clearance sale.

Womensuits will give you 10% off your purchase today and tomorrow with code NOVEMBER. Francesca has great admiration for their hats.

Saks Fifth Avenue is having a sale. Plus-size apparel (some is especially nice!) here.

Happy shopping! xoxo

September 30, 2009

Book Review: Hungry

One of two covers available for Crystal Renn's HungryFrancesca spent an afternoon reading the new memoir by Crystal Renn, a former “straight” size model (that is, size 00) who decided to stop starving herself and is now the most successful plus-size (12) model in the world. Entitled Hungry, the book (co-authored with Marjorie Ingall) describes Renn’s relatively happy childhood; her descent into anorexia and exercise bulimia beginning at age 14 after a scout told her she could be a supermodel; and her rise to fame after re-gaining dozens of pounds.

The book is a quick read, and Francesca enjoyed the peek into the brutal world of modeling and the many illustrative pictures of Renn, which show how much more animated and photogenic she is now that she is healthy. The writing isn’t high literary art, and the (sometimes excessive) references to contemporary pop culture will make the book obsolete in a few years, but still … it is an interesting story, certainly worth an afternoon. Francesca also appreciates that many of the statistics and observations which support the HAES movement have been published in one place.

The important aspect of this book is the messages it conveys about weight and popular media. One good one comes through strongly: that people in the fashion world have a dramatically skewed view of beauty and thinness. Another valuable message is that eating disorders are not only not healthy but also NOT WORTH IT. I’m glad that a beautiful model is getting out there and saying that even a modeling career isn’t worth the hunger, and exhaustion, and inability to focus she suffered when she was eating nothing but steamed vegetables and gum, and exercising for 8 hours a day.

Renn’s argument is somewhat weakened by the fact that she did not, in fact, give up her modeling career. Francesca thinks that what Ms. Renn wants to communicate – and obviously means sincerely – is that the best way to live is to give your body what it needs and take care of yourself, and that good things will follow. Indeed it is fascinating to read how Renn’s career skyrocketed after she went plus-size.

That message would be stronger –albeit less dramatic – if it were coming from someone who had actually given up her modeling dream in order to be healthy, and had found success and happiness some other way. As it is, the book is saying “look, I gained back the weight and now I’m a supermodel ANYHOW!” without acknowledging that it wouldn’t happen that way for most people. As Renn explains in the book, most plus-size models are forever limited to “catalogue” work, as opposed to the more artsy and more prestigious “editorial” work in the fashion magazines.

It is terrific and inspiring that Ms. Renn has broken through the plus-size/editorial barrier, but Francesca wishes that somewhere in the book she’d said that going from size 00 to 12 – and becoming healthier and more emotionally stable in the process — would have been worth it even if no one ever wanted to take her picture again.

September 11, 2009

The Daily Kick: Punk isn’t dead, it’s just waterproof.

Filed under: Fashion,Fashion History,Music,Shoes,The Daily Kick — Miss Plumcake @ 7:00 am

Vivienne Westwood as Maggie Thatch

Vivienne Westwood

God Save the Queen, The Sex Pistols

Perhaps not THE most comfortable shoes in the history of hoof-covers (as my friend Style Spy would say) but historically significant nonetheless.  Designer Vivienne Westwood, former proprietress of the famed London SEX boutique and absolute punk icon, released her “Prostitute Sex Shoe” sometime around late 1974 I believe and these, rendered in rubber, are the current iteration.

Don’t you just love her all dolled up in what is almost definitely head-to-toe 1980’s Aquascutum a la Maggie Thatch? Alternatively, don’t you ever wonder if she and Vogue creative director Grace Coddington give each other the stinkeye at shows, each one vying to be the most terrifying British PoMo Elizabeth I impersonator in fashion?

Grace CoddingtonViv Westwood

Coddy’s got the hairline, but Viv wins on style.

September 4, 2009

Heaven will be a little more conservative today

Filed under: Fashion History — Miss Plumcake @ 10:44 am

Let’s be honest, Nancy Talbot, the driving force behind Talbots, inspired and sold quite possibly the world’s dullest clothes. Barbara Bush was touted by Robin Sackin of the Fashion Institute of Technology as the quintessential Talbot’s woman, “she’s perfect” said Sackin. But as much as their clothes are narcoleptic attacks rendered totally in twill and unflattering pleats, Nancy Talbot –who died Sunday– was a sister who did it for herself.

Nancy Talbot

Born Nancy Orr, she met her husband Rudolf Talbot in France during World War II.

The two married and when Mr Talbot became dissatisfied with the franchise clothing store he’d inherited from his father, Nancy and Rudolf opened the first Talbots outside of Boston.

“I was always pushing poor Rudolf […] I was an aggressive Midwesterner, but that’s how it started. We were so unique on Seventh Avenue. Everyone took pity on us. We bought what we liked.”

read the rest of the obit here

And you know, as much as their clothes bore me to tears, I’ve got to respect a broad who stayed true to her values, was aggressively enterprising, trusted her eye and did what she loved. We should all be so dedicated.

Mrs Talbot died from Alzheimer’s disease. If you’d like to learn more about that bitch of a disease or donate to the Alzheimer’s Association (one of my favorite charities) click here.

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