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Pulp Fashion at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco

Signage for the Pulp Fashion exhibit

A few weeks ago, TLo posted an entry about the Pulp Fashion exhibit.  (Check out the post, the images are gorgeous.) When I read that the exhibit was at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco and it was exhibiting now, I invited my friend Kyle to come with. Kyle is an instructor at FIDM and a clothing designer as well. Having a professional’s clothing maker’s perspective made this exhibit more informative. Seeing her reaction to the skill and technique of artist Isabelle de Borchagrave made it more impressive.

All the costumes are made of paper.

From the Legion’s website:

Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but textile and costume are her muses. Working in collaboration with leading costume historians and young fashion designers, de Borchgrave crafts a world of splendor from the simplest rag paper. Painting and manipulating the paper, she forms trompe l’oeil masterpieces of elaborate dresses inspired by rich depictions in early European painting or by iconic costumes in museum collections around the world.  The Legion of Honor is the first American museum to dedicate an entire exhibition to the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave, although her creations have been widely displayed in Europe.

Dress in white illustrating changing fashion

I snapped a couple of photos then was gently reprimanded by the guard. (Embarrassed to notice the “no photography” signs posted liberally at eye level.) Everything is unbelievably made of paper. Sheer lace is made with a fine gossamer.  Huge gemstones and filigree settings. Corset laces and grommets. All of paper.

I had the overwhelming need to touch everything–something. It was like having an OCD moment where you just need to turn the bottle so the label is parallel to the back wall.  The first room featured costumes, all in white. de Borchgrave created this collection to emphasize the “fluctuation of the fashionable silhouette.” The costumes flowed from era to era. You really could see the evolution of European dress without the distraction of color and pattern.

The amazing thing is that you forget that the outfits are completely constructed of paper. Kyle marvelled that the draping was impeccable–the dresses draped on the floor like cloth does. Between the recreations of Renaissance costume (there are no surviving Renaissance costumes in existence), the “wink at history” featuring iconic looks by Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, and the Bedouin exhibition tent of Madriano Fortuny of the 1911 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs; it’s a heady display of fascinating beauty that, frankly, overloaded my senses. My suggestion is to take all day to view this exhibit. Take a lunch break and have a picnic on the lawn. You’ll be able to take in more prettiness with a little respite in between.

Pulp Fashion
Legion of Honor
February 5, 2011 – June 5, 2011
Admission
$15 adults, $12 seniors 65+, $11 youth 6–17 and college students with ID, and free for children under 6 and members. They offer a public transportation discount with proof (Clipper card or timely transfer.)

Instant hotness: add a kilt

August 18, 2010 1 comment

My cousin in his beautiful kilt waiting in the rain.

There’s nothing hotter than a guy in a kilt. Okay, possibly one in a sarong but you’re not going to see too many guys in sarongs in Scotland where it’s 60 degrees in July.

The kilt originates from the 16th century Scottish Highlands and consists of a knee-length garment with pleats across the back and a flat front. Scottish men generally wear kilts as formal wear, renting one out for special occasions like you would a tuxedo if you don’t own one.

Dressed for a wedding.

A true Scotsman wears the kilt with knee socks, a sgian dubh (pronounced “skin doo,” a small, sheathed knife), a sporran (pouch), flashes, Ghillie brogues (wingtips without a tongue that lace above the ankles) and nothing underneath. (And, no, I didn’t verify the last bit.)

The kilt is enjoying a bit of a comeback—young men are wearing kilts as everyday fashion, often in modern fabrics and hip styles.

Celebs, including Adam Lambert and Lenny Kravitz, rock the sexy non-pant in black leather for pure rock & roll style.

In Edinburgh, I met kiltmaker Howie Nicholsby who specializes in modern kilts.  Howie got his start as a kid, growing up in his parents’ traditional kilt shop, Geoffery (Tailor) Ltd. He learned traditional kiltmaking there. In 1996, his punk sensibilities  and curiosity led him to make a kilt out of silver PVC, igniting his passion for relevantly sexy kilts.

Ready-to-wear kilts at 21st Century Kilts

Hand-crafted with love so obvious you can see it when he works, his company, 21st Century Kilts, offers custom-made, hand-sewn kilts in luxurious wools, edgy leather and whatever your heart imagines. Pinned with custom designed lightning bolt kilt pins, he’s made kilts for Madonna, Vin Diesel and the sex mogul himself, Hugh Hefner.

Nicholsby wears a kilt daily. He says they’re comfortable and Scots used to wear them daily. He wears his own creations in common fabrics.  You don’t notice that he’s not wearing shorts until he hikes a leg up onto a stair-step to chat with a customer.

Cutie on his way to a bachelor party rocking a kilt with Karate Kid tee.

Everyday kilt wearing is a growing trend in Scotland. With comfortable fabrics and streamlined designs, I spotted young guys going about their daily routines topping a kilt with a graphic tee and spiky hair.

With all the hills and stairs in Edinburgh, everyone has amazing calves. Add a kilt to that and you have instant hotness. Meow.

Additional Information:

Modern kilts: 21st Century Kilts

Traditional kilts: Geoffrey (Tailor) Kiltmakers & Weavers

How to look good traveling with just a carry-on

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment
luggage

Photo by Linda DuBose via stock.xchng.

With checked bag charges and flight delays, traveling light is a necessity. You want to stay within the FAA’s strict guidelines (one carry-on and a personal item that fits under the seat); but as a fashion conscious jet setter, you don’t want to be stuck wearing jeans, tees and sneakers in cosmopolitan Rome. So what to pack when you’re traveling light?

Suitcase:

Let’s start with the suitcase. Overhead bin cases are generally 22″ – 24″ long. Your suitcase should be 22” x 14” x 9″ smaller. I favor a 21″ bag. A suitcase that fits length-wise (wheels or handles in) has a greater chance of staying overhead rather than getting checked.

Go lightweight. I favor Delsey suitcases for my personal travel. With all the awesome prints and colors out now, don’t get black.

Toiletries & Cosmetics:

You can pack a week’s worth of toiletries in a quart-sized baggie. Fashion designer and Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising professor, Kyle Chan, advises, “Both Beauty.com and Sephora.com give away samples with your purchases. Stock up on samples or purchase their sample packs and you have instant travel-friendly skin, hair and beauty supplies.” Two on-the-go must-haves: Febreeze and dry shampoo. Stay fresh even if you roll in at 8 a.m. and your train leaves at 9.

Clothes:

The keys to fashionable, yet light, travel wear are accessories, double-duty clothing and complementary colors.

  • Plan your wardrobe around 2-3 key colors that work well together.
  • Nude bras with changeable straps are perfect for quick costume changes.
  • A cotton sundress in a vibrant color or pattern multi-tasks as a robe and lounge wear.
  • Pashminas are a girl’s best friend. Lightweight and glam, they provide warmth as a scarf, a cover-up over a cocktail dress and a seat for impromptu picnics. Do pick one in a color you love with a luxurious feel.
  • You will need one pair of comfortable shoes. Do go with a cute pair of sneakers or flats you can walk in. Choose a pair in a neutral color or one in your color scheme.
  • Next, you’ll need a pair of hot shoes. Bring one pair you absolutely adore and can walk in. You can dress up jeans and a plain, fitted tee with these or wear them with your little black dress. My go-to pair are a pair of side-wrap, peep-toe gold heels. Yeah, I said gold. I add a thin, gold belt to a plain LBD and it’s instantaneously dressy. With heels, a tee and gold and orange statement necklace, I’m ready to bar-hop in Barcelona.
  • Bring a pair of jeans you can wear with your tallest heels. You can fold the hem under or roll them up as capris when you wear flats.
  • Be sure to pack items in fabrics that travel well. Chan also says, “Take pants with a little stretch if possible (2-3% elastane) … because they retain their shape. Bamboo/cotton, silk/rayon blends are good knits too.”

All in all, have fun with your wardrobe. With a little creativity and a focused look at your personal style, you can rock your look toting one suitcase or less.

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