Thursday, June 30, 2016

Coming Soon: The Chic Contraire Monthly Instagram Style Challenge

Be sure to follow Chic Contraire on Instagram!  (There might even be a giveaway... shhh.  Don't tell anyone...)

Have great ideas about style challenge themes?  Head over to the Chic Contraire Community Forum and tell me!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Aging with Style and Helping People Along the Way: Joy Venturini Bianchi

"Have you made a difference in your own life?  And have you made a difference in someone else's life?" 
The inspirational Joy Bianchi

Bloomingdales San Francisco recently launched a Helpers House of Couture Pop-Up shop, allowing customers an opportunity to shop a legendary array of vintage clothing and accessories.  The launch event included couture from the private collection of fashion legend Joy Venturini Bianchi as well as a Q&A style session with both Joy and Advanced Style photographer/blogger/author Ari Seth Cohen.  Cohen also signed copies of his latest book.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

All Hail the Stretch Lace Wiggle Dress!

Letting my bombshell flag fly at my 11th anniversary Vegas vow renewal ceremony

Of all the dresses I've ever had, this one just might be my favorite.  

For our 11th anniversary, my husband and I renewed our vows in Las Vegas.  We had originally eloped -- yes, I'm contrary even in marriage ceremonies -- so our vow renewal was a big party, attended by all the family and friends who obviously didn't see our actual madcap wedding. (We ran off to St. Lucia to get hitched, shlepping a full-length satin wedding gown and tuxedo to the tropics.  It was grand and romantic and I highly recommend it.)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Fashion History: The Queen of Mod, Mary Quant

Shiny boots and bubble skirts... yes yes YES!

The next time you put on a mini skirt, give a little thank you to its inventor Mary Quant.  (She named it after her favorite car, the Mini.)  One of the most influential English designers of the 1960s, Mary gave midcentury women many of the elements of Mod style.  And that style still works today.

She once said, "It was the girls on King's Road who invented the mini.  I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted.  I wore them very short and the customers would say, 'Shorter, shorter!'"

Saturday, June 25, 2016

RIP Bill Cunningham: A Brilliant Fashion Street Photographer and a True Original

"I don't work.  I only know how to have fun every day."
--Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham died today at age 87.  He was one of the most influential fashion photographers of the 20th century, turning the streets of Manhattan into his own personal studio as he observed and captured the changing costumes of several generations.  

Until the mid 2000s, he lived in a tiny apartment over Carnegie Hall -- sleeping on a cot, sharing a bathroom, grabbing a daily $3 egg breakfast at the Stage Deli and basically living like a quirky character out of a midcentury short story.  Although he photographed some of fashion's most rich and powerful, he was always an outsider.  He never limited his lens to the movers and shakers, instead, he turned it toward the pedestrians of his city with an artist's eye, and a populist's soul.  He was particularly fond of eccentrics -- all the people who broke fashion rules.

 Bill Cunningham chronicled decades upon decades of street style trends as they shifted away from uniform suits and hats and into a more carefree expression of individuality.  The NYTimes said "he turned fashion photography into his own brand of cultural anthropology."

He will be missed.

If you haven't already seen it, make sure to watch the highly reviewed 2010 documentary Bill Cunningham, New York.

Video by BellisVintage.  

Want to leave a comment? Head over to the Chic Contraire Community to start a conversation.  

Rave Review: Timeless Skin Care Vitamin C Serum

The entire beauty world has been abuzz for the last few years about the benefits of topical vitamin C. Not only is it essential in collagen synthesis as a nutrient, but when it is applied to the surface of the skin it neutralizes the free radicals that cause aging.  (Quick study: when a free radical takes an electron from one of the proteins in a strand of collagen -- and those brazen free radicals love to do just that -- it creates a little break in the strand.  What does that mean to you?  Wrinkling, sagging and all the other signs of aging.)  So, it turns out vitamin C isn't just good internally, it's great for external skin care, too.  Vitamin C acts as a kind of electron donor so that when a free radical steals your collagen's electrons, good guy vitamin C is there to literally give some back.

Friday, June 24, 2016

We've Come a Long Way, Baby...

I recently stumbled across this wonderful old footage of 1920s fashion.  There's something surprisingly familiar about the way those flappers rocked their knee socks and stack bracelets, but the models' performance starting around 1:48 is truly original. (And they did it all in heels!)

I'm not even going to try to figure out what they were doing with those matching little black dogs in the woods. Hey, they drank absinthe in the 1920s, right?

Want to leave a comment?  Head over to the Chic Contraire Community Forum to start a conversation!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

In Praise of Braids

So, I live in Los Angeles.  That means, at any time during the year, the weather can shoot into the upper 90s (and beyond) and turn my otherwise normal long hair into a torturous, Medusa-worthy mess.

This is why I seriously love a good braid.

While nobody seems to know for certain where the tradition of braiding hair originated, there is evidence of its popularity in almost all regions of the world including Africa, Egypt, Asia, the Americas and Europe.  Historians say that African braiding can be traced all the way back to around 3500 B.C.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hello, Instagram!

I'm a longtime IG user, but now I get to toggle between two versions of myself.  In other words, Chic Contraire has an official Instagram account!  Follow for upcoming monthly style challenges and other IGStyle goodies.

 (You can follow my regular account for lots of photography and, well, countless cute pictures of my pets.)

Want to leave a comment? Head on over to the Chic Contraire Community Forum to start a conversation!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Style Inspiration: Lauren Bacall

Being this cool is always in style.

Lauren Bacall's designer in To Have and Have Not was Milo Anderson
(But she'd have looked just as good in a potato sack.)

I've always been a huge movie buff.  Consequently, as I grew up I tended to take fashion cues from films rather than magazine covers.  This made me a bit of an oddball because many of the movies I loved were made in the 1940s, and the kids in my junior high probably didn't really understand my imitation of Lauren Bacall's look in To Have and Have Not.  (In my defense, I really rocked a side part and WW2 era shoulder pads...)

What I love about Lauren Bacall is the fact that she looked great in everything she wore, but she never looked like she was following anyone's fashion rules other than her own.  She started out as a department store model and ended up a screen goddess known for her original style.  Early on, she was inspired by the uncomplicated lines of Diana Vreeland's designs ... but she wore them in a way that was anything but simple.  In fact, Vreeland once said of her, "She's perfect all over, and yet she looks like nobody else."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Covered Up for the Pool ... but Still Looking Cool? Yes, Please!

Swimwear picks for Summer, 2016!

Tired of being practically naked in order to go for a swim?  I feel you,  sisters.  Every summer I am less and less excited about exposing almost every square inch of my body to whoever happens to be sharing sun, deck and sand with me.  Why is it that men can swim in cute swim shorts but women are expected to wear, well, almost nothing?!

I have no answer.  But I do have options.