Personal heroes: Bill Cunningham

I finally got around to checking out Bill Cunningham: New York.  Boy oh boy, was that movie a revelation for me.  As soon as it began to roll, I felt an instant tug of recognition and respect for Bill and his philosophy towards fashion.

Bill is, first and foremost, a street fashion photographer.  Although he does work taking pictures of runway shows and high life parties, his real love is bare-bones street photography.  His belief is  that “The best fashion show is on the street”, and he spends most of his time documenting the stylistic adventures of everyday New Yorkers.

Bill’s outlook is a breath of fresh air to me.  Although I adore fashion, there is a cloak of cattiness that tends to surround the fashion world.  When you talk about fashion, inevitably the conversation turns to what you should or shouldn’t be wearing, who wore an outfit better and the “rules” of fashion.  And that has always grated on me, because I feel that fashion shouldn’t be about The Rules and Should and Should Not.  To me, fashion is a beautiful form of self expression.  And it was wonderful to see that one of the most respected fashion photographers felt the same way.

Bill Cunningham’s work is a joyous celebration of fashion.  It’s about weeding out a gloriously stylish individual from a crowd and capturing them on film.  It was such a pleasure to watch this strange little man cavorting about the streets of New York, snapping people of all ages, all sizes, all colours and with a rainbow of styles.  For him, fashion isn’t limited to the young and rich, fashion is a living, breathing entity that lives in the people on the street.  Like me, Bill Cunningham believes that fashion is for everyone.

Another things I thought was brilliant about Bill is his approach to trends.  Ordinarily, trends in fashion are used to dictate what we “should” be wearing.  A fashion magazine or designer chooses an item, a colour, a fabric and decrees that this is The Thing To Wear.  Bill’s approach is the exact opposite.  Rather than telling people what they should wear, Bill looks at what people actually are wearing.  He spends countless hours on the streets, looking for patterns in what the passers-by are wearing and reporting on them.  In this way, he keeps fashion on the ground, giving the everyman the power to dictate the trends simply by wearing what appeals to them.

Bill’s fascination with the style of real people spoke to me on a deep level.  It tickled my own adoration of fashion and caused a spark of realisation.  Like Bill, I’m not terribly interested in celebrity fashion, in people who follow the fashion rules wearing what they’ve been told to wear.  What I want to see is what real people with similar paycheques to mine who have access to similar stores put on their bodies.  I want to see what real people are wearing, and marvel in the creativity and beauty of actual men and women.  And that’s why I love fashion blogging.  Because it gives you a peek into the wardrobes of genuine people and allows you to peek at what they live their lives in.  Part of the reason that I began taking outfit pictures and sharing them via this blog is that I wanted to showcase my own style, and show people that you don’t have to be rich or particularly clever to express yourself through fashion.  And I wanted to encourage others to take that leap and find their own sartorial path.

Something that has always stung me about the fashion industry is the pressure it places on women to look a certain way, and the scathingness towards those who do not fit the mould.  In this film, a friend mentions that Bill’s work isn’t about comparing people.  It isn’t about talking about “who wore it better”, it’s about celebrating people and style.  I was heartened to hear one of Bill’s colleagues tell of how he left a magazine that used a series of his photographs of everyday women in designer clothing to poke fun at how the women didn’t measure up to the runway models in those same styles.  I couldn’t help but smile as Bill swatted away a young man who tried to edit the ageing decolletage of one of his subjects, saying that she was beautiful and it would be a shame to cover her up.  This is a man who sees beauty in all sizes, ages and colours.  And that is such a far throw from what’s usually presented in a documentary about fashion.  It gave me cause to cheer.

Bill Cunningham is a hero of mine because he has paved the way for fashion bloggers like myself.  He is a positive force who promotes what I believe to be the true essence of style.  And he’s just so darn cheeky.  It’s hard not to like him, really.

Style icon: Miss Piggy in Muppets Most Wanted

I took myself on a me-date last week to see Muppets Most Wanted.  I was utterly blown away by Miss Piggy’s wardrobe in the film.  Now, Piggy has always been one stylish lass, but the most recent offering from The Muppets has taken her personal style in a more sophisticated and vintage-inspired direction that looks amazing.

This new direction has a lot to do with the fact that Vivienne Westwood designed many of Miss Piggy’s costumes.  One of my favourite Westwood-designed outfits included a floor-length tweed coat with a matching beret.  In typical Piggy style, it was accessorized with lashings of pearls and a pair of gloves.

Piggy in London
Piggy’s new style direction is also possibly inspired by her job in the previous Muppets film, where we saw her working as the plus-sized editor for French Vogue.  Piggy’s costumes in Muppets Most Wanted are infinitely more polished and posh than anything we’ve seen her wear before.
Glorious, 40’s-inspired up-dos are topped with an array of breathtaking hats.  I couldn’t get enough of the fedora that Piggy wears to take a tour of Berlin.  The beautiful hat is worn with a stunning suit and silk tie.  In typical Piggy fashion, she adds a smattering of diamond jewelry and her ever-present silk gloves to make this ensemble ultra-feminine. I thought  this outfit was extremely reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich.

 

Piggy in Berlin
Another of my favourite costumes from the film was a gorgeous brocade cheongsam topped with a vintage-inspired pancake hat.  I adored this look not only for it’s sophistication, but because it beautifully encapsulated Piggy’s confidence and poise.  I adore the stylish cut of a cheongsam, but they are often worn only by women with petite, slender figures.  It was so wonderful to see Miss Piggy rocking this look with all her curves on show.  Piggy is the ultimate plus-sized style icon, and she works her curves to perfection in this number.
Cheongsam Piggy
Of course, no Muppet movie would be complete without Piggy gracing the stage in a show-stopping gown.  Her on-stage outfits are more diva than showgirl this time around.  There are plenty of deep plunges, slits, sequins and lush colours on offer.  My favourite on-stage dress is the emerald green number that Piggy wears in Dublin.
Piggy in Dublin
I was so impressed by Miss Piggy’s costumes in Muppets Most Wanted.  I loved the way that her style has progressed and changed as her character changes, but the essence of her show-stopping style is still maintained.  There is still plenty of frou-frou and excess present in her outfits, but I love that the costume designers have allowed Piggy’s style to develop in this film.  Moreover, I actually wanted to wear most of her outfits.  If they put out human-sized versions, I reckon I’d be very tempted to snap them up for myself.
Have you seen Muppets Most Wanted?  What did you think of Piggy’s outfits?

Marilyn Monroe makeup tutorial

Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic women of the 20th century.  For more than fifty years, her films have dazzled audiences.  Her look is instantly recognisable and loads of fun to copy.

I’m a huge Marilyn Monroe fan.  In addition to being fascinated by this singular woman, I am also inspired by her style.  Everything about her reeked of sensuality and a certain air or sex-kittenish charm.  She was the quintessential bombshell, with her curvy figure and round lips.

Today I’m going to show you how to recreate Marilyn’s makeup.  It’s relatively easy and very flattering.  This look is perfect if you’re hoping to dress up as Marilyn for a costume party.  It also looks incredible when paired with your favourite vintage wiggle dress and a killer pair of heels.

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My style icon: Penny Lane from Almost Famous.

Today I’m teaming up with a number of my favourite bloggers for another outfit collaboration.  The theme for this post was “My Style Icon”.  I found this kind of tricky, because I am inspired by so many different people and characters.  I could list dozens of people, both real and imaginary, who have influenced my personal style.  So choosing just one was kind of tricky.  I decided to select a fictional character, who has had a profound influence on my style, but who I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on my blog before.

That character is Penny Lane from Almost Famous, played by Kate Hudson.  Penny is a groupie, and her style is very sexy with a hippie feel.  There’s a good dose of rock-and-roll blended in there as well.  The film is set in the late 1970’s in America.  Although there are a huge range of vintage styles that I adore, I think that this late 70’s era is my favourite to emulate.  I feel very comfortable in jeans, peasant blouses and other folksy styles.  I love the relaxed and laid-back feel of this time.  This flowing, free-wheeling manner of dressing has a very sexy edge to it that really appeals to me.  There’s something so alluring about a peek of skin, bare shoulders, flowing hair and arms loaded with bangles.

DSCF8908I vividly remember watching Almost Famous for the first time and being drawn to the look of Penny Lane and the other Band Aids.  All of them were dressed in bright colours and sheer fabrics with a liberal amount of flesh showing through.  Their outfits always had a tactile element: feathers, fur, lace or beading which made it look as though they’d feel amazing if you were ever lucky enough to touch one of them.  The whole look was so fun and free, with a bit of a dress-up box feel to it.  You can imagine how that appealed to me!  At the time I was obsessed with Janis Joplin’s late 60’s fashions, but somehow these 70’s inspired looks were more my speed.  They had a sexier edge to them, and incorporated a lot more colour and fun elements that I loved.

DSCF8909For my own Penny Lane look, I borrowed heavily from the first outfit you see Penny wearing in the film.  It includes high-waisted jeans with massive flares (these ones are vintage 1970’s) and towering platforms.  She wears a little lace top and a delicate necklace.  Over the top of these, she has a huge fur-trimmed coat.  The one I’m wearing in these pictures belonged to my mother in the 1970’s.  She bought it when she was just 16 and gave it to me as a gift for my 16th birthday.

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DSCF8915I decided that it was only fitting that I take my Penny Lane-inspired photographs on my bed.  I don’t think she’d have it any other way.

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Even though I first watched Almost Famous more than ten years ago, I still find a lot of Penny-inspired elements in my wardrobe.  My love of bohemian and folk styles paired with jeans and cute skirts harks back to my teen years.  I also like to include tactile elements and rich colours in my outfits, which are a definite staple of Penny’s wardrobe.

DSCF8929I also have several items in my wardrobe which are directly inspired by Penny, such as my sheer button-down blouses and my fuzzy cossack hat.

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Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers who are participating in this link-up!

Jenny from Magic Cat Jenny

 

Who are your style icons?  How have they influenced your style?

Daily outfit 20/9/2013

Do you remember last year when I dressed up in full 1920’s regalia for the Murder on the Puffing Billy Express party?  No?  Well here’s a picture to refresh your memory:

DSCF6716When I arrived in my outfit, my friend Katherine said, “You look exactly like Miss Fisher!” to which I replied, “Who?”

I now realise that there’s an awesome Aussie television show called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  I began watching it last week and I’m smitten.  The show is lots of fun, but to me the best part is the costumes.  It’s set in the 1920’s in Melbourne and the costumes are to die for. In particular, Miss Fisher has an incredible collection of hats that I can’t get enough of.  Ever since I began watching I’ve developed a slight obsession with cloche hats.

Then, on Wednesday I was at the local department store when I came across a whole rack of clearance felt hats, which included several cloches.  The one I bought had been $50 but it was marked down to $28.  I couldn’t resist.

DSCF8842I am wearing:

– Cloche hat by Jendi

– Argyle sweater from Fashion Fair

– Pink floral skirt (thrifted)

– Black tights from Target

– Black boots (thrifted)

– Silver ring (gift from primary school bestie)

– Cubic zirconia necklace (gift from my cousin)

DSCF8843I had never really liked the way that cloches looked when I had long hair.  Now that my hair’s shorter, I felt that the time was right to give one a shot.  Last night I decided to curl my hair so that it would have a bit of bounce and shape under the hat.  I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

DSCF8844I’m now really eager to try this hat with a sleeker hairstyle, perhaps some finger-waves and a 20’s inspired bob.  I think it would also look great with the wig I wore for the Murder on the Puffing Billy Express party.

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DSCF8857I wore this outfit to visit my Nana.  As soon as I walked through the door she said, “I love your hat, you remind me of Miss Fisher!”  I guess Nan and I are one the same page, sartorially speaking.

Daily outfit 5/8/2013

I’ve been having so much fun with my new hair cut.  When my hair was really long, I didn’t play around with pin-curl sets very often.  When I did curl my hair, I would use the same pattern each time.  It was rare that I would actually go to the effort to curl my hair because it took such a long time to dry, and often the weight of my hair would cause the curl to drop out very quickly.  Now though, I’m having loads of fun with different pin-curl sets.

On the day these outfit photos were taken, I’d tried a Marilyn Monroe-inspired setting pattern.  I use the term “setting pattern” very loosely, because what I actually did was look at a picture of Marilyn putting her hair in pin curls and vaguely tried to copy it.  I’m not a fan of setting patterns, and I’ve got enough of a handle on pin-curl theory and the way my hair behaves to be able to guess at how I need to set my hair to get the look I’m after.  I was really pleased with the way this set turned out.  My hair is a lot longer than Marilyn’s but this set gave me flowing, voluminous curls with loads of bounce.

DSCF8691If I could change one thing about it, I’d try for a bit more volume at my forehead.  But truly I was very happy with this set.

DSCF8695These curls had more bounce than jell-o on springs!

I decided I needed a bombshell-inspired outfit to go with my gorgeous hair.

DSCF8687I am wearing:

– Pink beaded necklace (thrifted)

– Pink and black argyle jumper from Fashion Fair

– Pink pencil skirt from Supre

– Black fishnet tights from Leona Edminson

– Black sequinned stilettos from Rubi Shoes

– Amethyst ring which used to be my Nana’s

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DSCF8689You can tell from the pictures that I’m very chuffed with my hair.  It’s always good when a pin-curl set turns out the way you want it to.  I spent the entire day flipping my hair and walking with a bit of extra shimmy to make my curls shake.

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My top 5 male fashion icons.

I write a lot about the people that I draw fashion inspiration from.  Most of the time, these people are women.  That makes sense I suppose, because I’m a woman and I wear women’s clothing.  But upon closer thought, I’ve decided that it’s about time that I focussed on some of the men that I find stylish and inspiring.  There are so many gorgeously-dressed men out to choose from, but these are my top 5 male fashion icons.

1. Johnny Depp

DSCF5837(Disclaimer: this isn’t the real Johnny Depp.  But he looked so close to the real thing that I was pretty excited, as you can tell)

Johnny Depp and I have loads of things in common.  We both love Tim Burton, we share a birthday and we like putting crazy shit in our hair.  I honestly think that if I were a dude, I’d dress like Johnny Depp.  He has this perfect mix of bohemian dustiness and dapper gentleman going on that I just adore.  His eclectic style mirrors my own in many ways.

2. Noel Fielding

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Image from http://www.zimbio.com

Noel’s style is just so much fun.  He doesn’t take himself too seriously and is just as likely to appear on stage wearing a flannie and jeans or a sequinned bodysuit and a bowler hat.  His style is a real grab-bag that’s heavily influenced by punk, glam rock and hipster stylings.

3. RuPaul Charles

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Image from Cool Fun Pix

Werk!  I’m not talking about RuPaul when he’s in drag, I’m talking about his day-to-day fashion.  Ru is always impeccably styled, and is a living example of what a difference a well-fitting suit can make.  He’s fearless with his fashion, choosing bright colours, striking prints and even bow-ties sometimes.  My favourite thing about Ru’s wardrobe is his fantastic collection of glasses.  He’s got a different pair for every occasion.

4. James Franco

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Image from The Guardian

There’s nothing groundbreaking about the way James Franco dresses.  He tends to stick to classic items that have a touch of vintage appeal.  What I love about Franco’s style is that he’s always perfectly groomed without looking overdone.   He’s not squeaky-clean and plastic, but he always looks freshly-showered and gorgeous.  He’s perfected the designer-stubble and bed-hair look so that it never appears grungy and dirty.  I love that “done but not too done” look.  In a way it kind of reminds me of Audrey Hepburn, who always looked so gorgeously groomed, without ever looking like she was trying too hard.

 

5. David Bowie

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Image from here

I’ll always be a fan of the glam-rock look, which is synonymous with David Bowie.  Bowie’s style has always been cutting-edge and his look has evolved as he’s gotten older.  He’s not fallen into the trap of getting boring with age.  Rather, he continues to push the envelope and dress in a gorgeous style that suits him brilliantly.  He’s a shining example of what you can achieve by experimenting with new things and not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  By allowing his style to change with time, he’s evolved into a timeless fashion icon, rather than being known for embodying a single style era.

Who are your favourite male fashion icons?  Is there anyone that I’ve left out?