Selasa, 30 Juni 2009

Style Influence: Jennifer Connelly

A jeans and a T-shirt girl at heart, unlike many of today's leading ladies, it is easy to admire Jennifer Connelly.  She has a simple and elegant style, regardless of the high-end price tags she reserves for the red carpet.  Her hair is always simple, her makeup is no-fuss and to her, heels are something that are for events only,  "...high heels aren’t practical for the way I spend my day."

Jennifer could never be accused of being too mainstream and this is reflected in her choice of roles and in her choice of red carpet fashions.
"I try to stay focused on my life and do try not to be brought into the Hollywood fantasy."

Jennifer was born in 1970 in the Catskill Mountains New York, but grew up in Brooklyn Heights.  After a family friend recommended that she model, Jennifer began appearing in magazines and television commercials before landing her first screen role in Once Upon A Time in America (1984).  It was her role in Jim Henson's Labyrinth (1986) that first drew her to my attention.   I spent a lot of time pretending to be her character Sarah, acting out the role in my backyard.  I was 13 and a little obsessed I think.

Inventing the Abbotts (1997), with then lovers Liv Tyler and Joaquin Phoenix, was also a favourite of mine, but it was playing a heroin addict in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (2000) that Connelly finally established herself as a serious dramatic actress. 

"I began working when I hadn't yet come into my own, when I was this walking puppet. Some of the movies I did. . . I look back and cringe. For better or for worse, I feel responsible now. In Requiem for a Dream, I'm a heroin addict, and I thought it was being made for a reason--it wasn't about shock value. It has something to say about hunger and a void." 

In Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind (2001), Connelly played the role of Alicia Nash, the long-suffering wife of brilliant but schizophrenic mathematician John Forbes Nash (played by Russell Crowe), which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

"It was a huge honor... and it was for a film which I had a wonderful time making. Winning an award for it was like icing on the cake for such a lovely experience." - Jennifer Connelly

Jennifer says that most of her clothes come from events she has attended, wardrobes from films, items people have given her.  That’s not to say she doesn't have an appreciation for nice clothing.
 "I fantasize about how I would dress if I actually took the time to go shopping. But I’d rather spend those two hours doing yoga or hanging out with my kids."

I always love Jennifer's red carpet choices.  She does work with a stylist for big events like premieres and sometimes works directly with the designers. She is daring with her selection of statement pieces from her favourite Balenciaga, to Lanvin and Rochas, Alexander McQueen and Givenchy - making the clothes her own, rather than looking like a clothes horse.  On dressing for the red carpet she has said; "I used to find it really uncomfortable. I’d get very uptight about it. I don’t really anymore. I think that’s about getting older. Or being more comfortable in my own skin. It’s horrible, feeling self-conscious, but it’s become easier just being with Paul at things; we find a way to make it fun." Elle magazine, November 2007.

She is self-deprecating and I would guess an extremely low-maintenance person because she once trekked through Tibet for three weeks and she seems much more at home hanging out at the park with her kids and jogging around her Brooklyn neighbourhood. 

I really admire her laid-back attitude toward dressing.  In an interview with Glamour magazine in 2005, Connelly said that growing up "I just wasn’t very girly. I didn’t even wear lip gloss until I was in my twenties!"  Boy I know what she means because I have to remind myself to re-apply my lipgloss throughout the day.  At my own wedding I remember making only one trip to the bathroom to check my hair and make-up!

When she is not working, promoting a film or attending a premiere, Jennifer can be found wearing jeans and a t-shirt (my favourite look of all time) and hanging out with husband Paul Bettany and her sons Kai and Stellan in her Brooklyn neighbourhood.  She likes to run (which would account for her slip of a figure and gorgeous legs)  and having recently discovered the joys of running myself, it is another thing that I have enjoyed learning about her.  

I just wish that I had the Balenciaga and Givenchy gowns to choose from when I had a red carpet affair to attend to...

If I ever had one to attend that is.

Images from Google, Glamour, Jennifer Connelly Center.

Senin, 29 Juni 2009

Something We Can Appreciate

I've been diving into the wedding thing this summer, even though we aren't scheduling the date until 2011, but I want to make sure I'm not running around during the last three months. Since I have so much time I've been looking into things that I won't actually get.

For instance, all of the reception halls have a free wedding cake. Yet, I found myself clicking through pages of pictures of cakes online, and I thought you would all enjoy this one:

Ron Ben-Israel

This is quite possibly the cutest cake I've ever seen and the fiancee agreed that it would be great for me. It's not something I would ever choose for a wedding cake, but I still love it!

French Dressing: How it Can Boost Your Confidence.

There is a truth universally acknowledged: "Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman." Coco Chanel

I experience this truth first hand every morning when dressing for the day.  How I am feeling or how I want to feel during my day is reflected by what I choose to put on.  If I wake up in a foul mood (a not uncommon occurrence) I can pull myself together by dressing in something that makes me feel confident and sexy.  I can then face the day ahead when I am dressed according to my feelings.  An example of this dressing with feeling is illustrated in "One", episode 12  from the sixth season of Sex and the City.  Charlotte, devastated after her miscarriage, pulls herself together (in a very Audrey Hepburn moment) with a candy pink strapless Eric Way dress, black strappy heels, sunglasses and her hair pulled into a chignon.  Her clothing gives her a new outlook, making her look and feel sexy, alluring, together and most importantly, confident which gives her the strength to face her fears.

Vicki Archer wrote about confidence on her wonderful blog French Essence.  Please do read her post Confidence  because it will make your day.  Somehow she has tapped into the very essence of what it means to be a woman.  C'est magnifique!  I was so inspired by her insight that it led to this post.  I began thinking about how it is that French women convey confidence so easily through their wardrobe.  I didn't want this post to be a guide per se, or filled with all the "how to" information that is all over the web - because there are plenty of blogs and websites dedicated to the art of French style and how to attain it.  I wanted this post to be about lifestyle and how confidence is a part of that and how it can be attained through the way we choose to dress.  It just so happens that French women seem to do this innately, without even trying.  So why not learn what we can from them?

While there is no doubt in my mind that if you peek inside a French woman's closet, you will find a wardrobe that is elegant, stylish and minimalist.  You needn't worry if you don't think yours is up to scratch.  It's how you feel on the inside, the intention behind your choices and what you wish to convey by the way you wear your hair, which belt you choose, the shoes you put on, how you tie your scarf, even how you walk.  A French woman is most likely thinking about looking sexy, even if she is simply out walking le chien.  If you think confident, you are confident... food for thought, oui?

French women assess their assets and make the most of them. They know themselves and their bodies well enough to trust their own instincts.  It is not so much what is on the outside, but what is on the inside and the French woman is therefore self-assured, feminine, sexy, and alluring from the inside-out.  Nothing is over-complicated and this shines through when it comes to dressing because they focus on simple clothing, and they know that they don't need the latest trends to look good.  True, they do have their beloved Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior, but they get a lot of mileage out of these expensive pieces because they know what to buy for their body.  And for everything else, they mix vintage with high-street fashion.

After much research, reading, discussion and looking at hundreds of pictures of French women, I have come to the conclusion that if you highlight your best feature you will achieve the very essence of dressing like a French woman.  If you have a gorgeous hour-glass figure then enhance it by highlighting your waist.  If you have long legs, then it's short skirts for you.  The key is to remember to keep it simple.  Whether it is your waist, derrière, legs, or dècolletage, only draw attention to one thing.  It's all about simple.  Less is more.  Don't brush your hair, wash it less often.  If you want to your makeup to look à la Française then all that it required is a good foundation, a little mascara and some lip gloss.  It's true!  Take a good look, these women have bed head hair and very little make-up on but don't they look incredible?  

The simple, elegant beauty of Eva Green and Francoise Hardy.

Something else I feel I must highlight is the French woman's aversion to dying her hair, or in fact leaving the grey in and using it to her advantage.  A woman who does this has to be supremely confident, in my book.  Don't misunderstand me, French women do dye their hair.  They just don't talk about it.  When I lived in Sydney, my French hairstylist, Pierre (yes I know, the irony of it all) was adament about not dying my hair.  I didn't have a plethora of greys, but to me, they were all I saw when I looked in the mirror.  He of course would say to me (in a very thick French accent) "What grey 'air 'eidi? I cannot see any, you are crazy!"  After moving away I found a hairstylist who had no such qualms with dying my hair but a few years later, and a few more grey hairs later, I have gone back to my natural dark brown and I am letting my greys do their thing.  I am proud of them.  They were borne out of a lot of hard work, stress, post-natal depression and dammit, if the French can laud them, why shouldn't I?  More confidence boosting to boot.

It is pretty daring to say the least for women in our hemisphere and before they're 60 to allow their hair to remain uncoloured and to show off our grey in all its glory, but these women above certainly look amazing and prove that we can be comfortable in our own skin without all the cosmetic affectations. 

The way you hold yourself, shoulders back, head high, walking with purpose all convey confidence.

The natural beauty of Audrey Tautou.

Don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd.  I promise you, to be daring is exhilirating!  It is a definite confidence booster! 

These French ladies have added something to their ensemble to stand out from the crowd.  A colourful scarf or a colourful dress mixed with monochromatic black and white and the neverfail beige. 

Whenever you feel like you got out on the wrong side of the bed and are thinking of wearing your oldest trackpants for the school run, don't berate yourself.  No, no, no!  Let out your inner French woman and hear her roar!  Some lipgloss, a spray of perfume and a gorgeous scarf, Pashmina or beret and you have put a whole different spin on your day.  I promise you!

A splash of colour; red lipstick, red skinny belt, even a simple beanie makes this French lady appear to ooze confidence.  Sexy shoes and shiny pants mixed with a simple black scarf and gloves, it's sexy and alluring and dare I say it, yes confident.   

"French women don't try to look like anyone else other than themselves," says Frenchwoman Nathalie Rykiel, daughter of designer Sonya Rykiel. "They know who they are and make the most of what they have. Allure, to them, is more about a statement than physical beauty."

Frenchwoman Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don't Get Fat  and French Women for All
Seasons says "French women can be stubborn and don't like anyone advising them about their appearance."  I read somewhere that stylish French women know their own 'brand' DNA and work it.  I know exactly what that means.  How I dress is an extension of my personality.  Accept that how you dress is part of who you are.  If you don't like the way you dress, then how can you like the person inside?  By paying just a little more attention to even one part of how we dress, it can do wonders for our self-esteem. 
I must add however that while French style is obviously innate... 

(Because no one can be this stylish at such a young age unless they are French, oui?) has to be said.
 If you dress with confidence, you will feel confident and then you will be confident. 

Thank you Fifi it's been so much fun sharing my blog on your Fashionable Friday Blog Party!

Thank you to Jak and Jil, Garance Dore, The Sartorialist, Sophie-Jade for some of the images used in this post.

Thank you Fifi Flowers for your Fshionable Friday Blog Party

Jumat, 26 Juni 2009

I Am In Denim Heaven!

 Me so happy!
I just wanted to tell you all that I had great success today in finding not one but three pairs of jeans!  Hurrah!
Yesterday I went out with my super lovely and très stylish mother-in-law and we hit the shops to find me some jeans.  It was dreadful.  Nothing fit properly, I tried on so many pairs and they all looked terrible and nothing felt right.  I sulked all the way home feeling very disillusioned.
I was not to be defeated though and today I awoke with a new vigour and a new attitude!  I headed on down to Cuba St, I made one stop at Recycle Boutique and bam!  Three hot pairs of designer denim at less than half the price of brand new ones.  To be honest though, the bargain prices were not the drawcard.  I wouldn't care if I had to pay a lot more for my perfect jeans, I just wanted them to feel like they were mine when I put them on.  And so I took a chance that this fantastic little vintage and recycled clothing boutique would be able to save the day and save the day it did!  I couldn't be happier with my trois ange de denim!  Diesel, Workshop and Sass & Bide.  All three fit gloriously, all three make my derriere look perky and all three are making me so very, very happy! 

So I guess the best thing to do in a fashion crises, is to just let go...

Images from ffffound!

Rabu, 24 Juni 2009

Buona Sera Senorita, Buona Sera

I never know what to wear when I go to reception halls. I don't want to just go in jeans, because they're all nice places and I'm hoping to get married there. I want to make a good impression, so I've been staying away from short skirts. But, I don't want to look like I'm trying to impress them, so I've been staying away from long skirts and dresses.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Top - Karen Millen, Pants - Zara, Suspenders - Hot Topic, Necklace - Urban Outfitters, Flower clip - Anthropologie, Shoes - Aldo

Selasa, 23 Juni 2009

Sonia Rykiel: Queen of Knitwear

This year Paris's enigmatic legendary designer celebrated 40 years on the fashion scene with a show that was according to one lucky attendee, (unfortunately not moi) the most spontaneously exuberant and genuinely fun fashion event in recent history.

Sonia Rykiel's eponymous label was founded in 1968 wither her first boutique opening on the Rue de Grenelle on the Left Bank in Paris.  Aside from window-dressing her father’s shops in her teens, Rykiel had no formal training.  Later she began creating her own maternity sweaters out of necessity when she couldn't find what she wanted in stores.  In 1962, Rykiel went on to sell her sweaters under her husband's label "Laura" and when one made the cover of Elle magazine, it brought her fame and in 1970 she was dubbed the "Queen of Knits" by fashion bible Women's Wear Daily. 

“I didn't have a métier. I was supposed to be a mother, like my mother, who didn't work. I had two children — Nathalie and Jean-Philippe. My husband had a boutique called Laura. I wanted a maternity dress and I couldn't find anything I liked. Everything was abominable. So I made one. Then I made a pullover. Elle put it on the cover. Then WWD elected me the queen of knitwear." Sonia Rykiel to Women's Wear Daily.

Rykiel is famous for inventing inside-out stitching, no-hem and 'un-lined' pieces that reflected 'la de-mode' or rather 'un-fashion'.  This new philosophy  allowed women the freedom to dress for their personality.  She encouraged women to use their head to create fashion for their body rather than be told what to wear and how to wear it.  

Sonia's Spring 2009 collection in my opinion was the most gorgeous collection of colour, fabric and femininity I have seen in a very, very, very long time.  There wasn't one piece from this collection that I would not wear.  It was pure perfection, pure girlishness, dreamy, sexy, and heavenly all at once.

The author of several books, Rykiel began to incorporate words into her designs. "I feel more like a novelist than a fashion designer," she commented to the International Herald Tribune 's Suzy Menkes. "Someone who writes a new chapter each season, including everything I see around me." And what she has seen around her becomes emblazoned on slinky dresses and the fronts or backs of sweaters variously inscribed "Moi," "Fête," and "Plaisir," among others plus English words: "Artist," "Ready," "Black Tie," and "Black is Beautiful" have also been included.

First I destroyed, undid what I had made. I wasn't satisfied with it, it wasn't me. It didn't relate to me. It was fashion, but it wasn't my fashion. I wanted to abolish the laws, the rules. I wanted to undo, overflow, exceed fashion. I wanted to unfold, unwind it. I wanted a lifestyle appropriate to the woman I was…this woman-symphony who was living the life of a woman mingled with the life of a worker.
I wanted airplane-style, travel-style, luggage-style. I saw myself as a woman on the go, surrounded by bags and children…so I imagined "kangaroo-clothes," stackable, collapsible, movable, with no right side, no wrong side, and no hem. Clothes to be worn in the daytime I could refine at night. I put "fashion" aside to create "non-fashion."
—Sonia Rykiel

During the evening-gown section of the Spring 2009 40th anniversary show - long tanks and feathery halters and tiers ruffled to the floor—some of the guests started tossing roses at the models. Soon the runway was covered in flowers the color of Rykiel's dresses.  The runway then broke into a dance party when they came out again in taffeta mini-dresses. A few even conga-lined it straight into the audience.

Well, maybe I would re-think wearing this Jean Paul Gaultier for Rykiel over-sized knitting needle sweater... but I do love the play on Sonia's hair, it looks like almost all the models went down the runway with their hair emulating Rykiels famous locks.

In 1996, the French government showed its appreciation by awarding her the Legion d’Honneur. Today, her label encompasses lingerie, accessories, children's clothing, menswear, and beauty.  It is still a family-owned business with Rykiel's daughter Nathalie as president and artistic director.

It is not surprising then that Sonia Rykiel has been likened to Coco Chanel, even being called "Coco Rykiel" at one time.  Much like Coco Chanel, Sonia Rykiel fell into designing, she challenged the standards and broke the rules and has become successful many times over because of her innovation, her strength, her intelligence, her flair, panache and elegantly simple style.

A woman to be admired, oui?

Images from Google.