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Stylish Halloween costumes

17 Oct

There’s only two more weeks left until Halloween, so if you’re a huge fan of the annual celebration chances are you already have your costume picked out and ready to go. But for those of us who are still unsure about what to dress up as, or decide last minute to head to a costume party, here are some stylish ideas that are easy to pull together from pieces that may be available in your wardrobe. For something you’ll only wear once, it’s simpler to avoid spending a fortune and just create a costume from items you already have. Halloween is a great way to express your interest in fashion by emulating chic characters from film and television, or even popular fashion designers.

January Jones as Betty in Mad Men.

January Jones as Betty in Mad Men.

Breaking Bad’s yellow hazmat suits will be popular this Halloween, but for a more stylish costume option dress up as one of the characters from AMC’s other critically acclaimed show, Mad Men. Whether you want to go as Betty, Joan, Peggy or Megan the key is to find a tailored outfit that looks inspired from the 1960s. For Betty, go for silhouettes with nipped waists and full skirts. Try printed silk blouses, petticoats, shirtwaist dresses and swing coats. Complete the perfectly polished Betty look with an elegant hairdo and red lipstick. To dress like Joan, wear a figure-hugging dress in a vibrant jewel-toned colour, or a sweater and pencil skirt set. Peggy’s working look went through many changes over the seasons, but you can’t go wrong with a 1960s inspired plaid and pleated skirt suit. As for Megan Draper, the most fashion forward on the show, a mod minidress should be the main part of the costume. Style with a dramatic winged eyeliner and a bouffant.

Carey Mulligan as Daisy in The Great Gatsby.

Carey Mulligan as Daisy in The Great Gatsby.

Another fun period costume idea is 1920s attire seen recently in The Great Gatsby and Downton Abbey. To sparkle like Daisy Buchanan don a flapper dress, characterized by drop waists, slinky straps and art deco beading. Top off a short bob hairstyle with an ornate head band. As for Downton Abbey, channel Lady Mary and Lady Edith this Halloween with ankle-grazing empire waist dresses. Accessorize with hats, gloves, pearls and beaded shrugs in luxe fabrics. For a different spin on a Downton Abbey costume dress like one of the staff, such as the head housemaid Anna. Add a white collar to a plain, long-sleeved black dress and tie a long, white lace apron overtop. Finish the look with black tights and a white headpiece for the hair.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey.

For fashion designers, Karl Lagerfeld is probably the most notorious and easiest to copy. The head designer for Chanel and Fendi, Lagerfeld’s always poised in a black suit with vest over a tailored white shirt. The accessories are key for his look. Wear fingerless black leather gloves, a skinny black tie, black sunglasses, a long chain necklace, black belt and loafers. For the pièce de résistance wear a white wig pulled back into a ponytail.

Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld

If you’re looking for a costume that’s more timeless, reference fashionable cult classic movies such as Clueless, Annie Hall and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. To dress like Cher Horowitz or Dionne Davenport, rock a tartan suit with matching mini skirt. For an alternate look try a plaid mini skirt and a white collared shirt under a sweater vest. Top off the ensembles with knee high socks and a beret. For another fun element, you can even include the Clueless vernacular as part of your costume by inserting the phrases “Whatever!” and “As if!” into your conversations.

Besties Cher and Dionne in Clueless.

Besties Cher and Dionne in Clueless.

To get Annie Hall’s menswear inspired look that is also a huge trend for this season, add  an oversized men’s vest and a long skirt or wide-leg trousers to your look. Accessorize with a bowler hat, boots and a tie. To dress up like Holly Golightly, Audrey Hepburn’s character from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, all you need is a little black dress, chunky pearl necklace, elbow length black gloves and big sunglasses.

Diane Keaton as Annie Hall.

Diane Keaton as Annie Hall.

Halloween is the perfect occasion to test an over-the-top style you wouldn’t normally wear, so have fun with it and experiment with dressing differently!

[Article first appeared in the Oct. 16 issue of Richmond Review.]

A look at fashion in movies

21 May

Just like the relationship between music and style, the fashion industry is also intimately linked with movies. Who could forget about Audrey Hepburn’s iconic little black Givenchy dress, accessorized with pearls, a tiara, and classic Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Or Keira Knightley’s gorgeous emerald green silk dress in Atonement that set off a multitude of copycats? Ever since 1948, fashion has been recognized at the Oscars under their Academy Award for Best Costume Design — not to mention all the red carpet outfits that get fawned over or criticized by viewers all over the world. One of the best places to take style inspiration from is film. So the next time you’re mulling in front of your closet trying to decide on an outfit, take a cue from a favourite movie character.

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

With the recent release of Baz Luhrmann’s stylized adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, we can expect another Roaring Twenties revival in fashion. Retro looks were seen on the spring runways of Bottega Veneta, and glamorous fringed mini dresses were spotted at Versace. The flapper style previously made a comeback around the time Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris came out. Glitzy art-deco dresses paraded down the runway at Gucci’s show soon after the movie. And over at Etro in the same season, drop-waist dresses reminiscent of the jazz age were featured heavily in the collection. To incorporate the flapper look into your regular wardrobe, try pieces accented with beading or fringe, and mini dresses with straight waists. Accessorize with art-deco jewelry, embellished headbands, and layer together strands of beaded necklaces.

Flapper-inspired looks at Gucci's spring 2012 show.

Flapper-inspired looks at Gucci’s spring 2012 show.

For those looking to channel a style that’s less showy and more gothic punk, there’s the style of anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The movie’s release in late 2011 had a trickledown effect, making a moody impact for the fall and winter collections of 2012. Designers Proenza Schouler and Givenchy incorporated rebellious leather looks into their presentation while Fendi showed dark futuristic ensembles made of PVC and patent leather. The movie also inspired H&M to come out with a collection in collaboration with the film’s costume designer, Trish Summerville. To get the look, combine leather pieces with items such as ripped jeans, distressed tees, studded and spiked accessories, and combat boots.

Costume designer Trish Summerville with her looks for H&M's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo collection

Costume designer Trish Summerville with her looks for H&M’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo collection.

Another movie that strongly influenced the style of many, especially in the late 1970s, is Diane Keaton’s character in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Annie Hall. Get the menswear-inspired look with oversized blazers, wide-leg trousers and flowy skirts. For the bold, complete the ensemble with a tie and bowler hat.

A movie character look that would be perfect to emulate for the warmer weather is Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Tuck a crisp, short sleeved button-up into a dirndl skirt and add a chic scarf around the neck for a polished touch.

Audrey Hepburn's classic outfit in Roman Holiday.

Audrey Hepburn’s classic outfit in Roman Holiday.

A popular and stylish film that made a notable impact on those who came of age in the 90s is Clueless. Bring up the movie to any young woman and, chances are, she’ll talk about how much she still wants Cher Horowitz’s revolving closet. Los Angeles company Wildfox Couture created a lookbook for spring that paid homage to Clueless. You can channel your inner Cher or Dionne with a preppy plaid mini skirt, matching blazer, and knee-high socks.

A page from the Clueless inspired lookbook by Wildfox.

A page from the Clueless inspired lookbook by Wildfox.

For every style, there’s a cinematic fashion icon. These are just a few of the movies that can provide fashion inspiration for those days when you believe there’s nothing to wear. Whether you commit fully to a look, incorporate just a few pieces from a character, or take inspiration from a combination of characters, the options are endless.

For a more casual way to incorporate your favourite movies, try a graphic tee such as this one from local designer Thinkhead.

For a more casual way to incorporate your favourite movies, try a graphic tee such as this one from local designer Thinkhead.

[Article first appeared in the May 15 issue of Richmond Review.]

A review of Bill Cunningham New York

8 Sep

I never thought I’d say this but I was holding back tears during a fashion movie. And it wasn’t because the clothes were so horrid it made my eyes burn, or unbelievably exquisite that I was weeping tears of joy. It was because the film, Bill Cunningham New York, is about style photographer Bill Cunningham, an endearingly sweet man whose love of capturing fashion has debilitated his familial relationships and, consequently, prevented him from having any romantic connections of his own.

Street style photographer Bill Cunningham

Cunningham may not be as widely known as The Sartorialist but he certainly paved the way for street style photography. He compared the streets of New York to a fashion show. Even Vogue’s Anna Wintour praised Cunningham’s eye for trends and proclaimed, “We all get dressed for Bill.”

New York street style as captured by Cunningham

At 82 years of age, Cunningham is still cycling the streets to photograph exciting and unusual outfits – on film nevertheless. Opposed to the “cookie cutter sameness,” he stressed the importance of dressing outside the box. With over five decades in the fashion industry, he’s worked for Details Magazine, Women’s Wear Daily and currently holds a position at New York Times.

An image from the film of one of Cunningham's favourite style subjects, Shail Upadhya

The documentary follows Cunningham and his duct-taped poncho around the city for a few days as he encapsulates the fashion trends of the moment. It also delves into the gentrification of the Carnegie Hall building, where artists and tenants such as Cunningham – who had been living there for six decades – are faced with evictions. Heartfelt but not overly sentimental, I definitely recommend Bill Cunningham New York, whether you’re into fashion or not. The DVD comes out Sept. 13.

“Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.” – Bill Cunningham