Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Books

'City of Style' makes a fashionable debut


The 3.1 Phillip Lim store in West Hollywood was shoulder to shoulder last night, packed  with celebrities including Mandy Moore, Minka Kelly, Brittany Snow, Kristen Bell and other stylish Angelenos, all there to celebrate the launch of style expert and former Los Angeles Times market and style editor Melissa Magsaysay's new book "City of Style."

The book, which hit shelves Tuesday, takes a look at the different elements that influence and make up L.A. style and includes profiles of fashionable Angelenos and styling tips. Times fashion critic Booth Moore reviewed the book in this Sunday's Image section, calling it "an approachable field guide to L.A. style in all its incarnations."

"I think ultimately everybody is a mix of all the different styles," said Magsaysay, who was dressed in all 3.1 Phillip Lim. "Everyone is influenced by these styles at some point in their life."

The party crowd was an eclectic representation of Los Angeles -- women in pretty sundresses, colored denim, vintage dresses and jumpsuits and men in everything from suits to rolled up skinny jeans.  Reality television star and fashion designer Whitney Port, who is featured in the book, walked the party in hot pink jeans by Mother Denim, while actress Kristen Bell was spotted wearing a Creamsicle-colored dress.

"It’s cool because there are so many different people here that you really get a mixture of a lot of different styles," said Brittany Snow. The actress wore a tangerine skirt over her black Phillip Lim dress and a bright turquoise Prada clutch. 

"I’m excited that it’s a book that’s celebrating L.A. style," said Mandy Moore, who chose a royal blue Phillip Lim dress for the party. "L.A. is pretty eclectic across the board, and I think that every different style moment deserves to have its time in the spotlight."

-- Jenn Harris


Fashion books reviewed: 'City of Style,' 'By Invitation Only'

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Photo: From left, actress Mandy Moore, author Melissa Magsaysay and actress Minka Kelly celebrate the release of "City of Style" by Magsaysay at the 3.1 Phillip Lim store in West Hollywood.  Credit: Jesse Grant / Getty Images.

'Advanced Style' book features street fashion of the over-60 set

"Advanced Style"
For all those who are sick and tired of seeing style and fashion presented solely as a young woman’s game, behold "Advanced Style."

Out Tuesday from powerHouse Books, this collection of street fashion photographs of the over-60 set is a joy to look at.

PHOTOS: Pictures from the book

Although very few of the subjects photographed on the street of New York City actually reveal how old they are, they do offer lessons in confidence and style that women of all ages will appreciate, which is exactly why Ari Seth Cohen started Advanced Style, the blog that inspired the book.

Among the stylish portraits in the book is the elegant and refined Rose, age 100, (pictured above left) in a paisley caftan, Hermes belt and oversized beads, who believes, "If everyone is wearing it, then it’s not for me." Alice, posing in a men’s tweed jacket, jodphurs, boots, fingerless gloves and a silk scarf, says, "Fie on women in sneakers and sweats." Then there’s Debra (above middle) in electric blue sunglasses and brocade pants, who approaches getting dressed like an art project and says, "Tomorrow is another day and another look."AS_cvr

Cohen combs the entire city looking for elder style on the street. "It’s fun to hang out outside the Carlysle Hotel," where he snapped the photo of Elaine Stritch wearing one of her signature menswear-inspired looks. "But I don’t spend too much time on the Upper East Side because a lot of the women there have had a lot of plastic surgery."

"Advanced Style" is about embracing your age, not fighting it, he says. "In society, women are told to back down from fashion as they get older, and they become invisible. I got an email from one woman who said her grandkids were embarrassed by the way she dresses.... She showed them my blog, and they changed their minds."

He has learned that there really is no such thing as age-appropriate dressing. The book features its fair share of traditional houndstooth suits, silk scarves and sensible shoes, but it also has women in artsy hats and colorful turbans.

"Some women think fashion should be more proper, others don’t care at all. If someone is comfortable and confident, that’s what matters," Cohen says. "I like to have a mix of eccentric and elegant in the blog and book, because I’m attracted to both extremes."

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Books for fashion and perfume lovers

City of StyleIf you're style-inclined, sometimes it's not enough to read blogs and fashion magazines. Sometimes you may want to do more than browse in stores and plow through catalogs.

Sometimes you've got to embrace the canon of fashion and beauty literature.  Fashion critic Booth Moore and staff writer Adam Tschorn explore a handful of current offerings. Among them:

"City of Style," by Melissa Magsaysay, a former Times style writer, who has created a field guide to L.A. style in all its incarnations; "By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop,"  the story of the launching of Gilt Group; "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations," a catalog for an exhibition of the same name at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; and "The Gentry Man: A Guide for the Civilized Male," a series of articles culled from the 1950s Gentry magazine.

If you're scent-inclined, this spring the publishing world has released a series of books that should fill many hours of reading time. Denise Hamilton surveys a clutch of offerings that range from Denyse Beaulieu's new memoir, "The Perfume Lover," to Alyssa Harad's "Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure and an Unlikely Bride."

There's a three-day weekend coming up, the perfect time, perhaps, to indulge a style and beauty habit.

-- Alice Short

Photo: "City of Style" cover. Credit: It Books

'Tomboy Style' book celebrates boyish beauty

Lizzie-sharonsuhOne of my favorite new fashion books out now is "Tomboy Style" (Rizzoli) by Lizzie Garrett Mettler (left). It's a visual history of boyish beauty, with photographs of stylish women such as Alexa Chung and Marlene Dietrich.

"A tomboy is a girl," Mettler explains. "Tomboy style is about a woman who channels her tomboy childhood, and mixes masculine and feminine elements in her wardrobe. It's not just wearing men's clothes."

I talked to the L.A.-based author and blogger about her personal style, the idea behind the book and some of the great "Tomboy Style" icons past and present. Check out my story in Sunday's Image section.

Mettler also shared her must-have clothing and accessories for spring, mixing trends of the season such as colorful jeans, with classic tomboy staples such as a striped tee.

-- Booth Moore




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Photo of "Tomboy Style" author Lizzie Garrett Mettler. Credit: Sharon Suh

A time-traveling fashionista boards the Titanic

TitanicredfurtrimdressThe 100th anniversary of the Titanic's legendary sinking is fast approaching, and with it, Titanic mania. There are memorial cruises, commemorative postage stamps and, of course, the re-release of James Cameron's classic movie in 3-D.

And then there is fashion. In her illustrated young-adult novel, "The Time-Traveling Fashionista on Board the Titanic," author Bianca Turetsky imagines the gowns, coats and shoes that might have been worn that freezing April night when the world's largest (at the time) luxury liner sank to the bottom of the Atlantic and killed 1,496 of its 2,208 passengers.

In the book, a young woman tries on a sparkly pink, empire-waist gown inspired by a real turn-of-the-century designer, Lucy Duff-Gordon, who survived the Titanic disaster. It's through this gown that a woman from the present is magically transported to the past, where she was traveling as a first-class passenger with a closet full of amazing clothes.

It was only in researching her book that Turetsky learned about Duff-Gordon. Not only was she a top fashion designer of the era, selling items under her brand, Lucille, but she was one of the few survivors of the Titanic disaster who was lucky enough to find space on a lifeboat.

"She made these emotional gowns that tried to capture the spirit of the woman who was wearing them, which was what I was trying to say about vintage clothing: It carries the spirits of these women with them," Turetsky said.

TitanicgreendressThe real Duff-Gordon and the fictional Louise are both in the book sporting Lucille fashions, which, in the novel's illustrations, were inspired by the "Titanic" movie, a Titanic museum exhibit and the many books Turetsky read on the subject.

Turetsky has long been attracted to the Titanic  because "it's dramatic and glamorous and sad," she said. The allure of the era's fashions were their shapes and details.

"It was the beginning of women being less confined," Turetsky said. "There were still corsets, but women had a little more freedom with their dresses."


Designers find value in vintage

The gilded age of costume jewelry

-- Susan Carpenter

Photos: Illustrations from "The Time-Traveling Fashionista on Board the Titanic" by Bianca Turetsky. Credit: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Tony Duquette lives on in new book, jewelry line

TonybookcoverDespite fashion's recent flirtation with minimalism, over-the-top jewelry is not going anywhere. Which is why it is such a welcome time for Hutton Wilkinson's third book about his late business partner, Tony Duquette, a jewelry, furniture, interiors and Hollywood set designer whose personal motto was "more is more."

"Tony Duquette/Hutton Wilkinson Jewelry" (Abrams, $50) is a lavishly illustrated, jewel box of a tome, full of baroque-natural sparklers in coral, jade, turquoise, malachite, lapis lazuli, amber, shells and bone.

Included are pieces designed by Duquette, who died in 1999, and pieces by his protege and business partner of 30 years Wilkinson, who continues the legacy by designing his own one-of-a-kind pieces sold at speciality stores under the Tony Duquette name.

Duquette's client list reads like a who's who of fashion and style -- the Duchess of Windsor, Mary Pickford and Doris Duke. His lifestyle was also renowned. There were two estates -- the one in Malibu burned down, but Dawnridge in Beverly Hills has been maintained by Wilkinson -- with exotic gardens, furniture and art, and his legendary parties, where guests were required to dress to the nines. And Wilkinson has carried on the tradition so beautifully, it's no wonder Duquette continues to be a source of inspiration for designers, including Tom Ford and Michael Kors. 

In the book's introduction, Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of Harpers Bazaar, writes, "Hutton has such an amazing imagination that everything he touches blossoms, quite literally in the case of his jewelry; necklaces grow sapphire leaves, with rays of sunlight glinting through in the form of citrines set in gold rays, brooches spread diamond-studded branches; and coral curls delicately into diamond earrings."

For his part, Wilkinson focuses on the ancient history and powers of the ununusual precious and semi-precious materials used in jewelry, highlighting his Pond Scum necklace made of malachite stalactite slices treated to look like pools of still water, a malachite and pearl insect brooch, and a blister pearl collar that looks like the most gorgeous necklace of clam shells. 

"Duquette defines what it means to be over the top. He lived and created with a sense of wit, irreverence and abandon I admire," Coach creative director Reed Krakoff is quoted as saying.

Krakoff's admiration could be why, come February, Duquette's flamboyant style will be available at an accessible price for the first time, as a limited-edition collection for Coach.

Coach designers were given full access to Duquette's archives and his Dawnridge Estate. The resulting 20 pieces include a jeweled collar and clutch, enamel bracelets and a cabachon ring, all priced at less than $500.

-- Booth Moore 


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Top photos from "Tony Duquette/Hutton Wilkinson Jewelry." Credit: Stephanie Hanchett

Bottom photos from left: Coach Tony Duquette fish  necklace and the Coach Tony Duquette dutchess bib necklace. Credit: Courtesy of Coach.

Book by Toms Shoes' founder tries to 'start something'

Toms Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie
If you're a fan of the Toms Shoes brand, you might want to check out my review of "Start Something That Matters," a new book by the footwear company's founder Blake Mycoskie, which appears in today's Los Angeles Times.

Although the main thrust of the book is to lay out Mycoskie's guidelines for starting a business with a meaningful -- i.e. charitable -- component (or grafting such a component onto an already existing business), the book -- which is a very fast-reading 189 pages -- is worth reading even if that's not on your immediate to-do list, since it not only lays out how the early history of the company, but also answers Toms-related questions big (what inspired him, what some of the early, costly mistakes were) and small (like where the name "Toms Shoes" came from).

"Start Something That Matters," by Blake Mycoskie ($22, Spiegel & Grau, 2011)


They're flipping for alpargatas

Toms shoes' Blake Mycoskie on his next steps

Toms Shoes' model is sell a pair, give a pair away

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, far right, with employees Meaghan Delmonico and Ron Elizondo at the company's Santa Monica headquarters in 2009. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Chanel 'Sleeping With the Enemy' book -- the speed read

Hal Vaughan

I'm working on a review of "Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War," and I just finished a speed read of the book, written by Hal Vaughan, a veteran U.S. journalist who served during World War II and has written several history books.

My review is slated to run sometime next week, but my first impression is that the book is only somewhat revealing. What we do know, and did know before this book was published, is that Coco Chanel remained in Paris living at the Hotel Ritz during the German occupation of France in World War II, that she had a long affair with a German officer and that she appeared to be friendly with Nazi officials. Citing newly declassifed documents, the book suggests she was not merely a passive collaborator but actually an agent of the Abwehr German intelligence agency, with her own code name --Westminster -- who conducted secret missions overseas.

Unlike many collaborators in France, who were imprisoned or executed after the war, Chanel denied any wrongdoing when questioned in court and escaped unscathed. But even in light of Vaughan's new information (and he includes in the book a copy of the police document identifying Chanel as an agent), it's still not entirely clear what her motivations would have been.

Chanel had a nephew who was in a German prison camp, so it could have been (I"m giving her the benefit of the doubt here) that she cooperated to the extent that she had to in order to secure his release and ensure her comfort through the war. It seems more likely that she was indifferent to the horrors being waged around her and unwilling to give up her pampered life (she had servants and a driver, even as the rest of France was starving), but that she may not have been anti-Semitic. After all, Chanel did go into business with the Jewish Wertheimer family before the war, and that family still owns the company today. And Vaughan has not uncovered any particularly damning statements she made about Jews.

It's been interesting to see the reaction to the book, specifically in the context of the psychology of branding. (Chanel issued a response, which my colleague Susan Denley wrote about last week, defending its founder.) Do the politics or ideology of a corporate figurehead really matter to consumers? It certainly seemed so when it came to designer John Galliano, who was dismissed from Christian Dior after making anti-Semitic remarks in a Paris bar last year. Then again, he was caught on camera, Chanel was not.

-- Booth Moore


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In fashion, the brand plays on

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Photo: American historian Hal Vaughan poses in Paris on Aug. 17 to present his book "Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret Wars." Credit: Francois Mori / Associated Press

First look: A peek inside 'Lady Gaga X Terry Richardson'

Lady Gaga with photographer Terry Richardson

What do you get when you let photographer Terry Richardson follow Lady Gaga around 24/7 for 10 months?

"Lady Gaga X Terry Richardson," a book of more than 350 color and black-and-white candid photographs (culled from over 100,000 images) that covers the whole Gaga from Lollapalooza in August 2010 through her Grammy Awards show appearance in February up to the end of the Monster Ball tour a few months later, is scheduled for November release by Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. 

Although they're described as "candid, never-before-seen photos," that's no longer technically true, since the folks at Grand Central floated us the above photo from the book to whet our appetite.

Since it hits bookstore shelves (if there are still any left) just before the holidays, if you make sure to be a good little monster, maybe Santa will leave a copy outside of your giant, translucent egg. 

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Lady Gaga is shown with photographer Terry Richardson in an image from the latter's upcoming book of candids of the former, due out in November. Credit: Terry Richardson.


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Saving movie costumes as 'Gone With the Wind' novel turns 75

Cara Varnell works with the green velvet gown from GWTW 
It's been 75 years since the publication of "Gone With the Wind," and it still captures the public's imagination. The novel and subsequent movie keep generating controversy for their portrayal of slavery and keep generating headlines, thanks to fans who want to read and re-read the book, collect the paraphernalia and dress up like Scarlett O'Hara.

Earlier this year, we noted some of the many events inspired by the novel's 75th anniversary.  Now the Associated Press reports on efforts by the University of Texas to repair five of the dresses by 2014 -- in time for the film's 75th anniversary.

Buttons on the green velvet gown from GWTW Which dresses? Scarlett's green curtain dress, her green velvet gown, a burgundy ball gown, blue velvet night gown and her wedding dress.

But the restoration of iconic movie costumes that have gone through decades of traveling displays and been on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presents a series of challenges: "Stitching and holes can be repaired, and extra feathers added years ago can be removed, but the dresses are old, badly faded in spots and, in one case, just too fragile to handle," the Associated Press reports.

The dresses "are culturally important,' said Cara Varnell, an independent art conservator who specializes in Hollywood film costumes and is doing the restoration work.

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