Saturday, July 24, 2010
From the runways of Paris and the influential advertising of fashion business to the red carpets and silver screens of Hollywood, fashion and movies have always co-starred in their very own rags-to-riches plot of style. Fashion and film connoisseurs are aware of the intimate bond that has existed between both industries throughout the past decades. Tough maybe an arbitrary choice, in this article, I will refer to some of the most representative fashion trends of each era. Going here from the 1920's to the 1980's, some of these were inspired by iconic movies of their time, while others were cultivated thanks to their big screen exposure.
1920's: The Jazz Age woman was introduced to world in the silent comedy The Flapper (1920). Emphasizing the era's youth careless lifestyle and air of frivolity, the film originated a new breed of girls who had removed the corset from female fashion and wore short skirts, heavy makeup and bob hair cuts. People were flocking to the movies to see stars closely identified with the style, like Clara Bow in It (1927) and Joan Crawford, who danced the Charleston in Our Dancing Daughters (1928).
As for men, they would emulate Rudolph Valentino's shiny, slicked hair and meticulous male grooming in The Sheik (1921).
Diametrically opposite was Katharine Hepburn, the best-known actress to introduce trousers into the mainstream. Wearing men's trousers since her debut film role A Bill of Divorcement (1932), she broke down the female dress code; women who admired her non-conformist style -on and off set- started wearing pants. Her androgynous, modern fashion sense was a breathe of fresh air in a generation where cleavage, curves and pouts were everywhere.
1940's: After the war, eveningwear took a more delicate and feminine feel. Romantic satin gowns that showed a much tinier waist, flounces and low-cut necklines with puff sleeves were influenced by the Southern belle, glamorized in films like Oscar-winning Gone with the Wind (1939), whose costumes made their way into fashions. John P.John, under his millinery label John-Frederics, created Vivien Leigh's bonnets, trimmed in ribbons, feathers and lace veils, providing inspiration for hat and hair trends for most of the 40's, including rolled hairstyle and snoods.
Meanwhile, in the heyday of Hollywood, men were encouraged by movies and allusive advertisements to don de rigueur fedora, as Humprey Bogart in Casablanca (1942), and follow the looks of other trendsetter stars, as Clark Gable and Errol Flynn with their pencil-thin mustaches and smart suits.
Gone with the Wind, 1939
Still one of the most memorable wardrobe looks was showed in 1957's Funny Face, where the Audrey Hepburn-Hubert de Givenchy tandem set a great example of their mythical fashion chemistry with many of the French couturier's outfits the actress character's wore; they exuded a timeless yet modern elegance that influenced the style of those in search of the ladylike look.
Ursula Andress, in her white bikini, and Sean Connery, in his slim suits, also contributed to settle the stylish tone in Dr.No (1962), the first James Bond film.
An interesting case was Dr.Zhivago (1965), a film that triggered a Russian fashion trend, as women donned maxi coats over miniskirts, fur hats and military boots, which moved seamlessly into Renaissance and Gypsy trends.
Dr. Zhivago, 1965
At the same time, two films defined the nostalgic and romantic trends in US fashions that would begin to predominate on and off the screen in the 70's: The Great Gatsby (1974) and Annie Hall (1977), for both of which Ralph Lauren was the costume designer. He demonstrated his ability to fabricate a pervasive image and evoke a lifestyle with the class aspirations encapsulated by The Great Gatsby and the feminist aspirations incarnated by Diane Keaton's androgynous look in Annie Hall. The first one was about preppy slacks, polo shirts and sweaters reminiscent of Princeton in the 20's, and the latter initiated a rage of women clad in men's shirts, ties, vests and trousers, accessorized with cinched-in belts and hats, as the title character of Woody Allen's film.
Annie Hall, 1977
However, Flashdance (1983) was the epitome 80's style, with the leg warmers and ripped, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts Jennifer Beals' main character wore. The dance and activewear furor had begun with 1980's Fame, but reached its zenith with the blockbuster romantic musical, which soon after being released, had women all over the country slashing their sweatshirts and baring shoulders. Then, another youth-oriented fashion trend was promoted by Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), a film that put the spotlight on Madonna's vintage-chic style.
Working Girl (1988), on the other hand, echoed the feelings of women who sought to break through the glass ceiling of banking and industry, and the image of the modern career woman developed. The distinctive outfit presented by Melanie Griffith was the tailleur, a fitted tailored jacket worn over a knee-lenght skirt that ruled the mid-80's trend for tailoring.
For the aforementioned cases, we can appreciate to what extent film stars and costumes had become a showpiece for America's eclectic and evolving taste in fashion. Then, as now, it was not strange for certain films and stars to pionner a fashion trend. But, it could also happen that films served to set the stage for some of the most ubiquitous clothing items of the era to root. Sometimes, fashion borrowed from cinema, often the exchange was reversed. Whatever way the influence came, film and fashion seem to have joined hands over the past century most symbolic decades, maybe to help to consolidate a distinct look of each period.
María José Perez de Arenaza
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
It seems that this spring is all about flowers. And to be in harmony with such a feminine fashion trend, you may want to wear some of the prettiest floral designs that are blooming all around. A glamorous option are the delicate Yves Saint Laurent Chloris Sandals. With the precious rosette blossoms up the ankle and the thorns heel, these sandals will definitely sophisticate your look in this season and beyond. Made of rich suede, they come in a blush pink hue, which certainly is more wearable yet less striking than the magenta one. Yves Saint Laurent Chloris Sandals, $ 895.00, Barneys.
Photograph by lexyrose for Flickr
Friday, April 9, 2010
Jaime Garcia Castilla in Tomasson's On Common Ground.
Jaime Garcia Castilla was only 7 years old when he passed his first audition at the Spanish Royal Conservatory of Professional Dance. Little could he suspect then that he would become one of his country's greatest dancing talents. Neither could his parents, who never imagined that the up-and-coming little boy's fondness for music and dance would one day lead to a successful professional career.
Back to the present, it's 2:32 p.m. in San Francisco and Jaime Garcia Castilla has not eaten yet. Since 10:00 a.m., he has been rehearsing with his fellow dancers Neumeyers's The Little Mermaid story ballet, which debuts on March 20 at War Memorial Opera House. Even so, when he leaves the room for a moment, he does not look tired. In fact, his head keeps on dancing with the sounds of music and his feet tap the rhythm while he talks. Even though he only has a few minutes, he is kindly willing to be interviewed.
If a dancer can have striking technique, but a delicate, boyish appearance at the same time, it is Jaime Garcia Castilla. If he can be graceful and fierce with an imposing stage presence at the same time, it is Jaime Garcia Castilla. San Francisco Ballet's premiere danseur was born in Madrid, Spain, and, after winning the Prize of Excellence and Contemporary Dance Prize at the Prix de Lausanne in 2001, was named an apprentice at the San Francisco Ballet, before joining the corps the following year. In 2006, he was promoted to soloist and to principal dancer in 2008. In his years with the company, the Spaniard has given dazzling and notable performances; in diverse roles, he has demonstrated a brilliant ability to hold the audience captivated by his exquisite renditions. Depicted as an emotionally compelling dancer, he won critical acclaim for feature roles in various ballets, including the pas de cinq in Tomasson’s Giselle; Benvolio in Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet; Nutcracker Prince, Snow King, and Jack-in-the-Box in Tomasson’s Nutcracker and fey Eros in Morris’ Sylvia. His repertory also includes Ashton’s Symphonic Variations, Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 and McGregor’s Eden/Eden.When asked about his early training, Garcia Castilla, who studied jazz and traditional Spanish dance followed by ballet at the Royal Conservatory of Professional Dance in Madrid, refers to his teachers as strict taskmasters.
“They just gave us the right training and push; they corrected us every single minute to help us focus and develop our inner strength; all the time, it was like 'Put your heel forward more here. Turn out!' That way, we were encouraged to work with ourselves and be self-disciplined."
Attending dancing classes from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. -- even on Saturdays -- sounds as a logical dancer's routine, but for a little boy who was also expected to attend school, do his homework and have a proper social life, it meant an enormous sacrifice.
"When I was a kid, I chose to take rhythmic gymnastics, flamenco and sevillanas as extracurricular activities, while my friends would go to practice judo and soccer. Then, as a teenager, I obviously had less time to have fun like everyone else or go to discos, movies and pubs... However, I rarely complained. When you enjoy what you do, you don't mind the time you have to devote to it."
In such a nurturing enviroment, Garcia Castilla achieved a solid grounding, which qualified him to interpret the wide range of styles that nowadays merge into ballet repertoire. In that sense, he had an extra contribution to make to American dance companies: his Spanish cultural traits. As well as other San Francisco Ballet's Spanish dancers of his caliber, he grew up exposed to Spanish folkloric dances and kept a sharp awareness of his cultural identity. Nonetheless, just as many of his compatriots, he had to leave his country at a young age to pursue his dream.
"Spain’s major dance companies are contemporary, which means that ballet dancers who want a classical company must get into one abroad. And to do that, you have to be at the top. European large classical companies are few and hard to get into without training at their schools. So, getting hired by a company like San Francisco Ballet, with its classical base and diverse repertory, is a blessing."
Regarding the rigor of his current training, he says that the daily rehearsals, exercises and technique classes give a dancer the base to support whatever is required of him.
"When you’re being coached, you’re able to bring yourself to the next level, rather than just doing the steps. It enables you to become a distinct artist."
Still on the same topic thread, he responds firmly to his role as a toreador in San Francisco Ballet's Don Quixote (2007) and that production's ability to convey an authentic Spanish essence.
"First of all, no production of Don Quixote is truly authentic. That one was the classical, stylized version, not the seguidilla or fandango that I learned. Either way, it’s an honor that somebody took Spain's cultural heritage and put it in a huge ballet... In ballet, elements of Spanish style center on the upper body while the feet remain classical, and we [Spaniards] know the vocabulary because we grew up into that culture. Even if you don’t know the right steps, you know how to move and play, or else, just fake it. Whenever the artistic staff gives a correction in seguidilla or fandango, how to focus or move the arms, you already kind of know it; it's inside you. Flamenco, for instance, takes a lot of things from bullfighting, like toreros' arrogant posture and movements ...”
At this point, the emphasis of his tone goes eloquently synchronized with dynamic dancing gestures from his Don Quixote character. But when asked whether that strong Spanish attitude could be fueled by a desire to be the center of attention, he claims that proud, dramatic personalities -- like his own -- are part of their charisma on stage.
"It's a magical instant, when you realize the public shares with you that unique excitement."
And one can imagine that intense interaction after witnessing, though briefly, the way he unfurls his wonderfully lithe arms towards the sky during rehearsal.
Magnetism, elegance and sculptural physique: all define San Francisco Ballet's premiere danseur Jaime Garcia Castilla.
María José Perez de Arenaza
Photographs courtesy of San Francisco Ballet.
(© Erik Tomasson)
(© Erik Tomasson)