The day I read the Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake (April 1938 through August 5, 2022) passed away following his battle with liver cancer,at 84, I experienced such a sharp pain in my heart I cried out “Oh no!” and felt faint.
As a survivor of cancer myself I’m intimately acquainted with the toll that disease extracts and as a fashion journalist, who’s life was changed when I saw a televised Issey Miyake fashion show danced/modeled by “Pilobilus” a modern dance troupe I realized the creative loss as well.
I was attending Cal State LA as a Fashion merchandising major then, and although my personal style was more vintage 1960s and 1970s than Japanese avant-garde, I was still attracted to artistic designs that had a backstory. Miyake’s had that and more.
Equally driven by nature, technology art and modern culture, while I’ve yet to buy the Vintage Miyake pieces on my wish list on therealreal.com I believe the indomitable spirit he imbued his clothes with will continue to inspire me even if I just examine them online and dream.
As a fashion journalist, and all-around clotheshorse, it’s impossible for me to look at the people I work around and not reimagine them in another version of what they might be wearing if I wore their garments myself. After all inspiration can come from anywhere, and even if I don’t care for the look,
I try not to let it limit my imagination. Currently, I’m working at a school that requires unisex uniforms for the students-a school shirt and dark pants. So far I’ve seen it worn with a hoodie, jeans etc. in the way it’s meant to be worn, which doesn’t make it very exciting.
If I had to wear it, and wanted to express my individuality, I’d take a trip to the thrift store, buy a pair of wide-leg men’s Levi’s, black dress pants and Dickies then pair it with lace up oxfords, or loafers argyle socks and a cardigan sweater or blazer.
To further accessorize, I’d either wear a beret or bucket hat if I were a girl and a baseball or newsboy peaked cap if I were a boy.
I don’t know if this observation will ever change my mind about uniforms but this daily exposure does help me see how they can still be part of the fashion game if tweaked in the right way.
While walking to the bus stop from “Venice Skills Center” one afternoon I saw this beautiful boho girl wearing an oversized tee tucked into a gauzy skirt. She saw me looking at her, and admiring her outfit, and gave me such a welcoming smile she made my day!
A few trends, that seem to have been around forever, have become so classic we might forget when they originated.
One of my favorites, because it allows me to combine something vintage with something contemporary without a lot of fuss, is a scarf tied on the handle of a purse.
It doesn’t matter if the purse is vintage and the scarf new, or vice versa, the fact is the same.
Forever fetching and lovely, I’ve discovered even a simple little scarf from Target can make a vintage Hello Kitty purse, circa early 2000s, re-live its better days.
When I went to the Rave Theater at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza to see The House of Gucci I didn’t feel my outfit would be complete without the vintage blue floral Gucci scarf I bought for $25 at the Federation of Vintage Fashion’s Fashion Expo.
Emblazoned with an elaborate bouquet, over the years,it’s set off my 1970s navy-blue pants suit, my early 1960s black dress, plain white tees and denim button-downs. On the day I wore it to the movie I paired it with a black and white striped Breton from L.L. Bean and a pair of Adidas sweat pants.
Reminiscent of the floral scarf Gucci “scenographer Vittorio Accornero” created for Grace Kelly in 1966 it’s a great collectible that can enhance any contemporary woman’s wardrobe.
Whether worn stylishly around your neck or over a messy bun,as a cure to a bad hair day, the floral Gucci scarf can become a favorite collectible for stylistas. The best part? It’s still possible to find one for $100.
Aware of the changing way of life and its economic and social requirements Chanel produced clothes as smart, uncluttered and functional as the new architecture.Joan Nunn, Fashion Costume 1200-1980
Throughout my fashion life I’ve imitated quite a few looks, including Edie Sedgwick’s Factory gear and Grace Jones’s androgyny, but none have been as long lasting as Coco Chanel’s signature LBD’s, two-piece skirt suits, wide-leg pants, costume and real jewelry and two-tone shoes.
Perfect as a go-to look, it’s comforting to know I can throw on a tweed-y Chanel thrift store blazer, white tee, baggy jeans, gold chain belt and ballet flats and look as fabulous as Madame Coco.
So how did her look evolve? Here are some of the highlights:
- 1914: After Chanel opened shops in Deauville and in Rue Cambon in Paris she became a top couturière that “epitomized the look of the 1920s.”
- 1920s: She designed “jersey dresses that stopped at the knee with matching cardigans, and short skirts accessorized with tiny hats, costume and real jewelry.” “Aware of the changing way of life and its economic and social requirements she produced clothes as smart, uncluttered and functional as the new architecture,” wrote Joan Nunn in “Fashion Costume 1200-1980”.
- 1926: She reinvented women’s wardrobes forever when she created a “crêpe de Chine black dress complete with minuscule tucks in a matching triangular design on the bodice and the skirt.” Prominently featured in “Vogue” magazine this little black dress or LBD became known as “the model T Ford of fashion.”
- 1929: The end of the 20s found Chanel looking towards the future when women’s styles became less angular. Embracing an easier silhouette she designed a “jersey suit with a striped pullover.”
- 1954: Following World War II Chanel reopened her couture house and premiered an “understated two-piece skirt suit trimmed in braid.”
All Photos courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art http://www.metmuseum.org