I’ll be your mirror

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Last week-end, I went to a wedding. It rained (it’s considered lucky in France, but I think it’s mostly to compensate for the lack of sun at your wedding), we drunk, danced and celebrated. I had (of course) made my own dress for the occasion. But there’s more: I might be slightly deranged, but I also made a bow tie for my date, out of the same fabric as my dress. Continue reading “I’ll be your mirror”

Granny-ish

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I took the opportunity of our photo session with Madhya to take this skirt in picture as well. When I brought this fabric home, my boyfriend confirmed my vague fears : yes, this fabric looks a bit like an old lady’s curtains. It’s undeniable I’m a bit of an old lady myself : I drink chamomille tea, which I don’t really need since I start dozing around 10.45 PM when we’re out. I’m a (crazy?) cat lady since I was a toddler, and during winter, I wear full-length slips in order to be cozy under my dresses.  Continue reading “Granny-ish”

Why do I sew?

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“Handmade clothes increase the feeling that they blend in with us, with our flesh, but also with them who, patiently, made them to fit us”

I’m currently reading Dressing, by Jane Sautière, and this sentence made me finally write this post. That’s it. That’s the reason why I sew. To find, beyond ready-to-wear’s anonymous clothes, something that would make one with me. That’s also the reason why I’m so fascinated by the notion of style (which is not all about clothes). To me, style is the material, clothing, litterary, or cinematographic signature of a personality. I’m not foolish enough to believe that elegant people are better than the others, but I’m nonetheless fascinated by the matter. I love the fact that a movie character’s wardrobe tells me so much about them that the scenario doesn’t even mention. It’s simply part of them.

While I’m not a fictional character, I always dreamt to have a costume that would tell everybody who I am. And to prove my uniqueness (and to satisfy my clothing demands), what’s better than sewing? Preferring the fit of a high-waisted skirt or, on the contrary, the ease of a flowing blouse, a flared skirt rather than a straight one… Beyond the notion of style, I think that sewing is paying attention to your body : looking at it, measuring it, adorning it, sometimes repairing it. Taking the time to think , to make, stitch by stitch (I enjoy the hand finishing), at our own pace, what will fit one’s body and one’s soul. A very special way to pay attention.

Koromogae

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“Hey! I did my Koromogae, last week-end!  _ Your what, Carlotta?”

My love for weird foreign concept (or, should we simply call it snobism?) won’t do me any good. Koromogae, if you briefly lived in Japan (or read a lot of shojo mangas), is the big wardrobe turnover that Japanese students and salarymen do twice a year, in April and October.

While I love the idea for itself (such a radical change in everybody’s daylife in a week-end), it is no surprise that koromogae also has practical assets : place is often an issue in Japan, and this storage turnover allows averybody to keep less seasonable items in more remote places of your home. I’ve been doing my Koromogae every 6 months for at least two and a half years, and I find it highly profitable :

1. It’s the perfect opportunity to draw conclusions from the past season: everything you didn’t wear has to go to the charity shop, everything that’s too worn-out gets recycled; therefore, twice a year, you get to refine the content of your wardrobe.

2. Thanks to the lavender bags that I put among my cashmere sweaters (I’m afraid of mites), my flat smells like heaven for days.

3. A less crowded closet is a clear closet: not only it’s more agreeable, but also I get a better sense of what I have when getting dressed.

4. I’m such a sucker for neatly organized things: this way I even get to fold my socks and divide them between “winterly” and “summerly” colors (I still have hesitations concerning grey socks).

5. You’re as happy to find your spring clothes after 6 months of separation, as you would be to meet long-lost friends again (if you’re not, maybe you should refer to point n°1).

6. Since my significant one seems to find me a tiny little bit frivolous, it’s nice he only gets to see half my clothes at once (he has 6 months to forget about the other half).

7. Since I don’t have the necessary storage space to keep the other half of my closet, koromogae is also an excellent opportunity to see my beloved parents!

8. Finally, as we enjoy the first rays of sun of the year, the clotheshorse is drawn to the koromogae just like Parisians are drawn en masse to parks and terraces: it is an instinct, a fever, a celebration of nature – our own rite of spring.

As I answered this call two weeks ago, the sun was high and we had had our first lunch outside. It’s been cold and rainy ever since. All my warm, cozy clothes are at my parent’s place.

Damn rite of spring.

In praise of cleavage

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Of course this issue certainly varies in different countries, since modesty standards probably differ between Europe, America and Asia, but from my point of view, blogs display much less cleavage than girls do IRL (whereas they display more legs, barebacks or midriffs). Is it because cleavage is not so trendy these days? I remember reading a book from French designer Chantal Thomass. It was written in the 90’s, and she advised not to conceal, and even to show a pretty bra _ I feel like it would be different today… Maybe fashion is more about legs nowadays, I’m not sure. But when I’m out (and not in nightclubs), ‘real girls’ seem to wear deeper necklines than what I’m used to see on my screen. Why such a difference?

Fashion on blogs _at least in France_ is much different from the fashion you can see in the streets (I’m not talking about fashion week streetstyle, of course). Most autors and readers are women, and aside from having an interesting blog people would be eager to read (which is already much, I admit), I don’t think there’s seduction there. Moreover, internet has a rather magnifying effect: unless a girl has a really small bust and is willing to follow the Jane Birkin way, which is rather bad taste-proof, a girl can easily be called vulgar, or even be accused to attract a different kind of readership; I understand why some would avoid that.

However, I think I like cleavages. Sometimes they show something about a person that you can’t tell just by looking at a face: the spine of a back, a tan line or a white skin with blue veins, a strap or a piece of lace, revealing a taste for lingerie. As for myself, it exposes what is somehow my trademark : a few of my numerous beauty spots _ and I love beauty spots. No, really: I do like cleavages.

Above, a deep yet very respectable neckline – very Dior.

Fall style: sweet & sour

I have a confession to make : I’m fascinated by a certain archetypal character : the French Bourgeoise, the very type played by Catherine Deneuve, portrayed by Helmut Newton, and, of course, dressed by Yves Saint-Laurent. Last year’s restrospective of the couturier’s work was very influential on this season’s collections, and to my great pleasure, seventies are on trend again. But after going to the YSL Rive Gauche (Saint-Laurent’s ready-to-wear line) exhibition, and reading his biography by Laurence Benaïm, I must say I would be under Saint-Laurent’s influence anyway. Since I have plenty new year resolutions to achieve (and that I need to wear something on my back), I figured I could use some of his vibrant colors for this fall sewing.

What’s unusual though, is that I’m going against my penchant for the seventies regarding figures. It must be because I’m so glad I discovered high waists and can’t get enough of them (yet), so I’ll mix these acid colors with the soft spot I have for the late fifties/early sixties fashion. This fall’s fashion icon is Catherine Deneuve in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, rather than Faye Dunawaye in Eyes of Laura Mars. But is it very sensible to pick the provincial pregnant teenager over the sexy photographer?

Oh, beauty!

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Sharon Tate, Britt Eckland, Monica Vitti, Marianne Faithful, Catherine Deneuve, Miss Dior, Tuesday Wield, Brigitte Bardot

I often wonder what to do with my face or my body, but until now I never wondered about having a beauty ideal. Not only do I appreciate beauty in all its variety, but the very idea of a beauty ideal (or things such as ’10 most beautiful something’ rankings) seems a bit absurd to me: deciding that this actress, this model is the most beautiful woman in the world (or in your opinion) is a bit pointless to my eyes, but above all, what’s the use of setting an ideal if you can’t reach it?

Well, this is all the fault of Elixie (a bit) and of Pinterest (a lot). It all started with this picture of Tuesday Wield: the seed from which grew this board of blondes in black and white. That’s how it appeared: this familiar face, with high cheekbones, sensual lips, big dark eyes, framed by a thick blond mane… This could be the face of the sixties and seventies, my favorite decades for style and music. To my utter dismay, I even realized that the avatar I picked (René Gruau’s original Miss Dior) shares the same dark eyes and pouffy blond hair.

I say “to my utter dismay”, because the fact I do have an ideal after all doesn’t change a thing to my original opinion: I actually feel a little trapped and frustrated! There’s no way I can turn my eyes to dark brown or make my hair grow into a thick mane: my eyes will remain clear and my hair too fine. Sometimes I wish I’d remain ignorant about myself…

The Donkeyskin complex

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This blog has been a little drowsy lately. I haven’t been idle (I even made big progresses on my summer essentials), but my (usually pretty vivid) coquetry definitely was: readers, I think I suffer from a Donkeyskin complex.

The Donkeyskin complex (Donkeyskin seems like a fairly French fairytale, but as you can check here, it’s not a skin disease) is when you always wear the same three pairs of jeans, whereas there are some pretty dresses in your closet. Granted, the weather has been dreadful on France’s northern hemisphere these last weeks, and going bare legs was a little difficult. But even in the brightest, hottest days of May and June, I was already the prey of this terrible disease: the Donkeyskin complex doesn’t have anything to do with the weather, but rather with the idea that you have to be a slattern, in order to one day become a pretty princess.

A slattern is not necessarily dirty (do you think I’d post such a thing on a blog?), but rather… sloppy. The “slattern state” could also be called anti-style: in my case, it consists in wearing the same poorly fitting denim trousers, identical Petit Bateau tees and plain sweaters, while sketching, making and pinning pretty clothes. The Donkeyskin complex is the dichotomy between our day-to-day self, this ordinary being we tend to neglect, and the ideal style you’d like to find and wear.

This is actually a perverse idea: as if you had to wait, in order to begin to try to be and feel like yourself, a bit like some (being themselves victims of the Prince Charming complex?) wait for the ‘right person’ so that they can begin to think of happiness. Whereas there are much more chances to find this ‘right person’ while you’re already trying to be happy by yourself… Right? I confusely remember some words that I think were from Vivienne Westwood: according to her (or at least it seems like something she would say), best dressed people tend to live more interesting lives. I really wonder what I’m waiting for…

Toward a better balance

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The day when we’re all as elegant as a drawing by Gruau, well, will be a great day for fashion indeed…

This week and the week before, I shopped a few items on sales. It’s a rather non-remarkable fact, but what’s more remarkable is that I didn’t purchase anything but a pair of shoes and a bunch of Petit Bateau tees (I had found them for less than €2) between the current sales and the ones before them.

That was unpremeditated : I didn’t take a wardrobe refashion pledge or anything ; still, I’m rather proud of myself, considering the fact it’s a rather new experience for me. Even if I’m not the shopaholic I suspected myself to be a few years ago, I’m nevertheless a very contemporary girl : always happy to get new clothes, and never satisfied with what she already has. So why did my consumption slow down during these last months?

I think taking sewing more and more seriously, even if I’m far from considering myself a good seamstress, has undubitably something to do with it. As I noticed it after the Made in France trade show, I’ve grown more and more critical about the things I find in high-street stores. A gapping pair of trousers, a poorly finished shirt, an item that isn’t made of 100% something, and I leave the garment on the shelf. Even if it seems perfect, I always have the feeling that it shouldn’t be sold at this price (I don’t think I purchased a garment at 100% of its original price for a very long time). There are also not-so-positive reasons : shopping as a leisure activity is making me feel less an less at ease. It might be hypocritical from someone dedicating her blog to style in general (after all, I beneficiated a lot from fast fashion), but over-consumption sickens me just as much as I find it worrying, since, as Zoe describes it in this excellent post, it has become an essential part of our economy.

I know we’re far from the Carlotta version of fashion & style wonderland, where H&M salesgirls are now local seamstresses, and where their customers own fewer, but much better garments in terms of quality, elegance and fit. Yet, at a very individual scale, I can’t help but to consider my “unpremeditated abstinence” as a good sign…

Head in a cloud (of images)

I’m not done with the gigantic paper I have to write yet, but phew! things are looking up. By the way, I hope you like the illustration today : the original was on auction at Christie’s last April, and I think it stands perfectly for the enchanting movie I’m currently working on, the quirky maze of my mind, and the atrocious headaches that strike me from time to time.

I don’t write nor sew currently, but it doesn’t mean I dont think about it! On the contrary, since I discovered Pinterest, I just found a terrific new toy. ‘Terrific’ is appropriate, because I lost some time I couldn’t afford to lose on this website. The idea of putting together images of things you like is far from revolutionary, but I rather like the presentation (or maybe it was Amélie‘s kitten wall that made me sway).

Well, it changes everything! I usually stock every picture I like in the depths of my computer, but it isn’t really of much use (and I usually have a hard time finding them again). Pinterest obliges me to sort them from the beginning, and it’s quite funny to look at your boards and to see what inspired you yesterday and today : as an example, my Summer wardrobe inspiration board begun as a rather fifties moodboard, then shifted to nautical style, then to stripes, then to chevrons. You can surprise yourself, too. When I dedicated a board to black lingerie, I didn’t expect it to include straps of all sorts ; nor did I realize that I happen to like a particularly cliché type of girl. I can’t say much more at the moment (remember, I’m not done with my paper yet), but should you have lots of time to spend on the internet, I would highly recommend this thing. Just take care : the stuff is addictive!