Christian Dior   Leave a comment



Christian DiorDior And Models


Christian Dior (21 January 1905 – 23 October 1957) was a French fashion designer, best known as the founder of one of the world’s top fashion houses, also called Christian Dior, but now owned by LVMH.

Christian Dior was born in Granville, a seaside town on the coast of Normandy, France, the second of the five children of Maurice Dior, a wealthy fertilizer manufacturer (the family firm was Dior Frères), and his wife, the former Isabelle Cardamone. He had four siblings: Raymond (father of Françoise Dior), Jacqueline, Bernard, and Ginette (aka Catherine). When Christian was about five years old, the family moved to Paris, France, but still returned to the Normandy coast for summer vacations.

Dior’s family had hopes he would become a diplomat, but Dior was artistic and wished to be involved in art. He was gay, though not openly so. To make money, he sold his fashion sketches outside his house for about 10 cents each. In 1928, Dior left school and received money from his father to finance a small art gallery, where he and a friend sold art by the likes of Pablo Picasso. Three years later, after the death of Dior’s mother and brother and a financial disaster in the family’s fertilizer business, during the Great Depression, that resulted in his father losing control of Dior Frères, the gallery had to be closed.

From then until about 1940 he worked with fashion designer Robert Piguet, when he was called up for military service.

In 1942, when Dior left the army, he joined the fashion house of Lucien Lelong, where he and Pierre Balmain were the primary designers. For the duration of World War II, Dior, as an employee of Lelong — who labored to preserve the French fashion industry during wartime for economic and artistic reasons — designed dresses for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators, as did other fashion houses that remained in business during the war, including Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, and Nina Ricci. While Dior dressed Nazi wives, his sister Catherine (1917—2008) served as a member of the French Resistance, was captured by the Gestapo, and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was incarcerated until she was liberated in May 1945.

On 8 December 1946 Dior founded his fashion house, backed by Marcel Boussac, a cotton-fabric magnate. The actual name of the line of his first collection, presented on 12 February 1947, was Corolle (literally the botanical term corolla or circlet of flower petals in English), but the phrase New Look was coined for it by Carmel Snow, the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar. Dior’s designs were more voluptuous than the boxy, fabric-conserving shapes of the recent World War II styles, influenced by the rations on fabric. He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes; Dior is quoted as saying “I have designed flower women.” His look employed fabrics lined predominantly with percale, boned, bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats that made his dresses flare out from the waist, giving his models a very curvaceous form.

Initially, women protested because his designs covered up their legs, which they had been unused to because of the previous limitations on fabric. There was also some backlash to Dior’s designs due to the amount of fabrics used in a single dress or suit. During one photo shoot in a Paris market, the models were attacked by female vendors over this profligacy, but opposition ceased as the wartime shortages ended. The “New Look” revolutionized women’s dress and reestablished Paris as the center of the fashion world after World War II.

Dior died while on holiday in Montecatini, Italy on 23 October 1957. Some reports say that he died of a heart attack after choking on a fish bone. Time’s obituary stated that he died of a heart attack after playing a game of cards. However, one of Dior’s acquaintances, the Paris socialite Baron de Redé, wrote in his memoirs that contemporary rumor was that the heart attack had been caused by a strenuous sexual encounter. As of 2013 the exact circumstances of Dior’s death remain undisclosed.

The Paul Gallico novella Mrs ‘Arris Goes to Paris (1958, UK title Flowers for Mrs Harris) tells the story of a London charwoman who falls in love with her employer’s couture wardrobe and decides to go to Paris to purchase herself a Dior ballgown.

A perfume named Christian Dior is used in Haruki Murakami’s novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as an influential symbol placed at critical plot points throughout.

The English singer-songwriter Morrissey released a song titled “Christian Dior” as a b-side to his 2006 single “In the Future When All’s Well”.

In the ateliers, each collection is a new challenge to overcome, an eternal return to the starting line which has continued unceasingly since Christian Dior’s first fashion show on February 12, 1947. The photographer Willy Vanderperre immortalized this discreet alchemy between Raf Simons and his artisans, where  each one gets his or her bearings, and figures things out. From the first fittings to the minutest adjustments, the dialogue is precise. Because behind the designer’s contemporary vision and the sweep of his pencil it’s the focused petites mains  who interpret the sketches and bring the collection to life. An emotional relationship with the garment is established. In the tailoring atelier which produces structured pieces, such as the jackets and coats, traditions have been shaken up. The Bar  jacket opens the show in a sleek tuxedo version that allows the woman freedom of movement.

In the atelier flou, where the soft dressmaking takes place, silhouettes are completely reinvented, with dresses of jaw-dropping meterage sharply finished, cut lengthways. It’s a new architecture, one that’s more modern and dynamic. The absolute mastery of the designer’s cuts and materials brings the House codes up to date. The complexity of the fabrics resembling the paintings of the artist Sterling Ruby woven in duchess satin and the flowers delicately embroidered in shades of color on the dresses are two of the multiple examples of the technical prowess of the ateliers which faultlessly exercise this exceptionalsavoir-faire  and cultivate this unique mark of excellence. In the closed world of the ateliers, a new story is being written, in which the future is fed with the emblematic codes of the past.

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Posted April 17, 2014 by elizabetheswan in Uncategorized

Chanel   Leave a comment

Fashion designer Coco Chanel, born August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France, is famous for her timeless designs, trademark suits, and little black dresses. Chanel was raised in an orphanages and taught to sew. She had a brief career as a singer before opening her first clothes shop in 1910. In the 1920s, she launched her first perfume and introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress.

Fashion designer. Born on August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France. With her trademark suits and little black dresses, Coco Chanel created timeless designs that are still popular today. She herself became a much revered style icon known for her simple yet sophisticated outfits paired with great accessories, such as several strands of pearls. As Chanel once said,“luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

Her early years, however, were anything but glamorous. After her mother’s death, Chanel was put in an orphanage by her father who worked as a peddler. She was raised by nuns who taught her how to sew—a skill that would lead to her life’s work. Her nickname came from another occupation entirely. During her brief career as a singer, Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.” Some say that the name comes from one of the songs she used to sing, and Chanel herself said that it was a “shortened version of cocotte, the French word for ‘kept woman,” according to an article in The Atlantic.
Fashion Pioneer

Around the age of 20, Chanel became involved with Etienne Balsan who offered to help her start a millinery business in Paris. She soon left him for one of his even wealthier friends, Arthur “Boy” Capel. Both men were instrumental in Chanel’s first fashion venture.

Opening her first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon in 1910, Chanel started out selling hats. She later added stores in Deauville and Biarritz and began making clothes. Her first taste of clothing success came from a dress she fashioned out of an old jersey on a chilly day. In response to the many people who asked about where she got the dress, she offered to make one for them. “My fortune is built on that old jersey that I’d put on because it was cold in Deauville,” she once told author Paul Morand.

In the 1920s, Chanel took her thriving business to new heights. She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which was the first to feature a designer’s name. Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.

In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs were revolutionary for the time—borrowing elements of men’s wear and emphasizing comfort over the constraints of then-popular fashions. She helped women say good-bye to the days of corsets and other confining garments.

Another 1920s revolutionary design was Chanel’s little black dress. She took a color once associated with mourning and showed just how chic it could be for eveningwear. In addition to fashion, Chanel was a popular figure in the Paris literary and artistic worlds. She designed costumes for the Ballets Russes and for Jean Cocteau’s play Orphée, and counted Cocteau and artist Pablo Picasso among her friends. For a time, Chanel had a relationship with composer Igor Stravinsky.
Lovelief and Scandal

Another important romance for Chanel began in the 1920s. She met the wealthy duke of Westminster aboard his yacht around 1923, and the two started a decades-long relationship. In response to his marriage proposal, she reportedly said “There have been several Duchesses of Westminster—but there is only one Chanel!”

The international economic depression of the 1930s had a negative impact on her company, but it was the outbreak of World War II that led Chanel to close her business. She fired her workers and shut down her shops. During the German occupation of France, Chanel got involved with a German military officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage. She got special permission to stay in her apartment at the Hotel Ritz. After the war ended, Chanel was interrogated by her relationship with von Dincklage, but she was not charged as a collaborator. Some have wondered whether friend Winston Churchill worked behind the scenes on Chanel’s behalf.

While not officially charged, Chanel suffered in the court of public opinion. Some still viewed her relationship with a Nazi officer as a betrayal of her country. Chanel left Paris, spending some years in Switzerland in a sort of exile. She also lived at her country house in Roquebrune for a time.

At the age of 70, Chanel made a triumphant return to the fashion world. She first received scathing reviews from critics, but her feminine and easy-fitting designs soon won over shoppers around the world.

In 1969, Chanel’s fascinating life story became the basis for the Broadway musical Coco starring Katharine Hepburn as the legendary designer. Alan Jay Lerner wrote the book and lyrics for the show’s song while Andre Prévin composed the music. Cecil Beaton handled the set and costume design for the production. The show received seven Tony Award nominations, and Beaton won for Best Costume Design and René Auberjonois for Best Featured Actor.

Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971, at her apartment in the Hotel Ritz. She never married, having once said “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” Hundreds crowded together at the Church of the Madeleine to bid farewell to the fashion icon. In tribute, many of the mourners wore Chanel suits.

A little more than a decade after her death, designer Karl Lagerfeld took the reins at her company to continue the Chanel legacy. Today her namesake company continues to thrive and is believed to generate hundreds of millions in sales each year.

In addition to the longevity of her designs, Chanel’s life story continues to captivate people’s attention. There have been several biographies of the fashion revolutionary, including Chanel and Her World (2005) written by her friend Edmonde Charles-Roux.

In the recent television biopic, Coco Chanel (2008), Shirley MacLaine starred as the famous designer around the time of her 1954 career resurrection. The actress told WWD that she had long been interested in playing Chanel. “What’s wonderful about her is she’s not a straightforward, easy woman to understand.”

Photograph courtesy of the V&A
Chanel evening trouser suit, 1937
Black sequins applied onto net ground lined with silk chiffon.
Given to the V&A by Mrs Diana Vreeland.
Photography by Matt Jones.  Picture from Lily Lemontree
Diane Kruger wears a sequin dress by Emilio Pucci
I like the stars and the silver details
The stripes down the arm are a nice touch
Both pieces will be great worn separately
I like the silver stripe on the trousers
And the oversize stars

Posted November 20, 2011 by elizabetheswan in Uncategorized

Tribute to MaryVitas Asensio   10 comments

MaryVitas  Asensio

     January 23, 1946 – December 28, 2010

One of the great ladies in fashion and the world of art, MaryVitas Asensio, died  in Valencia at the age of 64.
MaryVitas had an instinct for style in all things.  As in her own jewelry and fashion designs. She was a design alchemist. Was absolutely singular, remarkable and intriguing.
She had a wit and an ability to see the giddy world of fashion with a sometimes amused detachment and had fearless style, always dressed with a certain spirit of fantasy.
When MaryVitas Asensio, passed  at the age of 64, there was an immediate and heartfelt outpouring on Facebook from those that knew her personally and those who simply admired her elegant way and her life as an influential style icon.

Peter Morrison recalls: “ I was at the Mostra Film of Valencia, accompanied by actress Tippi Hedren to and I remember when we were introduced to MaryVitas Asensio, we were shocked to its beauty and its wonderful black eyes. The most beautiful and deep eyes, I’ve seen in my life.   A striking beauty. Chicest, chicest woman I’d ever seen.”
James De Taylor, praised her “extraordinary elegance” and her ability to connect people. “One loved you straight away, dear MaryVitas, from the very first instant, and one loved you forever,” he said. “I admired her for her grace, her elegance and generosity; she was so open minded about everything. She was one of the women I loved the most and I will never forget.”

Mª Nieves  Asensio ~ “MaryVitas” Asensio – was born in  Valencia, Spain on January  23, 1946.
She was the true descendant of a line of formidably stylish women.  Her mother, Mª Nieves Gómez Pedreira, was a heart-stopping beauty with class and elegance only natural that his daughter would inherit. “Startling,  beautiful face and an infinite mystery.”
After completing his studies, he began working in the field of fashion. His extraordinary beauty, her slender figure, and his well-known taste, were admired and imitated. It had become a style icon. Considered a great diva.
His passion for art, paintings and antiques, make him leave the world of fashion. It was a good painter. Original artist like few others.
MaryVitas Asensio has assiduously worked as a restorer of old, and dedicate all the way to his career.
It was the owner of the Gallery “La Cúpula” in Valencia (Spain), and was a cultural landmark of the city.

She was truely one of a kind and you can’t find anyone like her in this world- never will. Aside from her kind heart, she was perfect in every one of her features.
Watch this beautiful creature mature before your very eyes and the beauty that she seems to endlessly possess.
Died after battling of lung cancer. He was 64.

R.I.P MaryVitas!    we’ll never forget you.

MaryVitasMaryVitas AsensioMaryVitas Asensio

This is a fantastic tribute to MaryVitas Asensio. Was absolutely stunning!  Classy and elegant beauty. We can never bring her back, but at least we can keep her memory alive with lovely videos like this one.
Really touched my heart. I just LOVE this video. Lovely and touching.

Posted March 4, 2011 by elizabetheswan in Uncategorized

Ricardo Asensio   3 comments

Ricardo Asensio

Prestigious portraitist of the illustrious and the intellectuals, he is an artist who has a compromise with the renovation in paint. His artwork started as purely figurative, only centered in the face of person that he was painting as well as the landscape, in oil or pastel, his palette managing to make a turnaround from a realism almost photographic due to the perfection of his drawing to an expressionism very strong in sober hues and well defined compositions. He studied in Valencia, Barcelona and Rome.
Exhibitions: More than 30 years in many individual an group shows in art galleries, museums, biennials and international arts fairs in European countries and in the United States.
Awards: He has obtained numerous awards granted by important international competitions dedicated to figurative painting such as Honorary Mention in New York, even thought it is in Italy where the artist reaches the peak of his career in 1979 when he became a finalist for the scholarship in painting granted by the Spanish Academy in Rome where he lives and exhibits his portraits obtaining the Award “Villa Alessandra” in 1981. Prize “Controvento”, 1982. The fine Arts Merit Medal 1996. “Villa Serravalle” award Florence, 1997. The “Gran Collare d´Argento” Palinuro nel Mondo . The award “Old Florence” and “The Oscar of Culture” 2001. The Italy Grand Award 2003. “La Dea Alata” award Florence, 2003. The Gold Medal of the Trophy “Medusa Aurea”, 26th edition, Rome, 2003 granted by the Modern Art International Academy . Great Award “Maremma” in the Trophy Costa d´Argento , Toscana, Italy. The Great Award “City of Florence” 2003 from “Il Marzzoco”Academy. The first prize “Costa Toscana”, IV Italy Biennial. The first prize “Europe 2004”, Turin. The first prize “Sant Ambroggio d´Oro”. Milan 2004. The “Gran Collare Academico” Rome 2004. The Gran Prize Europe Art “Mediolanum” Milan 2005. First Prize “Hans Christian Andersen Festival”, Copenhagen (Denmark). First Prize “Rembrandt” 2006, Netherlands. Career Award Prize Sever, Milan. “Artist of the year 2007″Academy Severiade, Milan. Prize for culture “Artistic Centre La Conca” Roma. Prize “Leonardo Da Vinci” 2009. “Prize Universal ” 2009, Florence.
NOBEL Prize for the Arts, Milan Italy… and many others.

Honors: He is an “Honorary Academician”Michelangelo Order from the International Santa Rita Academy of Turin; Academician from the Universal Academy “Antonio Canova”; Academician from the International “Il Marzzoco” Academy in Florence; Academician from the “Greci-Marino” Academy; Academician from the”Verbano” (Arts, Sciences and Literature), Italy.

Collections: As a portraistwe should mention as oustanding his magnificent portrait of NOBEL Prize Camilo José Cela, the writer Antonio Buero Vallejo, the Princess of Orleans, Isabel Preysler, Marisa Yordi de Borbon, Carmen Martinez Bordiu, actresses Kim Novak, Virna Lisi, Brooke Shields, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Victoria Vera and Faye Dunaway.

Artworks are in public and private collections in the United States, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

Posted March 4, 2011 by elizabetheswan in Uncategorized

Cecil Beaton   Leave a comment

British photographer and costume and production designer in full Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton


Photographer known primarily for his portraits of celebrated persons, who also worked as an illustrator, a diarist, and an Academy Award-winning costume and set designer.

Beaton’s interest in photography began when, as a young boy, he admired portraits of society women and actresses circulated on picture postcards and in Sunday supplements of newspapers. When he got his first camera at age 11, his nurse taught him how to use it and how to process negatives and prints. He costumed and posed his sisters in an attempt to re-create the popular portraits that he loved.


Greta Garbo by Cecil Beaton

In the 1920s Beaton became a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines. He developed a style of portraiture in which the sitter became merely one element of an overall decorative pattern, which was dominated by backgrounds made of unusual materials such as aluminium foil or papier-mâché. The results, which combined art and artifice, were alternately exquisite, exotic, or bizarre, but always chic. Many of these portraits are gathered in his books The Book of Beauty (1930), Persona Grata (1953, with Kenneth Tynan), and It Gives Me Great Pleasure (1953).


Audrey Hepburn © Cecil Beaton Archive, Sothebys London / Collection National Portrait Gallery, London.

During World War II, Beaton served in the British Ministry of Information, covering the fighting in Africa and East Asia. His wartime photographs of the siege of Britain were published in the book Winged Squadrons (1942). After the war Beaton resumed portrait photography, but his style became much less flamboyant. He also broadened his activities, designing costumes and sets for theatre and film. He won Academy Awards for his costume design in Gigi (1958) and for both his costume design and his art direction in My Fair Lady (1964). Several volumes of his diaries, which appeared in the 1960s and ’70s, were summarized in Self Portrait with Friends: The Selected Diaries of Cecil Beaton, 1926–1974 (1979). Beaton was knighted in 1972.


Marilyn by Cecil Beaton


Self Portrait 1930

All Photos © Cecil Beaton

Posted March 4, 2011 by elizabetheswan in Uncategorized