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July 30 2014

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A Pretty Scandal: Revisiting the Fifties at the Palais Galliera

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Fifties dresses

Long before Olivier Saillard arrived to shake things up as director of the Palais Galliera, the fashion museum of the City of Paris had established a tradition of mounting exhibitions around a given decade, such as the twenties or thirties.

With The 50s: Fashion in France, 1947-1957, which opens on July 12, Saillard sought to honor that heritage and also remind the world that the fifties, at least in fashion terms, was a few years ahead of the Gregorian calendar. “It was really that revolutionary bomb of Christian Dior’s New Look in 1947 that brought the decade into the fifties,” Saillard commented during a preview. A decade later, Mr. Dior died suddenly and his young assistant, Yves Saint Laurent, moved to the helm. In between those bookends flourished what was arguably the last golden era of couture. “I like the idea of putting the couture heritage out there, because right now we’re seeing several young designers who are redeveloping it in their own way,” observed Saillard. “It’s also an era that’s joliment scandaleuse [prettily scandalous] as much at the beginning as the end.”

The Galliera’s considerable trove includes a lot of Dior. (Consider for a moment that by the mid-fifties, Dior alone accounted for 49 percent of French fashion’s total exports.) A Bar suit stands sentry at the entrance, followed swiftly by the rose pink Bonbon dress from Dior’s first collection and the asymmetrical peplumed Bernique (Winter ’50-’51), a recent discovery. But Saillard and his team bring to the fore other remarkable, iconic wares, including a 1954 Chanel suit (a look the Americans were quicker than the French to embrace, he noted, precisely because it was made to be worn from morning to cocktail hour). Elsewhere, a 1954 black Balenciaga suit that looks as though it could have stepped off the runway yesterday keeps company with pieces by Carven, Balmain, Fath, Givenchy, Cardin, Schiaparelli, and Saint Laurent, among others. All-but-unknowns get play, too, such as Jean Dessès, Grès, Henry a la Pensée, and Jacques Heim, a star of the time who costumed films such as Falbalas (known in English as Paris Frills).

“There’s a real feeling of destiny about this decade,” observed Saillard. “When you map out the stars, there are so many houses we still talk about. Givenchy, Saint Laurent, and Karl Lagerfeld were taking their first steps in fashion, and it’s also a time when future greats, such as Christian Lacroix and Jean Paul Gaultier, were born. So many names are anchored in that decade in one way or another, it’s very strange.”

The show’s staging resurrects old nuggets from fashion’s lexicon (day suit, day dress, late-afternoon dress, city dress, tea dress, travel coat, etc.), a reminder of how much things have changed. “Today it’s just a dress,” quipped Saillard, rattling off a few numbers that speak volumes, too: There were 106 couture houses in Paris in 1946, a number that had dwindled to thirty-six by 1958.

Given that there are more than a hundred pieces displayed, highlights are too numerous to list here, but they include clever beachwear (a yellow popover by Hermès practically begs for re-edition), accessories, and evening dresses once worn by style icons: the Duchess of Windsor’s Palmyre dress by Dior (1952) is one of the museum’s most precious pieces. Nearby, the 1957 Opium dress from Dior’s last collection (Winter 1957) was donated by Best Dressed legend Jacqueline de Ribes, who will be the subject of her own exhibition at the Met next year.

The 50s: Fashion in France, 1947-1957 runs from July 12 to November 2 at Paris’ Palais Galliera

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Heart of Glass: Baccarat Celebrates 250 Years With a Trio of Love Stories

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French crystal manufacturer Baccarat is hosting a couture week blowout this evening. And after 250 years in business, a celebration at Maison Baccarat is certainly in order. To fete the milestone birthday, the company commissioned three short films by directors Sonia Sieff, Joséphine de la Baume, and Chiara Clemente—all of which revolve around a love story. The series, titled “Legendary Stories,” will premiere at the sure-to-be sparkling affair. Sieff’s film, which stars Caroline de Maigret and Thierry Frémont, sees two ex-lovers rekindle their flame while swilling red wine out of brilliant Baccarat glasses. The heady work debuts exclusively here. And don’t forget to check back later today for our complete party report.

Mario Testino Learns From Instagram and Announces a New Book

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Mario Testino only joined Instagram last December, but he’s already racked up 467,000 followers and counting—not to mention a new outlook about the possibilities the online feed can create. “Everyone’s always saying that a photographer shouldn’t give away his work, but I think [Instagram] elevates things,” he noted. “I hear from people from all over the world who want to be a part of my ‘towel’ series.” Best of all, the lensman added, the online format has taught him to focus on content rather than just the end product—a glossy, for example. “I’m always telling people how it’s the journey that matters,” he observes. “For me, this is exactly it.”

That said, Testino also has an end product in sight: Sir, a photography book of his pictures of men, including text contributions by writers as yet unnamed, is scheduled for publication in time for next January’s Paris men’s collections. No doubt, the tome’s big reveal will make it onto more than a few fashion insiders’ Insta accounts.

Photo: Via Instagram

iLifestyle, Coming Soon? Apple Taps Yet Another Fashion Exec

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Apple Hosts Its Worldwide Developers ConferenceWhen Apple poached Angela Ahrendts last year, it marked a major turning point for the megabrand—the former Burberry CEO was enlisted to bring Apple back to its roots and make it not just a tech brand, but a luxury lifestyle label. Paul Deneve, the former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, also made the leap from fashion to Silicon Valley to work on special projects at Apple. Today, Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times reported that yet another fashion exec has made the jump to Apple. The sales vice president for TAG Heuer, Patrick Pruniaux, has been tapped for an unspecified role with the company.

Though it has not been confirmed, it looks like we might have the man who will helm that iWatch everyone has been buzzing about. When it was first announced that Deneve was joining Apple, there were plenty of rumors floating around that he would be taking on that project. Those turned out to be false. But who better than a TAG Heuer expert to best the competing Samsung Galaxy Gear watch?

With the iWatch reportedly due out in October and a new version of fashion’s greatest accessory, the iPhone, coming out this fall, Apple is busy preparing for some big releases.

But the bigger question remains: What else does it have up its sleeves? It’s now got an all-star team of veteran luxury executives, with presumably more joining it soon. But Ahrendts, who is the head of Apple’s retail and online stores, is a turnaround artist, and like Steve Jobs, she’s an exec with a vision. Certainly, wearable tech is where the focus is these days, with everyone from Google to Opening Ceremony to Nike getting into the game, but Apple hasn’t made its mark in this niche. Yet. Might we see an Apple wearable tech piece make its debut on the runways at New York fashion week, instead of in a more traditional rollout? We wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

On the Last Day of Mercury Retrograde, Chrissie Miller Explains It All

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Kanon Organic Vodka Dinner Party to Celebrate the Opening of 143Has your computer stopped working? Did your brand-new shoes fall apart? Mercury Retrograde might be to blame for all that. Luckily, it all ends today. To celebrate, we asked Chrissie Miller (pictured, left), the daughter of fashion’s favorite astrologer Susan Miller (pictured, right) and a rising star expert herself, to shed some light on what’s been going on with the cosmos. Here’s what she had to say.

When I was young, my mom (Susan Miller) would tell me not to tell anyone that she knew astrology, so it’s still crazy to me that now Mercury Retrograde is part of normal conversation these days. First of all, I would like to set the record straight about it: Mercury in Retrograde—let’s call it “MR”—is not a bad thing. It can definitely be annoying, which is why it has a bad rap, but there are also great things that can happen during MR, too. Let me explain. Mercury is the planet of communication, language, writing, editing, research, and speaking—basically, it’s the planet that makes us get things done, and done right. When it is in Retrograde (going backward), it can make that more difficult. Also, I hear people say that Mercury is always in Retrograde. Well, it’s not. It happens three times a year, three and a half weeks a year.

The worst of it: Computers or anything electrical may not work and need repair. You may have a miscommunication with a friend or lover. I would avoid having big talks during this time. I wouldn’t get married or sign any contracts, at all. Nothing bad will happen, but again, it could be annoying. For example, if you sign a lease, you may have to move out sooner than you thought, or if you get married it might rain…stuff like that. I also try not to buy anything new, like clothes. I usually wind up not liking it, or it breaks.

The best of it: I got my first job out of college during MR. The job, which ended up lasting many years, was with a friend from high school who was starting his own business. When I run into someone from my past during MR, there is usually a good reason. Also, it’s a good time to clean your house—think of it as astrological spring cleaning. I bet you will find things you have been looking for. (I just found a pair of earrings that I thought were gone forever.)

I also want to point out that astrology is very complicated. It takes years and years of studying—it’s really a science. I have been studying it since birth, and I have just scratched the surface. I trust my mom because I know how long she has been studying and learning it. So, beware of your friends who tell you that Scorpio rising is messing with your love life. Stick with the professionals.

Photo: Matteo Prandoni /BFAnyc.com