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8 posts tagged "Irving Penn"

Dressing for Fame: Ilaria Urbinati Talks Styling Shailene Woodley and a Gaggle of Hollywood’s Leading Gents

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If celebrity status is conferred in red-carpet appearances, then no actress today can compete without the help of just the right stylist. As Kerry Washington once told Glamour after she noticeably upped the sartorial ante, “There were a couple of actresses whom I felt were having the upper hand careerwise—because they knew how to work that red carpet.” A carefully crafted collaboration between stylist and client, the perfect look can create an indelible impact on agents, casting directors, and those of us watching from the sidelines. Straight from the epicenter of all things celebrity, we’ve asked some of the industry’s top stylists to share their experiences and impressions from their perch above Tinseltown. With our Dressing for Fame series, we bring you an exclusive, insider look at everything it takes to create those iconic moments captured by a million photo flashes.

Ilaria Urbinati

Ilaria UrbinatiSure, the ladies generally reign supreme on the red carpet, but sometimes it’s tailored menswear that gets our undivided attention. Stylist Ilaria Urbinati has A-list actresses (like Shailene Woodley) and dapper leading gents (including Bradley Cooper) on her client roster. The latter bunch call on her for every camera-captured turn. Here, she talks to Style.com about styling politics, what it takes to prep a man for the red carpet, and why she thinks being a Virgo has helped her career.

How did you begin styling?

I started out in retail. I was a buyer for various boutiques—Satine, Milk, and my aunt’s store Laura Urbinati—almost right out of high school. I would style a lot of the lookbooks and runway shows for the designers we carried in the stores. I eventually went freelance and just kept going from there!

What about your early experience sets you apart from other stylists?

I grew up in a family of crazy workers. Work ethic ranked really high in our household, so I’m a bit of a machine when it comes to the hours I’m willing to put in. I also grew up in Europe in a pretty artistic family—my mom and grandpa are art dealers, my father is a photographer, and my aunt and sister are both designers. I knew who Irving Penn and Richard Avedon were before I knew basic math, so this stuff’s been seeping in since before I even realized it. Having that mental database of fashion and the arts definitely affects my sense of aesthetic. I’m also a super anal-retentive and over-organized crazy Virgo, which makes me really efficient. I don’t know how in the world someone could be a stylist and not be super-organized—it would be impossible.

Bradley CooperYou style a host of A-list actors, from Bradley Cooper and Chris Evans to Armie Hammer and Will Arnett. How does dressing men differ from styling women?

People always assume dressing men is easier. That’s true in the sense that there are way less politics than there are with women—there’s no fighting to get your hands on certain dresses that can only be worn once. But it isn’t easier in the sense that menswear takes precision and a certain meticulousness. It’s all about the details, tailoring, color combos, and fabric. Quality is key, and you can’t get away with a cheap suit. It’s really about trying to think outside the box because you have more limitations with menswear. I have zero interest in putting a guy in just another gray or black suit. But I also don’t believe in too many bells and whistles. You need to strike the right balance.

When dressing men, what’s the first step? Is it a collaborative process? And where do you find inspiration?

I’m always into some new thing, whether it be printed shirts or a new color combo, so I get really excited to try it on my guys. It’s always a collaborative process. It’s important to me that the guy always feels like himself, while maybe trying something new every once in a while. There’s a lot of camaraderie in fittings, so we make jokes like, “Shut up, look pretty, do what I say, and you’ll be the best-dressed you in the room.” I find that men are able to have such a great sense of humor about fittings and fashion—they don’t take it too seriously, in a good way.

Shailene Woodley Shailene Woodley has drawn a ton of attention lately for her head-turning red-carpet appearances. What is it like to work with her?

Shailene is just such a special human, she really is so heaven. We are always on the same page, and I think she likes that I don’t try to make her look like someone she’s not, but also encourage her to try new things. For instance, we do a lot of bright colors, which was new for her.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

The politics, for sure. You just want to do your job and put your clients in your favorite looks, but it’s not always that simple. There’s the celebrity’s team to contend with, there’s the designers’ wishes to keep in mind—like sometimes we’ll run into a problem when I want to put a dress on someone but the event won’t have photos. Certain designers only lend to certain girls but not others, and there’s not always any rhyme or reason to it. It’s all about who the designers like personally, basically—who they’re fans of.

Sometimes I feel like I have to play publicist. I’ll pitch the client to the designer: “Look how many covers they are on! Look at this big movie they have coming out! They’re blowing up!” It’s silly, but it helps!

What’s your favorite part of the job?

The relationship with the client. I feel lucky because I truly love my clients—some of them feel like family. It’s a really intimate relationship, to dress someone. And I love that collaborative process. The best compliment I can get is that my client feels like him or herself. And I would never want my clients to all dress the same. I don’t want them to have an “Ilaria signature look.” I want their look to feel unique to them.

I also love that there’s a real bond within this generation of stylists. We aren’t competitive and we root for each other. Kemal & Karla, Jeanne Yang, Wendi and Nicole Ferreira, Cher Coulter, Sam McMillen, Joseph Cassell—we are all buddies, and we are genuinely excited for each other when we have a great fashion hit.”

Photos: Courtesy Photo; BFAnyc.com; Getty Images

Paris’ Musée Galliera Gets a New Show, More Dough

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Parkinson and Clarke

Olivier Saillard has struck again. For Papier Glacé, the second exhibition he has curated at Paris’ newly renovated Musée Galliera, Saillard riffled through one hundred years of Condé Nast’s photography archives, pulling mainly from a handful of international Vogues (American, British, German, French, and Italian), to spin a selective history of fashion-as-dialogue. The 150-image show scans like a who’s who of 20th-century lensmen: Images by De Meyer, Horst, Clark (above, right), Schatzberg, Penn, Man Ray, Parkinson (above, left), Beaton, Blumenfeld, Lindbergh, Meisel, Turbeville (below), and Weber, among others, feature in the show. The snaps are accompanied by a dozen or so dresses and accessories, such as an evening coat by Doucet (1913), a Mondrian cocktail dress by Yves Saint Laurent (1965), and a red molded bustier on loan from Issey Miyake (1980).

“Fashion-related exhibitions so often tend to run chronologically, looking toward the past,” offered Paris Vogue editor Emmanuelle Alt, “whereas a magazine comes out every month, it’s life, and it’s constantly changing. [With this show] you see what each brings to the other.” Saillard concurred, noting that fashion magazines are akin to archeologists.

Turbeville

For Alt and for Paris Vogue, the eighteen months spent collaborating on Papier Glacé was far from an end in itself. Rather, it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the nearly one hundred-year-old publication, with the establishment of the Vogue Paris Fashion Fund—a new initiative that will allow the Galliera to make new acquisitions, be they photographs, garments, accessories, or beyond. Launched with a contribution of 100,000 euros, the fund will be renewed annually and receive additional backing via fundraising.

When asked for his wish list, Saillard offered names ranging from Margiela to Corinne Day, Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Iris van Herpen, and Jurgen Teller. “I am always interested in auteurs. To look at our archives, you’d think that everyone has always worn Balenciaga,” he quipped. “I plan to shop myopically: Sometimes the exceptional can be found in an ‘ordinary’ shirt.”

It’s a fair bet that spending the Galliera’s first windfall won’t be too difficult for Saillard, but new acquisitions will be kept under wraps until July 9, the night of the first Vogue Paris Fashion Fund gala event, during haute couture.

Photos: courtesy of the Musée Galliera

Mario Testino Goes Back To His Roots

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Mario Testino's Alta Moda

In past interviews, Mario Testino has alluded that his childhood in Peru was that of a misfit. He was the fashion-crazed oddball in a traditional Catholic family, and by his early twenties, he had left his native Lima for London. So it would seem a touch ironic that Testino returned to Peru to shoot what are arguably some of the most fantastical fashions of his career. Alta Moda, on view at Manhattan’s Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, is the culmination of five years’ work photographing traditional costumes worn by the people of the mountain city of Cusco. All twenty-seven images on view are a window into a lush world rarely seen—particularly by Testino’s usual audiences. The opulent outfits were shot against a traditional painted backdrop from the archives of Martin Chambi, Peru’s seminal indigenous photographer. Below, Testino talks to Style.com about the couture-caliber costumes, his fascination with tradition, and the show’s notable departure from his usual oeuvre.

The name of the show is Alta Moda. What similarities did you see between these costumes and traditional haute couture?
I am known more for shooting a dress like a couture dress, so I thought the game of words was interesting: on one side it’s called Alta Moda because [the costumes com from] the highest region of Peru and “alta” means “high.” The other reason was because these dresses have been made with the same care and the same attention with which a couture dress is made, and it’s lasted for hundreds of years. They repeat the same tradition of embroidery, of the stitching, of the weaving, and couture is like that. There’s a parallel to it, so I thought it made a lot of sense to use that name.

In terms of a jumping-off point with the costumes you were shooting, was it more of an aesthetic connection initially, or a cultural connection?
I think it is a mixture of cultural and aesthetic. This is something I have always been interested in. When you look at my career, in a funny way, I’ve always been doing things related to tradition. I do the royal families, I go to Seville for the holy week and the fair of Seville, when all Sevillians go out into the streets dressed in flamenco dresses, on their horses. I’ve done the same thing with the Catholic church. I did a little exhibition called Disciples, and I went to Rome and photographed all the bishops and the cardinals dressed in their costumes. So the whole resurgence of costumes is something that has always fascinated me, and I’m always being drawn back to it. I guess it’s a mixture between culture and beauty, and aesthetics.

Mario Testino Alta ModaAs someone who doesn’t do many exhibitions, what made you want to show these images?

I opened a cultural institute in Peru called MATE, and I have to come up with exhibitions for them constantly. That’s what originally made me do this exhibition, because I thought it would be interesting for Peruvians to see something they have that maybe they don’t look at normally. It’s like everything: when you have it down your doorstep, you don’t look at it, and maybe you take it for granted. I went to do a job for British Vogue in this region, Cusco, which is the highest in Peru. The thing that brought me to discover this archive of treasures was that I asked for some costumes for some of my fashion pictures for the magazine, and when I saw the whole collection, I thought, “I have to document this.”

You used archival backdrops from the collection of Martin Chambi. What was your intention in doing that? Was it an homage?
I was very influenced when I saw an exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery in London of Martin Chambi in the early eighties, because being Peruvian, I didn’t know about this work, and when I discovered it, I was quite surprised, really, that somebody had documented so well a region that we were all a bit ignorant about. When I arrived in England, I taught myself everything about Europe by looking at photographers like Cecil Beaton, or August Sander, who documented their society, their country, their history, and when I saw this exhibition of Martin Chambi, his portraits were particularly amazing in front of these backdrops. But the thing that caught my attention the most was going to Peru and finding these costumes, it reminded me that I had seen once a picture of Irving Penn’s, from when he had gone to Peru and photographed children against these backdrops. I thought it was an interesting way to bring all the photos together, and to really concentrate on the clothes. Continue Reading “Mario Testino Goes Back To His Roots” »

Did You Get The Memo? Diana Vreeland In Her Own Words

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Memos: The Vogue Years

“Our cover situation is drastic…We are on the verge of a drastic emergency.” So reads the first entry in the latest Diana Vreeland tome, Memos: The Vogue Years. Compiled by Vreeland’s grandson Alexander (the husband of Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who directed The Eye Has to Travel), the book features more than 250 of Vreeland’s infamous notes from her time at Vogue, which she’d dictate over the phone to her secretary while puffing on cigarettes in a wicker chair in the bathroom of her Park Avenue apartment. This, Alexander told us, was her preferred mode of communication. “She didn’t believe in meetings,” he said. His assertion is backed up by Diana’s memo to the Vogue team on page fifty-nine, in which she considers holding a meeting about the “controversial” topic of dress lengths, but resolves, “Usually, when we have meetings, we don’t get ideas and views from people.”

But it wasn’t just her staff whom she’d confront about everything from the importance of pearls and bangles to her annoyance with the mistreatment of her initials in her editor’s letter (above), to the necessity that Vogue‘s spreads “never, ever copy…any kind of coiffure that is reminiscent of the 30s, 40s, 50s,” via her rapier dictations. The book—which is available now from Rizzoli—also includes her correspondences with the likes of Richard (or Dick, as she called him) Avedon, Irving Penn (to whom she complains about lackluster tulips), Cecil Beaton, Cristobal Balenciaga (above), Halston, Veruschka, and beyond. Continue Reading “Did You Get The Memo? Diana Vreeland In Her Own Words” »

Acne On The Body

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Since launching Acne Paper in 2004, the magazine’s editor in chief and creative director, Thomas Persson, has done far more than simply prove it’s not merely a glossy offset of the denim empire. This week, he’s in New York to fête the launch of the latest issue, number 13. And it’s a very fitting location for celebration—Acne is set to open its first flagship store and office (at 33 Greene Street) outside of Europe in Manhattan later this spring.

As for the latest 256-page edition, the theme is the human body. “We were interested in looking at the body from an artistic angle, one that is broader than the general representation of the human form in magazines today,” Persson tells Style.com. “I find that we are so obsessed with modern, rather boring beauty ideals, the perfectly chiseled, impersonal bodies often lacking in humanity, history, and a life lived. So we wanted to look at the human form as an inspiration beyond that.”

That vision carried over in interviews with the likes of Isabella Rossellini, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn (pictured, above), Lillian Bassman, and Lola Schnabel, and rich photo essays to go with them. Here, Style.com has the exclusive first look at a few of the editorials, including Fonssagrives-Penn’s (with photos by her husband, Irving, selected by their son, Tom Penn) and Bassman’s—both are women that drew Persson’s attention for their glamour and sophistication.

“I have always admired Lillian Bassman’s work and had the great privilege of spending an afternoon with her last September,” Persson says of the late fashion photographer, who died just last month. “I was so taken by her wit and strength and character and was so sad when I got the news she had passed away. Our interview must have been the last she ever gave.” As for Fonssagrives-Penn, he says, “I wanted to show an amazing side of her that is not so well-known, which is that of an artist. She was an incredibly gifted sculptor and painter; her work is my favorite of any artist.”

Photos: Irving Penn; Lillian Bassman