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August 27 2014

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14 posts tagged "Oprah"

You Don’t Need a Lover to Love Lingerie

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Horst P Horst

I can’t deny it, I love lingerie. I do. I have drawers full of the stuff—saucy bras, basques, corsets, skivvies, you name it. I usually buy my extravagant unmentionables on a whim—not for some romantic occasion—and I’ve never given it a second thought. So naturally, I was very excited when The Museum at FIT announced its current exhibition, Exposed: A History of Lingerie (on view until November 15). However, the news of the show broke at a time when a new wave of feminism seemed to be at the center of most of my conversations. Prada’s feminist Spring ’14 was in stores (“I want to inspire women to struggle,” Miuccia Prada told Tim Blanks after her powerful show), as was Rick Owens’ sporty Spring range, which was presented on muscular American step dancers. And, of course, there was Anja Rubik’s Free the Nipple campaign, as well as the fight against Instagram to allow women to proudly display their breasts without being banished from the social platform. So after pondering all of the above, I, a woman who considers herself to be a feminist, suddenly thought, Good God, I’m a terrible hypocrite for loving sexy, lacy lingerie.

To be sure, there’s something empowering about secretly donning ornate underwear and thigh-high stockings beneath my boxy Comme des Garçons frocks. But lingerie is often thought of as appealing to the male gaze. And you can’t tell me that crotch-less panties, sheer lace bras, and little satin onesies weren’t produced with the male viewer—or at least sex—in mind. Is the case of my lingerie the same? Do I love it only because I’ve been trained to love it by watching old Sophia Loren films and reading too many magazines? Can I be a feminist and embrace delicate underpinnings?

Red Corset“Absolutely,” offered Colleen Hill, the curator behind the FIT show, which includes everything from 18th-century corsets to Hanky Pankys.”I think that nowadays, particularly since we have options—we’re not forced into wearing a corset or a push-up bra or anything that may have been somewhat more dictated in the past. You can absolutely love to wear basically any item of clothing for yourself and be a feminist.”

Let’s explore those corsets and things of the past. Something about a garment that suffocates a woman—often to the point of fainting—in order to enhance her bust and taper her waist seems pretty antifeminist to me. But perhaps that’s because the corset could be qualified as antifeminine. That is to say, it was originally designed for men. “Men had been wearing corsets for hundreds of years before women,” explained Carlis Pistol, the go-to couture corset-maker for everyone from Oprah to Sarah Jessica Parker. “It started in the medieval period, and when the 16th century came along, they began making corsets for women. I think women were looking for a new silhouette, and in wearing corsets, it showed that women could do what men could do.” Wait, so does that make the corset the ultimate feminist garment?

Ferris Corsets

According to Hill, corsets were often worn for medical reasons (actually, one of the sexiest corsets in the show, a bright red number from 1889, above, was marketed as a health corset), particularly to correct one’s posture. Because of that, they were initially quite plain. “They were modest garments—a lot of them during the 19th century were just white or black or brown. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that you start to see colors and decorative elements,” said Hill. It was at that time, too, that “the idea of beautiful undergarments in relation to a happy marriage began to be talked about a lot more.”

There it is. The shift. The point when men took away our lovely lingerie. It wasn’t until the mid 1970s that Chantal Thomass, the queen of contemporary French lingerie, brought back the concept of decorative underthings for her, not him (below, right). “It was actually really unfashionable at the time,” said Hill of Thomass’ more traditional styles. Indeed, Thomass’ aesthetic was a strict departure from the ’60s feminist movement’s “burn the bra” mentality. In fact, when Thomass introduced her line, the unstructured “no-bra bra”—a sheer brassiere designed by Rudi Gernreich, the same man responsible for the monokini—was all the rage (below, left). But in the end, Thomass prevailed (and her brand still exists today). “I think by the 1980s, this idea that you could embrace this really feminine style of lingerie as a way to please yourself as a woman was finally accepted,” Hill added.

Chantal

“In the ’60s, women were like, ‘I’m tired. I’m not even going to wear a bra. I don’t want to feel like I have to be a slave—like I’m bound,” said Jennifer Zuccarini, a Victoria’s Secret alum who cofounded Kiki de Montparnasse before launching her current lingerie label, Fleur du Mal. “Then you get to the ’80s, when fashion was all about lingerie. It was like [women] really took it back. We made it our own, and that was very empowering.”

But what about the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, where supermodels strut down a runway wearing next to nothing? Where does that fit into lingerie’s girl-power narrative? “That’s a tough one,” Zuccarini told me. “It is male-oriented. And you know, there’s a conversation about women wanting to see real women…I don’t necessarily buy into that. I want to see an idealized version of something. That’s why I like fashion. And there’s something about those supermodels and the image Victoria’s Secret puts out there that women do like. They continue to shop there—it’s the most successful lingerie brand ever created. So the show definitely appeals to men, but VS is a company led by women, and when I was there, no one ever said, ‘Are guys going to like this?’ It wasn’t even part of the conversation.”

Victoria's Secret

Even so, one has to consider that the popularity of the Vicki Secret show among male viewers is just another example of women either consciously or subconsciously wearing lingerie for men. “Women love lingerie because it embraces their bodies and makes them feel good about themselves,” said Pistol. “It’s a celebration of your own body. You feel strong with it on. It’s not that women wear it for men—it’s about making yourself feel good.” But the corset-maker also raised an interesting point about ladies who do buy lingerie to impress a gentleman. “The happiness of the woman is still believable if she’s doing it for a man. It makes the woman happy, but other people are able to appreciate it as well.” Hill had some similar theories as to women’s adoration of luxe underwear. “I think lingerie tends to be some of the most beautiful clothing. When we get up in the morning, we are presenting ourselves to the world. But knowing that you’re wearing something special underneath, even if it’s not going to be seen by anyone, that’s beautiful and special. It sets the tone for the day.” For her part, Zuccarini (whose designers are pictured below) wears a little something special under her work-ready clothes on a daily basis. “I mean, I’m not wearing a garter belt every day, but everything I have is pretty nice,” she laughed. “There’s something emotional about lingerie—it inspires an emotional response and there’s almost an impulsive need to buy it. I think most real lingerie enthusiasts buy it for themselves. They get something from wearing it. And why wouldn’t you want to wear something beautiful under your clothing?” she reasoned.

Fleur du Mal

You know, despite all the expert opinions, I was, until the tail end of this journey, on the fence as to whether one could be a feminist and a lingerie lover. I wasn’t convinced that I adored wearing lingerie for any other reason than, since youth, movies, magazines, and TV ads brainwashed me to believe that lingerie was an instant and necessary sexuality enhancer. So I asked my mother, a deeply chic, incredibly modest woman who happens to be my personal style icon, what she thought. She’s been in the hospital for the last few weeks, and her only response was, “Oh, Kate. That reminds me. Can you go and pick me up some nice things to wear under my gown?” So I did (nothing too risqué—she’s my mother, after all). When I returned from my shopping excursion (during which I bought something for myself, too, obviously), she smiled the biggest smile. I had my answer. Whether or not it’s made with males in mind, today’s women own their lingerie. It’s ours. We can do with it and wear it as we please. And now, I love lingerie a little bit more.

Photo: Horst P. Horst; Courtesy of FIT; Getty Images; Courtesy of FIT; AFP/Getty Images; Joe Schildhorn /BFAnyc.com; via fleurdumal.com

Beyoncé Is Now the Queen of All Celebrities

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"On The Run Tour: Beyonce And Jay-Z" - Opening Night In Miami GardensBeyoncé really does run the world—at least according to Forbes. Queen Bey took the No. 1 spot on the magazine’s annual Celebrity 100 list, earning a reported $115 million in 2014. Who else made the top 10? LeBron James (#2), Oprah (who topped the list last year, but dropped to #4), Rihanna (#8), and Katy Perry (#9). Beyoncé’s husband, Jay Z, came in at No. 6, earning less than half of Beyoncé’s salary—though his $60 million doesn’t exactly seem paltry. The news arrives just in time for Bey and Jay’s Diesel-fueled On the Run tour.

Of the top twenty-five earners, Forbes notes that thirteen are musicians. The likes of Dr. Dre, Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift have greatly increased their earning potential in recent years due to strong social media presences. #$$$.

Photo: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Insta-Gratification

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In the age of Instagram, all it takes is a smartphone to achieve a photo finish, be it filtered or #nofilter-ed. That’s why Style.com’s social media editor, Rachel Walgrove, is rounding up our favorite snaps and bringing them into focus. See below for today’s top shots.

Friday, January 31

In celebration of its #ArtMatters window installation, Bergdorf Goodman has surrendered its account to the visual masters behind the #BGWindows.

It’s hard to pick just one. Riccardo Tisci went on a sharing spree, uploading new photos of Erykah Badu, the face of Givenchy’s Spring ’14 ads.

If our flooded e-mail inboxes weren’t an indication, this photo from the MBFW account reminds us that fashion week is just a few days away.

Cheers to the weekend. Make this one count.

And let us say, Amen. Continue Reading “Insta-Gratification” »

Girls’ Night Out

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“Every woman in the fashion business has a girl crush on DVF,” Tina Brown said of her co-host Friday night at the United Nations, where she and the designer were holding the third annual DVF Awards honoring extraordinary women. “I even thought I would rename myself Tina von Brown for a while,” she said jokingly to the audience.

But the night was not about DVF or Brown (though both are extraordinary), so Brown turned the mic over to the award presenters, including actresses Debra Winger and Jessica Alba, who were handing off the Anh Duong–designed statues to the likes of Oprah and Jaycee Dugard. “I think there’s a lot of social movements out there, but very few are effective,” Alba, who was presenting to Rio-based “grafiteira” Pamela Castro, told Style.com before the ceremony got started. “She [Castro] has found a way to really touch people. She educates women through her art—it’s very sexy and provocative, but also heartbreaking.”

The evening came to a grand crescendo when Oprah took the stage. “No matter how many margaritas I’ve had, I always make to at least one knee to pray every single day,” she told the audience, attributing her great philanthropic work to higher powers. “Everything that comes from me comes from something that’s bigger than me.” Before handing the inspiration award to Dugard, she said, “When I saw Jaycee’s interview with Diane Sawyer, I kept thinking of myself at 11 years old, on the way to school, and abducted, snatched, taken, and held prisoner for 18 years. Just take that in for a moment.” By the time Oprah closed out her speech, a good portion of the audience was in tears. “It’s my honor tonight to present the inspiration award, and I don’t even know if inspiration is a big enough word to encompass what Jaycee means to me and so many other victims of sexual violence, but she is exceptional as a woman and as a human being.”

Photo: Joe Schildhorn / BFAnyc.com

The Doors Of Studio 54 Reopen, Grace Kelly The Barbie, Oprah And Ralph Lauren Join Forces Again, And More…

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The wild nights at Studio 54 are long over, but a new show hosted by Marc Benecke, who manned the door, and Myra Scheer, a former assistant to Steve Rubell, will bring the club to life once more. The show, which makes its debut Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Channel 15, will host guests who frequented Studio 54, including Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Pat Cleveland, and Stephen Burrows. [WWD]

Barbie is paying tribute to Hollywood starlet-turned-princess Grace Kelly with three collectible dolls as part of the Barbie Collector series. The dolls come with some of Kelly’s most iconic looks, including the blue gown she wore in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, her wedding dress, and a floral black dress she wore at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955. [Vogue U.K.]

The fashion world went nuts when Oprah scored an on-camera interview with Ralph Lauren (the designer’s first in decades) during the final days of her show. As it turns out, that was just a warm-up. On October 24, the two will take the stage at Lincoln Center for a benefit gala, which Oprah will host and lead a conversation about Lauren’s life and career. [WWD]

Spin dedicated its September issue to artists and style, featuring St. Vincent front woman Annie Clark on the cover. To preview her new album, Spin will host a soldout August 25 show on the roof of the Met—the first concert to ever be held on the museum’s rooftop. [Spin]