Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bonnie Cashin is a pioneer in the sportswear industry and first designer of Coach handbags!

             One of America’s foremost designers in the second half of the twentieth century, Bonnie Cashin (1908 – 2000) was a pioneer in the sportswear industry, specializing in modular wardrobes for the modern woman “on the go.” Her lifelong interest in clothing design, however, encompassed a number of careers on both American coasts. Growing up in California, Cashin worked as an apprentice in a series of dressmaking shops owned and operated by her mother, Eunice. In her teens she worked as a fashion illustrator and dance costume designer. Between 1943 and 1949 she costumed more than sixty films at Twentieth Century-Fox. It was not until midcentury, when she was over forty years old, that she began designing the ready-to-wear for which she became best known.
              Cashin favored timeless shapes from the history of clothing, such as ponchos, tunics, Noh coats, and kimonos, which allowed for ease of movement and manufacture. Approaching dress as a form of collage or kinetic art, she favored luxurious, organic materials that she could “sculpt” into shape, such as leather, suede, mohair, wool jersey, and cashmere, as well as nonfashion materials, including upholstery fabrics. Cashin’s aim was to create “simple art forms for living in, to be re-arranged as mood and activity dictates” (Interview 1999).

Early Years

                As a girl moving along the California coastline, Cashin developed a love for travel and a keen eye for the clothing of different cultures, which would underpin her later professional work. This interest in “why people looked the way they did” placed her in good stead to begin work in 1924, alongside Helen Rose, as a costume designer for the Los Angeles dance troupe Fanchon and Marco. In 1934 her producers took over performances at New York’s Roxy Theater and asked Cashin to join them as costumer for the Roxyette dance line, the precursors and rivals to the Rockettes.

Fashion and Film

                In 1937 the Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, an admirer of Cashin’s costume designs, encouraged Bonnie to work in fashion and arranged for her to become the head designer for the prestigious coat and suit manufacturer Adler and Adler. Owing to the wartime focus on American fashion design, she became so well recognized that she was commissioned to design World War II civilian defense uniforms and was featured in a Coca-Cola advertisement. By 1942, however, Cashin felt boxed in by wartime restrictions. She returned to California to sign a six-year contract as a costume designer with Twentieth Century-Fox.
Cashin designed costumes for the female characters in more than sixty films. Her favorite projects, Laura (1944), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), and Anna and the King of Siam (1946), also became American cinematic classics. Designing for the lavish productions that typified Hollywood’s golden age, she was expected to make innovative use of the day’s finest materials to create historical, fantasy, and contemporary wardrobes. She used the resources at the Fox studios to experiment with designs for “real” clothing that she wore and made in custom versions for her leading ladies’ offscreen wardrobes.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 

 Anna and the King of Siam

Return to Ready-to-Wear

               Cashin returned to New York, and to Adler and Adler, in 1949. She received the unprecedented honor of earning both the Neiman Marcus Award and the Coty Fashion Critic’s Award within the same year (1950). Displeased, however, with her manufacturer’s control over her creativity, she decided to challenge the setup of the fashion industry. Working with multiple manufacturers, she designed a range of clothing at different price points, thereby specializing in complete wardrobes for “my kind of a girl for a certain kind of living.”
                In 1953 Cashin teamed with the leather importer and craftsman Philip Sills and initiated the use of leather for high fashion. She made her name through her unconventional choices in materials as well as her inexhaustible variations on her favorite theme of adapting the flat, graphic patterns of Asian and South American clothing to contemporary global living. Through her work for Sills and Company, she is credited with introducing “layering” into the fashion lexicon. In turn, she credited the Chinese tradition of dressing for, and interpreting the weather as, a “one-shirt day” or a “seven-shirt day.” Her layered garments snugly nestled within one another and were easily converted to suit different temperatures and activities by donning or removing a layer. Cashin’s objective was to create a flexible wardrobe for her own globe-trotting lifestyle, wherein seasonal changes were only a plane trip away. Frustrated by the categorization of sportswear designer, she declared that travel was her “favorite sport.”

Coach and the Cashin Look

                In 1962 Cashin became the first designer of Coach handbags and initiated the use of hardware on clothing and accessories, including the brass toggle that became Coach’s hallmark. She revolutionized the handbag industry. Unlike contemporary rigid, hand-held bags, her vividly colored “Cashin-Carries” for Coach packed flat and had wide straps, attached coin purses, industrial zippers, and the famous sturdy brass toggles, the last inspired by the hardware used to secure the top on her convertible sports car.
Without licensing her name, Cashin designed cashmere separates, gloves, canvas totes, at-home gowns and robes, raincoats, umbrellas, and furs. She also ran the Knittery, a consortium of British mills that produced one-of-a-kind sweaters knit to shape, rather than cut and sewn. Among many other industry awards, she received the Coty award five times and entered their hall of fame in 1972; in 2001 was honored with a plaque on the Fashion Walk of Fame on Seventh Avenue in New York City.

                Cashin worked until 1985, when she decided to focus on painting and philanthropy. Among several scholarships and educational programs, she established the James Michelin Lecture Series at the California Institute of Technology. Cashin died in New York on 3 February 2000 from complications during heart surgery. In 2003 the Bonnie Cashin Collection, consisting of her entire design archive and endowments for design-related lecture series and symposia, was donated to the Department of Special Collections within the Charles E. Young Research Library at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Activewear. Flash back

Cindy Crawford By Photographer Irving Penn For Vogue US, 1989 

Cindy Crawford By Photographer Irving Penn For Vogue US, 1989

           The clothing known as activewear in the early 2000s traces its origins back to the high-performance sportswear designed for mountaineering, sailing, and hiking that became popular among urban youth during the 1970s. By the 1980s, such utilitarian styles swept through college campuses in North America, and, subsequently, sneakers were worn with suits, backpacks replaced briefcases, anoraks were paired with deck shoes, and sweatshirts were combined with khaki trousers or jeans. As the style began to characterize the sporty chic of city dwellers and coed campus life, activewear became a staple of the modern wardrobe.

            While activewear is often regarded as a contemporary style, the combination of street clothes, travel accessories, and sportswear is nothing new. In the 1930s and 1940s, the American designers Bonnie Cashin, Claire McCardell, and Vera Maxwell updated garments produced for travel, leisure, and sport with vestiges of high fashion. The designers made functionality a statement of style by producing easy-fit, loosely constructed clothing in fabrics such as wool, denim, and calico. One of Cashin’s signature garments was an overcoat with an integral purse, while Maxwell designed a jacket with built-in bags rather than pockets. Such garments were conceived as urban tools that expanded into wearable luggage, widening the appeal of apparel that could maximize the performance of clothing as well as the body’s ability to transport necessities with ease.

1930s Summer Wear Ad

Vogue June 1 1940, Lisa Fonssagrives - #Vintage #yoga Loved and pinned by www.deyogatempel.nl #deyogatempel 

Vogue June 1 1940, Lisa Fonssagrives

         For several decades, activewear was characterized by bulky, loose-fitting garments. As the body-conscious styles of the 1990s took hold, activewear gradually became more tailored and form-fitting, yet continued to suit the active leisure interests of urban dwellers. Dress codes became more fluid as Rollerbladers, inner-city cyclists, and speed-walking pedestrians dressed in smart basics that moved easily and provided protection from adverse weather. Mobility and versatility became key considerations for professionals, who started commuting to work in sneakers and multifunctional outer garments. Many were made with detachable hoods that transformed overcoats into raincoats as they were buttoned or zipped into place, or designed with removable collars and detachable sleeves that could be adapted to weather changes.
The hoods, zip-front seams, windproof jackets, pouch pockets, Velcro, and magnetic fastenings of activewear have become part of the everyday fashion vocabulary, along with drawstrings fitted at the neck, sleeve, and waist to make zippers and buttons redundant. Maharishi popularized these tailoring details on the catwalk as the 1990s drew to a close, updating them with elements of occupational uniforms to create a signature militaristic style. The rise of activewear’s popularity throughout the 1990s indicated that the traditional compartmentalized wardrobe no longer sustained shifting social and cultural needs. As the style formed an essential part of the modern wardrobe, it encouraged the movement of materials and technologies across disciplines, moving high-tech fabrics into the collections of forward-thinking fashion designers. Activewear’s multifunctional, dynamic features seemed to herald the dawn of twenty-first century fashion in garments that fused fashion with high-performance sportswear.
              Labels such as CP Company, Mandarina Duck, Issey Miyake, Vexed Generation, and Final Home were among the first to use advanced textile technology to create an edgy, urban aesthetic in designs as durable as they were chic. CP Company led the pack with designs that transcended fashion altogether; their overcoats transformed into one-person tents or inflated into air mattresses, and their parkas puffed up into armchairs. The garments are transformed by the wearers themselves, introducing a notion of technical skill required beyond the point of purchase. Likewise, the “Jackpack,” designed by Mandarina Duck in Italy, integrated a backpack’s straps, fastenings, and compartments within the fabric of the jacket’s back panel. By taking the jacket off, turning it inside out, and folding the sleeves, lapels, and fabric panels into an internal pouch, the structure of the garment was completely transformed. The pouch contains other zippered compartments for stowing away shopping or other items of clothing. Issey Miyake, for his “Transformer” series, also designed cotton jackets that concealed a nylon raincoat within.

Mandarina_Duck_Journal_Img_385x385 – 2
Mandarina Duck
            The British fashion duo Vexed Generation countered the problems of modern life with clothing crafted from bullet-proof and slash-proof materials. Their designs combined high-performance fabrics with cutting-edge street style in garments incorporating many of the functions associated with protective clothing. Temperature-regulating materials manufactured for sportswear were incorporated into their winter coats, ending the need for bulky layering. By lining jackets and overcoats with phase-change materials such as Outlast, Vexed Generation created outer garments that could function as personal thermostats. Tiny paraffin capsules in the phase-change fabrics expand when body temperature climbs, absorbing the heat. Once body temperature drops below 98.6° F (37° C), they contract, releasing the heat they have stored. By maintaining a mean temperature within changing climatic environments, Vexed Generation created a comfort zone for the wearer.

The Vexed Parka created in 1994 a very popular design by Vexed.
               The Japanese designer Kosuke Tsumura’s signature garment, the Final Home jacket, expands the mobility of activewear into an expression of architecture as he claims that clothing constitutes the ultimate shelter. The multifunctional, transparent jacket is a nylon sheath equipped with forty-four zippered pockets that can be lined with warm materials for extra insulation, or cushion the wearer when sitting or reclining. Tsumura sees the jacket as a protective shell that enables the wearer to withstand harsh weather conditions. Along with personal items and accessories, Tsumura suggests that some of the pockets be filled with survival rations and practical supplies, eliminating the need for backpacks, shopping bags, luggage, and even tool kits.

Kosuke Tsumura in LOVE Exhibition 20130810
Final Home Jacket
            As fashion consumers continue looking to activewear to reconcile the demands of the modern lifestyle, the boundaries between street clothes, office attire, and sportswear are blurring even further. High-performance designs and technologically advanced textiles are common to all three, as comfort, flexibility, and protection become central to all parts of the modern wardrobe. As the garments are updated with innovations that transcend conventional clothing, activewear is proving to be one of the fastest moving areas of fashion in the early 2000s. New tailoring techniques radically streamline the designs each season, and future styles of activewear portend such sophistication that the gym is probably the last place one can expect to see them.

1970s Active Wear Pattern-1979 McCalls 6469- Sporty Roller-Boogie Hoodie, Top, Shorts, Pants- 31 Bust. $2.00, via Etsy. 

1980s 'Red Robin' Active Leisure Wear, (Australian brand) photo Bruno Bernini 

1980s 'Red Robin' Active Leisure Wear, (Australian brand) photo Bruno Bernini

80s 90s Neon Glow Green and Black Bikini Top // by VelvetWillows 

80s 90s Neon Glow Green and Black Bikini Top // by VelvetWillows

Friday, March 27, 2015

Edith Head Biography

Edith Head Biography

Fashion Designer (1897–1981)
      Edith Head was one of the most prolific costume designers in 20th century film, winning a record eight Academy Awards. She's known for films such as 'All About Eve,' 'Roman Holiday' and 'The Sting.'
     Born on October 28, 1897, Edith Head became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal Studios. Hollywood's best-known designer, Head's costumes ranged from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), The Facts of Life (1960) and The Sting (1973).

Early Life and Education
     Legendary American costume designer Edith Head was born Edith Claire Posener on October 28, 1897, in San Bernardino, California, the daughter of a mining engineer. Head relocated several times during her youth, growing up largely in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. After graduating from Los Angeles High School, she attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in letters and sciences (earning honors in French), and then went on to enroll at Stanford University, where she earned a Master of Arts degree in romance languages in 1920.

Commercial and Artistic Success
     After receiving her M.A., Edith Head served a brief stint as a schoolteacher. Then, in 1923, Head landed the position of sketch artist, then design assistant at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. In 1938, Head was named chief designer at Paramount Pictures. She remained at Paramount for 44 years until 1967 when she moved to Universal Studios, where she became known for personally phoning producers and directors who were working on important films for the studio to offer her services.
Head received her first Academy Award nomination (Best Costume Design, Color; shared with designer Gile Steele) in 1949, for her design work in the 1948 film The Emperor Waltz, starring Joan Fontaine (Johanna Augusta Franziska) and Bing Crosby (Virgil Smith). Head won her first Oscar (Best Costume Design, Black-and-White; shared with designer Gile Steele) in 1950, for her costume work in 1949's The Heiress.
     Head's costumes ranged from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. The celebrated visionary continued to be an artistic force with other films from the decade, including All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), Sabrina (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), The Ten Commandments (1956) and Houseboat (1958). And the 1960s saw Head serving as designer for movies like The Nutty Professor (1963), The Carpetbaggers (1964), the Natalie Wood comedies Sex and the Single Girl (1964) and Penelope (1966), Chuka (1967) and Barefoot in the Park (1967), among many other projects.

Record-Setting Oscar Wins
     By 1970, Head had received her 31st Oscar nomination, specifically for her work on Bob Fosse's 1969 musical Sweet Charity, starring Shirley MacLaine (Charity) and Ricardo Montalban (Vittorio). Head had also reunited with iconic director Alfred Hitchcock (the two had worked together on previous Hitchcock films like Rear WindowVertigo and The Birds) for Topaz (1969), and with George Roy Hill for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. She later called the latter film her favorite movie, stating, "In terms of sheer entertainment, not in terms of my designing ... It had everything—humor, action, romance and the two handsomest men in Hollywood." 
In 1978, Head was honored with her last Oscar nomination (Best Costume Design; shared with Burton Miller), for her design work in Airport '77. She had won her eighth and last Oscar four years earlier, in 1974—setting the record for most Oscars won by a woman (a record she still holds today)—for her work in Hill's The Sting (1973).

Later Years and Legacy
     By the end of her lifetime, Edith Head had secured her legacy as Hollywood's best-known costume designer. During her career, Head worked on more than 1,100 films, received 35 Oscar nominations and took home eight statues. She was also known for having designed uniforms for female members of the U.S. Coast Guard towards the end of the 1970s. She also authored the books The Dress Doctor (1959), How to Dress for Success (1967) and the posthumous, autobiographical Edith Head's Hollywood (1983). 
The iconic designer died on October 24, 1981, at the age of 83, in Hollywood, California.