Friday, July 13, 2012

PARASOLS: Keep Your Sunnside Up (c) By Polly Guerin

“Mad dogs and Englishmen might go out in the midday sun,” (Noel Coward), but savvy fashionistas know better and avoid the sun’s most penetrating rays at noon. Southern women have always been known for their peaches and cream complexion and this is due to a simple little accessory they carry on torrid days, called a parasol. It’s chic, it’s protection and it’s revival has a lot to do with the incredible heat wave that has blanketed the country. Image: Claude Monet's "Lady With Parasol." 
FUN and FUNCTIONAL A parasol is defined as a lightweight umbrella used as a sunshade especially by women, but I have seen men opening their black practical umbrellas as protection from the sun rays as they dash about the city streets. A stylish umbrella can serve the same purpose as a parasol, and you know you have many to select from in your closet. Choose a pretty feminine floral or charming print to dress up even the most casual outfit while pure white casts a refreshing pristine look to your ensemble. Opt for a solid color parasol to pop a print ensemble.
PRETTY PAPER PARASOLS I’ve seen them in China Town, on Broadway in Soho and in boutiques that sell those adorable paper parasols with bamboo spokes. Paper parasols look just like those miniature umbrellas that decorate certain exotic cocktails. Real life incarnations are the modern answer to a woman’s fashionable beat-the-sun prevention without slathering on sunscreen. You can also order them through or Paper parasols are amazingly reasonable from about $8 to $20. Avoid those tony retailers where parasols are quite pricey.
AN ANCIENT FASHION The parasol has a long and storied history dating back to ancient times. Egyptian Queens knew a thing or two about protecting themselves and escaping the desert sun. In historical images depict a loyal servant shading the great lady with a huge parasol-like umbrella. Adding to their charming ways Japanese geishas in the 18th century carried parasols to keep their skin unblemished, and today savvy women are claiming parasols as their own special accessory.
THE VICTORIAN CANOPY It was also a Victorian sunblock accessory and its popularity grew due to societal obsession with having a porcelain or fair complexion. Why? Because pale skin was a sure sign that you were a Lady and did not have to work under the sun. Yes, I know in the 1920's getting a suntan became fashionable, but now we have all kinds of warnings about getting skin cancer, and believe me a canopy against the sun is one of the chic solutions. Okay, Getting some healthy sun rays is acceptable, but really, as Noel Coward warns, "Don't go out in the midday sun!!!"

Thursday, July 5, 2012

JACKET REQUIRED, Tale of The Little Black Jacket (c) By Polly Guerin

You’ve heard of Chanel’s famous ‘little black dress,” now get ready for the ‘little black jacket.’ It’s as basic as you get but this is no ordinary jacket. By Chanel’s standard it’s short, chic and versatile. All the fanfare about the little black jacket came about with publisher Steidl’s forthcoming coffee table book, “The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited,” by couture designer, Karl Lagerfeld and stylist extraordinaire, Carine Roitfeld. The book was showcased at a pop-up event which exhibited the book’s 113 portraits of notables displaying the jacket’s versatility. So what’s in it to you? Think ‘little black jacket’ the next time you shop for a ‘must have’ wardrobe accessory.
LAGERFELD MOBBED Lagerfeld was mobbed at every turn as he greeted the celebrities and fashionistas. Mr. Lagerfeld, the head designer at Chanel, made his way through the gallery, like a visiting potentate greeting the crowd with sophisticated charm. Such a supreme individual garners accolades and was followed by photographers, videographers and party guests all eager to be photographed with him. Alber Elbaz got so carried away she pulled out her iPhone to take a snap of her own portrait on the wall. Carine Roitfeld was wearing an interpretation of the jacket she had actually constructed from a skirt. “You know Karl, you have to surprise him,” she said of her approach to styling the portraits. Theophilus London who was coaxed into the tweed Chanel creation for the book wore it again to perform at a post-opening dinner at Balthazar.
BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE The book features a mix of beautiful people shot in black-and-white wearing a black, tweed Chanel jacket in surprisingly varied effects. An enormous photo of Vogue editor, Anna Wintour’s tweed-jacket-clad back greeted guests as they entered the gallery. Ms. Roitfeld, the former editor of French Vogue, who is now the fashion world’s darling, was also trailed by a video crew shooting a documentary about her fabulous life. You can’t imagine Karl Lagerfeld with children but it appears he has a soft heart for the little ones. Hudson Kroenig, the four year old son of male model and Lagerfeld’s favorite Brad Kroenig exchanged a high-five with Mr. Lagerfeld.

Like Cinderella, Mr. Lagerfeld did not linger long and exited the building, leaving the Black Jacket crowd holding champagne flutes and admiring each other.