Tying Up Loose Threads

Every other week, read WORN on The Toast

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FACT: Toasted bread is part of a nutritious breakfast. SECOND FACT: A toast is a speech you give at a celebration. THIRD FACT: The Toast is also a hilarious and smart website, run by two beautiful geniuses named Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg. FINAL, MOST IMPORTANT FACT: Every other Wednesday, you can read a healthy, celebratory column by Haley and Anna Wornette on The Toast!

Loose Threads has, so far, tackled the lessons learned by reviled and beloved pop cultural monuments like Fight Club and Sex and the City. Anna and Haley talked about the power of fashion in museums and the significance of Wendy Davis’s sneakers. Anna pulled the Vogue-iest parts of Vogue that ever did Vogue, while Haley provided some of her meanest beauty school dropout knowledge.

What’s next for Loose Threads, you ask? Let’s just say we’ve got a little something up our sleeve… *frantically searches sleeves for story ideas*

Wornettes can read Loose Threads every other Wednesday here.

Behind the Look

Vogue celebrates some of their favorite in-house stylists with a new book

Condé Nast’s most recent literary exploit, Vogue: The Editor’s Eye is an ode to the role of the stylist, fashion editor or sittings editor – the glue between the photographer, the model, the writer and the magazine itself. Beginning with Anna Wintour’s forward, The Editor’s Eye explains that until recently, stylists weren’t even identified in the credits for the photo shoots they coordinated, a ghastly oversight considering the influence they wield over a spread. The book is in some part an attempt to rectify this omission, giving the stylists the credit they deserve. Through an anthology of essays and accompanying image portfolios, it showcases some of the magazine’s most talented stylists throughout the last 65 years, with a particular focus on how their different personalities helped shape the various trends we have seen in fashion editorial.

I enjoyed the journey through Vogue’s history, starting in 1947 with Babs Simpson. The book effectively distinguished between the magazine’s different eras – loosely based on the editor in chief at the time (from Dianne Vreeland, to Grace Mirabella and then Wintour) – focusing on how the reigning editors inspired and collaborated with the sittings editors at the time. The eight essays, each focussing on a different sittings editor, were eloquent and insightful, and overall a pleasurable read. I especially enjoyed the essays on Jade Hobson, Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele and Tonne Goodman; I thought their profiles really captured their individual attitudes and styles. The various essayists also succeeded at painting a fascinating picture of a seemingly golden epoch for fashion editorial during the 60’s and 70’s.

Each profile was accompanied by a portfolio of images to underscore the theme; I found the photos striking and timeless for the most part, though I think certain portfolios did a better job of highlighting their stylists’ approach than others. I thought Camilla Nickerson’s body of work included in the book added great insight into her personality and modus operandi; it was thematic, tight and complemented the essay well. Same goes for Jade Hobson and Babs Simpson. However, there were times when I found it difficult to distinguish the differences between certain editors’ styles, and I didn’t think the images accompanying the essays always illustrated the point the writers were trying to get across. As an anthology, it wasn’t very cohesive; though in their own right the profiles and portfolios were certainly effective.

If you consider Vogue your fashion bible you will enjoy this book. But, make no mistake, this is a book published by Vogue, written by Vogue writers, about how great Vogue is. For a more ambivalent reader seeking an unbiased gaze into the fashion editorial field as a whole (including influences from other magazines), you may want to keep reading.

photography // Brianne Burnell

Have They Always Looked This Good?

Condé Nast and the Evolution of Fashion Photography

It’s true: I don’t buy Vogue for the articles (another heiress has an adventure, hurrah!). I buy it for the spreads. The lush, high-budget fashion spreads will always be my reason to pick up a copy of the magazine—something that, as a fashion nerd, has always made me feel a little shallow. Thankfully I picked up Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast, a book all about the importance of fashion photography as an art form, and its many contributions to the fashion world. Now, thanks to editor Nathalie Herschdorfer, I feel much more justified in flipping straight to the pretty pictures.

Herschdorfer acknowledges in her introduction that she made a bit of a devil’s bargain—choosing to focus only Condé Nast’s contribution to fashion photography, and leave out spreads from rival Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion mags. This does make for a bit of a one-sided read, but she makes an effort to mention the other publications when relevant, which definitely made me want to do some research on my own. That being said, the photos Herschdorfer was able to find at this one publishing house are truly remarkable especially because she decided to narrow her scope further by focusing on the early work of Condé Nast’s troupe of ‘Old Masters.’ As a result we are given a selection of the most innovative and inventive images printed in the magazines.

The book is filled with over two hundred beautifully reproduced photographs, which are mostly from Vogue or one of its international editions, with the occasional image thrown in from GQ, Vanity Fair, or a few others. The most remarkable thing about looking at these photographs is how often the clothing seems almost irrelevant in the photos—despite Herschdorf pointing out that Condé Nast was infamous for criticizing his photographers for being too ‘artful’ when they lost sight of their sartorial focus. It’s especially easy to view the photos as high art once they are taken out of the context of the magazine page, and the truth is that the photos were never entirely about clothes. As Herschdorf points out, the success of Conde Nast’s photographers was based on their ability to highlight a mood or lifestyle as much as a model’s outfit. Herschdorfer herself pays little heed to the fashions displayed, usually only bringing up the styles when a photographer has directly contributed to or popularized them.

Two essays penned by fashion historians Oliver Saillard and Sylvie Lecallier round out the book. Saillard focuses on the symbiotic relationship fashion photographers developed over the years with the couturier, arguing that the success of a fashion designer is often dependent on how well the concept behind a line can be expressed through a photo. Lecallier is more interested in the relationship between the fashion photographer and the model. She focuses on how photographers have helped define beauty ideals by choosing to work with certain models, often introducing the next supermodel or look. There is also an interview with Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani focusing on the relationship between the fashion editor and the photographer, which offers an interesting look into the mechanics behind creating a fashion spread.

The book is broken up into four areas with brief summaries explaining why the photos you’re looking at are important. The narrative is filled with juicy tidbits about Condé Nast discovering young talent and the imminent threat of Harper’s Bazaar stealing them away. Sidebars offer helpful details about how things developed stylistically and technically—what cameras were used, who used them, and the intent behind the image—as well as who the photographer was, their relationship to Condé Nast, and how they developed during their time with the publishing house. The participation of well-respected artists further emphasizes the artistic merit of the form, with photos by people like Salvador Dali and Diane Arbus receiving particular attention.

Although the essays and interviews are all interesting reads, the photographs are still the most compelling part of the book. I loved flipping through and trying to guess when an image was from; the high quality of the reprint often made it difficult to figure out when a photo was taken. It was fascinating to see the artistry behind the average fashion spread, and read about how the fashion photographer has evolved to become such an important figure.

photography // Laura Tuttle

Think Pink!

Alyssa Wornette shares her favorite set of ultra-girly internet snippets

Lately I’ve been floating around on fluffy pink cotton candy clouds, sipping pink tea in a lavender bath and sporting pink mittens with my new knitted cat ear hat. It seems everywhere I look, I am left helplessly fawning over whatever cutesy, fluffy, object-with-a-face meets my eye. This existence trapped within rose-tinted glasses has of course bled into my cyber activity, and inadvertently, into my link roundup:

Kittens, Unicorns, and Puppies, Oh My!
Cats riding rainbow unicorns on a pink heart background ON A SCARF? Yeah, do I need to say more to communicate the brilliance of Silken Favours? If you need to hear more to be fully converted, read this great interview with the creator, Vicki Murdoch, and learn why she thinks everyone should own a scarf.

Bubble Pop
I love K-pop. I am NOT ashamed to throw this love in others’ faces, switching the playlists at parties to my friends’ shock and dismay. Too bad. Just look at their sets, their dance moves, and most importantly THEIR STYLE! From the adorable flower crowns and cat tails of AKB48, to the yellow braids and tiger-print pants of G Dragon, this piece by John Seabrook captures a great tasting of K-pop style and sound.

“I’m the Mary!”
Growing up, Romy and Michele held the keys to my heart. Aside from their hilarious date ditching tactics (“Will you please excuse me, I cut my foot before and my shoe is filling up with blood”), they had the most fearless fashion sense and lived on a candy-filled diet. I got a 15 out of 16 on this quiz, and I’m celebrating with candy corns.

Cattoed, if only for one day
Ever thought you loved cats so much that you wanted to cover your body in them? Well, thanks to illustrator Harriet Gray, you can! These temporary tattoos are so adorable they are almost fluffy on your skin, and bonus: once your cat craze is over (if it ever is) they’ll wash right off!

Call on Me
I recently visited Pacific Mall for the first time. I walked in with a basic iPhone in an Etsy-ordered case. I walked out with a pink iPhone, complete with 3 different new cases and several accessories, like a popsicle plug for the headphone jack. I never realized phones could change with your outfits, but NEWS FLASH, it’s totally possible! The Cute iPhone Cases Tumblr validates this new obsession.

My Teenage Dream
No roundup of mine would be complete without a Katy Perry reference. We can all haggle over Katy’s upbringing, her choice of lyrics, and her politics, but when it comes down to her style and HAIRSTYLES, no one can really debate her genius. Case and point, this Glamour UK photo collection of KP’s 58 best hair days.