Author: gangstafabulous

Diana Vreeland

This was a great documentary.  When studying something like the History of Dress, going back hundreds of years to the beginning of fashion is important; but, understanding how much has happened in the last 50 years will explain how we got to where we are much quicker.

Diana Vreeland’s influence seems to have taken the ideal of beauty from the 1950’s blonde, perfect housewife style to celebrating a woman’s faults and making those the most interesting and beautiful part.   Because she describes herself as “not beautiful”, I think she dug deeper and found other aspects of her personality to make beautiful… For example, style,  humor, quirks, dressing with bold prints, self-confidence, etc. Of course, I think she is beautiful.  She is elegant, sophisticated, well-kept, creative, and revolutionary.

She reminds me of my favorite style period, the mid-late 60’s mod and the refinement of the early 70’s, more specifically, how Mrs. Robinson was dressed in 1967’s, The Graduate. Image Image

Look at all those prints! Diana, I am sure, would have approved because she felt,

“I’ve never met a leopard print I didn’t like.”

She was not just a fashion junkie. As the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, she brought in music, culture, and art. The first picture published in the U.S. of Mick Jagger was done by Diana. The photographer, David Bailey, had offered the shot to British Vogue but they didn’t know who he was and didn’t want it.  Diana saw it, didn’t know who he was, but said, “I don’t care who he is, but he looks great and we’ll publish it.”  This was in 1964 when the Rolling Stones were still an unknown band in both the U.S. and England.  Now I wonder how much this publication jump started the bands ultimately huge success…  Image


Another interesting thing she said,

“I certainly didn’t learn anything in school. My education was the world.”

Not belittling school, but I agree with her that you cannot expect that just attending school with give you wisdom.  There is so much more than just a person’s schooling that makes you interesting, open, and clever.  Diana is just so cool.

One thing I’ve noticed in many of these fashion documentaries we’ve been watching, the world renowned protagonist usually had a mother that told her how ugly she was as a child. Diana says about her mother,

“I admire the fact that she was very good looking…She would say, “it’s too bad you have such a beautiful sister and you are so extremely ugly.””

It’s ironic that Diana became such a refined, lovely lady who saw beauty in others. I wonder if the mother saw something in young Diana and tried to squash it. I am glad that it didn’t work out that way.  The joke was on her.


Sarah Massoud


Relationship between art and fashion


After visiting the Mazzanti workroom, I began to think about the designers like Capucci who use the same technique.  The clothing made by the people in that small Tuscan workroom and made by designer Capucci are more than fashion, they are also art

What Capucci attempts to do is more difficult than just making a gown or just making a piece of art, such as a sculpture or a painting; his creations are designed to be worn on a human body, like a walking painting. The uniqueness of his gowns is the fact that he only makes an exclusive original piece; no one else will own the same dress. 

This kind of designing is as much technical as it is creative and beautiful. From sketch to actual construction of a gown, there is a lot to work out. How do those sculptured dresses stay crisp and in their place while being formed around the curvy shape of a woman’s body?  Also, his style can reflect artistic periods of the past. For example, he drew from Ancient Rome with his baroque dress forms and geometric designs reflecting Ancient Greek and Roman precision.

On the visit to the plissé producer in Florence, we were shown the complicated process of designing and shaping the geometric forms. He had actually made a design for Capucci and showed us the complicated process.  He started by showing us the cardboard-like material he uses to make the patterns before they place the fabric between two cardboard pieces.  Then, they place the tightly bound cardboard in a steamer so it can hold its shape.  The cardboard is special because it does not retain heat and only allows the fabric to be shaped by the steam; in this way, he can reuse the cardboard guide more than once. He dreams up all the designs and told us that he studied math in Liceo, which helped him be able to do this sort of work. All in all, it is hard to deny the amount of thought, time, and construction it takes to make a single gown.  It is more like Capucci and the lovely, dedicated people at Mazzanti are designing like an architect and in this way, their fashion designs are closely linked to art.

Sarah Massoud


Palazzo Pitti~Galleria del Costume

Most interesting: The burial dress for Eleonora di Toledo. I was surprised that she would be buried in this long and elegant white gown. However, white was the color of ‘enlightenment’ and was worn on on both your marriage day and your burial day.  By the way it is hemmed, it is clear that she wore platform heels, another intriguing style of the time that I wasn’t aware of.   The trim of the gown was made with silver thread and black velvet, so it was very shiny in its day. There is a corset on the gown but the “V” shape is not as dramatic as it will become in later time. Historians were lucky that whomever dressed her accidentally turned one of her stalkings inside out because it gives more information to analyze.  An uplifting story, the Queen refused to use the stalking loom for she knew there were many lower class women whose livelihood depended on producing these; with the invention of a machine that could do their work, the women would have no job and the Queen did not want to take that away.

Most regal: The blue robe of Donna Franca Florio  by Ventura Atelier (1925-1930).The  colors reminding us of the Royal Savoia Family who ruled in Italy until 1861.

Donne protagoniste del Novecento - Donna Franca Florio - Galleria del Costume Firenze - Nov 2013


Most flashy: Of course, the whole room in which Patty Pravo’s wardrobe was displayed was very modern and theatrical, so of course the clothing was too.  Patty is an Italian pop singer whose first song debuted in 1966 “Ragazzo triste”, the Italian version of Sonny & Cher’s “But You’re Mine”, and was the first pop song ever to be played on Vatican Radio. This is a silver mesh  gown by Gianni Versace she wore to the Sanremo Festival in 1984.

Donne protagoniste del Novecento - Patty Pravo, Sanremo 84, abito Gianni Versace - Galleria del Costume Firenze - Nov 2013

Most inspiring/touching: The wedding dress room was sweet to see. Most single women admire wedding gowns to relate to what they want their wedding dress to look like or for already married women, which dress is most similar to the one they wore. The gowns date back from the 1910’s – 1980’s with simple, modest styles to more elegant and beaded gowns. My favorite was this one below by Norman Hartnell worn by Lady Ethel Sykes in 1937.   It has a simple, elegant shape with intricate beading and a timeless style that brides today would even wear. Hartnell, a British fashion designer, was the Royal Dressmaker for Queen Elizabeth II, her mother, and also dressed Lady Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s sister), seen in the second dress below. I would not have minded if he did my wedding gown too…

Donne protagoniste del Novecento - Wedding dresses - Galleria del Costume Firenze - Nov 2013

My  overall impressions: The museum was probably my favorite that we have visited so far.  All the pieces were elegantly displayed, as they should be in the Pitti Palace.  There was no chance of getting bored because the exhibit had dresses that were 100’s of years apart from each other, hats, jewelry, and historical pieces. My brain was fed as well as my eyes.  I will definitely be going back.

Sarah Massoud

Archeological Museo

First of all, I felt like I really was in an archeological dog site at the museum. It had a dusty, earthy smell and was dimly lit. I have been to the Egyptian museum in Torino before and it was also dark but more modern and clean. I felt like I as in an ancient Egyptian palace. The Florence museum felt more like someone’s attic that was full of valuable treasures but the presentation could make them look like junk. That being said, it would b good for the museum to clean and update their building because then the artifacts can be what one notices instead of noticing the gloomy building that they are housed in.

Looking at the artifacts in the Egyptian area was by far the most interesting for me. There was a mummy of what appeared to be a child, but was informed later that it was a cat. It was swaddled tightly and neatly, which gave me the impression of how serious the ancient Egyptians took death and after life. I admire them for their willingness to think about the afterlife. In these days, it’s taboo to talk in excess about this subject. There’s so many heated opinions and views about it that now people just stay quiet. I do think that Egyptians might have thought about it too much if people stopped living in the moment and put too much energy into the idea of death instead of living, but those are just my thoughts.

Favorite artifacts: The most impressive piece that I saw was the “Bronze statue of the Chimaera of Arezzo” from St. Lorentino Gate in Arezzo. It is from the end of the 5th- early 4th century b.C. This bronze statue is one of the best known examples of Etruscan art. In 1553, it was found in the ancient city of Arezzo and Cosimo I took it into possession. He proudly put the statue in the Palazzo Vecchio for the public to see and it is said he cleaned it himself.

Sarah Massoud