Friday, May 23, 2014

The Candidates' Wives Fight

Back in the 1960 election, it wasn't just Nixon's five o'clock shadow vs. John Kennedy's good looks.  There was also a brouhaha created when the candidates' wives had a tiff over clothing.  I'm not sure who started it, but Jacqueline Kennedy swore that she didn't spend as much on her clothing as Pat Nixon.  She said that Pat shopped at Elizabeth Arden, but Pat said she bought most of her clothes off the rack.  Someone accused Mrs. Kennedy of spending $3000 a year on Paris fashions, to which she responded "I couldn't spend that much unless I wore sable underwear."

That may be the one and only time Mrs. Kennedy would be heard speaking about unmentionables in publich.

Pat Nixon said the politically correct thing about loving American designers, again implying that Mrs Kennedy only shopped the French designers.  She did like Givenchy and some of the other French designers, but also wore American designers like Norman Norell (who is from a town not far from where I live).  Indeed, her signature look as First Lady was designed by Oleg Cassini who, despite his name, was born a Russian aristocrat but who was naturalized as a US citizen before Jackie commissioned him, and after serving in the Coast Guard in World War II.  It doesn't get more American than that.  He was the one who came up with her pillbox hats and dress and coat combinations, setting the American fashion world on fire.  Mrs Nixon, unfortunately, faded into oblivion fashion-wise, though she did get her turn as First Lady later on.

The photo above, attributed to Life Magazine, shows a pregnant Mrs Kennedy at the Tiffany Ball  in Newport, in 1957.  The designer is not named, but it was unusual to see Mrs Kennedy in something this detailed, as she began to favor simple, classic lines later on.  This dress is just lovely, though, with its beading and shirring and, unbelievably, it's not French.  It's Italian, by Sorelle Fontana.  Of course, this was before her husband became a candidate for the presidency, and before her dispute with Mrs. Nixon began.  Fontana, of course is remembered not only for ball gowns made for such beauties as Ava Gardner and Princess Grace of Monaco, but also for making the wedding dress for Audrey Hepburn, before she called the whole thing off.

Look at this lovely dress, which is now housed in the John F. Kennedy Library.  Looks like I need to make a trip to Boston.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pucci, or Not Pucci?

I was watching Mad Men last week (of course), and was taken, like many, by Meghan's dress in the house party scene.  It has widely been said to be a Pucci.

I posed the idea on another blog that unlike what most people have said, that it's not an actual Pucci.  I've looked at numerous screen shots of this dress, and haven't seen the "Emilio" signature that Pucci used to sign his prints.  I finally gave up, thinking I must be missing something, because numerous people have called it an actual Pucci.  But then I found these ads from a McCall's magazine, which are "based on an Italian design":

Because I'm me -- meaning, insanely curious -- I started wondering if these patterns are based on a Pucci design.  I've come to decide that they are.  Yes, Pucci made some patterns for McCall's later in the 50s, but the ones shown are earlier. Perhaps McCall's couldn't make a deal with him yet.  Perhaps they didn't realize the scope of his popularity till Sophia and Marilyn started wearing him.  In either event, I'm pretty sure that these patterns are based on Pucci designs.  I could be wrong, of course, but I'm going with it.

Which gets us back to Meghan's dress.  Again, I'm pretty sure it's NOT Pucci.  I don't see a signature on it, AND the AMC site, calls it a "Pucci-like" dress.  I'm thinking that if they actually put her in a real, vintage Pucci, they'd call it one.  And if they did, the vintage world should be upset, because a true vintage Pucci should be in a museum, or at the very least, not handled without gloves, much less worn on a hot film set.  So now  I can sleep, not worried about the fate of a Pucci.

And by the way, did you know that Emilio Pucci created capri pants?  He was, of course, from the isle of  Capri.  He was known for designing comfortable clothes.  His dresses were usually constructed of silk jersey -- Diana Vreeland said it was like wearing nothing at all.  So should we be surprised that he would create capri pants, which are perfect for beach and resort wear?  I think not.

I'll leave you with a photo of Marilyn, in Pucci.  Only she could rock a plain orang top like this, and make it so sexy.  That is, of course, thanks to the construction, good foundation garments, and that Marilyn mystique.  

And here is her favorite chartreuse Pucci dress.  She was later buried in it.