Lena Hoschek – 1950s Fashion on the Catwalk

This blog is purely self-indulgent as I love any excuse to drool over images of Lena Hoschek’s world.  I use the term world because Lena incorporates her distinct style into all aspects of her branding, so not only are the collections of clothes stunning, but her seasonal photography, catwalks, website and even her own personal style are all sights to behold.  Anyone who has read my blog before will know that I love following vintage inspirations on the catwalk and Lena Hoschek is simply everything I love all rolled into one fabulous package!  Beautifully crafted clothing (apparently she was taught a relatively complicated pattern cutting technique whilst working at Vivienne Westwood) which perfectly combines eccentricity with ladylike class – a fantasyland playing with the stereotypes of femininity.

I digress, the reason I have chosen to focus on Lena now is because she has finally unveiled her online shop which is such a pleasure for those of us who have coveted her website for so long in anticipation of this!  Although indulging in this past time does involve a lot of self-control (and hiding of credit cards).  To fully appreciate the online shop, you have to put it in context of her catwalk collection and photoshoot as certain items pair together to create the most magnificent outfit .  Still a relatively new designer, I want to have a look at some her key (and my favourite) peices from her collections so far.

Lena Hoschek launched her latest collection AW11 at Berlin Fashion Week earlier this year and I am going to start with my absolute favourite dress from this collection and perhaps of all time from her.

Perfect for bridal or it could be dressed down for a less formal look.  This dress is very similar to original 1950s bridal and evening wear and the delicate lace is such a beautiful shade which is a perfect deep colour for winter whilst also having a slightly aged effect.  This dress reaches the compromise of simple yet stunning in such an understated manner.

I am also a huge fan of florals and Lena has managed to work these into her AW collection so beautifully with a rich Autumnal colour palette.  Florals are a frequent staple of Hoschek’s work and it’s wonderful how she manages to integrate these into her second collection of the year without looking like summer cast offs.  The lovely fabric below works so well as a pencil silhouette as it would perhaps be simply too busy for Lena’s preferred circle dress shape.

Whereas the below fabric is more subtle in its colouring with some gentle dashes of red to add detail which is far more suitable to the movement in the circle silhouette.

Throughout this whole collection, warm florals and deep reds were dominant.  Styles are wearable and she is using her trademark 1950s inspiration in a less self-aware manner as the clothes are less ‘cartoonish’ and blend well with contemporary trends.  This is not necessarily better, as I personally love the slightly more eccentric take on the 1950s however it is good for day-to-day peices and to incorporate the style into one’s life without looking too cliche.

For any fan of 1950s pin-up style, Lena’s SS11 collection is simply to die for.  This is definately the boldest collection of her career and she has allowed herself to go all out – presumably the rise of 1950s fashion meant that for once she had competition on the catwalk.  Bettie Page is clearly the woman she had in mind when designing this collection as it personifies Page’s innocent girlishness and yet overtly sexual character.  A collection which has to viewed on video to appreciate as Hoschek had lots of tricks up her sleeve for this catwalk – when models turned around their hands were bound in S&M style, the girls had on shiny tights which gave their legs a wet look, prim and proper outifts  had what can only be described as kinky tights that come into view when the model turns and conservative skirts with zips on the rear.

This collection marries the two extremes of Page’s image.  I shall first have a look at the more risque elements on this catwalk.  Throughout the whole collection there is a frequent use of studs.  It is an interesting contrast to have such sexualised styles with what can only be viewed as a protective barrier.   This is a comment on Lena’s complex vision of femininity which in one hand celebrates the female body in what can only be described as a conventional pin-up/lads mag aesthetic but simultaneously makes this image inaccessible in a physical and therefore metaphorical sense.  As a bleach-blonde, make-up loving, radical feminist, I personally love this depiction of modern woman which displays the feminine dilema in such visual eloquence.

In contrast to this S&M theme, is an innocent girlishness which consists of conservative 1950s hem lengths, candyfloss pinks and pastel floral patterns.  Again, this aptly represents Page who was a dedicated Christian and gentle soul when not being caught in scandelous positions for photographers.

I really think that this collection will be Lena’s statement season for many years to come.  It was so perfectly executed and put together that it will be very hard to beat indeed.  Even the photography for this season (which can be found in the catalogue and on Lena’s wesbite) has been so intricately thought through to encapsulate all aspects of this style featuring tattooed pin-up style models and kitsch locations.  All a far cry from the usual emaciated, lifeless models of high fashion.

The collection prior to this, AW2010, had quite a distinctly different feel as it was influenced by the more demure decade of the 1940s.  It is interesting to see Hoschek work with this decade as I am accustomed to seeing her work with a more light-hearted nature and emphasis on fun.  The palette is much more conservative which gives the collection a sense of being mid-war with the idea of rationing in mind.

There is clearly still an element of humour though in mind with quirky fabrics, such as the lipstick scarf, and props, usually in the form of tartan umbrellas.  And as usual, Lena has her dashes of red throughout to add sparks of vibrancy to the collection.

There is also a much stronger element of androgyny in this collection as masculine influences are more prominent and even the dresses and skirts are not as ‘girly’ and coquettish.  The dresses are still feminine but lack the overtly immature and playful quality of her later collections.

These dresses sat comfortably beside some of the far more masculine looks.  Showing that not all vintage fashion has to be pigeonholed into either pin-up or hosuewife styles.

Lena Hoschek is perhaps an aquired taste, all of her collections that I have managed to see so far, from AW07, have had the same retro theme so if you are not a fan you will most probably not like her work.  However, if you are a fan of 1940s through to early 1960s fashion, she will fast become your guilty pleasure.  Reminiscent of the days of Dior and other fabulous designers who dominated the mid-20th century catwalks with circle skirts and polka dots (with no irony).  Hoschek may not be every fashionista’s cup of tea as her signature looks remain relatively staple – a sin amidst the constantly evolving headache of styles going in and out of Vogue faster than any sane person can shop.  For those such as myself however, her new online shop is a small haven to pass a lunch hour and dream up reasons to buy dresses far too expensive for my usual past time of sitting in old man pubs.  Have a browse around her online shop here http://shop.lenahoschek.com/  Lena Hoschek is a breath of fresh air in the world of high end fashion and I hope her collections continue to be huge successes!

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New Photoshoot Collaberation

I am very very excited about the results of our Spring/Summer photoshoot with the fabulous Cristina Carra Caso.   Couldn’t resist posting them for you all to enjoy.

Cristina Carro Casa Photography with dresses by Lady JoJo’s

Location: Kinneil House, Dean Gardens, Bo’ness
Models: Charlie Banks/ Agata Myszkowska (Long Hair)
Hair: Sarah Vieira Da Cruz
MUA: Ola of Moodsfactory

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Put Together the Perfect 1950s Outfit

Sometimes I take it for granted that people who visit our boutique or website know exactly which items to put together to make the perfect 1950s-style outfit.  Upon realising that some of you ladies need some ideas and inspiration about which accessories go with what and how exactly to put all of it together I thought a blog post might be just the thing!

In this post I am going to look at how to put together the perfect circle dress outfit.  I will run through the process with step-by-step instructions and everything we use is available in the boutique.   I am going to use the black with white polka dot dress, which is one of our most popular dresses, to demonsrate this.

Step One – Underwear

You need to set the foundation for the dress with the right lingerie.  1950s girls knew how important lingerie is and this stage should never be overlooked as attention to detail is key.  First up is a lovely pair of seamed stockings.  Seams not only give your outfit an authentic retro feel, they lengthen and slim the leg.  Black seamed stockings are perfect for an evening occasion and nude seamed stockings make beautiful daywear.  My personal favourite though are these tights which have a contrasting black seam and look fab day or night!In addition to stockings you need a lovely pair of frilly knickers which maintain your modesty when you are swirling around the dance floor (or if the wind gives you a Marilyn moment).  I would usually suggest knickers to match your petticoat but if you want to be a little more risqué contrasting colours can also look great.
Finally, as I am using a halterneck dress I will be adding bullet bra pads.  The boning on most circle dresses means that many women get enough support from the bodice – although of course strapless bras can be used if required!  Bullet bra pads slip between the breast and the dress boning and create a perfect, yet subtle, point which emphasises the hourglass figure and subsequently slims the waist.

Step Two – Petticoat

This is the most fun step – add the petticoat!  Choose a colour to either match your dress or contrast.  I have selected a lovely white petticoat to sit underneath this dres as I intend to work on a black and white colour scheme but with this dress you could equally choose a coloured petticoat to add some fun.  See our promotional picture below where we have used red.   You should now have the basic hourglass shape!  Your bra pads won’t be in yet but you can hold them in position.  This style of dress is perfect for all body shapes as the hourglass figure is created for you.  Occasionally smaller busted ladies have problems with the boning but this is nothing a pair of chicken fillets won’t sort out if the bra pads are not enough.

Step Three – Dress

Pop your dress over your head and zip up.  Add your bra pads and adjust your petticoat to the length you require.  I often get asked if the petticoat should be showing or not and I always say this is completely up to individual preference.  Many women, especially if there are contrasting colours at work, love about an inch to peek out of the bottom of the dress.  Others simply use the petticoat to create shape and therefore want it to sit with the bottom hem of the dress.  Experiment to find your preference.  Personally I like some petticoat on display though.

Step Four – Dress Accessories

It is now time to add some items to the dress to complete the basic look.  Belts are perfect to further accentuate those curves by drawing the eye to the waistline and therefore making it appear slimmer.  Be careful though if you are already slim, often a thin belt or even just a piece of ribbon work better as if you are naturally slim drawing too much attention to the waist may exaggerate it and make it appear larger.

A flower brooch to compliment the belt also looks beautiful and adds pretty detail to the dress.

Step Five – Finishing Touches

Now on to accessories – this is very much up to the individual but I am going to complete this look with a 1950s daywear theme in mind.  A pair of white lace gloves looks elegant and yet simple.  Gloves were commonly worn in the 1950s and if you want to make this look more suitable for the evening a pair of satin gloves give it a more sophisticated edge.

A pair of cat-eye sunglasses also add a great retro edge and are both practical and completely in fashion as they dominated this season’s catwalks.

Finally for the piéce-de-resistance, to finish off this outfit for a wedding, garden party, birthday bash or day at the races select the perfect piece of millinery.  With hats and fascinators I am personally in the camp of the bigger the better so I have went with this lovely large fascinator with feather detailing.  If you have a specific colour scheme or fascinator in mind you can get your own creation made here at Lady JoJo’s by the fabulous local milliner Mairi Brunning.  You can therefore get the perfect headwear to match your outfit and, if you are like me, ask her to add some Swarovski crystals for a bit of sparkle!

Step Six – Enjoy

You should now look fabulous so off you go to sip some cocktails and enjoy yourself!

Modelled by Bobbi Digi

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Polka Dot Fever – 1850s to 1950s

Here at Lady JoJo’s we unreservedly love polka dots so when we saw it all over this season’s catwalks and in so many high-street shops we got a little bit excited.  Remember when leopard print was all over the shops?  Well, I still have a wardrobe full of clothing bought that season so when such fabulous fads are back in fashion it means one thing – it’s time to bulk buy!  I want to have a little look at where these ubiquitous dots have come from and how you can wear them today.

Polka dot fabric did not really exist prior to the mid-19th century as machine’s were required to create the even spaced dots – otherwise it looked blotchy and unattractive. A combination of the advent of the industrial age, meaning that this fabric could now be mechanically produced, and a dance craze at the time, ‘The Polka’, established this pattern as fashionable.  The Polka was a dance that started in Europe and quickly spread over to the States.  The link between the dance and the pattern is difficult to establish however it is generally believed that dresses with this pattern were commonly worn when dancing The Polka and the link between the two became cemented.

Here a couple of mid-19th century images sporting polka dots.

Polka dots remained relatively fashionable throughout the remainder of the 19th century but received a new peak in popularity in 1928 with the introduction of Minnie Mouse by Walt Disney.  Polka dots were used everywhere from fashion to household objects and became so popular that in 1936 a designer actually tried to copyright the pattern – she obviously failed.

In the 1920s Polka Dots were particularly popular on swimwear.

1926 Miss America Norma Smallwood

1928 Vogue – Lanvin Swimsuit

The 1930s saw polka dots entering into high fashion and starting to be used more seriosuly by designers.


American Actress Myrna Loy in 1933 film ‘When Ladies Meet’

1936 Travis Banton Couture Dress Made for French-born Hollywood Actress Claudette Colbert’s Private Wardrobe

As we all know 1940s fashion was simple and conservative during the war and any fabrics or patterns which were considered luxuries and not necessities were very rare.  Polka Dots were not as prominent during this period but here is a lovely snap of a young Elizabeth Taylor sporting the look.

Elizabeth Taylor 1944

Polka Dots absolutely boomed in popularity in the 1950s and you could find such a an array of objects in the now familiar polka dot print – clothes, dinnerware, accessories, curtains, toys, pop art, etc.  Again, polka dots were particularly fashionable for swimwear.

Marilyn Monroe circa. 1951

Polka Dots were back at the forefront of high fashion in the 1950s and here is a selection of some of my favourite deisnger dresses from this decade including examples from the three dominant influences on post-war haute couture fashion: Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain and Jacques Fath.

French Designer Jacques Griffe 1951

French Designer Pierre Balmain 1952

French Designer Jacques Fath 1954

Christian Dior Couture Collection 1954

Evening Gown by French Designer Mme Gres 1955

The ever popular polka dot continued in popularity throughout each subsequent decade however I have decided to stop before I have to delve too much into the 1960s and the novelty song, ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’.

In my next blog, I intend to continue with my polka dot love by exploring how how the pattern has returned in this season’s designer collections.


Posted in Christian Dior, Fashion, Jacques Fath, Jacques Griffe, Lanvin, Marilyn Monroe, Mme Gres, Pierre Balmain, Polka Dot, Swimsuit, Travis banton, Uncategorized, Vintage, Vintage Fashion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vintage Styles Making a Comeback in 2011 – 1970s

The new kid on the block, as far as nostalgic fashion is concerned, comes in the form of inspirations from the 1970s with two key looks from this being particularly influential this season.  Glam rock’s glitter and block colours are evident as well as a more sophisticated 1970s featuring beautifully tailored looks.  The essential items required as the basis to this look are high-waisted trousers, sheer maxi dresses, hot pants and fabulously busy retro prints.  The must-have accessories that were prominent throughout all designers inspired by the 1970s were wide brimmed hats or flowers in the hair.

I am going to begin with the most extravert 1970s inspired collection of the season which is undoubtedly Marc Jacobs.  Definitely more in the Glam Rock camp, this catwalk looks like the audience of a David Bowie, circa Ziggy Stardust, concert.  It is filled with bold neon satin and quintessentially 1970s patterns all in shades of vibrant orange or warmer purple/red hues.  A great fun collection for summer which actually has very wearable silhouettes amidst all the extravagance.

Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2011

Emilio Pucci also uses high-waisted trousers as a staple item in his collection.  His look is much softer with a hint of bohemia however I can’t ignore that the blue and white dominant patterns which keep reminding me of spode chinaware.  Aside from this connotation, the look is light and summery and much more laid-back than Jacobs.

Emilio Pucci Spring/Summer 2011

Pucci also adds in a few different shapes to his catwalk with hot pants and clingy maxi dresses making an appearance.  He uses hot pants in combination with soft, flowing shirts which are the statement of the outfit.  These often have laced up fronts on a very 1970s plunging cleavage line which adds subtle sensuality to this look.  The maxi dresses appear clingier and have a relatively basic shape with long sleeves.  On this simple cut, Pucci has chosen busy patterns to be the focus.

Blue is prominent throughout many of the 1970s inspired collections and Derek Lam uses varying shades of blue liberally and, similar to Pucci, contrasts this with white.  Lam’s catwalk is much more conservative and has a Farah Fawcett vibe.  Again, high-waisted trousers are dominant throughout and Lam also breaks this up with maxi dresses however he has used much more flowing, sheer materials.

Derek Lam Spring/Summer 2011

Finally, I love to end these posts with a look at how each era has been updated in a particularly fun way with a catwalk which does not take itself too seriously and House of Holland has done this beautifully with the 1970s.  Again, gentle shades of blue are at the heart of this collection and these are often decorated with quirky patterns such as the large shiny stars pictured below.  Patterns such as this were popular with small independent boutiques and designers ensuring items were unique and extravert – after all this decade is not renowned for its subtlety!

House of Holland Spring/Summer 2011

This brings me to the end of my exploration into how vintage fashions are going to be updated this summer.  So grab some cat eye sunglasses, a floppy hat, good belts to emphasise that waist and you are half way there!  Some would say don’t wear them all together but I am all for mixing and matching the decades – fashion is supposed to be fun so discard any so-called rules and enjoy your summer.

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In Memory of Jane Russell

I am going to go a little off topic and focus on the gorgeous Jane Russell for this blog entry.  As a former film student, hours upon hours spent watching icons such as Russell inspired my passion for this era as I am sure they have for many women.  Femininity is such a beautiful and under appreciated part of nature which is captured so wonderfully by Hollywood’s female icons such as Rusell during this period.

 

One of the last living icons of Hollywood’s Golden era, Jane Russell sadly passed away yesterday.  Personally, she was one of my absolute favourites as although I love the glamour and styling of many starlets from this period, Russell was much more than just a pretty face.  Opinionated, intelligent and fearless she appeared to live a fulfilled life with priorities in the right place.  Obviously she had her demons, as do we all, but she fought these and persevered on – she certainly did not let Hollywood eat her up like it did with so many of her peers.

She was notorious for her curvaceous figure and Howard Hughes famously used his aeronautical engineering background to design a bra which displayed her assets prominently.  Hollywood legend claimed that due to this bra her first role in Hughes’ movies ‘The Outlaw’ caused such a stir that the film release was postponed for five years.  However Russell has since stated that “Yes, Howard Hughes invented a bra for me. Or, he tried to. And one of the seamless ones like they have now. He was way ahead of his time. But I never wore it in ‘The Outlaw’. And he never knew. He wasn’t going to take my clothes off to check if I had it on. I just told him I did.”  The promotional shots for this movie caused such scandal however this controversy made Jane Russell a household name and the film a success.

Russell is perhaps best known for her role alongside Marilyn Monroe in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, a canonical piece of Hollywood history, and the off-shoot ‘Gentlemen Marry Brunettes’.   ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ is a truly fabulous spectacular which looks even more amazing on the big screen (it featured at the 2007 Edinburgh International Film Festival in a retrospective of writer Anita Loos) and Russell certainly holds her own next to Hollywood’s leading lady, Monroe.

Not entirely comfortable with being labelled as a sex symbol, from the 1960s onwards Russell tried to veer away from this featuring in only four more movies.  She turned to music instead and concentrated on her solo singing career which later saw her make her Broadway debut in the early 1970s.

In her personal life, Russell was a devout Christian and Republican and was often outspoken in defence of her religious and political views.  A rarity in notoriously liberal Hollywood.  In the 1950s, she founded the World Adoption International Fund and helped American families adopt children from throughout the world.  A cause that was close to her as she herself adopted three children after being left unable to conceive following an illegal backstreet abortion in her teens.  Putting a positive spin on her grief she said that “sometimes I think that if I hadn’t gone through my abortion, perhaps there wouldn’t have been loving homes for those children.”

Russell’s beautiful figure was perhaps a blessing and a curse for her career.  It was the scandal surrounding ‘The Outlaw’ which shot her to fame initially however in-keeping with  Hollywood in the 40s and 50s, she had signed to Hughes for a seven year contract.  Hughes continued to focus on her figure and looks in the movies he made with Russell and she was rarely able to demonstrate her genuine acting talent.  There are glimpses throughout her career which demonstrate this talent, in particular her comic ability which is perfectly showcased in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’.

There is so much more which can be said and discussed about Russell, such as her suspicions surrounding Monroe’s death, her troubles with alcohol, her work outside of the film industry and I am sure these all will be spoken of in the wake of her death.  For now though, get yourself a glass of wine and a box of chocolates, curl up in front of your favourite Jane Russell movie and enjoy what she did best.

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Autumn/Winter 2011 Preview

Okay, okay I know… you haven’t even started your Summer wardrobe yet but when we got a sneak peak at what will be coming our way next Autumn/Winter from Drapers, one of the UK’s leading trend forecasters, I couldn’t resist sharing it.  The photos aren’t great because I took them myself and I am not renowned for my photography expertise but  sit back and enjoy…

There is such a diverse mixture of designers in this catwalk so I can’t even begin to name them all.  Now you can go back to thinking about Summer!

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