Learning Vintage Colour Combos

By: Emily Yakashiro

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Sometimes you just get lucky. There I was, in a used book store in Powell River, BC, when I came across this vintage gem, Showing Your Colors: Designer’s Guide to Color: Coordinating Your Wardrobe by Jeanne Allen. For a mere four dollars, it is now part of my little home library and hot damn do I love this book–I just had to share some scans of the book for your viewing pleasure.

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Published in 1985, Allen explains that the book’s purpose is to show off possible colour combinations for outfits for professional designers and non-professionals alike. Allen would know–according to the bio at the back of the book, she was a designer for Marimekko at the time!

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She starts the book by showing off colour combinations, focusing on one colour in particular as shown above with Candy Blue, Olive Green, Red, and Bright Navy (all pictured). She does this for 95 colours, explaining the do’s and dont’s of possible combinations.

The age of the book is revealed with certain attitudes towards certain colours that have shattered since. For example, Lavender Blue (not pictured), “is a wonderful mixer that should be used only in bottoms or as an accent color.” Almost quaint, no?

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On the other hand, some of Allen’s opinions stand the test of time. Of Yellow Green (not pictured) she says, ” Don’t buy too much of this color–yellow green will be as ‘out’ next year as it is ‘in’ this year. If you love this color but feel hesitant, perhaps a pair of anklets is the best investment.”

Allen also takes into careful consideration skin tones and certain colours, not unwise given the extreme popularity of seasonal colour analysis, which would have been in its heyday when this book was published. For example, readers are warned away from colors like Khaki, “because khaki’s yellow tone is difficult for most complexions to handle, keep this color away from the face.”

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After we work our way through the colours, Allen tests her theories by showing off colour combinations in standard 80s outfits. How great are these little drawings?? For those of you who favour tomboy style, never fear, Allen has you covered with outfits like the ones below:

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Allen rounds out this fascinating guide with a “Color Gallery of Accessories,” in which she encourages readers to,” study the way small amounts of color are used to alter and accentuate the personality of the garments,” see an example below. All in all, a charming guide–I wonder how much of her theories we could see in practice on today’s runways!

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FURTHER READING :

Fashion Flashback: Seasonal Colour Analysis for Clothes and Skin Tone

 

 

Gloss over This: Felicity Jones

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“I think that’s what’s important with female characters: It’s not just about being tough or vulnerable; it’s about a combination. It’s about showing humanity, isn’t it? I just want to play complex, interesting female roles as much as I can. [...] I love this idea that we have infinite choice, especially for female parts. There aren’t tons of great female roles for film coming through the doors, so I take what I can get and make the most of it.”

- Felicity Jones in “Fierce Felicity” by Kathryn Hudson in Elle Canada December 2014

Closet Feminist Review: Women in Clothes

By: Emily Yakashiro

At the end of summer I treated myself to the much-anticipated Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton, and 639 others as a birthday gift to myself. I remember seeing the buzz about the survey circulate, and was surprised to see that they turned it around so quickly. I thought it was a really neat project, and over the past few months I have made my way, cover to cover, through the book.

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I was impressed by the relative diversity of the 630+ contributors. There were women of all backgrounds and folks of all genders who had their say on clothing. Not everyone was feminist, not everyone was young super-stylish–it was a good mix of well, women and clothes.

That being said, the diversity of the contributors and interview subjects was not always handled with the sensitivity I would have hoped for; it was a curious inconsistency.

On one hand, for example, when it came to ethics in the clothing industry, I thought the pieces were very deftly handled.  Reba Sikder, a garment worker in her teens, shares her account as a survivor of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. It’s harrowing and heartbreaking, I had to put the book down for a week before I could continue reading through.

On the other hand,  editor Sheila Heti’s interview with writer and journalist Juliet Jacques stands out to me for being particularly problematic, especially with regards to some of Heti’s questions to Jacques. I’ll let you read it for yourself to see what I mean.

The book sort of read like a super-thick magazine minus all the ad space. There are conversations, interviews, snippets of this and that, pictures, and a few bigger projects that had the feeling of editorials in the context of the book. It wasn’t entirely just about clothes, there were pieces about beauty/make-up, hair, and jewelry/accessories, so it made for a nice mix.

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By far my favourite parts of the book were surveys (see scan above) in which the hundreds of contributors weighed in on everything from dressing for another gender to intriguing clothing-related superstitions or rituals. There were so many gems and interesting tidbits, I felt like I was reading the diary of a woman I didn’t know. I would recommend buying the book for this series alone.

Something that surprised me throughout Women in Clothes was the very heavy presence of the book’s three editors. Heti, Julavits, and Shapton seemed to appear on nearly every other page in some way or another. Since the whole schtick of the book is that it was written by these three and “639 others” as it says on the cover, it didn’t necessarily feel that way. With so many contributors, I would have expected (and found myself wanting) more of them, and less of the editors.

I also found myself disappointed by the photographs in the book. The “Collections”  series throughout the book felt sterile and generally a waste of ink for the most part–12 pairs of earplugs? 10 floss sticks? 15 empty packages of gum? Great….I would have much rather seen the contributors in the book wearing or otherwise interacting with these pieces that were evidently so intimately important to them. I wonder what prompted this choice to print these objects without any comment from the owner.

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There were other projects that I LOVED. “Thirty-six Women” by Miranda July and the “Mothers as Others” project (see scan above) by various contributors were fantastic, and really got me thinking.

BOTTOM LINE

Would I recommend you read this book?

Yes, but I would recommend The Worn Archive first for sure–this book was also printed relatively recently, similarly put together, if a little different in overall concept but once you compare the two you’ll see what I mean.

Rating for those of you who like such things to be quantified:

3/5 stars

Good for:

Coffee table book, for reading snippets of something when you have time here and there. It’s not like a sit-down-and-get-absorbed book, it’s like a bus book. It’s also good for starting conversations by asking your friends the questions in the book.

Size matters?

It’s between the size of a novel and a magazine, so a nice size for such a book.

On my bookshelf:

It sits next to my other fashion books–neither in a place of prominence nor hidden away.

 

 

Bibliostyle: Tanith Lee’s “Wolfland”

By: Emily Yakashiro

How young Anna looked. She was in her twenties. She wore a scarlet gown and a scarlet cloak lined with pale fur and heavy brocade. It resembled Lisel’s cloak but had a different clasp. Snow melted on the shoulders of the cloak, and Anna held her slender hands to the fire of the hearth. Free of the hood, her hair, like marvellously tarnished ivory, was piled on her head, and there was a yellow flower in it. She wore ruby eardrops. She looked just like Lisel, or Lisel as she would become in six years or seven.

-from “Wolfland” by Tanith Lee in Red as Blood or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer

You know who is really badass? Fantasy/sci-fi writer Tanith Lee. She writes feminist takes on fairy tales with dizzying imagery; she’s like the Stevie Nicks of fantasy. I somehow managed to snag a very old, very worn copy of her collection of fairy tales Red as Blood or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer. I have no idea if it’s in print still, but def get your hands on a copy if you can, but be forewarned–these tales are definitely not for kids.

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Above: Alberta Ferretti Fall 2014

Within Red as Blood there is a story called “Wolfland” which is loosely based on a Scandinavian folk tale from the nineteenth century. It makes Frozen look like a bad joke, covering lady werewolves, eerie wintery chateauxs, and even touches on domestic abuse. Here are some wintery looks from the Fall/Winter 2014 runways that evoke the spirit of this story.

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Above: Alice + Olivia Fall 2014

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Above: Emilia Wickstead Fall 2014

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Above: Stella Jean Fall 2014

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Above: Temperley London Fall 2014

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Above: Jenny Packham Fall 2014

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Above: Ulyana Sergeenko Fall 2014

 

Coco Rocha on Modelling, Sexism, and Expoitation

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Given the [fashion] industry’s influence, the issue has broader social ramifications, says Rocha: “How we treat our models says a lot about how we feel about women in general.” She has faced resistance, she says. “When I talk about protecting models, people laugh at me, as if to say, ‘What do models have to worry about?’ But we’re talking about some of the most vulnerable young women.” The glam façade of fashion [...] can make it difficult to believe exploitation exists [...] “But in general, most of the world’s models are insecure teenage girls, earning less than $30,000 a year and living and working in countries far from home.”

-Coco Rocha in “Exploitation, Inc.” by Anne Kingston in Flare November 2014

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