Some Liked It Hot
December 14, 2009

There’s a funny article in The New Yorker this week about what the audiences – mostly women – have been wearing to see the off-Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, by Nora and Delia Ephron, adapted from the memoir by Ilene Beckerman. Though the audience members mostly favor “sober chic” ensembles of cashmere  sweaters and dark wool pants, some of them take a walk down fashion-memory lane. My favorite, Jill Leider (identified as a classmate of Nora Ephron’s at Beverly Hills High), laments over the way people dress these days, including her own wool pants in the bargain: ” ‘From Banana Republic,’ she said with disdain. ‘I should have today the clothes I had then.’ ”

From what she told the writer Rebecca Mead, her closet must have been something: “The hot pants! I remember going to La Grenouille in our shorts and boots. At one point I had thirty Courrèges,and as many Puccis. We all did. I wouldn’t have gone to the supermarket then in what I wear to a restaurant now.”

The hot pants! That made me really laugh out loud. For those too young, or pretending to be too young, to remember, these couture shorts were all the rage circa 1971. Not only for the young, but as Ms. Leider accurately remembers, for society ladies who definitely lunched in them as well as danced the night away in evening versions (often with some kind of front-slit overskirt). It was a brief (no pun intended, really) but worldwide phenomenon, from New York (a Kennedy sister or two), to London (Twiggy, duh) to Paris (the sublime Jane Birkin, seen above).

I was a kid in school then and remember a girl in my class – the daughter of the local junior fashion shop owner – who wore a different hot pants get-up every day for the entire spring term – in Omaha! Of course, Americans were quick to see the commercial possibilities of the leggy trend and several airlines in those “Fly Me!” days adopted them as stewardess uniforms, including Southwest. Ready for takeoff!


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A Thousand Words: One*
November 12, 2009

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Robert Evans photographed at home in the ’70s for W Magazine

* My journal of inspiration, because a picture is worth…


Boobies Prize?
September 14, 2009

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Count me in with people saying that Project Runway feels kind of dull this season. In the show’s move to Lifetime Television for Women from Bravo Television for Gays and the Women Who Love Them, we have too many look-alike contestants, too many substitute judges (last week’s episode without Nina Garcia and Michael Kors – c’mon!), and not enough design-room drama, which TV critic Richard Dawson hilariously nailed in his wrap-up. It’s not just the move to LA, though the show seems curiously flat without the oxygen-deprived hustle and bustle of New York. Last-week’s challenge supposedly turned the tables by asking the models to dictate to the designers what they wanted to wear and create a look for an industry party that would get them noticed. A few of the designers threw a little shade on each other and then . . . the fashion show started. Really, that was it. Compare that to the family-feuding episode a few seasons back when sisters and moms gave the design orders and tears flowed, threats were made and dark-star contestant Jeffrey of the frightening neck tattoo went after somebody’s mom.  Maybe it was just a dream I had.

Anyway, when the judging unfolded so did an interesting (to me, at least) fashion and cultural history teachable moment. Dreadlocks daddy Epperson was called out by Heidi Klum because his applique-lashed jersey dress didn’t hoist up the model’s modestly-sized bosom sufficiently to Heidi’s admittedly Victoria’s Secret- based definition of “Angel” perky. It dawned on me that the 50-year-old designer came of age in the freewheeling bra-less ’70s when a breast was just a breast, in its natural and un-underwired state, unfettered under poor-boy T-shirts by day and brassy disco acetate by night. It was a time long ago and far away – before the aggressive uplift of  lacy boob-booster bras and unyielding conical surgical implants made perfectly-rounded bosoms the norm they are today.

suitOf course my theory got all shot to hell a few minutes later in the same episode because the winning designer Althea’s model projected a much more generous anatomical expanse that didn’t seem to be catching much of the benefit of any of the Secret’s silky uplifiting support either. Curiously, Heidi and the other judges said not a word.  They were too busy raving about the cute little suit jacket, maybe, to notice she was, as the song says, busting out all over. Not to mention the further figure-distorting effect of the high-waisted mini. Well she wanted to get noticed at the party, right? And we all know that whether in Los Angeles or New York, that would be no problem.