March 15, 2012

Whatever is Lovely...

The moment I caught a glimpse  of Angelina Jolie in this dress, I was struck with the need to write. It's been a few weeks since the Golden Globes, but I've been slowly gathering my thoughts and researching this post ever since.

"Why?" you may be asking, "What in the world does this have to do with swing?" Touche. I was surprised myself. But when I asked myself the same question, repeatedly, the same words would answer back: 
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Phil 4:8
And with the eye that I've been gifted with, I haven't had a lot to feed on lately in my dear world of WCS. So I've found my eye wandering... wandering to other areas of inspiration... things that are "lovely," "excellent," and "praiseworthy."  In so many ways I'm an artist, and as an artist, we need to be fed, warmed and inspired.

So, if you're up for it, I'm going to share moments on the Red Carpet that have "fed" me and my specific eye. Here are a few things to know before I start...

First, I'm very picky. I just am. I have seen some of the most beautiful gowns on the most beautiful of women, but I am not inspired. Why? Because the dress wears the woman. Because the woman overpowers the dress. Because the woman and the dress clash... and clash badly... in personality, in color, in spirit and in balance. And that just doesn't work for me. It takes every little corner and aspect to be perfect for me, on so many levels, so... I am picky.

Secondly, there are some moments that I remember brilliantly... but they did not photograph well. I hardly watch awards shows anymore, and if I ever do get the chance to watch, I'm only watching the red carpet to see how the gowns move. Photos hardly ever capture the real life effect of these gowns. Sadly, many designers feel pressure to design "photographs-well" fashions, and I admire the ones who say, "sorry, but I design fashions for women to wear."  Awesome. But because of this, some of my very dear favorites are not here... there are no photos that captured the excellence, vibrance and valiant feminine nature of the moments. Too sad, but too true.

And finally, as I assembled all of these moments, I am struck at how the moments don't necessarily line up with "celebs" that I am a fan of. Some of these women are talented, some of them are questionable. I don't really care. This is about my eye, and the beauty I was truly edified by.  I hope you enjoy and endure this little "foray into fashion" with me!

Hilary Swank in Guy Laroche
2005 at The Academy Awards (Oscars)

Holy freakin' Moly! Again, Hilary is not someone I follow religiously, but I would follow her anywhere in this dress. I have a hard time looking away. It just makes me blissful and strong in its perfection.  It's endlessly feminine, yet dramatically strong in its palette of dark blue. Instead of skin tight, which it definitely is, you find it to be sculptured and edgy.

Very few people can pull off this dress and do it justice. In fact, this is one of those times where you think, "someone else in this dress? Unthinkable." And it is. When I try to imagine it, I just see Hilary. 

Oh, and did I mention? The back was the best...

Bam. Who the heck can duplicate this? It's not even sexy. It's not sensual. It's just... perfect. Sharp. Killer. Feminine. Winning. (Oh, and if you didn't notice... she did! Notice how perfectly this color goes with a gold statuette? Touche, again, my lovelies!)

Eva Mendes in Christian Dior & Van Cleef & Arpels Jewels
2009 at the Golden Globes

Let's face it. This moment would never be a moment without the jewels, so they most definitely deserved a mention right up front. But the balance, the va-voom, the luscious yet elegant sway in all the right places... well, it's the first time I ever loved turquoise. Heck, it even made me a fan of Eva. I'll never see her the same way again. But for me, I have to say, it was one of the sweetest most miraculous moments in fashion for me in a long time. I simply don't think I'll ever be so happy with anything she ever dons again. And I'm okay with that. Thank you Eva... thank you Dior, thank you Van Cleef & Arpels... and shucks, I'll have to say it, thank you Zoe. Who knew a bohemian chic (which is the opposite of all that I am) stylist could create such perfection? Loveliness. Loveliness. Loveliness.

Heidi Klum in John Galliano
2008 at The Academy Awards (Oscars)

Heidi loves to wear red. And I don't mind. I love red. And I mean, I LOVE red. She makes me love red even more. But this is my favorite-est red moment for Heidi. (Favorite-est is going to be a word today, my loves!)

See, the thing is, it's hard to do red justice. And this dress (and Heidi) succeeds... with flying and joyous colors. It's fun, it's bright, it's swirling and it's consuming... its passionate. Red is passion. And this moment makes me want to go swimming  in it. But then it doesn't. It's just right. Frame the face, frame the hair, frame the clavicle and attack that carpet in astounding and vibrant... passion. Life. Brilliance. 


Michelle Williams in Vera Wang
2006 at The Academy Awards (Oscars)
Where did you come from, Michelle Williams? You have been making headlines lately for your perfect fashion picks, which I have to agree, are quite on the nose. But this is still the "one" for me. Why? Because it's yellow (sorry, "marigold" for the real fashionistas) and frankly I don't own a single yellow thing. I'm sitting on a red shag carpet with red velvet drapes with a painting of a zebra next to me with... you guessed it... a red background.

So. I don't do yellow (sigh, marigold!). Until this moment. And it has stuck with me ever since. Honestly, the necklace and the lipstick are essential here, as was the sweet moment when the (now late) then husband Heath Ledger turned to her and sweetly swept her hair from her face and gazed adoringly. It was a bit of gold in a few ways, and I doubt anything in this color scheme will ever sweep me away again... truly perfect music and lyrics in harmony. The sweetest of songs. Just so.

Ashley Olsen in vintage Christian Dior
2011 at The Met Gala
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala)
As much as I adore keeping in touch with The Met Gala red carpet, it typically has too many "misses" for me. Why? Well, the looks are much more daring and dazzling there. I love it. I desire entry to this event more than any red carpet in my home Cali. I just want to go! But because of the drama, it is much easier for attendees to "miss the mark." Sometimes I think Daphne Guiness is the only one who could walk this carpet well, but even there I feel she's more show than walk. And again, I'm okay with that. Again... I just want to go! and go now!

But I digress. Back to Ms. Olsen. It's funny that, at the event that has so many "missed marks," it's an Olsen twin that nails it smack straight on the head for me at that very same event. The Olsen twins never hit the sweet spot. The grunge spot, maybe. The distressed spot, perhaps... but this? This is a flurry of oxygen, wind, fire and romance in one fell sweep of the billowed sleeve. Love it. Love, love, love it. And work those 12 inch heels, lovely lady! The perfect match for that perfect slit for that perfect line... 

Charlize Theron in Dior Haute Couture
2012 at The Golden Globes
I'm not a fan of pink. This is not pretty in pink though. This is a soft age-appropriate petal pink. And add that slit, that plunging neckline, the heels and the headband... and I'm sold. She's like a modern day Barbie that I would buy. Tweak even one little thing, even a different shade of lipstick or different eye, and it would fall apart. I personally feel Charlize could have retired after that J'Adore Dior commercial that they still, and very much should, keep playing. But it looks like retirement isn't anywhere on the horizon. And she knows it. Oh.... she knows it!

Halle Berry in Elie Saab
2002 at The Academy Awards (Oscars)
When someone says "famous Oscar dresses," I automatically think of Halle Berry in this dress. I can't believe it's been 10 years. And I still dare anyone else to wear this dress. Nope. It's not gonna happen. Halle was born for it. Or the dress was born for her. I don't know how it happened and I really don't care. I'm just glad that it happened. Period. I remember channel skipping all the way back then to get a glimpse of it, and though I still think Nicole Kidman should have won that year for Moulin Rouge (the Academy knew it and rewarded her the next year, but by then she wore a boring black number- take that Academy!), Halle owned that carpet in a way that won't be forgotten for decades to come. Wrap me up in this heat, smoke and finely blossomed confection of structure anytime... yowzers.

Sofia Vergara in Vera Wang
2012 at The Golden Globes
This bombshell looks amazing in almost anything. She does our curves proud. But with curves comes the ability to go so wrong, and she just doesn't. Every time I work on this article, I find myself conjuring the look in my head, and striking a pose in the grocery line at the market. I want midnight blue feather fins swirling around me topped with a corseted waist that isn't wanton, sloppy or slovenly... just placed, pieced and lovingly alive. It's a brilliant feat, for both Vera and Sofia. And, I should note, a brilliant moment that does not rely upon jewels... natural brilliance. It's very own jewel.

Kate Beckinsale in Gucci Premiere
2010 at The Cannes Film Festival
I've seen a million photos of Kate in Cannes, wowing the French in this dress. Awww, why didn't she wow us in this dress on our shores? Oh, but she does... so very often she does. She is one of the most stunning beauties of our time and her stylists must know it well, or at least she does, because I've been in awe at her constant "en pointe." But this is my favorite. I can't get over it. And it's one of the few moments where closeups do more and more justice to the look.

It's in the details. And she's glowing. Radiance is brimming in the sharpest sparkles and softest edges. Her earrings, her cheekbones, the bow, the drapes, the... everything. It's breathtaking. But it's also celebratory. But it's also French. "Je m'appelle Kate!' "Oui! Oui!"

And that about wraps it up for now... there are others, but it's time for me to wrap it up before I overload you with the moments and lines and fabulousness that make me settle in and sigh with complete happiness. So what if everyone is straddling a pony and calling it technique? I can get my beauty elsewhere for now...

J'adore Dior... and Vera... and Laroche... and Galliano,
the perfect lipstick and clutch to match,
and UStream can stream and scream without me!


Since publishing this, I've started my own mini fashion blog: