18 July 2012

The Muse: White and Black

1.) Vogue circa 1936
2.) Vogue, Hermes dress  by Gordon Parks,
photographed by Cecil Beaton 1952
Black and white are considered the ultimate combination, if you ask someone to define stylish odds are they will point you towards something in terms of one or the other. Personally I think that these clothes can be divided into two groups, black and white, where black is the dominant color, and white and black, where white is the dominant shade. Black and white is the much more common of the two, but I think that white an black can be more interesting and unexpected. Fishing through the Vogue archives it seems that the idea really hit its stride in the 1930's where white was very chic, but it continued in sportswear into the 1970's, when Bianca Jagger and John Travolta brought white suits with black accents back in. The white has a classic crisp look with a little bit of an edge that keeps it from looking too much like a nurse's uniform and it has a coolness that makes it your perfect choice for summer wear. I feel like this might be why we see it so much in the 1930's when Depression era economics was really driving fashion, white was a lighter more practical color, but unfortunately not the most practcal in terms of long term wear. I think it can definately be classified as a trend however because Kristen Scott Thomas' signature outfit in the 30's murder mystery Gosford Park was a white satin gown with black trim similar to the Augusta Bernard gown below. I think it also represents the last burst of gaity in fashion prior to the Second World War, looking at fashion in the forties you see much more black, brown, and navy blue. White for the previous several decades was the color of youthful gowns worn at garden parties and soirees. Not exactly the attire of Rosie the Riveter.

3.) Worthington blouse via J.C. Penny circa 2011

4.) Vogue, Kiera Knightly wearing Balenciaga by Nicholas Ghesquiere,
photographed by Mario Testino, circa May 2006

5.) Karen Millen sweater dress via Karen Millen outlet circa 2010
6.) Vogue circa 1970's

7.) Edward skirt, inherited from my sister-in-law L'Oreal
(not sure of its origin but this brand is sold at Marshall's/ T.J. Maxx) circa 2010 (to me, but its older)

8.) Floret blouse via Anthropologie circa 2009

9.) Vogue September 1933, Augusta Bernard dress, photographed by George Hoyningen-Huene 

10.) INC dress via Macy's circa 2008

11.) Balenciaga Infanta gown circa 1939
(the dark trim is actually dark green, but you can still see the contrast)

Of all the photos this one definitely has to be my favorite, I don't think you could have gotten away with this anytime in the past fifty years, and if you've ever been to the top of the Eiffel Tower you know that its totally fenced in. The aeronautics associated with taking the photo aside its still beautiful for the pose and the clothing. Its kinetic and dramatic and the perfect compliment for the palate of white and black.

12.) Erwin Blumenfeld, Sur la Tour EiffelFrench Vogue - May 1939

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