September 22, 2012

Mermaid Metamorphosis

It all started with a cruise.  I packed my one and only black swimsuit and was off for a week of the western Caribbean aboard the Holland America Line's Ms. Nieuw Amsterdam.


Part One: (NVS) No Visible Swimsuit
The first stop was Grand Cayman Island. Below, drying off in the sun after the Dolphin Encounter. To emulate a wetsuit and protect my skin from the sun, I wore leggings and a black tee, with my swimsuit underneath. I had packed SPF 60, but was taking no chances with my pale skin.

Same idea at the Mayan Ruins.  We'd been instructed to cover up against the mosquitoes and the sun.  Thought I was the coolest kid, with my Converse All-Stars, yoga pants and striped, floppy sunhat. TYR black swimsuit, again, worn underneath in case an opportunity to swim came up.


My outlook was in for a big change.  After snorkeling in Roatan, Honduras (one of the best places in the world to do so), I noticed that I was the only one who didn't have any new colour in my face.  Everyone else looked fresh and alive.  I looked like an out of place Goth girl.  What to do?

Part Two:  T-Y what?
I ditched the SPF 60, bought some 15 and 30 and ceased and desisted the "wetsuit" look.  The attitude adjustment was almost complete:  just add sun and surf...
TYR make a very nice "for real swimming" line of suits.  My heretofore invisible black one was a "training suit" which meant it didn't feel or fit like a suit of armour and, had pretty crossed straps and a low cut in back.
Aboard the Catamaya catamaran, I added some fun earrings:


Part Three:  Will that be Speedo or Nike?

Back in Toronto, where much to my chagrin, it was still winter, I went hunting for swimsuits. Sporting Life and Aquasport (of Montreal) were saviours.
I still had a prejudice, common to many serious swimmers, that suits had to be of the "speedo" type.  Happily, I found that many of them were reversible, and, Nike in particular, was making some interesting styles. 
My favourite new suit was a reversible Nike with very low cut back and sides as well as crossed straps in back.  Below the watermelon pink (they call it siren red), reversible to a black and white abstract print.
Here, the solid black, reversible to red and black abstract print (the suit also comes in yellow and green versions). It is extemely comfortable to wear as well as to swim in, and dries quickly.


The straps can be easily flipped down, and the suit 'rolled' for sunbathing. The reverse side shows up as a contrasting band and creates an illusion of straplessness.  If you need to swim or snorkel, turn it up again in seconds.


Not every purchase went so swimmingly.  The neon pink, reversible to black Speedo brand suit, was too high in front---almost to the collarbone, scratchy, and had an awkward fit.  It bunched and ballooned in the water.  Even the skinny crossed straps in back couldn't save it. They felt tight and uncomfortable.  Speedo called this suit "flower power".  What a shame!

Part Four:  Breaking Away 
 It was now March. I'd been to a few sunny destinations, with more planned.  Seeing the sexy, pretty swimwear on the beaches had inspired me to look for something completely different.
The first suit that caught my eye was this  strapless, ruffled mermaid look from H&M.

It took some serious nerve to wear this electric, lime green creation, which made for an interesting tan triangle on your chest.  That said, I bought one in black as well.  The 'retro' style was a lot of fun and a complete change.
It wore well, if a bit slow to dry. Upon discovering (accompanied by much booing and hooing) that I'd left it in Cuba, I raced out with only four hours sleep to buy another, when I returned to Toronto. This suit shall always be my 'Havana Lana' dubbed favourite.

Below, some pretty birds make the black one look less 'basic'.


By this time I'd become superstitious.  I felt that each destination had to have a new swimsuit.  The pickings were slim:  finally I looked at the American Apparel online store, and, found a rare gem.  Poppy red and black; geometrically cut and sewn; strapless.


The suit is comfortable, both in and out of the water and quick drying.  It was the only one that got a compliment from the jaded girls at the Photo Shop (they see all the fabulous styles).

Part Five:  A bit OCD about Bathing Suits
Finally the stores were beginning to get stock.  H&M again proved to be a gold mine.  They are reasonably-priced and stylish to a fault.
Below, a hot pink strapless suit from H&M that I just adore(d).  Sadly it couldn't stand up to the salt water and hot sun of Mexico.  It faded and the colour ran, so is presently enjoying an ill-deserved early  retirement.

Conclusion:  You've come a long way, speedo-baby!
One shouldered H&M purple suit with cut-out peek-a-boo sides. Makes for an interesting tan line (or inaugural sun BURN, if you're not ultra-careful).  With funky leopard print sunglasses to carry along the theme, I called it "Sheena of the Jungle".


Photos taken in Grand Cayman Island, Mexico, Punta Cana DR and St. Maarten.  The monkeys, toucan and parrots added colour and fun. Thanks to the photographers:  Barbara, Julia, Alberto and Nico!.


September 20, 2012



By 1966, this was Audrey Hepburn (below): iconic beauty, fashionista and muse to Paris couturier, Hubert de Givenchy.

Givenchy had created L'Interdit, one of the world's finest fragrances for her. He custom designed all her film wardrobes, with Paris haute couture precision. Skirts were a demure knee length. Jackets were impeccably tailored. Audrey wore mostly pillbox hats, which had become ultra-chic with Jacqueline Kennedy in her White House years.

As concessions to the new "mod" look, Givenchy relented with patterned hose and a few funky accessories. Below, a helmet with chin strap and stylish sunglasses top a white suit and stockings from, "How to Steal a Million".


The look was Parisian and expensive but lacked youthful 'zing'. There was a fashion revolution going on: mini skirts; pant suits; tee shirts--in neon colours and bold prints, were featured by ready-to-wear boutiques in Paris, London and New York. Carnaby Street and the Kings Road had exploded with the fashions of a new generation. Enter the film "Two For the Road"...

For the role of Joanna Wallace, on trend wife of upwardly mobile architect, Albert Finney, Audrey would undergo a makeover the likes of which hadn't been seen since "Sabrina" a decade earlier.  

Wardrobe supervisors combed through fashionable boutiques for off the rack designs by Mary Quant; Ken Scott; Andre Courreges; Tuffin & Foale; Jean Cacharel; Paco Rabanne and more.  The results were spectacular. The slim and leggy Audrey Hepburn was perfect for the mad mod gear.  It was her own personal youth quake.

Gorgeous Gear: The White Pantsuit

The film opens with Joanna and husband Mark Wallace flying, Mercedes and all, to the French Riviera where Mark is completing an architectural assignment.

What follows is a series of glimpses into their fabulous lifestyle--including a wardrobe to knock the socks off any dolly bird for Miss Hepburn.  Enjoy!

The Rugby Dress and shades

The space-age shades are in the style of Andre Courreges, and match the dress to perfection.

Pretty Couture confection in Seafoam Satin, was used to publicise the film, and later sold at auction.

'Married People'  Jersey Print Dress

Emilio Pucci-esque soft, jersey knit dress in beautiful pastel print.  Possibly a Ken Scott design.

Above, one of the most remembered lines from the film, "Married people" at dinner, with nothing so say to each other...

Green & White Front Zip Suit

In the style of Mary Quant and Andre Courreges, this green and white suit still dazzles.

The "Poor Boy Sweater" swim suit

Part retro 1920s knitwear; part boldly striped and ribbed, 'poor boy' sweater, this bathing suit was, and is, unique.

Chatting with co-star, Albert Finney, in a preppie casual look, complete with knee socks.

The Mary Quant PVC pantsuit and,

pink, black & white crinkle cotton shirt

in the style of Jean Cacharel.

The Grand Finale: Paco Rabanne Discs

Audrey Hepburn's transformation from Givenchy mannequin to eclectic, colour-drenched mod goddess made fashion headlines the world over. In every scene of the film, she sparkled like Paco Rabanne's discs.  Brava!


September 18, 2012


Greta Garbo's favorite designer Adrian surprised her with a Birthday gift--right there on the "Camille" set, while I chased around town looking for the perfect Birthday gifte.  Ah, the life of a personal shopper...

Greta looks ecstatic, doesn't she? Must be a fabulous gift. So, after THAT grandiose display, I guess a nice pair of gloves and a knitted cap are out of the question.


Garbo loves a beautiful robe. Let's add this one from "Grand Hotel" to the list of 'possibles'.

I guess Adrian's not so bad... He did turn Garbo into quite the fashionista.  Here, he shows her some sketches. How about all that fox fur?

GG has worn some strange and exotic furs in the past few years--and not always as tailored and sophisticated as the above ensemble. 



Hmm--there are many styles of hat from which to choose.  Garbo generally wears them well--

Not always, though. The nuclear reactor hat from "Ninotchka" may have been charming and witty, but--looked like it would take flight.

Greta hates overtly schlocky jewels, even if they are real. In this scene from "Wild Orchids", she is done up to the max. 

The "Romance" set was close to 100 degrees fahrenheit but a velvet-clad and bejewelled Garbo didn't show a sign of 'droop'. That's my GG:  a trooper--and a gorgeous one!

Sweaters are always a great gift, if you don't go all "arty" like my rival, Adrian. That cityscape Art Deco sweater from "The Single Standard" was SO over the top.  Don't you think??? (Actually, I adore this unique sweater; Adrian brings out the green-eyed monster in me.)


When Greta wore a turtleneck sweater in "Anna Christie" it started a much-copied and imitated fashion trend. 


Carole Lombard wears a similar turtleneck sweater in the film "Twentieth Century".

Sigh!  There's no point in my visiting the lingerie shops for bras and underpinnings; these 1930s stars go 'au naturel', and look terrific.

Eureka!  I know what to get Miss Garbo for her Birthday:  she loves to pad around, especially on set, in pink, fuzzy slippers.  She is taller than most actors, both male and female, so 'the feet' are often out of the frame. Perfecto!

Happy Birthday, Greta Garbo!!!

The above is a flight of fancy:  pure tongue-in-cheek fiction, and, I hope-- fun to read and look at.  I adore Gilbert Adrian and think he is one of the greatest designers of the twentieth century.  Anyone who knows me, and those who don't can figure out, how I feel about Greta Garbo.