31 March 2013

Women, Suit Up!

I've always had a fascination for the androgynous looking woman and especially for women in menswear. Not that there's a specific connection between these two things, but I think it's somehow what they have in common: the obvious masculine aura mixed with the feminine that attracts me... They're just so cool! Being all sassy and confident, really pulling off those suits! Just look at Marlene Dietrich in "Morocco" (1930)!

Some might say women in menswear are a disgrace to the feminist cause, others might say that they actually take control of their sexuality or rather they challenge it - instead of staying on the sidelines, letting society decide what a woman should wear, look like and carry herself. Either way, they always manage to pull it off, in my eyes.

In relation to my previous post about inspiring women with short sassy hair, this is another thing I've always admired about my own sex during the 20th and 21st century.

Well, that is to say, from the beginning it was so easy to love the women who just cut their hair or just put on a pair of pants, because they stood out in a crowd of long, curly haired, perfectly manicured, overly feminine women - an image all too often accentuated by a patriarchal society. Somehow, I thought it was because of the latter that they seemed brave, but in time I learned to understand that short hair wasn't necessarily a demonstrative dissociation to the common vision of women, but just as much a part of their choice and freedom to do so. A part of women in general; to have the option or rather possibility to cut your hair or keep it long, dress in pants or a skirt, speak your mind, swear, be cunning - and still get a great job and a nice man and just have fun.  Be allowed to be hysterical and be cool, be passionate and be reflective. All in all, be considered as a full human being with no restrictions on body, soul or mind (well, that's the ideal).

I also learned that classic beauty icons such as Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth and Jean Harlow and even Marilyn Monroe were portrayed overly sexualized, undressed and seductive by the studios - essentially, everybody else but themselves, and that they knew this and suffered from the stereotypical views put on them. The studios literally owned the stars, a fact we know from actresses such as Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn, who were one of the few who did rebel against this ownership. A move that was considered highly controversial from which they were called "bitch" or "box office poison". In my opinion, that's just a chauvinistic and bad excuse to say: "See, women ARE hysterical bitches, who think they have rights or anything reasonable to say!". Call me hard-core-femininist, but really..! I understand that the studios wanted to keep their stars (and their steady income), but this ownership deal was, in fact, not far from slavery, if the stars couldn't even speak their minds.

Nonetheless, Bette and Kate are both placed as the two of the greatest female stars of all time by AFI - and I dare say, in general opinion. Despite their unfair struggle, it paid off in the end. Thanks to their 'outspokenness', stubbornness and 'survival instinct' they made some terrific film choices that in the end made their legendary careers. Well deservedly!

I'm not necessarily trying to connect women in suits with automatically being resolute, confident or having integrity (though, in my idealistic mind, I don't mind the relationship). What I'm simply trying to say - a bit clichéd - is that I admire women who don't let any opinion affect them, what they like to do or how they like to dress. If it's in a suit or a dress - or a sack. Though, we (and I'm speaking for myself as well) should not be afraid of exploring the wardrobe of the opposite sex a bit more. ;)



Marlene Dietrich



Florence Welch


Katharine Hepburn


Greta Garbo


Annemarie Schwarzenbach


Louisa d'Andelot Carpenter


Janelle Monáe

Anne Scott James


Marlene Dietrich



Audrey Tautou (as Coco Chanel)



Stella Tennant



Marlene Dietrich


Katharine Hepburn
 

Madonna



Audrey Tautou

Carole Lombard

Janelle Monáe



Marlene Dietrich

Mary Pickford


Saskia de Brauw




Marlene Dietrich

Louise Brooks


Cate Blanchett


Frida Kahlo

Greta Garbo

Joan Crawford


Katharine Hepburn


Kirsten Dunst

Laura La Plante


Lauren Bacall

Louisa d'Andelot Carpenter


Janelle Monáe



Katharine Hepburn


Ingrid Bergman


Anne Scott James


Laura La Plante


I hope you've found some inspiration or a new admiration for the fashion through these fab ladies. If you're more interested in some of the more modern examples of how women use and carry themselves in suits, here's an interesting article:

25 March 2013

My Top 15 Favorite Musicals


Call me predictable. Call me sentimental. Call me self-opinionated. This list just had to come out sooner or later. If you do not like at least ONE of the musicals below, I'm seriously worried for you...

Hehe, no, of course you're allowed to despise this sort of expressive art and filmmaking. I myself find it a bit too tacky at times, if it isn't done well. 

And please don't shoot me for not mentioning a single Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film. Don't get me wrong, I've a huge respect and admiration for the guys, but when it comes to the songs or the singing, Fred and Ginger are a bit forgettable (sorry). And, to be honest, I'm much more into Gene's athletic, down-to-earth, sweatshirt and loafers-dancing kind of style. Not that he was a great singer either, but his personality and charm get me every time.

Nor have I mentioned any Julie Andrews or Barbra Streisand film, but they, on the other hand, sing rather than dance perfectly - and perhaps a bit too perfectly?

So, I guess, I'm a tough customer, sort of wanting the entire package... Then again, I love when song or dancing appears out of nowhere in non-musical films, like "Moonriver" in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961) or "Meglio Stasera" in "The Pink Panther" (1964).

And I could easily mention the entire collection of Judy Garland's musicals. She IS my favorite female musical star and I love her dearly, but more for herself, her songs and her commitment to her roles than her films as a whole, if you know what I mean. Although, I've yet to see "A Star Is Born" which I definitely think will revert that opinion.

Enough with the excuses. Here's the list:

  1. Singin' In The Rain (1952)
  2. West Side Story (1961)
  3. The Pirate (1948)
  4. Cabaret (1972)
  5. An American in Paris (1951)
  6. Sweet Charity (1969)
  7. All That Jazz (1979)
  8. On the Town (1949)
  9. Grease (1978)
  10. Chicago (2002)
  11. Bugsy Malone (1976)
  12. Summer Stock (1950)
  13. Gigi (1958)
  14. A Hard Day's Night (1964)
  15. James and the Giant Peach (1996)


And here's a clip from one of my favorites "Sweet Charity" (1969) by magic man Bob Fosse, with Shirley Maclaine in the lead role as the melancholy-fresh Charity. This particular scene where she sings "If They Could See Me Now" is magnificently made and makes me wanna jump and sing just like her! It also emphasizes musicals'  brilliant ability to blend realism with imagination into a very realistic piece of art, as in this case where it's very likely that Charity does run around singing and dancing of ecstasy and that the rest of it - the orchestra and spotlight - goes on inside of her head.