Selling dreams: One hundred years of FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

David Bailey described fashion photography simply as “a portrait of someone wearing a dress”.

Irving Penn however interpreted his work at Vogue as “selling dreams, not clothes”!

Which opinion would you agree with?

Over the last century photographers have continuously pushed boundaries to meet both artistic and commercial demands which generated great creativity and new techniques. These evolving images reflect the changing world around us and the dramatic shift in women’s roles during the 20th century.

Within the frames of the  “Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography” exhibition held at the NSW State Library, the glamour and fascinating evolution of fashion photography is captured in 60 iconic images drawn from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Irving Penn described his work at Vogue as "selling dreams, not clothes"

Irving Penn described his work at Vogue as “selling dreams, not clothes”

Horst P Horst, master of studio lighting: “the lighting for a single image could take three days to perfect”

Horst P Horst: “the lighting for a single image could take three days to perfect”

Richard Avedon paying homage to Martin Munkacsi: "Never pose your subjects. Let them move around naturally. All great photographs today are snapshots”

Richard Avedon paying homage to Martin Munkacsi: “Never pose your subjects. Let them move around naturally. All great photographs today are snapshots”

If you are interested in learning more about the start of a glittering new century, the battle of making art versus showing buttons and
bows instead, if you would like to know when were studio backdrops replaced by city skylines or how has the society’s attitude changed towards femininity, don’t hesitate to make your way to the NSW State Library. “Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography” ends on the 10th of November 2013. Admission to the exhibition is free.

More photo exhibition teasers:

Time in Motion – Ballet Costumes and Pointe Shoes

The Chanel Photo Exhibition in Sydney

Old Paris Came to Sydney

Unseen Photographs of Alexander McQueen

Unseen Photographs of Marilyn Monroe


BALLET COSTUMES and pointe shoes

For those who are constantly tuned on arts, beauty and fashion, there is always a new adventure waiting on every corner.

Like the free “Time in Motion” exhibition at the Sate Library of NSW,  presenting rarely seen photographs, early footage, designs and beautiful ballet costumes guiding us through the 50 years long history of national ballet.

Time in Motion

The Australian Ballet took its first steps with the 19th century classic Swan Lake at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Sydney on 2 November 1962. The tradition of  international touring began soon after in 1965, with the first major visit to the United Kingdom, Europe and America. Today, The Australian Ballet presents approximately 200 performances annually throughout Australia and abroad, making it one of the busiest companies in the world.

50th Anniversary of The Australian Ballet

Visitors arriving to the exhibition can have a closer look at not only the sketches of famous female characters’ costumes but some of the designs are also displayed themselves, including head pieces and pointe shoes signed and worn by highly successful dancers of the world. I finished off my tour with an enchanting film clip getting lost in of the world’s most beloved ballet, the Swan Lake.

Pointe shoes

Time in Motion

50 Years of  The Australian Ballet

State Library of New South Wales

12 November 2012 – 10 February 2013

More photo exhibition teasers:

One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography

The Chanel Photo Exhibition in Sydney

Old Paris Came to Sydney

Unseen Photographs of Alexander McQueen

Unseen Photographs of Marilyn Monroe

Opera singers in VIVIENNE WESTWOOD couture

Sydney Festival

Sydney is truly home to excitement and drama in January.

Australia’s largest annual arts event – Sydney Festival 2013 – has transformed Sydney Town Hall into a spectacular location to host a  unique musical and visual collaboration we rarely get a chance to see.  Opera singers all dressed up in crazy outfits designed by the mother of punk, Vivienne Westwood!

After premiering at the Herrenhausen Festival in Germany,  Semele Walk arrived to Sydney opening the doors for this one-of-a-kind music theater created for hungry fashionistas and opera lovers.

Sydney Town Hall

Imagine listening to arias performed by singers mingling with models on the catwalk, all wearing giant platform shoes, extravagant clothes and dramatic hairstyles.

Semele Walk

I never stopped being surprised during the evening. I have hardly digested the fact that an 18th century baroque opera written by George Frideric Händel merges with haute couture fashion from the 21st century, when the musicians and conductor actually also came on stage and took part in the show. On the top of this, at a certain point even the members of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs revealed themselves sitting in the audience turning into wonderful solos!

Semele Walk

“The music is from a really adven­tur­ous Berlin cham­ber ensem­ble called Kalei­doskop – they play clas­si­cal music but they’re actu­ally really adven­tur­ous and don’t mind try­ing to mix say Han­del music with some punk. So it was their idea to team up with West­wood to do this ver­sion of  Han­del’s opera, Semele. The col­lab­o­ra­tion resulted in a vision to actu­ally stage the opera as a fash­ion walk so what you get is a huge fash­ion parade cel­e­brat­ing both Westwood’s designs and the opera itself.” -reveals Syd­ney Fes­ti­val Direc­tor in an interview to the Fashion Journal.

Semele Walk finale

I hope too that the fashion opera becomes a tradition in Sydney, big thanks to the Festival organisers for this amazing experience.

Forbes Magazine’s 3 MOST POWERFUL WOMEN in fashion


Let’s start the New Year with celebrating the most successful women in fashion!

Based on their visibility and economic impact the most notable entries in 2012 were Diane von Furstenberg earning the 33rd place, Anna Wintour coming in the 51st place and Miuccia Prada ranked at no. 67. What kind of influence do these women have on the global community and what kind of attributes do they need to possess in order to make the prestigious list?

Diane von Furstenberg (33rd place)

“The most marketable woman since Coco Chanel.” 

Her father emigrated from Russia, her mother was from Greece, she was born in Belgium, but she was studying in England and Switzerland until she gained American citizenship due to her second marriage and has become “something of American fashion’s godmother”. She initially rose to prominence when she married the German prince Egon of Furstenberg and began to design clothes in 1970.

“The minute I knew I was about to be Egon’s wife, I decided to have a career. I wanted to be someone of my own, and not just a plain little girl who got married beyond her desserts.” -and she did it. Aiming to create her own fame, she introduced the iconic wrap dress which- due to its influence on women’s fashion- is already in the collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After the phenomenal success of the wrap dress she launched a cosmetic line and her first fragrance, she founded a publishing house, published her business memoirs, launched her jewelry, scarf and beachwear collection, later her first children collection and became director of the Furstenberg Family Foundation that provides philanthropic support to a large number of non-profit organizations.

In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award and the following year named her as their president, a position she has held since 2006. On the top of her outstanding achievements described above, I think this is the role which gained her the remarkable 33rd place on the Forbes list of 2012 as CFDA plays a significant role in furthering the career of its members, promoting the appreciation of fashion as an art, nurturing the development of the American fashion industry’s future designers and mobilizes its membership to support important charitable causes such as fight against breast cancer and AIDS.

Anna Wintour (51st place)

“The most powerful woman in the fashion world”

Anna Wintour is the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, holding the position for 24 years now. She was born in London to a father who was the editor of the Evening Standard setting her career goals in fashion at a very early age. She always knew what she wanted and did everything she had to in order to reach her goals since she was 15. She had a quite exciting career and private life before acquiring her current status in the world of fashion.  The Guardian has called her the “unofficial mayoress” of New York City. She sets the trends and it seems it’s worth to maintain a good nexus with her as she can make some powerful decisions influencing one’s future success. For instance during The Devil Wears Prada’s production, she was reportedly promising prominent fashion personalities, particularly designers, that Vogue would not cover them if they made cameo appearances in the movie as themselves. The film is based on a novel written by a former Wintour assistant at Vogue with the main character borrowing some aspects of Anna Wintour’s cold and demanding personality.

She is definitely a remarkable woman from a lot of  perspectives. She has reformed the approach to magazine covers and began a CFDA/Vogue Fund to encourage, support and mentor unknown young fashion designers. She is also a philanthropist organizing funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and AIDS charities.

Miuccia Prada (67th place)

“The anti-glam fashion queen”

Haven’t we just mentioned “The Devil Wears Prada?” Well, here’s the Prada part. :)

The Italian House of Prada was founded in 1913 by Miuccia’s grandfather, Mario Prada, manufacturing luxury leather bags. Miuccia took over the family business with her husband, Patrizio Bertelli in 1978 and turned it into a multi-billion dollar fashion powerhouse. With her husband as the business force in the company, Miuccia introduced her ready-to-wear women and men collections and became known for her minimalist designs, sometimes she calls “uniforms”. At the beginning she wasn’t very much into fashion but rather politics. How many fashion designers have you met who graduated with a PhD in political science? And she was even member of the Communist Party fighting for the women’s right during the seventies in Milan. Just like her colors on the runway, she is not too eccentric. She is the confident, intellectual, modest working woman who offers a refined elegance to her followers. Instead of the industry trend promoting very feminine looks, Miuccia Prada sells comfortable luxury with big loose garments hiding the body, clean simple lines and quality.

This approach must work well as in the 1980’s the company started to expand globally, devouring labels such as Fendi and Jil Sander and launching a shoe line. Miu Miu was also introduced in 1992 as a less expensive women’s wear line that was inspired by Miuccia’s personal wardrobe and nickname. The company is now looking for an increased sales in Asia with a smartly designed Japanese inspired collection introduced at the Milan Fashion week. I was wondering, why is she hailed as a fashion trend-setter, why are other designers turning to her for inspiration, what’s her secret?

She is usually the leading power for other houses because she wants to go forward and avoids nostalgia. She has a rebel hidden in herself who is brave enough to always create something modern and does not go with the flow. Her unique voice seems to captivate the attention of women all over Europe and the world.

However, trendsetting or no trendsetting, I am not willing to wear socks with platform sandals, sorry! :)

Three extremely successful women with three different personalities and backgrounds. What do they have in common?

They are all strong-minded characters with an ability to make fearless decisions and to creatively re-invent themselves on a constant basis. They also possess the skill of a visionary in terms of being able to identify major trends that the audience of the fashion world might like in the future. They are simply a step ahead of others. It’s called X-factor, isn’t it?

More on powerful women in fashion:

Grace Coddington’s Memoir

Supermodels Then and Now

Fashion Editors Became the New Celebrities

The Iron Lady’s Power Suits on Sale

Is the Queen Fashionable in Australia?

Grace Coddington’s MEMOIR

A memoir

Fans bought between 400 and 500 books within 45 minutes when her autobiography was recently released. Fabulous modelling career for Vogue at the age of 17, a terrible car accident at the age of 26, a whole new career as British Vogue’s Junior Editor at the age of 28 and a legendary life as Creative Director to US Vogue from the age of 47 working side by side with Anna Wintour. Sounds ‘slightly’ interesting, doesn’t it?

Grace Coddington with her Memoir in hand

She became visible to the public  in 2009 with the release of  “The September Issue”, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the making of the September 2007 issue of Vogue and quickly transformed from one of the most quietly influential people in the  industry into one of its highly popular celebrities.

Grace Coddington and Anna Wintour

Not long ago she was invited to take the stage and celebrate her highly anticipated fashion book’s release with a live talk in front of a large group of college students. When she was asked the question how has the role of a stylist changed since she has started, she explained that not only the size of the styling team increased from about 5 to 35 people involved in a photo shoot, but the recognition of fashion editors has also changed tremendously… First they were the people behind the scenes never really praised, but this has all changed when Anna Wintour decided that fashion editors need to be as much credited as fashion photographers, so this is how they got elevated and moved forward into the spotlight.

Grace Coddington promoting her book

If you would like to know more about Grace here is a brilliant chat with her in the Interview Magazine.

More on powerful women in fashion:

3 Most Powerful Women in Fashion

Supermodels Then and Now

Fashion Editors Became the New Celebrities

The Iron Lady’s Power Suits on Sale

Is the Queen Fashionable in Australia?


I went to the cinema to check out the new James Bond film with five guys and guess what, I haven’t regretted it.  If the girls back at home knew..the slim-fitted Tom Ford suits looked impeccable on Daniel Craig…. he was gorgeous!!

And the story wasn’t bad either. I am not very keen on watching action movies, but this one was actually quite good. Bond wasn’t as superficial as expected, the sex scenes weren’t overwhelming and the character was rather a bit melancholic than an invincible superhero. The movie took us back to his childhood and allowed an insight into his “lonely broken soul”. And those outfits.. OMG.

The charismatic and stylish 007 Agent was portrayed by a number of handsome actors since 1962 until Daniel Craig took up the role of the masculine icon.

Sean Connery:

Sean Connery as James Bond

George Lazenby:

George Lazenby as James Bond

Roger Moore:

Roger Moore as James Bond

Timothy Dalton:

Timothy Dalton as James Bond

Pierce Brosnan:

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond

And “double-ohh-seven” Daniel Craig:)

Daniel Craig as James Bond

Fashion designer Tom Ford has worked closely with Skyfall’s costume designer Jany Temime when creating the entire Bond wardrobe for Craig in the film.

“I have been dressing Daniel for some time and know that he looks best when simply dressed, so we did some beautiful suits, tuxedos and day wear. We didn’t really modify our suits, as James Bond is a bit like our guy – classic and extremely elegant.”-he says.

The luxurious creations were fitted to Daniel Craig’s shape and handmade using the finest fabrics. Here goes the perfect suit!

Daniel Craig in Tom Ford

By 2012, James Bond had become such a symbol of the United Kingdom that the character, played by Craig, appeared in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics as Queen Elizabeth II’s escort.

James Bond with Queen Elizabeth

It seems that the Queen and I agree on who is the best-dressed Englishman.. :)

More on movies and fashion:

When Big Names of Fashion Hit the Silver Screen

The Most Iconic Transformations on Movie Screen


But who is your favourite Bond?


Breakfast at Tiffany’s – 1961

Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly Golightly as the naive, eccentric cafe society girl is generally considered to be the actress’ most memorable and identifiable role. The charming and fragile character’s high fashion style and sophistication within the film became synonymous with her and Hepburn as Holly, carrying an oversized cigarette holder, is considered to be one of the most iconic images of 20th century American Cinema.

The little black dress which is worn by Hepburn in the beginning of the film is perhaps the most famous little black dress of all times. Designed by Hubert de Givenchy, was sold at a Christie’s auction on 5 December 2006 for £467,200 (approximately $920,000), almost seven times its £70,000 pre-sale estimate. Hepburn and Givenchy formed a life-long friendship and partnership after Givenchy started designing her dresses in 1954. She became the muse for many of his designs and her style became renowned internationally, earning Hepburn a place in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1961.

American Giggolo – 1980

The iconic movie has hit the cinemas 32 years ago but it’s still listed as one of the most significant milestones in fashion history. The drama evolves around a well-paid male prostitute played by the young and hot Richard Gere, however the plot seems to shrink compared to the impact of  his heart-braking style, irreversibly infecting Hollywood with the effortless elegance of Italy. Giorgio Armani has established his career with this movie, inspiring a generation of men showing them how to wear his luxurious yet relaxed wrinkle-free clothing projecting the same confidence the character of the movie embodies. Armani was involved with the film as originally John Travolta was going to star and his manager suggested Armani. When Travolta pulled out, Armani stayed, soon launching an international ready-to-wear line for what the movie did the perfect advertising. It was the most successful brand promotion on film of all time. Is it true that Richard Gere can still walk into any Armani store and select whatever he wants off the rack for free?

The fifth element – 1997

The setting in which the futuristic story of  The Fifth Element unfolds is one of the most fully-realized fantasy world ever committed to film, and certainly one of the most unique. Bringing this world to life on screen was in large part the responsibility of production designer Dan Weil, who supervised a team of top-ranked designers and illustrators and worked in close collaboration with the departments of hair, makeup and costume designer Jean-Paul Gaultier to bring the concept to the screen. Creating the costumes for the  virtual fantasy world was a close-fitting task for Jean-Paul Gaultier who is known as the bad boy of fashion due to his provocative ideas presented on the catwalk. Leeloo, the 5th element became such a favorable movie character that her outfit was soon one of the most popular Halloween costumes.

The Devil Wears Prada – 2006

The style of this sensationally entertaining movie, starring Academy Award winner Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, was designed by Patricia Field who did an outstanding job with presenting the status, inner values, preferences and personal attributes of each movie character by reflecting those on their outside appearances. The ‘Runway’ magazine’s  enormous dream closet have left our mouth open and even if Andy (Anne Hathaway) proudly didn’t, we have right away understood why was this a job “a million girls would die for”. Chanel, Calvin Klein, Nancy Gonzalez, Hermès, Cavalli, Chanel, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Narciso Rodriguez, Dolce&Gabbana, Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Vivienne Westwood, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs and Valentino have all appeared (Valentino even personally:) in the magical world of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ making it the most expensively costumed film in history. By the way, this masterpiece gained Patricia an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design.

Sex and the City – 2008 and 2010

Patricia Field, the legendary costume designer was also responsible for another breathtaking giant on-screen fashion show: Sex and the City. As in the TV series, fashion played a significant role in plot and production of the movie with over 300 ensembles used over the course of entire film from heavyweights such as Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christian Louboutin, Dolce&Gabbana, Valentino, Vivienne Westwood, YSL, Nancy Gonzalez, Narciso Rodriguez, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Manolo Blahnik, Giuseppe Zanotti and Oscar de la Renta. One of my favourite scenes are the bridal couture photo shoots for Vogue, where Carrie was posing in Karolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Christian de Lacroix, Dior and Vivienne Westwood wedding gowns.  Part 3, please.

Karl Lagerfeld – Coco Before Chanel – 2009

‘Coco avant Chanel’ explores the early life of the legendary style icon, Coco Chanel. It’s a remarkable story of a French country orphan reaching the extravagant heights of Parisian society longing however for nothing else, but the love of the man she couldn’t have as he died in a car accident. The achievements of the costume designer Catherine Leterrier are definitely to be admired. It must have been very challenging to show Coco’s elegance and poor conditions at the same time. Studying Coco’s life experiences, she  attempted to trace the  inspiration for many of her iconic looks and went back in time to design the first models that Chanel might have created and which could have fashioned her style. Karl Lagerfeld also offerd his help to Catherine, who could have the dresses of the Chanel Conservatory for the movie and used real Chanel outfits for the final scene on the stairs, shot on the real stairs of the House of Chanel.

Tom Ford – A single man – 2009

With this beautiful drama starring Colin Firth, fashion designer Tom Ford has made his directorial debut in 2009 at the Venice International Film Festival. He has even financed the film himself, which was nominated for a number of awards such as ‘Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in Motion Picture Drama’, ‘Academy Award for Best Actor’ and ‘Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in Motion Picture’ for Julianne Moore’s contribution complementing Colin Firth’ outstanding performance. The costume designer was Arianne Phillips known for designing Madonna’s concert costumes, working together with iconic fashion designer Tom Ford who gained international fame for his turnaround of the Gucci fashion house. The clothes, the expressive colors pull us back to the 1960’s anxious atmosphere and the complex emotional world of the struggling main character. The vintage suits of Colin Firth were manufactured in Tom Ford’s Italian factory, however this was not the only advantage Arianne was impressed by. She says “It was not dissimilar to the process I use with any other director. But what was different working with Tom Ford is that he has the vocabulary to talk about the different fabrics and costume details. He could talk about colors and silhouettes.” Brilliant movie, not only for the great colors and silhouettes.

Gil Sander – I am love – 2010

‘I am love’ is a tragic story of an upper-class wealthy Italian family with lots of emotions, sensuality, drama, fashion and music. The cast is lead by Tilda Swinton who has actually learnt Italian with Russian accent! for the sake of the movie. Her character is very stylish and elegant, being dressed entirely by Jil Sander, whilst the men’s outfits were provided by Fendi. Costume designer Antonella Cannarozzi was nominated for an  Academy Award for Best Costume Design for her work in the film.

Miuccia Prada – The Great Gatsby – 2013

Miuccia Prada has reworked forty dresses from the Prada and Miu Miu archives to create costumes for the upcoming film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. The designer has collaborated with the film’s head of wardrobe, Catherine Martin on the Twenties-era flapper dresses worn by several actresses throughout the movie. Miuccia Prada usually does not like to reference periods in her work, but when she was working on the pieces, she has realized how many of them would become very Twenties with a little intervention and another point of view. According to the latest plans, The Great Gatsby will be released in July 2013.

More on movies and fashion:

The James Bond Suit

The Most Iconic Transformations on Movie Screen