Tuesday, May 21, 2013
My recent musings on 1980s painted denim jackets drew the attention of my high-school classmate, Karen D. Karen told me she still had her painted Jim Morrison/Doors jacket and, within moments, sent me a photo. I could hardly believe my eyes! It looks brand new.
Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors, died in 1971, but he had a second coming of sorts in the ’80s. (Sadly, while I was working on this post yesterday, it was announced that The Doors keyboard player, Ray Manzarek, died of bile duct cancer at age 74.) No One Here Gets Out Alive, the Morrison biography by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, came out in 1980, its cover featuring a gaw-juss photo of Jim taken in 1967 by Joel Brodsky. I personally read that book at least eleventy times even though I didn’t understand most of the sex and drug references.
In 1981, Morrison was on Rolling Stone’s cover in a story called, “He’s Hot, He’s Sexy and He’s Dead.”
Jim’s bare chest adorned a hell of a lot of denim jackets.
By 1969, Morrison had gained weight and the chubbier look didn’t get painted on anyone’s jacket a dozen years down the road. But Jim — perhaps mellowed out by the excessive amount of alcohol he consumed — said he was okay with his avoirdupois. While I was looking up the 1981 Rolling Stone cover, I came across this adorably animated video of a real Morrison interview in which he talked about the joys of being fat and eating lots of starches.
After Karen wowed me with her Morrison jacket, she blew me away with her official Madonna Desperately Seeking Susan jacket. It’s pristine — it still has the tag on it!
Here’s the back view.
Karen no longer has her Desperately Seeking Susan rhinestone boots. That’s good because if she still had those, I would lose control and burglarize her home of all her great ’80s stuff. About the jacket, she wrote, “I think I got it in Paramus Park [the mall we all went to]. Can’t remember which store. There were three stores I always shopped in during the 80′s … Merry-Go-Round, Chess King and I can’t remember the name of the third one. I got the boots from The Wild Pair.”
Ah, Chess King! The source of my friend Jim’s still-desirable turquoise leather jacket. I asked Karen about her thoughts on ’80s fashion in general. She replied:
“I miss ’80s fashion and it doesn’t deserve the bad rap it so frequently gets today. I admit some of it was tacky but at least it was always exciting and took chances. Today’s fashion seems stale in comparison. It saddens me to think that there are people today that mistakenly think Hot Topic is the epitome of edgy fashion! I’m still a ‘rock chick’ at heart after all these years and this tends to influence my taste along with my love of the macabre. I favor Victorian Gothic fashion with a bit of PVC in the mix.”
Karen needs to check out my Juana skull necklace. I bet it would be right up her alley. And, naturally, I agree with what she says about ’80s fashion. Sometimes I wonder if that’s just run-of-the-mill nostalgia and that everyone believes the fashion of his or her teen years is the best. Then I think, “Maybe everyone believes that, but we’re actually right. Ha!” The fashion industry of the ’80s and early ’90s really was so fun and much less corporate than it is now. How could you not love Maripol’s rubber jewelry? And the house model for Stephen Sprouse’s black, graffiti, and neon designs was transgender model Teri Toye — 25 years later, people STILL get worked up about transgender models. (Teri is the fierce blonde in this footage from a 1984 Sprouse show.)
The industry people I talk to agree that it was easier for a small designer to get started then, especially if s/he attracted the attention of the supermodels, who might walk the runway for clothes. The supermodels were THE big celebrities and they owned the magazine covers, unlike now, when nearly every cover features an actress trying to give good face. As for the average gal, she could wear a bandage dress — if she could afford an Alaia like Grace Jones — but lots of us dressed in boxy layers with shirts buttoned up and fastened at the neck with a brooch and we felt FABULOUS.
All of this was years before fast-fashion retailers like Topshop, Uniqlo, H&M and Zara came to the U.S. or even became available online. If you needed something cheap, you got it at the thrift shop or the dollar store. I knew people who dressed spectacularly thanks to the dollar store. Or you could go the DIY route. I spent plenty of time hanging out in people’s bedrooms waiting for them to finish gluing feathers onto their club costume for the evening. Nowadays, when I look at the people waiting to get into a club, all I see is bandage dresses from Bebe, and you know how I feel about those.
All of this reminded me that I do have some Madonna relics I haven’t posted: two issues of Vanity Fair with Madonna on the cover. Both were photographed by Stephen Sprouse collaborator Steven Meisel. Here’s 1991 …
… and here’s 1992 (the issue also includes a good interview with Linda McCartney).
The 1992 article was done to promote Madonna’s Sex book. I still adore the pastel-tinted, Lolita-themed photographs. I can’t decide which is my favorite. Is it this one?
Or this one?
Feel free to ponder that for a while!
UPDATED TO ADD: The Wall Street Journal is pondering the fishnets that Madonna wore to the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday. She received the Top Touring Artist award for her 88-show MDNA tour (I went twice!), which grossed $305 million. Naturally, there was an outcry on Twitter about whether a woman of her age should be allowed to wear what she wants. I say she’s got 305 million new reasons to say “Fuck you” to society’s expectations. I’ve written about this before, and I’ll repost the video of a 34-year-old Madonna predicting how things would go down.
This makes me think of legendary actress/singer Elaine Stritch. I saw her perform at the Carlyle Hotel a couple of years ago, and she gave her final show there last month, at the age of 88. She had a signature look she wore for all her performances — white shirt and black tights.
You’d have to have a hell of a lot of nerve to tell the great Elaine Stritch what to wear. I hope Madonna follows in her tights-wearing footsteps, just to piss the world off.
Monday, May 20, 2013
A few years ago, while I was browsing eBay or Etsy, I decided that I desperately needed more psychedelic clothes. I was not on acid at the time, so I don’t know why this happened. I wound up buying a strange-looking top with scalloped edges that I wore once or twice with jeans. I thought it looked terrible that way, so I tucked it away in my closet, hoping a better idea would come along.
I tried the top again on Friday with a navy skirt I got during my recent wardrobe therapy. I can’t find photos from the original outings, so you’re just going to have to trust me when I say this is a big improvement.
I’ve added this photo to Not Dead Yet Style’s Visible Monday post. Click here to see what other fashion-conscious wimmins are wearing.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Today’s WWD has an update on last week’s reports that Rihanna is suing a Topshop supplier for using her image on a t-shirt without permission. Topshop and Rihanna’s lawyers declined to comment, as did River Island, the Topshop competitor with whom Rihanna is officially collaborating. The article does say that even though the U.K. has no “right of personality” that protects image use like the U.S. does, the case will be heard this summer. If Rihanna prevails, it would be a “groundbreaking decision,” according to the WWD story.
Take that, Topshop!
Sunday, May 19, 2013
I don’t watch Saturday Night Live often, but if I’m around, I try to catch the “Weekend Update” segment. Unlike the skits, it’s always funny. “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers will be leaving next season for his own late-night show, but last night marked the final appearance of cast member Bill Hader. Hader played Stefon, the flamboyant City Correspondent for “Weekend Update,” who barely managed to suppress his laughter while recommending clubs named things like “Booooooooof.” The clubs always have everything. In the case of Booooooooof’s “round-the-clock puke party,” everything includes: “Pugs, geezers, doo-wop groups, a wise old turtle that looks like Quincy Jones — and you’ll have your own When Harry Met Sally moment when you share a special kiss with Gizblow, the coked-up gremlin.”
Stefon also had a crush on Seth and I got kind of choked up when last night’s skit culminated in a happy ending for the two of them. No, not the kind of happy ending you’d find at one of Stefon’s clubs! Get your mind out of the gutter and click the photo to watch Stefon’s farewell on Hulu.
You can watch all of the Stefon appearances on Hulu here. If Hulu doesn’t work for you, Entertainment Weekly transcribed all 31 of Stefon’s club recommendations here. Even reading the definition of a subway sleeping bag is funny.
Here’s what was on the blog this week:
- Tuesday: What I wore to the Rihanna concert at Barclays Center.
- Wednesday: Jewelry inspired by The Great Gatsby. The 1974 Great Gatsby, that is.
- Thursday: Throwback to 1980s denim jacket.
- Friday: Forever 21 is worried about its trademark; Topshop annoys Rihanna; and I explain where I make my jewelry.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 has been widely accused of selling knockoffs of other designers’ work and blaming its suppliers for the copying. In a 2011 Bloomberg Businessweek story called “Forever 21′s Fast (and Loose) Fashion Empire,” Susan Berfield wrote:
“Starting in about 2004, the Changs decided to create different brands to appeal to slightly more sophisticated and older shoppers. Over the next couple of years, labels ranging from Diane von Furstenberg to Anna Sui to Anthropologie, about 50 in all, separately sued Forever 21 for copying their clothes. The company said that its buyers had to trust its vendors and couldn’t possibly know how those vendors came up with all their designs.”
Berfield pointed out that WWD had published an excerpt from documents related to the Anthropologie case, in which a U.S. District Court judge wondered whether the company’s business model depended on such behavior:
“‘We note the extraordinary litigating history of this company, which raises the most serious questions as to whether it is a business that is predicated in large measure on the systematic infringement of competitors’ intellectual property,’ Judge Michael H. Dolinger wrote on Mar. 12, 2009.”
Here are a few other links related to Forever 21′s purported knockoffs of small companies:
Considering this legal history, I’m torn between reactions of LOL and SMH over a trademark-infringement lawsuit filed by Forever 21 – which, according to Forbes, posted $2.6 billion in revenue – against sellers of off-price merchandise. California Apparel News reports:
“In a federal case filed in U.S. District Court, Forever 21 is trying to recuperate hundreds of thousands of dollars from David’s Place Off Price Clothing Co., Seven Lions, Damo Textile and Y.M.I. Jeanswear for selling merchandise that had been ordered by Forever 21 and then canceled by Forever 21 after the goods were made by apparel factories.”
Forever 21′s says it hadn’t authorized the resale of the merchandise and, moreover, that it had found the merchandise still bearing its label in a discount retailer. It says its vendors agree to that when they do business with Forever 21. I’m not sure the defendants are going to have much success using common sense to fight this.
“The defendants claim that Forever 21 does not own any right to the actual canceled goods because they hadn’t paid for them.”
Common sense doesn’t necessarily have a place in the courtroom. Anyway, Forever 21 wants “$1 million for trademark infringement and no less than $1 million for false designation of origin and unfair competition. In addition, it wants at least $1 million for trademark dilution.”
The Cornell University Law School site defines trademark dilution as:
“The use of a mark or trade name in commerce sufficiently similar to a famous mark that by association it reduces, or is likely to reduce, the public’s perception that the famous mark signifies something unique, singular or particular.”
In plainer language, Forever 21 fears that its brand image will be damaged by its unpaid-for merchandise being seen in discount retailers … kind of how designers feel when knockoffs of their products appear in Forever 21, eh? High!Larious!
Meanwhile, the occasionally reliable New York Post spoke with “a source” who says that pop superstar Rihanna may be filing suit against my dear friends at Topshop for selling a shirt with her image on it without obtaining her permission. Supposedly, the image was purchased from a photographer, but no artist licensing fees were paid. (You can see the shirt in question on the Huffington Post.) It’s also kind of awkward when Rihanna is working with competing high-street retailer River Island. The New York Post says:
“A source exclusively tells us the superstar’s team had tried to negotiate with Topshop owners Arcadia Group for eight months over the rights to her image, ‘but they offered her $5,000 and said they don’t care.’”
The story continues:
“A Topshop source told us: ‘This issue is related to a T-shirt provided to Topshop by a third-party supplier. We are aware it is the subject of litigation…’”
This story has been picked up by other outlets, but so far I haven’t found any official confirmation from Rihanna or Topshop (let me know if you see that). I will speculate that if there is an issue, the media coverage will pressure Topshop to make the shirt go away without money changing hands. That’s how these billion-dollar retailers work. Just this week, I got a comment questioning the veracity of my Topshop jewelry knockoff experience last year. “Hmmm wouldn’t she own top shop [sic] if this were true,” mused someone who signed herself as Monique. Such naïveté is endearing, isn’t it? As I said in this follow-up post last year, I spent $3,000 on legal fees and got no financial settlement whatsoever for the copy of my swear rings. It was surreal! First I got this tweet (from May 2012) …
… then, after I hired a lawyer because the “style in question” was still on sale in stores around the world, I got a lawyer’s letter telling me that Topshop would pull the rings — for real, this time. But I was put on notice that Topshop’s previous acknowledgements of the similarity weren’t acknowledgements of the similarity.
No money was offered in this letter, and I didn’t want to pay my lawyer to pursue money that I would never get, so not only do I not own Topshop — Rihanna’s not going to own it either, IMHO.
The DCK Concessions mentioned in the letter excerpt is a vendor that sells to Topshop and other retailers. Topshop said it didn’t manufacture the swear-ring copy itself; it merely bought it from a third party to resell, a la Forever 21. And that’s what commenter Monique fears I’m doing with my jewelry line:
“… you can buy some of ‘her pieces’ at Ali express whole sales for instance the middle finger earring yea I found them in silver for $8. I bet you get them from china wholesale and sell then $70.”
Even though Monique’s writing style resembles that of a troll or spammer, I’m happy she brought up the issue in case anyone else has been wondering. Rest assured, a hundred percent of what you see on my website has been made from scratch to my specifications (excluding standard parts such as chains, clasps, earring backs, etc.) in New York City or, infrequently, in Thailand. The manufacturing locale is identified on the product pages of my site. I haven’t bought finished jewelry to resell since 2006, when I was working with my late business partner. That was her thing: it made more sense financially because it’s less expensive. She was thrifty. I’m not so thrifty. After my partner’s death that year, I changed the business model to all original designs.
Though, really, what’s original? Often it’s not the concept that’s fresh — it’s the execution, as I pointed out in this post on designer Isabel Marant. Marant didn’t invent the wedge sneaker and I didn’t invent the middle finger earring. I’ve previously pointed out that I didn’t invent letter jewelry (all Topshop had to do to avoid stepping on me was use a different font). I didn’t invent heart jewelry or snake jewelry or acorn jewelry. It’s my personal take on the ideas that make my versions special. For instance, my middle finger earring is made with precious metals (your choice of silver or gold) because I love an obscenity rendered in fine materials. My version is also full of awesome because it’s based on Eminem’s hand and Em flips the best bird in the world. The middle finger earring complements all my other emoji-inspired hand-gesture stud earrings to encourage people to mix and match because I like asymmetry.
You can get a three-pack of white men’s t-shirts from Hanes on sale for $9.99, or you can get a three-pack of Balmain t-shirts from Barneys for $425. There are a lot of choices out there for consumers. The least expensive choices aren’t necessarily the worst … nor are they guaranteed to be the best. And the most expensive choices aren’t necessarily the best … or the worst! You get to decide what fits your budget and taste, and what brands you wish to support. I’m grateful to everyone who supports my brand. If you haven’t made a purchase from me yet and need to ask some questions about my line before you do so, feel free to email me any time at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Even though I have fond memories of the 1980s fad for painted denim jackets, I never owned one myself, to the best of my recollection. I don’t know why. Maybe I couldn’t decide which band I wanted painted on the back? I was equally devoted to the Beatles and Duran Duran.
I did have a standard Levi’s-style jacket in 1984 (I bet it was by Guess though!). Here I am wearing it with my favorite neon-pink Guess top on the first day of my senior year of high school.
I then upgraded to an oversize jacket that I thought was much more stylish and “New Wave.” As you can see in this photo, I was still devoted to the pink Guess top (with a matching skinny scarf) and popped jacket collar.
If you look closely, you can see that I’m wearing the pink rhinestone heart earrings that I still own and previously posted here.
By 1985, I had switched from blonde bangs to dyed-black hair, but I kept the New Wave jacket. In the photo below, you can glimpse one of my favorite shirts under it. It was a long button-down with a cartoon pattern that I wore over leggings or Guess ankle-zip jeans.
The next photo isn’t very good quality, but you can see the shape and size of the jacket. It reminds me of my oversize leather motorcycle jacket from the same era.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Have any of you seen Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby movie? What did you think? The reviews make me disinclined to see it. I hate the grungy, crowded movie theaters in New York City, so I don’t like to venture into them unless I know the movie is worthwhile. If I were out in Los Angeles, however, I’d happily go see nearly anything at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. I’m obsessed with the Arclight! It’s very civilized there.
Years ago, I designed a necklace and a ring that were inspired, in part, by the delicate beauty of Mia Farrow as Daisy in the 1974 version of Gatsby.
The 18K-gold-and-diamond designs also have a Victorian influence. They’re scent lockets — known as vinaigrette lockets during Victorian times. You can put solid perfume or a little bit of cotton soaked in scent in the lockets, and tiny openings between the daisies allow the fragrance to waft out. Of course, you can just wear the pieces without anything in them too.
I introduced the necklace in 2006.
Five years later, I created a matching locket ring.
I tried to catch a little of the diamonds’ glitter on Vine. Click here to see.
Here’s a random factoid about Mia Farrow in Gatsby: she was on the cover of the first issue of People magazine when the movie came out. (Here’s the article.) That sticks in my mind because I was working at People when the publication celebrated its 25th anniversary, so I saw a lot of that debut cover image. Another important thing to know about the ’74 Gatsby is that my beloved Sam Waterston played Nick Carraway. Robert Redford starred as Jay Gatsby, and he’s great, but to me he’ll always be second fiddle to Sam and his magnificent eyebrows. Sorry, Bob!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I went to see Rihanna at Barclays Center on May 5 and took one of my best-ever concert photos!
When Bad Gal RiRi first came out in this costume, it took me a moment to realize what the print was. Then I thought, “Bitch stole my style again!” First, she ran off with a leopard Dolce & Gabbana dress that should have been mine. Now she is wearing a dollar-bill-print costume, which reminds me of the dollar-print vintage dress that I most recently wore in February.
But I ain’t mad. I was quite pleased because I’ve been collecting photos of people wearing currency prints. Just last month, comedian Will Ferrell wore a money suit at the MTV Movie Awards.
Doesn’t that look identical to the one worn by a fellow who wound up on Cheezburger’s FAIL Blog?
I previously wrote about money-influenced fashion — and my dress in particular — in 2009. Let me know if you see any other examples. And you can check out the rest of my Rihanna concert photos on Flickr.
Here’s what I wore to the concert.
What Wendy Wore
Jacket: Customized Levi’s (2013)
Dress: Vintage Clovis Ruffin (purchased on eBay, probably in 2009)
Boots: Helmut Lang (pre-2005)
Purse: Prada (purchased on eBay in 2008)
Necklace: My own IDGAF design
Lip color: YSL Rouge Volupte in Rose Culte
The jacket is from The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. I was searching for information on graffiti artist Lady Pink and came across a series of artist-decorated Levi’s jean jackets at MOCA. I’ve never lost my love for a lot of ’80s styles, including DayGlo colors, single earrings, rubber jewelry and turquoise leather. One memorable look from that era was the painted denim jacket, so I how could I resist one adorned with the work of the preeminent female graffiti artist?
I didn’t have my RiRi Woo lipstick in time for the show. That’s Rihanna’s collaboration with MAC Cosmetics. I already have two everyday red lipsticks — MAC’s Lasting Lust and Chanel’s Ruby Lite — but I do love a special edition. It wears a little pink on me. I wore it to a cocktail party, sporting a dress that should be my official red-lipstick debut dress.
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Prada (2012)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Purse: Louis Vuitton (2001)
Jewelry: All my own designs
Lip color: RiRi Woo by MAC
The initial shipment of RiRi Woo sold out; when it’s back in stock in June, it’s worth a try if you can handle a very matte lipstick.
I’ve shared these photos in Not Dead Yet Style’s Visible Monday post; check out all the other fabulous, Visible ladies here.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
The Internets have already declared that my mother, BarbaraB, is a style icon, but in case you need further proof, check out this photo of us.
My appreciation of towering hair and a good hairpiece must have come from BarbaraB. Look at her rocking that wiglet! You can see more photos of her here. Happy Mother’s Day, BarbaraB! And to all you other mothers as well.
Here’s what was on the blog this week:
- Sunday: Looking for punk-inspired jewelry? I’ve got lots of options.
- Monday: If I’d been invited to the punk-themed Met Gala I would have dressed like punk goddess Wendy O. Williams. I wasn’t invited, however, so my favorite looks there belonged to Miley Cyrus and Linda Fargo of Bergdorf Goodman.
- Tuesday: My latest online press appearances are on the National Jeweler, Vice and JCK Magazine websites.
- Wednesday: May’s Jewels of the Month are new emoji and emoji-inspired single stud earrings.
- Thursday: For Throwback Thursday, I squeezed into a dress from 1989.
- Friday: More ass jewelry. And, no, those were not my rings on Anne Hathaway.
- Saturday: Sending good thoughts to blogger Mardel.
The 1989 cocktail dress I was wearing (just barely) in my Throwback Thursday photo reminded my designing friend Stacy Lomman that she wore a 1988 dress to my 2010 New Year’s Eve party.
Love that dress! It’s so classic. It could easily be sold in stores now.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I met gorgeous blogger Mardel of Resting Motion in 2011, when a group of bloggers gathered for drinks during Fashion Week. If she didn’t have to leave a little early that night, I might have never have gotten around to talking to anyone else. Mardel and I just happened to sit next to each other and bond immediately. A couple of times we said, “We should probably mingle,” but then we went right back to our conversation.
I found out that night that Mardel’s husband was ill, so when blogger Louise Hornor directed me to a post on Mardel’s blog last weekend — one that she said made her gasp and tear up — I feared the worst, and rightly so. Hospice has taken over at-home care for Mardel’s husband. Mardel wrote about how drained she was from being on the phone, answering questions and “dealing with other people’s issues.” She continued, “Today I felt I needed a totem” … and posted this photo of herself wearing my swear rings.
I was surprised and very moved to see that my rings gave her little lift at this difficult time. I said so to Louise, who replied:
She was referring to gorgeous blogger Lynne of The Good Will Hunting Paralegal, who felt empowered by my IDGAF necklace while coping with a family health crisis of her own. I’ve said before that much of the jewelry in my gold and platinum signature line is inspired by powerful women. But to me, even my social-media-inspired WENDYB by Wendy Brandes silver line has always been about power. Most of the designs there are ones that make me feel stronger in some way. However, I don’t presume to know exactly what a piece of my jewelry means to a customer, and everyone is welcome to her own interpretation of what she’s wearing. I wouldn’t have dared dream that the jewelry would actually do exactly what I would have wanted it to do in these two cases.
Mardel, you and your husband are in my thoughts.
UPDATED TO ADD: I’m sad to say that a few minutes after I published this, Mardel posted that her husband, George, had passed away. Click here to leave your condolences.