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Thursday, January 17, 2013

I posted an eye-catching vintage dress by Versace’s diffusion label, Versus, earlier this month.


Click to purchase from Shrimpton Couture.

Gorgeous designer/blogger/stylist/neighbor/BFF Stacy Lomman took notice and paid me a visit with a big Versace book in hand.


The book cover.

She thought she spotted the Versace season that was then re-interpreted by Versus.


My favorite model, Linda Evangelista, photographed by Irving Penn in 1990.

While I flipped through the book admiring the photos of the ONLY true supermodels, including the TrinityLinda, Christy and Naomi — Stacy casually mentioned that the book had been handed to her by Gianni Versace himself. I was all, “!?” Turned out she saw him when he spoke to students at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology just five years before he was gunned down in Miami.


Exciting! I was even more excited when I noticed Linda Evangelista in what appears to be a runway version of a dress I have.


She is perfection. Linda photographed in 1991 by Irving Penn.

The print of Linda’s dress is obviously entirely different from mine, but the underskirt and bows down the bodice make me believe that my dress could be from Spring 1992 too.


Me wearing my vintage Versace in 2007. Linda wore it better; I’m not mad.

And then I came to a page where Versace shared a story about his sister Donatella and the late, great Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. It was 1977, and Donatella was 20 and Vreeland past 70. He said that despite the age difference and his sister’s shyness, she and Vreeland bonded right away:

“The first thing [Vreeland] said to Donatella was, ‘Do you know that we have the same initials? Perhaps someday you, too, will work in fashion.'”

Of course, after Gianni’s murder in 1997, Donatella took over designing her brother’s line, which she does to this day. But when she met Vreeland, Donatella was still a student, wearing tight leather pants and white blouses designed by Gianni especially for her. Vreeland was her size, so Donatella sent Diana some of her pants and blouses. I’ll let Gianni say the rest:

“…I remember being struck by the fact that a woman who was no longer young could show such love for leather..

When [Vreeland] later sent me a photograph of herself wearing the pants and shirt in her unmistakable style and with marvelous accessories I was enchanted and decided that one must never believe that an older woman cannot wear certain things.”

In other words … Wear What You Want!

I’d add that one must never believe that an older man cannot wear certain things. For a couple of months, the story of 72-year-old Liu Qianping has been floating around the Internet.  Liu — a 5’8″, 110-lb Chinese rice farmer — has become famous for looking FIERCE modeling women’s fashions for his granddaughter’s clothing store. When I saw an article about him in the Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago, I thought, “I know this story” and flipped past it. Then I thought, “No, my former employer will have something in this story that no one else has” and went back to it. I was glad I did because I learned of the awesome Mandarin term laolaiqiao. The rough translation is “old people doing young things that even young people wouldn’t do.” Lately, I’ve been pondering how I do things now that I would have been too self-conscious to do 20 years ago. I first realized that when I dressed up for a Lady Gaga concert in 2010, and was bewildered to see all the kids in jeans and t-shirts.


Just a typical 42-year-old. Click for my original post.

For that matter, I never wore anything like my own IDGAF necklace design when I was a teenager. I would have been scared my parents would be angry. They were already aggravated by my blonde bangs.


Me in 1984/1985.

Now I really don’t give a fuck … and neither do my parents. I wear my IDGAF necklace nearly every day and when I didn’t wear it on Thanksgiving, my mother asked, “Where is your necklace?”

Liu Qianping also has zero fucks to give about what people might say of pictures of him in a pearl-studded sweater, blonde wig or a crimson dress. “This one time [his granddaughter] got a big shipment of clothes. I took a few pieces out, thought they were nice looking and threw them on,” he told the Journal, adding, “I looked good.” He does his own styling. “I have to pick out the combinations,” he said to the Journal. “I have the best sense of what blouse should be paired with what skirt.”

Liu is officially one of my Wear What You Want style icons, joining the likes of Grace Jones and Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes. You can check out a slideshow of his looks here; the main Journal article is here. If you can’t access the direct link, search for “WSJ Liu Qianping” and you should be able to get in the site’s “side door.”

My new goal: to get a little more laolaiqiao-y every year.

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16 Responses to “Words of Wisdom From Gianni Versace and Liu Qianping”

  1. Sheila says:

    That is a fabulous goal! I used to feel almost embarrassed for “old” people when I was a teen, especially those who looked different from the norm. Now, I really don’t give a flying f**k what people think about how I dress, or whether I’m too old for it. You only have one life – live it to the fullest!

    Love that you found your ready-to-wear dress’s inspiration – what a gorgeous book, and how awesome about Stacy’s story!

  2. Marla says:

    Wow, I love the vintage Versace dress on you. Lovely! Great pics of you as a teen.

  3. Priscilla says:

    He is *almost* working the WendyB pose in slide 10!

  4. Brie says:

    You do get braver when you get older and will wear things you would not have when younger. You also get to know your body better and dress in clothing that suits your body type….at least if you are into fashion you do.

    I never conformed to what everyone was wearing but i went through that phase when I was 17-24 where I wore baggy clothing because I had gotten sick of people commenting on my thin figure and was camouflaging it by wrapping it in baggy clothing. I know, it didn\’t distract like it hoped but it was better than getting leered at by men and having my natural thinness constantly commented on.

    I am still thin now but I am not hiding it. I stopped hiding it when I was 26. I also now know what styles look horrible on me and what styles look good. It is too bad it can take a lifetime to figure all this out.

  5. mystyle says:

    Hi my dear-fabulous post, I’ve already checked Stacy’s post and her story is amazing, I soo love Gianni Versaces work from the 90s, very covetable and inspiring. Love you in your outfit for the Lady Gaga concert xx

  6. Wendy, you are the most laolaiqiao-y person I know.

    Liu Qianping is inspiring!

  7. Kristin says:

    I’m definitely les self conscious than I was as a teen or even in my twenties…but he has inspired me to kick things up a notch. What a cool grandpa and all around person!

  8. Poochie says:

    Some people are so boring.

    Also, stop showing that top dress. I want it!

    I also want the runway version of your dress. I love that crazy print!

  9. This post is delicious, full of candy colours! I love it!

  10. drollgirl says:

    90’s pics make me laugh!!!!

    and my poor co-worker has to hear me sing a 90’s tune almost every day. it just blurts out! i have to sing it! “this is how we do it.” seriously. every single day i belt it out. it is horrifying!

  11. Ah I gave up giving a shit when I was about 15 and realised no matter how hard I tried, I was always going to be “different” from everyone else. So I just got over it and wore whatever the hell I wanted. Went through loads of looks, and had a blast, as I still do. And I still don’t give a shit! XXX PS Loved Stacy’s story, thanks for the heads up, I’m behind in blog reading…

  12. I hadn’t heard about Liu and am itching to go check him out now! So true, when you I was younger I would have pointed and laughed at the 31 year old me!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Good advice. I could stand to take more risks.

  14. stacy says:

    I’m glad I could share that book 🙂
    I love his quote about Vreeland and leather!!
    Age is nothing!!
    You were surely the most fiercely dressed woman at that Gaga concert (I know you were when I went with you in that silver dress!)