Saturday, April 09, 2016

Building a Capsule Wardrobe by Starting with Art: Saints Genevieve and Appolonia by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Normally, I try really hard to make sure that the things that I show on The Vivienne Files are realistic, and not appallingly expensive. Well, from time to time I'll see something irresistible, but I try to make those pieces the exception, rather than the rule.

But today, I'm throwing away all of the rules...


The Guest Lecturer


She's an expert in the symbolistic representation of saints in Gothic architecture. Her writings on the variety of interpretations of the legend of Saint Michael was groundbreaking. (well, groundbreaking if that's your thing!)


Saints Genevieve and Appolonia by Lucas Cranach the Elder

I was so afraid that when I was meeting her at the airport, I wouldn't be able to find her, or recognize her. But I needn't have worried; as soon as she stepped through the door at International Arrivals, I just folded up my little sign with her name on it, and stuffed it into the trash.


Her white hair is in an intricate and undecipherable braided crown. Her lipstick looks like the high-gloss on a Ferrari (and stays like that even when she eats!), and I don't think she has pores...

coat – Roland Mouret; loafers – Vaneli; sweater – Alice +Olivia
silk pants – Alexander McQueen; earrings – Freida Rothman
 watch – Shinola; tote – Alexander McQueen

Her first lecture was standing room only, in our largest lecture hall. So we moved the 2nd and 3rd lectures to the General Auditorium - the biggest meeting room on campus, short of the basketball arena.

clutch bag – Dolce & Gabbana; hoop earrings – Tiara; gold-fringed wrap –
 Saint Laurent; floral cardiganBalmain; red silk top – Dolce & Gabbana
black silk blouse – Dondup; black skirt - Protagonist; cross pendant – Anastazio
bracelet – Fred Leighton; green sequined skirt - H&M; pumps – Trotters
 green sweater – Dsquared2

Her English is almost perfect, with just enough small errors to be adorable and charming. Of course she's a wonderful speaker, making "Variations in the Iconography of Saint Mark in Venetian Architecture" fascinating.





If you told me that she has never in her life worn denim, I would believe it...

love,
Janice


NOVICA

40 comments:

  1. Expensive clothes are a cut above the rest; just a dream for me but so lovely to see them. I love the little clutch.

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    1. That clutch just delights me, for no good reason I can think of, except opulent beauty. Sometimes, that's enough!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  2. I want to be her when I grow up!

    Wow!!!

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  3. Well, obviously she wasn't an academic. Perhaps a celebrated architect? Or art dealer?
    Beautiful stuff. Nice to dream.

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    1. Married rich? or inherited a ton? Or maybe this is all the clothing she has? I like the idea of a consultant that works with architects and preservation organizations with the goal of keeping the integrity of the architectural details when renovating a building.
      Any other ideas?
      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. Her carefulness and ability to restore things means she can source the bulk of her wardrobe from resale sources or thrift stores. Beyond that, you'll find her sometimes saving for months (years if necessary!) for just the right piece.

      Her well-developed taste means she can pair an $8 H&M skirt with a scarf found in the clearance bin at the flea market, or a $10,000 Dolce&Gabbana clutch and look equally at ease.

      Her keen eye and historical knowledge place her in the enviable position of very, very, very occassionally unearthing truly valuable antique art and jewelry pieces tossed into the jumble at the boot sales, junk shops, and auctions she attends whenever given the chance -- because of her dedication to living within her means she never has to worry about saving for retirement or making the rent, those are on autodeduct before she even sees her paycheck.

      So, the windfalls from public speaking engagements, giving appraisals, and reslling her found treasures can be piped straight into the IMMA account she is using to save up for that exquisite bracelet she has her eye on. Beauty and authenticity matter deeply to her, and she would much rather do without than to settle for less. ; )

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  4. How could anyone go past a clutch with a timeless time piece in it. So you don't need a watch when you go out somewhere special... Carol S

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  5. I love it! I adore your storylines. I'll admit you lost me on the H&M micro mini - the colors make sense but beyond that...
    So great to dream big!

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    1. I find that these skirts aren't nearly as short on me as they look online. That said, your mileage may of course vary! I just couldn't resist it, in the end. I looked at approximately 7 billion skirts (okay, maybe only 7 million...) and nothing was quite as perfect. Sometimes, we dream big in strange ways!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  6. I'm in Venice heaven! This is beautiful. I'm glad you decided to give us a wardrobe that's almost unreachable, just for once, just for fun. As casual as my own lifestyle is, I can actually imagine myself in all of this collection. Thank you for a great start to my day!

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  7. Your heroine reminds me of an aquaintance who dresses like this. She came from a wealthy family, married well, and studied art hostory, loves art, and for fun became trained as an appriser and "expert" on art authenticity. She has three beautiful homes in various places and except for her taste in art and clothes, she is very down to earth and accessible. She even sometimes sews her clothes and is an expert seamstress - for fun- though she does buy most of her fabrics in Milan. Tall, brunette, she wears these colors snd styles well. I met her at an advanced sewing class! I'm telling you this, Janice, because I'm so impressed by how right on you are with your vignettes and the styles and colors you use for your heroines. What life experiences have given you such genius?
    Janice Collins, Washington, Washington, DC

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  8. I, too, know this woman. :) You've got her clothes down perfectly, Janice.

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  9. I couldn't love this more! As an art history person and wannabe medievalist, this is perfect!! I'd be happy if you revisited this painting, maybe with some cognac + black + red + green. As an aside, is the woman an expert in St. Michael, St. Mark, or both?! - nancyo

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    1. She's actually an expert in all of the symbolism around the major saints - she has known St. Mark since her childhood, and decided to branch out to Saint Michael when she realized how frequently he's represented in the architecture of Venice. It's not like hagiography is an overly populated area of expertise!
      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. As a Vivienne Files cultist as well as an iconographer and hagiographer, this post is ringing all the bells of St. Mark's Venice for me. :)

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    3. Gail, are you an iconographer in the sense of painting/writing icons? Or in the sense of studying how different subjects are portrayed in art? I am deeply interested in both, with an art history and religious background - and have been painting icons since 2007. - nancyo

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    4. Hi, Nancy, I'm a medieval scholar, not a painter, but I have always been fascinated by icons. How wonderful that you have put your paint brush where your heart is!

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  10. This is who I wish I was! so fabulous to take a trip on your dream machine!

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  11. What a lovely fantasy for me this morning. I love that you've placed the H&M skirt in the collection. I read this one to my husband this morning and told him I was sure you looked at tons of skirts and chose this one because it goes perfectly with the style of your heroine. What fun! :)

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  12. What a lovely fantasy for me this morning. I love that you've placed the H&M skirt in the collection. I read this one to my husband this morning and told him I was sure you looked at tons of skirts and chose this one because it goes perfectly with the style of your heroine. What fun! :)

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  13. Janice,
    How lush and elegant ! This assembly of clothes reminds me of a modern day "Miss Fisher Mysteries ", an elegant, wealthy sleuth , although her clothes were in a 1920's setting.
    Are you back in Chicago ?

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    1. We are! We got back midday yesterday; the timing on the flights both over and back were maddening! We literally were on the ground and IN PARIS, from the airport, before dawn last Friday. What is the logic of a flight arriving that early? Silly airlines...
      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. Those early morning Europe landings are crazy, but seem to be the norm, unfortunately. My favorite flight to Paris left Atlanta at midnight and landed at 2pm. Just in time to check in the hotel, spend a bit of time noodling around then dinner and bed. Almost no jet lag that way. - nancyo

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  14. J'adore!!! looking at the best is always for me the best way to know what is possible. My friends would be horrified when I would go into the very best stores in Vancouver at age 16. I remember buying with my babysitting money, a corduroy dress and a pair of black pants when they were down to a very low sale price. beyond thrilled
    Deb from Vancouver

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    1. I love that story... I used to comb through the sales racks like a maniac... I remember when I was only 21 or 22 - still in Graduate School - and I bought two shirts: one from Ralph Lauren (back when it was the real thing) and one from Perry Ellis, when he was still alive. They were SO beautiful; I wore them until the seams just gave out, and the fabric surrendered through utter fatigue. Did I get my money's worth? I think so, and I always felt absolutely elegant and special when I wore them. There's a lesson there!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  15. Love the clothes ( oh my, that flowered wrap) and the story. We have a wonderfully talented lady at our church who teaches iconography. I am in the midst of actually writing my first icon under her tutelage. It is a fascinating art form.

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  16. Oh my, this is gorgeous, especially the jewelry and that clutch!! I once met a man who was an expert on the windows at Chartres, but his clothes were not nearly as memorable. :)

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  17. Love the story and the clothes. What would this woman wear for lounging, sleeping and undergarments? Thanks to you I have a handle on my public clothes, it's the private and under things I have a problem with. Thank you for all you do. Your vignettes great me first thing in the morning and make my day.

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    1. I'd suspect she would wear all matching silk undergarments, and silk pajamas. Lounging? What is lounging? She doesn't seem like she does much - she'd either be dressed for public consumption, or in her silk pajamas and cashmere robe...
      hugs,
      Janice

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    2. Delightful response, Janice. The longer I look, the more I love this wardrobe and this woman.
      Welcome home.

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  18. That's greet not great.

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  19. Love, love, love that clutch! It's a total fantasy for me (most of my "going out" is to the grocery store) but there's a part of me that would love to own an outrageous handbag like that! I feel like I've met this woman, would love to attend her lectures. Keep up these posts, I love them!

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  20. Love the post Janice. You have such imagination - in your inspiration, your outfits, your amazingly eclectic storylines and your humour. I can't help but keep coming back for more!
    Mary x.

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  21. Loved the nod to Venetian architecture in the borders...such a perfect touch! Loved this story line, since I was a History major and did almost another major in art history. I would like to hear this lady!

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  22. I'm just back from a few days' hiking on Tasmania's east coast - glamping, you understand, not the tough kind in actual tents but a stunning walk with enthusiastic young guides, both experts on the plants, birds, history, and geography, as well as being amazing cooks when we reached our eco-lodge each night. After tipping my grubby non-matching thermals, thick socks and other unfresh walking clothes into the washing machine, I turned to The Vivienne Files for a week's catch-up. This was my first post. The contrast between our heroine and me could not have been greater nor more amusing. Bravo Guest Lecturer! I'm a bit scared of her - though I'm sure she is charming - and I envy her the life, occupation and wardrobe. Amazing, wonderful collection Janice!

    Glad you are safely home, Robyn in Tasmania

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  23. Janice, I usually love all your vignettes, but this one surpasses the rest and is simply wonderful. And it is not because the garments are expensive, but because how you blended the story of that woman, the painting and the clothes!
    Now, seriously, when is your book coming out? Taking into account the average of fashion books, I'm sure it will be a hit!
    Safe trip back from Paris!
    Best,
    Arte

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  24. I think this is my favourite among your stories and wardrobes so far!
    Sonja

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  25. Beautiful! The colors and texture are so wonderful!
    Shinola watches are great, I got one for my birthday!

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  26. Superlative in all ways. Thanks! Joan (Chicago)

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  27. Oh my! This is lovely! Thank you, Janice

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