Arena – Screen Goddesses

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the women of the 1930s and 1940s who would be interested in Piguet’s glamorous Hollywood-inspired pieces, I decided to watch Arena – Screen Goddesses. This is a documentary put together by the BBC, all about early Hollywood and its female movie stars. I’ll be creating a list of bullet points, to remind me of all the juicy, concise titbits that I gathered whilst watching the program:

  • Movie stars became an “ideal of beauty” during the 1920s and 1930s.
  • MGM controlled how stars were portrayed by magazines in the 1930s.
  • In cinema, intimacy was often portrayed by the exchange of a cigarette. The striking of a match conveyed overwhelming desire, as seen in Queen Christina (1933) starring Greta Garbo.
  • Clara Bow possessed “a magnetism that attracted both sexes” and her taste for men was voracious both on and off screen.
  • Rita Hayworth was described as: “a figure of sexual supremacy.”
  • Ingrid Bergman felt that: “Her only image was herself and grew tired of the Hollywood dream factory.”
  • Barbara Stanwyck was known for her “glamour and fast wit.”
  • Mae West was known for her “verbal playfulness.” One of her most famous quotes is: “I do most of my writing in bed; everyone knows I do my best work there.”
  • In Shanghai Express (1932), Shanghai Lily played by Marlene Dietrich is described as a “user of men.” Also, in The Blue Angel (1930) her character Lola Lola says: “I live for sex, it’s the way I’m made.”

cinema

After reading through all of the notes I wrote after watching this documentary, I came to the conclusion that women who admired Hollywood stars in these decades would want to appear as sultry, confident powerful goddesses. This is the way that Piguet consumers of the 21st century will want to feel too, albeit with a lot of cultural updates. It is the brand’s responsibility to make sure its new products and identity makes its customers feel this way.

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OLED: The Future of Cinema

It’s time to decide what kind of product the Piguet fashion house is going to create – something that will firmly establish a place for the new brand in today’s fashion market. This is an opportunity to create something revolutionary and innovative, to create something that has never been made that all participants will be remembered for.

To revive Robert Piguet’s fashion house, the traditional qualities of his brand image will have to be updated with modern, relevant topics. In Robert Piguet’s case, talkies were revolutionary during the 30s and they played a big part in the glamour and escapism surrounding the decade. For the Robert Piguet brand to be revived, his traditional influences of film and Hollywood glamour will have to be repurposed to incorporate the modern cinema experience, so that the brand is relevant in today’s market place. A brainstorm of products that may help the brand to do this included:

  • 1930s Hollywood eyewear is a symbol of sophistication and glamour. It may be possible to collaborate with a company that specialises in VR technology, to create a collection of vintage Piguet eyewear that can display films across the lenses. This would celebrate Piguet’s original influences whilst also taking on board the advancements of modern technology.
  • The only part of the Piguet fashion house that has survived to this day is the fragrances. Therefore, it may be beneficial to the brand to collaborate with a perfumer to create a new fragrance that can change the way it smells throughout the day. This would repurpose the idea of cinematic storytelling, by using scent to tell a story as the day goes by.
  • It may be a good idea to collaborate with a revered camera manufacturer to create a camera that is 1930s in style but 2020 in technological advancements. This would make an impression on creative and passionate millennial consumers. However, this would severely limit the size of the target audience.
  • Film has become more and more portable over the decades, with inventions such as the TV, laptops and mobile phones, so there is very little need for a cinema in the 21st This may be an opportunity to collaborate with a cinema company and create cinemas that are modern fun and exciting, to reignite public interest in the cinema experience. However, this may be difficult to maintain because new technology allows consumers to watch films in the comfort of their own homes.

Although all of these ideas are relevant to Piguet’s brand identity, a different concept seemed to be the better option.

At the Keynote of CES 2013 with the theme of ‘Mobilizing Possibilities’, Samsung introduced its innovative prototype of a flexible display screen. This is a creation made possible  by OLED technology and it can be rolled up like a piece of paper. This technology is said to be: “Opening up new lifestyle possibilities” and it certainly takes entertainment and motion picture to a level of versatility that has never been reached before (MyNextGadget, 2013). This presents a huge opportunity for collaboration – if Samsung are capable of creating flexible TV screens, then this technology could be adapted and turned into a fabric. This would celebrate Piguet’s original influences whilst also taking on board the advancements of modern technology in a way that has never been explored before, so overall this was the winning concept.

lineup

The Revival of the Piguet Perfumery

Perfume can do a lot for a brand – the identity can be strengthened with a signature scent and it allows the consumer to get involved with a brand at a fraction of the usual cost.

In the 1940s Robert Piguet met perfumer Germaine Cellier, who created fragrances that coordinated with the brand’s signature elegance and glamour. The first scent to be released was Bandit in 1944. The fragrance had a heavy, dark scent and a name that conjures images of pirates and sea voyages, made for the daring women of the decade. It was released along with Piguet’s runway collection that featured women in masks, with toy guns and knives, conveying the image of the “femme fetale.” In 1948, Fracas was launched, referred to as ‘The Noir Perfume’ by Lizzie Ostrom, author of Perfume: A Century of Scents. This name pays homage to the 1940s noir temptress, portrayed best by Rita Hayworth as the terrifying seductive Gilda.

Piguet worked until his retirement in 1951. Although this signified the end of Piguet’s fashion house, his brand continued to launch fragrances right up until the 1960s. The brand is now owned by Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics, who have made Piguet’s original scents available for purchase once again, updating them slightly with modern formulas.

All of Piguet’s scents come in the same classic bottle design, all of them black, elegant and timeless. The price also catapults Piguet’s perfumes into the higher end of the market, ranging from £135-£160 for 100ml. The combination of design and price helps to develop Piguet’s luxurious and sophisticated profile, finding itself on the same shelves as Miss Dior and Chanel N◦5.

sls-adsett-l4-2-km-364-device.lits.shu.ac.uk-20161006142743

The brand image of both Dior and Chanel has been shaped by their fragrances – Chanel N◦5 has developed into an indisputable icon over the decades, using its versatility to move on from its beginning in 1921 and adapt to the current cultural climate. Dior has released various fragrances, but Miss Dior is particularly poignant. It was launched in 1947, to symbolise hope and regeneration after the war. This was launched alongside Christian Dior’s iconic ‘New Look,’ so the Miss Dior fragrance is a very powerful symbol. It represents where Dior came from and all that it stands for, the perfect way of paying tribute to the brand’s origins in 2016.

Some other brands that have released iconic fragrances are Moschino and Viktor & Rolf. Bon Bon is a caramel scent, which comes in a bottle resembling a pink candy wrapper. This is in line with Viktor & Rolf’s abstract and artistic brand image, playing with the ideas of fantasy and femininity. Moschino’s surreal and witty character is renewed with the ironic Fresh fragrance, sold in a bottle resembling a household cleaning product.

instagram-perfumes

 

I Refuse to be a Part of Barbaric Journalism

​It is often said that to be a successful journalist, you have to be hard nosed – in short, be as sneaky, rude or manipulative as you need to be to get to the juicy bits. Instead of wrapping up this topic in a nice hearty fuck you, I aim to start as I mean to go on and explain why respect is the most important thing in any job, especially journalism. 

Now, I understand that in areas of journalism, the whole point is to get to the truth. I wholeheartedly think that this is a good thing. It is an important role that provides a voice for topics that wouldn’t have otherwise been brought into the public eye. What I have an issue with is the industry’s attitude towards going about this business. I would love to be a journalist and I am working extremely hard to get there, but one thing I don’t agree with is the compromising of integrity and asking inappropriate questions just for the sake of media attention.

“Take a nap and get a red bull” – are you kidding me??

Last year’s Good Morning Sacramento interview with Cara Delevingne is a perfect example of the point I am trying to make. The anchors questioned how hard she had worked for the Paper Towns movie, and even went as far as to ask if she had even had time to read the book. Rude. 

In the wise words of Rik Mayall: “We are all equal so nobody can ever be your genuine superior.” If you feel that somebody is being disrespectful, you have every single goddamn right to stand up and walk out. You don’t owe anything to anybody, least of all your time. It’s a precious thing and you don’t have to waste it trying to please people who don’t appreciate it.

Summary – it all boils down to respect. It is so easily forgotten when the going gets tough. But I strongly believe that if you treat people in the way you would like to be treated, you can’t go far wrong. 

What About Piguet?

piguet-portrait

 

Robert Piguet is the designer I have chosen for a well overdue brand revival, set to launch in the coming years. So in a bid to pinpoint the essence of his character and understand the mind behind the masterpieces, I’m going to make sense of all of my research by telling my own version of Piguet’s life story …

story-time

Once upon a time in a faraway land (also known as 1898 Switzerland…) Robert Piguet was born. 17 years later, intent on becoming a dress designer, Piguet made the journey to Paris to work under John Redfern and Paul Poiret. Both designers were very important in the early 20th century – Poiret was famous for his artistic inspiration and dressing of theatrical pieces, whilst Redfern was one of the first designers to produce sturdier textiles for the increasingly active woman.

Piguet remained with these influential and innovative couture houses for many years, before founding his own house in 1933. Whilst there, despite his training with Redfern and Poiret, he became involved as a businessman rather than a designer. Piguet employed talents such as Dior, Balmain and Givenchy to produce designs for his collections, before they rose to fame. Although the pieces came from multiple designers, Piguet embraced theatrical 1930s romanticism. Talkies were revolutionary during the 30s and they played a big part in the glamour and escapism surrounding the decade. A lot of Piguet’s work incorporated staples of this glamorous culture, such as high collars, high capped sleeves and large yokes. This theme was a constant, portrayed throughout all of his collections and he became known for dramatic, refined womenswear with exemplary attention to detail and fit.

1930s-scene

In the 1940s Piguet met perfumer Germaine Cellier. They worked together to create fragrances that mirrored his elegant, post-war fashions. The first scent was named Bandit, a heavy brutal scent launched in 1944. It was released along with Piguet’s runway collection that featured women in masks, with toy guns and knives, conveying the image of the “femme fetale.” In short, this was a fragrance for the Cruella De Vils, rather than the timid innocent Cinderellas of the decade. This was followed by Visa (an autumnal fruity fragrance), which was redeveloped in 2007 by Aurelien Guichard. In 1948, Fracas was launched, referred to as ‘The Noir Perfume’ by Lizzie Ostrom, author of Perfume: A Century of Scents. This name pays homage to the 1940s noir temptress, best portrayed by Rita Hayworth as the terrifying seductive Gilda.

Piguet found producing collections very strenuous and felt it necessary to take a break after each one was completed. He worked until his retirement in 1951. A less than fairy-tale ending for Piguet’s fashion house, but his brand continued to launch fragrances right up until the 1960s. The brand is now owned by Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics, who have made Piguet’s original scents available for purchase once again, updating them slightly with modern formulas.

This would normally be where they all lived happily ever after and ‘The End’ would be printed in whimsical swirly font. But in the wise words of Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashion fades, style is eternal.” So I aim to keep writing Piguet’s story by mixing modern topics and culture with the traditional qualities of his brand, to bring his extraordinary ideas and clothing style back to the forefront.

 

Millinery in the 21st Century

​The second year of Fashion Management is well and truly in motion! The first part of our project involves researching a brand that needs revitalising, some life breathed back into it – after a lot of thought I have chosen Robert Piguet, who embraced theatrical 30s romanticism. 

Although Piguet wasn’t known for accessories, I got swept up in the 1930s hats – to me, they epitomised the glamour that was in the air during the decade. I decided to interview a local milliner, the wonderful Sophie Cooke of Imogen’s Imagination in Sheffield, to see if and how the trade has changed in the 21st century. 

Hi Sophie! How did you get started in millinery? Did you complete a degree and/or internship or go freelance?
“I started off in 2006-ish using pre-made hat shapes and decorating them for myself and friends to wear to burlesque nights. It was just a hobby to scratch the creative itch. As a result, I was asked to make them for a local shop, the owner of which ran the burlesque night.  I did that for a year or so but then took a break.  In late 2008 I started selling at vintage fairs and developed design more suitable to the market, still using pre-made shapes.  It wasn’t until September 2009 that I started evening classes at Leeds College of Art and Design that I learnt to make hats from scratch.  I attended 5 years of classes, 30 sessions a year, whilst working full-time, for most of it. This is the only formal training I have.  My mum and grandma taught me to sew; machine, hand and embroidery. Everything else has been learnt as I’ve gone alone. The only formal creative qualification I have is a GCSE in Design and Technology, about 2 decades ago (That’s as old as I’ll admit to! lol). I didn’t start the business “full-time” until late October 2013, and even since then, I have always had a part-time job of between 8-18.5 hours to help tide me over financially.”

What types of skills do you think somebody would need to be successful in millinery?
“Strong work ethic.  Desire to experiment and learn new skills. Thick skinned, emotionally, not just physically to avoid workroom stabbing injuries! Creative. Imaginative. Organised- juggling clients, finances, stock can be tricky. Inventive. Brave. I don’t believe I can claim to be successful, I’m not denying that I haven’t had my moments, I guess it depends how on you measure success. I haven’t missed a mortgage payment, I pay my studio rent on time…but if you measure success in nights out, holiday and treats, then the reduced section at the supermarket is my best friend!”

What have you enjoyed the most about your career in millinery?
There is nothing more satisfying than getting paid! Apart from the moment when someone tries on a hat and their posture suddenly gets a little straighter, a smile creeps across their face and then they grin.  That’s when you know the hat is right.  That is hugely satisfying.  Sometimes it’s a bit like being a hairdresser, people tell you all sorts of things! I think because it’s such a personal purchase, and such a new experience to have a hat made for you, as well as the client being heavily involved in the design process, it is part of them. Often because the hat is to be worn for a memorable occasion, the hat and by proxy you, to an extent, become part of that memory. I love getting photos from happy clients at their events…you know they wore it, enjoyed wearing and what to share that joy with you and your Facebook page! ;o)”

What is one of the biggest problems you have faced in your career in millinery? 
“Money and time in equal measures.  I can honestly say that I spend more time at the PC than I do making. It’s hard work selling, whether it’s online, in person at events or with custom order clients. It all takes time.  Research, admin, finances, promotion.  I know that I have stock that I haven’t listed online because I haven’t got good enough photos, or the time to create the listings.  If I had the cash, I would happily pay someone to help me out, but without the balance of time to develop and create income through a variety of sources (sales, networking, workshops, press development etc) my time becomes more full of the mundane jobs.”

The Fact is: Fashion is Going Stale

I said it. Coming from a Fashion student, I suppose I should explain myself.

Making clothes and the idea of fashion are totally different ball games. Clothes made for the sole purpose of making profit shouldn’t be called fashion at all. If you ask me, that’s an insult to the designs that can express parts of the human experience that are sometimes hard to put into words. Fashion that can enlighten, evolve and devastate and have a story told with each stitch.

Some examples of fast fashion. It’s lifeless. You can smell the dispassion in the rushed craftsmanship, churned out with no real love or thought put into it. Fashion can be beautiful and expressive and a useful tool within society to say who we are without words – what are these clothes saying about us? It’s cheap and accessible,  but at what real price? Underpaid and exploited workers, tonnes of textile landfill and an ‘I want it now’ culture that acts before it thinks.

I decided to follow a career in fashion to make a difference. But it can be a lonely world sometimes. A world that is shallow and out for itself – occasionally it carries me back to my school days, where being at the top of the social food chain is all that mattered. What’s the point of wearing something if you don’t know where it came from, who made it and what it represents? If you don’t know any of these things, how could it possibly be self expression at all?

We can’t all afford the better quality clothes. But there are much better alternatives than fast fashion. Making your own, buying second hand, buying with the intention of making it last. I would love to see clothes treated as investments, not quick fixes.

Trend-following is not fashion. If you do that, where are you? Who are you? It can be hard to tune out the background noise and listen to what you want to be. Saturated advertising can numb our reactions to fashion, so it can be difficult to keep a clear head. 

But what is clear is that we need to bring the passion back into clothes – ask the questions. Because they do matter in the real world, they matter a whole lot.