City Pulse

By Stephanie Nolasco

Before Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford was recognized as a legend in Hollywood, both for her movies and iconic fashion that would make a comeback 31 years after her passing. In 1945 when America was still impacted from World War II, the former flapper labeled as “box office poison” became the comeback kid of the year with her Oscar-winning performance for Mildred Pierce. It’s one of Crawford’s greatest masterpieces as an “independent girl” displayed in crisp suits, knee-length skirts, and signature shoulder pads. Much like the tumultuous time period when Crawford ruled the box offices, we too are in the midst of a war and recession, leading the way to a fashion flashback that takes cue from the star herself.

In 2010, the 40’s are fabulous once again with the help of numerous designers bringing vintage sexy back. Fall 2009/Winter 2010 catwalks were heavily influenced by this era with the help of Alexander McQueen’s tailored checkered dress that’s career-ready, all while enhancing an hourglass figure. Narciso Rodriguez debuted khaki wool trimmed coats, whereas Helmut Lang supermodels sported jet black blazers with pointy shoulder pads. Even Miuccia Prada found inspiration from post war 40’s wear, presenting wool chocolate brown coats, skinny leather belts for a cinched waist, and v-neck gowns that pay tribute to Crawford’s delicate China-white dress from Mildred Pierce. “The 1940’s is strongly reemerging as a trend today because women are once again being empowered through fashion to deal with the challenges of the work place and less than perfect world,” explains Stylesight’s resident Vintage Editor, Cullen Meyer. “Coupled with the limbo of constantly being at war for the last seven years perfectly recalls the 1940’s to inspire the urban warrior of contemporary fashion. Modern women are taking on a new and nostalgic world that calls for strong beauty as a shield.”

Athelia Woolley, who recently premiered the 1943 dress collection for her Shabby Apple line, shares that both red lips and dark hues in one’s clothing always look sexy together. “I’m loving grey, brown, and even dark green fabrics,” she states. To show off long, lean legs, a la Betty Grable, go for slim skirt in tweed, ideal for day or night. “Put on some stripe tights, oxford platforms, a white shirt, and pearls. You’ll be ready to meet Mr. Bogart,” Woolley reveals. Whether you’re blessed with non-stop curves like Lana Turner or a boyish figure reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn, all can benefit from this year’s ultimate accessory that was frequently seen on Crawford. “A jacket with a thin belt always emphasizes your waist and it never goes out of style,” says designer Ricki Freeman. “Looks with bigger shoulders help the waist appear smaller by creating a triangle starting from the top down to the waist.” Perhaps now Crawford can finally obtain the recognition she deserves for refusing to be the girl next door.

Originally published January 2010
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