Johanna Johnson’s enduring romance with the 1920’s

June 15, 2014 § 2 Comments

The bygone era of the 1920’s is considered by many to be an era of great change. America experienced what is widely referred to as the Roaring Twenties whilst in Europe it became known as the Golden Age. A new age where jazz music became the soundtrack of many sprawling cities and a more edgy and distinctive culture and society emerged after World War 1. The birth of mass culture resulted from an economic boom after the war because many people had more income at their disposal, and parts of society became consumed by consumerism. Many older generations did not flirt with the racy, modern mass culture. But for much of the youth the 1920’s was certainly roaring indeed.

Source: Jazz Fever

A newer,liberal woman blossomed during the 20’s. Hemlines became shorter, shapes were looser, hair was popularly cut into bob hairstyles. The restriction of corsets and bodices no longer had to be endured by women and instead their clothing moved with their bodies freely and comfortably. The flapper dress, popularised by the 1920 film The Flapper, became one of the most familiar fashion symbols of the era. This short-hemmed, loose-fitting dress was further immortalised by actress Louise Brooks.

Source: Google Images

Source: Neatorama

Actress Louise Brooks. Source: Daily Mail

Source: Recently Viewed Movies

The 1920’s are long gone but never too far away from our minds and imagination. Australian designer Johanna Johnson’s couture dress designs can certainly attest to that, that’s for sure. Looking at her 1920’s-influenced and art deco-inspired gowns I am immediately transported into a world not unlike that depicted in F.Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby. Her utterly delicate, billowing designs radiate an ethereal quality and grace. Their cuts are loose but form-fitting, the off-white metallic silk serves to further add to the overall ease and freedom of her designs. That new breed of 1920’s woman spoken of previously is all there, in a more elegant fashion, etched in every seam and contour.

Examples of the costumes on show in Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’ (2013). Source: The Atlantic

Johanna Johnson’s 2014 ‘Muse’ collection. Source: Polka Dot Bride

Source: Fly Away Bride

A Beautiful embellished neckline and head band add a vintage, sumptuous appeal to this bridal look. Source: Want that Wedding

The main ethos behind the Johanna Johnson brand is to:

“Reignite the romance and craftsmanship of yesteryear” *

It’s so wonderful to see a designer such as Johanna embracing the past in her garments. The addition of her head pieces, waist belts and jewellery enhance the whimsical, dreamy beauty of the gowns and finish the entire look. Her vintage-inspired gowns are loved by actress Christina Hendricks who is a fine example of the kind of woman who can wear the hell out of her kind of designs. Her feminine, hourglass figure fills every inch of fabric seamlessly creating a gorgeous silhouette.

Christina Hendricks on the red carpet. Source: INC Entertainment

More incredible pieces from the latest Johanna Johnson collection. Source: Wedding Inspirasi

Source: Polka Dot Bride

* Quote taken from

The Great Gatsby (2013)

September 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Take one book ranked among the greatest works of American literature, and one Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!). What do you get? A spectacularly visual re-imagining of a novel written by F.Scott Fitzgerald emblazoned with Luhrmann’s trademark bombastic and lush style of film making. Personally I quite enjoy his movies because they are unique. The visuals are often loud and overrun the screen, but at the same time there is a story to be told in the midst of it all.

A copy of the novel.

The Great Gatsby is no different. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the mysterious and titular character Jay Gatsby, the film is set in the summer of 1922 on the prosperous island of Long Island, New York. The story is narrated by would-be writer Nick Carraway played by Tobey Maguire, as he recounts his momentous memories of that summer. He arrives in town not knowing a single soul except for his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), and settles in a quaint little cottage overshadowed by the illustrious mansion and estate owned by his new neighbour, Gatsby.

New Guy in Town: Nick Carraway touches down on Long Island seeking adventure and fresh material for his writing.

There is absolutely no denying the impeccability and beauty of the twenties-inspired costumes in this film. Every outfit is suited to each and every character, their background and their personality. Interestingly with Gatsby, his perfectly calm and groomed exterior belies the man beneath it, as Nick soon finds out. His complete look is carried off with aplomb by DiCaprio showing just how well the Actor can wear the hell out of a suit. In true scene-stealing style Gatsby doesn’t appear in the movie until the 30 minute marker and boy does he make a fashionable entrance in a scene that is over-the-top but very ‘Luhrmann’. We see his introduction through the wide, innocent eyes of Carraway who, before this, had only wondered who Gatsby was. It isn’t until he attends one of his raucous parties that he finally meets the man everyone is talking about.

“His smile was one of those rare smiles that you may come across four or five times in life.”  – Nick Carraway.

Catherine Martin is not only the costume designer, she is also the director’s other half. Martin did a fantastic job in this movie. It is quite possibly the most beautiful film of the summer. Catherine worked alongside Miuccia Prada and Brooks Brothers to create the twenties-inspired costumes that the cast wear, including Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio. The designer has long been fascinated by the book’s time period, due to the social revolution that took place after World War 1.

It was a time of incredible change where we basically go from a 19th-Century world to a modern, mechanised world reliant on machines in the space of five years

Although maintaining the authenticity of original clothing was paramount to both Martin and Luhrmann, the idea of reconnecting audiences with the story was also a key focus. The modern soundtrack helped, no doubt.

Baz was describing to me about the modern music in this version of Gatsby and he said to me, ‘We’ve got to get the audience to feel how it must have felt to hear jazz for the first time at a party’.

Gatsby’s suits are wonderful.

Gatsby and Daisy, played by Carey Mulligan, share a moment.

The jewelry worn by Daisy in the film were all custom-made to fit the era by none other than Tiffany & Co.

Tom Buchanan, played by Joel Edgerton, is the philandering husband of Daisy.

Set photo.

One of the many lavish party scenes.

Elizabeth Debicki stars as Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy Buchanan.

Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club (1999)

April 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

The darkly comic Fight Club was ranked number 10 by Empire magazine in its issue of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. Having seen it for the first time not so long ago I can safely say, I’m down with that. I thought it was a great movie. The ensemble cast is made up of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton – the former starring as Tyler Durden, one of my all time favourite characters in film. If that wasn’t enough there is Marla Singer, played by the gorgeous and super talented Helena Bonham Carter. Marla is a fantastic character that Helena breathed life into. Edward Norton plays the narrator,  an average-Joe who is living a dead-end life. He is in need of something to change his life. Tyler and Marla will take care of this – that is all I will say without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it. The trashy chain-smoking Marla has a very unique look that says so much about who she is. Below is a clip introducing Marla to the audience and to Norton’s character.

Marla wears a lot of black: black clothes, black eye makeup, sometimes a dark lip and always black messy hair. Her character is darkly witty, strong-willed and her philosophy of life is that she may die at any moment. She goes to cancer support groups because they’re cheaper than seeing a movie and there is free coffee. That’s how Marla rolls.

Always with a cloud of smoke.

With Edward Norton, the narrator of the story.

The only time Marla doesn’t wear black.

“I got this dress at a thrift store for one dollar. It’s a bridesmaid’s dress, someone loved it intensely for one day, and then tossed it. Like a Christmas tree. So special. Then, BAM, it’s on the side of the road. Tinsel still clinging to it. Like a sex crime victim. Underwear inside out. Bound with electrical tape.” – Marla

I love the contrast between her pale, ghostly skin and the dark hair and eyes. She is meant to look like she hasn’t slept in a while and hasn’t seen daylight too. But because it is HBC here, she ends up looking great because she has a gorgeous, doll-like face. She can pull off the death-warmed-up look well. Way to go HBC. Way to go.

Fight Club is based on the titular novel by Chuck Palahniuk. In the book she is described as thus:

“The girl is infectious human waste, and she’s confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing so she won’t commit to anything.”

Anna Karina in A Woman is A Woman (1961)

March 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

A Woman is A Woman or Une Femme est Une Femme was Danish actress (that’s right, she really was not french) Anna Karina’s first foray into feature film acting. Before this she would have been found advertising many soaps and toiletries on massive billboards around the world, which is what introduced her to her future husband and director of Une Femme est Une Femme, Jean- Luc Godard. Godard is quite iconically known as  the most radical french filmmaker of the 60’s and 70’s for challenging film tradition and experimenting and identifying with what is known as French New Wave. This film is very much associated with it, and of course because of the fact it was made in the early 60’s the styling is very much a nod to mod fashion!

Anna Karina.

With co-star Jean-Claude Brialy who plays her boyfriend Emile.

I fell in love with Karina’s on- screen style. I love the kitten eye makeup, her colourful bright stockings, cute fringe, and flirty feminine dresses. Everything works together brilliantly. This was no doubt helped through her input into costume designer Bernard Evein’s ideas.

Love the cute blue head band with her chic blue dress and the high bouffant hairstyle.


The movie has buckets of charm just like Ms. Karina herself. She plays Angela, a young girl working as a stripper who desperately wants to have a baby with her boyfriend Emile.  It has quite possibly the tamest strip club in the world that looks like it operates as an Italian restaurant on the side. What sets it apart is the unique style of Godard. The use of on screen graphics to give insights into the character’s motives, the all-too-sly speaking directly to the camera, the stop and start motion of the movie’s scoring and the accentuation of moments and dialogue by music which is artfully well done. Godard continued to have wife Karina star in a series of his films released after this wonderful gem.

This nautical number is gorgeous.

The injection of red livens up the same mostly white two piece suit.

Jean-Paul Belmondo (left) plays Emile’s best friend Alfred.

So after seeing A Woman is A Woman I’ve not only developed a massive girl crush on the lovely Karina and her adorable style, I’m now resigning myself to watching more Godard classics for more light-hearted fun and charming caper. Why not join me and expect more fashion moments to come soon after. Au Revoir!

Mélanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds (2009)

August 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I recently dug out my copy of Inglourious Basterds, a 2009 movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. It has a great WW2 story line and with his signature style added, it really is a thrill to watch again. French actress Melanie Laurent stars as an escaped Jew who seeks revenge for the horrific death of her family at the hands of the SS in Nazi- occupied France.

Melanie as Shoshanna Dreyfus.

I really liked how Melanie’s character Shoshanna dressed. In many scenes she is very casual and goes about her day without makeup or any styling so as not to draw attention to herself, being an undercover Jew and all. Heba Thorisdottir who was the makeup artist on the set, described Shoshanna’s daily look as ”clean and glowing” and used products from the Kanebo Sensai range to achieve it.

Heba prepped the skin first with Sensai Silk Brightening Cream, €83.

Next she applied Sensai Foundation only where needed,€42.

Taupe eyeshadow and a peach toned blush were applied to complete the look.

Her day to day look comprised of a loose trouser, heavy jumper or blazer and quite often a warm hat.

Towards the end of the film, all of the stops were pulled out in spectacular form for the German Movie Night at the cinema she owns. In badass form, she plans to burn it down and all of the Nazi party members in it, with style.

Pretty snazzy eh? What a stunning red dress. I love the scene where she is getting herself ready for the night of her revenge. Everything about it is brilliant; Shoshanna applying her makeup in tune with David Bowie’s Cat People, the song itself, and finishing her look with a beautiful head piece and she’s ready to burn down the house. Literally. Check it out below.

She makes applying blush look like a ritual before battle.

The gorgeous head piece really adds to the 40’s retro feel to the look.

Not forgetting to pack a lipstick pistol in her clutch. No room for touch ups here!

If you fancy channeling the gorgeous look, Polyvore created a great one for inspiration.

Her hair was styled in glamorous retro waves.

For this scene, Heba Thorisdottir really enjoyed the challenge of customising colours to create the perfect cream blush that you see Shoshanna apply.

It was a very specific scene and Quentin knew exactly what he wanted in the scene so we didn’t exactly follow the period. Quentin wanted a cream blush but a lot softer consistency than are on the market so I actually had to sit down and make it! The color had to be very specific as well so, I dragged Quentin in the makeup trailer and sat him down and we had a lot of fun with making the color just perfect! ”

My Favourite Fashion Moments #3

August 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

James Garner and Audrey Hepburn

This cheeky photo was taken in 1961 during filming of the compelling film The Children’s Hour that also starred Shirley MacLaine. I love the goofiness of it all. Audrey looks adorable and elegant as always and James Garner (looking rather demented!) works it in his suit alongside her. The film itself is quite a dramatic story about two teachers (Hepburn and MacLaine) accused of being lesbians by a troublesome student. I love the way they kicked back and had a laugh while making it.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

August 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Often widely dubbed the ‘quintessential 80’s teen movie’ by movie critics, The Breakfast Club to this day continues to resonate with many who see it. We have all been there – those days of high school where you try to fit in at some stage or another. The brilliant John Hughes is the man behind this gem of a movie.

” The Breakfast Club ”

It’s a Saturday morning and for these five high school students, they have to spend it in detention together. Five strangers with nothing in common except each other. To the outside world they were simply the Criminal, the Basketcase, the Jock, the Princess and the Brain. The costume is naturally very 80’s, which I love.

The Criminal

Bender,  first name John, is played spot-on by Judd Nelson. He is what many of his peers deem a future criminal in the making, and to his teachers and parents he will simply amount to nothing. Bender is definitely my favourite character because beneath all of his bitterness, anger and a bad boy image is a very vulnerable and hurt person. A lot of people can relate to that, not just teenagers. Each of the characters are dressed so well in that it represents their personality and type, or rather the way they want people to see them. Bender wears torn jeans, big tough-looking biker boots that he drags along, a ripped up shirt and undone hair. It’s like he wants people to believe he doesn’t give a sh*t but as the movie progresses the cracks soon appear

The Basketcase aka Allison.

While John Bender is my favourite character, Allison comes very close because of her dark wit. She is very intuitive in her observations of the four other students. She admits she has an ‘unsatisfying home life’, spills details of her tendency to lie, and tells the others that she only came to detention because she had nothing better to do. You gotta love the girls frankness. Ally Sheedy starred as Allison and her style is very dark with muted colours that really say a lot about her character. She’s not happy with her life, has no friends and is most afraid of what she believes is the inevitable; we are all going to turn out like our parents. Everything she wears is thrown together messily and without effort and she practically carries her life around in her bag.

The Jock

Andrew, played by Emilio Estevez wants to please his Father by being a tough sporto and always winning. He is forever doing what he is told to do, as pointed out by Allison. So, what got him into detention then? He glued a poor guys butt cheeks together in the locker room (as you do), and admits it was because of his old man’s over- bearing pressure. Andrew dresses like your stereotypical jock to a T. He wears blue, because he is a man and that’s that.

Molly Ringwald had already starred in Sixteen Candles- also directed by John Hughes, before her role as Clare in The Breakfast Club. Clare is the uptight beauty queen who thinks highly of herself and her popularity. She stays within her clique and becomes the brunt of John Bender’s digs.

She’s elegant and lady-like in her dress; a long brown skirt with knee-length riding boots, a pink top tucked in with a belt and a very cool brown leather jacket and gloves.

The Brain

Anthony Micheal Hall plays Brian aka The Brain of the group. Similar to Andrew he feels a looming pressure from his parents, albeit to do well in school and get excellent grades. He’s the A+ student and very unassuming. But what happens when he’s smacked in the face with a C grade one day? He loses it and brings a gun into school and leaves it in his locker.

But it’s not any old gun, it’s a toy gun! For him it was a cry for help. As the five teens finally open up and share such secrets they find a relief. They are also fighting the same problem everyday; their parents. Whether they are over-bearing, violent in the case of Bender’s Father, or they just don’t care, it’s what they all open up about. Brian’s attire is made up of a very neat pair of slacks, a green wooly jumper and a pair of trainers- it is almost like his Mother dresses him.

I came across this genius poster designed by Matt Owen.
The five students and principle Dick in the movie all conform to high school stereotype, but by reducing them to simple colour codes they become somehow mysterious and individual. Click this image for more.


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