The Ladybug’s movies appreciation society: Carol

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Being this blog the space that I use for spreading the word about my first big passion (vintage!), I realized that I don’t write a lot about some of my other big passions like movies and books. This is the reason why I decided to create my “movies and books appreciation society” to share here some good advice on what to read and what to watch if you are a vintage lover! I don’t often read books or watch movies related to vintage but when it happens I promise to share my experience here!

The idea came to my mind a few weeks ago, while watching the movie Carol. I am sure that you heard about it but if you haven’t seen yet, please run to the cinema before it ends. I cannot say that I loved the movie, I am among those who didn’t really consider it as a masterpiece; still it is a good movie. But if there was a reason to adore it, this reason was the costume (and Cate Blanchett!). I cannot really explain the magnificence of Carol’s wardrobe, including jewels and accessories so it doesn’t surprise me that the costume designer, Sandy Powell, is an Oscar candidate for best costume design for this movie.

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I recently read an interview where Sandy Powell said that she accessorized Carol (Cate Blanchett) with jewelry by Fred Leighton and Van Cleef & Arpels but she also used a lot of original vintage pieces like handbags and bespoke hats. One of the funniest thing was that she had to use customized shoes by Ferragamo based on their original ‘40s and ‘50s patterns because foot sizes are much larger today than they were in the ‘50s, so it would have been impossible to have original vintage shoes! Same thing happened for the matching gloves! One of the tips that Sandy Powell shared in the interview was the fact that she used a lot of retro inspired lingerie (especially bras) in order to create the shapes of women of that era.

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If Carol’s style remains almost constant for the whole movie, Therese (Rooney Mara) character has a huge change of style at the end of the movie passing from a low-profile student style to a more feminine clothes and make-up choice. Her resemblance to Audrey Hepburn in the last few scenes of the movie is really incredible .

One of the other interesting things about Carol (at least for vintage lovers!) was the accurate respect and re-creation of the ‘50’s era. When I say this I mean not only the clothing and accessories but also furniture, cars and even a completely different lifestyle, far away from the speedy world we live in. Some people criticized the movie for being slow but I guess that it was just a way of living of that era that we probably should imitate more!



The Ladybug Thinks It’s About Time to Talk About Rachel McAdams’ Modern Vintage


A couple of weeks ago I went to see one of the loveliest movies I have seen this year: About Time.

They call it a romantic comedy, but About Time is a bit more than that… and very well so since I usually hate romantic comedies!

This one was really special: the plot, the moral, the actors and of course, Mary’s (Rachel McAdams) beautiful retro inspired wardrobe! Was it a coincidence that when Tim takes her home on their first date, she lives above a vintage shop??!! Yes and no!


I was convinced during the whole movie that she was wearing vintage pieces, but guess what? I was mostly wrong! I couldn’t help looking for her looks on Internet when I got home, and what I found out was incredibly surprising! I indeed read an interview with Verity Hawkes, the costume designer of the movie, where she explained the details of Mary’s closet. She said: “We wanted Mary’s look to be eclectic; a combination of vintage and modern that would give her an original quirky cute look. At the time, we used references like Kate Moss, one because Mary’s character admires her and because she is a perfect style icon. Although, we had to tone the “Kate style” down for Mary as her character is much less confident and stylish. I also referenced Annie Hall or her kookiness. But, as always, you start from a reference point and then the character takes on their own identity throughout the fitting process until hopefully you have a totally original unique character.”

What is crazy about it, is that most of her pieces comes from economic high street labels. For example, the blue dress that she is wearing when she meets Tim for the first time is the Henry Holland for Debenhams Navy Eiffel Tower and Poodle Print Dress.


The red cardigan from their first date(s) night is from New Look and it came from Verity Hawkes’s closet.


Some of the dresses and the handbags that she often wears come from Zara- like the yellow Guipure Combination Dress or the tan handbag.


Rachel McAdams Has A New Look On Set

Other lovely pieces are from Asos, like the neon yellow elephant-print shirt or the Floral Embroidered Shirt Dress



Even the famous red wedding dress was a vintage ’50s piece from Angels, a UK based costume shop, that was altered to create the final piece. Miss Hawkes said, “I wanted the dress to look like Mary had found it in a vintage shop and fell in love with it, I didn’t want her to look like she spent any time in wedding dress fittings.”

Isn’t it an amazing idea to create retro inspired outfits mixing vintage pieces with high street and designer? This was an amazing choice in my opinion and her wardrobe gave Mary’s something more to like her for!

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Vintage is the New Black

KNAGUI-Fossil2C’mere; let me whisper three little words in your ear…Black – Is – Beautiful.
And this is exactly what I’ve come to learn about vintage.

If you’ve ever taken a look at my bio here on TLC, you’d know that I dug “vintage” long before the Ladybug taught me what it was.  The craftsmanship, love, attention to detail and quality of materials is undeniable.  It’s no wonder how much accessorizing with or wearing a vintage piece enhances your look- or how hard our heads turn when we see a classic/antique car on the street or how far an emotional trip your soul takes when you hear a heartfelt old school record.

KNAGUI-UrbanFox (vintage)

Vintage makes you smile and want more because, in this financial climate, it’s affordable (for the most part) and gives you an opportunity to be a bit more expressive than the average Joe/Joanne.  It’s like they say, “the Blacker the Berry, the Sweeter the Juice.”  At least that’s what the smart designers, marketers and retailers are hoping you understand.

Everywhere you look these days, you’re seeing more and more vintage and vintage inspired things- on the racks, on the road, in music, magazines and even in advertising. I was in a bottom of the barrel big box store, Wal-Mart, not too long ago and even they had gotten into the “vintage game,” advertising frames in their optical department.


Hints of this “trend” are everywhere… all over the world, and I’ll tell you why: because “Black Don’t Crack!!!”  There’s something to say about things that lasts for years, takes a break and comes back again- relevant, powerful, impressive and engaging just as it had when it was introduced.


Think of what’s trending in fashion… color blocking, natural materials… bangs… all of these things are taking us to the memories of bygone eras.  Just go to the cinema or turn on the television and you’ll see what I mean.


When I first noticed this production of remaking old movies and TV series, it really irritated me because I thought creativity and imagination had gone out the window, but then I realized what was going on.  The industry isn’t being unimaginative (half cocked belief), they are only trying to evoke nostalgia and reignite the feeling of strength and security from a rich and fruitful past.


Remake TV like Hawaii Five-O and Dallas (which I can still make audiences chuckle with a single phrase from the stage) or retro-inspired shows like the short lived Pan-Am, Playboy Club or sensational Mad Men and all of the sequels and prequels based on highly successful films are all examples of how we’re not only being given classic escape routes, but are also being lead to places that make us feel better by reminding as where we’ve been and give hope for where we’re headed.


Vintage can be life changing, inspiring, connecting, enlightening… I’m all about it these days.  I see it everywhere and in everything without even looking for it.  So I challenge you… introduce someone you know to this lifestyle because vintage is the new black – and you know what they say about black…
“Once You Go Black, You Never Go Back!”


Happy Black History Month

See you “next Sunday.”

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: The Man with Wandering Eyes

I think you know by now that I’m a connoisseur of film, specifically, independent film.  I’ve been fortunate to participate in film festivals around the world and if I’m not at one of our local indie movie houses (a new one is being built right behind my home- God IS good!), I’m watching Sundance Channel or IFC.

On this past Monday, I took in a twilight screening of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel.  I did it because of my affiliation with TLC and my love for The Ladybug.  Getting “into” her world is something that I find interesting.  I mean, I don’t plan on going deep (even if I can – inside joke) into fashion… that’s why I have her as my stylist, but I think if I’m going to do this- I shouldn’t be ignorant.

So, Mrs. Vreeland is the MOTHER of fashion editors.  She invented the job description and designed the blueprint of how we view fashion today.  And not only the way we view fashion, but also the presentation of exhibits at museums.

I once heard Robert Whul say, “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend!”  And that’s exactly what she did… through her active imagination.  Someone called her accounts of the things that happened in and around her life “fraction” a mixture of fact and fiction.

I’m not going to tell you much about the film because I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SPOIL MOVIES FOR ME, but I will say this: she was the epitome of the futuristic vintage enthusiast.  And you ask; “what the hell is that, Gui?” Well, she never left the love of her beloved 1920s.  For her, that decade was one of promise and exploration.  She used the emotions that the ’20s gave her to guide her life.

One of the reasons I love documentaries so much is because they always seem to motivate and inspire me.  It’s another reason why my library is heavy with autobiographies and biographies.  This film was told by Diana through the recordings made by George Plimpton who assisted her in writing her autobiography, D.V.  There are also great interviews she did with talk show hosts and others with designers, family members, friends, and employees.

It’s very well known that she was not an easy person to work for and by all accounts her way of writing memos pretty much made her the worlds first blogger.  A woman truly ahead of her time with the ability to not leave anyone behind.

There were several things that she said that I’m keeping with me, here’s one I’ll share with you. “I shall die very young- Maybe 70 or 80 or 90, but very young.” Born in July of 1903, her body left us in August of ’89, but her spirit and influence remain as the eternal voice of the fashion world. She’s a memorable character, whose lasting influence continues to inspire.

I give this film 7 out of 9 beats per measure.


See you “next Sunday.”

The Ladybug Experiences Group Sex in the City: …Hey, I’m a Lady!

It should be quite clear to all of you that I am a Sex & The City addict and if it’s not, well now you know! And when I say SATC, I mean the TV series of course, not the movies… true fans all over the world know what I mean!

There’s no need to say how many times I’ve watched every single episode as if it was the first time, but let me just tell you that I’ve seen them in Italian, English, French and Spanish and I know by heart most of the quotes in the first three languages… is it clear the kind of fan I am?! …Good!

Everything I came to know about New York came from Sex & The City: I’ve always felt as if I’ve known this city and visited many times because I saw it hundreds of times in the series and of course, when I got there, I immediately felt like I was inside my television… more specifically, I was kind of living what I’d been watching for more than a decade!

I decided to go on the Sex & The City guided tour my last day there.  Even if I had seen so many of the places during my own moving about, I wanted to see all of places that I saw on TV for myself!

Let me say that walking down the streets of NYC, like in Soho, Greenwich, Park Avenue you already feel like you’re in SATC! Carrie once said,  “Sex & the City is the NYC streets, where everything may happen- the expectations, the future… love.”

I realized how many crazy SATC fans there are in the world when: a) I saw there are least three different agencies that organize guided tours based on the TV series; b) these tours are completely booked for weeks!! I squeezed in on the On Location Tours (+1-212-2093370, the guides are young actresses and the price is about 45 dollars). I must say I expected a bit more… still, I don’t regret it! I have KNAGUI to thank for blowing up my phone- encouraging me not to leave the city with any.

The tour began at The Plaza Hotel (where Carrie says goodbye to Mr. Big after his engagement party before marrying Natasha)… but did you know that within that same square is the Paris? Yes, that cinema where Carries watches romantic movies in the 5th season! The tour continues through the Public Library (where Carrie and Big are supposed to marry on the first movie… did you know that weddings are booked every day for months there??!!) and all the fashion addresses of the TV series: Tiffany (where Trey buys Charlotte her wedding ring), Takashimaya (where, in the middle of perfume’s testing- Carrie announces to the girls that she’s taken a lover – the Russian, Alexander Petrovsky), Jimmy Choo, Manolo Bhlanik and the TAO Restaurant (the Buddha Bar where Samantha brings her lesbian lover Maria and Carrie and Big sit at the same table with their dates).

You can also see The Little Church of Transfiguration (the name was changed on the show) where Samantha tries to seduce the young priest (“Mister All Souls”).

After these initial sites, we board a bus to our first stop… the sex shop where you can buy the in-famous Rabbit and before restarting the tour we took a tour through ABC Carpet & Home (the cult shop for home-ware, Charlotte’s favorite!). Just after that we saw the real home of Sarah Jessica Parker (and a little later Mr. Big’s real house).

The second stop is in the Greenwich area where you can eat delicious cupcakes at the Magnolia Bakery (Carrie’s and Miranda’s favorite, just in fron of Marc Jacobs!), have a look at BookMarc (the bookshop where Miranda meets the guy who loves biographies… and not only!), and also see the little park where Carrie and Charlotte bring Brady when Miranda is on her honeymoon.

Before the third stop at Buddakan (where Carrie and Big celebrate the pre-wedding night), you can see Cow Girl on Hudson Street (where Carrie and Aidan go for their first date), Aidan’s furniture shop, Diane Von Furstenberg’s shop (where, in the first movie, Carrie announces to Samantha on the phone that she’s going to get married) and the famous Pastis.

In Soho you can admire Louis K. Meisel, the art gallery where Charlotte works along with the girls’ favorite shops like D&G, Jaime Mascarò and Patricia Field (she’ll have a special mention here later…) and there’s a third and very interesting stop: you can drink a real Cosmopolitan at O’Neals… which is Scout in the TV series, Steve and Aidan’s bar!

I also had the chance to find St. Mark’s Comics while walking down the street. Remember, it’s the comic book store where Carries goes- thinking that her shoe-repair shop is still there, but finds out it’s been replaced by this shop and its cute young owner!  I also saw the Prada store in Soho where Carrie brings Berger and Century 21 (see older posts).

After all that… can you believe that I didn’t see Carrie’s house?!?!?

Yes: I thought it was going to be part of the tour, but it wasn’t. Worst of all, I didn’t realize I had the address until I found it on a note… when I returned to Italy.

…I guess it’s a perfect reason to go back to NYC again soon! Don’t you think?

Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: Escape to Moonrise Kingdom

Today started like most Sundays for me.  The alarm went off and the preparation for church was to begin… Well, like I said- It started like most.  I haven’t been getting much rest lately, so I decided to stay home.

As you know, I’m an avid Sundance Channel watcher and recorded.  While I was pulling movies off the DVR, I saw the trailer for a film called Moonrise Kingdom.  It got my attention, so I went online to see if it was playing at the Angelika.  It was, so I went.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this film.  I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud.  The comedy was both superficial and cerebral.  I don’t like spoiling movies for anyone but one of the lines that busted my gut was, “He does watercolors; mostly landscapes, but a few nudes.”

Really this film is a must see. Set in September 1965, Moonrise Kindom is a bit of a coming of age film directed by Wes Anderson. It stars Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban. The story is about a “misfit boy” who meets a “troubled girl” and all the unravelings and weaving their running away together instigates.

The cinematography is impeccable.  I was tossed into the past and believed I was watching an old film because of the use and choice of filters and lighting.  The props and set were spot on! I smiled so big when I saw the jar of Tang.  I was rushed back to my childhood and started craving the flavor.  I think I’ll go get some after I finish this posting.

The costums were supurb! I couldn’t help thinking, “the Ladybug would love this!”  There were a few standouts for me.  Like Suzy’s and “Social Service’s” coat.  I also liked the Switchboard Operator’s outfit. Very “Ladybug,” in my opinion.

I was digging the importance that was placed on the record player.  The “learn to love Classical”/”Classical for kids” music that’s played in the family home and during the closing credits was AMAZING! And I’ve already downloaded Françoise Hardy’s Le Temps De L’amour which was featured in the film.

After deciding I’d share this film with you, I went online to find the trailer and pix.  I also found the official website for the movie- it too is a must see. Moonrise Kindom official site  One of my favorite points on the site is this 1965 Slideshow.



…See you “next Sunday!”

The Ladybug’s First Favorite movie of 2012: The Artist (Love is Silent and in Black & White)

Have you ever seen an entire silent movie? Maybe some of you are old enough to have seen more, maybe others are passionate about the genre but honestly- I haven’t!
I have seen frames of Greta Garbo’s silent movies, but a whole movie…never! And I guess I’m not the only one considering the excitement about the first widely acclaimed silent movie produced in a modern era: The Artist. At Cannes Festival everybody was talking about it and the French actor Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor award. It scooped three prizes at the Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles yesterday: the black and white movie was named best comedy and won additional prizes for lead actor Jean Dujardin and its score. The more I read and heard about it and the more my excitement grew! One thing’s for sure: in an era where 3D and incredible sound and video effects are more and more popular, a silent movie is a surprise! I tried to find a theater showing it as I traveled around, but not many theaters were showing it. I missed it when I was in Florence, but I finally got the chance to see it and you know what? It is absolutely amazing!

The director, Michel Hazanavicius, used simplicity to make it wonderful: in black and white, elegant, silent, simple plot but so extremely touching that it moved me to tears (not that hard, I reckon!). A love story without sex scenes but a beautiful and chaste kiss at the end, that made me think that feelings of love need neither color nor sound, but a simple gesture or facial expression can give the biggest and soulful emotions.

The Artist re-creates the Hollywood cinema of the 20s, when the sound changed it completely. It tells the story of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a heartbreaker actor/star of the silent movies, who refuses to switch into the “talkies” and Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), his big admirer, who became an actress thanks to him but will become a diva of the new films. He is rich and famous and will end up poor and forgiven, she is a perfect nobody and becomes a star, but love will win it all at the end! I told you, simple plot! But more than touching, the Artist is sometimes extremely funny and ironic: the director plays with the audience, sounds and silence are greatly managed and accompany action and the final tap dance is reminiscent of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies with a joyful hymn to love and cinema!

A special mention goes to Mark Bridges, the costumer for the movie; great job! I imagine that in a silent movie and in black and white the importance of the clothes is more important as they get more focus from the audience, due to the absence of other focus-distracting elements. You can read his interview for the LA Times here  and find out how he prepared for the movie, it’s an amazing read.

Peppy Miller dresses, hairpieces and accessories are mostly original or perfect copies recreated from original vintage stuff and they’re all to die for. But for me, it’s all about her hats! I fancied all the hats that she wore and the one with the veil is definitely my favorite! I need to find one like this soon, maybe at the next vintage fair!

You can watch the UK Official trailer here:


The Ladybug’s First Butterflies of 2012: Pan Am Lands In Italy!

I don’t watch TV. I stopped watching Italian television many years ago when I realised that it bored me and that it was just a waste of time. I prefer reading or listening to music… But I do make some exceptions.

The first one is “Mad Men.” Since the first episode I completely fell in love with this TV series- the first “vintage” series. The vintage femininity and the obsessive attention to details made it one of my favorite series ever! The 1960s (along with the 40s) is definitely my preferred era of the past: hair, make up and accessories in “Mad Men” are absolutely perfect… even if the female’s role has been criticised a lot (especially in the States). ‘Women are often relegated to secretary or wife roles and they can only dream of power.’ I found these critics a bit superficial because, in my opinion, women in “Mad Men” are often the silent center of the man’s world: they hold the real power and their emancipation is clear. The beauty is in how they disguise their power and let men believe they are the docile puppet while he is the master of the universe! (It seems that things haven’t changed that much since men… I mean then!) Anyway, this is the point when I think KNAGUI would interject singing, “This is a Man’s World” by James Brown. Listen carefully to the lyric if you choose to give it a listen.

Knowing my love for “Mad Men,” last summer KNAGUI proudly announced the premier of ABC’s newest series “Pan Am” for Fall 2011 in the States. Pan Am is, without question, the most important American airline company, setting the standard for appearance and customer service for airliners throughout the world.  The company began in 1927 and continued their expectation of excellence until their closure in 1991. The new TV series was created around the lives and experiences of a Pan Am cabin crew during the 60s. I was even more excited when KNAGUI came to Italy in October with the pilot episode of the series downloaded from iTunes! It was love at first sight! I recognised the same attention to costumes and details that I appreciated in “Mad Men” (the stewardess’ uniforms are to die for! If you know where I can find one…), but with something new: women are not relegated to the background, they are the dominate roles. They travel, they are independent, the four actresses (Christina Ricci, Kelli Garner, Margot Robbie and Karine Vanasse), go to bars and restaurants together and much like their SATC predecessors they “talk men!”  Two great quotes from the first episode come during the final scene.  The first comes during a “Sex in the Cityish” table chat about Laura being on the cover of Time Magazine when Kate says: “This is not you, it’s the promise of you…THIS is all of us.” The second came while Ted was pointing out the table of the stewardesses and said, “That is natural selection at work! …they don’t know that they’re a new breed of woman, they just had an impulse.”  It’s easy to relegate these quotes to only serve the show or its subject, but in the universal call of life and art imitating each other, this was a moment of acknowledgement from the present of the past.

They represent the Jackie O’ model: always elegant in heels, pearl necklace, and gloves. They take care of men, they are always kind and smiling and they have values. I found them reassuring and incredibly stylish!

I wonder, however, if the great success of these “retro-series” in the States are being used to represent and drum up a nostalgic view of the glorious ghost of America past. The American History is often present in both series (the Cold War, Kennedy assassination) and the Pan Am Stewardess’ private stories are often linked to both the American and World history.

Since that first episode I’ve been going online every week to watch the other episodes but, finally the new year has “Pan Am” landing in Italy on Fox Life! I guess it’s time to turn on my silent television again!

ps We here at TLC are joining the fight to “Save Pan Am.”  Please do one or all of the following:

Follow: @SaveOurPanAm

Follow: @PamAmABC and tweet, “Bring Back Pan Am!”

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