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Top 10: Princess Diana’s Kate-a-Like Dress Takes Center Stage

Princess Diana Kate-a-like dress from graziadaily.co for TWE Top 10

Princess Diana’s Kate-a-Like Dress Takes Center Stage: graziadaily.co.uk/fashion–12/23/11

Two Fashion Icons Remembered: McQueen and St. Laurent

Sue’s Review

by Sue Podbielski/ June 14, 2011

New Yorkers are seldom impressed. That is why when I heard the heavy buzz on the street for the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibit, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, I grabbed my MetroCard and bussed it over to the rarified atmosphere of Fifth Avenue to see what it was all about.

Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen

I have a love-hate relationship with haute couture. I absolutely love to look at the clothes, but wearing them will ever remain a fantasy for me akin to space flight. Many of my fashion-unconscious friends cannot believe that I religiously attend the exhibits at the Met’s Costume Institute. But the truth is I would not think of missing one.

Yet whether you love fashion or loathe it, I guarantee that you will not easily forget the McQueen show. The London-based designer had a staggering vision which evolved throughout his eight successful years in the fashion industry. His life ended tragically through suicide in 2010 at the age of 40.

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them.” Alexander McQueen

If the name Alexander McQueen rings a bell it’s because Sarah Burton, the creative director of the McQueen label, designed Kate Middleton’s bridal gown. But let me tell you, what you see in this show is not going to end up at Buckingham Palace.

McQueen–Romantic Nationalism

McQueen's Romantic Nationalism/ Photo: The Photograph Studio at the Met

That is except for the Phillip Treacy hats which are a favorite of the young British royals. You no doubt remember Princess Beatrice’s iconic piece worn to Prince William’s wedding. Doesn’t everyone? This exhibit mixes the hats liberally with McQueen’s designs to great effect.

McQueen is a rare paradox, a finely trained designer, who apprenticed with the best in the world from Saville Row tailors to the House of Givenchy, but who was also a renegade. The son of a British housewife and a Scottish taxi cab driver, he seemed out to prove himself to the world and yet also driven to break every rule which that world imposed.

Alexander McQueen–Romantic Primativism

McQueen's Romantic Naturalism/ Photo: The Photograph Studio at the Met

He once said, “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules, but to keep the tradition.” McQueen declared about his work (and possibly his life), “There is no way back for me now. I am going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible.”

And through this exhibit he does. It’s all there: death, romance, sex, sado-masochism, woman as warrior, woman as muse, woman as object, melancholia, goodness, evil, perversity, and the raw fruit of the earth itself.

Alexander McQueen at the Met

Photo: Solve Sundsbo, Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

His repertoire included a wide array of idiosyncratic materials such as hair (inspired by Victorian times when prostitutes would sell their hair for kits of locks to be bought for lovers), razor clam shells, feathers, Tartan plaids, and animal skins along with the more conventional leather, lace, jewels, brocades and silk.

Alexander McQueen

McQueen Dress: The Horn of Plenty

Buy you cannot really talk about McQueen unless you talk about the cut. Of that he was a master. His designing was done mainly during fittings in which he would constantly change the cut.

He explained his work, “[Through cutting, I try] to draw attention to our unrelenting desire for perfection. The body parts that I focus on change depending on the inspirations and reference for the collection and what silhouettes they demand.”

For instance, with his creation of the “bumster,” he wanted not just to show the woman’s bum but to elongate the erotic lower bottom of her spine.

Mc Queen didn’t design clothes as much as he constructed them. One need only take a look at the array of black jackets from his early career to see that.

Also his steel spine-corset and silver plated torso covering convey something hammered rather than spun. But in the end, it is his poetic paen of death in his Romantic Gothic collection that one is left with. McQueen once said, “It is important to look at death because it is a part of life.

It is a sad thing, melancholic, but romantic at the same time. It is the end of a cycle —everything has to end. The cycle of life is positive because it gives room for new things.”


After the Met and McQueen, it was a short walk to the Plaza Hotel and the adjacent Paris Theatre now showing the French documentary, L’Amour Fou (Crazy Love). This film is a look behind the public life of designer Yves St. Laurent.

Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Berge from L’Amour Fou movieIt is directed by Pierre Thoretton, Catherine Deneuve’s former son-in-law, and framed around the 2009 auction of the priceless art collection the grand couturier amassed with Pierre Bergé, the man who shared his private life and the creation and management of his fashion empire for almost 50 years.

Held after St. Laurent’s death, the auction broke all records at Christie’s Paris raising 483 million dollars in sales for the St.Laurent-Berge foundation which is devoted to AIDS research. L’Amour Fou is the story of much more than that auction.

It is a portrait of two privileged men, the life they shared, and the end of their long relationship. It shows a relationship which endured St. Laurent’s substance abuse and his depression. Yves St. Laurent had a genius for fashion which made him undeniably one of the world’s most famous designers.

“Fashion fades. Style is eternal.” Yves St. Laurent

He met everyone he wanted to meet and did everything he dreamed of doing. L’Amour Fou includes a remarkable scene filmed in the Sixties in which the then young designer is showing his portrait done by a young, new painter named Andy Warhol. The group of friends casually listening to him includes a distracted Mick Jagger.

Yves St. Laurent

Yves St. Laurent's famous Mondrian dress, 1965

St. Laurent, who once said, “Fashion fades. Style is eternal,” made his early name in the Fifties as the design head of the House of Dior when he was just 21 years old. In the Sixties he introduced his memorable Mondrian dress.

But it was the Seventies that became the St. Laurent decade. He revolutionized the fashion world by creating trousers and broad-shouldered suits that were images of power for women.

His focus on an androgynous look was extremely influential in that he popularized the tuxedo for women. He broke racial barriers by being one of the first designers to use women of color in his shows. His empire of clothes, accessories and fragrance grew to be a world-wide phenomenon.

As a young man, St. Laurent had sad eyes that eventually grew to become his jaded worldview. Throughout, the movie portrays a tortured man who in the end found pleasure in little, not even the fashion he devoted his life to creating. If you’re a Franco-phile or a fashion-phile you might find L’Amour Fou of great interest.

Yves St. Laurent

St. Laurent outside his Rive Gauche shop/1969

And if you catch the McQueen show and the St. Laurent film together, as I did, you will no doubt be struck by the distinctive contributions each of these men brought to the fashion world (a world besotted with its own beauty) and the palpable sadness of their stories linking their lives like a golden thread.

These offerings are not merely about style; they are fitting tributes to the work and legacies of two princes of fashion that are well worth seeing.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY From now until August 7, 2011. No advance tickets necessary. L’Amour Fou, a documentary film by Pierre Thorreton. French with subtitles. 98 minutes.

About the author…Sue Podbielski has worked as a writer, a producer, and a humanitarian. She says she is blessed by wonderful friends who have given her every good opportunity she has ever had.

Kate’s Famous Draped Dress

Kate Middleton Engagement Dress

It’s simple. It’s draped. It’s sapphire blue and the approximate cost…$611.

And it’s still the dress that has everyone talking. It’s that Kate Middleton engagement frock. A $25 version was a sell-out within 24 hours last November.

Its designer, Daniella Issa Helayel, is hotter than hot now four months after its unveiling and rumored to be yet another person designing the wedding gown of the year if not the decade. She demurely declined to even comment about it to ABC News this week with just over a month until the Royal Wedding.

Daniela Helayel Fashion

Daniella taking a bow after a London Fashion Week Show/2011

Daniella admited to ABC that she didn’t even know Kate would be wearing the draped dress for that special occasion. She says she was shocked, flattered, and honored that her design was chosen.

Kate’s not her only famous client. Others rumored to like the Issa style are Madonna, Scarlett Johansson, Sharon Stone and the Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

Daniella Issa Helayel

Photo from Daniella's Rio de Janiero Guide/Conde Nast Traveller

And who is this Brazilian-born designer who says she likes to design clothing for voluptuous women like herself? She’s the founder of the famous Issa London label and is said to be inspired by Coco Chanel. This former law student opened a design studio in East London in 2001 and launched her label two years later.

The Daily Mail Online ran a layout of her eclectic Chelsea flat in 2008 that showed her wondrous, art-filled retreat where she mixes styles from all over the world. A special collection of her favorite framed butterflies mounted the walls of her bathroom.

Daniella Issa butterfly bathroom

She has some words to the wise on ABC today when it comes to women’s fashion: find a shape that suits you and wear it in every color. She insists that it’s all about what makes you feel good.

That’s advice anyone can follow and look at all the decision-making it could save!


Alexander McQueen wedding dress--Telegraph

By Stacey Gualandi

Could this stunning Alexander McQueen wedding dress featured in a story in the Telegraph.co.uk be a possible sneak peek of what Kate Middleton might wear down the aisle April 29th? The fashion house’s creative director Sarah Burton presented her autumn/winter 2011 collection Tuesday at Paris Fashion Week, and if the rumors are true, this designer may be making a royal couture coup.

Official Engagement Photo Kate and William

Official Portrait for the Engagement of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton by Mario Testino c. 2010

While all other dress details remain under lock and key, London papers reported this week – with strong denials – that the edgy, quirky, up-and-coming designer was chosen for the coveted commission: to create the most-anticipated wedding dress of the 21st century!!

Sarah Burton designer

Sarah Burton, 2010

Of course, last century’s royal wedding gown, worn by the late Princess Diana in 1981, will not be soon forgotten. While royal watchers waste no time pursuing more secret details of Kate’s dress, the most famous dress in the world, a one-of-a-kind, David and Elizabeth Emanuel design with a 25 foot train, is on display in Kansas City. It’s been 30 years since the world watched Diana tie the knot.

Princess Diana wedding

The exhibit Diana: A Celebration”, a showcase of Diana’s life, opened March 4 at Union Station and will remain there through the April 29th Royal Wedding of Kate and Prince William. When it was uncrated in Cleveland below, it was more challenging to display the dress than it was for Diana to wear it!



Speculation swirling around “all-things-royal” is certainly having its influence on brides this side of the pond. Angie Kalayjian is the co-owner of Jobyna’s Bridal, the exclusive boutique for Ines Di Santo wedding gowns in North America. It is their mission, she says, to turn a bride-to-be’s vision into reality.

“There is definitely a high level of curiosity. It’s really entertainment. We’re fascinated with the tradition and the logistics of what it actually takes to do one of these weddings. We’ve had girls who’ve wanted 30 foot trains and beyond!”

And do brides want to feel like royalty? Angie thinks so.

“Many of us wish that in some way, we were a part of that royalty. For each bride, on their significant day, they want to feel that way. When the bride-to-be walks in to our boutique, they know they can have a one-of-a-kind look that’s completely theirs.”

Stacey G Hosting POP

Stacey hosting the POP event

I wanted to renew my own vows after hosting “POP! The Bridal Event” at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA. Produced by Cobalt Events, this was a one-stop-shopping experience for future brides to meet wedding industry leaders.

I even felt like a princess introducing Angie and co-owner Isabella Mardirossian’s stunning fashion show featuring the “elegantly crafted silhouettes and the very shapely, sexy, sophisticated signature looks” of Ines Di Santo gowns.

Ines di Santo Gown

In fact, a Di Santo “Jimena” gown will be at the center of a wedding on an upcoming episode of “My Fair Wedding” on WE tv. Angie says the bride always wanted her own royal wedding, but couldn’t afford it. Thanks to the show, she got her wish!

Jimena Dress

The "Jimena" Dress

And speaking of cost, Diana’s dress was worth $1700 in 1981. Today? Priceless. As for soon-to-be Princess Kate, we only have to wait a few more weeks to see this modern day princess.

Wedding Dress by Ines Di Santo

But Angie says, even in this economy, fabulous can trump finances, frugality, and fiscal responsibility.

“Couples will make sacrifices financially and do what they will have to do,” she says. “So even in tough times, marriage always prevails.”

In case you haven’t seen enough of these incredible gowns, take a look…

Ines Di Santo Wedding Dresses

Even the evening dresses were out of this world…

Ines Di Santo

This gown was one you couldn’t forget…

Wedding Fever

Looks like a good time was had by all!

Wedding Fever