Researching and curating is a huge part of what we do, and is all part of the enjoyment in searching for the very best vintage garments!
As you can likely tell from our first drop, it’s currently sequin’s a plenty – perfect for the festive season. Our Merz Muses that have influenced how we have curated this first collection. We have clearly taken inspiration from two major designers, Bob Mackie and Versace, as well as being influenced by women music legends. Let’s take a look as to why they are so magical.
“I Don’t Believe In Good Taste”
Founded by Gianni Versace in 1978, Versace has evolved into one of Italy’s cult brands, and a favourite with Hollywood elite. Their flamboyant designs have made headlines over the years, closely tied with sexuality and self-expression.
Gianni Versace is one of the few designers who was known to be in control of everything, from the actual designs, to the branding and marketing, sales and craftsmanship. His jack-of-all-trades approach definitely led to his success.
What was so revolutionary about Versace in the 1980s and 1990s was that he was controversial in the way he dressed women and was part of this new generation of feminism which empowered women by attracting and manipulating the male gaze. His pieces were crafted to celebrate the female form and show it off for the womans’ pleasure, rather than the mans.
Versace’s brazen defiance to trends, once even saying that he doesn’t believe in good taste, paid off! Their creations from the 1994 Elizbaeth Hurley dress to the 2000 green Jennifer Lopez dress, have hugely influenced today’s popular culture.
Versace also combined the classical with the modern, and was influenced by artists like Picasso, Jasper Johns, and Roy Lichenstein.
There was always this emphasis on the spectacular and the theatrical, which is why Versace has been one of our Merz Muses for our Noel collection.
“A Woman Who Wears My Clothes Is Not Afraid To Be Noticed”
A designer that is lesser-known today, but was huge in the 1970s and 1980s is Bob Mackie. Bob Mackie started his career in the 1960s as an assistant at paramount studios. His talent was quickly realised, as he was then hired by French couturier Jean Louis, who made elaborate stage gowns. As the century closed, Mackie was creating beautiful bejewelled outfits for Las Vegas Burlesque stage shows. In fact, Mackie was at the time colloquially known as the “Sultan of Sequins”.
Although his specialism was in costume design, he started to work with musical legends like Whitney Houston, the Supremes, and Cher. His designs were able to convey stories and fantasies, showing just how imaginative and talented he could be.
Bob Mackie famously made many of Cher’s looks, including her feathered 1974 Met Gala naked dress, which was later the influence for Kim Kardashian’s 2015 Met Gala outfit.
His humorous and unbridled approach to fashion, as well as clearly his talent with all things sparkly is one of the many reasons as to why he is a Merz Muse.
Musicians and Performers:
“Mom, I am a rich man”.
Cher doesn’t need much introduction, as she is a living legend. Dubbed by Billboard as a red-carpet renegade, Cher has left a gem-encrusted midriff-baring legacy. Cher’s looks have massively contributed to fashion to this very day. Numerous magazines have documented her looks to this day and she has firmly cemented herself as a fashion icon.
Cher’s style, in tandem with Bob Mackie, turned her into a sex symbol. In fact, she fought with networks to let them show her naval! And apparently, Cher was one of the first women to show her naval on television. It was the fact that Cher’s style resonated with women of all ages that made her so popular and still makes her looks celebrated today. It just goes to show how fashion is so important in crafting a long-lasting public image.
It’s not just her fashion though that is so significant, but Cher has also left a huge legacy within the music industry as being purely female autonomous in a male-dominated industry. In the 1970s, Cher was a big television personality, at a time when coloured televisions were quickly sweeping through homes. Her bejewelled outfits quickly captivated audiences world-wide. Cher has gained critical acclaim in numerous films in the 1980s films like the Witches of Eastwick and Moonstruck.
But of course, perhaps her most well-known hit is her 1998 dance pop album Believe!
It’s her fearless, forward and fuel with fashion that makes her a Merz Muse not just for the Noel collection, but we think for many more collections to come.
“I really truly believe that dreams come true. Often, they might not come when you want them, they come in their own time.”
Diana Ross was the leading singer in the Supremes, and today is one of the most well-known and celebrated black women musicians in the world. She is known also for her OTT looks and her designer-credentials too.
Diana Ross debuted her first solo album in the 1970s, previously fronting the Supremes and being the discoverer of the Jackson Five. Diana made music history by being the first African American woman to host the 46th Academy Awards in 1974.
Diana Ross also forayed into film winning a Golden Globe and Academy award nominations for her performance in Lady Sings the Blues. Most importantly though, she was the costume designer for the 1975 film Mahogony in which she also played the leading role. Her intimate understanding of fashion therefore, naturally translated into her stage wardrobe, quickly accruing fashion icon as well as musical icon status. Diana Ross was also a client of Bob Mackie, who also helped to shape her into the mega-star that she is today. From sequin encrusted jumpsuits to voluminous tulle and figure hugging dresses Diana’s outfits led to her commanding silver-screen in more ways than one.
Diana Ross’s outfits and musical legacy has arguably influenced other major artists like Beyonce, Madonna and Michael Jackson.
“To Realise Our Dreams We Must Decide to Wake Up”
Born in 1906, Josephine Baker is another one of our Merz Muses for curating and sourcing our Noel collection. Baker was just one of the most prolific performers of 1920’s Paris, but she was also a major social political figure and advocate for the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, as well as being a spy for the French Resistance during the war.
Josephine Baker was one of the muses for the Art Deco movement, and became one of Paris’s most eminent entertainers. One of the reasons for her success was that she was completely in control of her own image, which is very significant for a black woman living in 1920s Paris. She would overload herself with accessories and sparkling revealing outfits that often crossed and pushed boundaries. Josephine Baker brought attention to social and cultural issues like the hypersexuality of black women. In fact, Vogue wrote that Baker’s famous dance in the banana skirt “brilliantly manipulated the white male imagination” and that she “radically redefined notions of race and gender through style and performance in a way that continues to echo throughout fashion and music today”.
Baker’s advocacy for civil rights was integral to her person and her performances. When visiting America, she refused to perform for segregated audiences, which meant that many venues changed their seating policies and arrangements. Plus, she worked within the NAACP for many years, and she spoke at the 1963 Washington March with Martin Luther King.
Her fearless commitment to both civil and social causes within the guise of fashion and performance make her a Merz Muse.
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose”
Our last Merz Muse, Dolly Parton is one of the most recognised country music singers in the world. From her relatable heart-wrenching tracks like Jolene and I Will Always Love You, to her indomitable appearance, Dolly Parton commands the room and stage like no other.
Parton is one of the most talented songwriters, pop and country music stars of our time. But what has always got the attention of the press, albeit negative as well as positive is her image, most specifically the amount of cosmetic surgery she has had. What we love is that Parton takes this within her stride often joking about her appearance “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap”.
Dolly’s rise to fame in the 1970s accumulated with the bold and brash fashions that were take centre stage. But, she took it even further, in her own rhinestone covered way.
Dolly Parton has also been committed to philanthropy from her literacy program in the Dollywood Foundation to raising money for the American Red Cross and HIV/AIDs related charities. Plus, in the fight against Covid-19, she has donated 1 million dollars towards research to Vanderbilt University as well as continuing to be a generous donor to the Pediatric Cancer program at Vanderbilt University also.
Her commitment to personal style and charitable efforts is incredibly refreshing and shows that if you love yourself and are authentic to who you are, you will certainly be loved back.