Lucie Goulet

A bilingual (French-English) fashion editor, writer and translator living in London.

Currently: Brand copy coordinator at Burberry, branding and media strategist at start up Wandering Minds

Previously worked at Drapers magazine, on the fashion and features desk, at Delightful Media, launching its social media strategy, in the Asia department of the British Museum and in the marketing department of Walker Books. I studied international relations and history at the London School of Economics.

Colours fascinated Elsa Schiaparelli. Her autobiography, Shocking Life, is paved by her colour discoveries, from the blue and red uniforms she designed during the First World War to the oranges and turquoises of Kremlin treasures.

In the first third of her book, however, the colour pink only comes up only to describe her new-born daughter, Gogo. Schiaparelli’s early career was, much like her contemporary Coco Chanel’s, defined by black and white. The first garment she created, in 1927, was a jumper with “a white bow against a white background.” Her first evening dress was, again, monochromatic.

The shocking-pink came thanks to Schiaparelli’s first foray into fragrances. In 1937, while struggling to name her upcoming perfume, she remembered a pink Tête de Bélier Cartier diamond owned by her friend, client and Paris editor for Harper’s Bazaar, Daisy Fellowes. In her autobiography, Schiap (as she nicknamed herself) describes the jewel colour as “bright, impossible, impudent, becoming, life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world but together, a color of China and Peru but not of the West – a shocking colour, pure and undiluted.” She asked Surrealist designer Leonor Fini to create a perfume bottle imitating Mae West curves in that very shade. The perfume was named “Shocking”.

Though the colour wasn’t an immediate hit with her friends or business partners, customers loved the perfume’s colour as much as its smell. Thanks to its success, Schiap discovered how perfume sales can keep a fashion house afloat. The color was extended to blush and lipstick. A make-up advert dubbed the Place Vendôme, where Schiap had her flagship store, “la zone rose.” Schiap quickly adopted the shocking-pink as a house staple, using it in her Surrealist creations. Her first shoe-hat, designed for her autumn 1937 collection, had a shocking-pink heel. Dali loved the color so much he used it for one of his own oeuvres d’art, “an enormous stuffed bear with drawers in its stomach,” dyed in shocking-pink.

The RGB composition of shocking pink is generally seen as 252, 15, 192, a variation of magenta pink sitting somewhere between ultra pink and fuchsia. It has also been called neon pink, or hot pink in America.

Contrary to her couture house, Schiaparelli’s shocking-pink outlived her. Yves Saint Laurent described it as “the nerve of red… an aggressive, brawling, warrior pink” he used in many collections, including his F/W 1980 “Collection Shakespeare” tribute to the Surrealists. John Galliano used similar pinks in his last two Dior Haute Couture collections. Would the master have approved? Christian Dior’s definition of pink, “the sweetest of all colors”, “the color of happiness and of femininity” was more sweet than vibrant.

- Lucie Goulet

Written for WORN Fashion Journal

Posted at 11:10am and tagged with: worn fashion journal, fashion history,.

Diana Christensen, the fictional head of programming for the also fictional Union Broadcasting System (UBS) in Network is one of the strongest lead female characters in 1970s cinema. As the neurotic, power-hungry Christensen, Faye Dunaway won an Academy Award for best actress in a leading role.

In retrospect, Christensen’s satirical obsession with ratings, reality TV, and angry shows was prophetic. The first show we see her sell is based on a lefty revolutionary group. Her argument? People are angry, and we need to mirror their anger on TV: “I want counterculture, I want anti-establishment.”

The story takes place a decade after Mad Men, and women have moved from being secretaries to running the place. Even though no other woman has reached her level of responsibility at UBS, Christensen is not apologetic for her gender, neither does she consider it an impediment. In her own words: “I seem to be inept at everything, except my work. I’m good at my work.” As a manager, Christensen doesn’t hesitate to ruthlessly play all the cards at her disposal. She can be harsh when necessary, never hesitating to threaten to fire people who don’t share her vision, or sweet if it’s the best strategy. Time and time over, she is compared, either inadvertently, or by herself, to men, even when it comes to her sexual encounters. Her idea of romanticism and foreplay includes telling her lover, former news director Max Schumacher, about network numbers and legal issues.

Christensen sees her personal life the way she approaches her work: “which sort of script can we make out of this?” From the beginning of her affair with Schumacher to her ending it by a now mythical “I don’t like the way this script of ours has turned out. It’s turning into a seedy little drama,” she’s the heroine of her own life. The break-up scene is the only moment where Christensen shows some vulnerability: for once, she looks like she’d rather not follow the script, though she doesn’t consider it an option.

From her first appearance in the movie, Christensen only wears neutral, honey-like colours. Beiges, browns, and whites make up most of her wardrobe palette. Christensen’s outfits are a lesson in corporate chic, before women started to dress “like a woman thinks a man would dress if he was a woman.” She mostly wears separates, below-the-knee skirts and trousers, and often has a lavallière or scarf around her neck. Her only dress is a rather striking, asymmetrical, backless, white number worn to announce to shareholders, “next year we’ll be number one”. A comment on how married to her job she is? The dress might be virginal, but it is the tipping point where Christensen really becomes ready to do anything in the name of her job, even becoming a psychopath. The closer she gets to ordering murder, the whiter her clothes become, in a display of irony from costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge.

- Lucie Goulet

WORN Fashion Journal, April 5 2010

Posted at 4:53pm and tagged with: WORN fashion journal, fashion, cinema,.