November 4, 2023Barbra Streisand looked radiant as she stepped out on Sept. 12th, 2023 in an elegant and chic black outfit to speak at the inaugural UCLA Barbra Streisand Center lecture. The UCLA Streisand Center was created in 2021 to support research and programming in four focus areas: Truth in the Public Sphere, Impact of Climate Change, Dynamics of Intimacy & Power Between Women and Men, and Impact of Art on the Culture. This year’s lecture was on the theme of Truth in the Public Sphere and speakers discussed the impact that disinformation is having on social structures as well as its ongoing threat to democracy. In her speech (which is posted in full at BarbraStreisand.com), Streisand stated “we must be willing to robustly confront disinformation if our democracy is going to survive. The media has to do a much better job at this despite the backlash from those who believe in alternate realities. Disinformation has spread in our society like black mold. And what grows in the dark is incompatible with the light of truth.”
The first thing that I noticed when looking at Streisand’s outfit for this event was that she was wearing a necklace with a pendant that is historically symbolic of truth. Hanging from a rosary-style beaded chain was a stunning jeweled Maltese cross. This distinct symbol features eight points with two point pairs that form on the equilateral arms of the cross. Maltese crosses were adopted by the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of Saint. John (Knights Hospitaller) in 1126. The eight points each denote an obligation or aspiration of the knights, which included “to live in truth, have faith, repent one’s sins, give proof of humility, love justice, be merciful, be sincere and wholehearted and endure persecution.” the Knights Hospitallers were recognized in 1888 by Queen Victoria for devotion to charity.
Everything about the design of Streisand’s Maltese cross leads me to think it is an antique mid-19th-century piece. Being jeweled indicates that it would have belonged to a woman. These are very rare since they were primarily handed down through families and have mostly stayed within them. Alongside this necklace was a simple black choker and a gold Art Nouveau pendant that is one of Streisand’s favorites to wear. I get asked a lot about this necklace and have no ID as of yet. It does look extremely similar to many antique René Lalique necklaces so that is my best guess right now. Streisand’s video leaving her house also showed her carrying a vintage classic nylon Prada bag which she was previously photographed with in April, 2021. [...]Read more...
October 26, 2023Barbra Streisand wore this one-of-a-kind Fabergé diamond necklace to the 1997 Academy Awards. This unique piece can also be seen in a photo of her with former United Nations Ambassador Madeline Albright and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
After quite a bit of research, I found that this necklace is a Fabergé that she purchased in 1994 from London-based Fabergé experts, Wartski. The 150-year-old London-based antique dealer is best known for its “royal warrant of appointment” and they are one of a handful of jewelers that supply goods & services to the royal family. Streisand’s necklace is packed with an assortment of diamonds in round and teardrop shapes. Most striking are the beautiful diamond flora decorations that encircle the piece. Set within each oval are what appear to be three-leaf clovers with diamonds representing their leaves. It is glamorous, extremely detailed, and historic, so I can see why Barbra was drawn to it.
Barbra Streisand 1997 Academy Awards Febergé diamond necklace
The founder of Fabergé (Gustav Fabergé) opened his first store in a basement shop in 1842. A fun fact is that he added the accent to the last E in his name to appeal to Russian nobilities’ obvious Francophilia. Eventually, his store was left to his son Carl who worked to repair & restore objects in the Hermitage Museum. Though Carl was a trained goldsmith, he did not make Fabergé pieces himself. He worked with numerous artists and craftspeople to bring his visions to life.
Carl was eventually invited to exhibit some Fabergé historic replicas at the Pan-Russian Exhibition in Moscow and while there, Tsar Alexander III declared that he could not distinguish Fabergé’s work from the originals. As a result, he ordered that work by the House of Fabergé be displayed in the Hermitage Museum as examples of superb contemporary Russian craftsmanship.
In 1885, Tsar Alexander III commissioned the House of Fabergé to make an Easter egg as a gift for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. The tradition of the Tsar giving his Empress a surprise Easter egg by Carl Fabergé continued annually and the eggs became more elaborate every year. Of the fifty eggs, forty-three are known to have survived.
Given that it was a Russian industry, the House of Fabergé ended up being nationalized by the Bolsheviks in 1918. The economic policy became known as “war communism”. The new government confiscated all Fabergé stock as well as the contents of their stores. Having been a friend of the Emperor, Carl had to escape Russia and fled to Riga, Germany, and then Switzerland where he died in 1920. After the war, Carl’s sons Alexander and Eugene moved to France after escaping prison in Russia. They opened a shop in Paris called Fabergé & Cie that remained in operation from 1924-2001. Though the company has switched hands many times, Fabergé continues to make luxury jewelry and gifts that honor its founder’s aesthetic.
During their height of popularity, the House of Fabergé not only made Imperial eggs, but also a full range of jewelry, carvings, and ornamental objects. I was not able to track down the year that Streisand’s unique necklace was created, but when comparing original design sketches that exist for pre-1917 Fabergé jewelry, I can see similarities that lead me to believe this is not a post-1924 piece.
G. Munn. Wartski: The First Hundred and Fifty Years. 2015.
https://www.faberge.com [...]Read more...
January 10, 2023“You don’t go about being in fashion in Jean Muir, you go about being in Jean Muir, which is kind of beyond fashion, you know.”
-Muir’s muse and model Joann Lumly
Barbra Streisand wore this dusty-rose-colored skirt and blouse set by Jean Muir to the Golden Globe Awards on January 29th, 1977. This was a huge night for her 1976 film A Star is Born which was nominated for five Golden Globes and won them all. Streisand was personally awarded Globes for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy, and Best Original Song (Evergreen).
Color variations are due to lighting differences.
Streisand’s choice of outfit was on point for 1977 when relaxed and flowing clothing was very in style. This ensemble stands out for its fluidity and has some really beautiful details that are much more obvious in close-up shots. I personally love how the ruffle around the jewel neckline is broken up by several decorative pin tucks at each shoulder (a Muir trademark). The tiny gathers at the neckline help to imitate a pleated texture and create a nice waterfall effect within the jersey fabric. The blouse also features belle sleeves and fabulous rounded shoulder pads that give it structure. If the necklace Streisand chose to wear with this outfit seems familiar to you, that’s because it is the same one that she wore in Funny Girl and during her A Happening in Central Park Concert. She wore the necklace once again to the Academy Awards in 1992.
In one photo, we get to see the jacket Barbra paired with this look, which was a striking grey, white, and black Reiss & Fabrizio fox fur coat. She wore this coat numerous times in the 1970s so it must have been one of her favorites. Streisand completed her look with a simple updo accentuating her curls and petit round earrings. This outfit sold at the 2009 “Her Name Is Barbra” Julien’s auction for $1,500.00.
Jean Muir (1928-1995) was a British fashion designer. She claimed that she was able to knit, sew, and embroider by the age of six. At seventeen years old she took a job at Liberty & Co where she worked her way up from the stockroom to selling over the counter. Eventually, she was given the opportunity to sketch for their ready-to-wear department, which led to her becoming lead designer for Jaeger in 1956. Muir launched her own label “Jane & Jane” in 1964 to much success.
Ten years later she sold the company and founded Jean Muir Ltd. Muir’s designs are best known for their focus on form and fluidity. They are understated, elegant, and effortless. She rarely used decoration on her garments aside from some pin tucking, functional buttons, or parallel topstitching. Streisand’s Golden Globe outfit is a wonderful example of Muir’s aesthetic. After Muir’s death, her company remained open through 2007 before closing permanently. Today her iconic designs are showcased in museums worldwide. [...]Read more...
April 28, 2022On March 12, 1988, Barbra Streisand attended the 30th Annual National Association of Recording Artists Merchandisers Convention, (AKA NARM), wearing Emanuel Ungaro. On this evening, NARM awarded Streisand with the Presidential Award for Outstanding Executive Achievement.
Billboard reported that in 2013 NARM restructured and was renamed the Music Business Association (Music Biz). Their website states that they are “the only membership organization that unites players from the content, commerce, and creative segments of the industry into a collective voice to promote overall growth throughout the music business.” As one of the most powerful women in the music industry since the 1960’s, it is easy to see why Streisand was honored by the Association.
Streisand’s outfit for this event was designed by Emanuel Ungaro, who was one of the designers that she wore on multiple occasions during the 1980’s. His aesthetic fit in seamlessly with her personal style. This look is emblematic of the power dressing that became popular with women in the second half of the 1970’s and through the 1980’s. The power dressing trend saw women dawning double and single-breasted suits with oversized shoulder pads and short heels in order to feel like they were less objectified in the workplace, and on equal playing ground with the opposite sex. Power suits helped women to feel both feminine and powerful in professional situations typically dominated by men.
1980’s power suit patterns
Streisand’s two-piece pinstriped power suit featured a silk single-breasted jacket and fitted skirt, and a black silk cameo with lace detailing. The jacket has a wide, notched lapel and shoulder pads to give it structure. The sleeves are slightly puffed and close with four square-shaped buttons at the cuff. This romantic and feminine sleeve detailing was one of the signatures that Ungaro was known for. Decorating the front of the jacket are five square buttons, a removable black floral brooch, and a silver and pearl chain that was draped from the right lapel to the breast pocket. There are two large symmetrical patch pockets at the hip. The back of the jacket is vented and decorated with two square buttons.
This outfit, minus the floral brooch, was sold in the “Her Name is Barbra” Julien’s auction in 2004 for $400.00. Streisand mixed and matched this same black cameo and brooch with her other Ungaro outfits and they made a seamless transition. She was also photographed on a separate occasion wearing this same suit, accessorized with a black choker and beret.
Photos from Julien’s Auctions, 2004.
Photo from https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/327558_barbra-streisand-emanuel-ungaro-couture-suit
Streisand in Ungaro in 1984
Emanual Ungaro (1933-2019) was a French fashion designer who founded his fashion house in Paris in 1965. He was born to Italian immigrants who had fled to France from Provence of Brindisi to escape the fascist dictatorship in Italy. His father, who was a tailor, taught Emanual sewing skills at a very young age. By the time he was in his 20s, Ungaro was training under the great Cristobal Balenciaga, who he felt taught him “rigor and perfectionism” to apply to his own work.
During the 1960’s Ungaro was designing futuristic Space Age looks that were popular at the time, before transitioning to his iconic and fearless use of flamboyant prints and mismatched patterns that reflected the vibrant era of the 1970’s.
An Ungaro 1976 design
In the 1980’s we see Ungaro begin to design women’s wear with a broad shoulder silhouette and very soft, feminine touches. These looks became extremely popular and cemented Ungaro as a household name. Ungaro’s fashion empire was acquired by Ferragamo in 1996. After this point, he continued to design collections, but fully withdrew from the fashion world in 2004, stating that haute couture “no longer corresponded to the expectations of women today.”
Ungaro 1980’s designs. Image via British Vogue
In 2005 Ungaro sold his label for $84 million. The brand has since been known for its revolving door of creative directors, including a short stint by Lindsay Lohan in 2010. Ungaro called her collection “a disaster” and was furious at the time, saying that the fashion house he had built was “in the process of losing its soul.” Today, Marco Colagrossi remains creative director at the brand, which sells home decor, women’s and menswear as well as fragrances.
In a 2019 remembrance article by Vogue, Nicole Phelps noted that “Color, print, polka-dots, and frills came together in rule-breaking ways in Ungaro’s designs and his sexy, drapey clothes “exploded the French bourgeoisie,” as a successor to his label succinctly puts it. Decades later, his oeuvre symbolizes go-go ’80s joie de vivre. It’s a sensibility that has been coming around again recently.”
It doesn’t surprise me at all that Streisand’s 1980’s fashion journey collided with this iconic designer. Ungaro and Streisand shared the passion for the little details that make an outfit special, which was so emblematic of his work.
Photos from Julien’s Auctions, 2004.
https://fashionunited.com/news/fashion/a-look-at-the-multi-layered-designs-of-late-emanuel-ungaro/2019122431433 [...]Read more...
March 18, 2022Barbra Streisand wore a Middle Eastern belly dancer-inspired ensemble in her fifth television special Barbra Streisand…and Other Musical Instruments (1973). This special was Barbra’s first in five years due to how busy she had been making films. It was shot over the course of ten days at Elstree Studios in London. Though some fans find this to be one of the weakest specials, I absolutely love it for its quirkiness, experimentation, fun musical re-arrangements, and risk-taking.
The segment that Streisand wore this costume in features a fourteen-minute journey across several continents using the song “I Got Rhythm” as its framework. Throughout, Streisand transitions from culture to culture as seamlessly as she became various paintings in her 1966 special Color Me Barbra. Watching these scenes feels like going on the It’s A Small World boat ride but with Barbra instead of animatronics, which, of course, is far better. Some of the instruments used Barbra Streisand… and Other Musical Instruments had never been heard before in the United States. International musicians who were experts at these were flown in from all over the world to appear in this special. The costume supervisor for this production was Robert Pollexfen, however, the majority of the outfits seen onscreen were from Streisand’s personal collection and designed by her.
The costumes for the majority of this segment are all centered around a variation of a simple maxi dress with multiple spaghetti straps. The burgundy belly dancer look appears very briefly, at fourteen minutes into the special just after the Japanese segment. In this scene, Streisand belly dances her way into the frame wearing dazzling burgundy and gold. She sings “People” with the lyrics changed to “People, people who got rhythm, are the luckiest people in the world”, while accompanied by musicians playing a Turkish Qunan, Doumbek, tambourine, G clarinet, and bağlama.
An international maxi dress journey
Streisand’s costume featured a burgundy maxi dress with a scoop neckline. Two spaghetti straps fasten over the shoulder and there is a heavily gathered low waistband. When looking closer at the back of this dress, I noticed that the open back has additional spaghetti straps which tie across horizontally.
A beautiful, ornately embroidered hijab covered in gold and floral motifs and gold sequins is no doubt the most eye-catching piece of this costume. This is secured on her head with a black Egal. The edges of the hijab fabric were attached to bracelets secure it to Streisand’s arms while she danced. This look was accented with a traditional belly dancer coin belt.
Streisand also wore zills (finger cymbals) on her hands, which are used frequently in belly dancing. Before the invention of elastic, these were tied onto fingers with leather strips.
Additional accessories included numerous beaded and wire bracelets, ornate rings, gold upper-armbands, and gold sandals with a block heel. This dress and coin belt were sold in a Julien’s auction in 2004 for $525.00.
**This dress is displayed incorrectly on the dress form in this auction photo**
Belly dance is an expressionist type of dance that originated in Egypt and that emphasizes complex movements of the torso. Though the majority of typical belly dance costumes are two pieces showing the torso, Barbra wore a more modest version which is similar to a Beledi dress that is worn in the Beledi form of Egyptian belly dancing that it is named for.
Belly dancers have been represented in imagery wearing coin belts as early as the nineteenth century, though they likely date back even further. The legend of how these began depicts that in the Middle East where belly dancing originated, young marriageable women would dance for coins that were thrown at them. They would then sew them into their hip scarves, saving them as dowry. Once a woman had earned enough she could enter into marriage and give up dancing. Some accounts detail that women sewed the coins into their clothes not only for safekeeping but also to let men know how much money they had. As men followed the caravans they could hear the jingling of the coins from afar, signaling that a marriageable woman was in that caravan. Eventually, coin belts evolved to be made out of round lightweight metal pieces instead of real coins, but have continued to be an important part of modern belly dance costumes.
A modern day belly dance coin belt accessory [...]Read more...