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Style Is Instinct
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Giovanna Battaglia: The Enchanting Promise

Giovanna Battaglia: The Enchanting Promise
By Kristin Sekora

In “The Enchanting Promise,” Giovanna Battaglia takes us inside the mysterious Lloyd Wright designed Sowden House in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles to recreate an Imperial palace in 1930s Japan for the February 2013 edition of Vogue Nippon. Here we find a prince and heir and his regal consort, played by the Canadian model Alana Zimmer, whose aristocratic features, dark hair and eyes, and pale skin fit the role perfectly. An unnamed male model with Valentino good looks and slicked back hair tends to her every mood.

In contrast to other editorials Giovanna Battaglia has done for Vogue Nippon, which were all pastels of pale blues and poppy reds, this is set by Giovanna and photographed by Mark Segal in somber evening light and the clothes are rich, deep tones of absinthe, burgundy, and sapphire.

The choice of the Sowden House is telling, for “The Enchanting Promise” suggests a pact between these two lovers that goes beyond the everyday reality of a love affair. Their waxen faces and gaunt eyes suggest a love beyond death and, except for the opening and closing shots, where Alana looks very sad to have re-entered the world of the living, the fact that they are alone together makes you think that they occupy this palace very much on their own. The Sowden House is the perfect setting, with its wild savage stonework based on Mesoamerican architecture, and as the one-time home of Dr. George Hodel, a Los Angeles physician who was a prime suspect in the infamous Black Dahlia murder.

The dresses Alana wears are all worthy of the red carpet, starting with a deep reddish burgundy with sheer shirred top by Valentino that is offset with turquoise collar and cuffs by Tony Duquette.  Her lover wears a silk cape by Alexander McQueen printed as gray snakeskin on black. He holds her in her blood-red dress, leaning over her neck just like Dracula in a 1930s horror movie.

In another shot Alana approaches the camera like a zombie in an absinthe-toned Diane von Furstenberg dress stunningly accentuated by a bold bronze navel-length necklace by Hervé Van der Straeten — backed by the exquisite sculpted copper gates that contain the central courtyard of the Sowden House. I especially like the feline pose by Alana in a dress by Rick Owens that is like poured liquid platinum. She is surrounded here by two ocelots, frequent pets in royal households during this era, and so hunted for their pelts that today the world population of these creatures has fallen to only 217. We are fortunate that our lust for exotic furs has been curtailed by laws against illegal hunting of endangered species.

In a shot of Alana in a dress by Etro, Giovanna Battaglia has done a brilliant job of styling the beauty look with the fashion. The dress is a wonderful mustard yellow with a pale orange lining to the sleeve. (I can’t quite name the color, a coral-y pumpkin, please comment!) She has chosen the amazing jeweler Tony Duquette again for a very large statement brooch in coral to offset the fan effect of the neckline. Here the lipstick is the same unnameable pale orange with a slight bronze overlay and so are the nails. Alana’s blackened eye makeup contrasted with her pale face looks deathly, while her regal hair pulled back reminds me of the Duchess of Windsor — and makes me think of this as a back story of a royal couple who take their own lives because he could not ascend to the throne if he married her. The couple in this editorial very much has an air of sadness and death about them.

But for some fun:  For the most part, the shoes shown here are all statement pieces. Gone are the days of the delicate evening sandal worn with our fancy gowns. Now that sheer chiffon dress is accessorized with gold gladiator sandals or multi-strapped Giuseppe Zanotti’s on towering heels. Taking the cue, I bought my first pair of Zanotti shoes this summer after avoiding them for ages because they looked so high and uncomfortable. I found they were very comfortable. That heel in the middle of the arch is perfectly balanced for such height. They are also one of the best made pairs of shoes I have ever owned. As for statement shoes, I have a pair of  very high-heel Etro platform boots lined in badger from two years ago that I am wearing all this summer with either a mauve balloon-skirted Balenciagaesque summer dress or a sleeveless silk knit printed Etro dress with beading down the front. How’s that for a statement?!

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Vogue Nippon editorial images © 2013 Condé Nast. All Rights Reserved.


Giovanna Battaglia: Girls In The Band

Giovanna Battaglia: Girls in the Band
By Kristin Sekora

In the February issue of Vogue Nippon, Giovanna Battaglia sets out a septet of girl bands who go to town in “Girls in the Band.”  

“Only God can make a tree, and only men can play jazz,” said an American jazzman. The Girls in the Band is a documentary by producer/director Judy Chaikin that shares the untold stories of female instrumentalists from the late 1930s to the present day with the focus on jazz and big band. Was our girl Gio thinking of this groundbreaking film and its strong female players when she created this musical fashion editorial? Perhaps, for she has created strong fashionable women who know their instruments.

Photographed in Sharif Hamza’s clean, well-focused style, the seven spreads encompass seven bands. This being Japan perhaps Giovanna Battaglia was attuned to the film Kamikaze Girls by Tetsuya Nakashima, for everything is bright and Asian-inspired.

On page two we find the consummate girl band, manicured in pale blue and adorned in pastel flower-strewn dresses. Wearing pink Karen Walker and Stefania Pia sunglasses one girlie girl even holds a pastel-pink bunny robot! The final to-die-for touch: Carven shoes which tie with thick leather straps at the ankles in pale blue and pink.

We move on to Flower Power as models in flowered sequined Marc Jacobs dresses form a colorful duo, one even has a yellow daisy of a guitar. I don’t know about you but I love it when Marc Jacob uses sequins. He has a striped sequin dress in his fall ready-to-wear collection that is described as a “liquid metal evening gown.” Could anything sound more gorgeous? I would wear his sequins in the day, and to prove he himself was thinking of just that, he shows this gown with house slippers! Giovanna Battaglia is always showing what we want to wear, how we want to look, and who we want to be. Here the girls are wearing lovely colorful Marc Jacobs platforms with charming buckles.

Further on girls in hippie headbands and workout clothes clutch mikes and leap through the air. Oh no! Do we have lip synching here? Giovanna may be referring in a good-natured way to the ignominious Milli Vanilli incident when the two boys in the band were stripped of their Grammy after it was revealed that they did not actually sing their song. Yes, Gio is up on her music!

Roadhouse Metallica and models with Bride of Frankenstein hair playing in fringe-accessorized dresses by Peter Som and Stella McCartney come next. On their feet are gaudy-in-a-good-way reptilian Isa Tapia heels.

Throughout the editorial Giovanna Battaglia has chosen a stunning selection of jewelry, exposing the reader to the best designers. There is Delfina Delettrez with her geometric chunky metal and jewels; Joomi Lim, who mixes burnished silver studs with large luminous pink pearls; Mawi, for large statement pieces; and Lucifer Vir Honestus — Barney’s has a pale emerald ring set in rose gold with diamonds by him that is exquisite.

But I have saved the best for last… There is one four-person band dressed in mellow yellow and surrounded by big speakers for an amped-up sound. Notable here are the wonderful yellow Plexiglas visors by House of Flora. What a discovery, grazie, Gio! This British fashion label, design house, and hatter was founded by Flora McLean and is extraordinary. Unfortunately, House of Flora doesn’t seem to be available in the U.S. So, there’s nothing for it — we will all have to move to England!

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Vogue Nippon editorial images © 2013 Condé Nast. All Rights Reserved.


Giovanna Battaglia: Posing In Pink

For the August issue of Vogue Nippon, Giovanna Battaglia imagined a pretty thing, "Posing in Pink," with Bette Franke dressed in little else throughout. I love especially that Gio chose to pose the model against a wall of cherry blossoms, the nicest pink found in nature. Also lovely: the name of the editorial, "Posing in Pink," would be "Posa in Rosa" in Italian, carino…. And the shoes — fiabesco! The photographs are by Sharif Hamza. What do you think, are you into pink?

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Vogue Nippon editorial images © 2013 Condé Nast. All Rights Reserved.


Giovanna Battaglia For MaxMara Pre-Fall 2013

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MaxMara images © 2013 MaxMara. All Rights Reserved.


Giovanna Battaglia At Dolce & Gabbana Ballo In Maschera

To celebrate Alta Moda, their latest collection, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce hosted a lavish party in Venice, "Un Ballo In Maschera" (or in English, "Masked Ball"), and of course Giovanna Battaglia was la bella del ballo! She and her sister, Sara, made for a memorable duo, dressed nearly as twins for the special occasion. Resplendent in a gold crystal bustier from the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2012 collection and a hot pink cape accented with an elaborate neck ruff and dazzling harlequin tights, Gio topped off her ensemble with a purple butterfly mask and a headdress of pink and purple flowers and feathers. 

Dolce and Gabbana attempted to recreate their mascherano in the tradition of the famous Venetian masquerade ball Il Ballo del Doge, hosting their soirée in the same venue, the Palazzo Pisani Moretta on the Canal Grande. Along with the invitation, each guest received a Venetian mask made by hand especially for him or her for the party; among those so honored were Caterina Murino, Paloma Faith, Daisy Lowe, Karen Elson, Anna Dello Russo, Rose McGowan, Audrey Tautou, Franca Sozzani, Coco and Bianca Brandolini d’Adda, Diego Bivero, Olivia Grant, Tabitha Simmons, Hamish Bowles, Eugenia Silva, Alfonso de Borbon, Naomi Miller, Kate King, and Giulia Manin. The music ranged from polkas and waltzes to Daft Punk, with Stefano Gabbana and Graziano Della Nebbia taking turns on the decks while guests enjoyed Bellinis in the style of Harry's Bar, one of Venice's best loved cocktails. Cin cin!

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Giovanna Battaglia et al photos © 2013 Getty Images. All Rights Reserved.

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