Friday, May 30, 2008

A Look at Couture’s Future San Francisco Club Members: The Traina Sisters

Clockwise Top Left: Victoria Traina wearing a Christian Lacroix couture gown, Fall 2006; Samantha and Vanessa Traina in Givenchy Haute Couture, Spring 2008; Victoria and Vanessa Traina at Christian Lacroix’s couture show; Vanessa in vintage Balmain couture with her sister Victoria in Lacroix Fall 2006.

If you’re having a hard time keeping up with who’s who amongst best selling-author Danielle Steel and shipping magnate John Traina’s brood of children, that is perfectly understandable when one considers that there are in fact six of them: Beatrix, Zara, Maxx, Samantha, Victoria, and Vanessa.

The latter three are of course the most photographed and well known of the group. Frequently mentioned in fashion magazines for the way they put themselves together, they have unwittingly emerged as style icons of their generation.

But what’s most interesting about the Traina siblings is that they have allowed the public a glimpse into the world of future couture clients, where daughters are often introduced to couture’s private realm through their mothers. Their introduction to the craft and beauty of couture started early on through the exploration of their famous mother’s vast closets and then continued each time they accompanied her to Paris to view the collections and sit in the gilded atmosphere of the couture salon’s (while their mother was being fitted).

Like their peers, as they have begun to come of age in the last few years they have acquired more access to inherited funds, allowing them to dip into a rarefied world their mothers had long enjoyed. But what’s interesting about this new generation of couture wearers is that there is less of a tendency to be reverential about the institution and the gowns it produces. The knowledge and appreciation of how these unique pieces are created is still present amongst them, but what has changed is the way in which this new generation approaches collections. Instead of wearing a couturier’s entire creation from head toe, they tend to mix pieces with ready-to-wear purchases. Although they may sport a couture dress or an ensemble in a more décontracté fashion by loosening collars or combining them with personal touches and accessories, what remains constant is the quality of fit, detailing and materials which makes them stand out in any crowd.

The sisters grew up in a sprawling 55-room Pacific Heights mansion in San Francisco, with seven siblings and stepsiblings (one brother passed away), nine dogs, and a Vietnamese potbellied pig named Coco (after Chanel).

As children, they played dress-up in their mom's endless couture closets, filled with examples from Dior, Lacroix, and Balmain to name a few. “We used to stomp around the house in her high heels and diamonds,” recalled Victoria. “She has one closet that's a whole separate room where she keeps her gowns. That one was our favorite!” added Vanessa about an experience that seems to have rubbed of on them. A little over two years ago Steel bought Victoria and Vanessa their first couture dresses when they debuted at Le Bal des Debutantes, the international coming-out ball at the Hótel de Crillon in Paris, that has become a right of passage for most well born young women today. Victoria picked a white corseted Lacroix gown, while her sister Vanessa was fitted for a shocking blue Dior gown. “I wish I could wear it around the house,” says Vennessa “But it's got a huge train.”

This playful sense of luxury has remained with them as young women, in the way they combine a Chanel jacket with a t-shirt, jeans and a Hermès Birkin. Regularly raiding their mother’s closets, Victoria recently made off with a black Chanel couture slip dress circa 1995. Although it comes with a matching tweed coat, she was more likely to wear it out to a club topped by a jean jacket. No surprise for someone who, with her sisters, has attended the couture shows in Paris every summer since she was eight.
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1 comment:

Pret a Porter P said...

vanessa is beautiful. she has good style. i like how she looks in the givenchy look, she wears it well