Monday, June 30, 2008

Big Shoes

Hannah MacGibbon is going predominantly flat this season for Chloe, at least in her shoes. The French house has had some trouble regaining its footing since Phoebe Philo left the house a couple of years back, especially after Paulo Melim Andersson couldn't quite prove that he could fill Philo's 5 inch heels. And now they're betting on MacGibbon, who has been around long enough to know better than anyone just who the Chloe girl is.

Remember when Chloe was all the rage? Philo's easy, cool designs somehow captured what every girl wanted to be, the Chloe girl. If resum├ęs are any indication, MacGibbon may have all the qualifications to repeat Philo's magic, especially since she was Philo's design assistant for years. Doesn't sound like much, until you remember that Philo, herself, was assistant to friend Stella McCartney. When McCartney left to form her own brand, Philo stepped out of the shadows and into her own, which is exactly what Chloe is hoping MacGibbon will do.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Le Retour de Mugler

Since news broke that parent company Clarins is resurrecting the house of Thierry Mugler, I have been counting down the days until Paris couture week, which begins Monday. Since the couturier shuttered his doors in 2003, his very distinct avant garde voice has been widely missed.

Though I have always been a great admirer of his work, still, it may not have been a huge surprise to have learned that Mugler's apparel business bled money. While his hand work and craftsmanship are unquestionable, many of his designs have always been more appropriate for museums, where many of them sit, rather than on the bodies of every day women. Instead, the house was fueled by the millions it garnered in perfume sales.

So what to expect next week? Particularly since the French designer, himself, will not be involved. It's said that Mugler instead will focus on the cosmetics business, which is a little hard to believe. Especially since the perfume line is likely a self sustaining licensed operation. And more especially following rumors (along with awful photos to back up these rumors) that the increasingly incommunicado Mugler has built up a rather unhealthy obsession of, all things, body building, from which he can not tear himself away.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Secret World of Haute Couture

"The decadence of it all. It was breathtaking." --Margy Kinmoth

I love a good documentary. And if it has to do with fashion, well, toss me a bag of popcorn and I'm in cinematic heaven.

So yesterday's blog about Madame Daphne got me thinking. Who really knows all that much about the elite coterie of women who wear haute couture? Margy Kinmoth of the BBC must have wondered the same thing, because she has produced one of the best documentaries about this highly visible, yet little known, area of fashion.

I love that she treats the matter like a piece of investigative journalism, delving into this secret sect as if it were the Church of Scientology. In point of fact, the secret world of haute couture is even more elite.

Kinmoth even scores an interview with Helene de Ludinghausen, who was employed as house director of YSL for some 30 years. This, on top of sit downs with Galliano (he says words like super!), The Kaiser Karl, and Mr. Valentino. When Valentino talks about the modern woman's approach to fashion, I can literally see the pearls of wisdom dropping from his lips.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fashion Royalty

I wonder if its because we don't have our own royal family here in the US, that we don't share the same fascination with them as the Europeans do. Every time I'm abroad, some prince, princess, baron or baroness is splashed all over the tabloids and/or broadcast news. But I guess with so many European countries, it's a bit hard to keep track of them all: those dukes, earls, and lords just seem to add up, don't they?

So it's probably no wonder, then, that most Americans wouldn't recognize Daphne Guinness if they saw her shot from the front row of an haute couture show, which is where she's normally seen perched. But she, like Lady Amanda Harlech, is an interesting and, I think, important figure to write about, sheerly because of their unquestionable presence on the fashion scene.

If her name sounds familiar, its because she hails from the aristocratic family of brewers, you know, the one that's splashed across the most recognizable bottle of English stout out there. At 19, she married Greek shipping billionaire Spyros Niarchos, and later divorced with a hefty settlement, which has since funded her predilection for couture.

She has been writer, muse to many, designer (she came out with a line of white shirts, I think) and now is making her directorial debut at Paris couture week with a short film installation. But where does she sit best? At least, in my mind, she's one of the few people in the world who can wear couture and look as if she belongs in it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Roped In

I know it's a bit ironic to say this, considering I'm an apparel designer, but shoes can make an outfit. They make such a statement about who you are (high heels or flats, color or neutral, open toe or covered) that you can tell so much about a person by the shoes they're wearing.

Summer is probably one of my most favorite seasons for shoes, only because I feel you can pretty much let loose, especially with these hybrid booties now that let your feet breathe in the heat.

The other day on the street, I happened to spy a girl wearing the cutest rope sandals. They were a colorful t-strap version which, despite its materials, looked as trendy as any summer footwear I've seen. Alas, I didn't have my clicker on me then, and I haven't been able to find the same pair online that she was sporting, but a quick google, and I see you can get a pretty decent range at an extremely affordable price. The bonus? You can throw them in both your washer and dryer!

Monday, June 23, 2008

These Are A Few of 2

10. La Roche Posay Hydraphase Cleansing Milk: I wonder if this is a French thing, but I find that "cleansing milks" aren't quite as popular here in the US. The closest thing I can think of is probably Cetaphil Skin Cleanser which, if I'm not mistaken, is Canadian. Anyway, this stuff is so versatile, you don't even need to wash it off with water. Instead, just wipe off with a wash cloth or cotton pad and it takes away all the most stubborn make-up, even waterproof mascara.

9. Roger & Gallet Body: I love the way this stuff smells. My favorite is R&G's Jean Marie Farina Extra Vielle line. Bath gel, lotion, and particularly the milled soaps which last forever. Every time I'm in Europe, I stock up on the 3-packs, which also make great gifts.

8. Kiehl's Silk Groom: I have so much hair that, when I got my hair cut last year, I lost 2 whole lbs on the scale. No kidding. Just a little dab, and this stuff really makes your hair silky and smooth. Plus, because you don't need that much, a bottle lasts forever.

7. Derma Sensibio H2O: I don't know what's in this cleanser, but it takes away makeup, grime, and oil, all while "respecting the lipidic film." Sounds super technical, but it works.

6. Officina Profuma Olio di Jojoba: I love the way this stuff smells. Alas, I can only get it in Italy. Thank goodness I only need a couple of drops, which I add to my body lotion. This stuff is so pure, you can even use it as a body cleanser because it lathers up with water.

5. be solective SPF 30 Sunscreen: At last, a sheer and dry sunscreen I can wear every day. On vacation, I switch to Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF 70.

4. NV Perricone Concentrated Restorative Cream: I'm a recent Perricone convert. I don't think it's done much to erase my freckles, which is why I started using it, but this cream somehow feels light and sheer, but moisturizes at the same time. Plus, I feel like it's somehow improved the overall texture of my skin.

3. Lamas Citrus-C Facial Cleanser: Besides Oil of Olay Daily Facials, I haven't found a cleanser that leaves my skin feeling so clean. Plus, it does a pretty decent job of getting off most makeup.

2. Korean Exfoliator: I don't know how else to describe this, but I know that whenever I travel, even if it's for a weekend, I won't leave home without my foot exfoliator. Do you see the weird long thing at the front of all the products? Well, it's made of this textured metallic surface that gets my feet smooth every time. I wish I knew the name of the manufacturer, but you can likely pick one up at your nearest Korean supermarket, which is where I got mine.

1. NeoStrata AHA Glycolic Cream: I'm in a bit of a state since my last trip to Europe because the one product I didn't think I could ever live without seems to no longer be available. I know it's always been a luxury to be able to buy it in Europe when I would otherwise need a prescription in the US (I guess because of the high AHA content.) I've been using this cream for the past five years, and I swear by it. It's done wonders to improve the overall texture and tone of my skin.

These Are a Few of My....

For a woman, I possess a singular talent: I am an extremely efficient packer. I can fit a whole week's travel into one carry-on bag which most women would only consider big enough for an overnighter.

Now if I could only narrow down my beauty items, then I think I could travel the world in something akin to a slim portfolio. But alas, asking met to give up my products is like telling me to stay home. I can't live without some of my favorite things, so I thought I'd list them for you.

I realize this is probably the worst art-directed shot in the history of blogging, but that's what you get when you clear your desk and do an impromptu shoot.

I'm always asking my girlfriends what they use, what products they like best, so I figure perhaps other girls out there might be interested in what's made it to my top 10. I'll write a bit more on each later:

10. La Roche Posay Hydraphase Cleansing Milk
9. Roger & Gallet Body
8. Kiehl's Silk Groom
7. Derma Sensibio H2O
6. Officina Profuma Olio di Jojoba
5. be solective SPF 30 Sunscreen
4. NV Perricone Concentrated Restorative Cream.
3. Lamas Citrus-C Facial Cleanser
2. Korean Exfoliator
1. NeoStrata AHA Glycolic Cream

Friday, June 20, 2008

An Ad to Wake You Up

I'm a big coffee fan. Not that I drink a lot of it, but I love it so much, it's the last thing I think of as I go to bed...just how good my coffee will taste in the morning.

If you want to get all technical, I drink espresso. And I'm not a big fan of this country's nationwide chain, either. Too roasted, if you ask me, and only an option as a very last and desperate resort. Give me a good piccolo over a behemoth paper container the size of a milk carton any time. Besides, there's something so civilized about drinking out of a teeny espresso cup, your little pinky extended in the air.

When I happened to be in Venice's airport last week, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a visually stunning tryptich of ads. I was molto contenta to see they were by Lavazza, one of my favorite coffees (besides Le Chat Noir and good old Mexican Bustelo.)

Aren't they grand? While I'm a big fan of minimalism, it made me pine for a little more upmf in some of the campaigns I've been seeing of late. No doubt Juergen Teller is a pioneer, but I wish the likes of Marc, with his millions of dollars allocated to pr, would surprise us and take a crazy turn, shock us with something new.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

First Look at All Black Italian Vogue

Cathy Horyn of The New York Times has the first images of the star-studded all black Italian Vogue due out soon that I've been dying to see.

All I know is Franca Sozzani, Vogue IT's editor, is sheer genius. Not only did she cast an all black talent team, the production crew was predominantly black, too, from make-up maven Pat McGrath to stylist Edward Enniful. (Okay, so Steven Meisel who shot the spread is the odd man out here.) But where did Sozzani take her inspiration? From our own political landscape: the US Democratic primary, now presidential, race.

Isn't that just fantastic? I love it when fashion so clearly intersects with what's going on in the world because really that's what it should be about, at least for me. I'm also stoked to see what this will do for Sessilee Lopez (pictured next to Liya) who, I was shocked to learned, hardly worked last year. Let this be the shoot to launch a long and successful career for her.

And So Said a Funny Irishman: What in the Woyld?!$#@

Besides JFK, Madrid's Barajas is probably the one other airport I know best, especially since I tend to travel to Spain at least twice a year, and always have to transfer via the capital.

I'm not complaining, especially since the architecturally-stunning Barajas is one of my favorite airports in the world, right up there with sleek Hong Kong International.

I can't think of any other place where you can chow down on a decent Spanish tortilla sandwich and shop Zara all under the same roof. But there is one thing I just can't get over about Barajas, its Smoking Zones.

Have you ever seen them? They're basically glass partitioned areas with air holes cut into the sides...of course, smokers need to breathe, too, right?...and get roofs. Because, why kill smokers with their own smoke? Just let the second hand smoke waft outside for all us asthmatic non-smokers to get some.

It's a little crazy, if you ask me. And every time I pass one of these things, especially as I breathe in that wonderful aroma of ambient smoke, I can't help but to wonder: How many packs a day does the politician who lobbied long and hard for the public funds to build these structures smoke himself?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not Much More in Store

Did you read about the trouble in one of the Louis Vuitton flagship stores in China? Apparently, it couldn't pass muster after a quality control check and was forced to close.

I can just imagine the angry mobs of Chinese shoppers, pounding on the boutique's glass window, just dying to shell out thousands of yuan for a monogram bag.

Quality control, especially when we're talking about luxury brands and goods that cost dearly, is a big deal, and big money. I know that luxury designers have been locking down on counterfeiters here in the city. Every month it seems I read about some police seizure, usually in Chinatown, where authorities nab thousands of dollars in fake Damiers or Epis.

So when I was strolling through a Turkish seaside resort, my second stop in last week's little trip, I couldn't believe the scores of counterfeits in full display, for all the world to see. There was absolutely no sense of shame about these suspect goods.

Then again, I can't believe that anyone would dish out good cash for anything fake. But I am a girl who's never been keen on anything that has to have its logo plastered across it, as if somehow telling people that you're wearing a Marc, or an YSL, or a Gucci, better justifies the price tag.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Stop, Venice pt 4.

These shops just happened to be situated next to each other: one specializing in miniature paper doll theaters, and a glove-maker. I felt like I could almost hear the thunder of applause after a performance.

First Stop, Venice pt 3.

I can just imagine this salamander climbing over onto the bag, thinking it a pumpkin.

Monday, June 16, 2008

First Stop, Venice pt 2.

Only the Italians would have known to master glass making as an art.... Alright, so I may need to 'fess up here. I'm a teensy bit biased since much of my extended family is Italian.

I had that "wow!" response when I first saw these displays. They are so finely wrought, I could not believe what I was looking at was glass.

First Stop, Venice pt 1.

Technology is an amazing thing. While abroad last week, I was able to post a number of blogs remotely, so who even knew I was away?

Though I praise the advantages of a high tech world, especially as an emerging one-woman design company, still, there's something about tradition and history that I often feel is lacking here in the US. The Italians and French are flush in these things.

Which brings me to the first stop on my brief sojourn last week: Venice. Besides Paris and Rome, Venice ranks right up there as one of the most breath-taking cities in Europe. Just the water taxi ride into the city from the airport is something straight out of a movie.

Besides knowing how to make the most delicate lace and having preserved the centuries-old art of glass-making, the Venetians are perhaps amongst the most skilled at exhibiting their wares. They even know how to make sweets into a display of art.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Only the English

Maybe it's because of my experience of having once worked for a designer who studied at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, but I've always had a keen appreciation for British designers. The best, in my mind, are those that can bring down that wonderful sense of English intellectualism and make it meet with the street.

Meadham Kirchhoff is a label that seems to have a firm grip on this gift. From what I've seen of this designing duo, both graduates of Central St. Martin, they've been able to mix a good dose of goth into some wonderful traditional tailoring. Just looking at the shoulders on these jackets and the way these skirts are cut makes me go weak in the knees.

Their girls are long, lean, and structural. And what girl doesn't want to look that way?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Zoom in on Boom!

Have you ever seen Boom!? John Waters has called it one of the ultimate "failed art" film, and it's right up there for snagging the title of most critically disappointing work in the history of cinema.

But let me tell you, the cinematography and the costumes are breath taking. And no wonder, since many of Elizabeth Taylor's dresses were designed by the Kaiser, himself, Mr. Karl Lagerfeld.

She really is a vision, and through nearly all of the film, is dressed head to toe in white. The most stunning, of course, is her crazy kabuki costume, outfitted in head dress and all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Girl Called Thandie

I try not to blog about starlets per se, but I'm making exception today with Thandie Newton. Besides being absolutely gorgeous, I love that she's keen to don frocks designed by her fellow Brits. And not just the cosmically acceptable big namers like McQueen or McCartney, but the emerging ones: Jonathan Saunders, Giles, Nathan Jenden, and one of my all-time favs, Preen.

Really, she's become this avatar of young British fashion. And while she's already appeared in some blockbusters alongside the likes of superstar Will Smith, I still feel like she's somewhat under the radar. Which isn't such a bad place to be in, I think, especially if she remains looking as flawlessly styled, and as conscientious in her choices as she's been for the last several years now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Lightness of Dressing

Donna Karan's resort collection surprised me, especially from a designer who has made the sophisticated global traveler her target customer for several seasons now. It was all so boudoir, so soft, and so very pink. Which is all fine, but since you hardly ever see Donna outside of her uniform black and matching kohl liner, this was an extremely interesting turn for her.

This little feather coat reminds me so much of cotton candy, all sweetness and light. But what I'd like to know is, who's designing her accessories these days? These tassled beige heels will make any girl's wishlist, and I can't believe the pleating detail on this bag. It's so architectural, but in this barely nude, still so very light.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Loving Lace

Of course Prada did lace in a big way, so we all know that we'll be seeing a lot more of this fine fabric in the upcoming season, but the show that I really loved in February? Emma Cook's.

I think one of the most difficult thing to do in designing is to find a new way of presenting something familiar. And that's what Emma Cook does so well here. Lace connotes so many things: romanticism, fragility, femininity. And it's not that the clothes don't emote all of the above, but they do it in such an edgy, urban, rockabilly way.

If you can't afford her rtw, Emma's been designing capsule collections in Topshop, one of my all time favorite retailers. Another reason to count down the days until the store finally opens up its flagship here in the city.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Need to Nude

I've had a pair of strappy nude shoes that I've worn to death since last summer. There's just something about the color that I've always loved and, in the past couple of months, I've seen a similar color on the feet of not just other girls on the street, but starlets alike.

I wonder if it's because the color somehow gives you the feeling of natural elongation, adding to the effect of a good 4 1/2" of heel. Whatever it does, I think it looks so sleek, especially when its paired well with color.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

An A-List Night

Last night Elisa and I cabbed it down to a red carpet awards ceremony. I've been so caught up in work, I don't think I would have gone if Kathy Griffin weren't hosting the event. It was also a chance to get to see friends from the show again, and since we are divided by the space of a continent, I figured I might as well make use of these precious opportunities as much as they present themselves.

I wish I were better at taking pictures at these things, though I am proud of myself for even having remembered my clicker. One of the highlights of my evening was probably meeting Margaret Cho, who looked winsome in piggy tails. And apart from Kathy Griffin's tomfoolery on stage, the really best part was getting some grub at a diner down the street after the show.

Christian is feigning sass here, but that's why I'm posting this pic. In the next shot, which flashed immediately after, he' all smiles again, but unfortunately, as it's blurry, and not quite as fun, it will stay on my desktop. The whole gang was there, Kev, Sweet P, Jack, oh, and Daniel Franco from another season. Alas, I don't have a table shot so that image will have to remain printed only in my memory.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Of All Dellal

There's no doubt Kate Moss is more than just a supermodel. She's really a fashion icon of the highest order. So, whenever rumours spread that she's being dropped in a campaign, the girls in contention to fill her heels must have some pretty impressive pedigrees.

I'm rooting for Alice Dellal, who is one of the names being whispered as a suitable replacement for Miss Moss as Agent Provocateur's next face, or body in this case.

I find the choice kind of fascinating, and love the idea. Okay, so she's known to show up a little worse for wear in her public appearances, but that's what's so great. She's a girl who's sported a half-shaved head, runny black liner, and nose ring. And reportedly, since I've never seen her in person, she's rather pint-sized, for a model at least.

I guess it helps that her mother is a former model from Brazil and her father a wealthy Brit. Oh yes, and that she runs with the international jet setting pack that includes the likes of the royal family of Monaco.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Unconventional Sample Sale

I spent this Sunday catching up with a good friend in a rather unconventional way, by all accounts. Elisa was in town throwing a sample sale, in the Chelsea Hotel of all places.

Besides serving a deliciously potent tequila-spiked Sangria, it was great just to catch up with her since she now lives out west in New Mexico. I got a chance as well to get to know her family of friends, a coterie of smart, caring women with whom I immediately connected. One person I finally met and spoke with at length was Cindy, who walked in Elisa's last show here in New York. Cindy played a woman who, out of embarrassment, lifts her skirt to cover her face and in the process reveals her "fruit".

Elisa's good friend Gerald hosted the event. Gerald is a painter and artist in his own right, but has been collaborating with Elisa for years on her shows in hair and makeup. His work is visually stunning, and his studio had so much depth of feeling in the way that he's worked the interior, I could sense the history coursing through the room. Not just personal history, because we're talking about a place that has housed the likes of anis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, William Burroughs, Patti Smith, Dylan Thomas, and oh yes, who could forget both Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mourning Yves

I remember the precise moment when I learned of the death of River Phoenix. I was still in college, a junior, and the news blasted over the radio and hit me like a 2 ton six wheeler, blaring horns and all. The same happened the following year, when Kurt Cobain died, and then several years later, after that fateful night when Princess Diana's car crashed in the tunnel in Paris.

I know that Yves Saint Laurent's passing should be less of a shock, considering his failing health for so many years. Rumors of a debilitating stroke, his most recent public appearances where he could barely move, hardly speak. It isn't.

There is no doubt that YSL, for me, was best able to capture the role of a designer, articulate it, and for many years, show this keen understanding through his collections. “I know now that you can’t take your clothes out of life, away from reality, and have them mean anything. A designer must get out and look at life around him," he said.

It has always been ironic that Tom Ford is the single designer, apart from Saint Laurent, who so keenly understood this role. Ford, who succeeded YSL at Rive Gauche, had always been shunned by the maestro, and never spoke with him, as I understand.

How will YSL be remembered? I hope, not for his waning years, his failed health, his agonized departure from his house, but for what he did to fashion, how he revolutionized the concept of clothing for women. I hope that he will be remembered as that wunderkind who inspired a generation of young people to study design. Or, as the man who was brave enough to put a face, and a body, to a label.