Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brunette Envy

Lois Chiles

Carole Bouquet

Helena Christensen

Natalie Wood

Daria Werbowy

Susan Sontag

I came across this picture of a young Susan Sontag in the excellent May 2013 issue of Paris Vogue - it accompanies a review of "As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964 - 1980 by Susan Sontag". The Susan in this picture is such a cool confident woman - it gave me a jolt of brunette envy... one simply must have dark hair to look this confident, intelligent and glamorous all in one.

And the dress was by Jan Taminiau

Queen Maxima's dress was made by Dutch designer Jan Taminiau. She looked beautiful and I think the highest ranked royal traditionally wears a bright color, but in my opinion the blue was too intense. I would have preferred her in one of the muted oranges she wears so well. A beautiful design though, from the designer who has shown his collections since 2007 at the Paris haute couture collections, sanctioned by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Beatrix Koningin der Nederlanden

All these pictures come from Google Images and I am not able to ascertain copyright ownership but since the queen belongs to the people, I have happily shared them here anyway

People define themselves often by what they do - and by that definition I am something fashion. Of course I am first a mom and a wife and a daughter as well. Despite the expat lives many of us have been leading here in Hong Kong and in other places before this one, we bring a heritage deeply embedded in us from somewhere else. Queen Beatrix of my tiny little country is abdicating today. She was pretty amazing.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Slow Fashion

Dries van Noten's awesome Spring 2013 show

I have just watched another season of Project Runway. It's become a bit of an obsession lately - I have now watched seasons 1, 8, 9 and 10. After doing a "where are they now" sort of google search for the past winners, what strikes me most is that barely any of them have used their winnings to start producing clothing collections to be shown at New York Fashion Week. Quite a few winners and contestants, however, have done other shows on the reality circuit (read all about them HERE). Surprising, because all the finalists whose shows I watched, cried and prayed and promised that showing a collection of clothes at NYFW is all they ever wanted to do. So how come so few if any have gone that route?

Observations like this inevitably lead to comparisons with designers who have clawed their path to the top the slow conventional way. From Parsons (if they were lucky) or other fashions schools they would move on to internships, to lowly jobs as cutters, pattern makers, assistants, junior designers in big teams of many designers, and years after graduation possibly they become creative directors at a Seventh Avenue clothing company. Being discovered and funded and becoming a brand like the Marc Jacobses and Michael Korses of this world is of course extremely rare. Working in fashion is really like spending a long time in a slow pressure cooker. If you have just won $125,000 and achieved some moderate fame you may not want to go back to a dingy cutting room somewhere entirely devoid of glamour, and you may decide to ride the 15-minute money and endorsement train a bit longer before you go back to work.

And then of course, you spent the money you need to buy fabric and suddenly making a collection for NYFW is impossible and you are back to square one. Reality television is such an intriguing sign of our times. Our children think that this is how you become a fashion designer or a singer. The answer to my question above - how come so few of the winners have made twice yearly collections to be shown to buyers and editors - is simple enough of course. Reality shows are entertainment television, not a true search for talent or stamina or determination. All majorly successful fashion designers have a tremendous amount of personal style and charisma, from people as different as Dries van Noten to Valentino Garavani. So in that sense Project Runway separates the chaff from the wheat: the contestants who can't talk competently about their vision or their designs never even make it onto the show. But in order to make it to the very top in fashion, and I suppose showing collections at NYFW is pretty damn close, then you need to love clothing design so single-mindedly and intensely that nothing could possibly keep you away from your drawing pad, dress form or cutting table.

How do I convince my eight and ten-year olds that this is unfortunately how the real world works??? Or will it be different by the time they have grown up???

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Marantilottokatrant dress

photos from www.zara.com

During a pop-in at the new Zara shop in Pacific Place (100 % improvement there) I saw only one thing I liked, but actually that dress I really liked a lot. It's a mixture of some Isabel Marant-like detail on the shoulder and a psychedelic Peter Pilotto or Mary Katrantzou print on the rest of the dress. It's cotton but in faille weave, so quite stiff, which makes it look great. Those prints had started to look old to me, but this little dress can be a last foray....  Find it HERE.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Best Bobs Slideshow

Linda Evangelista's perfect bob from New York Magazine

On the left Naomi Watts with a brand new bob, and Karlie Kloss on the right. Photos from New York Magazine, which always has THE best streetstyle slideshows. See the rest HERE.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Coachella Costume

photos from www.vogue.fr

I am always amused at the fashion stories in spring that focus on how to dress for a music festival. I mean, let's take Coachella. It's possibly going to be hot, you'll probably sit on the grass for a long time - I am thinking a thin t-shirt with long sleeves so you don't get burnt, comfy stretchy jeans, flip flops, and some kind of hat for sun protection. But scalloped lace short shorts seem to have won out on my practical strategy. How do you sit on the grass with those without showing off a bit more than your pretty smile. And the boots...  that whole look has become a bit of a costume now.

Perfect blouse

In the Celine window in Pacific Place - the perfect blouse

Monday, April 15, 2013

JDCamicetta loves flower prints....

JDCamicetta silk Fiona dress from the Summer 2012 collection

And so does Paul & Joe! When we did this silk Fiona dress for JDCamicetta in Summer 2012, we had no idea how popular this beautiful flower print would become. It certainly is still my favorite dress, and now the French company is featuring the print heavily in its Spring 2013 collection.

on bags...   (from www.harpersbazaar.co.uk)

on maxi dresses.... (from www.elle.com)

on the lapels of white jackets....  (from www.facebook.com)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mary Quant and Daisy

Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon from www.cnn.com

Daisy's turquoise eye shadow close up - photo from www.flickr.com

Daisy outfit photos from www.jasellesdaisypassion.com

My daughter asked me "to play barbies" this morning. I said "sure, I'll be Daisy". Her face turned red, then purple, and she ran into her room looking for Daisy. Without the internet I would have simply had to face that my childhood doll Daisy has been lost, but a quick search led me to www.jasellesdaisypassion.com, a website dedicated to Mary Quant's Daisy doll and her beautiful clothes. British designer and mini skirt inventor Mary Quant created the Daisy doll in 1973 and according to Wikipedia the doll was manufactured in Hong Kong until it was discontinued in 1983. I loved my Daisy doll so much. All my early fashion designs were concocted in my mind with Daisy as my muse. One of the outfits I had for her was a hooded red satin maxi evening cape. If I was ever scared at night, I would imagine outfits to match the red cape until I fell asleep. What a lovely trip down memory lane.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

When the limo breaks down

I came across this quote from Oprah Winfrey on www.goodreads.comEveryone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone to take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. Nice one, right?

Then I thought how has this got anything to do with fashion, but actually Oprah is no slouch in the dressing department. In jeans, suits or ball gowns she always looks polished and has learned to dress her body perfectly. I think the key to her best dressed success is her polish. The beautifully maintained glossy hair and make-up, the tailored clothes in expensive fabrics. She never wears anything that looks flimsy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pet Peeve

I hate it when I try a new scrub / exfoliation product and find about one tiny grain per cubic inch. For me a scrub needs to be full of scrub! Otherwise, what's the point. Well the best solution ever may well be Aromatherapy Associates' Natural Exfoliating Grains. There are just grains in the bottle, no liquid, you mix it with your favorite shower soap, and instantly you have a tailor made scrub, with as much grainy texture as you want. It's brilliant! As for scrubs that come already mixed, I have not found a more densely packed product than Aesop's Geranium Leaf Body Scrub. Highly recommended!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Stella McCartney shoes

I love Stella McCartney. I didn't always, because I suspected at some point the only reason she got the Chloe job was because she was Paul McCartney's daughter. Well, once again I was horribly wrong! She knocked it out of the park at Chloe, and she has done so ever since in every collection she ever designs. Even if I don't like all of the oversized jumpers she is fond of, I appreciate her enormous talent and work ethic, and I love her stance on leather.

If you know me you will wonder if I am being a hypocrite, because I own lots of leather. I am not saying I am as caring and principled as she is, I just admire her and maybe one day she will convince me too that the world would be a kinder place if we don't eat animals or use their skins. I just read an article about leather types and leather tanning and when you read that the best cow leather comes from suckling calves, you do get a chill.

Other than caring and kindness there are of course other factors to consider when buying products made of leather substitutes like polyurethane, which requires petroleum for its production. An immediate concern there would be environmental, but let's face it, we all need shoes on our feet, and not just to look pretty.

Stella's shoes are gorgeous, but crazy expensive. Within my general budget I don't usually question the price of designer leather shoes, because I assume they were expensive to make. Stella's faux shoes, however, how much can they cost to manufacture? I am not saying she should sell them super cheap - after all, her designs are unique and original, and that's worth money to me. Remember that great slingback she did several seasons ago, where she cut the front of the shoe diagonally across the foot? It was beautiful, and resulted in countless imitations, and can currently be recognized in the many shoes with vamps cut straight across the foot. But the comfort of a leather shoe in the hot humid climate I live in far surpasses that of a faux leather shoe in my humble opinion. So no matter how original it is, I would like to see this disadvantage reflected in the price. And aside from that, if we are discussing ethics, I would also prefer designers to set a retail price based on the honest calculation of product cost price and overhead, rather than pull a number out of a hat because they suspect people will pay anyway.

If Zara can do polyurethane shoes for 399 HKD a pair, I suspect Stella can do them for less than 5,150 HKD. Dear Stella, if you are reading, I am so very happy to be proven wrong!

Stella McCartney slingbacks - photos nicked from www.anywho.dk

Stella current season wedges - buy them HERE if you have 5,150 HKD to spend

Zara has been inspired by Alexander Wang who cuts the vamps of his current season shoes straight across.

Another attractive pair of polyurethane sandals from Zara.

Adorable is the only word that comes to mind

Vika Gazinskaya (on the right) with an adorable crinkle in her nose

Vika sports an oversized jumper on top of chambray, with a Russian looking headscarf and classic Roger Vivier pumps. Somehow she's made it all work together.

I have seen this most adorable Russian girl in lots of street style pics lately, and I also read she is a clothes designer. But then again, there's always some kind of glamorous profession attributed to the pretty people hanging around fashion shows, or so I thought. Well, this girl's for real, and her clothes have just arrived HERE. I am particularly fond of this patchwork dress entirely cut and lined in cotton.

It looks both old-fashioned and modern at once. I love how it's a very humble cotton, which has been painstakingly cut and sewn back together. The Icelandic scene isn't too detailed to distract your eye from the very pleasing total. This is the kind of work we tried to do as students at fashion school. In order to circumvent the use of conventional darts we tried to shape our patchwork so that it still flattered the human body. It is rare to see people make clothes like these because they cost too much to manufacture. But seeing this kind of workmanship return to fashion makes me very happy.