15 June 2011


I haven't written in a long time. A lot of changes have happened since my last post, too. I also missed the opportunity to write about all kinds of exciting or noteworthy events in fashion: the Royal Wedding, the CFDA awards of recent, the Cannes Film Festival red carpet, the Venice Biennale, etc., etc. I do not anticipate having a long period of absence again, so I hope you'll continue to stop by! Hopefully, the best ideas are yet to come...

Stay tuned...

19 April 2011

April Showers Bring...Royal Weddings?

I'm sorry I haven't posted in ages! I have a truly excellent excuse, though. I've been utterly glued to non-stop, round-the-clock Royal Wedding coverage. Yes, I've watched everything from the cheesy Lifetime movie "William and Kate" (which I'd like to watch again if Newcastle would hurry up and lose to ManU) to BBC specials and even some sort of TV Guide Hollywood 411 special. I've also been yoked to the official Royal Wedding website, Royal blogs, the BBC's coverage, and CNN International's updates. In short, I haven't missed a moment of the madness.

What makes this wedding so special? Well, first and foremost, I love England. Absolutely love it. If you can find a bigger Anglophile in the U.S., please introduce me. I could wax on nostalgically about the many reasons that I love this great nation forever, so I won't bore you with that. What is the other reason that has me following the wedding details of two people I've never met? Quite simply, I'm always excited when anyone who has been in a long-term relationship finally makes it official. There's something extra meaningful about a union that has been a decade in the making. Kate waited a long time for this moment, and I'm just really happy for her. Perhaps it's also a sign of hope for the rest of us in long-term relationships that there could be an engagement at the end of the tunnel.

I had great hopes of preparing exciting and interesting posts about London this month, but that ship has nearly sailed. The wedding is just ten days away! Perhaps then I can carry on with my normal daily activities, but, for now, there's Royal Wedding coverage on somewhere, and I'm going to find it!

Cheers for now!

30 March 2011

The Wisdom and Disenchantment of the Style Rookie

Tavi (aka The Style Rookie) had a recent blog post that really resonated with me. In this post, titled "I feel like the photo to accompany this post should be a lot more intense and introspective-seeming but hey! mirrors are pretty introspective," Tavi wrote about, basically, becoming disenchanted with the fashion world, wondering if she'll always be interested in fashion, and where to go from here. I've kind of felt that way myself lately, mainly because a big opportunity has landed in my lap, one that I was not expecting and that has completely dumbfounded me. I have the chance to accomplish my lifelong dream, and I'm wondering if I even want to.

Like Tavi addressed in her post, something "is different" about the fashion industry now. I know exactly what she means. The fashion world has changed so much in the past five-six years that I barely recognize it. I find myself asking, "Is this what I wanted? Is this the field that I became utterly enraptured with more than a decade ago?" I just don't like the changes that I'm seeing and I'm finding that I want to distance myself from it, not become more engrossed. The fact that fashion has become so fashionable lately is really a double-edged sword.

When I first became interested in fashion back in my early high school years, opportunities in this field were beyond limited. Teen Vogue didn't exist. Ed2010.com didn't exist. I don't even think Vogue.com existed. I was the only person in my high school who read Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and W. Even in college, the only girl on my freshman hall who was remotely interested in fashion and aesthetics had never seen an issue of W (she stumbled into my room one night and wondered what the giant magazine I was holding was...um, W). But, back then, Karolina Kurkova was more likely to grace the cover than Kim Kardashian. And then along came "Project Runway," The Sartorialist, "The September Issue," "Valentino: The Last Emperor," "Sex and the City" (well, SATC existed when I was in high school, but it didn't explode in popularity until I was in college). And suddenly everyone wants a piece of the fashion pie. It's no longer unique or esoteric. There are now tons of different opportunities in the industry, but everyone is after them now.

Like I said, it's really a double-edged sword. When I applied for a Fulbright Scholarship, I wrote about the democratization of high fashion, and how this is a good thing. It isn't a field that should be limited to the provenance of the elite. Fashion, as the industry has gained popularity, has recently become a field worthy of academic consideration...and it certainly wasn't before. Case-in-point: Parsons created a Masters in Fashion Studies program (the program is only in the second year of its genesis). I wrote about how this was significant and how the field was not frivolous. This is something that I have been trying to convince myself of, really, for an entire decade. Is it important? Does it merit academic exploration? Does it make a worthwhile contribution to society? In my scholarship essay, I argued that, yes, it is important and it is something to be studied. I wasn't able to convince the Fulbright Committee of this, of course, and sometimes I have trouble convincing myself.

This is only because of the changes that have come about as a result of its popularity, globalization, and democratization. Now I meet people who say they are interested in fashion but do not know who Valerie Steele is (Are you kidding me??!! That's like being interested in politics and not knowing who Hilary Clinton is.) They don't know about Edna Woolman-Chase and the early origins of Condé Nast. They're not familiar with the writings of Lisa Armstrong and Suzy Menkes or the curatorial work of Harold Koda and Hamish Bowles. I've even met fashion design majors who couldn't hold conversations on the contributions of Cristobal Balenciaga ("Who?"), Diana Vreeland, and Edward Steichen. What are people learning about fashion then? What is it about the field that they like? How can you proclaim to be concerned about this subject if you're not cognizant of the most important people to have shaped it?

All of this leads me to wonder where fashion is heading and if I really want to be a part of it. Will I wake up one day and realize that my dream was just an illusion? Like Tavi hinted at in her blog post, for many of us, the illusion already started to shatter after the recent John Galliano incident. Here is a person who I've admired for nearly ten years. I wrote about wanting to curate a fashion exhibit around his fantastical closing runway outfits. I had him listed as an inspiration in my blog bio (which I've since removed for fear that others might think I'm anti-Semitic were I to have kept it). And then he's shouting about loving Hitler and being fired by Dior and being sent off to rehab. Prior to that incident, Alexander McQueen committed suicide. Here was someone who many of us thought would revolutionize the industry and become a lifelong, household name. And even before that, Valentino was somewhat forced into retirement when his label was bought. I know that these unfortunate events could happen in any industry. People pass, retire, get fired, etc. It just makes me question my commitment to fashion on some level.

But then I look around my room and my apartment. I've been archiving issues of Vogue for so long that I must store them in three different locations (the early archives are at home with my Dad, the middle years are in storage at my Mom's, and the most recent editions along with my favorite issues are in my apartment). I've visited fashion museums and exhibits on two continents. I've collected rare editions of books on fashion (some that are valued at over $200 on amazon.com). And I have dreamed night and day about seeing my name on Vogue's masthead. It's the one thing that I've thought would make my life complete. If I could just accomplish that, I'd truly be happy. I would want nothing. And now the opportunity is before me, and, like Tavi, I'm wondering if I should "get out of it what I get out of it, ignore or laugh at the rest, and bring the enjoyable stuff back home to add to my collection of all that stuff I'm trying to absorb" (The Style Rookie).

I'm still pondering that, but I'm as disenchanted as I've ever been. I really wish I could say otherwise.

(** quotations are from The Style Rookie at http://www.thestylerookie.com/**)

29 March 2011

easyJet Heads to Amman, Jordan

One of my favorite travel bloggers, A Lady in London, has been Tweeting about an upcoming trip to Amman, Jordan for the past couple days. Her tweets on the side of the blog really piqued my curiosity, so I checked out her Twitter page. She had tweeted about taking a press trip to Amman with members of easyJet, citing the reason for the trip as the airline's expansion to Jordan. I think this is pretty exciting news for budget travel. easyJet's expansion makes the Middle East that much more accessible to travelers who are looking for deals or who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to venture to that corner of the world.

I must confess that despite this initial enthusiasm, I have had sort of a love/hate relationship with the budget airlines in Europe. My sister and I have spent many-a-night huddled on the floor of airports in Luton, Stanstead, Gatwick, and other cities around Europe waiting for an inconvenient (but cheap) flight to somewhere like Warsaw or Paris. On our most recent trip, our plans to travel to Stockholm and Oslo were thwarted by sky-high carry-on baggage fees (disclaimer: the flights were not booked with easyJet) that caused us to eat the price of the tickets and vow to visit the cities on our next European excursion. In fact, I don't think I have flown with a budget carrier since a flight with Laura from Krakow to Berlin in 2006. (I try to save all of my boarding cards.)

Instead, we've been flying out of Heathrow with British Airways (my absolute favorite airline in the entire world) or Iberia. In other words, we've generally shied away from making plans on the budget airlines, even though they provide low-cost service to destinations like Istanbul, Fez, Bucharest, and Helsinki (so, some pretty fantastic places that we want to visit).

easyJet's expansion to Amman might cause me to rethink my recent aversion to the budget carriers. Petra is a must-see destination on my travel list, and easyJet just made it that much more affordable for me to visit...so, thank you, easyJet! I look forward to flying with you again.

The Fabulous Traina Sisters

Victoria and Vanessa Traina are without a doubt two of the most stylish sisters in the whole of fashion-dom. They're up there with Mary-Kate and Ashley, Lucy and Plum Sykes, Missy and Frankie Rayder, Jaime and Jodie Kidd, and any other stylish sister duo I failed to mention. They exude style, which is not surprising given their lineage. As the daughters of best-selling author Danielle Steele (who collects couture the way most people collect, oh, DVDs), they've been exposed to high fashion from a very early age. They had a formal coming-out at the legendary Crillon Ball in Paris (other debutantes have included Jane Aldridge, Lauren Bush, Anna's daughter, and Dree Hemingway). And now they're fixtures on the international fashion scene, attending the major shows and even acting as design muses for certain designers. So, it should come as no surprise when the sisters step out looking as fabulous as they did in the above photo from Vogue.com.

(** photo from www.vogue.com**)

Alexandra Kotur Departs Vogue

And another one bites the dust over at Vogue. Alexandra Kotur, the magazine's current Style Director, will be departing Vogue for the greener, more society-laden pages of Town & Country, according to WWD. Unlike the other recent Vogue upheavals, I don't have a strong opinion regarding Ms. Kotur's departure. Her work always focused more on the aspects of the fashion industry that I find rather unappealing: society, society balls and parties, rich people/ heiresses wearing Lanvin, etc. Even when she was the Senior Editor for Special Projects back in 2003, I don't know that her work really jumped off the page and moved me in the way that, say, the reviews of Sarah Mower always have done. She's talented, to be sure, but she wasn't someone that I wanted to emulate.

So, who do I think will be replacing her at Vogue? That's a tough one. There have been so many changes to that masthead in the past year and a half that even I can barely keep up with it. This person would have to have an edge on society happenings, since he or she will be responsible for gathering the Ten Best Dressed/ Girl-of-the Moment ladies. This person will also be involved with the big productions Vogue puts on, like the Met Ball (though I believe Sylvana Ward-Durret handles the brunt of that). I'm predicting the promotion will come from the top middle of the masthead, someone young who has been at Vogue for a few years. Maybe relative newcomer Ricki de Sole? As the daughter of Domenico de Sole, she certainly knows a thing or two about money and Society. She probably has connections up the wazoo, too. Still, she hasn't been with the magazine that long, and heiresses tend to depart pretty quickly (um...Devon (née Schuster) Radziwill, Claiborne Swanson), so that might not be a safe pick. I don't know, I'm stumped.

Will I be reading T&C now that another Vogue alumna is joining the ranks? T&C is one of those magazines that I covertly flip through on occasion. It's one of the more pretentious magazines, in my opinion, out there. It's on par with something like the Robb Report in that it makes no bones about who the target audience really is. Magazines like Vogue, Bazaar, T+L, etc. feature ideas that are sophisticated and cultured, which appeals to a certain group of people, but they aren't blatantly focused on wealth. I only became interested in T&C when Lauren Bush appeared on the cover back in the early 2000s. Since then other society girls like Amanda Hearst (or was it Lydia?), Lauren Santo Domingo, and Eugenia Silva have appeared on the cover. The fashion editorials are OK, but nothing forward-thinking enough to really hold my attention. So, no, I really doubt I'll be reading T&C any more than I do now.

Congratulations are in order to Ms. Kotur, though. Brava!

22 March 2011

Inspiration and the Bookstore Tradition

One of my favorite things to do is to spend several hours at a bookstore, reading all of the new magazines, journals, and books that I can. The goal is to come up with inspiration: new ideas for articles and blog posts, as well as ideas to stir the mind. This is one of the things that I picked up when I met with an editor at Teen Vogue in the summer of 2009. She began each day by sifting through dozens of newspapers and clipping or bookmarking articles and ideas that could be of use for her own work later on. She struck me as not only an extremely successful person (if you work at a national magazine, chances are high that you're a go-getter in every sense of the word), but an incredibly brilliant journalist. I'm already an intellectually curious person, but I definitely wanted to emulate what I saw in this editor even more.

What do I read when I camp out at the bookstore for a couple hours? Here are the titles that I'm most likely to sift through:

- Vogue (Obviously. I begin by writing down all of the changes to the masthead. For April, Anna hired lots of new folks, so I like to find out as much about those individuals as I can.)

- Condé Nast Traveler (This is one of my favorite travel magazines, so I always read it. I used to subscribe and probably will again. I find that the advice is a little more useful for my budget and travel style than upscale mags like T+L).

- Travel & Leisure (Even though the articles tend to cater to a higher income crowd, I still read this magazine each month.)

- National Geographic Traveler (I really love this magazine. I always come up with great ideas either for blog posts or for future travel initiatives.)

- Tricycle (I only recently began reading this Buddhist publication, but I absolutely love it. Great ideas, excellent advice, lots of information to stir the brain.)

- Vanity Fair (I never read all of the articles, but I enjoy analyzing the masthead and contributors.)

- Lucky (One doesn't so much read Lucky as look at the pictures of clothing, shoes, makeup, accessories, etc. I still come up with some interesting ideas after each perusal, though. I'm also enjoying seeing how the new EIC is transforming the magazine.)

- International editions of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Australian editions are my current favorites.

- The Atlantic (If I'm in the mood for some current events or political junk (which is rare), this is where I turn.)

- Women's Health (I haven't carried out my resolution to go to the gym, but I am curious to read about ways to eat healthier or maintain an overall healthier lifestyle. And, who knows, I might go to the gym one more time this year...though I doubt it.)

Then I make my way to the real treasures: the books. I always walk down the fiction and literature aisles, jotting down titles as I go. I also head to travel (of course!) and then Eastern Philosophy and Religion, which is my new area of interest. I think I wrote down at least five titles from the Buddhism and Tao shelves to request from my local library.

What kinds of notes am I left with after all of this reading and note-taking has finished (about two hours overall)? Well, yesterday I came across an article about the volcano in Iceland that I might write a letter to the editor in response to; I read about a bridal boutique in my area (featured in Lucky) that I'll probably check out either for personal reasons or for the blog; I jotted down two book titles that I'll be requesting from the library; I wrote down a few websites about eco-living that I'll want to check out; I came up with two more ideas for blog posts; and I ended up making a mad dash to the library to reserve more books on Buddhism. Who knows what ideas will pop into my head that I'll want to explore in greater detail after a mad reading session.

I write all of this to offer ideas that might inspire you, but also to wonder where your inspiration for writing, learning, and, well, living come from. So, what inspires you? What motivates you to rework your lifestyle, read new things, or experiment with different concepts?

Time is a precious luxury, so I know we're all committed to making the most out of the time we have!