31 October 2009

Happy 50th Birthday, Vogue Australia!

This has undeniably been a year of milestones. London Fashion Week celebrated its 25th season. Cosmetics giant, L'Oreal, celebrated 100 years of beauty. My boyfriend's grandparents celebrated 50 years of marriage. And one other entity celebrated 50 glorious years: Vogue Australia.

To commemorate the occasion, Kirstie Clements, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Australia, put forth an impeccable tour de force of a magazine. The September issue is graced by drawings of one of Australia's greatest actors, Cate Blanchett, in four different illustrations each by the London-based artist David Downton.

What I loved most about this issue were the many tributes to Australian fashion, culture, film, literature, and art. Australia is not often a fixture on the international scene, so it was terrific to learn so much about the country in a single issue. In a sense, the September issue could be treated as a reference guide for one wanting to learn more about the country. Even though my dearest friend is a bona fide expert on all things Australian, graciously educating her friends on the customs and manners of her adopted country, I still learned a few new things about Australia from this issue.

The issue also had insider perspectives from top Australian fashion editors, including the editor in chief. Ms. Clements, along with the fashion director, and other top positions on the masthead, reflected on their time with Vogue Australia and how each sort of fell into the position. Ms. Clements spoke of her world travels and how, at age 19, she returned to Sydney looking for a job. It just so happened that Vogue Australia was looking for a receptionist. Ms. Clements won the position and, ten years later, she wields the greatest power atop the masthead. Her message was particularly inspiring, even though she acknowledged that the industry has changed radically over the years and that the competition is now fierce. Indeed it is!

To pay homage to the great "Aussie cossie," Ms. Clements commissioned international designers to come up with their own version of the iconic Australian fashion piece. Karl Lagerfeld, Francisco Costa, and John Galliano all created swimsuits best reflecting the special joie de vivre of the Australian woman. In another tribute, Ms. Clements chose fifty of the best covers of the magazine.

Issues of Vogue Australia are expensive outside of Australia: $11 for each issue. The September issue, however, coming in at 360 pages, is unquestionably worth the eleven dollars. If you've ever wanted to learn more about Australian fashion, the September issue is your chance to do so. I can't think of a better way to celebrate fifty years of Australian culture than the triumphant September issue.

28 October 2009

Through the Vogue Looking Glass...

Thanks to a new feature on Vogue.com, Inside Vogue, mere mortals are given a rare glimpse into the real-life closets of actual Vogue editors. If you've ever wondered what the fashion luminaries behind the scenes are wearing (when they're not at industry parties or gallery openings), Vogue has finally provided the antidote.

The feature is called "Five Days, Five Looks, One Girl" and it gives individual editors the opportunity to describe their unique fashion point-of-view through a week's worth of outfits worn to the office. This isn't just any office, mind you, so you can imagine how high my expectations were. The feature also sheds any illusions readers might have of the real world Vogue mimicking a set on "The Devil Wears Prada" or "SATC: The Movie." Um, not quite, but the fashion bar was still set very high.

Features Associate, Sophie Pera, contributed the inaugural five looks, and she certainly did not disappoint. I was immensely impressed with her creative approach and unique spin on basic pieces (bodysuits, sweatpants). This is exactly the kind of exemplary style one would expect from a junior Voguette. Oh, and those amazing bright orange plastic shoes?! I must find a pair!

Associate Fashion Editor, Veronica Gledhill, also displayed her high-fashion style, even if on a more subdued level than Ms. Pera. Ms. Gledhill, who explained that she only dresses in a spectrum of black, white, and cool gray, completely changed my mind on the virtues of dressing without colour (I previously thought that there were none). Ms. Gledhill challenged the notion that black can be too basic by wearing her garments in unconventional ways. A silk ivory slip was worn over a black dress, a scarf was looped around the waist and over the shoulders (completely transforming the ensemble), and metal hardware was burnished and textured to augment the effect. In short, Ms. Gledhill proved herself to be a beacon of style and certainly one to watch over the years.

The new Inside Vogue feature has reached even higher on the masthead with Sally Singer, Filipa Fino, and Sylvana Soto-Ward all contributing looks. Not surprisingly, some big fashion names were sported. Shoes by Manolo Blahnik and YSL. Miu Miu bags. Prada pants. Oscar de la Renta skirts. This is to be expected from the top of the masthead where the salaries are higher and the experience is greater, but I was a little disenchanted to find that even assistants had the funds for fashion's biggest names (granted, they were balanced out with pieces from American Apparel, Express, and Top Shop to name a few). I am certainly no math whiz, but a small salary plus NYC rent does not add up to YSL platforms in my mind...

Although the feature was dubbed "Five Days, Five Looks, One Girl," one editor in particular was given the opportunity to showcase not five but fourteen looks. Who could this editor be? Why Vogue's socialite-extraordinaire, Lauren Santo Domingo, of course. Not only did Vogue's shining social star (and contributing editor) offer a full week's worth of outfits worn during Fashion Week, she also offered corresponding day and night looks. Lauren Santo Domingo certainly proved why she is a fixture on Vogue's weekly best dressed list compiled by Style Director Alexandra Kotur.

If these looks weren't exciting enough for you, stay tuned. We just might see Anna herself profiled in "Five Days, Five Looks, One Editor-in-Chief."

(all images in this post are from Vogue's website, http://www.vogue.com/)

18 October 2009

31 rue Cambon: Everything is Best

When Banzan was walking through a market, he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

"Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer.

"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find any piece of meat here that is not the best."

At these words Banzan became enlightened.

Though this passage is excerpted from "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones," one might say that the same can be said of Chanel's flagship store on 31 rue Cambon.

I can still remember my first visit to Paris in 2004, particularly my very own pilgrimage to Chanel's office, studio, and present-day shop on rue Cambon. If pilgrimages can be made to Canterbury, Santiago, and Rocamadour, why not a Chanel boutique? And not just any boutique, but the very building where Chanel herself worked, designed, and created nothing short of perfection.

As a young budget-traveler, I visited the store with my sister, Laura, in less than fashionable attire. I believe I was wearing my tan suede Banana Republic walking shoes, which I referred to as my "orthopedic shoes," jeans, a dark brown corduroy blazer, and a nondescript sweater. Basically, this was an outfit that I wouldn't dream of sporting today. Nevertheless, I weaved my way through the maize-like streets of Paris to find this Holy Grail of fashion. Nothing, not even a dowdy outfit, would deter me.

At last, Laura and I reached 31 rue Cambon. It was just as magical as I imagined. The gargantuan store was filled with sumptuous bags, pristine dresses, and glorious shoes. A Zen master, or fashionista, might have walked around the store thinking, "Everything is best here."

And it was.

16 October 2009

Have Prada Sandal, Will Travel : Prada Resort 2010

Passport? Check. Snazzy, hot pink passport cover? Check. Dream destination? Check. Prada sandals from the Resort 2010 collection? Er, no...

Let me back-track here.

I'm usually not an advocate of resort collections, whether that be for High Street or Main Street. Well, the Prada Resort 2010 collection completely changed my mind. I know that this collection was presented back in June, but the gorgeous looks from the runway are just now trickling into the November fashion magazines, so I've had a chance to see them in all of their sartorial splendor.

This was a collection that combined the best of both worlds for me: fashion and travel. I love the mixed prints, whimsical colors, muted and bold shades. I could just picture myself wearing any of these looks while jetting to Sydney, Seoul, Tokyo, Palermo, Istanbul, etc., etc.

It was the shoes that really stole my heart though. With brightly patterned sashes around the ankles, dynamic prints, and a multitude of styles, Miuccia truly ousted the competition here. There are even nude and black varieties for the less-daring fashionista.

If ever there were shoes worthy of an exotic destination (and a bit of a splurge), surely these would be the ones.

15 October 2009

Chanel Flashback

In anticipation of the release of "Coco Before Chanel" on October 30th, I'll be posting a few Chanel flashbacks or reminisces of both the legend's life, work, and modern legacy.

Today's flashback is a picture of Chanel with one of fashion's most revered editors, Carmel Snow. I love how both fashion luminaries are adorned with layers and layers of pearls, especially in Chanel's case. Chic, modern, and utterly fabulous. I adore them both.

Feel free to share a few of your favorite memories of Chanel!

11 October 2009

Swiss Dot Tights!

For as much as I love fashion, I rarely buy new clothing to jazz up my own wardrobe. Some readers may recall that line from SATC where Carries says that she likes her money where she can see it: hanging in her closet. Well, I like my money where I can see it too: stamped in my passport. So, when it comes times to buy a few pieces for fall, my favorite season (for both the weather and the RTW collections), I'm generally pretty miserly. However, this season, the trend that was all over the fall 2009 RTW runways is something that I can easily afford to incorporate into my wardrobe: tights, glorious tights!

My favorite incarnation of the tights trend is without a doubt the swiss dot tight, a sheer tight with tiny black dots. Spotted all over the Balenciaga runway (see four looks from the runway above) and subsequent photo editorials in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, it is the perfect way to wear a texturized tight without being too severe or heavy. The only downside is that I've only been able to find this specific tight on the website for Gerbe (http://www.gerbe.com/), the same brand of the Balenciaga tights and every tight in the August and September layouts. A French brand, the tights are naturally priced in Euros and are, sadly, way beyond my budget for something as ephemeral as tights. They'll inevitably snag, so why spend $58 on a single pair?

I simply must have these tights. I have a wedding later in the month where I'll be wearing a dress that is practically begging to be accessorized with swiss dot tights. Not content to relinquish $60 for tights, I scoured the usual mall suspects for stylish tights: Macy's, Banana Republic, J.Crew, Gap, The Limited, Express, etc., etc. No such luck. I haven't wandered into Forever 21 yet (that's a full afternoon's work!) or Saks, but they might be my last resort. If you should happen to come across swiss dot tights, for less than $60, please send the tip my way!

10 October 2009

A Fashion Discovery: Dansk Magazine

I was at Barnes and Noble earlier this week studying for the GRE. Of course, my attention was diverted to the fashion magazines for a quick break from antonyms and analogies (here's an analogy of my own creation, just for fun: DILETTANTE: FASHION:: LINDSAY LOHAN: EMANUEL UNGARO. Now, why can't they have analogies like that on the GRE?). Anyhow, my eyes quickly fell upon a giant, glossy magazine with a gorgeous picture of Gisele on the cover. Dansk was the name of the magazine and, surprisingly, it was a fashion magazine that I had neither seen before nor heard of prior to this unexpected discovery. Dansk touts itself as "the world's most independent fashion magazine" and is based out of Copenhagen.

I began by analyzing the masthead, my favorite page of any fashion magazine. I always like to know who is working where and who contributes what to the magazine. You can uncover exciting things this way. For instance, did you know that Diana Vreeland's son, Fredrick Vreeland, is a contributing editor for Conde Nast Traveler? Pretty exciting, eh? Anyhow, I scanned the masthead of the A/W 2009 issue and noticed that Dansk was a pretty small publication, with only thirteen positions on the masthead. That's tiny when you take into consideration the behemoth masthead of Vanity Fair.

Next, I scanned the layouts and photo editorials. Dansk, unlike Vogue, W, and Harper's Bazaar, features men's fashion as well. In the name of full disclosure, I must acknowledge that men's fashion is not my forte; I rarely pay attention to it. The fashion pictorials were pretty progressive and a little avant garde even, sort of reminiscent of V. I loved the layout with Gisele, but was disappointed that it was so brief. The men's pictorials, however, I found entirely unpleasing aesthetically. If it's not Baptiste Giaconi, Karl Lagerfeld's new, um, friend, walking a runway covered in hay, I'm not interested.

I'll have to wait to explore a new issue of Dansk. Alas, it is only published bi-annually. The fashion verdict after one issue, though? Definitely worth looking into. I'm curious. For now, I'll have to be content with perusing the publisher's website at http://www.stylecounsel.com/. Check it out and let me know what you think!

07 October 2009

The Teen Vogue Handbook: A How-to Guide for the Aspiring Fashionista

I raced to Barnes & Noble this past Monday because October 5th marked the release of the much-anticipated fashion tome, "The Teen Vogue Handbook." This was a project undertaken by the magazine's editor-in-chief, Amy Astley, because she realized that more and more young people had ambitions of working in the fashion industry, but didn't really know how to go about achieving this. I was one of those young people in 2001, someone who knew exactly what she wanted to do (work at a fashion magazine), but had absolutely no idea how to make it happen. This book serves as a blueprint for like-minded aspiring fashionistas of all kinds.

The guide was broken down into chapters on editors, models, photographers, beauty, and stylists. Naturally, my main emphasis was placed on the chapter devoted to editors. Amy Astley put forth a very impressive array of editors, seeking advice from Teen Vogue interns, assistants, and editors; the "ultimate fashion editor," Anna Wintour; and Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer Prize winning fashion critic for The Washington Post. I thought Amy Astley's advice was the most poignant though: "You can't just sit around in Omaha, or wherever you're from, wishing that you could work in the fashion business. You need to move. Go to where the opportunities are!" Ms. Astley also urged would-be interns to always be a "yes person." Most important, one needs to be a curious and educated person, "someone who can place trends into context and give banal things journalistic credence."

Another tip in the book was that one take a chance on e-mailing an admired editor to arrange an informational interview. I know that this is excellent advice because I have tried this- and it worked! Over the summer, I e-mailed an editor at Harper's Bazaar and one at Teen Vogue. After a brief exchange of e-mails, both agreed to meet with me in person at their respective offices in Manhattan. If you are able to orchestrate an informational interview, make sure you come prepared with information on both the magazine and the editor (what does she write about, what is her background, etc.). And, as a bonus, you never know who you'll run into while you're in the office. Glenda Bailey, the editor-in-chief of Bazaar, was just ten feet away in the next office! I almost fainted. Well, I digress. Definitely be bold enough to e-mail an editor to see what could happen.

Of course attention must be paid to what that other editor with Conde Nast advised. Yes, I'm referring to Anna Wintour. For starters, Anna (we're on a first name basis) is looking for someone who has actually read the magazine. Are there people interested in working in fashion who have not read every issue of Vogue? I can't fathom this. Anna also recommended that would-be editors do their homework- go to museums, spend time online reviewing collections, read, etc. These seem to be givens to me. I thought this advice was helpful, but when you look at the masthead, you realize that following that advice alone will not land you in the hallowed halls of Vogue. Two of her recent assistants were an heiress (Claiborne Swanson) and a young lady married to a Rockefeller (Indre Rockefeller). So, I think it takes a wee bit more to land in Anna's office for an interview than merely having read Vogue and knowing who, say, Alexander Wang is. I wish Anna would have just admitted that Vogue still handles the hiring the way Carmel Snow did- bring a list of the wealthiest, most influential people you know and we'll see if your connections are strong enough to land you a job.

My main criticism with the book was that it didn't feature any information on securing an internship. So much emphasis was placed on interning, but I didn't even see the Conde Nast website included in the book. An intern or assistant briefly mentioned the helpful journalism website, Ed2010, but it wasn't directly featured in the book. As important as interning is, they should have included a separate chapter on this alone.

For those interested in other jobs in fashion outside of editing, fear not, the guide has words of wisdom for you too. Also featured were Chanel Iman, Camilla Nickerson, Patrick Demarchelier, the Mulleavy sisters, Thakoon, Elissa Santisi, Pat McGrath, Bruce Weber, and Mario Testino.

My recommendation is that if you're interested in working in fashion, definitely check out the guide. It was a bit reminiscent of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's book, Influence, but there were still merits here. "The Teen Vogue Handbook" can be found in bookstores (naturally) and online at amazon.com. Check it out!