30 July 2010

*The* International Best Dressed List

It's that time of year, fashion-followers! Time for the release of Vanity Fair's illustrious International Best Dressed List. Fear not, if you haven't cast your vote yet. I just cast mine today. Since the entries for men weren't too exciting, I'll just fill you in on who my choices among the nominated/ listed females were.

Charlotte Casiraghi. She has style, she has grace. Oh, and she also has enough money to buy anything she wants, so the sky is the limit.

Of course I voted for my personal style icon: Charlotte Gainsbourg!

Maggie Gyllenhaal, one of the true fashion originals in Hollywood. She always manages to wear something new and exciting.

First Lady Michelle Obama. Not since Jackie O has a first lady generated so much attention in the fashion department. New York Magazine also tracks her every look.

Vogue's Lauren Santo Domingo. Alexandra Kotur has her as a perennial favorite for her best dressed list. It's only a matter of time before the LSD takes over Vanity Fair's list as well. Let's face it, she was born to be a style icon.

Carey Mulligan is another exciting fashion risk-taker. Plus, I loooove her short hair. It's tough pulling off hair that short, but she carries it off flawlessly.

I've made my picks! Who are yours?

(** all images from Google**)

27 July 2010

London Design Museum Goodies

I'm a complete sap for museum gift shops. I often visit the gift shop before entering the museum. One of my favorite museum gift shops is the Design Museum in London, where a veritable treasure trove of artistic books, posters, and knick knacks can be found. Here are a few samples of the goodies currently for sale:

"This is London" vintage children's book. The book may be geared toward children, but who doesn't love bold, vintage photos of one's favorite city?

Hussein Chalayan poster. Imagine how this artwork could brighten the walls of your home office!

A book of 100 post cards of different Penguin book covers- perfect for your literary best friend.

Psychogames- the board game that allows any family member to play Freud at the next gathering. Perfect conversation-starters for Thanksgiving!

The Design Museum Birdie Badge. What a wonderful way to show your loyalty to the Design Museum while making a fun fashion statement at the same time! At only 2.50 GBP, it's hard to pass up.

The "I'm from here" t-shirt is ideal for your best Aussie pal.

Check out the Design Museum's gift shop website at http://designmuseumshop.com/ for more fantastic artistic gifts.

26 July 2010

Irregular Choice

No trip to London could be complete without a visit to my favorite shoe store, Schuh. The gigantic flagship store is located right across the street from the Oxford Circus tube stop in Central London. If you truly love unique, original shoes, you need not look further than Schuh. In addition to carrying their own brand of shoes (my personal favorite), they carry lines like Rocket Dog, Iron Fist, Fly London, and perhaps the most eclectic of them all, Irregular Choice.

What makes Irregular Choice so special is that each pair is highly unusual, unique, and whimsical. Sometimes the designs are wacky and difficult to wear, but other styles are statement pieces that can make an outfit come to life. I always try on a pair, but never end up buying them. The price, especially back when the pound was trouncing the dollar, is a bit high when one considers that the shoes are not everyday pieces. Eighty to one hundred pounds is a bit to spend on a pair of shoes one might only wear a few times. But, then again, when a pair of shoes can so radically transform an outfit, perhaps they are wise investments?

See for yourself:

If you remove the detachable doll pom-pom, I actually think this is an extremely wearable shoe, one that I wouldn't mind owning, in fact. I love the cuff and the thick heel, which keep the shoe from looking tawdry. Also, the paint splotches keep a round-toe shoe from looking too retro.

I would love to see this shoe worn with dark opaque tights and a structured skirt for an interesting feminine/edgy look.

I'm not completely sold on the color palette of this shoe, but I still think it could make an interesting statement. The bow in the front of the shoe might even make it conservative enough for the office.

The "Toodle Loo Bar Baby Doll" heels are probably the most unusual and whimsical of any Irregular Choice shoes I came across at Schuh. The baby doll on the front of the shoe is way too cutesy for my taste (and not formal enough for my usual wardrobe), but worn on the right girl with the right clothing, this could be a stand-out look. Anyone brave enough to try them?

This is one of my favorite pairs because I love the ornate details. I think these shoes would look fantastic with black tights, thus increasing their wear-ability in my closet.

Here's another favorite, mostly because I've been wearing low heels and flats lately. I love the design on this shoe, the t-strap construction, and the stubby heel. If only Schuh shipped to the U.S. *Sigh*

(**images found at schuh.co.uk**)

23 July 2010

"Flat Out" or "Full Throttle?"

It turns out that Sarah Mower and I have something else in common in addition to our obsessive love for fashion: we are both extremely flat-chested. In this month's issue of Vogue, Mower and Vogue beauty editor Catherine Piercy casually debated the benefits/ drawbacks of being flat-chested versus top-heavy, and how both body types make it easier or more difficult to wear certain styles.

I immediately identified with Mower, who wrote about the difficulty of finding bras to properly fit her 36AA size. Now, I've never purchased a "grown-up" bra, so I have no idea what these sizes mean, but I'm deducing that 36AA is an obscure size. So, this would definitely be a negative point for the small-chested ladies: difficulty of finding undergarments. I would recommend that Ms. Mower do what I do when in need of new undergarments: seek out the children's department in stores like Nordstrom. I bought six adorable children's bras there for under $20. Granted, I shopped alongside elementary school girls, but I found exactly what I needed. We flat-chested women certainly can't shop at Victoria's Secret, but we can find pretty, utilitarian pieces.

While we may have trouble finding bras that fit, Mower was quick to point out that we have far more style options than our bustier counterparts. Not only do flat-chested women look "chicer and younger" (Mower's words, not mine!), we can get away with wearing frilly tops and blouses, bandeaux tops, halter necks, and asymmetrical necklines with ease and grace. There's no doubt about it: small-chested women can pull off looks that would be downright offensive or vulgar on fuller body types. Perhaps this is why thin models (who tend to have small chests) tend to be most prolific on the runway? There are simply far more clothing options.

On the other hand, there are styles that we flat-chested women can simply not wear, or not wear as well as more shapely women. Strapless tops and dresses just look ill-proportioned on flat-chested women. They are also extremely difficult to wear and leave the wearer quite self-conscious. I had to wear a strapless bridesmaid dress once and were it not for the detachable shoulder straps, I might have needed to staple the dress to my chest to keep it from falling down. And, let's face it, shapelier women do look sexier in certain looks.

So, which body type is more conducive to fashion: flat-chested or "full throttle?" Because body type is so much a part of our identity, as Mower points out, I'm partial to the merits of the flat-chest. I think in this case, though, to each her own!

(** both images from Google**)

21 July 2010

Harper's Bazaar Goes Shallow, Way Shallow

I didn't think there was anything noteworthy about the August issue of Harper's Bazaar except, perhaps, that it produced the most insipid, shallow, and ridiculous article I have ever read. I am referring to Simon Doonan's little piece entitled "Eat, Shop, Love," which was meant to be a spin-off of the blockbuster travel memoir (and soon-to-be-released movie) "Eat, Pray, Love." Simon Doonan has made an entire career out of being shallow and annoying, so I'm not sure why I'm surprised he produced this dribble. If you haven't bought the issue (Don't!!), or if your subscriber's issue hasn't arrived yet, I'll fill you in on what you should definitely miss.

First, Elizabeth Gilbert's travel memoir was about taking a chance, improving one's life, finding deeper meaning in life, and self discovery. I think all of those values are admirable and certainly worth pursuing. In order to achieve this state of self-actualization, she ventured around the world for a year, stopping in three different countries with three different missions. She ate copious amounts of food in Italy. She took part in a silent retreat at the ashram in India. And she, well, met a hot Brazilian in Bali. All of these findings or experiences enriched her life in some way.

Simon Doonan's recommendations on achieving a similar state of enlightenment and fulfillment? Well, he substituted "shop" for "pray," so that should tell you something right there. His advice is to shop instead of travel and thus seek true fulfillment and enlightenment. "Shopping is easy, life affirming, and life enhancing," he writes. "Instead of going deep, why not go shallow?" I'd have to agree with him there- anyone who truly believes his/her life can be improved or fulfilled through shopping is indeed a shallow person. As for shopping being an activity that is "life affirming," well, that might be one of the most absurd things I have ever heard. He also writes that you don't have to spend "a whole bunch of moola" if you go the shopping route as opposed to the traveling route. Um, how do you purchase that crap at the mall if not with money, Simon? Riddle me that one!

Doonan's silly, shallow article represented the nails on the coffin for my Bazaar subscription. He can find enlightenment in a mall; I'll find it in Kyoto.

18 July 2010

I sure hope Vogue staffers like to act...

It began with a few small cameos in "Sex and the City: The Movie" with Vogue staffers like Plum Sykes, Andre Leon Talley, and Lawren Howell sitting in on Carrie's phenomenal bridal shoot for Vogue, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, of course. Then Hamish Bowles and ALT had tiny cameos in "Valentino: The Last Emperor," with Hamish serving as a consultant for the spectacular 45-year anniversary extravaganza ("Hamish. How do you do?") and ALT gushing over a lavish kimono designed just for him by Valentino himself . And then there was the documentary that put every staffer from the top of the masthead (Anna! Grace! ALT! Sally!) down to the bottom on the big screen. Of course, I'm referring to "The September Issue." And now two more Vogue staffers will be testing out their acting chops for the season premier of "Gossip Girl" this September.

Which Vogue staffers will be lighting up our television sets this fall? Why, Hamish Bowles (Vogue's resident actor-extraordinaire, apparently) and real-life Manhattan socialite Lauren Santo Domingo. They will be playing themselves as a tie-in to promote Anna's second annual fashion event, Fashion's Night Out. I haven't watched "Gossip Girl" since the end of the first season, but you can bet that I'll be tuning in for the chance to see Hamish on-screen once again. Something tells me that LSD will be a natural at acting. We shall see!

16 July 2010

Retro Revival

The above photo is of my mother, grandmother, and grandfather. As soon as my mom showed me this picture, I knew that I wanted to share it on my blog. I love how their clothes are quintessentially seventies, but still "modern," a word that is so over-used today. I could picture myself wearing the print dress that my mom has on, maybe with tights and grommeted flats to give the dress a contemporary feel. The pants that my grandfather is wearing are a complete riot. I dare you to walk into any J.Crew store and not find a similar pair! And my grandmother, even though I have only met her three times, always exudes style, as she is in this photograph. In fact, I first learned about Chanel from her when I spotted her carrying a quilted bag at a family wedding. "What kind of bag is that?" I remember asking my mother. "That's a Chanel bag," she told me. I've been hooked on Chanel ever since.

14 July 2010

What to do with that old wedding dress?

Vogue Fashion Writer, Esther Adams, solved the age-old dilemma for brides this week in the Vogue.com column "Five Days, Five Looks, One Girl." After spending a fortune on a dress one loves, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to wear that dress again? It can be done, as Adams demonstrated.

For her civil ceremony in London (Working for Vogue and being married in London?! Lucky girl!), Adams wore a dress from Maison Martin Margiela. The white frock came to the knee and had a delicate embellishment down the center of the dress that I couldn't quite make out from the photo. Post-civil ceremony, she turned the white dress into the perfect day dress, pairing it with a black blazer from DKNY and those fabulous Swiss dot tights from Gerbe that I was obsessed with back in November. Ankle booties from Zara completed the look.

I love the contrast of a white dress with black tights, or black tights worn with white shoes. It always adds an interesting graphic element to any look. The fact that she created this elegant, yet practical look from a wedding dress proves that you can always breathe new life into old pieces, even if that item is a statement piece like a wedding dress.

Brides, take note!

(**photo by Veronica Gledhill is from vogue.com**)

12 July 2010

W Abandons High-Fashion Roots Under New Editor

The masthead mayhem that has been sweeping the nation's magazines this summer has not excluded the very top of the chain. W has a new editor-in-chief, Stefano Tonchi, who has already made the executive call to take W away from its high fashion roots and lead it in the direction, much to its readers chagrin, of the more mainstream fashion publications.

This disappoints me for many reasons. W (along with V and international editions) used to be one of the rare magazines I could count on for truly high-fashion, avant-garde editorials and coverage. When the publication started putting celebrities on the cover, I merely overlooked the cover article and focused on the rest of the magazine. No problem. But now, Tonchi has said that he wants the magazine to be "more of a general-interest style magazine." Oh, so another In Style? Fan-tastic.

I fear that too much mainstream interest in fashion over the past five-six years has indelibly changed the industry. Fashion is no longer a niche interest for the truly obsessed, like it was when I was in high school and college (none of the girls on my freshman hall had ever seen an issue of W before, for instance). It now includes celebrity designers, reality television shows, and teenage-blogging sensations. This is definitely not the industry I fell in love with.

With W abandoning its ethos so quickly, I wonder if other magazines will as well. Harper's Bazaar has already pandered to mainstream interests by featuring the Twilight stars, the cast of Jersey Shore, and, of course, a column by Tavi. What would Alexey Brodovitch say? Would he even recognize Bazaar were he to see a present-day issue? Anna Wintour says that fashion is about looking forward, not at the past. Can fashion look forward without abandoning its past? W no longer seems to suggest so....

Gisele on a 2007 cover

A fashion and art-centric cover from 2006

A controversial cover and accompanying editorial from 2004

(** August 2010 cover photo provided by nymag.com, older W covers courtesy of W archives**)

07 July 2010

Fashion in Full Bloom at Christian Dior Fall 2010 Couture

"I perhaps owe becoming a painter to flowers," Monet once remarked. The same might be said by John Galliano, who owed the beauty of his fall 2010 couture collection for Christian Dior to one of nature's most precious gifts: flowers.

Galliano, who researches all of his subjects with the painstaking detail of a PhD candidate, clearly spent hours studying the many variations, colors, shapes, and sizes of flowers in order to recreate them on the runway. I've never seen such a collection bursting with so many vibrant colors, textures, and details before. According to Style.com's Tim Blanks, "the fronding, the feathering, the rouching, the ruffling- all duplicated the extraordinary intricacies of flowers." Galliano left no detail undeveloped or untouched. Everything from the models' hair to their makeup was perfectly synchronized with the recreation of the flower. The collection was also cheerful; I couldn't help smile but while viewing the thirty-some looks. Saturated royal blues, fuchsia, and canary yellow lit the runway, creating a dazzling spectacle for the eyes. The backdrop of luscious orange flowers perfectly suited the mood of the clothing.

My favorite looks were the mismatched suits, dainty dresses, and floor-sweeping ball gowns that Galliano has always executed so well. They were wearable, yet imaginative and fantastical at the same time. Here are a few of my favorite looks:

Model-of-the-moment Karlie Kloss opened the show in a spectacular purple coat with Edwardian collar details. I love this coat.

For couture, I find this look remarkably wearable. Sans headpiece and bright lips, that is.

This is another look that I find wearable from head-to-toe.

What a stunning suit! Lengthen the skirt a bit and you have an ensemble that is a bona fide show-stopper.

This might just be the most perfect party dress ever created.

This ball gown is so outrageous that it strikes me as the sort of dress Marie Antoinette might have fancied.

And the stunning closing look, worn by one of my favorite models (and countrywoman!), Magdalena Frackowiak. I somehow picture this look on a Disney villain.

John Galliano created nothing short of perfection for Dior fall 2010 couture. I might never be able to look at a flower again without thinking of this stunning collection.

(** images from style.com**)

06 July 2010

Samantha Brown to Take on Asia

Somewhere in her youth or childhood, Samantha Brown must have done something good. Something really, really, really good. She arguably has the best job on the planet, a job that has her on the road traveling to some of the most exciting destinations in the world, and- here's the best part- getting paid to do it.

I've been a fan of hers since one of her earliest television shows, "Great Hotels," was on the air. At that time, I was a high schooler with wanderlust and an unyielding desire to see the world. Her show, "Passport to Europe," would only fuel the fire more. I've watched her travel to places I've visited myself (Barcelona, Brussels, Bologna, Edinburgh) and have enjoyed seeing her perspective on places I plan to visit (Beijing, Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires). And now Samantha Brown will be taking us to Asia, visiting Halong Bay, Saigon, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Kyoto, and Bali. Does she have the greatest job on the planet, or what?!

"Samantha Brown's Asia" premiers Monday, July 12th at 8:00 p.m. on the Travel Channel. I can't wait!

(** photo courtesy of the Travel Channel at www.travelchannel.com**)

02 July 2010

Masthead Mayhem

It seems that the top editors at magazines like Vogue, W, Glamour, and T are playing a game of musical chairs this summer. After Sally Singer's departure from Vogue was announced, rumors immediately began speculating as to who would replace her at Vogue and who would round out her new team at T Magazine. Back at Vogue, news spread that Associate Editor Eve MacSweeney and Senior Fashion Writer Mark Holgate will be moving on up to fill the role of Singer. I've long admired MacSweeney, so I'm excited to hear of her promotion (if it is indeed true).

I wasn't too concerned regarding what would be happening over at T Magazine, but then it was announced that the magazine's Fashion Director, Anna Christensen, resigned and that Singer might be taking staffers from Vogue with her to T. According to The Cut, Meredith Melling Burke, Vogue's long-time Senior Market Editor (she's had this position for at least ten years, according to my archives), and Tabitha Simmons, a contributing editor and stylist, are both in the running for this gig. Melling Burke has been so close to the top of the masthead for so long, that it seems more likely to me that she'd be interested in leaving Vogue to take on more responsibilities with Singer at T. From my speculation, it seems unlikely that Simmons would want to leave Vogue. Her husband photographs for the magazine and she receives mega publicity for her uber-expensive shoe line through Vogue. I'm guessing she'll stay put.

And, over at Glamour, longtime Fashion Director, Xanthipi Joannides, has departed, opening up that coveted position. I don't follow the masthead over at Glamour very closely (or at all), so I really can't make an educated guess as to who might fill her stilettos. The Cut reported speculations that Elle Style Director, Kate Lanphear, might be a contender. Again, I'm not too sure on this one.

What I do know, or firmly believe, is that all of this talent diversification is excellent both for readers and industry professionals. How exciting will it be if things change a little over at Vogue, or if T Magazine's readership grows? This masthead mayhem is great news for fashion, in my estimation. Stay tuned to hear how it all turns out!