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!

21 March 2011

"To a Mountain in Tibet" Part One

If a book could be accompanied by an audio soundtrack or "theme song," I think the song that would best fit Colin Thubron's newest book, "To a Mountain in Tibet," would be U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." I've only just begun reading it, but this is a powerful book with an important underlying theme that really resonates with me.

Colin Thubron is a British travel writer (I like to think of him as the British Paul Theroux, or Paul Theroux as the American Colin Thubron) who has produced such literary hallmarks as "Shadow of the Silk Road" and "The Lost Heart of Asia." What I love about his writing is that he is honest and straightforward, if even a bit of a curmudgeon at times, while fully immersing himself in and exploring the local culture. The reader knows that he is not taking this journey merely for the sake of selling a book; there is something deep and intrinsic that imbues his curiosity about the world, and it shines through in his books.

"To a Mountain in Tibet" is more than a travel narrative. While coping with his own familial loss, Thubron decides to undertake a pilgrimage to Mount Kailas in Tibet, a place that is sacred to one-fifth of humanity, according to the book-jacket (I'm sure this figure is true, but I'll have to verify it). An abbot Thubron encounters along the journey tells him about the mountain, "You know this is a mountain of great power. To travel there multiplies merit. The Buddha often flew there with his followers. And spiritual treasure-seekers meditated there - thousands of them- so its caves are full of blessing." The reader knows right from the beginning of the book that this is a special journey with a unique purpose. What is it that Thubron is searching for? What has compelled him to make this journey, to climb a mountain that no one ever has before? What is he hoping to find and will he, in fact, find it?

I haven't finished the book yet, so I don't know how the journey will end, but I understand and appreciate Thubron's quest already. Unlike many of the reviewers on GoodReads, I haven't found his writing to be depressing. Instead, I have found it to be introspective and highly personal. Aren't we all searching for something? That perfect job or experience that will make our life complete? Thubron is approaching this search inwardly, for he writes about the tenants of Buddhism in "To a Mountain in Tibet."

I've been very interested in Buddhism lately (that is another reason why I was drawn to this book), reading such works as "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones," "Living Buddha, Living Christ," and "Awakening the Buddha Within," which I highly, highly recommend. Buddhism really speaks to me even though I wasn't raised in a religious family. We didn't read the Bible or talk about God. (To this day, I don't think my sister has ever even opened a Bible.) Religion was just a non-factor. I remember when a friend from high school said to me, "I've known you all these years, but I don't know what you believe." I recall being absolutely dumbfounded by this question. Believe? What do I believe about what? I didn't have an answer for her, and I probably still do not. Yet, I've been drawn to Buddhism, mostly because the teachings of Buddhism are principles that I believe can fit in with anyone's life, whether s/he is spiritual or not. It's about being a better person, living a full life, being happy with you are, and exploring from within. "Help yourself," as the Buddha said.

So, is this why I believe Colin Thubron made that epic trek to Mount Kailas? Is he a "spiritual treasure-seeker?" And, did he find what he was looking for? I'll find out tomorrow...and I'll let you know!

Happy Birthday, Grace!

One of the most influential figures in modern fashion celebrates her 70th birthday this April. Who is that, you might be wondering? Here are a few clues: 1) she's a redhead; 2) she's Welsh, and 3) she's arguably the world's greatest living stylist (at least she is according to Anna Wintour). I could only be referring to one person: the incomparable Grace Coddington.

In the April letter from the editor, Anna Wintour writes that Grace is "the fashion insider's heroine." This is most certainly true. Before R. J. Cutler's documentary, "The September Issue," put her on the map, so to speak, only people who were truly fanatical about fashion (folks like, um, me) knew about the work and genius of Grace Coddington. She is the Creative Director of Vogue (so second-in-command), but her work takes place behind the scenes. She doesn't write flashy articles about Gwyneth Paltrow or Amar'e Stoudemire like Plum Sykes or Hamish Bowles. She doesn't review the collections like Sarah Mower or contributors like Lynn Yaeger. Yet, her vision permeates every page of the magazine. It's her work that we really remember after sifting through each issue of Vogue. She is the magic-maker or dream-weaver, if you will. She creates the fantasy and she makes the enchanting world of fashion come to life. I don't know where the industry would be without her.

So, here's to you, Grace Coddington. Thank you for your work, your dedication, and your contribution to fashion. May you have another beautiful 70 years!

10 March 2011


Today is Brian's and my six-year anniversary. (Hurray!) It's hard to believe that we met and started dating six years ago today. We've been through a lot together, like most couples who have been together for five years or longer. There have been some terrible haircuts, horrible outfits, loud shoes, but a lot of happiness, too. I think that is because we really balance each other out. That cliché about opposites attracting might actually be true.

I think this was taken in 2007 at my friend Sarah's annual Christmas Party. This is one of those rare photos in which both people are looking at the camera, there is no glare from my glasses, and everyone is smiling.

Here we are having dinner with my dad. I think this was taken in 2005. The quality isn't as good because it was taken with a disposable camera and scanned. I didn't join the digital age until late in 2007, so most early photos of me and Brian are actually in photo albums and not on a desktop.

We're out celebrating one of my best friend's birthdays (Leah!) here. I'm drawing a complete blank on where this was taken, too. Maybe I do need Facebook, after all. I love the red lights in the background, though!

This was taken at Brian's younger sister's wedding in October 2009.

...and maybe the seventh year will finally be the charm for us!

09 March 2011

Sarah Burton's Ice Queen and Court for McQueen

The question over at Alexander McQueen, since the loss of the maestro himself, has been how much should Sarah Burton mesh her individual creativity with the vision that McQueen had himself for his label. After viewing her first complete solo collection for the house of Alexander McQueen, I think she did both perfectly. She married her talents and unique point of view with the raw genius of that of Alexander McQueen in the brilliantly-themed "The Ice Queen and Her Court" collection.

It was a collection of both light and airy and tough and edgy clothing, with little color. Nearly every shoe was a platform laced boot of white or black. Models also wore caps of feathers, fur hoods, and little visible makeup. The collection wasn't entirely wearable, but I don't think it needs to be. There is always a client for those who produce fanciful clothing. In fact, there is one dress in particular that I would be lining up to purchase...

I loved the opening look modeled by Freja as the Ice Queen herself.

I could see Daphne Guinness wearing this.

I hope that isn't real fur since I find this entire look highly wearable.

This looks like an ideal suit for the office to me.

Another gorgeous Ice Queen look. I wonder if Tilda Swinton's role in "The Chronicles of Narnia" was partial inspiration for this collection...

Just the slightest touch of color in this delicate lavender ensemble.

And the most beautiful, breath-taking dress of all. Sarah Burton must have a window into my dreams because this is exactly what I have envisioned wearing for a wedding. Time to start saving! I.want.this.dress.

(** all images from style.com**)

Vintage Linda Evangelista

This photo of Linda Evangelista by Mario Testino is one of my absolute favorite fashion photos. It was taken for V Magazine in 2001 and also appeared in Testino's "Portraits" exhibit at London's National Portrait Gallery, where I snatched up this postcard in the museum gift shop. I love the neon green backdrop, the black lace headpiece, and, most of all, the expression on Linda's face. There aren't too many models like her around these days.

(** image: Linda Evangelista, V Magazine, 2001, Paris, Mario Testino; National Portrait Gallery, London**)

04 March 2011

Jesus Statue Puts Swiebodzin on the Map

What does the Polish city of Swiebodzin have in common with Rio de Janeiro? Both cities are home to the world's tallest statues of Jesus Christ. While Rio's world-famous "Christ the Redeemer" formerly held the title of World's Tallest Jesus Statue, Poland's "Christ the King" has now claimed this honor. The new statue in Poland stands at 33 meters tall, which represents one meter for each year of Christ's life. This statue of Christ also includes a giant crown, which puts the statue at 51 meters tall. Rio's Christ statue towers in at 38 meters tall and overlooks the whole of the city atop a mountain.

I would love to know what my Christian friends think of this trend in building large statues of Jesus Christ. Is it in poor taste? Is it a proud symbol of everlasting faith? According to The Christian Science Monitor, feelings are mixed in Poland with some Polish Catholics feeling that the statue represents "megalomania" and "grandiosity." Others, like Bishop Stefan Regmunt, believe that the statue is an affirming sign of faith. And, of course, local businesspeople (and likely tourism agents) hope that the iconography of the statue will attract more visitors to Poland.

I've dreamed of visiting Christ the Redeemer ever since I saw "The Chipmunk Adventure" as a young child. (I still tear up when I hear "Off to See the World.") And I'd love to see Christ the King, too, especially since it's in my motherland.

03 March 2011

Mum's the Word at Vogue

Is anyone else surprised that no one from Vogue has released a statement about John Galliano? The incident has practically monopolized Cathy Horyn's writings for the Times this week. Editors from Italian Vogue and the International Herald Tribune have offered their insight and opinions on the matter. Natalie Portman was quick to condemn what Galliano said and to distance herself from Dior. Why hasn't anyone over at Vogue said anything? They haven't even acknowledged that the incident happened. I've checked their website (www.vogue.com) all week for headlines and...nothing. I know they're in the midst of Paris Fashion Week, but this will likely be the biggest issue confronting the fashion community all year. So, why are we hearing crickets on this matter from Vogue?

Anna, are you out there?

01 March 2011

The End of an Era

Well, it's official. John Galliano has been fired from Christian Dior over accusations of anti-Semitic comments. Who would have guessed that something like this would happen? I still can't believe how quickly this unfolded.

I have been hoping that there is more to the story than we are hearing, but after viewing the video of Galliano making those statements, I just don't know. I am deeply saddened to see Galliano's fantastic career come to an end (not to mention the ongoing defamation of his talent), but I'm even more disappointed to see someone I admired so much act in such a way. This is indeed the end of an era for many reasons.

I'm continuing to read up on this issue. There will no doubt be more discussion as it continues to develop.

(** image from style.com**)

28 February 2011

And the Oscar for Best Dressed Goes To...

This year's red carpet was filled with gorgeous fashions, but three women undeniably stole the show: Michelle Williams, Cate Blanchett, and new-comer Hailee Steinfeld.

Michelle Williams was utterly flawless in Chanel Couture. She nailed the entire look, from the perfect pixie haircut to the relatively jewelry-free embellishments. Red Carpet glamour doesn't get much better than this.

Cate Blanchett looked highly original in Givenchy. Some may have criticized the silhouette of this dress, but I loved it. I also thought it was true to the aesthetics that Blanchett is known for. It takes a certain style to carry off this dress, and Blanchett did so perfectly.

How refreshing is it to see a young woman in an entirely age-appropriate look? Hailee Steinfeld won over the masses not only for her Oscar-nominated role in "True Grit," but for her impeccable taste in choosing this beautiful Marchesa gown.

My other favorites included Gwyneth Paltrow in Calvin Klein, Halle Berry in Marchesa, and Scarlett Johansson in Dolce & Gabbana. I also loved all of the dresses that host Anne Hathaway wore throughout the show (but not the dress she arrived in- sorry, Valentino!). There were a few dresses that I didn't care for. Nicole Kidman's Dior just reminded me of a seashell. I thought Amy Adams could have improved her dark blue dress by removing the bold necklace and wearing her hair up. As for best dressed male? Andrew Garfield in Louis Vuitton, though I could be a bit biased by the fact that he is also quite handsome.

Other fashion high-notes included Colin Firth thanking Tom Ford in his acceptance speech (loved that!) and Natalie Portman thanking the Mulleavy Sisters (even if they weren't technically the costume designers) for their work in "Black Swan."

All in all, it was a very fashionable evening!

(** images from vogue.com**)

25 February 2011

Prada's Ladylike Innocence

It was such a thrill to watch the new Prada collection live yesterday. There's something so energizing about watching the models storm down the runway, wearing clothes never before seen. I loved the atmosphere and music, too. But now that the collection has been viewed, it's time to really think about what Ms. Prada presented.

The collection featured no pants, only skirts and knee-length dresses this time around. The clothing also had a dainty, childlike feel to it, or an "unattainable girlishness," as Tim Blanks put it. I really loved that element of the clothing, though! I adore youthful looks that require slim physiques (i.e. no bust) in order to successfully carry off. Despite the unassuming, ladylike aesthetics, the collection was undeniably provocative, with models decked out in python boots, fur, and sequins. There's nothing childlike about knee-high snakeskin boots! My favorite pieces were the dresses that featured giant plastic scales, leaving Tim Blanks to wonder if they were meant to portray serpents or mermaids. That's the genius behind Miuccia Prada: she always leaves you with something intellectual to ponder.

I agree with Blanks that there was something off-putting about the way the models clutched their bags. I love accessories, but maybe they could have done without the bags? Or at least without holding them in such a strange manner? I am crazy about those shoes, though!

Exquisite use of color! And there are those python boots that were referenced. There's definitely a juxtaposition between the young and the more sophisticated happening in this look.

I could see this as a prep school uniform, but the fur also gives it a much more advanced, grown-up feel.

Now we're moving into my favorite part of the collection. I thought the shimmering scales were brilliant. This look is flawless, and I'd wear everything from head to toe.

Can you tell that I really love yellow? The burgundy cap gives this look a bit of a twenties, flapper feel, but the boots seem reminiscent of the sixties. Regardless of era, this is perfection.

I really prefer seeing the clothes unobstructed by the handbags.

There's something very delicate about this final look. Gorgeous shoes, too.

Miuccia Prada explained that she was "curious about women" and wanted "to challenge their passion." It showed in this collection.

(** images and quotes from style.com**)

Breaking News: Galliano Suspended from Dior

In case you've missed the breaking headlines in The New York Times and New York Magazine (and WWD, Vogue UK, etc.), news from France has just revealed that John Galliano has been suspended from his duties at Dior for allegedly making an anti-Semitic comment to a couple in Paris. The story is still unfolding but the details that I have read so far suggest that Mr. Galliano had been out at a café in the Marais district when the incident occurred. The exact details of the event are still not known, as sources from Vogue UK suggested another side to the story. Mr. Galliano had previously been drinking, however. According to The Cut, his blood alcohol level at the time of the incident was 1.0, with the legal limit for driving in Paris being 0.5.

Christian Dior released the following statement, as reported by Reuters: "Dior affirms with the utmost conviction its policy of zero tolerance toward any anti-Semitic racist words or behavior," Sidney Toledano.

Should Mr. Galliano be suspended from the company for the incident, though? I can see where Christian Dior is coming from. Dior is one of the biggest, most influential companies in the fashion industry and they can't have the face of the company be someone who makes racist remarks. On the other hand, in defense of Galliano, the incident was non-violent (i.e. he didn't attack anyone, no one was injured) and information is still inconclusive. Should his responsibilities be stripped because of hearsay? What do you think?

I really hope they can sort this out. We need the creative genius of John Galliano!

(** image from style.com**)

24 February 2011

Prada Live from Milan

We are truly witnessing the democratization of the fashion industry. The Fall 2011 Prada Collection will be streamed live from Milan any minute now. Actually, the show was scheduled to begin at noon, or 6 p.m. in Milan, but what respectable fashion show ever starts on time? It's kind of daunting to consider that those of us who are watching the live stream of the show will be able to view the new collection at the exact same time as, say, Anna Wintour, Anna della Russo, Anna Piaggi (wow, never considered how many "Anna's" there are in the biz), and celebrities and socialites alike. I think that's pretty exciting.

If you have access to a computer and want to catch the live show (or perhaps watch it later), T Magazine and New York Magazine's The Cut are both streaming the collection...as soon as it begins.

Happy viewing!

23 February 2011

Street Style Four Ways

Now that New York Fashion Week has ended, it's London's turn to showcase where they believe fashion is heading next. Admittedly, I'm a little behind in viewing all of the collections, both for NYFW and what has been presented so far in London. What I'm a little more interested in lately is what those attending the shows will be wearing. With the meteoric rising of personal style blogs, what you see worn at the shows is now as important as what you see presented at the shows themselves. Of the four major fashion capitals (New York, Milan, Paris, and London) London is in my mind always the leader when it comes to whimsical, original street style. Here's my assessment on all of the four majors:

LONDON: Check out blogger Phil Oh's excellent photos for Vogue from the opening days of London Fashion Week to get an idea of what puts London street style in a class unto itself. You have bright colors, patterns (even the banana-printed Prada that I thought would be impossible to wear!), mohair heels, creative hairstyles, neons, high and low looks, dressed up versus dressed down styles, and eccentric hair pieces. I just feel that London street style is all-inclusive and all-out adventurous. You can really only pull off some of these looks in London. Looking a little weird or "out there" is never a problem and Londoners always seem to be following their own beat when it comes to fashion. Maybe that's part of why I always feel so at home there.

NEW YORK: This is the place for dressed-up head-to-toe black looks. Stylish New Yorkers tend to be more formal than other fashion capitals and usually way ahead of the trends. Bill Cunningham is always able to hone in on what's happening in fashion by photographing the emerging trends here. What's up next? There's definitely something happening with the length of the skirt, as evidenced by Mr. Cunningham's recent photos here. So New York.

MILAN: The Italians pull off high-wattage glamour better than anyone else. This is the country that gave us Valentino, Armani, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Fendi, and Pucci after all. The stylish Milanese take fashion a step further than merely being dressed up. It's all about the glitz here.

PARIS: Parisians know more about fashion than just about anyone else. Charles Worth may have been British, but Gabrielle Chanel was French. The look here is elegant, understated, chic with a capital "C," and sophisticated. The French seem to appreciate fashion history as much as they understand where fashion is heading. The work that Karl Lagerfeld produces for Chanel year after year is certainly indicative of this. It doesn't change much, but it always looks fresh and new. I don't know how the Parisians do it.

(The above photo wasn't taken in any of the four fashion capitals, but it's my absolute favorite street style photo.)

22 February 2011

Emma Watson's Bewitching Valentino

I have a huge confession. I have not seen a single Harry Potter film in its entirety. Not a single one. I've tried many times to make it through the first movie, but I've fallen asleep every time. Conventional wisdom would indicate that I'd be a huge fan of the Harry Potter franchise. It takes place in England, my earthly paradise. It was filmed (partially) at Oxford University, where the greatest four months of my life took place. The main characters are enrolled in boarding school, which is one of my odd interests (I used to request catalogs from schools like Andover, Groton, and Western Reserve Academy for my younger brother...he wasn't so amused). I've even visited the real-life inspiration for Hogwart's in Edinburgh. Despite these similarities, I still haven't cottoned on to the lore of Harry Potter.

Yet, I find Emma Watson absolutely fascinating. Well, as far as actresses/ celebrities go. She is well-spoken, highly educated, academically ambitious, and fashion-forward. If she appears on the cover of a fashion magazine, I actually read the interview, as opposed to fast-forwarding through it like I do with 99% of other actor/actress interviews. I love that she is willing to take risks with fashion, even as a young woman. One need not look any further than her new pixie haircut for evidence of her daring nature. She has also carved out her own identity and aesthetics through fashion, which I find laudable. Take a look at this beautiful Valentino Couture confection that she recently wore to the British Academy Film Awards. Even Hermione would be impressed!

Maybe I'll try to watch the first Harry Potter movie one more time...

(** image from vogue.com**)

18 February 2011

Hamish Bowles to Address the Oxford Union

The world's most famous debating chamber is set to host one of the world's foremost experts on fashion next Wednesday, February 23rd. Hamish Bowles won't just be in Europe for the various fashion weeks of London, Milan, and Paris; he also has the privilege of being the invited guest at the Oxford Union. This exciting news has me contemplating both a ticket to London and a quick dusting off of my old Oxford Student ID.

The Oxford Union is one of those magical institutions that make Oxford so unique. It's a members-only club for which you pay hefty dues. This membership, however, gives you access to the excellent library, bar, student services, activities, and, of course, world-famous speakers. When I was at Oxford for the Hillary Term, I was thrilled that Sir Paul Smith would be one of the featured guests. I was actually able to shake his hand and mumble something about being an admirer of his work. I have other fond memories from the Oxford Union, though. I recall how my friends and I decided to participate in the OUSU (Oxford Union Student Union) pub crawl. I believe I still have the t-shirt for that event. What a fun night! And, of course, I enjoyed studying in the OU's library, which, while small, always had hidden nooks and crannies for quiet studiers.

Hamish Bowles mentioned on Vogue.com that he is excited for this opportunity, and he has every reason to be. By speaking at the Oxford Union, he'll be joining a prestigious list of guests that has included the Dali Lama, Mother Teresa, John McCain, Michael Jackson, Jon Bon Jovi, Clint Eastwood, W.B. Yeats, President Carter, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Stephen Hawking. In addition, twelve British Prime Ministers have either been members or officers in the Union, including Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher. This place is steeped in history.

So, what might Mr. Bowles address at the Union? I would hope he would focus on his curatorial work for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as his most recent project, "Balenciaga: Spanish Master" for the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York. The fat that the Oxford Union has asked more and more people in the fashion community (I believe Anna Wintour was asked to speak two years ago) suggests to me that fashion is not frivolous and that it is a subject worthy of serious academic and intellectual thought. I hope Hamish Bowles will continue to convey that message when he meets with some of the UK's finest students next week.

17 February 2011

A Candle for Hope

Lighting the symbolic candle and hoping...and hoping...

15 February 2011

Best in Show

The models of New York Fashion Week aren't the only ones strutting their stuff on the runway this week. Monday also marked the beginning of another kind of fashion week: The 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. America's oldest and most prestigious dog show began yesterday and will culminate with the title of Best in Show awarded this evening. Although one dog in Westminster history has won the coveted honor of Best in Show three times, there is only one dog who is truly Best in Show to me. He is a champion Chihuahua whose beauty is only surpassed by his kind heart and genuine soul. He is a constant source of comfort, a lifelong companion, and the best friend a person could ever ask for.

His name is Magglio, but he is most commonly referred to as "the Popple" or any variety of the following nicknames: Poppsy, Pop Pop, the P.O.P., young pooch, the favorite, or the blessed pooch. He is sometimes referred to as a shaman or mystic because he possesses special, other-worldly powers. I sing songs or "Popple carols" in his honor and, because dogs are so tonal, I also have various songs that indicate mealtime, treats, walks, "business strolls," road trips, and the sighting of deer or squirrels.

The Popple and I do everything together. We go on nature walks, discuss philosophy or Buddhism (he's an excellent listener), eat together, read, etc. This has been a rather tumultuous, unhappy year for me, so he has always lent a shoulder for me to cry on as well (or perhaps it is the salty taste of tears that he really likes?). I often tease my boyfriend by saying that the Popple and I are soul mates who are on a life journey together. The only thing is, I'm not kidding.

Here he is in all of his glory:

He has a very contemplative nature. When he is not meditating (or sleeping), he can often be seen pondering the meaning of life (above) or suggesting answers to life's mysteries.

Much like his mother, he has a very trained eye for aesthetics. This coat is replete with an Edwardian collar, water-resistant fabric, and light-reflecting panels, so it is both functional and fashionable.

In order to maintain his statuesque physique, he is very conscious about what food he consumes. He is seen here overseeing the preparation of homemade cookies. Being the gourmand that he is, however, he shies away from most baked goods. A few of his favorite foods include fresh (not frozen!) shrimp lightly glazed in sugar, mature cheddar varieties from New Zealand and Ireland, water infused with the essence of cucumber or berry (only in the summer), and honey-roasted turkey breast.

One of his favorite hobbies is chewing rawhide sticks. He prefers to scatter half-chewed sticks around the apartment along with bits of kibble so that he is never far from a source of entertainment. We can't even begin to understand the complexities of his mind, so I never question his actions.

Sunbathing is another one of his daily pleasures, most often enjoyed with a member of his inner circle. Fox is currently his most trusted companion, so he is usually given the privilege of the Popple's company, as seen here. He just has an unrivaled zest for life.

In addition to being a soothsayer of sorts, he is also deeply compassionate and concerned about cultivating relationships with his coterie of stuffed animals. His circle of friends includes Fox (pictured above), Moose, Sheepe (his oldest advisor), Dragon (of Welsh origins), Pig, Hedgehog, Mallard, and the shunned Cow, who was unfortunately removed from his close circle for unknown reasons.

Weather-permitting, the Popple enjoys sitting on the balcony and communing with the natural elements. I am always astounded by his regal presence, as he demonstrates in this photo.

Being this magical can be exhausting, though. He requires much sleep, private meditation, and personal time in order to hone his inner being. Recently, Brian and I have begun discussing his many Buddha-like qualities. It is possible that someone so young (he just celebrated his fifth year) has already achieved enlightenment. He graciously shares his wisdom with other canines of his size and stature.

When I begin writing his biography, the title will likely take inspiration from St. Teresa of Avila's The Way of Perfection, for he is as close to perfection as can be achieved. Compassionate, selfless, generous, erudite, inspirational. The Popple embodies all of these qualities and so much more. There is no doubt that he is truly Best in Show.

11 February 2011

Katie Couric Meets The Style Rookie

The title of her blog might be a bit of a misnomer these days. She has sat front row at New York Fashion Week, met Karl Lagerfeld, been flown to Tokyo, and is getting ready to launch a magazine. Contrary to what her ironically-named blog might suggest, Tavi Gevinson is anything but a style rookie. She can now add being interviewed by Katie Couric to her long list of impressive teenage accomplishments.

In the March issue of Glamour, Katie Couric asks the 14-year old blogging-sensation the questions that anyone who is familiar with Tavi might be wondering. Who are her style influences? What inspires her own unique sense of fashion? How does she manage to be a normal high school student and jet around the globe attending fashion shows and industry parties? How does she handle the criticism she receives from fashion insiders? And, how did someone from a Chicago suburb fall into the world of high fashion?

Tavi thoughtfully answers all of these questions, while revealing herself to be someone who is genuinely intellectually curious about the world. One of my favorite comments from the entire interview was this one: "If I hear about something and I don't know what it is, I find out." I think intellectual curiosity is the single greatest attribute a person can have. Perhaps that is why Tavi is able to write about everything from the music of Bob Dylan to the eccentric fashions of Rei Kawakubo with such authority and zeal. I may have been skeptical when she first emerged on the fashion scene, but I think this interview may have won me over. If someone has the courage and conviction to follow his/her passions, not to mention succeed, that should be applauded.

Despite her high profile in the fashion community, Tavi also revealed that she has remained rather grounded. When asked if she plays sports, Tavi responded by saying, "Oh God, I'm awful at sports. In gym I just try and avoid getting hit in the face." That was basically my strategy during gym class! I used to get in trouble for hiding my note cards in my baseball mit or pockets during gym class. Hey, I didn't want to waste valuable study time! I also loved how she explained that her love for fashion is truly an outlet for her own creativity and personal exploration, which is how it should be. Nothing else has the power to transform quite like fashion.

In sum, this was an excellent interview. I really enjoyed reading Tavi's responses. Fortunately, Ms. Couric did not throw her a curve ball by asking her to name one of those books she's been reading. Though, I doubt Tavi would have had any difficulty doing so.

** interview quotations and photo from www.glamour.com**

07 February 2011

How to Wear Prada Spring RTW

You may recall that Prada Spring RTW 2011 was one of the more unorthodox collections to make its way down the runway. The collection included bright stripes of orange and magenta, prints of monkeys and bananas (???), and mismatched, seemingly unflattering palettes and silhouettes. Yet the young actress Hailee Steinfeld managed to pull off a look from the runway flawlessly. In fact, I didn't think it was possible for Prada Spring RTW to look this perfect. The dress suits her youthful vitality and the colors are incredibly flattering on her. She also looks magnificently age-appropriate and classy in this dress. This beautiful dress secured her a place in this week's list of the Ten Best Dressed on Vogue.com.

In contrast, here is the runway version of her dress.

I think model Valerija Kelava wears this dress incredibly well, but I find the real-life interpretation of the dress even more flattering and wearable. Then again, shouldn't great fashion translate well from the runway to reality? I might have to reconsider the merits of this collection after seeing the perfect interpretation of one of the runway looks.

(** top photo from vogue.com; bottom photo from style.com**)

03 February 2011

A Walk Down Memory Lane

On these particularly cold or dreary days, I like to reminisce about happier, sunnier times. Looking at old travel photos for my War and Peace post also inspired me to look at all of my old travel albums. I had so much fun scanning those photos, that I thought I would share some more travel memories. All of these photos are pre-digital camera, which has its flaws and perks. The flaws are that the quality is not as high and that the amount of photos I can take is greatly limited. The perks to taking photos without a digital camera, though, are that you actually develop the pictures, as opposed to leaving them on your computer or desktop for all eternity. I also miss the days of taking my camera to CVS and then waiting to see the developed pictures for the first time.

So here are a few fond travel memories!

One of my very first trips to Europe is still one of my absolute favorites. This picture was taken in the Boboli Gardens in Florence in April 2004. Toward the end of the Michaelmas term at Oxford, my friend Kristen and I left to backpack around Europe. Kristen planned the trip completely on her own (this was before I became the trip-planning master that I am now), booking all of the flights and arranging all of our accommodations (including two stays with friends of hers who were studying abroad in Florence and Rome). I hadn't planned on traveling outside the UK, but I've always been grateful to Kristen for the effort that she put into making that trip possible.

Here we are in Riomaggiore, a city in the Italian Riveria's Cinque Terre. Kristen's older brother had traveled to this part of Italy while he studied abroad, so Kristen made sure that we got to visit this picturesque part of Italy, too. We are preparing for the big hike between the cities in this photo. I'm wearing a cord blazer and leather trainers from the Banana Republic, which is about as casual as I ever get. Kristen was much better prepared for the long hike! (She's also sporting the official jumper of New College, the college that we were both visiting students in at Oxford.)

This beautiful picture was taken during the hike, which is still one of my fondest travel memories ever. We spent time in all of the cities (Corniglia, Manarola, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare), stopping for meals and, of course, gelato along the way. We also visited the beach and took a boat ride back to our starting point of Riomaggiore. Oh, and the trail was littered with dozens and dozens of cats.

After Italy, we flew from Rome to Barcelona for 15 euros. This was back when the budget airlines (Easyjet, Ryanair) actually were cheap, so it was easy and inexpensive to jet around Europe. I absolutely adored Barcelona! It was beautiful, clean, organized, and a wonderland of culture and art. Kristen and I also scored a huge deal at the Tourist Office (something I never visit), reserving a luxurious hotel for a fraction of the asking price. Having a decent place to stay when you're traveling can make a world of a difference! Anyhow, Barcelona was just magnificent. This photo was taken at Parc Guell, which was designed by Gaudi. I believe this bench is one of the longest benches in the world.

This picture was taken in another one of my favorite cities: Antwerp, Belgium. I visited Antwerp while I was in Belgium visiting my family in Brussels in May/June 2005. Antwerp is a fantastic city for lovers of fashion and art. I visited the Mode Museum and caught a glimpse of many of the original boutiques of the Antwerp Fabled Six, a group of designers who all graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts around the same time (Ann Demeulemeester and Dries van Noten are probably the most well known). I really loved the setting for this photo, but I mostly took it for the Union Jack. Can you spot it?

While in Belgium, I also decided to take a little weekend trip to nearby Amsterdam. My aunt booked the train ticket for me and dropped my off at the small station in Waterloo. I didn't have any plans beyond that (no booked accommodations, etc.). I ended up meeting a group of American students in one of the connecting stations who were traveling from Paris to Amsterdam. After chatting for a bit, I asked if I could tag along with them in Amsterdam. That is definitely one of the perks of solo travel- you never know who you're going to meet. Both my sister and I traveled solo to Amsterdam, making friends (in my case) and encountering highly unusual characters (in my sister's case). This picture was taken in front of the Rijksmuseum. Any traveler to Europe knows that those "statues" are inescapable.

Back in the UK. I visited Windsor and Eton during the summer of 2005. While my term at Oxford included many side trips around England (Cambridge, Stonehenge, Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon), I had not made it to Windsor yet. The trip from London was a short 30-minute train ride, even with the British Rail being partially closed for repairs. I walked around the castle with two American students and then made my way to Eton College. I have a minor obsession with prep/ boarding schools, medieval colleges, and the Ivy League, so I had dreamed of visiting Eton since my middle school days. It was as idyllic as I had always imagined.

I made it back to London, unknowingly, in time for the Trooping of the Colour, which is the Queen's official birthday celebration. While walking around Buckingham Palace, I met an older English couple who lived in London and attended the celebration every year. They told me where to stand for the best photo ops of the Royal Family. It's hard to tell, but Prince William and Prince Harry are the two wearing tall hats in the carriage in this picture. Camilla Parker-Bowles is sitting across from them. After the processional, airplanes fly over the palace and the entire Royal Family waves to the public. I was so happy to be able to experience English pageantry in all its glory.

Here is the Royal Castle of Warsaw, which my sister and I visited during our trip to Poland in February/ March 2006. It was bitterly cold while we were there, but we had a fantastic time exploring our heritage. Up to this point, Poland was probably the most foreign place we had visited. During our stay in Warsaw and Krakow, we only met two other Americans (a father and daughter who were traveling around Eastern Europe), yet the Polish people that we did meet were incredibly kind and helpful to us. On the public transit (a small above-ground bus line), we met a librarian at the University of Warsaw who offered to ride the tram with us until we made it to the Old Town Square from our hotel. We were definitely able to practice our Polish, but almost every young person spoke flawless English. Imagine being Polish and traveling to the U.S. without being able to speak English!
I can't wait to go back to Poland when it's a bit warmer.

After Krakow, we flew to Berlin, which is another impressive city. I loved how modern and cosmopolitan Berlin was. We visited the Film Museum because my sister is a huge film buff. It was probably one of the most unique museums I have ever visited- interactive and filled with exhibits on every aspect of the film industry in Germany.

We took an audio guided tour of the enormous Schloss Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin. What I loved most about the Palace was how every single room had its own unique purpose and design. There was a "Chinese Room," a "winter room," a "ballroom." I just loved the ornate details and decorations. It certainly gave me inspiration for my own future abode!

What are some of your fondest travel memories?