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?

01 February 2011

Fashioning Twitter

I'm starting to wonder if I fled Twitter too hastily. I haven't missed Facebook one bit, but then again, Facebook didn't give me access to the musings of such fashion-people as André Leon Talley, Carine Roitfeld, Lauren Santo Domingo, Anna Della Russo, and models like Carmen Kass and Agyness Deyn. Granted, I only used Twitter a handful of times, but it was rather interesting to read the casual thoughts from such influential people in the industry.

Who else in the industry is on Twitter these days? Vogue.com just had a great post on that titled "Beauty is A-Twitter" by Ana Dragovic. Dr. Lisa Airan, for instance, is now tweeting. I've admired her since her very first Vogue appearance back in Amy Astley's piece, "The Doctor Wore Prada," in 2001. I always thought she seemed so cool. I loved that she was completely self-made, too. A Northwestern medical grad, she's now one of the most famous dermatologists in NYC, not to mention a fixture on the social and fashion scenes. Julie Macklowe, who has been profiled in Harper's Bazaar and featured in Vogue for her collection of ball gowns and high-end fashion, is also tweeting. Voguettes Meredith Melling Burke and Sarah Brown are also on Twitter, as are models Arlenis Sosa, Jessica Stam, Miranda Kerr, Coco Rocha, Hilary Rhoda, and Chanel Iman.

In just a few minutes exploring what tweets I could see without a Twitter account, I picked up news that Barneys NYC had appointed Amanda Brooks as the new fashion director (Is Simon Doonan still there?). I also came across this gem from TheLSD: "It's not so much the angry rhetoric in politics today, but the liberal use of "flair" on politicians' lapels that offends me so..." Finally- a statement on politics that actually interests me!

With all of the fun fashion quips on Twitter, I just might consider tweeting again!

War and Peace (and fashion?)

Today marks the inaugural day of my February Book Project. Actually, given the length and significance of this book, it's more like my February and March Book Project. You've probably guessed from the title of this post that I'll be reading War and Peace over the next few weeks. This is my little treat for having completed all of my MA and PhD applications. I've been looking forward to reading it for some time, so there seems like no better time than the present to begin one of the greatest books ever written.

There are a few reasons why I have been looking forward to this book so much. I'll start with the most important first. My family is of Russian and Polish descent, and we are extremely (extremely) proud of this heritage. My sister and I are only second-generation American on our paternal grandfather's side. Our Polish and Russian ancestry runs deep. My great-grandfather was a cossack in the Russo-Japan War of 1904. Once upon a time, my father had a fantastic photo of him wearing the traditional cossack uniform. Dad is still hoping to track down this photo. My great-grandfather has another claim to fame of sorts, but the story is so scandalous that you'll have to message me for the details. Growing up, my dad said that they only spoke of this story in hushed whispers. Like most immigrant families in 1950s Cleveland, my dad grew up with someone they referred to as a "D.P." What is a "D.P," you ask? My dad said that a D.P. was a "displaced person" from the Old Country who came over to the U.S. usually by himself. As such, this person took shelter with another immigrant family. My dad said that almost every family in his neighborhood had a D.P. from Russia, Poland, Hungary, etc. I think history like this is fascinating. Preserving Russian and Polish culture is immensely important to us. My dad and uncle support ethnic restaurants, we read Polish and Russian literature, and we try to keep these stories alive.

My sister and I made our first visit to Poland in the winter of 2006. That's me in the below photo in the middle of the Old Town Square.

The dead of winter really isn't the best time to visit Poland (it was freeeeezing!), but we were committed to experiencing part of our heritage. We flew from London Luton (not my favorite of London's airports, to say the least) to Warsaw on Wizz Air. Laura and I were the only Americans aboard the plane, and when we landed everyone clapped. We were a bit more organized for this trip than we usually are. We had hotel reservations in Warsaw and Krakow (we usually land somewhere and "free style" it), followed by plans in Berlin. Poland was pretty magical, though. We visited the Royal Castle in Warsaw and the Wawel in Krakow, which probably made for my all-time favorite travel memory. The food was also delicious. I usually eat pierogies two to three times a week, so to be able to eat them in my Motherland was a real treat. My sister had the biggest pot of goulash, wheeled over on a cart, that I have ever seen while we were in Krakow. The favorable exchange rate made all of these little delicacies possible. We had such an enchanted time in Poland that Laura and I joked we'd be the first of our family to actually return to the Old Country. We came (to the U.S.), we saw....we returned. Next up, we're hoping to spend some time in Russia, ideally taking the Trans-Siberian Rail from Moscow to Beijing.

Aside from the obvious cultural and ethnic connections to a writer like Tolstoy, I'm looking forward to tackling another challenging book. War and Peace is also somewhat relevant in the fashion community. When I met with an editor from Teen Vogue back in 2009, she said that she was currently making her way through War and Peace, as were other editors. And, Lauren Santo Domingo said that War and Peace was her favorite book and that she had read it 13 (13?!) times in an issue of Vogue. Because the book is also one of the greatest sources of life across all socioeconomic backgrounds in Russia, I'm hoping to zone in on some elements of material culture in the book. If I can write about my findings in a way that won't bore you to tears, I may write about them in another blog post.

And, now, with all of that being said, it's time to begin reading!

(** Both photos were taken by me during my trip to Poland in 2006. This was before I had a digital camera, so I scanned these photos from the originals. The top photo was also taken in the Old Town Square of Warsaw. One side of this Square actually shares my surname.**)