Monday, August 27, 2007

007. English tweed and French flair...

Newsboy cap by J.Crew, $49

J.Crew seems to be shaping up nicely this fall. Their array of cashmere sweaters, ruffled blouses, and bookish prints (see example here) is a welcome respite from the some of the more garish pieces being featured this season. And check out their adorable French-esque montage on the main page of the website. Is that the Seine I see? Ooh la la!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

006. Shades of gray.

Fashion news flash: apparently the "it" color for the season is gray. (Another set of hues also rumored to be big this fall: metallics, but I ask you, when have metallics ever not been big? Gold and silver will never go out of style. Duh.)

At first, I was baffled - no, dismayed - by the extensive amount of gray flooding the scene. There were gray dresses, gray shoes, gray scarves, gray handbags en masse. And quite frankly, I freaked. Because gray is not exactly my color. In fact, I don't even consider it to be a color. It's gray, for god's sake. Gray is what you associate with obsolete, ancient black-and-white films. It's the epitome of drabness, even more so than black. Black is sexy. Gray is...well...boring. And it washes you out! I scoffed at the idiocy of the trend.

But I kept on looking. (I couldn't help it; everywhere I went, I saw gray.) And slowly, I began to come around. I began to notice the subtleties of a single color. Gray can be warm or cold, metallic or misty. It has been proven that once you've been subjected to the same thing repetitively for a long period of time, the mind attempts to find variety, to keep itself sane. And so I began to notice the variety that a color I formerly considered so drab could possess.

Here are just a few of the gray gems I've been lusting after recently:
Botkier Bryant Large Hobo
Marni Sleeveless Dress
Diane Von Furstenburg Ungaro Dress in Multi
Morphine Generation Script Hoodie in Night and Knit Vest in Steel
Pedro Garcia Daimi Suede Pumps

The key to working the gray this fall is moderation and contrast: balance gray with more vivid colors, and don't wash yourself out by overdoing either.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

005. Cover up: gloves for fall!

My sister has been taking horseback riding lessons since she was eleven, and having done a little riding myself, I can testify to the absolute rural grunge of the experience. I mean, the magazines totally glorify it, what with their tidy little Ralph Lauren ensembles and those damn Balenciaga riding helmets. Even cowgirl couture looks polished and well oiled.

In reality, even for the wealthy, it makes little sense to wear something stylish and beautiful when you're out in the ring because it will inevitably be ruined in some way or another. Horses drool, dust is everywhere, and you're exposed to any and all weather conditions. So for a long time, I feared for my sister's fashion sense. I thought, what an atmosphere to grow up in! A place where comfort is often valued over appearance - the very contradiction to the fashion maxim Beauty is pain!

You will imagine my surprise when I stumbled onto the treasure trove that is Bits & Bridles Tack Shop. Adorable plaid jackets with those little elbow flaps: check. Sleek knee-high riding boots and chunky lace-up paddock boots, available in both new and vintage: check. Beautiful leather gloves for a mere $32 (pictured above): check. In summary: do not discount your local tack shop. Mulberry gloves for fall aren't even out, yet somehow this place is already stocking comparable leather goods in its dressage section. Diamonds in the rough, I tell you!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

004. Downgrading cost but preserving quality: priceless.

Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am a bag snob. I like expensive bags. Actually, I love expensive bags. And I buy them...again and again. I am always searching for a cheaper alternative, but I am addicted to the illustrious brand names, the high quality, the, the--je ne sais quoi.

But. Every once in a while I fall in love with a more reasonably priced line of bags. Linea Pelle is one such case. The handbags are priced between $300-$500, with clutches under $150.

Angie Satchell in Crimson

Gah, that gorgeous lipstick red! Temptation! But if you're looking for something similar in a smaller size, Linea Pelle also happens to make a clutch-sized version for a mere $125. What a steal!

003. Kaaarl...

Okay, so I'll admit that I'm pretty much out of the loop when it comes to documentaries, but when I caught wind of a documentary called Lagerfeld Confidential that has apparently been exhibited at the German Film Festival, I got intrigued and started researching it.

I still haven't found a leak to the video online, but during my search, I discovered another documentary on YouTube called "Signe Chanel." It apparently aired on the BBC last fall. The person who uploaded the series of videos describes them as a "rare look into Karl Lagerfeld and the House of Chanel."

The highlight of that first video is definitely the narrator's syrupy cooing in French. "Kaaarl Lagerfeld. Kaaarrl... Kaaarrrlllll..." What the heck was going on during that voice recording session? Anyhoo.

The director of this series is
Loïc Prigent, who has also apparently done a documentary on Marc Jacobs. I definitely can't wait until that one becomes available...

Friday, August 10, 2007

002. Caveat emptor.

I must be blunt: one of my biggest pet peeves is knockoff designer bags. The things are loathsome. The fake leather, the cheaply manufactured buckles, the bad stitching...oh, it burns, it burns!

But far be it from me to scorn people who can't afford the real thing. I completely sympathize if you aren't able to buy high-end designer accessories. I may own a Chanel, but the money I used to purchase that bag did not come out of a trust fund. (Truth be told, it came out of the parental food check during my study abroad trip to London; I was living on porridge for weeks.) I may aspire to have the It items - but as a member of the upper-middle class, I am only able to afford a scant few true couture accessories per season. No one should feel ashamed if she can't afford a shiny new authentic Chanel. Many feel that the only alternative is to buy the knockoff.

I occasionally wish that I, too, could have the guts to buy a knockoff, even though it can't possibly match the intricate craftsmanship of a real designer bag. The siren song emanates from the street stands, and the voice in your head whispers, "But I want so very badly for my friends/my co-workers/the dogwalker across the street and her seventeen Pomeranians to be jealous of me, and all it takes is fifty bucks instead of fifteen hundred. They'll never be able to tell the difference between a real and a fake. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. I'm entitled to an It bag, too, aren't I?"

Perhaps, but purchasing a fake may not produce the desired effect (envy, worship).

Okay, so. Overall, consumer relations function largely according to the principles of supply and demand. Example: You see a celebrity carrying a particular designer bag. Because it is available to the elite but difficult for the lay person to get ahold of, it becomes desirable. Low supply, high demand. Then consider the consequences of those sweatshops in Asia churning out replica after replica: Supply goes up. Ergo, demand goes down. The coveted item has, through the process of knockoff production, dwindled to a cheap trick. No one's going to be jealous of you when they can easily get the very same thing. So what was the point of all that? You want the replica just so you can say you surfed the Marc Jacobs Stam bag wave?

I think some people will say that they want the knockoff because it is their only way of paying tribute to a bag they find beautiful. That's a good point. However, it does not take into consideration the long hours that the original designer spent designing the bag and prepping it for utilitarian wear (FYI: it takes nearly a year for a leather designer handbag to hit the market after its conception, because it must pass a rigorous set of tests and procedures to ensure that it will hold up under daily stressors). Keep in mind that you are paying your respects to the owner of a sweatshop (who has, might I add, ripped off someone else's intellectual property) rather than the designer him- or herself. If you want to honor the artisan(s) who have brainstormed a product, cut out pictures from a magazine, create a shrine, and burn candles. Or set the image as your desktop wallpaper. I don't care. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it's not right for the imitation to make profits from the original.

So go ahead and buy your fakes and replicas. It is your choice to make. Myself, I like the feeling that I've worked my frickin' ass off to pay the insane amount of money it costs to buy Miu Mius and Marnis these days. I like to feel that I've earned it, even if other people don't recognize that it's even authentic, and people who walk around carrying a decent-looking replica piss me off because they've accomplished the same look for much less.

In conclusion: authentic handbags are ultimately more fulfilling, but I suppose I can be understanding if you want to save your money for, say, the noble purpose of paying your monthly mortgage. (N.B.: you can always patronize such sites as when desperate times call for desperate measures.) And there are plenty of small-scale designers who produce fantastic bags for decent prices. Don't cheapen yourself by buying an It Bag simply because it's an It Bag. You can do better than that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

001. Initiation.

Inevitable: that this fashion blog should be conceived at 1:17 AM on a Tuesday morning. But after all, the best things in life spring into existence at the most bizzare moments in time.

To christen this wonderful moment, I conjure forth an effigy of beloved Nicolas Ghesquière, who has been an enormous source of inspiration to me as I worship, adore, and learn about the art of clothing design and the enormous role that fashion plays in the modern world.

Thank you, sir. And here's to many happy returns.