Friday, December 19, 2008

050. There and back again.

After a prolonged leave of absence (blame law school. BLAME IT!), I have returned, because I can't stay away any longer (and I am on break!). I went into an Anthropologie for the first time in over two months. I was crazed, it was an explosion of lights, texture, drama, I have missed clothes so badly, it is almost painful.

For some reason, I have saved a lot of links to jewelry, which is surprising because I wear so little of it. I thought I'd create a post memorializing my fascination with things I actually have very low motivation to buy.

Digby & Iona 14-point Stag Ring, $210

I was thinking what fun it would be to name jewelry like this. I'd title this ring "Stag Party." Ha ha...okay, I'll stop.

In God We Trust ID Bracelet with Lion Charm, $40

This is so reasonably priced, and yet so cute. I've had this on my wishlist for the longest time. It can be worn with so many different outfits.

Stephanie Simek pussy willow earrings, $125

I adore jewelry made out of plants, or fashioned after plants.

Bona Drag is one of my favorite online boutiques these days. They have the most interesting things. I bought a Knox NYC bag from their website, and they did such a wonderful job packaging it--special tissue paper and their own mix CD (for free, of course). I only wish they carried more items; their selection is very small.

Made Her Think double band chain ring, $336

Another Bona Drag item. I love that the rings are chained together.

Daydream Nation gold spill necklace, $139

This is a very creative concept. Finally, someone getting metaphorically sloppy with gold. Kind of a metaphor for the American economy right now...

How ironic that none of these items are currently on sale. I reaped the benefits of some really amazing sales yesterday (J.Crew rainboots? Marked down from $88 to $14). It leads me to wonder, how insane will the sales be in January? After all, the mark-downs have only begun. Anticipation!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

049. Fall shopping: Wants, needs, and cheap thrills.

I try to reinvent myself frequently. This is because I feel as though I don't possess a fulcrum; I am all over the place, I am moody and vacillatory, and when it comes to clothes, I have difficulty sticking to a single theme. I love both conservative and rebellious pieces. On the one hand, I am very much an Anthropologie girl at heart, but I also have my rocker roots, and as much as I wanted to throw out all my angry red tops and my jeans with rhinestone skulls and become a cosy, frilly, quietly whimsical girl this autumn once and for all, I've fallen prey to my own unusual tastes yet again. I can't get rid of any part of me quite yet, so I remain chaotic and conflicting.

If there is a unifying theme to my style, it is the eccentricity. I always need an unusual signature piece to center my outfit around, and while my intent is never to startle observers, it usually has that effect. What I find amusing is that lay people do think I have good taste. The funniest incident to date occurred just the other day, when I waltzed into a pizza joint to meet a friend in my black patent platforms, pinstriped skinny blazer, and wayfarers. (Not that crazy an outfit, but let's not belabor the point.) There happened to be a fan blowing full force as I stepped into the establishment and, still having my sunglasses on, apparently, I looked like a "movie star incognito." I think this is flattery coming from most people. But I think it ultimately depends on which celebrity we're talking about. ;) There are only a small handful I find fashionable.

I generally don't feel as though my outfits cohere entirely; but I'd rather wear what I like even if it's a little mismatched, than stick to safe solids and boring cuts. I suppose that's the great debate: keep it safe, or risk a catastrophe? It really just depends on the person; and their decision marks them out for who they are.

Sparrow cardigan, Balenciaga top, Ray-Ban wayfarers

But enough about me. Onto clothes: here are the signature pieces I'm coveting this autumn!

Rachel Comey poe handpainted wedge clog, $375

I have been so obsessed with checker prints on accessories. I own a Cynthia Rowley tote with checker print, but I still can't get enough of it. The Dolce & Gabbana bags from last spring rekindled my interest, and I keep seeing it in odd places. Must have shoes!

Morphine Generation Toile Legging in Purple, $79

I lost interest in leggings pretty quickly. In fact, right now I only own two pairs! How better to bolster my legging collection than with such an unusual set of leggings? And the elastic band looks forgiving. I rarely wear my plain black leggings because they habitually endow me with a muffin top. They fit fine everywhere but the waist, because the band is too narrow and too tight. In contrast, these seem more promising.

Diesel Bubble Wrap Head Bag in Grey, $110

I have been needing a new tote. This one looks tempting. It says the material is nylon, which I take to mean that even though it's a light color, stains could be scrubbed out. And unlike most Diesel bags, the logo is concealed! Hooray, a non-tacky, reasonably priced tote. (But we shall see; I might go for an Orla Kiely if I have the funds. Only time will tell.)

Carolina Amato Unlined Leather Snappy Driver in Green, $41

Okay, I think we all secretly covet the Chanel fingerless gloves. I've basically resigned myself to the fact that until I get a real job, I am not going to be shelling out $700 for two cosmetic scraps of leather. I can't believe these are under $50! I'm afraid if I wait any longer, they're going to be gone (and I'll be bawling my eyes out).

Guinevere Windy Day Cardigan, $128

I'm surprised this is the only Anthropologie piece that made it to the list. Fear not, this will soon be rectified. It IS the most significant piece, the one I've been eyeing for over a month. Since I need a new jacket for fall, I'm planning to make this The One. I love autumn leaves, and the asymmetry of the front is also intriguing...

Botkier Jeanne Pump in Dark Grey & Yellow Suede, $375

I won't be buying these, I'll tell you that - firstly because I'd rather spend $400 on clothes, and secondly because, as I've complained before, suede is bad for shoes. But those colors are heavenly together. Hello, gorgeous.

Anzevino & Florence Triangle Pants in Dark Grey, $158

I like that these pants create a geometric flare.

A Peace Treaty Qatna Scarf, $121

There's nothing else to say about this scarf except: the colors, the colors!

So yes, that's all for now--but I'll be trawling around. Expect more finds later!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

048. The whimsically preppy

What's not to love about Obedient Sons & Daughters? I sure can't think of a single thing.

(I own ancient bedsheets that have this exact print. I'm tempted to make a ruffled blouse out of them now...)

Friday, August 15, 2008

047. Evaluating the eccentric (revisited).

Every once in awhile, I have this recurring conversation with myself. It goes like this:

"That has got to be the most bizarre thing I've ever seen.

"...But...I love it.

"Yeah, it's definitely kind of weird--but--"


I will admit that a significant number of clothing and accessories I own have sprung from the resolution of this particular dialogue. And no, I'm not going to be ashamed about it, because I am most passionate about clothing that is practically offensive in its bombasticness. I'm not talking about a god-awful Gucci monogrammed pair of pants; no, that's just shockingly repulsive (unless you are able to work wonders with the rest of the outfit). When things are shockingly bizarre, at first sight, I am fascinated with them. As I begin to unravel what makes them so unusual, I realize it is the tiny elements which are beautiful and the combination which is odd. And by this time, I've decided whether you like the item, or if it's been badly done.

I'm currently trying to decide whether I like these Marc Jacobs flats.

Okay, so there are probably two potential reactions that people would have for these shoes: 1) Omigod, do we really need more Sesame Street in fashion? Down with the clown shoes! 2) What a beautiful color palette for shoes! I like how playful these look. They would definitely be a signature piece for one of my outfits.

I happen to situate myself closer to the latter camp, but I have a few complaints:

1) Suede sucks. In my experience, suede is even worse than wearing white, because at least you can get something white washed, bleached, or dry cleaned, but suede has this annoying habit of not only attracting dirt, but adhering to it. And let's not de-emphasize the fact that suede also seems to carry static electricity; it picks up everything. And then of course you must remember that suede has that annoying two-tone quality where you have to, like, rub it all in the same direction or it's going to look spotty. Don't get me wrong, I love suede and I wish I could wear it all the time! But it isn't durable. I mean, it is, but it doesn't look good for too long.

2) Marc Jacobs shoes are rarely comfortable. I've tried on so many pairs and, well, this is what I know. My feet have been in bad shape since the beginning of the summer, and for this I will not blame a shoe company, but could a little padding a la Seychelles really hurt? I don't understand why shoemakers don't consider comfort. I hate having to earn my way into a pair of shoes via trial by fire.

3) Is the pom-pom really all that endearing? Hey, I am totally up for pom-poms. I had this teacher in elementary school who endeared me to pom-poms by passing them out in class as a reward for good behavior. She invented this myth about these special pom-poms where they each had a personality and were afraid of the light, so you had to cup them in your hands. So I have a soft spot in my heart for the secret lives of pom-poms. But at a closer look, these particular pom-poms just aren't that great. They're kind of shabby-looking. By which I mean cheap. I am absolutely certain that you could find these pom-poms for five cents at a crafts store. In which case, I might as well just buy a suede shoe from J.Crew for half the price, and superglue the accessory on it. This would cost FAR less, plus the shoe might even be of better quality. Yes, I suppose I'm just a pom-pom elitist at heart.

So, even though my observations here are unavoidably negative, I don't mind this shoe...I'd just rather see it on someone else's foot than mine. Let bygones be bygones, Marc. Since your derivative collection is evolving very well, I'll simply expect better from you next season.

Oh, and I promise to update more. I'm not sure how well I'll live up to this promise, however, because law school starts on Monday...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

046. Dressing oneself (The Oft-futility of Lacking a Waist and Going Shopping).

This is a beautiful top, no? I've been seeing a lot of clothing in this style recently--I mean the bustier top, usually paired with halter straps. It's an old style obviously purloined from earlier decades. I've seen it gracing dresses, tops like this one, and bathing suits.

But wish as I might, I will never buy this top. Because of the price tag? Nay. Because I don't like to purchase clothes online? As if. I actually went into an Anthropologie over the weekend looking to buy a dress, any dress, pretty much regardless of price. I am taking a trip to Europe soon and I would like to have an extensive repertoire of cool summer dresses to bring to stave off the sweating that accompanies the warmer months. But I was barely successful in finding a single dress. Alas, my body is not fit for summer dresses. Try as I might, they just aren't for me.

I have a body some would covet, others would scorn, and others would pay little attention. I have no waist to speak of, no hips, no butt, but unfortunately medium-sized breasts that are, alas, not all too firm. So I can't wear low-cut tops because I just look sloppy; in fact I avoid all halter tops for the same reason. I attempt to avoid showing any cleavage because it just makes me look bigger; and I NEVER leave the house without a bra. So I don't have an hourglass figure but I do have assets that I don't want to show off. What I look best in is a structured dress, one that defines the waist (much like high-waisted shorts do) and doesn't cut too low. Preferably, I like a curved neckline that hits one to two inches below the clavicle. Seriously.

So I walk into Anthropologie bent on perusing the sale section, or perhaps indulging myself in a full-price purchase if necessary, when what to my wandering eyes should appear...but all manner of low-cut, halter top, lack of structure, spaghetti strap dresses, arrayed in the loveliest colors, looking cool and breathy and flowy and effortless and...everything that I absolutely cannot wear for fear of looking like a gargantuan balloon. Did I mention how much I utterly detest spaghetti-straps?

To add to my list of Reasons Why I Hate Summer Weather, I shall mark down "Breasts causing annoyance, agitation, and cleavage sweat." Also to add: "Temptation to buy clothes that are unflattering. Lack of palatable options. Envy. Disgust. Frustration. Annihilation."


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

045. The battle with bag addiction continues.

I'm always on the fence with Diesel. Visiting the store on Union Square never ceases to confuse me. The bodyguards loom forbiddingly at the front door, giving any non-leather-clad-hipster the evil eye. The place is never packed but instead rather bald, with a paltry number of browsers cruising the racks of merchandise. I never know whether the atmosphere is elitist or street, because all manner of people can be seen wearing Diesel, from poor to rich. In short, I never know what image I give off when I myself wear it a covetable status symbol or representative of something undesirable?

Diesel does have the habit of producing unattractive crap for unreasonably high prices. I primarily like their accessories, although the European Diesels do offer something palatable in the way of clothing. Anyway, I was trolling online for bags (as is my wont) and what did I find but this:

Does this honestly remind anyone of Diesel? The little oval insignia makes it look almost Versace-ish. The clincher? This bag is only $144. I mean, when was the last time you saw an attractive bag for under $200, sans discounts? All you can get for that price are Coach and Dooney & Burke, dreaded and detested scourges of the fashion world. Hiss! Flee!

I then discovered this equally tempting piece of utilitarian delight.

Retailing for - shock - a mere $116! Who would have thought? The last bag I liked that was made by Diesel cost upwards of $600 and resembled an upside-down leather parachute. It was quite genius, although unwieldy. But this--could be useful! For my trip...for carrying--useful things...

Should I try to talk myself out of this one, or just succumb to the beauty of the splurge? I want that purple bag...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

044. Deja vu.

Let me tell you a little story.

Lorick New York

I work at a law firm, and one day my boss waltzed into work looking even more stylish than usual. I stared at the adorable print on her blouse, and thought, "I've seen that before. I LOVE it. Where have I seen that before?"

Time passed.

I watch Gossip Girl fanatically (for the clothes and the Chuck), and one evening I was watching reruns of the Thanksgiving Day episode. I stared at the adorable print on Blair's dress, and thought, "I've seen that before. I LOVE it. Wait...OH MY GOD THEY ACTUALLY SELL THAT DESIGNER LINE IN THE TRISTATE AREA???"

However, I wasn't about to ask my boss for style tips (we already have similar versions of the same Botkier bag, and I'd rather it not appear like I'm mimicking her, which I'm sincerely not). I figured I'd find out who the designer of the blouse and dress was eventually.

Lorick New York

Lo and behold, I was browsing the blogosphere today when who should I stumble upon but Abigail Lorick herself, a.k.a. Eleanor Waldorf. I've known for ages that Waldorf's line is not a smattering of random garments snatched from real-world designers but instead derives from a single collection produced by a real designer. I didn't know that this particular dress was part of her line.

I don't own a lot of prints when it comes to clothing; I'm more of a textures and colors girl, but I am definitely inspired to be more creative after viewing Lorick's collection. The benefit of prints is that they breathe new life into old shapes. When it comes to clothing, you can either be innovative with the tailoring and cut, or you can be extremely creative in the design of your fabric. Lorick employs both methods to create garments that seem, to the untrained eye, conservative; yet there is a lot going on in her clothing line that embraces innovation. Anyway, I'm impressed. Lorick New York just screams quality to me.

Lorick New York

Anyway, even if I'm a bit late to jump on the bandwagon (I know everyone else blogged about Lorick ages ago), I must pitch my vote of support. I've liked her designs from day one, as she seems to share the same kind of pared-down sophistication that I covet.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

043. The Unbearable Lightness of Pearls.

Stock image (Audrey Hepburn)

I am not the type of person who wears heavy bangles, dangling necklaces, or earrings that drag your earlobe down. I feel weighed down by solid metal jewelry, and rings and necklaces often bother my skin. I prefer simplicity over complexity, and lightness over heaviness.

I've been thinking lately that perhaps what my ensembles have been missing is jewelry. It doesn't need to be complicated or excessive. Often when an outfit doesn't look right it's because it's missing that key element—that one thing that pulls it all together. You need diamond earrings to glitz up the LBD, heavy amulet-like crosses to make an all-black outfit goth, an enormous wooden cuff bracelet to enhance the boho vibe of your peasant blouse. You need pearls to turn any outfit, wild or conservative, into an instant classic.

Cultured pearl necklace

As legend would have it, pearls begin their life as an irritating grit of sand, which the oyster encases in layers upon layers of a glossy substance. This technically isn't true - the impetus for a pearl's conception is typically organic matter - but I am still reminded of the tendency of people to conceal perceived flaws by placing a veneer of beauty over them. I am thinking not only of excellent dental work but of artists who have constructed masterpieces inspired by some hidden pain. The ugliest things can be transformed into objects of beauty. I am also thinking that attractive but twisted female villains would do well to wear pearls as a symbol of their true nature. Or if you prefer to be less metaphoric, pearls are a straightforward symbol for elegance.

All of this thinking has caused me to conduct some research. The site Pearl Necklace Jewelry (catchy, I know) offers what seems to be the best price available on the Web. The pearls are apparently sold at wholesale price and the clasps and/or studs are 14K gold (good for me, since my ears are very sensitive). Purchases can be made with PayPal and security is managed by VeriSign. Shipping is free worldwide (sweet) and they do provide a guarantee that the pearls are genuine.

This reminds me, I need to do just as thorough a check-up on all the sites I buy from...

Here are a few pearls (ha) from this website:

Black pearl necklace

Akoya pearl necklace

Freshwater pearl necklace

Pink pearl necklace

I think what appeals to me about pearls is the type of color: smoky hues, dusky rose, warm charcoal. Everything is muted and subtle and soft. And pearls have a contoured, organic shape, no jagged edges or lines.

In conclusion, you can't go wrong with pearl jewelry - it's never gaudy or untasteful.

I must do more posts about jewelry! The last one I did was for that combination jewel-pearl ring from, and that was back in the fall.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

042. Elizabeth James; Marketing tactics.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's collection, Elizabeth James, just touched down at ShopBop today, and I couldn't wait to check out the lookbook. Apparently the label's name is based on the statistical study that revealed that Elizabeth and James are two of the most successful-sounding names in our (whose?) society. The idea is that when people hear the name, they will imagine an sophisticated, esoteric, and enviable assortment of clothing. The inner snob in each of us will be influenced to buy Elizabeth James in the hopes that it will endow us with similar qualities.

Now whether you buy into this AT ALL is entirely up to you. I am not a big fan of Elizabeth James but I don't particularly dislike it either. I think the Olsens have been successful in creating a line of simplistic but mechanically creative garments. There's a touch of casual and a touch of professional chic, for whomever is either an obsessive fan of the twins or just somebody who happens to like $225 gym shorts. The problem with celebrity-assisted clothing lines is that you pretty much have to like the celebrity to like the clothing. Your (dis)like for the celebrity can potentially cloud your judgment of the clothing itself. But here, I don't see much of either girl's personality, or maybe I'm just not trying hard enough to look. As with The Row, they've gone very basic.

There are some extreme cases in which celebrity lines are nothing more than a rehash of what that person wears on a regular basis. (Take Lauren Conrad, who brashly regurgitated her favorite pieces of clothing all over the so-called runway of her self-titled "collection.") Elizabeth Charles is the other extreme. It's difficult to difficult to deduce the celebs' taste. I suppose the Marianne jacket is probably the hallmark piece of the collection. But since the personality of the clothing falls flat, the backbone of the advertising must fall to the visual effects, and ShopBop has this technique down to a fine art.

I read Almost Girl's blog on a regular basis and for a while now I have been reflecting on what she said awhile ago about "guerrilla shoots"--e.g. fashion photoshoots done for online publications/websites. For online boutiques, advertising is based just as much on visual seduction as it is on word of mouth or linkage. And because there are so many such sites around, to get into the big league you have to have a competitive clothes turnout; a constant barrage of new and interesting things. Visually, this translates into the need for a super editorial campaign onsite and in banner ads--and these must cycle continually on a fast-paced schedule. ShopBop does a great job of creating their weekly lookbook, as well as their individual item presentation. The photography is creative as well as streamlined, and this is, I believe, even more important than the actual clothes they sell. Some people will buy a toothpick for $20 if it's marketed properly. All businesses aim to do the equivalent.

There are hundreds if not thousands of online boutiques, and it's easy to fall into the void if you don't stay at the top of your game. Don't deny it--we first judge a book by its cover, always, even if what draws each person in is a different feature. ShopBop happens to have a clean layout, a skilled photographic team, and a professional email notification setup. Although I later recanted my love for Elizabeth James after looking closely at the clothing and realizing it wasn't quite my style, the photo gallery at first drew me in with its aesthetically pleasing styling. If I were an impulse buyer, I'd have been snared.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

041. Revisiting un objet d'art.

I snapped this of the BFF when we were trying on clothes at CUSP.

It's a good thing neither of us actually wanted to front the cash for this dress because we might have had to fight to the death for it.

Oh, Marc by Marc Jacobs SS08.

040. For sale...come check it out!

I'm cleaning out my closet in preparation for a lot of expenses in the near future, and I'm inviting everyone who's reading this to come see what I have for sale! It's listed on my regular blog. Come take a look:


Clothing from:
-Miss Sixty
-Free People
-Arden B
-Sample Sales
-& more!

Friday, April 4, 2008

039. Cravings.

I do have a weakness for Forever 21. I spend plenty of time berating retail chains like H&M for mass-producing poor quality clothes, but every once in a while, I need my fix--of cheap clothes. It's nice not to always have to pay $120 or more for a shirt. Even if the stitching is always unraveling and you know the reason they give you extra buttons is because the ones on the garment fall off if you so much as breathe on them (case in point: I destroyed my high-waisted shorts today by pulling them on too quickly--a button popped off and is impossible to reattach!). And they're pretty cute sometimes. As long as I don't recognize which designer they've ripped off, my conscience doesn't suffer too much.

I never have enough hot-weather clothing. But I'm going to Europe for a few weeks this summer, so I need a few new things that I can throw by the wayside if I run out of baggage space because I've bought other, better clothes in Paris.

Here are a few tops that are actually quite cute and could be paired with a pair of designer shorts or skirt:

Brianna Woven Top, $24.80

Crinkled Metallic Wrap, $22.80

Candy Stripe Babydoll, $24.90

My best advice when shopping stores like H&M and Forever 21 is to avoid faux-expensive material that looks satiny, as it will inevitably come off as trashy; shun the viscose-spandex hybrids, as they pill and age within mere hours; cotton is your best bet. I always replace the cheap-looking buttons on shirts with quality, vintage buttons from Etsy. You can also make any other minor alterations yourself, given you know how to operate a needle and thread in the most basic ways. You might argue it's futile to embellish what will eventually fall apart no matter what, but my belief is, if you're going to wear it, for however short a time, you might as well maximize its potential.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

038. Marc by Marc Jacobs, redux.

With the recent explosion of fashion qua pop culture, many designers have jumped on the bandwagon to create diffusion lines. After all, everyone wants something with a designer logo on it, and designers can easily take advantage of this by creating a cheaper line. There are only so many wealthy clientele who can afford your $3000 dresses; why not make an additional profit? It's a quick fix for both consumer and producer, although I myself am getting a little disturbed at how mainstream designer goods are getting. The label isn't worth shit if you can buy a piece of Mizrahi on sale for $3.29. (That decimal point is not displaced. Although, diffusion lines usually range from the $90-$600 price range these days, and Isaac Mizrahi for Target isn’t technically a "diffusion" line, just a sponsored collection.)

Marc by Marc Jacobs has been a source of frustration for me for quite a while. I used to really adore Marc Jacobs. His collections were fantastic a few years ago, he was definitely one of my favorite American designers.

But my dislike of Jacobs' most recent work is a different subject entirely. I couldn't stand Marc by Marc Jacobs when it first started showing, for two reasons. First, the line wasn't even designed by Jacobs, so what was the point? Okay, so this apparently happens a lot - but honestly, it didn't seem to have any relevancy to the real Marc Jacobs line! It was just him stamping his name onto these cheaper, unrelated outfits! Second, the clothing and bags were literally cheap. I've been to MMJ stores, I've seen the clothes in person, the buttons are badly sewn, the seams are nothing like regular Marc Jacobs RTW.

I also thought most of the clothing was heinously ugly.

But recently, MMJ has been shaping up. Every season I notice more things I like. The prices have begun to reflect the improving quality and taste of the garments; I also like the bags more. I do find it hilarious that the so-called MMJ shoes are just as expensive as, say, a pair of Miu Mius. That will never cease to amuse me. Anyway, the clothing and bags are achieving more recognition as times goes on.

From MMJ Spring 2008:

Um, how fabulous is this outfit? It’s quirky and adorable and all kinds of pretty. I must have it!...After I sell my soul on eBay.
Available here at ShopBop

After traipsing around Neiman’s, Bloomie’s, and Cusp all evening eyeing the MMJ displays, I finally tried on this dress and fell in love. Well, I already knew I wanted it. But now I know I have to have it. "Sale" being the operative word here. If only ShopBop would make some obscene error and accidentally mark down this dress to 75% off, or better, 95% off, or…well, I can dream, damnit.

I know that dress has been splattered all over the pages of every fashion magazine that has enough revenue to print in color, but whatever, you’re seeing it again because it’s AMAZING.

And finally, for a peek at fall's MMJ collection. Also looking quite good. Some designers have been focusing on the tailoring of garments lately, or the texture or shape of the clothing. Marc by Marc Jacobs' most noticeable feature is patterning. And who doesn't love a smattering of polka dots on a eentsy little black-collared cream blouse and criss-cross stitching on a pencil skirt?


Thursday, March 20, 2008

037. To file under blunders: The Baroque.

I started keeping an eye on Miu Miu back in Spring 2006. It was the little V-neck star print dress that captured my interest. I’ve always thought of Miu Miu as a quirky, sporty-girly brand with a lot of twists and turns in it. There are some consistencies in design, but the label seems more like a stream-of-consciousness project for Miuccia. Every season, I have to re-evaluate my opinion of Miu Miu, more than I would for some of my other favorite designers.

This spring, Miu Miu has decided to reuse the baroque ornamentation from their Fall 06 shoes. (I notice this, because I was obsessed with the collection and eventually bought the below shoe in patent red.) Whether corporate is just being manipulative, trying to reel in more profits by creating a new shoe with some of the old hallmarks of the original, I don’t know. It’s like the ugly stepsister of the first shoe. It’s disappointing that they would take such a beautiful baroque-inspired creation, strip off all the patent leather that was its hallmark, and rework the wood carving into a shoe utterly devoid of personality.;
NOTE. I apologize most sincerely for the poor quality of
this image due to lack of Photoshop on the work computer.

It’s a spring shoe, people, not a lump of deadwood. This thing needs color! If I were given the opportunity to redesign the shoe, I’d paint the heel and the toe wedge gold or silver (with the same burnished feel). Then I’d market the shoe in several different colors of leather: white, light pink, and light green, with the option of patent leather for the white. And I would eliminate those glaringly dark threads used to sew the leather. I HATE when the stitching is ten shades darker or lighter than the leather. I know the Chloé Edith bags sport this design and are pretty popular, but I’m not appealing to the people, I’m appealing to you, Miu Miu!

For shame.

Miu Miu floral carved sandals, available at Net-A-Porter for $550.

Friday, March 14, 2008

036. Fashion qua art. A heavily parsed and simplified thesis.

A lot of people live, as I like to call it, in a "satisfied" way. They have a few simple goals, to get promoted, to have a family, to achieve certain personal accomplishments, these sorts of things. They don't have an interest in looking at the world in a different way or broadening their understanding of how the world works. They are basically content, confined to dissatisfaction as they comprehend it within their own small world. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Unlike such people, I feel that my primary calling is to acquire knowledge; to grow intellectually, continually. I don't believe that a state of nirvana can be achieved during one's lifetime - rather, that such an ideal is something to be striven for but never attained. And as I attempt to comprehend the bigger picture, I have come to the realization that there is no one way to acquire valuable knowledge, nor should only one conclusion be drawn from a collection of data. Therefore, intellectual growth should not have a road map (there can be no how-to book on how to grow as a person) and all people's discoveries are equally valuable to the extent that they help lead up to an overall better understanding of the world.

I've read a small number of published articles intellectualizing fashion lately, which I have enjoyed. Having graduated college an English major, I've developed the ability to intelligently dissect any given work of art. And what I have found, is that you can draw as intelligent a conclusion from a Monet as you can some unknown artist's painting that is selling on Etsy. Famous paintings are often only regarded as brilliant because we believe their creators to be brilliant. But as for ourselves as observers, we are able to derive just as much meaning and metaphor from a blank canvas with a swipe of black paint on it as we should a Da Vinci painting. Hence, modern art. Does the former require as much technical skill or intelligence to create? No, but that does not mean we cannot use it as a stepping stone in our own intellectual growth. We learn something from everything.


In any event, whatever you think of my theory, since you are reading this, I think you will agree with me when I say that fashion is deeply underestimated as an artistic movement. Just as artwork is entrenched in the culture within which it is created, fashion both reflects the present cultural climate and helps push culture onwards. This process of reflection and growth is vital to the evolution of society. Just as we use the same words again and again in different combinations to form unique, new sentences, designers use fabric again and again to form new creations; even repetition and mimicking has its own significance. As I complain about how H&M does nothing but rip off "real" designers, how does this give me a better understanding of how the world works? What does it tell me about the objectives of people in our society--why have H&Ms been so successful? From an (attemptedly) detached standpoint, should it be? What would have to be different about our culture in order for H&M to fail?

Fashion has a unique position in the world because it is a part of our daily life, yet it is also an artistic expression. The current debate about models being "too thin" to be good role models is interesting because it illustrates that models are no longer as behind the scenes as they used to be; fashion shows which used to be only open to the elite of the fashion world are now open to the public through the aid of sites like Models have always been thin, simply so that they do not interfere with the flow of the clothing. (Those who are not thin, serve some other purpose in promoting the clothing.) In general, the tallness and thinness create the effect that they are godlike, elevating the clothes, so that people long to buy them to also achieve deification. And the models themselves are essentially meant to be nonparticipants in the "ordinary" world bearing these covetable commodities, in the process also becoming an ideal which we long to attain.

But do you not think that the recent, intensified focus on (and obsession with) model thinness is a product of society's increased fixation on weight? As the statistically "average" person gains weight in Western society, the divide between him/her and the ideal posited on the runway becomes even more pronounced, in which event it garners attention. The fact of the matter is that models should not be acting as role models in a society that already objectifies bodies to an unhealthy extreme. And perhaps that's why this is happening in the first place. Plus, the presence of fashion in pop culture is increasing, so we are focused on the bodies advertising the clothing.

We can never fully separate the model parading the runway wearing couture from the woman who goes into a store and buys a shirt. Clothing is both art and utility. It was designed to be worn for people. Yet we also celebrate the beauty of clothing that is a statement in itself. This is the sort of quandary that continually tries to divorce idealism and reality. And this amazing contradiction is one of the things that I find fascinating to ponder about fashion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

035. Stomping on all the competition.

Remember how just the other day I was commenting on how shoes have run rampant lately? How the most unusual constructions have graced the catwalk this year?

Well, the Rick Owens is the king of all rocker-chic boots for FW08. I've never seen such a boot. Remember when you used to rollerblade around the block when you were a kid? How, in order to slow, you leaned back on the rear brake?

I can't see anyone safely rollerblading in a heel this high, but these are definitely reminiscient of those childhood rollerblades...revamped and made uber-cool.

Jean-Luce Huré for The New York Times

Here's another pair...these things are ridonkulous. (And I only use that word in times of extreme need.)

Overall, the collection was very dark and interspersed with leather and prominent zippers piecing the constructions together. I genuinely think this is one of the most unique collections I've seen. Space Age meets Hell's Angels meets Aragorn. It's sort of Sin City-ish.

Which is never a bad thing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

034. Busted!

So, Paulo Melim Andersson's brief career as Chloé's creative director has come to an end. I don't have the full scoop but it's my assumption that he was fired, not that he actively chose to leave, unless it was mutual.

Too bad for him. Don't get me wrong, I think he did a wonderful job at Marni, and I was really cheering for him when I saw the first collection he did at Chloé. But after the initial high faded, I realized I was still mourning the loss of Phoebe Philo, as well as her predecessor Stella McCartney. I think that his most recent collection - FW08 - was getting closer to what I think of as "Chloé," so I wonder when the bigwigs made the decision to sack him; maybe he was diverging again when starting next year's spring collection, I'm really not sure. I do know that his launch collection was vastly different. One does not associate Doc Marten-esque boots with Chloé. Indeed, one can only reinvent a label so much before it retains no trace of its core identity. I don't condemn Andersson's style, I just don't think it has much relevancy to what has been titled the "Chloé woman."

Andersson will be replaced by Hannah McGibbon, who has worked for Chloé before under the direction of Phoebe Philo. Since I always had a great deal of respect for what Philo did for Chloé, I'm delighted by this change and hope that McGibbon will be successful in healing the rupture that has formed in the eminent fashion label.

Here's a recap on Andersson's Chloé collections, from first to last:

Fall/Winter 2007/8

Spring/Summer 2008

Fall/Winter 2008/9

Monday, March 10, 2008

033. LV a Go-Go.

I was not a fan of Louis Vuitton last fall. My mouth gaped open at the heinous bags embossed with a comedian's misogynist jokes; the procession of nurses' outfits; and weird veils that matched nothing. I still frown every time I see advertisements for those ridiculous, awful bags (Who approved them? What poor soul would unknowingly wear them?).

The 2008 fall collection rekindled my love for LV. The collection performed a complete 360. It showcased luxury garments in agreeable pastel hues (perhaps as a female submissive response to the collection of yesterseason? Sigh. I am left wishing the memory of SS08 could be erased from my mind. If only).

This coat is reminiscent of old-world elegance. The shape is not modern but is tastefully done for the twenty-first century, and looks delightfully warm. During these times of unpredictable weather, one must be prepared for sudden shifts toward freezing temperatures; in which case, I will be wishing that I owned such a beautiful coat.

I love this one because it is effortlessly chic. The colors in this collection are just great! (Although I cannot for the life of me understand why this is a fall collection. There was a significant amount of black, but whenever I look at the pastel outfits, I am instantly reminded of Easter baskets.)

I was sincerely terrified by this picture and hope that this is the extent of the iceberg that is way-too-high-heeled shoes. I have enough trouble walking in my 5.5" Miu Miu baroque platform wedges. Perhaps these monstrosities are, as in days of old, just for show and only meant for the runway performance.

A lot of people may be dismayed to see what they regard a boring handbag in a drab color. I for one am enjoying this reincarnation of understated elegance. I like this collection, in which wealth is recognized primarily in the fine tailoring and design, where there is no need for logos to be displayed so glaringly. It brings me back to the days when ready-to-wear did not yet exist and Mademoiselle Chanel was yet a milliner... *cough* Not that I was alive then. But those were golden times.

In any event, I vastly prefer this subtle take on the LV logo to the usual thing - that horrid tan and chocolate patchwork mess that is replicated ad infinitum until it has graced street kiosks in cities worldwide.