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Archive for November, 2007

I’m sorry for anything bad I’ve ever said about Project Runway. I’m sorry for doubting Bravo and this season’s designers. But most of all, I’m sorry that so many horrific menswear outfits were created on tonight’s episode. Carmen, you and your unfinished pile of fabric, peace out! The third challenge was by far the most difficult, intriguing, panicky…my heart was racing the entire time. Overall, I agreed with the judges…though I really thought Kit should’ve won – I mean a fleece blazer, who would’ve thought? Brilliant. Christian’s was pretty “fierce” as well. I thought Jack’s was rather bland even though he won the challenge. Still, PR, you have my heart always and forever.

Oh, here’s my sketch for Tiki – a heather grey sweater vest, dusky blue collared shirt, navy seersuckers and a navy tie with maybe lime green stripes. The color palette too. I think it would look spectacular…I’m surprised no one else made a sweater vest..it would’ve been a load easier than the attempt at three piece suits everyone tried to sew.

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How could someone with a page on revolutionary fashion not write about Sofia Coppola‘s vibrant and grandiose vision of Marie Antoinette? It’s no wonder that an ex-intern at Chanel would imbibe the film with such exquisite taste. Coppola worked with costume designer Milena Canonero to recreate the modern version of the teen queen’s extravagant wardrobe – Milena then went on to win the Academy Award in 2006. Despite the centuries of controversy surrounding the French Revolution and the events leading up to it, Sofia envisioned Marie Antoinette and her compatriots simply as normal teenagers (this sentiment is evident by the placement of powder blue converse in a pile of period shoes). Unaware of the goings-on around them and selfishly foolish, but not purposely so…just typical of kids their age. Completely understandable since Antonia was only 14 when she married into French royalty. Perhaps because of my unwavering passion for shoes and accessories, I really focused on them as the center of the film’s whirlwind of stylized fashions. Beautiful, candy-colored, and delicately adorned, the shoes of Coppola’s Marie Antoinette forever dance in my head. Manolo Blahnik could not have designed a more striking collection…if only he would make ready-to-wear versions. And oh the jewelry! Most of the pieces are authentic 18th century and (naturally) glittering with age-old diamonds and stones. Since the real focus of the film (besides the actual plot) is the seemingly endless variation of opulent gowns, I suppose I should really move on. Although Canonero adorned most of the royals in silks, taffeta, and satin, she reserved gorgeously preserved 18th century lace for Marie Antoinette’s gowns. The gowns, although not precisely held to the fashion guidelines of the 1700s, were designed after the original shapes and mostly sewn in ateliers in Rome’s Cincecitta studios. Despite the fact that all of the costumes could hang in museums, there were a few that struck me breathless. The black masquerade costume made of what looks like French silk tulle, the famously innocent rosebud dress, and this yellow and pink gown are my favorites if I had to choose. The palette is creamy…butter yellow, cloudy blue, pistachio green, and rose pink. Sugary sweet. Although the Queen is depicted as wearing decadently decorated gowns for most of the film, she really preferred much simpler dresses. This taste for bland fashion revolutionized the trends of the time and brought about a different style of dress during the Revolution. This film’s breathtaking, indie beauty and the intricacy of the edible costumes make me pistachio with envy. I would die a thousand deaths at the guillotine for a chance to own Mme. Antoinette’s fur Blahniks.

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So, despite (temporarily) living in the fashion wasteland that is Orlando, Fl for the past year, I have managed to scrounge a few culture high-points. FYI – The Museum of Art is not one of them…unless you enjoy a brisk 15 minute walk with not much to look at. However, I recently had the distinct pleasure of attending Orlando Opera Co.‘s performance of Don Giovanni by Mozart. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as far as fashion is concerned as Orlando is more know for it’s booty shorts and bra tops. And to be honest, I myself wasn’t quite sure what to wear. Some opera houses are know for their glamorous patrons, but I thought this certainly wouldn’t be one of them. I opted for gray, flat-front trousers and a flared navy trench. Bland and boring, but safe. When we arrived, I realized I could have worn anything in my closet; it was the widest variety of styles I have ever seen under one roof. At the top were women wearing Chanel with mink stoles; diamonds dripping and perfectly coiffed. Anna Wintour would have approved. At the very bottom, which unfortunately comprised roughly seventy-five percent of the patrons, were twenty and thirty somethings in bad recycled prom dresses. I mean bad. Like the ones from Deb we wore in the early 90s. I guess they are the grown up version of short shorts and bra tops usually seen downtown, but I was still aghast at the sheer number of them. The men were more routine. Some donned full tuxedos (oh yes, there was a white one) and many just wore run-of-the-mill suits. The ones that caught my eye, however, were outfitted in what looked like a Ralph Lauren ad campaign. In the midst of a sea of brown and navy monochrome suits, they actually stood out as tasteful and elegant. Above all, I thought, were the very few young men wearing slim trousers, cashmere sweaters, and ties. Very British, very polished. Overall, I think Don Giovanni was a learning experience for everyone. For Strauss, I’m going 20s…similar to this Rodarte or Christopher Josse. Naturally, I’ll add an antique hat and maybe some wrist length gloves. It’s chic vintage with a touch of flash, and most importantly, it’s cocktail without the waitress.

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There really are no words to describe Edith Bouvier Beale, first cousin to Jackie O. Eccentrically clever, avant-garde, and radically imaginative are but adjectives that do her no justice. Grey Gardens, the documentary created in 1975 by the Maysles brothers, followed Little Edie’s daily life in a dilapidated mansion in the East Hamptons with only her mother, the handymen, and a hundred cats for company. Despite her great beauty and wit as a young debutante in New York City, she returned home to Grey Gardens to care for her supposedly ailing mother. Unfortunately, she never left until two years after Big Edie passed in 1978. Little Edie was 60. While isolated from the rest of the world and only receiving Jackie O.’s hand-me-downs for clothing, Little Edie developed her own personal style that has since served as inspiration for fashion designers throughout the world. There were actually two spreads in Vogue in the 1990s based on Little Edie’s unique ensembles (if anyone has these or links to these please forward – I’m desperate). She is quoted in the beginning of the documentary as describing her perfect outfit: “The best thing is to wear pantyhose or some pants under a short skirt, I think. You have the pants under the skirt and then you can pull the stockings up over the pants underneath the skirt. And you can always take off the skirt and use it as a cape. I think this is the best costume for today.” Mainly, it is thought that she did this because the skirts were actually Jackie O.’s old cashmere skirts that she wore upside down and then safety pinned at the seam. She was also never seen without a towel or pullover fashioned into a headscarf and adorned with a brooch. This was thought to hide the fact that she started going bald in her twenties. Throughout the entire documentary, she inventively creates an entire wardrobe from tablecloths, drapery, and various refurbished clothing many sizes too small. Galliano debuted his sp/su 2008 collection based on her unique style at fashion week in Paris and it perfectly combined her eccentricity and charm. Laurie Foon and Todd Oldham also created collections inspired by her ability to mix, match, and re-invent. To quote Little Edie, “raccoons and cats get a little bit boring,” but Edith Bouvier Beale’s fashion-forward style certainly does not.

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Last year for Black Friday, I took home two free purses, a tote, and a couple pairs of really cheap jeans. I felt like I had just conquered a small country. With all of the sales and discounts going on today, I figured it only appropriate to discuss the rise of cheaper, yet stylish clothing lines from higher-end designers. The most notable, Simply Vera by Vera Wang, Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker, and Cavalli for H&M, have been taking the plazas by storm. Simply Vera debuted for Kohls in September of this year and revolutionized the fashion fatigued department store. Simply VeraThe collection is comprised of sleek and simple tops, trousers, and trenches and is beautifully designed. However, I’m not so sure that it’s really all that different from what is already out there. The color pallet is steely – greys, blacks, and pale pinks with a few bolder colors brightening up the drab. The accessories far outshine the clothing and the ruched leather gloves and two-toned scarves are clever and posh. Simply VeraSimply Vera Bitten by SJP is available at Steve and Barry’s and consists mainly of basics you could pair with couture or vintage pieces to make them more fashionable. By themselves, I think they lack style and flare, but the solid colors and stripes could definitely provide a nice backdrop.Bitten Now, Roberto Cavalli. Fashion forward consumers lined up at H&M on November 8th waiting for the moment they could unleash their wallets on his animal inspired prints. The line is fresh, eclectic, and most importantly it just feels designer. Some criticize the line as overly 90s and lacking class, but I think it has that rocker edge the other two collections are missing. You may not find them in the coupon section of this year’s post Thanksgiving sale, but you can still get Simply Vera, Bitten, and Cavalli for H&M without declaring fashion or actual bankruptcy. Happy shopping!

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Because today is Thanksgiving and we are honoring the meal the fully robed pilgrims shared with the native Americans, I’ve decided to post on the recent throwback to modest clothing. Although the modest or “purity” movement follows some pretty strict guidelines, it is so anti today’s trends that it’s almost a revolution in reverse. The movement originated from within the religious realm, however, many women not affiliated are joining in the rebellion. With Britney Spears and Paris Hilton crotch shots floating around the internet and invading our nightmares, I’m not so sure that modesty is a bad thing. Here are a couple of the guidelines from purefashion.com. The last one is my favorite.

– must have a modest neckline (no lower than 4 fingers below the collar bone)

– if necessary, a dress with straps 2 fingers wide may be worn, if the whole dress is modest

– undergarments should never become outer-garments

They are rather easy to follow and quite comprehensive…I’m just a little confused as to the occasion when a dress with 2-finger wide straps would be “necessary.” While none of the “pure” labels are all that couture, some of the outfits are kind of cute. Shadeclothing.com designed a few dresses that adhere to the guidelines and maintain a certain trendiness. Yet, they still lack that certain something that makes them appeal to a wider audience. Alexander McQueen‘s show in Paris this season was positively stunning, yet at least half of the collection could be called modest. Chloe also unknowingly followed the modesty guidelines in Paris. In fact, most of the shows in Paris this year followed them. It seems that despite the dress of everyday fourteen year olds and shameless celebrities, the push for modesty is permeating the runways this year. To be honest, I think it’s a nice thought…but only if executed well. Otherwise, it just looks frumpy and outdated. But if Paris’ fashion week is any indication of things to come, we’re moving towards a covered future. So Happy Thanksgiving, fashionistas, and eat all the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie you want…because modesty is back and better than ever!

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Miuccia Prada, granddaughter of one of the original Prada Brothers, has been pushing the fashion envelope since taking over the biz in 1978. Starting in leather, she soon began creating signature couture collections and accessories that have been steadily moving up the chain of top fashion houses. The bold colors, distinct silhouettes, clashing fabrics, and fearless accessories stun the critics season after season. Prada is the Clara Bow of fashion. She’s the sexy screen siren that took the silent film world by storm. She’s the “it” girl of fashion. And love her or hate her, she’s here to stay. Why do so many people hate Prada, you ask? Does the debut of this season’s silk turban mean anything to you? It’s featured on every “would you wear this” and “hot or heinous” survey on the internet, and it’s the most talked about accessory of the 2008 sp/su season. Critics are calling the collection of dresses recently featured on the runway nothing more than “shapeless carpets,” but it’s obvious they can’t look away. And how could you when you see these sandal inspired boots coming toward you? Or those shockingly multi-toned satin pumps from last season’s shoe collection. It doesn’t matter how much a person insists that they hate a Prada look, the fact is, they can’t deny it (just ask me about my friend Katherine’s reaction when I exclaimed in elation at the Prada ads last season). And isn’t that the true test of whether something is really great? Some punk band popularized the phrase “I’d rather be hated than ignored,” and I’m beginning to think that an ego boost should be the appropriate response to being such a source of controversy. Prada’s guerilla warfare tactics have worked on me and until I can afford her couture slices of heaven, I’m getting my hands on everything Miu Miu.

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