Monday, March 29, 2010

Dacron, Because Polyester Has A Brand Name Too

There are so many bizarrely-named fabrics out there.  Most sound like they are named by aliens or by scientists wishing to instill a sense of foreboding in the wearers of the materials.  One of these is "dacron."  Dacron is a real something.  It is the DuPont registered name for a particular kind of synthetic material, a kind of polyester.  I'm not sure of the exact date of the patent on the material, but it seems to have been used for clothing since sometime in the 1960's.

Dacron has a myriad of uses that the DuPont marketing team has dreamed up.  It goes on plane wings, is used to repair veins and arteries and naturally, you can make dresses out of it.  Usually, these dresses are vintage as most clothing manufacturers do not bother listing the particular brand name of a polyester, probably because the brand awareness among consumers is next to nothing and it would probably just create confusion.  Based on my research, the dacron is usually used in knitwear and at least in vintage wear, by high-end designers.  And, if I'm not mistaken, dacron is the synthetic element in the classic St. John Santana Knit.

One of the designers who has used dacron is Rudi Gernreich.  I'm sure I'll blather on about her in another post sometime in the future, but today we talk about the materials she used.  The dress pictured is made out of 100% knit dacron.  It looks really nice, it hangs well and since it is vintage, it can clearly last a good long while.  Its really interesting to think that the material used in this lovely dress is probably the same stuff used to patch your grandfather's arteries during heart surgery--imagine such a versatile material that one day it can be manufactured into a lovely designer dress and the next it is made into surgical patches.  The cool part is that if you decide to wear it on your outside, you'll look fabulous!

Pictures have been graciously provided by ricysue, who has a variety of dacron dresses as well a myriad of other lovely things.

For my blog post about Azlon, a related fabric, click HERE

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Qiviut: Cashmere From An Ancient Goat

I don't think that most people realize it, but cashmere is from a Mongolian goat.  Most people don't like goats--they smell, they scavenge, they don't always make the best pets.  But, their hair is amazing.  There are many different kinds of goats and several of these produce hair that is worth wearing.  The most sought after is hands-down musk ox hair.  The traditional name for it is "qiviut".  The musk ox is basically a giant goat left over from the last Ice Age.  It dwells in northern arctic regions like parts of Alaska and Canada.  It is endangered due to over hunting.  It is not endangered because people like to make scarves from its hair, like some websites suggest.  The opposite is true--it is its hair that has proved to be its saving grace.

One of the key theories involved in saving endangered species is to figure out how to make them "economically necessary" to save.  Since the musk ox makes hair that is of even higher quality than any cashmere, some researchers have taken it upon themselves to figure out how to collect the hair, produce goods from it and then market it to the public.  One of those is The Musk Ox Farm where musk ox are bred and their hair is humanely collected for use by native Alaskans.  The hair is either combed off of the oxen or collected off of the ground when it is shed.  No musk oxen are harmed in the process.  Once the hair is collected, it is distributed to people in the Oomingmak Cooperative where they spin the hair into yarn and then knit it into products.  After that, the goods are collected by the Cooperative and then sold.

Qiviut has proven to be ounce for ounce the most expensive wool on the planet.  That isn't due to some sort of marketing gimmick--it is because it is the highest-quality wool on the planet as far as hair diameter, warmth-retention and shrink-resistance.  Due to the Endangered status of the animals, not very much of the hair is collected for commercial purposes each year, so due to the supply being so small and the demand so great, the price is rather steep.  But, as the saying goes, "you get what you pay for."

As a result, one of the only places to buy Qiviut products is from The Oomingmak Cooperative Store.  What makes shopping from them so cool is that their goods are made by Native Alaskan artisans, so their prints are traditional ones that can't be found anywhere else.  Not only are they producing stylish, unique items but it also allows families who chose to maintain their traditional lifestyle to do so.  Knitting qiviut is a traditional craft and the Cooperative helps make this traditional art economically important enough to keep it going, which in this modern age is something that is socially and culturally essential.  The patterns that they use might be otherwise forever lost to the world if the Cooperative hadn't been established.  One of my favorite patterns is on a scarf--it is a very old pattern that has been found on hunting spears.  Its pretty and I like it.

I always hear people complain that fashion is shallow.  No, it isn't.  Buy a scarf and help save an endangered species and an endangered way of life.

Top picture from Jungle Noises, Bottom Picture from Oomingmak Cooperative

For my post about mohair, click HERE

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Russian Construtivism, Franz Ferdinand and You

I am, for whatever reason, hooked again on Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out".  I kinda blame The Thinking Fashionista or maybe its just that I really love the song.  The music video is awesome.  If you haven't seen it, you must click the link and watch it on their YouTube channel.  It doesn't help that I'm a huge Russian/Soviet Constructivism nerd--the music video plays into that perfectly.  That art style is a direct reaction against "art for art's sake" and instead moves to serve a direct social purpose.  Its mostly from the NEP era and the most quintessential piece is THE MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA (movie poster pictured).  If you haven't seen the MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA, you really should.  It was a groundbreaking piece and is still wildly influential.

So, after lots of gaping at YouTube, I decided that wearing clothes inspired by the music video was a must.  One of the things I came up with is this Temperly tattoo-lace mini dress.  The boobs have eyes.  This dress fits perfectly with the music video--its color scheme matches exactly, parts of it look like altogether different objects and its got that dada/fantasy quality about it.  Not only does it look kinda like a high-fashion Constructivist fantasy, but it is also flattering.  Notice the contrasting side panels--those hit perfectly to minimize the hips.  Also, the lines on the abdomen are curved in such a way to create an optical illusion that the waist is smaller.  This is a pretty neat looking dress and it isn't for everyone, but it certainly has a place in the world.

Another dress that seems appropriate is the Roksanda Ilincic Sunrise lame' dress.  I know, it is terribly simplistic to watch the video and get "art deco robot"  out of it.  But, you have to admit that this dress works like that.  Its a classic shift cut and the color reminds me of old hand-painted photos from the 1920s.  I like that the bandages/stripes are slightly skewed, it makes it kinda quirky and like it is some kind of prototype made out of parts found around the lab.  But, it doesn't go overboard to where it looks like a costume.  Its actually really fashionable and wearable.  Granted, you would have to wait for a particular occasion to wear it, but its a really fabulous dress.

I have no idea why, but stuff inspired by Soviet Constructivist artwork is absolutely intriguing.  Its such a different, stylized concept of what beauty and life are.  And, Franz Ferdinand is just plain cool.

Movie poster is public domain and two dresses are from Net-A-Porter

You may also be interested in my posts about more Construtivist/Art Deco inspired fashions and The History of Fortuny

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ebay Round-up!

I know, some people can't stand ebay.  But, I have to say that there are some great sellers and sometimes it literally is the only place in the world to find stuff.  Here's what I've come across today!

One of a kind Koi Suwannagate tank top.  It is hand sculpted by Koi, so it is basically a one of a kind piece made by her or her studio.  I'm not sure if she is the one physically doing the making or if she's directing her staff to do it on her behalf.  This is different than her ready to wear stuff that is sold in department stores--these are sold in a password protected area of her website.  Its so hard to find, so it is cool to see it for sale!

Embroidered TSE skirt.  I love this skirt, I think its adorable.  The embroidery is fantastic and TSE always makes great stuff.  Plus, its silk.  Its a can't-go-wrong kind of skirt.  Besides the listing price on this one is way super cheap, so it is a steal!

Vintage Pucci skirt.  This thing is insane.  It is a huge, full-length velvet Pucci skirt in vintage mint condition.  With 2 days left and no reserve its going for about $2.  Its stunning and about a size 4.  It is green with flowers and I'm seriously considering bidding because these things almost never come up for auction.  Its basically a museum piece and is amazing!

Prada Fairy shoes.  New in box Prada heels from the Fairy collection a few seasons ago--so pretty!  I absolutely loved that collection.  It was a perfect counter-balance to the world becoming an even worse mess.  It was so pretty up against everything so ugly.  These are size 7.5 and are in new condition.  They are the purple and green combo and come in that super cute box with the fairy characters.  Adorable!

Please note:  by posting this, I am not personally vouching for these sellers, but to the best of my knowledge the items linked on this page are authentic.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jeggings: A Stupid Trend

There are some trends that I refuse to subscribe to.  Stuff like harem pants, counterfeit goods, Juicy suits.  Jeggings would be now another one of them.  What are "jeggings" you ask?  They are exactly what they sound like.  Basically, jeans as leggings.

I should state plainly, I don't like leggings.  I haven't worn them since I was a little kid.  There's an obvious reason--they aren't clothes and they aren't supposed to be worn when you're older than 10.  No one wants to see you wearing a skin-tight synthetic casing around your lower half.  Not seemly.  Not good.  Just don't.  That's why this whole jeggings thing disagrees with me.  People will now be using it as an excuse to wear something that they just shouldn't.

This is a pair of the offenders.  They are Paige Denim Verdugo Jeggings.  They're grey so they aren't probably the best idea even if they were real denim.  Now, I like denim.  Jeans are great, especially dark blue.  Grey, at least to me, looks like a trend that is nearly up and in a few months from now no one will make it.  I can't remember the last time I actually saw someone in person wearing grey jeans.  Grey jeggings is a combination of all that is wrong with each individual component.  Grey denim isn't particularly stylish, at least not any more.  Jeggings show every lump and sag that you never wanted to reveal to the world at large.  Now, you can have lower extremity coverings that are both unflattering and nearly done as a style!  Super.

Another offender is the J Brand Mid-Blue Denim Stretch Legging.  The pants that are no one's friend.  If these were normal denim, I'd like the wash.  Solid-blue jeans are classic and go with pretty much everything and are appropriate for basically everything.  Solid blue jeggings are not a good idea.  Leggings are a sure recipe for the much dreaded camel-toe.  I can't imagine how much more uncomfortable (for the wearer and the viewer) it would be in jeggings.

I realize that there are detractors that are sure this trend is the coolest thing this week.  I beg to differ.  Jeggings are at best something that Paris Hilton wears while jogging.  Notice how even Paris Hilton has the good sense to relegate them to merely athletic-wear.  That should probably be a hint.

Top pair is from Shop Bop and the second pair is from Net-A-Porter

And for more commentary about jeggings gone even more wrong, see my post about Pajama Jeans.  You know you wanna.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not Everything Is Wrong, Thanks To Marni

There are some days that you just want to have the right to tell someone "no, you're wrong.  I see right through you.  I don't like what I see.  Please stop talking."  But, that isn't always possible.  Today was one of those days.  To balance it out, I found some dresses to say "You're right" to.

This one is a light blue and silver Marni dress that is currently on sale on their website.  Its just...sweet.  The print is like houndstooth but with everything turned caddy-corner so it comes out looking traditional yet playful.  The color combination is so classic, that silver and blue combo has been popular since at least the Renaissance.  It certainly won't go out of style now.  What makes the dress really adorable is that ribbon that ties at the top of the back.  It completes the look perfectly and contrasts wonderfully.  The whole cut of the dress is nice, it isn't easy do to a shift with a gathered neck and have it avoid looking like a parachute or umbrella.  I tried finding the runway look to compare it to but there isn't one.  The dress is its own look entirely.  The print isn't even in the fall 2009 show, or the prefall show or the 2009 summer runway show.  I love that Consuelo knew that even though it didn't make the cut for the show that women would still love it and offered it for sale.  You're right, Conseulo.

Another dress is one of the looks from the Marni 2009 fall runway show.  Even though it is a winter look, something about it just feels reassuringly like spring is coming and that everything is going to be warm and growing soon.  The print is a classic looking vintage floral blown up larger than it ordinarily would have been used for a garment.  The cut of the dress has all of the seams to be a New Look dress but with different volume proportions, so modern yet referential to one of the highest points in women's wear design.  It is paired with accessories that it never would have been paired with in the golden age of Dior--a costume bib necklace, argyle tights and man-ish ski gloves.  It takes the look from looking like purely a reinterpretation of a classic look into its own, modern combination for a woman who enjoys the sprit of the past but isn't afraid to embrace the future or even to take what usually only is reserved for men.  You're right, Consuelo.

There, that makes me feel better.  Things balance out and there are things in the universe that are entirely right.

Top picture from Marni and bottom picture from Style

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Brian Reyes and The Search For The Spring Dress

Meh, I'm still wandering around looking for spring/summer dresses that I like.  There are millions of dresses out there and I always feel like I need to see what's out there before I really decide anything.  There are so many great designers out there that don't get much press even though they make wonderful things that I'd absolutely love to wear.  I have no idea why they get largely ignored, but it means I end up spending lots of time cruising around the 'net looking to see what I can find.

One of the designers that is a great new talent but gets kinda forgotten is Brian Reyes.  He's an American designer that shows at New York Fashion Week.  He occasionally gets featured in magazines but not with any regularity.  That's pretty disappointing considering he makes some cute, wearable clothes.  He's one of the few designers that isn't afraid to use print and color and I totally love it.

In his Spring Summer 2010 show he had a whole series of dresses in a shagreen print.  Shagreen is the textile from stingray leather, it has a kind of pebbled/mosaic print.  Its a really beautiful natural material and I've never seen that reinterpreted as a fabric print.  Not only is the print of these dresses cute, but the cut is too.  They're cut to be flattering and young, perfect for spring.  They look like they would be great on a young woman, I like that they are sexy without being revealing.

It seems that some of the other prints in the runway show are inspired by the Rorschach test.  Designers are always doing prints like that but what makes this ink blot print so cool are the colors.  The colors just make me smile, they are fabulously youthful and spring.  I love this dress, only I want to make it about 3 inches longer (or, since I'm shorter than the model it would hit at the spot I want) and then put a contrasting belt over it.  That is exactly the kind of things I like to wear.  I know I probably shouldn't say this, but that print looks great for disguising random food and coffee stains and like if it was a really hot, sweaty day you wouldn't be able to tell.  Probably not what most people think when they are looking for a dress, but lets face it, its reality.

Brian Reyes is a wonderful Columbian-American designer who is making beautiful clothes for young women.  I know, these dresses aren't really for everyone because not everyone wants to wear bright ink blots all over them, but they certainly fill a void in the fashion world.  I'm excited to watch how his career progresses, we can't have enough designers that aren't afraid to take risks with color and print!

Pictures from Style

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Zero + Maria Cornejo Tries To Break Through

Maria Cornejo is a designer from Chile that always seems just on the cusp of being the next "IT" designer.  She's a fantastic designer and she really has what it takes.  Or at least she does in my opinion.  I always like to watch her collections, hoping that she finally got over the last hump and is making dresses that will become cult items.  I think the world needs more designers that aren't American, Japanese or Western European and I think that she would help fill that void.  (maybe if I keep blogging about her someone will listen...)

Her Spring/Summer 2010 runway show really demonstrated why she's a fresh voice in fashion.  With this black dress, it appears that she's taking her draping sensibilities to a new level.  She reimagines the architectural/origami trends into something that is also soft and draped.  The side pockets are a less severe version of the ones that almost every designer is putting on their dresses, the kind that are meant to square off the hip and create a kind of art deco robot shape.  But, these pockets move and fall with the woman, still giving a new shape to the hips but in a way that is distinctly feminine.  I'm really curious about how the top of the dress looks when the model's arms are spread out and if the draped bust fabric moves with them.  While I'm generally not a fan of excessive fabric at the bust, this fabric is draped in so many directions that it doesn't seem to have saggy-boob syndrome.  That's hard to do.  The problem with this dress is that although it is nice, wearable and cute it isn't enough for Maria Cornejo to really step up and capture the fashion world's imagination and get to the next level.

In recent collections Maria Cornejo has also started including looks that aren't based on the draped sack dress concept.  She's starting to incorporated more seams and shapes and prints.  Let's face it--not everyone looks great in a sack dress.  That's why I really like this black and white dress from the SS 2010 runway show.  Its not a draped sack.  In fact...its kinda body-con.  It has seam detailing/structure, it is more shape-conscious and fitted and not a gather in sight.  I'm not sure how I feel about the black sash across the bust, but it doesn't take away from the fact that Maria is trying something else than her usual and she's taking risks.

I really hope that Maria Cornejo is able to finally take her work to the next level and really become an IT indie designer.  She's good, now she needs to create looks that achieve that cult status that makes women fight for her pieces.  I'm really looking forward to her next few collections!

Pictures from Style.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chanel Accessories and The White Rabbit

With the release of Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, accessories with that theme are everywhere.  But, it isn't like its the first time that  such things have been available or popular.  I blogged about it in 2008 when I got my hands on the 2007 SS Printemps Chanel White Rabbit pin.  The thing is so overwhelmingly cute.  Its just adorable.  I bought it because when I was a teen I had a white rabbit as a pet and the pin reminded me of him.  Lately, whenever its left the house with me I get bombarded with "I want that, I need that and where can I get it?!"  I've been combing the net trying to find real ones for sale and I just haven't been able to do it.  I just can't find any to send to my friends so they'll quit plotting to steal mine.  But, I have had success with finding similar pieces!

One of my favorites is the White Concrete Rabbit by lulubugjewelry on Etsy.  Its high-grade silver with white concrete set into it and on a silver chain.  Its got the same cute vibe as the Chanel one, but instead of being a pin it is necklace.  I like it.  It looks like it would be fun to wear.  It is related to ALICE IN WONDERLAND, it isn't so clearly from it that it can't stand on its own.  I'm not a huge fan of the Disney Couture jewelry line and wearing referential pieces like this seems like a much better plan.  Once the hype of the movie is done and gone, no one's going to roll their eyes at this necklace.

Another favorite is the Silver Flying Rabbit from CosmicFirely.  Its so steampunk, I love it!  Okay, so "steampunk" is a style movement of stuff that is industrial looking combined with Victorian design elements.  So, like an alternate version of history where advanced technology is present in Victorian times.  A silver rabbit on flight wings is exactly that, plus being cheeky and fun.  Its not exactly ALICE IN WONDERLAND, but its got the white rabbit and the hype of the movie will die down but this pin will still be great to wear.  No one is going to point at it and ask "oh, you like the movie that just came out?", but instead "that's cute!  Tell me about it!"  Its not easy to find unusual pieces like this, so you'd probably also be the only person in the room with it.  Hey, a piece of jewelry that makes you smile is always in style.

Sure, finding the 2007 P Chanel White Rabbit pin may be pretty much impossible now, but there are similar options available.  While it ties in to a popular movie, the white rabbit is such a classic symbol (MATRIX, anyone?) that it won't go out of style any time soon.  And, its cute.  You can't beat cute.

Top picture is my own, other pictures are from Etsy

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Narciss: An Emerging Talent

One of the most exciting things in fashion right now is that Eastern Europe is finally finding its feet in the fashion world.  Designers from all across former Soviet republics are starting to emerge are new voices and perspectives.  This is fantastic--the Eastern European sensibility towards clothing is refreshing and fairy tales seem to inspire so many of the new ideas.  (have I mentioned that I'm obsessed with fairy tales?)  One of the new designers that is really starting to make a mark is Narciss by Alise Trautmane.  

When did you start your label? When did you start designing or know that you wanted to be a fashion designer?
With an academic background in law and economics, there was every chance I would never been close to the catwalk.  However, after enjoying fast, successful career in business traveling half the world and with the enormous responsibility that the post of the Vice President embodies (at the age of 27), I left the asset management company I had been working for. During these years of my career the titles of the business card changed and the office space grew from mere cubicle to a spacious one, but the lack of satisfaction and creativity was making my life pretty dull. After the Fashion Design and Marketing course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London in 2008, and summer spent studying the craft at Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan I took off for a creative journey by establishing NARCISS.

How did you come to show at Russian Fashion Week for the last few seasons?
While working as business consultant in Moscow for almost almost two years I have travelled all over Russia, and am acquinted with the business culture and its specifics. Russia in an enormous market with great potential. Moreover, Russia is the biggest neighbour of my home country Latvia. Last, and not of least importance, Russian women are very involved in following the fashion trends and spend a lot of time and effort in taking care about their looks.
Russian Fashion week is the biggest fashion event in Eastern Europe and ranks among top ten fashion weeks in the world according to the organizers. Moscow, as other big fashion metropolitans, has the spirit and dynamics necessary to become a true fashion capital in the future. This season, we will show Fall/ Winter 2010/2011 collection in Russian Fashion Week once again. We will also take part in Riga Fashion Week (in Latvia) with the show on 27 March.  Riga is an ideal place to work and create, but all the business potential and our PR efforts are focused first of all on Russia.

 What was the inspiration for your current collection?
Inspiration for SS2010 NARCISS collection GRACE:
I  derived the inspiration from the 50-ies movie legend and fashion icon Grace Kelly. Grace Kelly was not only a natural beauty and elegance, but also a sharp intellect. She showed how the seemingly incompatible can be combined both on the screen as well as in the private life. The SS2010  collection stresses the aspiration towards all that is natural, e.g. in the choice of materials and accessories, as well as towards the importance of fashion being comfortable. Although the collection is created for the always moving woman leading a busy life in the metropolis, nevertheless, the collection invites to move closer to the nature and seek a true harmony. As regards the fabrics of the collection, the glamorous silk is successfully combined with the more modest fabrics like linen. Accessories and trimmings are woven ropes, stone decorated traditional Latvian footwear pastalas and the jewelry made of semi-precious stone agate.

Inspiration for AW2010/ 2011 collection „LĀČPLĒSIS”
Lāčplēsis or "Bear-slayer" in English is the legendary hero of the 19th century Latvian epic. Lāčplēsis got his name after killing a bear by ripping its jaws apart with his hands. His strength was hidden in his ears, the ears of a bear, which represented the primeval forces of nature. 
According to the epic one of the principal tasks of Lāčplēsis was to fight the Black Knight. However, the outcome of the battle was inconclusive as both Lāčplēsis and his enemy fell in the river from a cliff and perished.
NARCISS turned the idea of the Latvian epic into the story of the heroine of our times who continues the fight with Black Knight, but this time it is not a physical but a spiritual fight. She embodies the strength and the wit of Lāčplēsis, but for her Lāčplēsis’ source of power – the ears of a bear – no longer embodies physical strength. Instead, it represents the ability to hear the voice of the heart and follow it. She is here to clear the minds of the people of ultra materialistic, individualistic and evil thoughts and propagate the spiritual knowledge and core human values.

Where are your pieces sold at and are you still based in Riga?
The design and production takes place in Riga, Latvia, which is a great location in terms of logistics (i.e. it is within European Union which give an easy access to other EU member states, as well as is neighbouring Russia, which is one of our main markets).
I, myself, spend one third of the time in Riga, the other third in Moscow, and the rest between London, Paris etc. With the AW2010/2011 collection we took part in the prestigious Pret-a-porter Paris trade show and currently the collection is in multi-label showroom AMAKA in London ( ). This is our third collection, and with this collection we will try to explore the European market as well (with previous collections we only focused on Russia). 
Currently we sell in multi-brand boutiques in Latvia, Russia, Belgium and now are finalising orders for AW2010/2011, for which we hope we will expand our European client base.

What do you think is a must-have for this spring?
A dress with sheer details.  My favorite is the one pictured.  It is in keeping with Grace Kelly's aesthetics--its feminine, beautiful and smart.  Its graceful.  The color and the fabric are perfect for warmer weather while the cut makes women feel beautiful.  It is made of linen with silk charmeuse.

I'm always so excited to see new talent that seems like it is actually going somewhere and I think that Narciss falls into that category.  The clothes are wearable by just about any woman, they are interesting in their own right and they're pretty.  The dress that Alise recommends for spring is perfect.  I could see myself wearing it.  I really hope that the line starts to really expand across Europe so it becomes easier to find.  When a line in its first year gets picked up to show at one of the major fashion weeks of the world you know that its going to be something worth following.

Pictures from Narciss, special thanks to Alise for taking the time to be interviewed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Have A Green Day With Terra Plana

I think the whole green movement thing is kind of cool.  I don't think it should matter what you think of global warming, instead the concept of living with less trash should be important.  Lots of trash seems like a real bother because, lets face it, trash sucks and no one wants to live in a pile of it.  One of the ways to have less trash is to buy things from recycled materials.  That's easy enough with recycled paper and such, but for fashion its a bit more difficult.

Okay, so it is a lot more difficult, especially if you don't want to wear some stranger's old clothes.  Trying to find cool reworked clothing is nearly impossible.  There's Libertine.  And, well, I can't think of anyone else.  But, for shoes there is Terra Plana.  They make footwear from recycled materials that doesn't look like a cut out from an old tire--imagine that!!!!  Their shoes actually look...fashionable.  One of my favorites is the Dionysia in grey.  It looks like an actual fashion item.  Not only does it not scream "OMG, look at me, I'm such a hippie!" but it is made of vegetable-dyed leather, eco-friendly memory foam, and a sole made out of recycled materials.  That's cool.  You could actually wear these out of the house and feel super stylin' while knowing that your shoes are not making the world more full of trash.  Awesome.

Another one of my favorite pairs is the Melito.  I actively want this shoe.  It has a covered front platform, stitching details, a stacked heel and a really cool print.  Turns out the print fabric portion is made out of old quilts from Pakistan.  Yes, really.  Traditional Pakistani quilts.  That's awesome.  Its pretty, fits with current tribal-inspired trends and is so unique looking but in an awesome way.  The kind of way where strangers stop you in the street and ask about your shoes because they want some too.  Plus, they have memory-foam insoles, so I suspect they're comfortable.  Not bad.

The only problem I see with these shoes is that for some reason they don't carry alternate-width shoes.  Someday, when sustainable shoes become more popular my wish is that they carry "narrow."  Until then I get to live vicariously through pictures.

Pictures from Terra Plana

You may also be interested in my post about another green designer, Deborah Lindquist

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Marimekko And The Dress Of Many Colors

I have no idea why, but I'm obsessed with wearing print.  I own almost no solid colored clothing--I just poked my head in my closet and I literally only have 4 solid colored dresses.  If something is solid colored I usually have it just because I've got some outlandish print something and needed something to wear with it.  The problem with liking print so much is that good prints are hard to find.  It seems like most print fabric designers make stuff out of is an absolute snooze.  Stuff like polka dots and maybe some boring vintage-inspired flowers.  And then there is Marimekko.

Marimekko is a textile company based in Finland.  They started in 1951 as a clothing fabric maker and they started making simple dresses out of the fabric to show how it could be used.  These simple dresses became an absolute sensation in the 1960s starting when Jackie Kennedy started wearing them.  From then on, the vibrant prints became a clothing staple and companies the world over have attempted to emulate them.  Several companies have had long-standing partnerships with Marimekko, like Crate & Barrel and FinnAir.  In the 1980s and 1990s the company ran into financial trouble but was revived.  What really put it back on the map was Patricia Field started using Marimekko items in SEX AND THE CITY and so for the last 10 years Marimekko has once again become a household name and the rest is history!

And, I'm hooked on their prints.  While they do release dresses for Anthropologie, they also still have their own in-house fashion line that they still use to showcase their fabrics.  My favorite dress that they have available right now is the Tamir dress in black and white. The print is quintessential Marimekko--its got the folk art inspired print against a solid contrasting background.  Its classic, modern and cool looking.  The cut of the dress is great--it gives a flattering shape, is appropriate for pretty much everyone and is stylish.  I love the neck, that vintage style standing collar is fantastic.  Its a print dress that anyone could wear without looking like their grandparents drapes or like a snoozefest.  Love it!!

Marimekko still makes their fabrics for commercial and consumer use and in all kinds of prints.  Two of my favorite ones that are available right now are the Keisarinna Collection pictured above and the Kissanminttu Collection pictured below.  What I love is that they are classic looking florals reinterpreted in such a way to make them look unconventional.  Perfect for this spring!

Pictures from Marimekko

Monday, March 15, 2010

Body-Con Trend: It's Everywhere, Man!

Ever since I blogged about the body-con trend the other day, I keep noticing it everywhere!  This trend seems to be going in full-force for the next few seasons.  That's not a bad thing, as I consider it to be the exact opposite of looking like a dumpy bag lady.  These looks take effort--you've gotta either find some spanx or go to the gym a bunch.  You can't hide your shape with this trend, so it kinda surprises me that so many women are embracing it.  I don't know why, but it always seems to me that most women are trying to hide their shape, so it is refreshing that so many women are willing to actually show their shape.

I've noticed that most of the body-con looks seem to be made of knit fabric.  For instance, the Catherine Malandrino knit dress pictured is a kind of open-weave knit with a slip under.  What makes this particular dress really stand out is the knit--while most of the other dresses in this trend are knit too, this one has some serious texture going!  Its that extra element that really takes it from being just another cream colored body-con dress to being beyond the trend and a beautiful dress.  It looks like it isn't made just to satisfy the trend, but also to be a beautiful dress that is worth wearing.  One of the problems that I see with a lot of the body-con looks is that they look like they were specifically put together so that people can point at them and say "oh, that's Body-Con!  You're participating in the latest trend!" instead of making women look like they're dressed in a flattering, beautiful dress.

One of the over-arching themes in the body-con trend appears to be color-blocking.  For some reason, there doesn't seem to be a lot of looks made out of print fabric.  I have no idea why that is, but it seems to be the case.  Purposeful color-blocking is okay, I mean its good and basic and you aren't taking huge risks.  But, it gets a bit boring.  But, the reason that I really like this body-con Zac Posen monochrome color block dress is because while it is color-blocked, it is INTERESTING!!  It has shapes, details, stitching, things to look at other than large blobs of a single color!  I love it!  It looks like it would be very flattering on most shapes--the two little white triangles that point down and in at the waist seem to create an optical illusion slimming effect.  They give the eye something to do and make the woman look like something other than a box.  This dress actually makes me excited about body-con and color blocking!  Love it!

Pictures from Net-A-Porter

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thank The Heavens for Diane von Furstenberg!

I'm so tired of winter that I'm just not excited about all of the 2010 AW collections that have come out lately.  Thinking about them is a reminder that after 5 months of unpleasant cold it is now time to think about more unpleasant cold.  Blah.  Instead, its that time of year where I think most of us are looking out the window and thinking to ourselves "OMG, I MUST buy a new dress!!  Its almost the time of year where I get to wear cute stuff and be comfortable and this must be celebrated!"

Yes, indeed.  I just want to buy a cute, comfortable print dress that I can wear to work.  It needs to be flattering and I want it to be colorful.  Yet, it feels like every time I browse around to try and find something like that I fail--why is it that most designers are making solid and usually neutral colored dresses?  I don't want something solid, I don't want ruffles, I don't want a mini and I don't want sequins.  I want something normal.  I feel like the Princess and the Pea!  I was browsing around in my closet with a friend the other day and she pointed out that I must really like Diane von Furstenberg because I have tons of her dresses.  I've never really thought about it before, but it is true.  I LOVE DvF.  Pictured are my DvF dresses that aren't at the cleaners, that's a pretty good amount of stuff to have by just one designer.  The reason why I have so much of her stuff is simple.  She makes nice, normal, flattering dresses that I can wear to work and that's what I really want.  

After I thought about that, the dress that I want to buy now that I've got the spring shopping itch is quite straight forward. I want a print DvF wrap dress.  I've settled on the DvF Herringbone Wrap Dress--its flattering, work-friendly and the print makes me smile.  A close second is the Julian Leaf Print Dress for the exact same reason--its cute, flattering and I could wear it to work and feel great about it.  These dresses create a top, middle and bottom like Tim Gunn always stresses, they give you a defined waist, they're not boring and they are appropriate to wear to an office.  Home run!

 What I can't figure out is why Diane von Furstenberg is the only designer that really seems to get my memos I constantly send out asking "could you please make me a nice print dress I can wear while I sit at my desk?"  If you look at all of the high-profile designers that are always floundering, the one thing that they're always missing is a few dresses that their clients can buy and wear regularly.  Not everyone goes to parties everyday but most women need a normal, cute dress to leave the house in.  It isn't rocket science, folks.  And, it isn't a wonder that DvF reopened her studio--this is what women really want.

Top picture is my own and the other two are from Saks

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Go Exotic With GiGi Chic!

There are some things accessories-wise that are just horrible to try to find.  One of them for me is always great python pieces that won't break the bank.  Well, GiGi Chic is here to take care of that!

GiGi Chic by Gail Carlson is an accessories company dedicated to making pieces that are high end, beautiful and normally nearly impossible to find.  Gail says that her inspiration for the line came when "I just couldn't find an accessory I liked that would punch up my basic outfits.  I need something that will go everywhere and always look great," so she started GiGi Chic in 2006.  Why does she use exotic skins like python?  "Well," she said, "leather is everywhere.  I wanted something different, something that would stand out, something that was rare.  Python is all of that."  Currently, GiGi Chic pieces are being featured on the Miami Fashion Week runway, as well as InStyle and Elle magazine.

One of GiGi Chic's big statement pieces for the spring is the Large Gold Python Cuff.  Let's face it, gold goes with almost everything.  When I asked Gail why she thought that this piece was what this spring was about, she explained "its classic enough to go with almost everything while being bold enough to really make an outfit."  That it is!  Python is one of those things that never really goes out of style and gold is such a staple color that it is great for any season.  Having had the chance to try it on, the cuff is legitimately comfortable and the gold is real so those of us with metal allergies can actually wear it--something that is really hard to find.

When I asked what was the hottest item in her line right now, Gail immediately answered that it was the City Lights clutch.  "Every woman needs a statement-making evening clutch and this one fits that bill while still being appropriate for a woman of any age."  The City Lights clutch is completely covered with Swarovski crystals and is the perfect size to carry your essentials for the evening without it being too large to be practical.  From experience, most Swarovski crystal clutches usually come off as tacky because they're either a weird shape or are just too bling-y, but what this one brings to the table is that it has more demure colors on it so it doesn't turn into a disco ball in your hand and it is a nice, basic and identifiable shape so you won't have to spend all evening explaining what it is.

Having watched this line for a while now, GiGi Chic is really on the rise!  Their pieces are consistently classic, well-made and beautiful.  Plus...on the website there is 20% off all python items with the discount code "May9" and a chance to win a $1000 shopping spree.

Pictures from GiGi Chic and (as usual) nothing was given in exchange for this interview.

Thank You!!

Huge thanks to Fake Plastic Fish to featuring me on their website!

Fake Plastic Fish is a website dedicated to one woman's quest to live without plastic and to focus on reducing waste.  She featured my interview with Deborah Lindquist, an LA-based designer that strives to use all recycled materials.  Fake Plastic Fish is a great site and make sure to visit it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mohair--When Goats Grow Hair

Mohair is one of those textiles where the name gives you absolutely no hint about what it actually is.  It isn't like there is a "mo"-creature running around that you can point at and say "hey, that thing makes mohair!"  The only hint from the name is that it is some kind of hair, and hopefully not from your cousin Mo.

What it actually is happens to be hair from an angora goat.  Keep in mind that this is not the same creature that makes what we call angora--angora comes from a rabbit.  Why is an angora goat not called a mohair goat?  Your guess is as good as mine.  The history of the goat is kinda murky, probably because as history has rolled along there have been more interesting things to document than the domestication of particular goat species.  But, it seems to be a variety of Asian goat that Turkic tribes have traditionally raised, based on the regions and dates several websites have cited in their histories of this particular type of goat.  What makes it different from the cashmere goat is that the cashmere goat has two different layers of hair, with the underlayer being cashmere, whereas with the mohair goat only grows one layer of hair and that is mohair.  Also, to get the best hair from an angora goat it is shorn whereas a cashmere goat is combed.  The best mohair comes from younger goats (think cute, fluffy baby goat!).  Mohair is considered a sustainable fiber because goat hair is an easily renewable resource and can be done using sustainable farming methods.

The processing of mohair is pretty much like that of any other animal hair.  It needs to be washed, combed and then spun.  It is great for dying and holds the color really well.  Once is has been processed, the yarns can be used for just about anything.  The finer, higher quality mohair is used usually for garments, like this Missoni cardigan.  The lower quality mohair is used for things like carpets and industrial uses.  The grading of quality has to do with the thickness of the individual hairs, with the thinner the hair the higher the quality.  So, that mohair sweater that you've been rocking all winter is actually made of goat hair!

Top picture from Angora Goat and the sweater is from Bluefly, other information from wikipedia and personal experience.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Easton Pearson, The Aussies Who Know What Women Want

Designers come up with their designs for all kinds of reasons.  Some do it because its what their conglomerate says to do, some because the voices in the head make them and for others, it is because they know what their clients want.  For Easton Pearson, it is because they know what women want.

Easton Pearson is made up of Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson and they are based in Melborne, Australia.  I believe that their runway show is usually at Sydney Fashion Week.  The label has been going for over 20 years now and during that 20 years they've managed to really get to know their best customers and actually listen to what they have to say.  They know that they aren't dressing just any woman on the street, they are dressing the women who want something different, personal and comfortable.  Most, if not all, of their clothes are lined with silk.  That is central to their philosophy that women deserve not only to wear something that they like, but that the item needs to be comfortable and respect the skin.

The inspirations for the line are primarily global cultures.  Most of their clients tend to be women who are looking for something that is a bit out of the ordinary without looking like a costume.  For their clothes, the meld traditional, flattering concepts with details from around the world.  All of their pieces always have something special about them, be it hand-stitching, beading, pintucking, ethnic prints or something that makes it more than just a simple garment.  In an age when clothing designers are cheaping out on their clients, this duo has gone to great lengths to preserve the quality and vision of their line, something that should be applauded.  This isn't clothing for a wanna-be pop star, it is clothes for a woman who knows who she is and doesn't need anyone to tell her what she needs to look like.  As a result, Easton Pearson designs always stand out and are sought the world over.

Unfortunately, Easton Pearson fashion items are rather hard to find.  If you're looking for something, I recommend that you contact the company directly.  Otherwise, you might just be stuck with what turns up on yoox and ebay.

Small pictures from yoox and larger picture from Easton Pearson

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Ice Queen Cometh, Chanel AW 2010 Runway Accessories

I'll be honest here.  I HATE winter!  Its horrible.  I hate it so much that I live somewhere that is normally hot as hell and I could normally cook dinner in my car (not an overstatement).  While I absolutely hate the weather, the fashions can be so fun!

With the 2010 AW runway shows in full-swing in Paris right now, I can't help but comment on what's coming for next winter.  According to Chanel, we get to be mythical ice queens.  That's not a bad plan--its a timeless, powerful female figure and she's normally got an awesome get-up.  One of my favorite pieces is the Chanel cuff pictured.  Its got the normal Chanel maltese cross on it, but what really makes it cool are the icicle crystals emanating out of it.  Its just so...statement-making.  Its iconic and classic enough to where it wouldn't be wearable for just next season, I can see if being appropriate to wear for seasons and seasons to come.

Another accessory from the 2010 AW runway show was the bag pictured.  Its so fun!  It has the classic Chanel leather ribbon through the chain and the quilting, yet it has an extra twist with the smudgy dip-dye sort of black on it.  One of the cool things is that the black isn't even--it is on the bottom, the bottom of the flap and around the hardware, so it doesn't look like it was just set down in tar or something.  Also, the black is strategically enough placed so that it is on the areas of the bag most likely to get dirty during use, so it should really cut down on angst about ruining the bag.  Its perfect for the woman who is attracted to the classic elegance of the Chanel line but also has a taste for the slightly mischievous.  Just like the at times, morally ambiguous Ice Queen of lore.

Pictures from

For my blog post about other Chanel accessories, click HERE

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Body-Con Trend: Hope You Found Your Confidence!

There are some trends that just aren't for the shy.  The whole Body-Con Trend is one of those.  It stands for "body conscious" and translates to "wearing clothes that leave basically nothing to the imagination because they fit so snugly".  This trend has been up and going for a while.  In my fashion-following, the first time I remember seeing it was when Lindsay Lohan wore a rainbow Herve Leger bandage dress when she won the Maxim's Hottest Woman award.  Yes, once people thought that Lindsay was hot and not in the mess sort of way.

While the clothes for this trend can be incredibly unforgiving and may make you consider buying stock in the Spanx company, there are some ways to do without looking like a sausage.  One is the Herve Leger wool bustier.  It has all of the bandage seaming and snugness, but since it is made out of woven instead of knit fabric and is in bustier form, it actually has some structure.  Structure is your best friend if you don't look like Heidi Klum under your clothes because it does the work for you.

Another option for those of us who want our clothes to not just be trendy, but to flatter us is the Narciso Rodriguez black and white dress.  It has all of the hallmarks of a body-con dress--its tight, snug and has an exposed zipper (for some reason body-con also seems to go hand in hand with exposed zippers, dunno why).  But, it also has some "voodoo"--note the attached belt look going on.  It is done in such a way that makes the waist look slimmer.  Also, the stripes down the sides give the illusion of a smaller shape.  Basically, this dress is one heck of an optical illusion that is intended to make you look like you lost 20 pounds.

With the body-con trend still going strong, there is no reason not to participate even if you don't immediately think that you have the confidence to pull off a dress that looks like an ace bandage.  There are plenty of options out there that actually do flatter--why not give it a try?

Pictures from The OutNet

Monday, March 8, 2010

staci35lake, an Ebay Seller That Rocks!

Ebay can be a scary place.  You have no idea who is on the other side of the computer and what on earth they might be up to.  But, not everyone on the website it out to scam people--there are actually some great sellers!

One of these sellers is staci35lake, a seller from Missouri, USA.  She is consistently rated as one of the top sellers on ebay for customer service and quality--that is no easy feat!  Not only does she have superior customer service and 100% positive feedback, but she also has some killer items.  Pictured is a new with tags Prada dress with handbeading and hand-applied silk "feathers".  Holy smokes!  The dress is so Prada--it is a classic shape but with unconventional details that really make it stand out from just another boring cocktail dress.  It also appears to have Swarovski crystals on one of the straps.  For a cocktail part or occasion, this dress is a can't miss!

Not only does Staci carry high-end women's clothing, but she also carries accessories!  One of the bags that she has for sale is a Marni leather and python baguette complete with tags and dustbag.  The bag is *SO CUTE*!!!!  It is that classic Marni teal, pink, white and red in the "pois" print that has been revived for this season.  This bag is a classic and a can't miss.  Plus, finding polka dot bags is nearly impossible, and yet she managed to find one to offer you.

Staci consistently has some of the coolest rare high-end items that are on ebay.  She carries high-end women's wear such as Marni, Prada, Lanvin, Dries van Noten, Stella McCartney, YSL, Gucci, Koi Swannagate, Hussein Chalayan and Rochas, but she also carries high-end vintage--Celine, Gucci, Dior and the list goes on.  Not only that, but she also carries a wide-range of more affordable clothes, like BCBG, FCUK and Nine West for shoppers that want great customer service and a smokin' deal on their clothes.  The range of styles and selection that she has is fantastic--she carries everything from the top runway looks in Paris to some of the hardest to find designers to reliable brands that everyone knows and loves.

For all of the bad things that people say about ebay, there are some really great sellers.  staci35lake is one of those!
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