Friday, February 29, 2008

Stella McCartney: Handcrafted Luxury

Despite a slew of shapeless black tents, Stella McCartney did manage to stun me with some select looks. The handcrafted, one-of-a-kind quality of these pieces feels less commercial than many other collections', and one can hardly believe that these items were not inherited from a fashionable great-great grandmother in Paris (or London). It is precisely this quality that I search for in clothes, and the commonplace has become something I eschew with high disdain (I can barely stand to look at the Gap). Clothes need to be as individual as you are.

Additional Looks:

1. Are you sure you didn't get this from a museum vault?

2. A strong statement coat that looks like fashionable armor against a jaded society:

3. Perhaps your great-great grandmother really did make a skirt. You wear it as a dress, and embrace crochet.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Akris: Tactile Texture

After accosting you with grotesque images yesterday (notice I spared you a third monstrosity), I am pleased to report that Akris has redeemed Paris Fashion Week for me, and we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing that a few horror shows are in the past, where they will stay. Akris showcased clean, vertical lines, and continued to experiment with the tactile quality of texture. From fur to fuzz, Akris beautifully incorporated varying sumptuous looks that cry out to be worn--and touched. I've always been a firm believer that clothes should not only look good, but feel good, too.

Additional Looks:

1. A calmer, less post-ity dress that would be easy to wear:

2. The rich colors of suede remind me of pumpkin pie, my favorite fall dessert:

3. The slight fuzzy quality to this mossy number is cozy, not messy:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Avant-Garde Doesn't Have to Mean Fugly

Comme des Garcons, Fall 2008

Even though we have yet to see Chanel and Andrew Gn, Paris Fashion Week has proven to be one monstrosity after another. Designers have resorted to ridiculous "bad fashion" gimmicks that prove to be more show than store. The puffy, the tawdry, the mismatched, the tacky, and the downright fugly have taken hold of Parisian designers, and I can both barely look and barely not. Let's hope that Karl Lagerfeld doesn't get too experimental.

Additional Fugly Looks:

1. Maison Martin Margiela, Fall 2008: Anyone need a tire for a turtleneck?

2. Vivienne Westwood, Fall 2008: Pippi Longstocking Meets Snuffleupagus!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent: Making Me See Stars

When you were a child, you probably received gold stars from your teacher for being good or performing well on tests/quizzes/projects. When you were an adolescent, you learned about and marveled at the luminous, exploding balls of hydrogen and helium you studied in science. And when you became an adult, Yves. Saint Laurent expected you to buy their tacky star bracelet, which looks like it came from Claire's (yes, we all shopped there as kids...don't deny it). While stars can be edgy, they can also be juvenile, tacky, and painful (look at those sharp edges...ouch). The rusty-looking chain doesn't help, either. Ignore the fashion editors on this one and don't spend $395.00 on an accessory even a (savvy) kindergartner wouldn't wear.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar Ratings

1. BEST DRESSED: Keisha Whitaker: She looked as radiant as a bride on her wedding day.

2. (BEST) RUNNER UP: Marion Cotillard in Jean Paul Gautier: She shone in La Vie En Rose (I was absolutely moved by her performance), and she shone in an unexpected mermaid gown (not everybody can pull off mermaid with aplomb).

3. (BEST) THIRD PLACE: Anne Hathaway in Marchesa: Roses are red...and fabulous.

Other well-dressed ladies of the night: Jennifer Garner in Oscar de la Renta, Amy Adams in Proenza Schouler, and Sarah Jane Larson in Valentino Couture.

1. WORST DRESSED: Tilda Swinton in (gasp!) Lanvin: She looks like a corpse in a lopsided garbage bag (she has always creeped me out).

2. (WORST) RUNNER-UP: Rebecca Miller in Barf: Maybe it's because I'm jealous of her arm candy, but you think she could afford to hire a stylist.

3. (WORST) THIRD PLACE: Diablo Cody in John Galliano: Can I just say, Bam Bam?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Ballerina Within

When I was a child, my mother faithfully enrolled me in every activity she could think of to find my "hidden talent": soccer, swimming, arts and crafts, tennis, archery, piano, calligraphy, ballet...Unfortunately, I was not the "athletic type," but despite my lack of talent in the rigorous discipline of ballet, I believe that many girls have the ballerina within--that vision of grace, beauty, and fluidity. Even as an adult, I find myself oohing and aahing over clothes that embrace that childhood vision of tutus in pink. Take Fendi's striped pink, gray, and dove gray number and Moschino's silk tiered flounce dress: both inspire the innocence and beauty of a simple ballet recital and the look of pride from a mother's face. $2,410 for the Fendi dress at and $3,390 for the Moschino dress at

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fendi: Bags and Belts and Clothes, Oh My!

Each season, I go to Fendi for artfully-designed but wearable clothes that quietly astound. The House of Fendi's Fall 2008 collection did not dissapoint: the stunning belts (on my must-have list for Fall), the luxurious furs (nobody does furs quite like Fendi), and the classic clothes all were pristine and purr-fect. But the bags this season were a surprise: unlike Fendi's typical shapes, these bags reflected the clean lines of their clothes (I'm coveting their dusty blue crocodile mule bag, seen above) and were unfussy but elegant. The only dissapointment? The wait.

Additional Looks:

1. A space-agey look that Fendi has nailed (note the spectacular belt and boots):

2. The softest, most luxurious fur coat I have ever seen:

3. A winning look that mixes the gloss of smooth leather with the texture of a complex skirt:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Burberry Prorsum: If Christmas Were in February, This is What I'd Want for Christmas

I'm absolutely smitten with Christopher Bailey. It's hard to dispute the power of a designer who can turn your revulsion for all things ruched and studded into simple and complete adoration. Take this ensemble from their Spring 2008 line: the loose, flowy but structured cardigan, the studded belt (which I must have this spring), and the ruched gray silk skirt are all, individually, pieces of perfection, but the combination of the three is pure genius. His work is about the "luxury warrior" who, in typical Lara Croft fashion, kicks a**. $895 for the cardigan, $1695 for the skirt at

Bottega Veneta: More of the Same

Tomas Maier's Fall 2008 Bottega Veneta line didn't wow me in the usual way, but perhaps it's because he's already perfected simple luxury. And in typical fashion, he produced (yet again) a steady stream of tailored, elegant, and unfussy looks (with the exception of two coats that looked like Cookie Monster had gone through a shredder) and exotic, classic, and unfussy accessories. Like many designers, he's sticking to a formula that works for his clientele, but the lack of creativity in this particular line dissapointed.

Additional Looks:

1. Another taupe snakeskin clutch (I already have a larger version):

2. The only intriguing accessory: a belt:

3. My favorite runway look (the jacket is intriguing and complex, but classy):

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blumarine: Swan Lake Has Gone to Heaven

Anna Molinari's Fall 2008 Blumarine collection was a gasp of genius: the seismic burst of beauty reaffirms why I love fashion so much. The frills, the flowers, the ornamentation: fashion has become beauty, or as Keats so eloquently put it, "beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." While her line is not practical per se (if you excuse the handful of lingerie looks that first appeared down the runway)--one does not attend the opera every night of every day unless one is a gifted vocalist--it does inspire the kind of fantasy that true fashion produces.

Favorite Looks:

1. I'd wear this wedding cake:

2. Perfect for A Midsummer Night's Dream:

3. Fresh, lovely, perfect:

Prada: Naughty Nuns

Miuccia Prada's overdose of lace on her Fall 2008 line was like doillies on acid. At every turn, I felt assaulted by the sheer paradox (pun intended) of her line: on the one hand, the staid high collars and the predominance of Catholic black and white seemed something out of The Sound of Music; yet the naughty location of lace and the thick black chains on the bags seemed to scream Halloween in the Village. And in typical Prada mode, her pumps were startlingly architectural, her bags wildly covetable, and her eyeglasses extremely futuristic. It is the eclectic mix that she's known for, and while there is so much lace that a gal can take (even a feminine one such as myself), you have to hand it to Prada's neverending ability to surprise the fashionati.

Additional Looks:

1. All prim and (somewhat) proper:

2. Neon Nun:
3. A shoe a la the Guggenheim Bilbao:

4. A fitting way to end...


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to Spend Wisely in an Uncertain Economy

The plethora of fashionable "it" and non-"it" items leaves a fashionable girl in a conundrum: how does one satisfy the fashionable urge without being financially irresponsible? Suze Orman's mantra at the end of each show is a wise one: "people first, then money, then things." Yet, for women, "things" are a part of putting "people first."

As a "normal" person, I find myself juggling this very issue. As a woman, I must consider that financial recklessness is akin to loosing one's self-esteem and financial options. But if you are willing to shop in an unconventional manner, you can find a resolution that satisfies both your bank account and your closet.

1. This may seem like a no-brainer, but wait until sale season. For many women, this option is about as pleasing as snakes on a plane (I happened to watch about half an hour of this monstrosity before I had to shut the TV off). The trick to this option is to know what items will sell out and which ones won't. Shoes are unlikely to sell out, and unless you are considering a "limited edition" bag, chances are they won't sell out either. Clothes, however, do sell out, especially if you have a common size.

2. Consider shopping at high-end consignment shops for non-"it" items at a fraction of the cost. I discovered this amazing one on my way to the Barneys Warehouse Sale the other day (total madness, BTW). I snagged a pair of emerald and diamond earrings for a ridiculously low price and crocodile belts (one was Chanel, the other one was Barneys' brand) for a shockingly satisfying price. I also noticed that they had a copious amount of REAL Hermes bags--Birkins and Kellys--for a marked-up price but at least they were readily available (no wait list!).

3. Shop at sample sales. I have snagged many a deal, but it does require a "Rambo Mentality" (my phrase). Prepare to do battle. (See my earlier post for war tactics that work.)

4. Create a shopping list for each season, and stick to it. Evaluate your closet, and be mindful that each additional item will bring either worth or dross to your closet's real estate value. (Do you really need another black dress?) If there is one hot dress that you have to have, buy only that one. Save elsewhere (manicures, coffees, taxis, and take-out are all items that are unnecessary costs that you can cut).

5. Mix high and low. You don't need every item in your closet to be "designer." H&M, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, JCrew, and Kenneth Cole all are low-end stores to find cute, trendy tops, tailored slacks, and cashmere cardigans. Standout items should be designer, but peripheral items can be low-end.

And remember: set aside some money to save as well as to spend. Set up an automatic savings plan from one account to the other (I recommend ING Direct, as they have one of the highest interest plans--you know that you are making money on your savings). Good luck!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Missoni: Easy, Breezy Fall 2008

I've grown to dread the signature chevron from Missoni, but Angela Missoni surprised me by refraining from indulging in the safe standby. Instead, she showcased refreshing color combinations (peach and khaki, orange and merlot, saffron and royal blue), collegiate, slouchy looks that incorporate masculine shapes with feminine patterns (florals, dots), and floaty, ethereal dresses that were effortlessly glam.

Additional Looks:

1. Rich colors, easy look:

2. A glamorous cocktail dress in one of my favorite colors:

3. Easy to mimic: pair a floral, breezy top with a slouchy cardigan and slim pants:

Carolina Herrera: Shift Gears

Shift dresses are professional but feminine, as they hug your body but cover the necessary parts and work for many different occasions (wedding, work, lunch). Carolina Herrera's pale blue shift dress is perfect in every way: the slight metallic sheen on this gorgeous spring color is bright and airy, and the subtle panelling is like a built-in waist. If the dress is too simple for your taste, add a unique belt or a statement necklace to showcase your individual personality. $2,290 at

Friday, February 15, 2008

Jimmy Choo: The Three Faces of Eve

Jimmy Choo's Polly Glazed Canvas bag is an eerie version of pop art gone bad: the dazed, vacant expressions, reinforced by the uneven facial shapes, leave me as disoriented as Eve White was in the movie. Faces and skulls have unfortunately invaded the fashion world, but I've never understood the appeal. This claustrophobic bag confirms my revulsion, and the ridiculous price--$975--also confuses me. For that amount, I'd invest in a quality leather bag.

Hanii Y: Soft Biker Chic

Hanii Y's gray satin panel leather jacket has all of the elements of a chic leather jacket: the neutral shade works with many other colors but is less harsh than black, the slight puff sleeves add a feminine touch to a tough material, and the buttons and seaming add an element of interest to a simple style. Gray has been increasingly paired with pale yellow as the new "it" shade combination, but I like it with pinks, blues, purples, and browns. $948 at

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nina Ricci: The Exorbitant Cost of Fashion

Despite the recent mumblings about a recession, designers have blissfully ignored them and have proceeded to skyrocket the price of designer goods. Case in point: Nina Ricci's silk asymmetical dress, while somewhat aethestically pleasing, does not warrant the outrageous price tag of $5,090. The unfinished hem, the raggedy scarf appendage, and the material alone leave one entirely perplexed: why is this garment so expensive? Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, and Alberta Ferretti have all similarly priced their garments, but their pieces are extravagantly realized designs that are meticulously crafted (look for beading, appliques, and complicated stitching). This dress looks like it came out of the discount bin at Century 21. Designers need to realize that the price does not elevate the worth of the garment: the craftsmanship does.

The Early Signs of Stingray

In my earlier post about Ferragamo's hit stingray clutch, I hailed the beauty of the stingray skin. Recent sightings have confirmed my prediction that this is the new "it" skin. Oscar de la Renta created a luscious, soft gray stingray clutch for Fall 2008, Celestina created a demure cream stingray clutch, and Marios Schwab created fierce jackets that mimic the texture of the stingray skin. (I personally am dangerously close to purchasing the wallet version of Ferragamo's clutch, but my husband insists that my Chanel wallet has been doing a fine job so far. Husbands. They're so...practical.)

Purchasing Details:

1. Oscar de la Renta: call your nearest store to put your name on the (long) waiting list. NOW.

2. Celestina: available for $1,445 at

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Prada: Clowning Around

While no one doubts Miuccia Prada's enormous talent, at times, her creativity is akin to Lewis Carroll's: the fantasy delights, but the reality astounds (WHAT were they thinking?!). Despite some editors' love of Prada's fairy bag, I find that and her clownish shoes to be completely impractical, bizarre, and outrageously dated (you might as well stick an expiration date on each shoe). The velvet peep-toe boot combines three tacky and clashing shades and cannot be worn in summer (unless you don't mind applying deodorant to your legs) or winter (unless you don't mind wearing bulky socks over your naked little toes to further complicate your footwear choice). The purple sandal is slightly better if you choose to ignore a) the plastic toy-like heel that looks better suited for a child's playroom than a cosmopolitian street and b) the heavy winter velvet fabric on a spring shoe. Although I found my heart fluttering with Prada's floral resort line, I find my heart going stone cold with her spring line, which gives credence to T.S. Eliot's claim that "April is the cruellest month."