Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Glam Design Contest SMACKDOWN

     Oh yeah, bitches. It's time for round two. Glam hasn't invoked enough of my wrath (my love? my time?), so we've got an another set of would-be designers trying to shove their work down our throats. But you know what? It didn't leave half as bad a taste in my mouth as last time. And I've had plenty of rotten shit down my gullet, so that means a lot.

     Well, slap my ass and say I was born yesterday, but Janey's creation is a very interesting, very Proenza Schouler-esque dress. Except it's got a little more richness in color. The choker-like construction creates an interesting silhouette, considering the structure of the bodice. Janey certainly is bringing plenty of New York style to this contest. I'm not totally sold on that ribbing (pleating?) along the waist, but I'm actually rather pleased and would not mind seeing this win.

     At first, I was going to say that this was a pretty cute, laid-back dress ideal for spring and summer. The color blocking is refined and the palette itself is rather sophisticated. Brava, Kate, brava. You've created a—wait a minute. Using "patchwork quilting" you put together "silk charmeuse, organic cotton, and linen squares"? No, Kate, you did not create a tour de force, as I was about to say. But congratulations, you have managed to create Frankendress. A hideous amalgam of too many fabrics, too many (disjointed) textures, and embedded a stained-glass window in your model's abdomen. Also, I love the Louboutin's that look like torture devices. Your heels actually are torture devices.

     If Lau intended for this to be a yellow silk dress with a sheer double-layer over the top, then I'd be in love. If, however, she just forgot to simply erase the abdomen of the drawing underneath, then that's stupid. Fortunately, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It's an interesting use of transparency and layers and I'm always a sucker for a yellow dress for spring. Also, love the contrasting colors along the bodice top and as straps.

     There's conceptual, and then there's Lejla's hot mess growing next to a freakishly large fruit. "Hay-colored silk"? Since when do I want a dress to be the same color as animal fodder? The collar would have been interesting had it's volume been played up against something more body-conscious. As it stands, I now have a strong urge to rip this off and cut off about six of the seven million yards of fabric Lejla wasted to make this sin against nature.

     Remember how we talked about not being stupid and drawing "inspiration from the Orient"? Well, not is so many words and in using offensive terminology. But you know what I mean. Well, Linda has dipped into the dark, double-edged magic of "ethnic inspiration". I applaud the thoughtful reinterpretation, with its smart color choices, excellent proportions, and the under-stated bow in front. I barf at the "train" and the pockets. Now, I object to the train because it's tacky, but I object to the pockets because I have a very dark dislike of them. I know you ladies love the functionality, but let's be honest here. Most of the time, pockets ruin the proportions and/or lines of a good dress. Yes, they don't destroy the outfit, but they are, ultimately unnecessary. I mean, aren't you carrying the James Jean Prada bag with you anyway? Why do you need pockets?

     Okay, I'm not usually a fan of "sporty" dresses, but I might have to make a partial exception. I mean, Melinda isn't completely off the hook here. The bib front? A completely contrivance. But the lined hood combined with the interesting hem and just enough sleeve to invoke activewear creates a very interesting look. The silhouette would also be pretty flattering to a lot of women, too. But please. The bib? You should have just gone for a button-up neck.

     Was there a memo I missed? Did Ferrero-Rocher become an acceptable raw material for a dress? Okay, fine Shana intended them to be roses. But since when are roses muddy brown? Also, please stop with the cuff. Stop trying to prove to me that your dress is "on trend". Instead, take away the eighties hair and earrings, shave off a bit of those roses, and then we'll talk.

     Okay, here's the good news, Stacey, your name isn't an irritating irregular spelling of a common name and your dress isn't a hackneyed attempt to invoke florals. Actually it's a rather interesting take on the magnolia's distinct coloring and petals. But I don't think it's a very successful wedding dress. It's a little too editorial for a wedding, if you know what I'm saying. Also, "hidden side zip"? Do you mean, "ill-fitting mess"? Be smart and just put a zip in the back so that it's easier to fit.

     All in all, not that bad, girls. I didn't wind up spending half the time trying to not regurgitate my Thai house noodles, which, by anyone's standards, represents a great improvement. Keep it up, ladies, my gag reflex thanks you.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Within Without

     "To-day I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions."

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations; IX, 13

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Mind the Gap

(Click for full-size image)

     Is it just me or is Gap actually becoming much less repulsive? Their latest thing is a "European" collection for men and women that aren't really very European. Sure, the construction is a little more detail-oriented, but let's not kid ourselves, this is American sportswear. That being said, this is damn fine American sportswear. From the men's mac to the ladies' sleeveless belted dress, I am finding pretty much everything in this little collection to be chic, understated, and rather effortless.

     The price point (from $30 or so for tops up to $168 for coats) is diverse enough that you could either buy everything and call it an investment or just select a few items and consider it a bargain. The fact that it's part of the European collection means that the fit is a bit slimmer, a little more body conscious. Which, given the clean lines and rather sophisticated silhouettes, seems like a very good idea.

     Honestly, prior to this, I had been trying to avoid Gap for quite a while, as diluted as their vision has become thanks to poor creative direction and the endless flood of Product(RED) garbage pouring out its doors. But now that Patrick Robinson is in charge, the brand has received a nice injection of well-edited opinion that reflects upon a genuine attempt to re-cultivate the company and re-position it as a pre-eminent source of uniquely American clothing. Is it totally successful? Well, I'd really like to give it a yes, but I can't say yet. We've still got to see what the mainline stuff for Fall is going to look like. But given the previews so pleasantly provided by and, I'm rather optimistic about Gap's outlook.

     As always, the rising price point gives me pause, but with the not-quite-a-recession that we're going through, it's expected that costs are going to be adversely affected. That notwithstanding, it's mass market clothing that still boasts some solid design.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wallet Alert: Nudie's Summer Washes

(Nudie Thin Finn in Blonde Ecru Embo, $275 @ Matthew Izzo)

     Okay, I have to stop giving people shit for wearing washed denim, because someone inevitably puts out some washed denim that I fall over myself wanting and needing. And for the upcoming Spring/Summer season, Nudie Jeans have put out this brilliant iteration of my favorite jeans from them, the Thin Finn. For the uninitiated, the Thin Finn is better for tall, skinny guys as per myself because it's a higher rise with a lower yoke and lower back pockets. Some of my friends who have tried them on think they fit funny, but it's just because their build doesn't really work with pockets that low.

     That being said, I cannot get over how fantastic this Blonde Ecru Embo wash is. Like all jeans, Nudie hasn't tried to put any fake distressing in (a la Abercrombie jeans where you pay for someone to basically ruin your denim), but have instead focused on producing an absolutely stunning wash through a combination of ozone and bleach to create a look that I refuse to describe as anything other than abso-fucking-lutely unbelievable. My bank account is woefully unprepared to accommodate any new purchases, so I'll simply have to stare at them every time I pass August.

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Sunglasses at Night?

(Ray-Ban Folding Wayfarers, $149 @ Saks Fifth Avenue)

     Can we talk about how ridiculously cute this idea is? If I didn't already own a pair, I'd totally snatch these up. A friend mentioned that you can probably see the line on the bridge where it folds, but I think it's a perfectly legitimate sacrifice for the chic possibility of taking these off, folding them up, and being supremely satisfied with your position in the universe.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Best Foot Forward

(Click for full-size image)

     Three shoes from Fall 08/09 that need some strong women in them, stat. Marni is definitely the most conservative, but most practical, of the bunch. The Prada ruffle heels have got me swooning, but it's Christian Louboutin's custom work for Rodarte that really made me pay attention. Good lord, ladies' feet are going to have one awesome season.

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Black Beauty

(Nudie Thin Finn Dry Black Coated, $159 @ Cultizm)

     So I think I figured out what my next paycheck is going towards. But I really would like a pair of black boots.

(Double Identity Black Hi-Top Leather Sneaker, $146.25 on sale from $195 @ Seven New York)

     Oh, you mean something like that? Yeah. Something like that.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gainful Employment

     Landed me a job, bitches. Expect plenty of whoring out for Dapper, especially whenever I get a chance to to unbox stuff. Updates forthcoming.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Head to Toe: Spring Fling

(Click for full-size image)

     While Spring has not quite sprung, a whole day's worth of gloom and grey has made me pine for sunnier days, lighter color palettes, and new shoes (of course). Patrick Ervell's show for Spring '08 was certainly one of the highlights of the season, with its bold colors, simple lines, and fantastic details. And since lighter weather equals fewer layers, it all becomes about bold pieces with loads of detail. But don't get crazy, it's about sprezzatura.

     The new Heutchy boots (from Trovata to Shipley and Halmos to them) are part of their upcoming line which is effortlessly classic. And pair that with the YMC motorbike pants ($133 @ Gargyle) for a rugged blend of Americana and European tailoring. In terms of accessories, you can opt for the bright, as in Raf Simons multi-colored collaboration with Eastpak (£279 @ Oki-ni), or the basic with Rag & Bone's canvas satchel ($175 @ Barney's CO-OP). Light scarves are appropriate for maritime excursions and if I managed to take the boat from my rich future ex-husband, I'd tie a loose knot with this Ann Demeulemeester striped scarf ($340 @ Aloha Rag) to keep things light and layered. But I'd be lying if didn't clearly state that my best find is the zip boots from YMC ($190 @ Blackbird), which come with an interchangeable grey pig leather/navy canvas upper that are easily swapped with nothing more than a quick zip. And there's a reverse colorway if you'd prefer your leather darker.

     But aren't we trying to stay positive here?

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

MDBB: London Fashion Week F/W '08

     Mind dump brainblog. noun. The result of my extreme bored with school (e.g. journalism mid-term and the massive readings that I'm supposed to do) coupled with my skill in wasting time. A chance for you to ride along in my head as I flip through's coverage on London without illustrations, which will be added when I am less pre-occupied with not failing.

(11:10 PM - 17/02/08)
  • Why does it feel like Missoni is meant for some old, rich lady now?
  • Where did all the knit go? Did all the sheep die in Italy? I don't understand this.
  • Some of these shoes are damn fine and sophisticated. Classy stuff.
  • Cute red dress with twisted bubble hem. I never thought I'd live to see the day.
  • Very anti-body-con (how bad are these buzzwords going to last?) dress in color blocks. Typical sophisticated palette. But nice tweak.
  • The jury's still out on the mushroom-puff-collar-bumble-hem sheath.
(11:33 PM - 17/02/08)
  • I don't think I can really handle this shiny dress in no established context. Too much, too early for me.
  • I feel like the schizo-color block thing is a little more effective in muted colors, not bright, saturated ones.
  • I like the silhouette of the pouf skirts to the fitted tops with the slightly shell-like short jackets. It's an interesting look.
  • The stacked/wrinkled tight knit dresses are really doing it for me.
  • Some of these proportions seem a little funny.
  • Interesting cobweb knits. The color choices are definitely striking and the overall effect really makes you think about what knits can do.
  • I just don't buy these shoes. Sorry. Next.
  • But Fiona is as cute as ever. Thank the heavens.
(11:48 - 17/02/08)
  • Okay...this is...different.
  • The severity and the piallettes make for a super subversive combination. Very tongue in chic.
  • There are definitely better and worse examples of transparency.
  • None of these are even really standing out to me.
  • If I bought those shoes, I'd rip off every single thing dangling off of it and throw it at people in ugly jeans.
(11:55 - 17/02/08)
  • I just feel obliged to do this because Cavalli wasn't a half-bad judge on Project Runway, so I have to give him some props.
  • This hat is a good start.
  • Why haven't I seen more Biba stuff around?
  • I do love these shoes.
  • For the age group/price point to which it belongs, some of these shorter dresses are pretty cute.
  • Some of the florals are pretty restrained, considering what Cavalli typically goes for.
  • Puffy sleeve blouse under tweed (?) dress with subtle floral tights, metallic shoes, and drawstring bag that reminds me of a bag of magic? Sign me up, yes.
(12:08 - 18/02/08)
  • Already liking this a lot. It's got drama, it's got style.
  • The blur print is absolutely magnificently executed.
  • This duchesse looks like it probably costs a million bucks, and it probably does, too.
  • The jackets kind of came out of nowhere.
  • But the second yellow one is really hitting the spot for me.
  • Some of these coats are less successful than others, but still a very good effort.
  • The darker hues definitely work better, but I'm totally falling in love with all the purple everywhere this season.
     Good work team. We'll figure out how to class this up later.

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Art of Darkness

     I saw this ad for an online design competition being sponsored by American Express and run by Glam over at Connie's and decided to just snoop a little. Lord was I in for a shock. The majority of these are ugly as sin. Not just because some of these folks clearly aren't fashion illustrators—that's an understandable result of a competition open to anyone and everyone—my problem is that these folks are the semifinalists. I thought about just leaving it at that, but I seriously have to go through these one by one and rip them apart.

     Monique decided to take inspiration from a "candle from the Bahamas". Well, this explains why this is a big, hot mess. I think this girl just decided to throw on as many ideas that she associated with "pretty dress" onto one sketch. Plunging neck? Check. Asymmetrical back strap? Check. Low-cut back? Check. Contrast color star? Check. Oh please. Maybe instead of taking "time out of her classes", she needs to focus a bit more.

     "Elaborate"? "Eco-minded"? What is that little thing running down the middle? A bib? Well, you might be throwing up all over yourself if you're wearing this, so I can understand the need. And I bet a ton of people voted for her just because she claimed that this was "made from bamboo". Pssh. I'm from the Bay, girl. I know some real sustainable clothing lines and none of them look this bad/boring/bad. And can we talk about those ridiculous feet? I understand that it's hard to draw shoes, but anybody with a real eye can see that Alexandra still clearly endorses the idea of bound feet, which I don't think is very fashion forward.

      I appreciated Anne's attempt to distract me from her boring, boring dress with her model's legs. I know how far a good pair of stems will get you, so I understand what she's trying to do here. Unfortunately this does not change the fact that her dress is basically something that you can buy from any of the following establishments: Forever 21, Target, H&M, Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal, et cetera. A draped neckline and high hem do not a hot dress make.

     Too easy. Next.

     Not bad, Carrie, not bad at all. Your appeal to my Kate Moss-centric sensibilities definitely earns you a point or two. Your styling, however, leaves something to be desired. Short skirt? Flapper inspired look? Please, don't hurt yourself stretching. I know it must be difficult. The layered skirt, ruched bodice, and asymmetrical strap/collar create some visual interest. I won't be too hard on Carrie because, unlike so many others, she actually tried.

     Let's get a few things straight. This is about clothes. I don't know how much time you spent drawing your model's face, but more importantly—and you really ought to be taking notes here, Christina—I really don't care. Droopy cowlneck double-knit dress? Gross. And what the fuck is that on the dress anyway? Did you just make a screenprint out of a piece of your grandmother's couch? And you added leggings. It's like serving a shitcake with piss frosting and a big bowl of frozen vomit on the side.

     Now Jessica, I know this is going to be hard for you to understand, but I'd like you to follow along with me very, very carefully. I'll say this slowly to make sure that you get everything. There. Is. A. World. Outside. Palo. Alto. I understand that it's hard to envision a place where everyone doesn't have legs that go on for days, where people don't feel the need to tie their hair into a pony-tail and throw it over their shoulder every day, where the median income for a family is actually less than $117, 574 (I know, take a minute with that one, Jessica). But just because you don't know about this world outside doesn't mean it isn't there. So please, don't pillage some Asian culture with your "Kimoyes" dress in an attempt to make a dress that everyone's seen in a million iterations already.

     I never thought we'd get here without me becoming physically ill, but Mary's little number might do the trick. I have been increasing my caloric intake, so this just might be the solution. (I kid, please no angry e-mails. I already eat like a cow. Now get off my nuts.) I think you should try patenting your "triple keyhole neckline", Mary, because I really don't think anyone else has (or ever will) try out that little trick. Did I also mention how deliriously high Mary's model is? And how closely she resembles one of my elementary school teachers? No. Well, she is and she does. Also, the length of her arms may be an indication of knuckle-walking, because Lord knows that my arms don't reach down past my knees.

     Folks, if we work together, we can stop bad fashion from happening to good people. Or, in this case, bad people happening to good fashion. Because then all you're left with is ugly people in ugly dresses making everyone else feeling uncomfortable.

     Also, sorry for the bad Conrad pun. Just couldn't help myself.

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This is What Tomorrow Sounds Like

     My InDesign decided to go crazy on me, so I tried re-installing it. But Jon has me doing impossible things with my computer that will (ultimately) require me to get Leopard, so I must postpone any posts with real—i.e. good—pictures. Instead, I'll just rattle off a list of some stuff that's been buzzing in my ears.

     Been doing a ton of house-y, Nu-Rave (New-Rave? Neu-Rave? Bullshit term?) stuff. I'm not claiming to be an expert by any mean. Hell, I'm not an expert about any music. I just like listening to stuff that I think sounds interesting. Tiga's been getting a little bit of play recently, mostly because of that whole hoodie thing. I just grabbed Remixed & Reimagined: Nina Simone because of Ian and there are already plenty of good associations that I've formed in my head with that album, not that I need more reasons to supplicate to the High Priestess of Soul. Klaxons' As Above, So Below EP has been particularly pleasant, but I'm starting to feel that I've overplayed it for myself. But the Justice remix totally makes it worth it. I couldn't do this without mentioned Made in the Dark, which practically requires listening. I, unfortunately, have to try not to play it aloud, because Alison refuses to hear it before she purchases it for herself. I understand this desire, but my personal desire to experience the record is far more visceral than my desire to "do it right". Yelle's Pop-Up is absolutely ridiculous, but I don't know what I'm supposed to dance to in the shower, if not ridiculous music. Patrick Wolf doesn't fit into this picture perfectly, but it's too hard to resist every single thing about The Magic Position. Drawing the parallels to Bowie is too easy, but too hard to miss, as well.

     So I guess this wound up being a pretty extensive post, despite my inability to include pictures. More promises that I'll do something dramatic. And more chances that I probably won't.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shopping Fever

     I would totally make a kick-ass collage out of this, if my Photoshop were working. But due to a series of unfortunate events, I am currently having to live without any part of the Adobe Creative Suite. Yes. This is a new emotional low for me. In return for being so patient while I (meaning Jon Ong) sort out the technical difficulties (which may or may not include getting Leopard), I promise something super fabulous. Paper doll patterns, mayhaps? Or maybe I'll be a bit more consistent with posts? Whatever. I'll probably wind up doing whatever I damn well please, no matter what happens.

     So in my mail, I got a refund from the school, saying that I had $600 in credit. Well, I'm never one to complain about receiving money, so I resolved to tuck it into my checking account and keep it for next month's rent, so I wouldn't have to ask my parents for the whole amount.

     But then I found out that Gargyle was having a sale.


(Fred Perry 3 Color Check Shirt, $67.20 on sale from $96 @ Gargyle)

(Corpus Cadet Jacket, $225 on sale from $375 @ Gargyle)

(YMC Cropped Chino Trousers, $133 @ Gargyle)

(Umbro by Kim Jones Mork Aztec Sneakers, $108 on sale from $135 @ Gargyle)
(Umbro by Kim Jones Aztec Trim Weekender, $116 on sale from $145 @ Gargyle)

     Okay, so I threw in a couple that weren't on sale. So sue me. But now I have another candidate for my next bag. Ugh. I love the shoes and the bag by Kim Jones, who makes just some of the smartest fucking sneakers on the planet. Honest to God, if they had all my sizes in all the above items, I would totally just buy this outfit in a heartbeat. But I have (some) self-control, so the only things I'm seriously considering are the bag and shoes (and maybe the pants if they go on sale in my size).

     All this shopping is really just a way of congratulating myself on not only completely my English essay, but also getting over a fever of 100.3°F over the course of one night. Thanks, ibuprofen!

     Now if only there were some pill to get rid of all this fucking reading, then I'd be set.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rogue Rouge

     You can thank (or blame) Dries van Noten for my next haircut. I just need to track down where Monica is and get her to do this for me. Too bad I lost the e-mail she sent me. Fuck. I really don't want to have to start over and find an all new stylist.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Head to Toe: Robert Geller, Hiroshige, and Expensive Boots

(Click for full-size image)

     Connie's managed to make me feel utterly useless (thanks, Connie) so I felt the urge to be productive, although by other standards (say those measuring how much work I'm getting done on this English essay) this could be considered a complete waste of time.

     My space heater has managed to replace the bone-chilling cold of my room with a comfortable 75.0°F, but my toes have yet to thaw and the sensation brought to mind Robert Geller's absolutely stunning collection for Fall. While Geller took his cue from the winters of Russia, I felt absolutely compelled by Hiroshige's masterful take on a snow-covered scene, Two men by a gate in the mountains. And I also wanted to completely rip off Geller's look, but for less. It's a mix of high and low, mind you, and where it's high, it certainly gets high. But I always try to put out an honest effort to acquire things not merely as things, but as functional and aesthetic investments.
  • Rib Hem Storm Flap Bomber Jacket, $125.46 @ ASOS: Any M-65 you have (you do have one, no?) would be best, but if you're lacking one, then this bomber jacket from ASOS has enough military detailing to fit the bill. Sufficiently tailored to be Geller and sufficiently rock-and-roll to be your own.
  • Essex Sweater, $18 @ Heritage1981: I abhor Heritage1981 for quality reasons, but that shouldn't stop you from filling those tiny holes that occasionally pop up in your wardrobe with a cheap sweater. At least until you can find the exact James Perse sweatshirt that you want. Drop a Jackson and take some bus fare home.
  • Nudie Thin Finn Grey Coated Jeans, $175 @ Oak: My roommates are both very wary of coated denim and I have yet to purchase a pair out of fear that they might mock me endlessly. But that doesn't stop me from drooling over Nudie's grey coated skinny jeans, which add a matte luster to an otherwise, flat color palette.
  • Drakes Snowflake Solid Scarf, $50.59 (£25) @ oki-ni: On sale and made out of lambswool? Sold. Not nearly as crinkled as the one in Geller's look (you'll have to look for something woven, not knitted, if that's what you're after), this scarf is still a totally worthwhile replacement. The understated waffle knit adds an extra layer of texture to an extra layer.
  • Alex & Chloe Knife Necklace, $48 @ Urban Outfitters: I'm a big fan of the Alex & Chloe stuff, mostly because it's appropriately masculine jewelry at a pretty reasonable price point. And you know how I am whenever I get what I want for less than I can afford. Besides, you need just a hint of shine for visual interest.
  • Buttero Work Boot, $375 @ Barney's Co-op: My word, the things I would be willing to do to get my hands on a pair of Buttero boots. Whenever someone posts a picture of theirs on Supertalk, I'm usually left gasping for air-slash-burning with envy. If you're looking for a boot to last a lifetime, then by all means, stop your search and GET THESE BOOTS.
     There, Connie. Who's the lazy one now?

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Wallet Alert: Not-Bad Bags

(Balkan Tango Budapest "M" Inner Tube Bag, $120 @ Supermarket)

(Livity Urbanite Messenger Bag, $70 @ Tobi)

     I hate sacrificing style for substance. It's an inherently painful exchange. Often times, the choice that would be better for the planet is usually the much less aesthetically pleasing one. Hell, it's usually straight up ugly. Thankfully, the folks at Balkan Tango, a Hungarian design group, have managed to circumvent the whole issue with their recycled bags. I've seen people make those LP bags before, but the Budapest, made from six punctured bicycle tires, certainly managed to catch my eye.

     What I love most about the bag (aside from the ability to sidestep all that guilt) is that all the flaws and quirks of the tires, from the brand to the specifications, all merge into the bag's identity. It's a clever idea and I'm pretty sure that no two bags are alike. This is seriously looking like a very replacement for my current bag.

     Likewise, the Livity Urbanite is a classic messenger, replete with side pockets, front zip pocket, and velcro closure. Made of hemp and cotton with rafia pockets, this bag is the definition of going green. My only fear is that it's a bit too granola for my style. Lord knows I'd be absolutely horrified if some grungy hippie came up to me and asked me where I got my bag. But at $70, it's a much more viable option than the Balkan Tango one.

     A bag, a bag, my kingdom for a bag...

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

And Now For Something Different

(Mock-hoodie designed by Tiga, $34.90 @ H&M)

     I recently went out with the girls to check out H&M's "Fashion Against AIDS" campaign, but instead of contemplating epidemics, I found myself more concerned with celebrity and fashion. Or, more accurately, the intersection between the two. Now, this is a fine hoodie. It's cute, it's a little different, but really, if we're trying to be objective about the whole matter, this isn't a ground-breaking design (not that I expect that from H&M anyway). But Alison was absolutely dedicated to the idea of getting this and the Justice t-shirt (which I refuse to put up here because I think it's absolutely horrible).

     While she was trying it on, I realized that this is very far removed from my own aesthetic and I couldn't find anything to really say about it. It's just a few steps too distant from what I normally shop for that I felt a bit ill-equipped to try and critique it. If forced, I'd say it's quaint. Cute. It's not a real hoodie, like the boys version, more of a mock-turtle/cowl-neck zip-up, which I suppose is a bit different. The all-over pattern, though not my style, falls right in line with the crowd that listens to Tiga.

     But what I really was pondering was, what motivates folks to buy these items? They aren't particularly well-designed, far from well-made, and are available, en masse, to anyone who wants to buy them. Heck, the racks were pretty well-stocked at the Emeryville H&M. So if isn't cut, construction, or quality that is driving the purchase, what is it? Putting my ear to the ground (Googling and pondering and having another glass of cabernet sauvignon), I think it's sheer celebrity that makes people buy these things. Now, don't get me wrong. I love Rufus Wainwright and Justice and the rest of these folks (except Good Charlotte) as much as the next guy, but I found all these clothes completely insufficient according to my standards.

     And now I'm starting to wonder whether or not that's a legitimate reason to buy an article of clothing: just because someone talked to a designer who talked to a press agent who talked to one of Margareta van den Bosch's myriad assistants and put this out, does it mean it's worth your time? The obvious discrepancy between Alison and my view of fashion is that for her, the fact that Tiga was involved in the making of this item is an inherent part of its worth. According to her evaluation, the item's linkage to the Canadian DJ is absolutely inextricable from its actual existence. My attempt to dissociate the man from the clothing, on the other hand, means that I don't take into account his involvement at all.

     Neither of us are wrong, per say. Obviously I disagree with her viewpoint that a name can make a piece of clothing "good", but the thing here is that we're judging the same piece based upon entirely different criteria. So no, I would never buy it. No, I would never wear it. But I accept that and, more than that, I'm happy with it. Never before have I really realized how different two value systems can be and I'm supremely satisfied with the gap. It's comforting to be in my own aesthetic bubble. But it's even better when you can see the clear, definite outline of someone else's bubble. It gives you a better sense of what you wear, of who you are, and of who you want to be.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Dress You Up in My Love

     Oak is back with a vengeance and a new location on Bond Street. But, more importantly, there's tons of new stuff in stock. What I've always loved about Oak has been the balance they've struck between the avant-garde and the everyday.

(Kerrigan Wrap, $262 @ Oak)

     Not just a cardigan, not just a wrap, not just an another layer. Kerrigan creates an elegant solution to the question of "What should I wear today?" Everything about this piece just screams "Wear me!" from its jersey fabric to its drawstring collar, to its draped pockets. The heather gray is a nice contrast and is the perfect color to showcase the construction. At $262, it's certainly a pricey investment, but this is certainly a piece that would be able to weather the shifting winds of fashion.

(Opening Ceremony Stainglass hoodie, $289 @ Oak)

     One thing I've always loved about Opening Ceremony is that while the folks that run it certainly have an eye for design, they've always been willing and able to fill the holes in their wardrobe for themselves. The result? Pieces like this stainglass hoodie can easily work itself into your closet, but are unique enough to stand on their own.

     Oh, and how much do I love the Oak product shots? They're half the reason I shop there anyway.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Two Bright, Spiky Things

     Meet my new time sink: Supermarket. Like Etsy, but not, Supermarket (claims to) present a curated collection of underground designers. It's the classic boy-meets-web, web-sells-things, I-wind-up-more-broke-than-usual love story. I'm thinking of picking up a certain something (Which I refuse to reveal until I get it. You know, for suspense), but here are two other gems—half-literally, half-figuratively—that caught my eye.

(Bendant Lamp in silver by MIO, $165 @ Supermarket)

     If I actually lived in my own real apartment and had a real job and had the real capacity to change my light fixtures, the Bendant Lamp would certainly be pretty high up there on my list of things to try and install before giving up and hiring some big, well-muscle handy-man to do it for me. Or Alison. Alison knows how to nail and hammer and whatever. The foils (for lack of a better name) can be bent to create the lamp configuration that you like best and given my protean tastes in decoration, that would certainly be a bonus. That would certainly remove the temptation to replace it every two months.

(Radiolaria Brooch by Nervous System, $50 @ Supermarket)

     Now, I've had mixd feelings about brooches in the past. Usually they're a bit too hard to pull off. They're either too big or too shiny or too obtrusive or too round or something. The problem definitely resides in the almost-too-excessive nature inherent in a brooch. But the folks at Nervous System scaled the color down, focusing on an abstract form that I could see just as easily pinned on the collarbone of your favorite shift or on the lapel of a tailored blazer.

     I worry. I honestly worry. Now my professors are going to have to fight for my attention. Oddsmakers are putting them are pretty slim chances. And to Lauren and anyone else who might see this, I apologize in advance for the hours of your life that I am stripping from you.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Watch the Runway: Proenza Schouler F/W 08

    Fashion Week has been whirling around us in a fervor and only now am I getting my lazy ass around to actually collecting my thoughts about everything. And what better way to start than with, honestly, one of the best showings of any designer this season: Proenza Schouler Fall '08.

     First things first. It's "School-er". Not "Shoe-ler".

     Now that we've gotten the introductions done with, I can properly begin adulating to the gods that are Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. With the huge cash injection that Proenza Schouler received from the Valentino Fashion Group, the two Parsons grads have been able to go into more conceptual directions with their collection. The meticulous tailoring that we've come to expect out of Proenza Schouler was used to particular effect, creating looks that simultaneously played up and down the body's proportions.

     Pleats and ruffles and bows, usually the domain of the girly and flirty, became expanding symbols of feminine power and self-assertion when used on bright metallic fabrics. The sharp construction transformed soft drapery into solid angles and outerwear was turned inside out (literally) as the duo experimented with what we expect "tailored" design to look like. I especially loved the layering of textures: never have sequins looked so refined. I used to associate them with cheap hookers, but I think the folks at Proenza Schouler certainly kicked the sophistication up a notch.

     The styling was aces. The shoes were a classic pump given new height and new boldness in all-over suede (I think?) or croc in a variety of colors. While I loved the pink and yellow pumps, the chocolate croc one definitely takes the prize for being eminently wearable and deviously stylish. In terms of proportions, there was a definite dichotomy between ruffled dresses and shifts paired with tights and generously cut trousers that billowed with great volume. The trousers were put with sequin-covered tops and cinched by skinny belts and given a great big dash of drama with coats that dripped and drooped under the impressive weight of such minute construction.

     A definite trend that's been emerging this season has been texture, especially in the more monochromatic collections. But instead of playing purely with color or purely with texture, the boys at Proenza Schouler managed to incorporate both without overwhelming the senses. The sense of careful editing is evident through the entire collection. It's easy to see where some sleeves could have ballooned out of control, some ruffles could have spiraled into fashion satire, but a steady eye keeps the silhouettes chic and reasonable, even while they set new precedents.

     Admittedly, this isn't nearly as wearable as any of their previous collections, but that's a good thing. Now that McCollough and Hernandez have been freed from their previous budgetary restrictions, hopefully they'll continue to push the envelope for womenswear. Ultimately, the reason why I (and everybody else) love Proenza Schouler is that no matter what design inspiration they tap, they always strive to answer a very difficult question about fashion: How do you stay chic and sane when you want to break every rule?

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Getting Ridiculous

Why are we sitting here doing plot summary? Why are acting like we don't know what literature is? I graduated from high school with the express purpose of never having to do any fucking plot summary ever again.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Not Just Noir

     So my search for a suit was an utter disaster. I visited H&M, Zara, French Connection, Macy's, Barney's, and Bloomingdales. In the course of my afternoon, I can't even remember all the brands that I looked through. But no matter where I went, the problem was the same: too, too big on me. No matter how much I may will it, there's no way that my 34-inch chest is going to properly fill out a 36 size jacket. And that is exactly why I put my name down for one of the Barney's Co-op suits. It'll probably be the best fitting jacket at the price point ($300-ish?), so no need to jump the gun.

      In a moment of blazing clarity, I saw the 406's at a distance while I was leaving Bloomies and just had to try them on at least. And when the associate told me that I would get 10% because they were the display piece, I couldn't help myself. Well, I could have, but that wouldn't have been any fun. Now I just need to sell some old shit to make sure that my bank doesn't ram down my door and ask for a pound of flesh.

     But now that I've got a kick-ass pair of shoes, naturally my thoughts are going to immediately go to how to style them. In a moment of murky confusion, I never thought of taking a picture of today's outfit. Oh well. But let us obsess on more interesting things, like nice monochrome outfits.

(Levi's Red Tab 511 Skinny Cord Pants, $49 @ Urban Outfitters)

      Whenever it comes to monochrome or muted palettes, I tend to play up other elements, like cut, layering, or texture. What better to offset the shiny waxed cotton of my new shoes than black corduroy? It's tough, comfortable, and creates great contrast.

(Long Sleeve Slub Hoodie, $38 @ Urban Outfitters)

     Add in a striped black and grey slub hoodie. I actually was talking with Ian and Alex about how interesting it would have been to been a college student during the hey-days of grunge. The color and tone pull us straight back to the 90s, but a slim silhouette and fit keeps it grounded firmly in a modern, more architectural aesthetic.

(Vasuma Johnny Black Collar Coat, $261 @ 111Vox)

     Coats should always serve as interest pieces. The removable collar provides drama when you need it, but sturdy cotton construction with nylon lining means that being stylish doesn't mean being impractical. The large cuff and collar would play particularly well against the skinny cords.

(Banned Brand Laptop Bag, $164 @ 111Vox)

      Never forget to accessorize. Bags are pretty personal, since everyone wants different things out of their bag. But you can't beat a black leather laptop messenger when it comes to sleek functionality. A couple of small outer pockets provide quick access to pens and phones. I find the embossing to be a little distracting, since it disrupts the clean lines of the rest of the bag, but I love how slouchy, yet structured it is. It always seems like paradoxes make for great fashion.

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