Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday- Bruce Springsteen

It was not the most illustrious beginning to a love story.

“The Boss? Who is that?” Sigh. Yes, I said it but please understand I was an 18 year old who had grown up largely in the wild west of Colorado. What we counted as music didn’t count at all. It was only upon reaching college (and getting a boyfriend who was a bona fide Springsteen freak) that I began to learn about this man who made such amazing music. How could such a powerful voice come from that scrawny body? Suffice to say that my initial feelings were solely to remain close to my true love, my boyfriend. However, as that proved ephemeral and damaging I began listening to the Boss to see how he could help. Soon it was he and I together and Bill was a thing of the past. I amassed 5 of his Rolling Stones covers, a concert poster from the Stone Pony, and while living in Atlanta camped out over night in a supermarket parking lot waiting for tickets to his Born in the USA concert to go on sale. Floor seats, 15 rows back, baby! At one point, several members of his crew came out into the audience with backstage passes and I not only hurdled two rows of folding chairs but nearly dislocated a friend’s arm by pulling her along. She was just slow enough that the last ticket went to some slut right in front of me as my fingers were closing around it. The crew dude shrugged but there were no more. Needless to say that girl and I did not remain friends for much longer after that.

There were all the albums and boxed sets (remember those days?) but my love for Bruce was sealed on my 21st birthday. He was appearing at Red Rocks amphitheatre- the iconic concert venue. I had gotten 3 tickets for myself and my two besties. Red Rocks is festival seating so we would need to arrive at to start standing in line before they started letting people in at . This time, while I knew I was not likely to score anything backstage I was determined to get photos despite the staff at Red Rocks (and Springsteen himself) being notoriously hard-assed about unauthorized photos or recordings. We were allowed to take in a cooler but no glass so I hollowed out the Styrofoam bottom and put the baggie wrapped body of my Pentax SLR in there then re-covered it and packed ice, food, and drinks on top. The only lens I needed was my telephoto and as security has not yet reached the stage of strip search or x-ray I had my VERY well endowed friend Ro conceal it between her breasts in her bra. In fact, I was so worried it would fall out I made her duct tape it to her skin. I duct taped 3 rolls of film to the inside of my ankle.

As they started letting us in my heart was pounding but with thousands of ticket holders and our scrubbed face college girl cuteness we had no issues. The larger problem once we scored great seats was what to do with ourselves for the 7 hours until the concert began. There is only so much Frisbee one can play and by that stage of life we were all wise to ways of alcohol pacing and so drank only water for most of the day. We were able to get pleasantly high by the massive amount of weed being smoked in all directions so that was a freebie. I need some kind of mellowing influence because the ONLY thing being played on the sound system was Pink Floyd’s The Wall, of which I am not a fan.

Finally, it was time for a warm up band and sound check. The crowd was settling in and we were enjoying icy Jack Daniels and lemonade (yes, mixed together, don’t ask me why). A lone figure came out to the main mike in a red flannel shirt and jeans and without completely knowing why I began screaming, much to the confusion of everyone around me. “It’s him, It’s him!!!” and it was. He stepped up to the mike and said, “Hello, I’m Bruce Springsteen and I thought we’d do the sound check and warm up as opposed to having another band out here." Now everyone was freaking out- except for the woman in front of us who had so over indulged in both weed and booze and no food that she had thrown up and passed out almost simultaneously.

The sun was setting so I unpacked the camera and got to work. I made it all the way to the front 5 rows and began snapping what seemed to be unbelievable photos. My only concern was that I had not brought a flash as I thought it too easy a way to get caught so I was using very high speed film which would likely compromise the quality a bit. I had the time of my life at the most amazing concert ever (they played straight from to ) and got 3 rolls of some stellar shots of Bruce, Little Steven, and the Big Man (R.I.P.- which does not even seem possible).

It was the best coming of age birthday ever despite poor MaryAnn throwing up convulsively from too much Jack and not enough lemonade, being hit on by a lesbian in the ladies room (which I did not even fully understand was happening), and after streaming out to the parking lot realizing that my lights had been on since 6am and the car was stone cold dead. Cute was no help then as everyone wanted to get home and no one had jumper cables or would stop. I finally made my way to the backstage area and began banging on doors. It would be a great story if I could say that I met Bruce and he helped out but he was long gone and the best I got was a tired guy who said I could use the phone (way before cell phones, folks). I had to call my parents (great) and they had to call AAA to come give us a jump. All told it took two hours with poor MaryAnn groaning in the back of the car and Ro and I jumping around and screaming Springsteen lyrics. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER. (Hey, it wasn’t me yakking in the bushes, I know about pacing).

So, Bruce, I missed your birthday by one week but you are still a god. At 62 you’re looking better than ever and even though I do not understand the Patty Scialfa marriage thing, I respect you anyway. Candy’s Room? One of my all-time favorites.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tomatoes-- The Finale

The raw tomato, devoured in the garden when freshly picked, is a horn of abundance of simple sensations, a  radiating rush in one’s mouth that brings with it every pleasure. The resistance of the skin—slightly taut, just enough; the luscious yield of the tissues, their seed-filled liqueur oozing to the corners of one’s lips, and that one wipes away without any fear of staining one’s fingers; this plump little globe unleashing a flood of nature inside us: a tomato, an adventure.

(From Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery)

From start to finish our tomatoes have delivered in every tomato way possible and many were eaten before making it into the house. There are still a few more to harvest but I didn't want to wait to say thank you for being one of my favorite parts of summer. You will be sorely missed until next year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Global Angst

Before I launched the fashion juggernaut I was a bit pre-occupied with a feeling of mental sloth and overall ennui. Now that I've come down off my fashion crack high it’s occurred to me that much of what is manifesting itself in the blogosphere as ‘taking a break or walking away from blogging for awhile’ is a microcosm of an infinitely larger issue. Maybe it’s not me making me feel bad. Could it be a global angst brought on by the growing negativity we’re confronted with every day? I’ve adapted to my loss of a job and the fact that it’s not just me but the entire state of Oregon. But then I have to accept that it is not just me, my city, or my state, it is the entire United States with bipartisan bickering over our debt ceiling, downgrading our bond ratings, and no jobs growth in the most recent month. Suddenly, the terrain feels much more precarious. But still, I persevere and believe that it will be all right because inevitably it always has been. I have not lived through a depression or a world war. The only memories I have of economic anomaly is my mother piling us into the station wagon when it was our ‘day’ to but gasoline in the late 70s and the mini-jobs bust when I graduated from college in 1983—meaning there were no companies recruiting on campus and I went to work in a department store for 2.75 an hour.

But it doesn’t stop with the U.S. Greece teeters on the brink of default, young people riot in London for 5 days, Ireland, Italy, and Spain face economic ruin, and Germany is faced with bailing out the entire European Union. Libya and Syria are in the midst of violent political upheaval. Climate change continues unabated and several beautiful species are on the brink of extinction (no more Bengal tigers? How can that be?).

It could be said that the world has always been chaotic but as I wasn’t around for the Dark Ages it’s irrelevant. In my adult lifetime I don’t remember this level of upheaval. It leaves me wondering: how do we find the good in our own lives when the levels of anger, fear, and frustration are at an all-time global high? Fear is a contagion and it seems to be spreading. The individual psyche is impacted as we absorb everything around us whether consciously or unconsciously. Is it any wonder that the urge to check out/back away/ignore/take a break in our own lives is increasing? The other extreme is uncontrolled anger and violence which we’ve seen recently in the riots in London, Syria, Spain, and Libya. People feel they’re being pushed beyond a point they can bear and it’s largely due to economic issues.

I know my own ways around this and hesitate to write such a negative post but it feels more and more pervasive. Yes, I can enjoy the simplicity of my life, a stray ray of sunshine warming my back in between burst of rain but at the edge lingers unease. I must try to find the stillness, I must work to release the knot of fear over my own situation. Feeling good seems to take more and more energy as the sheer weight of the uncertainty of the future grinds us down. I know I have readers in other countries- do things feel as bad where you are? If you are somewhere that is in the midst of difficult times or you are even experiencing it in your own life how do you feel?

Many more questions than answers but I can’t stop asking…

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Simple Things

It’s been a fun and fantastical two weeks for me poring over print and online photos of beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) clothes. I loved every minute of it but while I’m already looking ahead to fashion for spring I’m just as content to stop and write about some less exciting things. Real life.

There are few chores I dislike more than mopping the kitchen floor. Everyone talks about hardwood and how great it is but it requires not only mopping but drying because you don’t want to ruin the seal with too much moisture. High maintenance- not something I like! However, my feet were sticking in certain places due to the fact that my husband, like any great cook, makes a massive mess in the kitchen. Time to accept my fate, do the job and instead of hating every minute of it do my best and enjoy the reward. All that Buddhism was fine for my mind but didn’t work so well for my knees which popped and creaked until the last microfiber towel dried the last corner.

 With the sun shining, making them gleam, it was worth the work. Also told J he was not allowed to cook anything messy for a week.

The reward for 8 months of rain in Portland is that once it stops the world of nature goes crazy. Honestly, it’s almost impossible to kill a plant here (unless it’s an insanely expensive Hinoki cypress that the landscape guy insisted was a must but that croaked within 6 months of being planted despite getting better and more constant care than a small child). Our one slender aster plant has exploded in such a riot of sweet purple blooms that I had to cut an armload and bring them inside. No, it’s not a perfect photo opp arrangement, it’s rustic.

I’ve always grown lavender as I love it’s fragrance and do find it to be a wonderful sleep aid (rub a tiny bit of Acacia lavender oil in between your eyebrows (your third eye) before bed and you’ll drop right off) so we had to have some when we got to this house. Like almost everything else one plant has expanded exponentially and so desperately needed trimming (it gets weedy if you don’t cut it back and it blooms less). Here’s the lovely result, hanging in my laundry room scenting the clean laundry and waiting to be made into a sachet.

Such simple, even boring, things but they do serve to remind me that I am here and this is my life. What brings you back to you?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Fashion: Practically Speaking (Shopping)

“It is amazing how much clothes mean; perhaps I value them too highly. But nothing- be it illness, poverty, or loneliness or other misfortunes, distresses me more than having nothing to wear.”
-Isak Dinesen

Isn’t that a marvelous quote? Despite her adventurous life Isak was a clothes horse and indulged her love of fashion throughout her life, as I did last week. I realize it’s been a flight of fancy and that what I shared was out of the realm for most of us but that’s not the purpose of the runway. It’s to inspire. It’s so you do tip your head, crinkle your nose and say, “I could never wear that but if it were longer I’d love it.”  Because the odds are that’s how it will appear in your favorite store. Unless your favorite store is Costco and then you’ll have to wait for 18 months but something vaguely similar will show up in polyester denim for only $18. If you still like it, buy it.

My point is this—there’s plenty of practical in the world. Every day you go to work or look for work. You deal with family members and colleagues that, perhaps, you’d like to garrote. You don’t. Instead, you come home, settle in with a glass of wine or cup of tea and peruse a favorite magazine or blog looking at lovely, refined, sumptuous fantasy. We all need it.

I’ve had a marvelous time reviewing the fall runway fashions but would like to close by taking a brief look at some things I liked that could fit in the average person’s budget. A bit of practicality of you will. Each item pictured costs under $100 which means you really could treat yourself to one new thing this fall.

Leopard has been around for quite awhile and now, more than ever, you can dabble in it as much or as little as you like but, really, you ought to try it. For whatever reason nothing says 'I know fashion' like an animal print. Unless you're wearing it head to toe, in which case you're roadkill.

From top: Ann Taylor blouse Talbot's pumps, Target pumps, Kohl's purse, Kohl's bangles, Portolano suede print gloves.

There are so many reasons to love Katharine Hepburn but one of my favorites was her ability to take things considered strictly for men and make them her own. For her it was simple practicality- men's clothes were more comfortable. This fall men's plaids and silhouettes were big but I like taking the expected and adding a feminine twist- like a bright soft scarf, a chunky cuff bracelet, or a high heeled flannel oxford tied with ribbons. Or, if you really want to have fun mix one of the leopard pieces with something with a menswear vibe.

From top: Lauren Conrad shoe at Kohl's, H & M scarf, DVF plaid pencil skirt, Franco Sarto oxfords, H & M cuff, Jules Jurgenson tank watch, H & M white blouse with trousers 

I can't promise I'm going to live by my own edict and buy anything for fall but here are the two pieces I'd add to my wardrobe to shake things up.

I'm a huge fan of danim and chambray shirts. For me it is a classic that can be paired with jeans or khakis or dressed up with a grey flannel skirt and a rope of pearls. You can wear it over or under another top, cuffs up or buttoned. The real difficulty is finding one that works as they're often considered the purview of western wear (bleech). This year Aeropostale did a fairly simple version. It's not marked down to $16.99 so should be manageable- if there are any left in my size.

Tortoise shell is another classic material most often seen in glasses frames. I'm glad it made a move this year into accessories. This fun bracelet from Target will only set you back $19.99 but can be worn with every trend out there- even leopard (mix it up!). For me, it's a neutral, and at this price I may have to go for it.

It's 85˚ here today so a bit hard to think about fall but I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts as much as I have. It’s your turn- what are you adding to your wardrobe this year?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall Fashion 2011: Fantasy Shopping- YSL | Givenchy

The tents are down and ostensibly fashion week is over but they were showing spring anyway so I’m not compelled to follow suit. I have one more subject to discuss- fantasy shopping. I made an initial foray into this in the spring but it included home goods. Now, after perusing over 10 magazines and 1,000s of photos online I’m rewarding myself with a hypothetical fall shopping trip. This is where I show you the pieces from various designers I would love to own even if I had nowhere to wear them but CostCo (wouldn’t that be fun!). You might be thinking ‘dear God she’s already shown us 6 designers with clothes for a life she doesn’t have’ but that’s different. In the case of Herrera, Karan, and Saab (my 3 absolute favorites) I want their entire collection. For this I’m talking about beautiful individual pieces.

My first choices are about pattern which is not my first choice simply because it doesn’t seem as practical- but what the hell, nothing about these picks is practical.

Dries van Noten is not one of my favorite designers. While I understand his aesthetic it doesn't appeal to me. Too much color and pattern in each piece- it feels disjointed and frenetic and my eye becomes confused and tired. Not what I look for in fashion. However, this dress strikes a perfect balance of both color and pattern. Yes, there’s a lot going on but somehow it’s cohesive. I also love the mix of printed silk and the panels embroidered with black beads.

Pucci is synonymous print and color so this dress is not breaking any design barriers for him. What attracts me are the smaller touches- the squared portrait neckline, the lace tucked into it at the bottom, and peeking out of the cuff. They add a ladylike touch to his exuberance.

My next two choices epitomize opulence: Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy. YSL designer Stefano Pilati did an amazing array of menswear fabrics this fall (which I reviewed in trends) while Givenchy took seemingly athletic silhouettes and executed them into fresh chic separates.

For YSL I love both of these dresses for a multitude of reasons. On the left, the fabric has such depth of color it’s enough on its own but instead of overkill the feathery feel of the fringed plaid on the skirt elevates the whole look to another level of chic. Fresh. The dress on the right is a marvelous play on the menswear looks. The fabric is a rich black/taupe twist and the style is almost severe with its keyhole neck and belted waist. How fabulous then to add a Mildred Pierce 1940s fur shrug to top it off. A perfect blend of simple with extravagant. For those of you who are anti-fur I’m almost certain, based on the way the light is reflecting off the shrug, that it’s fake but I may be very mistaken because YSL would roll over in his grave to have anything fake on his runway. It will have to remain a mystery until I start getting invited to these shows and receive a look book (gives fabric details).

With Givenchy I went back to patterns but in a more refined way and a wonderful contrast to the styles themselves. The shirt dress is an almost austere silhouette with a point collar, straight sleeves, and an A-line skirt but all is softened by rich tones of navy and black played off against a pale yellow. Add to this a knee length black crinoline and it’s refinement meets fun.

I love this bright yellow even if it is a color that only works against certain skin tones. Here Tisci (Givenchy’s designer) takes a midriff baring sweatshirt (ala Flashdance) and amps it up in cashmere with silk iris patterned medallions on the sleeve. I’m not thrilled with the bared belly look but am willing to bet it will be cut a bit longer for retail. The skirt is a perfect high waisted pencil silhouette in silk printed with the same purple iris’ favored throughout the collection.

There you have it. I’ve lived in the land of designer fashion for as long as I can this fall. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And because I’m bad at goodbye (and need positive fun things to think about these days) there may be a practical fall fashion post in the not too distant future. I’m having too much fun!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall Fashion: Trends to Miss

If you’ve read more than two posts in this blog then you know I like to share my opinion. By and large I try and keep it positive but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Hence this post. I’ve already shared what I like and what I love now it’s time to take a quick look at trends that really ought not to have left the designers’ head much less walked down the runway.

First we have the refusing-to-die dominatrix look. It can hardly be called a trend because we’ve seen it for both fall and spring (in spring it takes on more of a baby hooker feel ala Taxi Driver) for several years. What is the appeal? Shock value? If so, I’m not their target as I find it boring and cheap.

BeBe, Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen, Francesco Scognamiglio, Eddie Borgo collar, Mawi ring

It’s not quite the same thing but this season’s see-through dresses held no appeal. I get that sheer is in but in years past it’s been tempered with a nude body slip or lining. This season designers seemed eager to show us their granny panties under some lovely dresses. It felt misguided especially coming from tastemakers like Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, and Ungaro. Not flattering in any way and in some cases the look came perilously close to the whole bondage theme (above).

 Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Bluemarine, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, Emanuel Ungaro

Last but certainly least is the Hot Mess trend. Yes, I get that it’s runway and that it is the full expression of a designer’s aesthetic but really? Really? It was especially heartbreaking in the case of Christian Dior. You may remember that I swooned over Galliano’s Spring collection (his last before his fall from grace). While I knew he was gone, this collection felt like a mockery of the entire House of Dior. It pained me to look at this train wreck of over accessorized costumes. No theme, no thought, no soul. It was as if the MGM costume vault from the 30s-40s musicals exploded on the runway. Sad sad sad.

As for the rest they are designers who pride themselves on quirky, kicky, avant-garde looks but this feels like a lack of editing.

Christian Dior, Betsey Johnson, Malandrino, Krizia boot w/ scrunchy socks, Commes de Garcon, Christian Dior

If you're atill uncertain whether you've got hits or misses in your fall fashion picks check out my friend Sue at the Tweed Librarian. She found a few more I didn't cover- although we both agree that the dominatrix/sex trade/fetish look needs to DIE.

I certainly can't leave fall fashion on a down note nor am I ready to stop so next I'm going to continue with my fantasy shopping theme from spring and share the pieces I would buy if I won the lottery (no, I wouldn't buy my mother a house, she already has one!). We all need to dream, yes?

Images from Elle

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Fashion 2011: Chado Ralph Rucci | Elie Saab Couture

It’s Friday and a fitting (no pun intended; OK a pun was definitely intended) day to end my fall fashion week look at trends and favorite designers. Everything on Friday is happy and good, right?

It is for these two designers.

I’ve rhapsodized about Ralph Rucci before. This is a man who, if you knew him or worked for him, would probably bug the hell out of you because his vision is so uncompromising. If you are a fashion lover as I am and you ever have the chance you must watch the Sundance documentary about his work. Here’s a brief clip to whet your appetite.

It's not exaggerating to say that his clothes are works of art. he puts as much time into each piece as an artist does to the canvas. There is no seam, stitch, pleat, fold, piece of fabric that he has not considered and touched. And like art, while you may not care for a piece who must admire the soul that went into it. Sounds foolish and extreme? Maybe but if I were ever lucky enough to own a garment of his (by selling a kidney perhaps) I would be unlikely to wear it. I would simply want to admire it.

Here then is his fall collection.

The tailoring on both these jackets is impeccable while the 3/4 length sleeve updates the look.

Rucci has most often worked in hues of neutrals so his move into such rich tones as this saffron is a delight. Both of these jackets are amazing in their style and detail. I especially love the pleasted piping on the right.

If there is something better then a pink satin fur lined coat I want to know what it is. I'll never own this but if I did I'd wear it over everything, including jeans. On the right, a flirty feather cocktail dress. Yes, this look has been mass marketed but those feathers are likely glued on and could end up in someone's drink. These are stitched, on at a time and aren't going anywhere except the next party.

These two looks fall into the art category for me. At first glance I'm not sure I get them but I can acknowledge the skill required to drape a silk that perfectly and design a fabric so the line of color falls perfectly from sleeve to hem.

Originally, Elie Saab was not on my favorites list but then I got a glimpse of his couture line and that was that. Love, plain and simple. These are fairy princess, Cinderella dresses. The fact that they are couture and made to order for just that one princess makes them even more drool worthy, except the type of person who drools would not be allowed anywhere near these.

I have to give credit to my good friend Sue who wrote about Elie’s regular fall line which was also a delight. It was her post that made me wonder if he had also done couture. Thank you, Sue.

Final note: for whatever reason Mr. Saab seemed to pick the most miserably unhappy sullen group of models in the fashion world. I get that they’re not supposed to be all teeth but a couple of these are snarling and it’s dreadful. Almost enough to distract from the fantastical beauty of the dresses. Almost.

As the French would say Charmant. Light, shimmering confections in tulle. Almost see through but with enough coverage that you could still use the word demure.On the left a deep V in both the front and back and on the right tulle embroidered with sequins and velvet spots.

My favorite thing about both of these is the coverage across the bust. For some of us that is a flattering thing. I also appreciate his choice of colors throughout this line. The blue tulle is so soft it almost seems translucent. And the soft multi-toned hues of the chiffon on the right feel like a rainbow. Note the detailing on both bodices- this is all hand stitched.

More beautiful necklines and sequined embroidery. What is difficult to remember from the soft floating quality of all these gowns is that the beading makes them heavy. Only the craftsmanship makes them appear to float.

  Two of the deeper hues from the collection. The blush on the left is sublime with the full beading on chiffon from hem to hem. The simplicity of the midnight blue strapless chiffon is deceptive as the bodice has micropleating and both sequin and lace embroidery.

Ooooooo….it’s Glinda the Good Witch and I mean that as the highest compliment. I actually wrote to Warner Brothers when I was in grade school asking if I could have that dress. Bastards never wrote back. Still, this is absolutely divine and the perfect way to close my thoughts on the season. A princess gown. You would have to be happy in that, yes?
This wraps up my favorite designers for fall but if you think I’m finished you’re a silly goose. In the reality of life and unemployment and all those things that MUST be dealt with I had forgotten just how much I love the fashion world so there will be more posts to follow; some practical, some humorous. I hope you check back in because at the very least they’ll be an escape from whatever you’re dealing with right now.

Images from Elle

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Fashion 2011: Carolina Herrera | MaxMara

Yesterday I remained largely practical in that both Donna Karan and Michael Kors make clothes for a woman who, ostensibly, works. She owns her own advertising agency or is the editor of Vogue but still, she works. Today, I’m jumping into my favorite fantasy of all- the lady who lunches. I’ve never met one but I’d love to be one. To clarify, just because you grab at sandwich at the Hoagie Hut in Portland and eat it there- that doesn’t count. You must live in New York, London, Paris, or possibly Milan. Lunch is an event not a meal.

One of the designers who epitomizes this level of luxury and elegance is Carolina Herrera. I have adored her clothes since perusing my first Town & Country at the library when I was 13 (the latest Cosmopolitan was not available). This fall did not disappoint. I loved everything down to her use of velvet for belts and shoes and accessorizing so many outfits with gloves.

    Lightweight almost fluid charcoal grey wool flannel in both an A-line skirt and classic wide cuff trousers. The skirt is paired with a simple cashmere (OK, cashmere is never ‘simple') while the trousers are topped with a capelet jacket. Also, I'd never considered grey and brown together but it works beautifully.

These trousers in an amethyst wool (the color looks a bit more brown then it is) and updated herringbone are perfection! The bouclé and wool jackets with fox fur accents? Nirvana. Sporty elegance. You know, for when you’re skiing in Gstaad.

    Welcome back Grace Kelly. Both of these looks make elegance easy. The first is a cashmere sweater with amethyst embroidery and an abstract waterfall print silk skirt. The dress is double face wool with a sable collar- do I need to say more? Fabulous!

This outfit works on so many levels. As is, it’s dressy but take the skirt, add the cashmere turtleneck and boots and it’s casual. The metallic sequined sweater is demure in grey but unzipped with a mini and tights it’s young and fun. Its counterpart is strictly cocktails with a gorgeous paillette and sequin embroidered top, high form fitting waist and fuller skirt.

        After a long day of looking divine there are still events at night that cannot be ignored. The sequins and sheer overskirt on the left if you're feeling really sexy and the molten silk on the right if you're meeting the President.
While Herrera was all about old world elegance (as in, you’re appropriately dressed to see either the Pope or President) MaxMara was a bit edgier. The Italian fashion house gave us a line that was both sleek and chic, all rounded lines and curves. Despite the form fitting silhouettes the feeling was androgynous.

For the most part I liked the overall look and feel of this collection but can’t say the same for some of the styling. The models and the choice of hair style didn’t work for me. Yes, I’m actually going to say that I thought some of these models were a bit unattractive (as if they care what I think when they’re partying with Justin Timberlake). The slicked back hair felt clichéd as opposed to avant-garde.

Unlike Kors’s sweater dress, which had a more casual feel, this cashmere version is more body conscious and fitted as is the sweater skirt combo. The winter white is the ultimate wealthy woman’s way of saying “I never spill when I eat”.

    Here we get a bit dicier as while I think they look just fine on 85 lb models I have no interest in leggings or even skinny (as in skin tight) pants. The black pair is actually stirrup pants which is just wrong. On the other hand, the tops work. I especially like the boxy camel blazer with the kilt buckle.

The look is still all about the body but it comes off better in the skirts especially with a fitted bouclé jacket and soft leather skirt. The dress is a body conscious knit with nude colored sleeves and neck.

Finally, when you’re young and hip but need a long dress these looks say ‘I’m young and hip but the invite said formal’. You’re playing by the rules but not really. In the first, the leather shoulder patches and kilt buckles are casual but the fluidity of the metallic skirt is not. In fact, what I would do here is wear the grey sequined sweater from Herrera. Voila! The alpaca plaid fringed dress is my favorite piece from this collection. It’s New Years Eve in Aspen.

In case you're wondering, I've never been to any of the places I mentioned today. This is simply what goes on in my head. Scary, right? I'll be back again with my final two designers who take luxury to a level that boggles even my fevered brain. Ralph Rucci and Elie Saab Couture. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fall Fashion 2011: Donna Karan | Michael Kors

Michael Kors and Donna Karan are two of my favorite American designers and not just because he’s on Project Runway and she’s a huge Zen yogini. It’s because they both make clothes that work and move with a woman’s body- something other designers sometimes sacrifice for the ‘art’ of a piece.

This season they stayed true to their aesthetic by featuring neutrals while everyone else piled on the Crayola train. Karan featured a soft gray and a luscious blush-beige (the blush trend personified). Kors used white and black, charcoal gray, and a marvelous tabac that has nothing to do with camel and everything to do with chic.

A number of designers went with retro this season, producing lines with a distinct 40s vibe. While at first glance, with her gloves and pencil skirts, Karan felt a little Mad Men, it was not the case. This fall line was not tied to a specific period but to a feeling, that of quiet elegance. A return to ladylike if you will. Portrait and draped necklines, longer skirts, and pearls and tights for accessories. I loved the look. 

Her fabrics were a sumptuous blend of soft, flowy, sensual and more structured, textured wools. Draped silk blouses mixed with high waisted pencil skirts. Tailored belted jackets atop silky form fitting skirts. It all worked for me, especially the return to a more natural waist. Honestly, I am so over low-rider/hip hugger/low-rise bottoms I could scream.

I'll take both, size 8, please! Oh and a hook and eye for the blouse. Thanks.

The only miss for me were the pants. She only did one pair and they were draped in what was either very lightweight wool or a jersey. Either way the look did not work with the tailored elegance of the rest of the line. Other than that this line was one of my favorites. I loved the colors, the fabrics, and the shapes.

Michael Kors also knows a woman’s body and what works and what doesn’t but his line was much more overt than Karan’s- a strong sexy vibe with nothing subdued about it. While open to the navel blouses are not in my portfolio anymore this is runway and by the time they hit the stores I’m sure there will be impeccable buttoned versions. For now it’s about the ‘look’ and his cuts are so perfect that even a skirt slit to the thigh opens suggestively as opposed to Paris Hilton-esquely. Classy not trashy.

While Karan focused on skirts Kors put out gorgeously tailored pants in an array of wear now neutrals. The charcoal gray flannel with the matching coat would be a staple in my work wardrobe. For fun he did a thick cable turtleneck dress in a woodsy brown that would be the go-to piece in any wardrobe as it could dress up or down, alone or over leggings or jeans. Additionally, he made quite a showing with fur which if you’re waiting for my moral outrage, you don’t know me. Feel free to flame but I love fur and his was sublime. Roll around in them naked sublime. Enough said.

The only look Kors focused on that did not work for me was a scoop neck in a number of his tops. You’ve got to have just the right collarbones and bust to pull this look off and not many women do. It was cut a skosh too low and those of us lacking in the bust department will look bony and those who are well endowed are going to have wardrobe malfunctions.

Still, many looks from both designers that I would be happy to own (call me, you two!). While I may enjoy individual pieces from other designers Karan and Kors continue to put out cohesive collections that have both runway appeal but will translate to retail sales.

The fun continues next as I look at two more designers with a slightly more international perspective- Carolina Herrera and Max Mara. If you'd like to look at some really luxe looks check out the Tweed Librarian's post on Elie Saab.

All images from Elle and Style.
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