04 May 2012

My Horoscope Preview

I'm not normally that person - the one who reads the monthly or daily horoscope and says, "That's going to happen to me!" But, in this month's Paris Vogue, the horoscope was probably the best thing I could have read at this moment:

"Lion: L'an dernier, quand s'est ouvert un cycle qui réorganise des aspects de votre mode de vie, vous étiez aussi inquiète qu'intriguée. Les changements continuent, mais vous savez maintenant que des événements déstabilisants sont en fait positifs et que plus vite vous plongerez, mieux ça vaudra. Avec un peu de chance, quand votre maître le Soleil rencontrera le chanceux Jupiter le 13 et qu'une série d'options inédites apparaîtra, vous comprendrez que même les perturbations sont une invitation au progrès."
I don't want to translate it - I fear losing the meaning or impact. I know I've been MIA lately but I do have exciting news and changes coming soon.  So watch this space! Je plonge. ;)

09 March 2012

Fashion Friday: Paris Fashion Week, Fall 2012

Paris Fashion Week is the highlight of the runways for me. You just can't beat the levels of chicness, luxuriousness, and innovation that you see in Paris anywhere else. By the end of it all there were so many pieces that I coveted, I could probably single handedly save the economy. For now, though, I'll have to settle with picking my favorites and sharing them with you.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com
5. Louis Vuitton: Since the "Louis Vuitton - Marc Jacobs" exhibition opened Wednesday night in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, can there be any question who will be the next King of Parisian fashion? Last season, you may remember Louis Vuitton presented the prettiest, dreamiest carousel ever. Didn't think Jacobs could top that? This season, a Louis Vuitton train pulled into the station, and each model debarked to a waiting porter, who took her bags. The shape and proportion definitely isn't immediately accessible; it took me a few looks to really appreciate the lines. But Jacobs doesn't always have to do sexy: he's done sexy, he's done sweet, now he shows he can do smart. Louis Vuitton is truly Jacob's brand and he's making all the rules.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com

4. Isabel Marant: Isabel Marant is the undisputed Queen of Cool Parisiennes. And of course, only a Parisian could take something as Americana as cowboys and western wear and make them chic and totally uncostumey. Marant is in full blown expansion mode and the attention she's getting is well deserved. It was overheard that a photographer said he couldn't tell backstage if the models were dressed for the runway or not, because they all wear Marant in real life. If there's one thing that Marant truly excels at, it's making a covetable boot. To wit, this season she put together some mid-calf boots with an awesome studded detail that would look as sick with a dress as it would with skinny pants.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com
3. Balmain: Under designer Christophe Decarnin, Balmain was Sexy with a capital "S." They were over the top rocker girls, season after season, in tight gold pants and shirts ripped to shreds (which sold, I kid you not, for over a grand). Then suddenly, without notice, Decarnin was out and Olivier Rousteing was in. It's a welcome breath of fresh air. No question Balmain was sexy this season, but considering one of the inspirations was a Faberge egg, how sexy could it really be? The pieces were all delicately beaded with pearls which added depth and detail in a soft way. The jackets were boxy, almost square, which was a new and interesting cut. My favorite look, obviously, was the cream colored sweater paired with pearl beaded pants - casual but incredible.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com

2. Chanel: Well, Kaiser Karl does it again. The inspiration was crystals, and to that end enormous formations dominated the scenery and each model sported beaded eyebrow pieces that took 3 hours a pair to make. Crystals adorned necklaces, bracelets, clasps on clutches, and hems of coats and gowns. There were some borderline questionable Cosby - esque sweaters, and like many of his designer brethren, Lagerfeld was not concerned with sexy shapes. (Also, skirts over pants: it's really happening.) I loved the tweed utility jacket to the right. But what I really went bananas over? The shoes, which were half booties, half ankle-strap heels, which at first I thought were kind of ugly, until I got a closer look. At the base of the heel, they sprouted crystal formations. Obsessed.
Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com
1. Valentino: Designing team Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are proving that it's possible to keep an old house alive without feeling staid or recycled. They've nailed simple and pretty, but not in a way that feels girlish. Black leather in delicate shapes felt sexy without trying too hard and the details, like a frog closure on a cream coat, were incredibly rich. There were dresses with an ethnic pattern, done in a way that was hard to pin down their origins. Embroidery, either in a contrasting color or a matching color, is what Valentino truly excels at, along with lace pieces. Sometimes a woman just wants to feel effortlessly beautiful, and the Italian duo are here to make those luxurious pieces. It was a nice contrast to the jolie laide this Fall. 

Phew! Another fashion season under our belts! Did you miss New York, London, or Milan? Just in the mood for some really pretty pictures? Check it all out, and I'll be back soon with some non-fashion related posts, I promise! But for now, I will be spending the weekend tucked away in a cabin with some long-lost friends and disconnecting! À la prochaine! 

02 March 2012

Fashion Friday: Milan Fashion Week, Fall 2012

Milan this week really surprised me. Unlike New York and London, there are pretty big changes in my top five collections from Spring to Fall. It seemed like designers all looked to the past to put together mostly dark and romantic fall collections, which I really enjoyed. The gothic inspiration keeps the Milan woman from being overtly sexy; she's a little more mysterious. I've been in front of a computer for what feels like forever, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Onward!

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com
5. Gucci: One of the big trends in Milan this year was dark romanticism, and Gucci kicked it off. The girls were neo-gothic, paled out with dark lips, and the clothes were in deep shades of blue, burgundy, green, and of course, black. The textures, as has been the case everywhere, were mixed: velvet with fur, sheer with feathers - and Lord knows I love feathers. They were an inky green with an oil-slicked appearance, which was sleek and sexy. And one velvet gown was subtly covered in leopard spots. The final gowns were sheer with black sequined vines crawling all over them, acknowledging that the Gucci woman was still sexy but had a little more bite than normal.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com

4. DSquared2: If Milan was in the mood for historic references, DSquared2 set their time machine to mid century. Between the pencil skirts, cropped pants, the bouffants, and the occasional model with a naughty cigarette, their girl was more Rizzo than Sandy. Textures like croc and fur were meant for feeling-up sessions behind the bleachers. But this girl felt like a PG version of the DSquared2 woman. Sexuality was more a tease than a promise of things to come, which is unusual for the brand - even the finale dresses were sweet. The clothes were all really wearable when DSquared2 (for me) veers into the costumey - I'm reminded of the ice skate boots. It was a pleasant surprise.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com
3. Dolce and Gabbana: This is not a brand that shies away from embellishment. The reference points here were clearly textile in nature; from brocades to tapestries, this was a collection asking to be touched. Keeping the color palate relatively simple - mostly black, gold, and white, with a few patterns thrown in - was a smart move as it kept things from feeling overworked. There was a touch of the religious here with capes and virginal white lace, which despite their connotations, felt sexy without being slutty. It helped that the shapes were classic Italian lady. The needlepoint pattern grounded the collection's innocent overtones, but it was classic Dolce and Gabbana. I liked almost everything!

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com

2. Jil Sander: Full confession: I didn't really "get" Raf Simons at Jil Sander until last season. Which is a total shame, because this season was his last, announced days before the show. Jil Sander will return to her eponymous label, which I guess to non fashion people sounds normal but to the fashion set it means chaos. It was a fitting end to Simons' time at the label, as the collection was gorgeous, and Simons wept during the standing ovation at the end. The pastel collection was lovely, and despite the colors, did feel fall appropriate. And the collection was wonderfully graceful, with models clutching their coats shut in a gesture that felt from another time.

Photo via Elle.com

1. Aquilano.Rimondi: Aquilano e Rimondi made the list last season after grabbing my attention with an architecture-inspired collection, and this year they shot right to the top. The collection was clearly inspired by religious iconography and Renaissance style, which if you know me, is right up my alley. (History Nerd Alert.) There were plenty of textures, colors, and patterns that spoke to the theme, and I loved the capes and heels with rich bows - they're kind of my thing. There were dresses cut to look like armor-pieces which still looked incredibly modern. I liked the exaggerated hips which recalled 15th century women paired with vest and coats that suggested their male counterparts. This was a perfect collection and I'm excited to see what this design duo comes up with next.

I am going to totally cheat out on you guys and just leave this as my five favorite collections because the trends that started in New York (fur, leather, etc.) have really carried through - but also, because I'm being lazy and it's my blog, so I can. ;) If you're craving more, feel free to check out my Tumblr, and I'll see you next week for Paris!

25 February 2012

Fashion Friday: London Fashion Week, Fall 2012

Okay, so I am behind, yet again. Oops! Sorry guys. I spend so much time in front of the computer that I find it hard to get blog posts together. It's really a shame, because London this year showed stronger than ever, perhaps because of the scheduling controversy between Milan and New York. That being said, here are my top 5 shows!

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com
5. Matthew Williamson: Once again, I was surprised by Matthew Williamson. I don't know if I just had misconceptions about the designer or if he has matured but I was really pleased with the fall offering. I loved the metallic pieces mixed in with (you guessed it) leather and fur, most especially a fun colored fox fur coat. Towards the end of the show, the dresses were pretty without being over the top, with bright colors, lace inserts and sheer panels. I really loved the pants, which were nicely fitted in navy or brocade, paired with jackets slung over the shoulders (the most on-trend way to wear them next fall, by the way, it's everywhere). Overall, there were a lot of great layering pieces.

Photo via Fashionista.com

4. Burberry: Burberry is the crown jewel of London Fashion Week. It's a British brand helmed by a British designer filled with British codes - a no brainer for the English Rose. This collection, Town and Field, was a modern interpretation of an old hunting wardrobe. Giant, weirdly placed pockets aside, it was wearable and luxurious. The fabrics were rich, and I loved the pencil skirts with one large ruffle down the front. Sweaters with birds on the front added a dose of quirk and humor. And the men's looks were so sexy. At the finale, there was a crack of thunder and "rain" poured down the sides of the clear tent as clear confetti rained down on models sporting Burberry umbrellas. Perfection.
Photo via Fashionista.com

3. Erdem: Last season, the Erdem girl was prim and proper. This season, she's dark and grown up. Erdem incorporated rubberized latex - like the sex-shop kind - into a collection that, while sexually charged, was still really sophisticated. Erdem layered lace on top of those more provocative fabrics, and the use of bright colors layered in kept the whole thing from feeling too heavy. Pants cut right at the ankle, which is the new chic length for straight legged pants, but dresses are clearly Erdem's forté. They were classic cuts, but the lace overlays were subversive in the way only Erdem can make lovely. And of course, there were wonderful florals that were fall appropriate.

Photo via Fashionista.com

2. Temperley London: It was a very rich and highly decorative collection that was suggestive of Anna Karenina, or Renaissance era religious paintings, which are two reference points I can really get behind. I loved the rich gold, both in fabric and embroidery, and while I don't think every piece was wearable, I did love the overall themes. I'm also really into those fur Cossack hats. A rich red satin skirt with a black bow belt looked perfect with a nude blouse. Towards the end there were lovely evening looks in black, cream, and navy, punctuated with ornate embellishments.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com

1. Giles: Designer Giles Deacon stated that he was inspired by a stately home that had caught fire, and that was evident in the clothes. A burned and scorched print evolved through the collection, smattered on gowns, skirts, and coats. There were knits that looked like shreds of their former selves, in the chicest way possible, and more prints that looked like either thorny bushes, barbed wire, or torn fabric. Of course, the key factor here is that none of the pieces were actually destroyed but instead really beautiful and well-constructed. Headpieces by Stephen Jones were the final theatrical touches, much like last season's swans that I obsessed over.

TRENDS: Fur is still really big. Mulberry showed an entire collection around furry creatures, like Maurice Sendak monsters or Muppets. Velvet is cropping up from runways like Paul Smith to high street like Topshop Unique. Gold is a good metallic to go with fall's dark colors, especially when burnished like at Nicole Farhi. And of course, fun prints are a London staple, like at House of Holland and buzzworthy designer Mary Katrantzou.

As always, this is not nearly a comprehensive list of everything that happened in London! There was truly so much amazing and wearable stuff for fall. London has cemented it's reputation as one to watch.

18 February 2012

Fashion Friday: New York Fashion Week, Fall 2012

Despite my best efforts, I am posting my NYFW review on Saturday and not on Friday as I'd hoped. I have a legit reason though! I have been surgically attached to a computer since last Thursday helping out over at Fashionista.com  for their Fashion Week coverage AND trying to keep my own Tumblr updated. So to say that I've been busy is an understatement, but I have been LOVING it.

All that being said, Fall is my favorite season for fashion. You have so much more to work with - pants, dresses, skirts, sweaters, coats - that I think you end up with a much fuller collection. And really, Fall is my favorite season, period. I love bundling up when it's still pleasantly chilly and not yet bitterly cold and I feel like all the best things in life happen in fall. This season was so full of awesome stuff I couldn't narrow it down to just 5 collections. I got it down to 6 and then couldn't cut anymore. So here they are, my favorite 6 collections from NYFW Fall/Winter 2012-2013:

Photo via Fashionista.com
6. Wes Gordon: Newcomer Gordon recently tied for the Fashion Group International's Rising Star Award so he's suddenly found himself at the center of attention. His fall presentation was definitely worthy, though, referencing both Girl with the Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara and Charles Dickens. The colors and textures were incredibly rich, mixing fur with satin, lace, and even chain mail. It was beautiful, dark, and romantic, without being alienating or unwearable (with the possible exception of a sweater with giant fur puff sleeves, though it did look cool). I want all of it.

Photo via Fashionista.com

5. Jenni Kayne: Kayne made my honor's list last season, and this year she wowed me again. Her clothes are just so effortlessly hip, and I loved her hunting lodge inspired fall collection. I'm going to need those velvet slippers and I'm a sucker for a punch of neon green. There were feathers and leather tops and fur hats. I mean, what's not to love about that? A shorts suit may not make much sense for winter, but paired with tights I think it would get even cooler. And I think pumpkin will be one of the hottest colors next season, so her deep orange suit should top a lot of lists.
Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com

4. Derek Lam: It's hard to tell from this photo, but this look was so wonderfully dramatic - a full chiffon skirt paired with a cable knit tank. But the looks at the beginning of the show were great too. A floral print jacket with a matching skirt, amazing gold brogues, and lots of leather and fur were some of the standout pieces. Being fall, there were great coats that were simple yet stylish, which is really all anyone could want in a coat that you wear day in and day out. White and black basics allowed the sparse prints and colors to pop. Overall, it was a deceivingly simple collection that was special without being overwrought.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com
3. Prabal Gurung: The major criticism of this show is that it veered a little too "Tisci for Givenchy," a critique that definitely was not far off the mark. Still, it was a great collection. I watched it online and kept gasping, "Ooh, that's pretty," at each look even though it really isn't my personal style. The finale looks, sheer gowns with intricate beading, were gorgeous though not wearable for every woman. The best pieces were his impeccably tailored pants and separates, including flared legged trousers in shiny black fabric that could work in almost any wardrobe. Some of the prints and ruffles, though cool, reminded me a little too much of his spring collection to feel fresh, but as a whole it was a great presentation.
Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com

2. Oscar de la Renta: Oscar moves up a spot from last year with this incredibly lady-like collection with detail that my magpie brain freaked out over. Oscar is not a man who is known for his editing, and this collection could have used some; the abundance of cotton candy pinks and blues felt mostly dated. But the pearl and beading detailing, combined with the matching print, felt wonderfully excessive. As always with Oscar, clothes for the everyday woman these are not. If you've got a lot of charity functions, dinners, and meetings with dignitaries, Oscar is your man. For the rest of us, snap up one of his dresses for a winter wedding.

Photo via FashionGoneRogue.com
1. Jason Wu: Continuing his Eiffel Tyler dominance, Jason Wu's Asian influenced fall collection tops my list. As I said, I freak my freak for Wu. He's just a master at what he does. He has a clear-cut vision of who his woman is and he stays true to her without being boring or predictable. It was such a rich, luxurious collection, complete with leather, fur, brocades, and gold accents. It was smart to combine ancient Chinese influence with the 40's Hollywood version of China; it was fun without being campy. A military inspiration added structure and seriousness, and some of the best pieces resulted from that source. Wu is from neighboring Taiwan, and only learned English at age 10, so the collection felt like a personal exploration of his roots. Every piece was beautiful and special.

PETA BEWARE: One of the biggest trends to solidify throughout the week was the ubiquitous presence of leather and fur. Black leather was the big choice for outerwear, and if cool kids Alexander Wang and DKNY send it down a runway, expect to see loads of it in stores. The good news is that it will come in so many shapes and forms you're bound to find something that works for you; the bad news is that good looking leather is hard to come by cheaply. Leather pants came skinny as usual, but were much more popular in a looser, cooler fit like at Theysken's Theory and Narciso Rodriguez.  Leather skirts and dresses are still going strong, like at Calvin Klein. Fur was the big winner though, showing up on hats like at Yigal Azrouël, coat sleeves like at BCBG (gorilla sleeves have not gone anywhere, surprisingly), fur collars like at Michael Kors, and full blown classic coats like at Zac Posen and J. Mendel. And if you're insane (or you just really miss Jamiroquai) Marc Jacobs has you covered.

OTHER TRENDS: Elbow length - or longer - is going to be the preferred glove length this winter, as seen at Carolina Herrera and Tommy Hilfiger, among others. Deep, rich colors, like those I LOVED at Peter Som, are not really unexpected but still popular for colder months. It's going to be all about mixing textures, like the fall standards velvet, fur, leather with silk or sheer panels, as at Donna Karan or Vera Wang. Reed Krakoff even showed coats with sheer sleeves, which probably would only work with those opera length gloves. Shoes are coming down off platforms, with sexy pumps like those at Thakoon featuring details like straps to make them special.

FIT FOR A CRAWLEY: Ralph Lauren may have opened his show with the Downton Abbey theme song, with a collection more Lord Crawley than Lady Mary, but I suspect he wasn't the only one inspired by the hit show. (Which is, head's up, the best show ever.) Ruffian and Tory Burch also presented collections that had hints of Downton. 

THE COOL KIDS LOVED: Rodarte went more commercial than ever, making it clear that they are moving to become a big brand. Their outback inspired fall line got mixed reviews but it was more wearable, so I think street style stars will be sporting some Rodarte come September. And I wish I was cool enough to rock Proenza Schouler's collection, which I loved and so did every other fashion editor. 

I WILL BE BUYING ALL OF IT, THANK YOU: J. Crew's fall presentation was like creative director Jenna Lyons got in my head and said, "Here you go Tyler. Spend all your money here." Yes ma'am, I believe I will. Also, they're collaborating with Manolo Blahnik on shoes this fall. Looks like I will be living in a box - think J.Crew will give me one with a big purchase?

Wow, I am exhausted! But this fashion week has been a blast, really. It's been so much fun to feel like part of a team during fashion week, even though I was doing all my work long distance. I love this crazy industry! Fingers crossed that sometime soon I can review shows I've actually seen! 

10 February 2012

Fashion Friday: The Designer Collaboration

Photo Via Fashionista.com
New York Fashion Week has officially kicked off, which means my round-ups will be starting again soon! For now, though, let's talk about designer collaborations.

This Sunday, while everyone was getting riled up about the Super Bowl, fashion lovers were getting excited about the Jason Wu for Target launch. Just as a reminder, Wu topped my list of collections for Spring, so I was pretty much losing my mind over this line. For those who might live under a rock, for the past several years designers have been collaborating with different retailers on one-off, affordable lines of clothes. Recent collections include Missoni for Target (which crashed Target's website on launch day) and Versace for H&M.

Isaac Mizrahi really paved the way for these lines with his now-defunct collection at Target, but the true pioneer of the one-off collaboration is (who else?) Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld did a line for H&M in 2004, which was a huge success for the Swedish retailer and has since spawned dozens of similar collections. The obvious benefit of these collections is that they bring fashion to the masses - fast fashion in its purest form. But in addition, the retailer gains a lot of press and attention, and the designer reaches a broader audience than normal.

In the past I've bought items from the following collections: a wrap sweater, ballerina sweater and headband from Tara Jarmon for Target; a black kimono dress from Paul and Joe for Target (worn to DEATH, literally, that thing was so flattering); a Luella for Target shirt (RIP Luella, we miss you); two Rodarte for Target party dresses and a pair of tights; a Missoni for Target pair of tights and travel cosmetics bag (I was in desperate need of a new one, since my old one was - full disclosure - pink terrycloth); a bra from Sonia Rykiel for H&M; and I'm sure there are others I don't remember.

So what do I still have from that list? The Missoni travel bag and tights (worn once), the Rodarte tights (hanging on by a thread) and the Sonia Rykiel bra (which I forgot I had until this moment). The Tara Jarmon and Luella stuff wore out poorly, I really did wear that Paul and Joe dress until it was so faded it was no longer acceptable, and the Rodarte dresses were just too short (I wore them each exactly once).

I usually shy away from designer collections like these, because in the past I've been really disappointed by the results. The fact of the matter is, the only way to make a high fashion design $39.99 is to use cheap materials. The trouble with fast fashion collaborations is that it's so easy to get caught up in the hype. These lines, when done right, sell out fast and end up on eBay. They're big names at a tiny price, and the idea you might miss out is awful, which is precisely what these retailers are counting on. The fit is usually very poor and the materials so cheap that what seemed like a great deal at first becomes a terrible deal in the long run. I've skipped out on so many of these lines because even though the lookbook made the models look amazing, once I was in front of the item I had been dreaming about I just felt bummed.

Like I said though, I freak my freak for Jason Wu. I tried not to get my hopes up for the Target collection, convincing myself that it was the same sad polyester mess, different day. Then they released the lookbook, an adorably styled French gamine jumble of sophistication and coquettishness. I decided I would buy one thing. And then it launched online a little early, so one thing became...more than one thing. And then I picked some up at Target the next day while picking up beer for a Super Bowl party, most of it for my best friend Shelby but maybe just one more thing for me.

I have to say, I'm super pleased with the line. The fit, at least for me, is amazing and way above my expectations for Target, and the quality is definitely above par (with some exceptions - I just don't think it's possible to make a good quality designer handbag for under $50, sorry). It's the first designer collaboration collection that has only made me want more.

There were definitely issues with this release - one couple in Miami really managed to piss some people off - and I think that the quadruple-priced-on-eBay era will end soon. But as retailers continue to find success, expect to see more designer lines in a lower price point in the future.

03 February 2012

Fashion Friday: Internships

Classic Overworked Assistant: Andy from Devil Wears Prada
This week, after Fashionista.com announced that a former intern was suing Harper's Bazaar for working without compensation, I knew what I wanted to write about. Internships of all industries, but especially fashion and entertainment, have been the topic of a lot of conversation in the past few years and they are not without their controversies.

You see, the problem is that most internships in these fields are compensated by giving school credit. This works really well for those who really do receive school credit for their work and who are in turn treated fairly. However, there are many schools out there who do not give credit for internships, and the reality of many of those internships is running for coffee and stapling papers, not actually learning valuable job skills. And when you stop to consider that the students who are receiving credit have to pay for those credit hours - well, you kind of have to see how crazy the system really is.

As Fashionista points out, the real problem with these internships is that they heavily favor those who can afford to work for free, which in this economy, is more likely than not those who have parents who can support them. Full disclosure: I myself recently looked into breaking into the fashion industry, and the response to my resume was good, getting responses in a few hours time. "Would you be available to intern immediately?" they would ask, "You have to be eligible for school credit." Once I pointed out that it states on my resume that I have received both my B.A. and my Master's, the emails immediately stopped. That was a huge bummer. I frantically searched for a few weeks for a school that would allow me to enroll so I could qualify for an internship, which would cost me anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars that I don't have. And while my parents, who are lovely and wonderful parents who are incredibly supportive of my goals, make enough money to take care of themselves, they certainly don't make enough to finance a life in New York City for their 25-year-old daughter while she takes work for free (and I'm not certain that if they could, they would, because I'm an adult and responsible for myself).

I am not the only person who would be in this kind of position: paying a living expense in NYC, the one of the most expensive cities in the world; working at minimum two jobs, one of which I would not get paid for; and paying for the privilege of making connections and working for a magazine, which still does not guarantee me a job at the end.

I have taken an unpaid internship in the past during my time as a Master's student, at Women's Wear Daily in Paris. As I have blogged about here in the past, that internship was incredibly rewarding. My supervisor was respectful of my time and my other obligations (nannying and school) and really fostered an environment of learning and growth. Did I have to do mundane stuff? Yes, but even the mundane stuff - like transcribing an interview with Karl Lagerfeld - was exciting and enjoyable because it was an insider access to the things that I loved. But for every story like mine, there is a story of the intern who worked 40+ hours a week, picked up dry cleaning, and was mistreated at every turn.

Personally, I think the worst part of this whole thing is that these internships are widely accepted amongst those in the industry as some kind of hazing ritual. "I did it, so you can do it," says every fashion editor with a shoulder shrug. The attitude is that if you can't suffer through one bad internship for the chance to work in the industry, well, you just don't have what it takes. You're lucky to be working with your team at all/a thousand girls would kill to fill your shoes. And I understand that. But something has to give. The labor laws, as they stand, do not support many of the internships as they exist today. An intern can not be used to replace a paid position. In other words, the internship must be mutually beneficial - the organization gets work done and the intern learns valuable job skills.

I just can't see the harm in compensating interns financially. It might mean having less interns, or using interns more wisely, but I think that it is the right and fair thing to do. I feel it really opens up the talent pool and allows these young girls - many of whom intern every semester they're in school, often at the expense of their education - to breathe a little bit. Perhaps it makes the internship a little less elite but I think it makes the interns as a whole stronger.

It's going to be a really interesting development, that's for sure. I'm curious to see if this gains momentum, like the Law School law suit is doing. This is definitely one to watch, and I'm sure it will send waves through the industry.

PS - I have actually just started working with the Fashionista website as an intern, and I couldn't be more excited! Look out for me over there. :)

20 January 2012

Fashion Friday: In Tribute

The original Man of Style of our family, Ray Musleh, who passed away Tuesday morning, with my brother Hunter.

 I love you Poppa. Thanks for always pushing me to swing higher.

13 January 2012

Fashion Friday: Haute Couture vs. Ready to Wear

From Chanel Couture Fall 2009 (via)
I was going to write this last week, when I was home sick and really crabby, but I spent most of the day in bed so unfortunately it had to wait. But I didn't forget!

It seems today that everyone wants to slap their name and the word "Couture" on something and sell it as such (serious side eye to you, Real Housewives!). As such, the understanding of "haute couture" has become a bit foggy. I wanted to devote a blog post to this matter and help clear up some of the confusion.

To truly be considered "haute couture" involves jumping a series of hurdles. In fact, it's so difficult and so expensive that there are currently only 11 official members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture on the schedule for the upcoming shows. To be a member of this Chambre is the only way you can call what you do couture, and you must meet the following qualifications: present two shows a year consisting of at least 35 looks for both day and evening, have an atelier (workshop) in Paris which employs at least 15 people full-time, and design made-to-order for customers which consists of at least one personal fitting.

On top of those high standards, the couture client list has drastically declined in the past 50 years, which means it has become unprofitable. When you consider that the price of a couture garment is rarely every anything less that $20,000 (running around $200,000 for a suit - I am not joking) the client list is very small. Chanel, perhaps the best known couture house, has claimed around 150 regular couture clients. One hundred and fifty people in the world purchase Chanel couture. And where does that money go? Luxe, rich fabrics, loads and loads of man hours (a gown can be 400 + hours of labor!), personal fittings and customization. This garment didn't get put through a machine - we are talking tiny hands carefully sewing and embroidering. This is a gown tailor made for you, and you can be sure you will be the only woman in the room - perhaps the world - with that specific garment. Haute couture is one of the Ultimate Luxuries. It is like buying a piece of art in terms of investment, because depending on the designer, the value can actually increase over time.

Couture gowns (most of the time) are the ones you see preening down the red carpet. However, not all red carpet gowns are couture. When an actress is listed as wearing Atelier Versace, for example, that means that the technique of the gown met the standards of couture (hence the Atelier designation) but that the company itself is not a couture house. The French take this appellation very seriously in the same way that the only sparkling wine that can be called "champagne" must come from that region in France.

So why bother putting the time and effort into a couture fashion show? Remember, we're talking thousands of man hours for 7 minutes of a fashion show with next to no return. Simply put, these gowns are the Show Stoppers. They will end up splashed across the pages of magazines for months, even years in some cases, on the bodies of best-dressed celebrities from award shows and red carpets. Editorial after editorial will showcase that one suit. These gowns will be archived for exhibitions. It is the best form of advertisement for these prestigious companies. When Sue Smith sees that gorgeous Dior Couture gown on Nicole Kidman, she won't be able to buy the gown, but she will be able to buy Dior perfumes or maybe handbags.

What about the stuff you can buy in stores? When you walk into a Chanel boutique and purchase that classic Chanel tweed jacket (and good for you!), you've just bought something off the rack. The designation for these garments is Prêt - à - Porter, or Ready to Wear. 99% of the fashion shows and editorials that you see feature RTW garments. Ready to wear does not mean that it is cheap; in fact, many houses that sell RTW have very high price points. Nor does it mean that the garments are cheaply made; Alexander McQueen by all accounts used couture techniques and made beautiful things worthy of the designation. However, for one reason or another, they are not Haute Couture houses.

IMPORTANT! Some houses, like Chanel and Dior, do both haute couture and prêt-à-porter. Therefore, it is possible to have Chanel couture, but not all Chanel is couture.

All this being said, that Louis Vuitton bag you bought is not couture. And your velour tracksuit is definitely not couture. Unless you personally flew to Paris and were hosted in a beautiful salon while experienced seamstresses fit that velour to your body and charged you 50 grand so you could have the privilege of traipsing around looking like Paris Hilton circa 2002, no ma'am, that is not couture. And it is not 2002, so maybe reconsider the tracksuit.

There are a lot of beautiful, well made, expensive things that are not couture, and I am not trying to demean those things in any way. I just want the people of the world to be knowledgeable so that when I talk to you about it I won't pull my hair out! (Joking, joking - I love my hair, I would never really pull it out.)

07 January 2012

On Old Loves and New Perspectives

The other day, in a fit of nostaliga, I went back and read the online journal of someone from a past life: Vingt.

Vingt was a name he assigned himself, or some alter ego, after I broke up with him. The relationship in my mind seems so terribly important now, as if we were some star that shined too brightly and burned out too quickly. We met when I was 16 and he was 17 and everything just seemed so important, which is maybe why I remember it as being some great affair. Of course, based off the timeline of his blog (as I erased mine in a fit of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), the whole thing from start to finish lasted a little over a month. I knew it hadn't lasted long but for some reason I was surprised at how brief it all really was.

In an era before Facebook, kids communicated via AIM or long phone calls, and forget Facebook stalking. We'd met at a mutual friend's birthday dinner and hit it off over something silly, like Rocko's Modern Life or my Spongebob Squarepants car seat covers (which, until this evening I had also conveniently forgotten). It took a little research on our parts to reconnect after that night, but we did, and quickly we were spending hours talking to each other.

Vingt and I had really similar senses of humor and were into much of the same things, and he had the sensitive and witty personality that I had always wanted to find in a guy. Soon we were falling asleep on the phone with each other and I was breaking curfew to spend just a few extra minutes with him. We went to a local concert together where he danced and I laughed, and to this day I'm convinced the most romantic thing I've ever done for someone was re-enacting a line from one of his favorite songs. It all seems sort of embarrassing to talk about but the haze of adolescence makes everything feel so heightened and exciting. The "warm-fuzzies" and the butterflies and the seeming eternity before that first kiss, the hours-long conversations about life and college and how he didn't think he believed in love - I remember it all with the dreamy lens of a Sofia Coppola film.

And then suddenly it came to a crashing halt. Well, more like I slammed on the brakes. The reasons why remain unknown to me. There was the Homecoming incident: he lived far away, so that when he took me to my Homecoming dance, my mom allowed him to stay on the pull-out bed intended for my then step-brother. Only he ended up falling asleep in my room watching a movie. (Which, to reiterate to my doubting mother, was a complete accident and no, nothing funny happened, we just changed rooms because a certain younger brother insisted on using the computer in the den. And also, sorry to my dad who has possibly never heard this story.) My mom found out and her disappointment was one of the worst I'd experienced, and the guilt ate me alive for days. I think I must have partially associated that guilt with Vingt, but we had also grown incredibly close in that month long period, and considering my patterns of behavior in every relationship after, I had real fears of emotional intimacy. Everything felt really perfect and amazing - and so, I had to stop it.

I broke up with him the only way a scared 16-year-old girl with no real life experience knows how: e-mail. And then I blocked his screenname and tried a number of times to ignore his pleading phone calls. When I finally did talk to him, he was upset and looking for answers, of which I had none, and I tried to convince him that I was just a really terrible person and that he should probably just hate me and move on. I couldn't talk to him after that. I wondered why I ever screwed something so good up by dating him, because really, we would have made great friends and now I couldn't handle even that.

So in the grand scheme of things, my relationship with Vingt was a drop in the bucket. I've obviously since had longer and more meaningful relationships but for some reason, that is the one I remember the fondest. Probably because we only dated long enough to have memories of warm-fuzzies and butterflies and not fighting or dramatics that come later in relationships. It's interesting that in one of his posts after the breakup, he wrote, "In five or ten years none of this will matter to you; maybe it won't matter to me either." Obviously I can't speak for him, but for me, it does still matter. Not in the way that it did then, but in the way that this relationship encapsulated everything about being a teenager for me.

Everyone has moments in their lives that they can look back at with the benefit of time and perspective and see that there was more than one path available to take. That year was full of paths for me to take and they could have all taken me completely different places than where I ended up. It goes without saying that it is impossible to know. Our lives are a series of chain reactions that, once set in motion, are literally impossible to change. I think that where I ended up, ultimately, is a good place, though there were definitely some rocky steps along the way. So, even though I do regret hurting him at the time, maybe in the end it was better that it ended when it did.

It's fun, in a way, to look back at those times because even though everything felt so complicated and high-stakes, it was also thrilling and awkward and wonderful. It sort of epitomizes all the great things about being young and having no idea what you're doing or how to handle things but trying anyway. It's also good to read over the post-breakup blogs: he was a master at writing in puzzles and metaphors that, at the time, I didn't understand. Having now experienced something similar, I understand, and it breaks my heart. It hurts to have evidence of that time you hurt someone - but welcome to the 21st century, I guess.

Mainly though, I'm just a nostalgic person by nature. And nostalgia is a silly thing.