Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Zoran and Union&Fifth



So the #BlackoutBlackFriday is over, and I am not much for promoting sales. However, today is Giving Tuesday, and I wanted to draw your attention to a new charity shop on the e-block, Union&Fifth. It is a charity shop in the original sense: you donate your (designer, gently used or new) clothes, and they sell them, with all proceeds going to charity. However, there are a few unique things about this site, which are worth mentioning.

First, when you donate, you can select which organization you want the benefits to go to from the list of charities on the site -- currently, U Mass Boston, Year Up, Wonder Dog Rescue, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, etc etc. You can even start your own campaign! They price and photograph things for you, with 75% of the sales going to the charity of your choice, with the rest being used for the operating costs of Union&Fifth (also a registered non-profit). 

Second, when you shop, you can sort everything by charity or in a more traditional way -- into tops, bottoms, dresses, etc. They have curated selections of sweaters and Chanel. You can search by the label or designer -- so the website basically functions like any other high-end consignment store, similar to TheRealReal, say, except that all proceeds go to good causes. None of that a nickel per lid bullshit! The pricing is comparable to TheRealReal as well.

This seems like a really new and interesting thing, and I hope it does well. I have a vested interest: among the resale sites I've seen, this one has the most comprehensive selection of Zoran pieces. Yes, I've been obsessed with Zoran lately, as witnessed by these pics from a recent NYC trip. Here, I am wearing his quilted jacket and a cashmere sweater. The skirt is from Viktor Luna's sample sale, the bag is Cuyana


































Here's the closeup of the jacket and the sweater, so you can get the feel of the texture (and the closeup of the admissions stamp from The Met, because we went to see Death Becomes Her.)

Both are wonderful pieces, quintessentially Zoran: timeless, simply cut, in luxe natural fabrics. They are almost always made in one size, and I love the drape and the weight of the sweater, as well as the sculptural simplicity of the jacket.

So yes, I was quite happy to discover that Union&Fifth carries a fantastic selection, that gives me a chance to snag a few more pieces at really good prices. I am going to Moscow again in a few days, and I usually travel with a single carry-on bag. These clothes tend to pack in small spaces (after all, they were created for a jet-pack), and travel well. Cashmere sweaters, wool pants, and silk tops are perfect for travel, and warm enough for my destination. And hey, since they are single size, there is a good chance that my mom will appropriate a piece or two. Not that I mind. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Blackout Black Friday

#boycottblackfriday i know the hoarders gonna buy junk anyways

A photo posted by REGEND DOT COM (@regend762) on

I am very much in support of economic boycotts, and if the events of Ferguson is not a reason to participate in one, I don't know what is. I also feel that it is important to recognize that corporate economic exploitation does disproportionately affect Black consumers, for a complex variety of socioeconomic reasons I would rather not go into here. However, I did want to offer for your attention two roundups of black-owned businesses to patronize year round. Social activism may and should be supported by economic actions, so please check out these lists by Fly Girl Blog and Afrobella:

Fly Girl Blog: Black-out Friday: 50+ Shops to Support
Afrobella: 101 Independent Black Businesses to Support for Blackout Friday 

Please feel free to add more in comments! And please consider refraining from shopping this weekend, because this has to stop.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Exciting Writing News


(Sam Koji Hale and handmade puppets) 

Finally, it can be announced! I have co-written the screenplay for YAMASONG: March of the Hollows, the new feature length puppet film by Sam Koji Hale. It is currently in pre-production with Dark Dunes Productions. It is a sequel to Sam's award-winning short YAMASONG. So yes, pretty thrilled about this one!


(with Sam Koji Hale)
It was announced last Saturday during the Handmade Puppet Dreams Filmmaking Symposium, held at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Here are some pictures from the event, including the puppet of Nani, one of the main characters in Yamasong. 
 (with Chris and Nani)

(with Mallory O'Meara, producer with Dark Dunes, and Sam)

(With Mallory)

(Meeting Nani for the first time!)

(Clothes notes: I am wearing a sweater by LAKE -- formerly KamenskaKononova, and pants by Ksenia Shnaider. I intend to wear Ukranian designers to all public events this year.)




Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Black and White


(A favorite black and white look, fall-appropriate! Pants by Ksenia Schnaider, vintage Ann Demeulemeester coat, Phillip Lim sweatshirt, Cheap Monday boots, pashmina from Cyprus, and a bag from Hier Apparel.)

"Black and white for work? Revolutionary!" to very loosely paraphrase Miranda Priestly. And it's true, black and white can be quite boring -- white shirt, black pants are the mainstay of waiters and office workers the world over, and it is difficult to be excited about this combo.

Yet, black and white on the runway can be quite striking and anything but soul-killing. Runway of course doesn't always translate to workplace, but there are many ways of making black and white work for most office environments, never tipping too far into either high-fashion territory or the yawn-land. Personally, I love those looks. Not that those tricks are new, but they are effective, and work for minimalists and not.

Adding texture immediately makes a garment more interesting. I love this top by JW Anderson:


It has a beautiful floral embroidery and a draped neckline that elevate its simple shape from a t-shirt into sublime. Here it is worn with Vince wool tuxedo pants and black slingbacks:

Simple? Yes. Work appropriate? Absolutely. Interesting? I'd like to think so.

Things could be punched up further with embellishments, like this Robert Rodriguez top worn with Theyskens' Theory textured pants:



I opted for black and white Tibi sandals here, and I think that their simple shape and clean design work well with the more elaborate detailing of the blouse.


Here's another look with textured and patterned pants (Ksenia Schnaider again), worn with Razu.Mikhina blouse. The shoes are basic Carven oxfords. Here's another shot of the blouse, in Razu.Mikhina's store I visited this summer:


As you can see, the detailing is intricate although subtle, and I think works well with the polka-dot pants.

And of course, if the clothes are simple, shoes can be turned up to eleven, like here:




The streamlined Protagonist silk t-shirt (not technically white, but pale enough peach to count) and Tibi skirt allow for some kicky Marie Antoinette action from these H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection beauties:


So yeah, I don't foresee ever being tired of black and white! And if I do, there is always grey, camel, and ivory.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Links a la Mode

And once again, my post is being featured on Links a la Mode by Independent Fashion Bloggers!

lalam1002

The Politics of Fashion

Emma Watson made waves last week when she launched the #heforshe campaign. Chanel channeled a feminist protest for their runway show this season. Chantelle Brown-Young broke through a barrier redefining beauty. No matter what you believe, the fact is we can not ignore that ideas are changing, and we're ready.

Links à la Mode: October 2nd

SPONSOR: East Dane Natori, Phat Buddha, Saylor, Miista, MCM, Cushnie Ochs, BWGH, Stella McCartney, Kimem, Ash Shoes & Evening Dresses

Monday, September 29, 2014

Normcore vs The New Normal



(Designer Stella McCartney after her Spring 2015 show. Photo from style.com)

There was a lovely essay by Cathy Horyn a while back dealing with commercialization of fashion -- that is, high fashion becoming increasingly more wearable, from Celine's Birkenstocks to looks that are all about branding and recognition, about simple messages and wearability. It is a good essay, go read it. And it is tempting to assume that in the days of Twitter and soundbite, the need for simple messages permeates everything, including fashion (one of the most expressive industries), where the promise of individuality and idiosyncrasy has been subsumed by the notion of uniform, and when even high-fashion designers seem to borrow GAP's latest "dress normal" slogan.

It is also tempting to blame the ubiquitous yet poorly understood "normcore" trend from last year -- when everything and everyone were suddenly "normcore" (much like TV anchors who want to appear hip by calling everything a "selfie"). But these two movements are distinct even though they do share the surface appearance of faded jeans and sweatshirts: normcore is a trend precisely because it is self-consciously perpetrated by the very young, very thin, and very fashionable. Everyone else dressing in white sneakers and hoodies looks like normal mid-American frump, that has been the basic default of the non-fashion crowd who have never heard of Zeline. They are not participating in the fashion moment; their trappings have been appropriated by those who could do so while looking distinct.

In a way, normcore is more akin to "no makeup selfies" and "woke up like this" hashtags: because of course millions of women do not wear makeup on a regular basis, like they don't wear or even have interest in high fashion. But for them no makeup selfie would not be an exercise in vanity, just because most of them (us) would look like normal middle-aged women not wearing makeup, to the consternation of beauty experts everywhere. They would not provoke a flood of Instagram likes, they would not look like a humblebrag, because there's nothing flattering about them (and flattering is the unspoken expectation of #wokeuplikethis). To reject makeup (or fashion) is to announce having had access to those things in the first place -- it is the tortured, self-conscious refusal by those who do not have to refuse, like those clothing fasts and shopping bans that were all the rage a few months back. We can only refuse what we have to begin with: most of us cannot be normcore because to refuse the high-fashion labels one has to have access to them in the first place.

Then there is also looking like your refusal is intentional and not coincidental -- hence the very young and very thin; everyone older and heavier would simply look like a mom who has given up, thus ultimately failing in the main intent: separating oneself from the hassled masses while pretending to look like one of them. It's a tricky thing to pull off, and impossible for anyone who does not meet this very narrow criteria. Unless you are a model-looking twenty-something or Emmanuel Alt, slapping on a pair of mom jeans would not make you look high-fashion (or French). It is not individuality via anonymity, the battle-cry of normcore enthusiasts, but rather a demonstration that some women manage to look amazing no matter what. Which is all good and fine, but I think it is quite important to realize that this is what sets normcore apart from that other thing.

And that other thing, comfort and wearability and comfortable familiaty Horyn is talking about, is certainly not bad -- it is still about beauty, I think, but the beauty all of us not blessed with genetic and chronological gifts can indulge in. I can appreciate looking good in a beautiful, simple sweater and a pair of slacks. Not normcore, certainly, as instead of refusal there is a desire to embrace -- a different aesthetic perhaps, but an aesthetic external to the wearer of clothes. This is to say, normcore seems to be more of a personal characteristic, while normalcy of fashion is indeed a moment that exists for everyone to participate in. Whether it's a ood or a bad thing -- only Cathy Horyn knows.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Luxe Fabrics and Political Choices

The quality of air is different in the fall -- the temperatures that would feel balmy in July are downright brisk in September. Either that, or I am deluding myself in order to wear wool when it's almost seventy degrees outside.

Merino wool, to be exact -- this COS lightweight top is a dream, in a warm beige and luxurious drape, and the pleated sleeves give it a distinct yet subdued character. 





The skirt, however, is the real showpiece here: it is by Litkovskaya, a Ukranian designer, and I recently bought it from Suitster.com, one of my favorite online stores. The material is a substantial, stiff silk, almost taffeta-like in quality but with a rough finish that feels a bit like wool. (Another reason I like overseas shopping is the variety of quality natural textiles, especially silks. Silks in the US market seem to be largely dominated by chiffon and charmeuse, with some washed silk thrown in for good measure. While I enjoy all of those, I also seek out heavier weights and raw silks; so far, Suitster and VanHongo are my go-tos for those.)




And the side view, showing the intricate pleating of the skirt, and the side sweep of the hem. It is quite architectural, and cleverly constructed: the closure is via hidden snaps in front, which allows the skirt to move well despite the rigid fabric. I chose Rachel Comey shoes with wooden heels here because they seemed to work with yet against the more dressy elements. They also played well with driftwood of my reading chair!


The necklace is from Luv AJx JewelMint collection, and it is lovely. Here's its closeup (and my fresh manicure).




And there is also another thing. Shopping and clothes are frivolous, no doubt. But, as any social institution, it matters in that affects our lives as well as lives of those who make the clothes and run the shops. I became interested in fashion as an extension of my fascination with social movements, and specifically the intimate connection between the US garment industry and labor union and suffrage movements in the early 20th century. But even today, manufacturing and distribution of clothing are deeply connected to the social institutions and political climates, and one cannot escape being enmeshed in politics of it all. And I really get that sometimes one doesn't feel like dealing with the complexities; sometimes, high street (like that lovely COS top above) is just fine.

But sometimes, I want to consider what economies are being supported with my spending. And this is when I shop small, local, indie, etc. And I have been making a concerted effort to support Ukrainian businesses and designers. Most of you have some knowledge of the tragedies that have befallen this beautiful country and its people lately; I am heartbroken about it. And I think people and institutions of the West too readily default to charity as a way of supporting struggling countries, with not enough attention given to investing into local economies and supporting local manufacturing. It seems to me that making economies more sustainable is quite beneficial in the long run.

So no, I won't pretend that my shopping will save the world or even solve any of its problems; but I do feel that when we decide to spend money, where and how we do so matters, and thus our choices should be considered... at least some of the time. I wouldn't expect anyone to ditch Zara just yet.