Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yojiro Kake

Another obsession: as always, it starts with an aesthetic, a unique eye for a silhouette, something that I haven't seen before and yet recognize as mine. This time it is both sculptural and fluid, like the frozen ridges of waterfalls. Fabrics like oil slicks on puddles on a rainy day, Comme des Garçons meets McQueen by the way of Issey Miyake. Minimal avant-garde. In other words, my jam.

Then there are fabrics: how many perfectly nice garments are ruined by thoughtless deployment of polyester and acetate, acrylics that pill and blends that hang limply and without purpose? The more I pay attention to clothes, the more I realize that textiles are where it's at. 

But let me start from the beginning: I came across Yojiro Kake at Not Just A Label, a lovely site dedicated to smaller designers. Yojiro Kake's aesthetic was arresting, and his attention to detail compelling. I don't want to repeat my previous post, where I waxed poetic about INAISCE, but I feel that I'm developing a more defined personal style and I always recognize brands that embody it.

After salivating at the AW 2014 lookbook, I made contact with Oka HuiYun Lin, a friendly and super nice partner of Yojiro, and she helped me to directly order a couple of pieces. (Periodic disclaimer: all clothes featured here are mine - that is, I paid for them.No content of this blog is sponsored ever, by anyone.) I opted for this amazing rich red shirt with a caped back, made in luxurious technicl textile:

Look at that color!

And that drape!

Here's some detail closeup:

The second piece I ordered was this wool cape blazer. The Italian wool is wonderful -- sumptuous and drapey, the cut is sublime, and the finishing of the seams shows the quality of craftsmanship that today sadly only exists in smaller brands who make quality of production their priority, and vintage. Here's a bunch of gratuitous pics of my new blazer! (Pants are by Crippen, shoes are Maje, and the necklace is by DutchBasics, my go-to for pretty and minimal handmade jewelry. 

Yojiro's SS2015 lookbook is also online now, go take a look. Functional and wearable avant-garde is not easy to find! Also, they have a Facebook page, where they post a lot of pretty pictures.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Inaisce and Things That Matter

So let's talk about what matters in fashion. It will of course be different things for everyone, but to me it's the following: beauty, functionality, imagination, ethics, fair labor, natural textiles and fibers. Not in that order.

As I get older, I find that I rarely get tempted by famous brands and almost never by fast fashion. I want fewer things, but I want them to be exceptional. And I do like meeting people who make these exceptional clothes. 

This is all to say that I was slow in finding INAISCE but once I did I fell in love: the subdued palette of charcoal greys, black and whisper-whites, the nubby wools, the cuts that are tailored and relaxed, luxe yet austere, spoke to me on the emotional, aesthetic, and tactile levels. The fact that the clothes are made in NYC from luxurious fabrics from Italy and Japan locked me into the obsession mode: I had to see these clothes in person; and I had to meet the person who made them.

Lucky for me, Jona Sees - the designer and mastermind of Inaisce - was kind and available. His atelier space is located in a renovated church building in Brooklyn, and it is gorgeous: hardwood floors and wooden beams, soft light, the smell of clean pine... I mean, perfection. And this is before I even saw the clothes! 

Most recent collection is a great amalgamation of past and new silhouettes and fabrications - cozy knits and structured jackets and pants in textured wools and high-tech cupro, gorgeous capes... I could go on. The past collections were also there, spread throughout the closets. It was basically a fairyland. If there was Narnia in one of those closets, I would not go and stay with the leather skirts and swishy woolen dresses.

Anyway, see for yourself! 

And what of Jona? It is always a pleasure meeting a creative mind; sense of humor is a bonus, as well as a warm personality. I also appreciate the designers who wear their own clothes. Jona is pretty far from a typical fashion person, but similar to my favorite designers: passion and conviction and curiosity about the world is something they all have in common. They also design for themselves, which I think is important: most of my favorite designers are women for that reason. They design with bodies and bra straps and humans sitting down in mind. Male designers that I do like usually skew unisex (JW Anderson, Haider Ackerman). Jona ' s clothes are definitely in this category.

He also has an almost Zoran - like understanding of fabrics: good textile speaks for itself, something I appreciate greatly. I saw the same understanding in Izumi Hongo of VanHongo, Titania Inglis, Daria Razumikhina, Kate Wendelborn of Protagonist, Lilia Litkovskaya. It is not coincidental then that all of these designers choose mostly natural fibers, ethically made textiles. I see a theme developing.

So yes, I bought a gorgeous piece from a previous collection (grey wool dress - sleeveless jacket) and pre-ordered another. Here're some pics of my new acquisition, worn with VanHongo velvet pants and basic black turtleneck. I tried for a few different angles to show the geometric complexity of the cut that results in a beautifully streamlined silhouette. Basically, magic!

It is always exciting for me to find another clothing brand I love; it is doubly so when it embodies all the things that matter in fashion so well.

Spring and return to blogging

And this is how it always goes: I decide to blog more regularly and then the semester hits, stories and scripts become due, and the weather is too horrible to contemplate stepping outside voluntarily.
Thankfully, spring has arrived - at least, I can resume my regular walks; no need to wear two coats and a blanket anymore. Look, we even went out to an Easter brunch! (And took out some gardening supplies.)

This is my Issey Miyake Pleats Please dress. Shoes are LD Tuttle.

Of course it's still a bit chilly so I'm wearing a vintage Japanese kimono. Cuff was a gift from a friend.

I intend to start posting again with some regularity; I did recently travel to NYC to see the Bjork exhibit at MOMA  (underwhelming but had its moments and reignited my interest in her music videos), and to visit with Jona Sees of Inaisce, which was amazing. Full report forthcoming!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Not another detox post!

Yes, sorry about this one! This time of year internet and other media is bursting with body- and food-shaming masquerading as health advice, and quick fixes and sales on activewear are thick on the ground. This is not what this post is.

Look, your liver, kidneys, and intestines are all doing a fine job eliminating toxins. You cannot make your body more alkaline by eating certain foods. However, there are foods that help with digestion as well as peristalsis, and seasonal eating makes perfect sense at least in the temperate zone: temperatures and day length do affect metabolism as well as local food availability, and our bodies do respond to both. 

So with that in mind, I want to offer a few of my favorite kitchen things to do in the colder months. Most of them are vegetable-based, and thus are basically healthy and good for you. They are also seasonally appropriate in terms of either availability or fitting in with winter cravings for hearty fare. They make me happy in winter; I hope they'll make you happy too!

1. Fermented vegetables. Not quite pickles, since most pickling methods involve vinegar. These only need Lactobacillus to kick off lactic fermentation - lactic acid keeps the pH low and thus prevents harmful bacteria (Clostridium botulinum being the deadly one) from growing. On the pic above, there are two jars of cauliflower and one of beets, but pretty much anything can be fermented - carrots, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes etc.

Cut up the veggies in bite-sized pieces, fill the jars 3/4 way to the top. Prepare brine: 1-2 liters of water, 3-4 tablespoons  of sea salt, and spices of choice. I used bay leaf, dill and cumin seeds, coriander, and black tea for tannins. You can heat the brine but let it cool before adding to the veggies. You can let the nature take its course, or you can add Lactobacillus with some brine from a previous batch, or a spoonful of juice from store-bought kimchi or sauerkraut, or whey from Greek yogurt. Close the lids and let ferment at room temp. Open the jar once a day to taste the pickles and let out the gas. 3-5 days is usually plenty. After the pickles are done, move them to the fridge. Enjoy for the taste, probiotics, and seasonality -- they keep for a few months in the fridge!

2. Winter smoothies. I tend to make them without ice or frozen bananas, and add cold-weather spices, such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves. The bright-green one pictured above is made with two cups of spinach, one cup of almond milk, one whole pear cut into pieces, a sprig of mint, two dashes of turmeric and ginger each (use fresh ginger if available), one tablespoon of flaxseed meal, sweetener to taste -I used a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of sea buckthorn berries pureed with sugar, because I am Russian and we feel strongly about health benefits of sea buckthorn.

3. Homemade kefir. Another Russian thing, but also probiotics and deliciousness. If you consume dairy, this is the stuff: sugar has been eaten by Lactobacillus so it's all low sugar, great protein, and probiotics. You can buy kefir grains (sometimes called Tibetan milk fungus) online. 

4. Root vegetables. They are the seasonal staple of temperate zone and national food of all cold European countries (along with fish!) Beets are a given, and sweet potatoes are always nice. I usually convert my salads to root-veggie based in the winter, as they feel heartier that usual summer greens. Here's the one I made today: daikon radish and carrots grated on the largest holes of a standard box grater, seasoned with sea salt and sea buckthorn oil. You may prefer any other vegetable oil, such as sunflower or olive.

The red color is due to the oil as well as the carrots. 

I like these foods because they are delicious yet healthy, filling but not excessively so. And they make me like winter just a little bit more!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Moscow Shopping 2

After another trip, more shopping recommendations. First, if you can go to SV MOSCOW, do: amazing beautifully designed space with a well-curated selection of Russian and otherwise avant-garde designers, from Comme des Garcons to A.F. Vandervorst to KTZ, to more obscure labels such as Gosha Rubchinskiy. This is where I scored these amazing quilted CdG pants (posed with a sweater by The Row).

I also bought this CdG sweater and AF Vandervorst booties. Yes, heavier than usual shopping, bit the selection was too good to resist.

Here're a few more pics of the space and the merch;

I have to give props to the staff as well, always attentive and helpful. I mention it since as a middle-aged woman who doesn't look like the usual fashion person, I have encountered complete indifference as well as borderline disdain in many edgy boutiques. Always nice to encounter an exception!

PRIMEROVA was having an open house in their new space right off Nikolskaya St. Sadly, I wasn't able to meet the designer. I did however met the store cat!

Stopped by Traffik+. Nothing bought, but nice browsing and lovely selection by Rodebjer and Humanoid!

As always, Winzavod is lovely and inspiring, and the graffiti there is as good as shopping!

Here're some pictures of pre-New Year Moscow streets, because most of the point in downtown shopping is wandering through the streets and gawking, and of course warming up with hot chocolate from Shokoladnitsa and pastries from kiosks.

And once I got home, there was a package from Totokaelo waiting for me under the tree! Check out the lovely packaging:

The dress is Issey Miyake's PLEATS PLEASE number in navy and purple. For truly, Japanese avant-garde is a great joy, and I'm so glad I can find it on both sides of the Atlantic!

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.)