Monday, August 31, 2009

Cheap thrills on Etsy

Ten items under $20, in no particular order:

1. Armani skirt:

2. Tahari jacket:

3. A cute cotton blouse:

4. Colorblock shoes:

5. Button-up cowl/scarf:

6. Vintage oyster leather clutch:

7. Chinese pottery shard earrings:

8. Steampunk earrings:

9. Victorian gloves

10. Handmade necklace:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Best sentence ever!

"One of the first things I did for [Beyoncé] was put her in a special corset and wrap her in aluminum foil and then wrap a warm plastic around her" -- Chris March via The Cut. Read the rest here.

Step aside, Roy Orbison!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Project Runway

So after the first two episodes, I have some things to say.

1) I liked the all-female panel discussing maternity wear last night; I was surprised that none of them mentioned how many of the outfits had halter tops or spaghetti straps, which would seem like a BAD thing -- a supportive bra would be impossible to wear under those.

2) I'm glad that Shirin won -- Shirin, Irina, and Louise are my current faves. I'm happy to see young female designers putting together things that are so nice and pretty and yet interesting. I also like Epperson and Ra'mon, and I'm very curious to see more from Qristyl.

3) Malvin shouldn't have gone home. Yes, his outfit was not great and the chicken and egg concept was hilarious -- I mean, how many chickens walk around with their eggs strapped to their belly? -- but the man knows how to sew and has ideas. Mitchell, on the other hand, supplements mediocre ideas with poor sewing and model-blaming.

4) Unexpectedly, I'm liking Models of the Runway show. I like that they are so outspoken and there's no stupid fighting (they seem to be aiming to amp up the drama in the next one, sadly.) I find it really endearing, really -- all these nice articulate young women who are so open about liking and disliking designers. I loved the collective groan of disappointment when Malvin was kicked off, I loved how supportive they were of their designers. I'm not loving the elimination, but it is definitely an interesting dynamics that gives some insight into designer minds. Fatma is awesome, and Katie/Tara duo is adorkable.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cool designers

We all have our favorite designers, and there are many established/timeless ones that achieved an iconic status. I mean, who haven't heard of YSL, Chanel, Dior, Versace, Armani... the list goes on. However, there are many others besides the really big names who are developing or have developed a unique esthetic, a recognizable sensibility -- things one can build one's style around. When it comes to building and developing style, I think it is important to identify specific designers/labels that appeal to you, as well as particular pieces that either embody this individual esthetic or at the very least punctuate it.

So here's my Top 12 list (in no particular order), pieces by established and emerging designers I happen to particularly like. I limited myself to pieces that are available for sale. This is where to find them: Mick Margo (Rachel Comey), Rewind (Steve J& Yoni P, Vivienne Westwood), Revolve (Charlotte Ronson), Shopbop (T by Alexander Wang, Derek Lam, Catherine Malandrino, rag&bone, See by Chloe, Diane von Furstenberg), Net-a-Porter (Sonia by Sonia Rykiel) and Neiman Marcus (3.1 Phillip Lim).

This fall I'm really drawn to charcoal grays, paired with black and white, an an occasional colorful piece. This Sonia by Sonia Rykiel dress is cozy, warm and classic. The fabric also looks quite drapey and nice, while maintaining a well-shaped silhouette.

The trademark heart, albeit cutesy, gives it a recognizable twist.

The next dress (T by Alexander Wang) is a basic -- a dress or a tunic, with a slouchy, slinky cut. It is made of rayon, which is thinner than cotton and drapes better, making it ideal for layering. It would look amazing with a long jacket and leggings or skinny jeans, and nice heels.

Speaking of heels:

Marcy clog by Rachel Comey looks so comfy, with its thick platform and chunky heel. Combines the appeal of the shoe with the comfort of a clog, and the wonderful twist on the familiar that is fresh and wearable that I associate with Rachel Comey.

Fall is my favorite time of year, partially because of jackets. I love jackets, and would wear them every day if it wasn't for the ridiculous New Jersey summers. This little bomber by Charlotte Ronson is adorable and basic, and goes with everything:

On the other hand, this jacket (Vivienne Westwood's Anglomania) is very idiosyncratic, with its distinctive sleeves and cut. This is something I would wear forever, because it is a) amazing and b) tweed. Yes, I love tweed, because I'm secretly a British schoolmarm at heart. A schoolmarm who would wear this:

Possibly with these granny boots by Diane von Furstenberg:

Another favorite piece of clothing is a pencil skirt. I'm crazy about them because they are comfortable, look amazing on just about everyone, and a good designer can easily turn one from a basic into an art piece. Consider this one by Derek Lam:

Not only it is classic and beautiful, it gets bonus points for being tweed. On a dressier side, here's one from rag&bone:

Now, blouses. I'm especially taken with this one (See by Chloe) because of an interesting ruffle placement:

And SteveJ&YoniP make me instantly like pink:

The pleating and draping on it is just amazing, and the smocked back offers this amazingly soft yet fitted silhouette. I mean, LOVE.

And finally, dressy dresses, something for evening/special occasion wear. Phillip Lim and Catherine Malandrino have both consistently provided great great collections, very traditionally feminine and yet always with an interesting twist. Yet, both are very distinctive, and these are probably the two designers I get most enthusiastic about. First, Malandrino:

Beautiful draping and very flattering neckline, a simple silhouette with great color.

Now, Lim:

Check out the gathering and the ruching, as well as the asymmetrical cut. Just amazing dress, in beautiful gray.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Eleven Minutes

Eleven Minutes (directed by Michael Selditch, Robert Tate) is a 2008 documentary about Project Runway Season 1 winner, Jay McCarroll, preparing his first collection to be shown in NY Fashion Week. What an interesting film! It played on Style channel this afternoon, and I can't believe I haven't seen it until today. What a fascinating look into the heart of fashion industry, and at how TV fame translates into success in a real world.

Jay McCarroll is a very talented designer, and I loved the collection -- it was themed largely around hot air balloons (and other things, but mostly balloons), as can be seen in this top:

Balloons also pervaded the show's color palette, from blues to yellows to reds:

But pretty clothes were only a small bit of the story -- I got some real appreciation of how much goes into putting a fashion show together, how much work; Jay was propped largely by volunteer labor of his friends, and their dedication (despite the occasionally flaring tempers). There was some backing from Humane Society and a strong anti-fur message; thumbs up on that! Then there was the casual racism and misogyny of the fashion insiders. Then there was the difficulty that went into not only launching the show (for those who'd forgotten, Jay turned down Project Runway money because of a really horrible contract clause) and the uncertainty of any results even if the show is successful -- behold the meeting with Urban Outfitters and the consequent falling through of the deal.

I was really amazed at the role of buyers -- and I really shouldn't be, because it is the same with publishing. The interest from the B&N and Borders buyers often determines the print run of a book, and if chains do not order, it is a real disaster. Buyers appear to wield a lot of power in fashion as well, and that was quite eye-opening. Just to think that someone can spend so much money and effort and heartache and it still may come to nothing if buyers are not impressed. Stuff nightmares are made of, this.

As moody and often cranky (understandably) as Jay was throughout the documentary, one thing really drew my attention: how important it was for him to stop being a TV reality person and to become a bona fide fashion designer. And with all the setbacks and annoyances, that seemed to be the yardstick by which he measured his achievement. I was sad that the collection didn't make it to UO; then again, a few pieces sold on QVC apparently, and McCarroll has an online boutique now. But I hope he has another fashion show soon -- with color and neat shapes and fantastic silhouettes, retro and modern. And, I hope, with more balloons.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back to school shopping

Sure sure, most normal people get over the whole back to school thing by their mid-twenties (for themselves, at least.) I, however, work in academia, which prolongs the excitement all the way to retirement. And it seems like such a good time to update one's wardrobe with a few basics! So, these are the things on my list -- or they would be if I had an unlimited budget. As is, it's a mix of needs and wants.

1) Tights -- nothing is better for reviving the wardrobe on the cheap. Cheap and colorful can always be found at Hue. For more fancy options, Sockdreams are a reliable favorite. For unusual and a tad more pricey, nothing beats Vivienne Westwood tights, which are notoriously difficult to track down. Thankfully, there's Matsu Ladies that carries a great selection of those. Like these, for example:

Worth every penny!

2) Layering basics. T-shirts and tanktops are always welcome, and places like Target etc stock a good range of cheap options. If, however, one feels like spending $20 on a T-shirt, one should try Royalton -- extra-soft, very slinky, do not add bulk, and their organic sea cotton is whispery and is like nothing in the world.

3) Actual clothes.

This skirt from Martin+Osa is a steal, and it is perfect for my wardrobe. They have a bunch of other nice things for sale, too. A great place for low-key basics, including cardigans.

I already rhapsodized Victoria's Secret fall line, and there are a few pieces I am loving. This scoopneck sweater is beautiful but probably unrealistic. This leather jacket, however, looks like something I can get tons of mileage out of:

4) A bag.

I splurged on this from Blowfish. It fits everything I need, plus whatever student papers I need to bring home and back. It also comes in three different colors; I went with yellow because this fall I'm planning on the overall black-white-grey scheme with bright yellows and blues and purples.

5) Boots.

I really want these from Blowfish (I seem to develop a great affinity to Blowfish). They are simultaneously classic, weird, slouchy, funky and go with everything. I would wear them with jeans or pencil skirts, no question.

So, is there anything you're considering for fall?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

WFA Nomination

Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy I edited was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Many congrats to the publisher, Matt Kressel of Senses Five Press, and all the contributors.

Monday, August 03, 2009


I'm editing an anthology for Prime, called RUNNING WITH THE PACK. It is an anthology of urban fantasy focused on werewolves, and I am still looking for reprint suggestions. Email or leave comments.