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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Blogger Love: Uniform Style

What is a uniform? Is a style of dress to identify similar occupations? Are fashion uniforms about dressing for a certain lifestyle? Are they dictated by a higher authority or what you decide for yourself define who you are? This week's bloggers explore all aspects of that, from workplace dressing to what another blogger sticks to for the summer.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fairy Tale Fashion: Georgine Fall 2016

Make a wish, hide in the woods. Georgine's Fall 2016 collection was inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales. It had a fanciful, darker tone with lots of pretty embellishments. This was not the wardrobe of a fairy princess. The silhouettes were slim and body conscious. It was more the seductive villain just making her way through the castle.

There were whimsical embellishments like metallic candy appliques, dark flowers, dragonflies, and birds. Beautiful sequin embroidery embellished a slinky gown fit for an ice queen. Forest green sequins embroidered leaves onto a fur collar ensemble. There was a witty sweater with "Grumpy" across the front as a nod to Snow White's seven dwarves. Silk, fur, knits and glittering accents made the mix of outerwear, sportswear, and eveningwear perfect for a day into night lifestyle.
This is how I like to dress. I love the idea of a sensible sweater with exaggerated shoulders or a trenchcoat with beaded flowers and ribbon belt. I believe velvet and satin should be daywear fabrics. The makeup on the models had a bit of a Gothic edge. Lips were blood red or off-black and purple. Hair was often swept up and knotted high on the head to accentuate high-neck silhouettes. Many of the models wore dark sunglasses for that mysterious air or librarian glasses to pay tribute to the literary roots of fairy tales.

My favorite part of late summer is seeing all of the autumn fashions hit the stores. Georgine Ratelband's fall collection offers a sartorial happy ending for all.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Son Jung Wan Fall 2016

Korean fashion designer Son Jung Wan has described her craft as the act of putting together a puzzle. Her Fall 2016 collection was about combining new shapes and silhouettes and mixing and matching colors and textures.

The puzzle theme is particularly noticeable in the pieced dresses and fur coats. The high contrast black and white palette was shown with a softer, pastel palette of pinks, cream and pale blue. Dresses had an impressive construction of interlocking details or intricate seaming. The most interesting looks were the fur jackets of different weights and textures. The process of combining different minks was created at the Kopenhagen Fur creative center in Copenhagen. Other materials included range from delicate silk crepe de chine to solid leather or lightweight knits.

In addition to checkered patterns, there were thick zig zag styles of fur both as a trim and big fluffy coats. There were a few coordinated menswear looks. Son Jung Wan wanted this collection to be fun. The title was "Playing With Fashion" and I believe she did have fun in designing it.

On this hottest of weekends, I'm not sure looking at so much fur is helping, but when NYC reclaims the winter, I would love to be wearing Son Jung Wan's Fall 2016. Maybe I can sit down, wrapped in one of the big checkered coats and work on the New York Times crossword puzzle. What do you think?
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Paris Shopping Guide: Where I Spent My Money

This is my 2016 update of Ms. Fabulous' Paris shopping guide. I was lucky enough to be in the city for the "Soldes" season (sales month). Major shopping chains all over the city were on second markdowns before the fall fashion collections came in. 
However, shopping for clothes as a curvy girl in Paris is not easy. I was frustrated on my first few days of shopping as most of the major French chains catered to flat-chested ladies. Then I discovered Heroines. They love color and they love prints. Their retro silhouettes were more pin-up girl than waif (yay!) Their dresses flattered the hourglass figure. Their designer is based in France and creates the most wonderful witty, quirky prints. The collection is produced in London. I fell in love with this jungle print dress that when you look closely, you'll see a woman who looks a bit like me hiding in the trees.
marche dauphine
If you are interested in antiques or vintage in any way, you must make a trip to the Paris Flea Markets or the Marche Aux Puces St. Ouen. It is a historical flea market that is made up of about 15 markets for different merchandise categories. You'll have to review their website to figure out what you want and the history of it. The one I liked was the Marche Dauphine. Here is where I found Daniel Et Lili. It is a fashion designer's dream. It has a huge selection of vintage trims, buttons, jewelry, glasses, vintage fashion magazines that date as far back as a century old. Stuff you would normally find in a fashion museum. Prices are reasonable. I was on a mission to buy antique millinery irons like the ones found at M&S Schmalberg. After asking every merchant for several blocks, they led me here. I bought two leaf irons. They gave me a price break for buying two. Bring cash! No credit cards.
The concept store has been a big trend in fashionable retail. COS (Collection of Style) has an upscale minimalist designer look. The posh architectural vibe and merchandising has that laid back European chic. You would never think it was a division of H&M. The prices and quality are notably higher. Think of it as the fashion equivalent of what Pret-a-Manger is to McDonald's. It looks like Barney's and Opening Ceremony had a lovechild. Ex-pats have bemoaned the fact that this chain doesn't ship to the U.S. but that has recently changed. I picked up a slinky knit tunic dress and printed cotton jacket dress for the fall.

What are your favorite spots for Paris shopping? Let me know!

More from Ms. Fabulous:
Check out An Insider's Guide to Dining in Paris During Fashion Week
by Ms. Fabulous at Mode

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

#NationalBookDay 7 Books For Aspiring Fashion Designers

books fashion designing
Happy National Book Day! These are the books I have found to be essential in your fashion library. Whether you are a newbie fashion designer, fashion school graduate or considering becoming a fashion designer, these are the books to inspire your creativity and upgrade your skills.

"Reader's Digest" Complete Guide to Sewing: This book has all the basic skills and directions for almost any sewing skill you need to create samples for your first collection. The copy I had was an earlier version of this one. This edition is updated with better graphics and handy as ever. You can't be a fashion designer if you don't know how to build an actual collection.

Drape Drape and its sister series Pattern Magic were originally published in Japanese, now available in English. If you mastered basic sewing skills, these books offer a deep dive into creative silhouettes for the true designer.

If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You is written by PR maven Kelly Cutrone of People's Revolution, a top firm in the industry for many years. You might also remember this agency from reality shows The Hills and Kell on Earth. The book offers tough love and blunt talk about taking responsibility for yourself in the fashion industry.

Confessions of a Window Dresser is written by Barney's creative director Simon Doonan. He has written a bunch of memoirs, but this was his first and my favorite. His wit and colorful accounts of characters and fashion remind me of the passion you have for what you do when all else seems ridiculous.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty  I own a ton of fashion and art books for inspiration. It's my weakness. If I had to choose one, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's tome from the Alexander McQueen exhibit is my favorite. The fashion is already breathtaking, but the photography and art direction only enhances it.

The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business If you ever needed a textbook for everything school didn't teach you, this would be it. The original edition was written by Mary Gelhar, a fairy Godmother of sorts behind the Gen Art organization that launched the careers of many a hot designer in the 1990s and 2000s. The updated edition has current production sources, advice from top designers and guidance for producing a business plan and fashion show.

Happy #NationalBookDay and get your fashion design careers going!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Farewell Frank Rizzo

parsons fashion dean
Sadly, the fashion establishment of New York said goodbye to one of its mentors Frank Rizzo this week. He was the outgoing dean of the fashion department when I entered it at the Parson School of Design. He was warm, enthusiastic and excited to meet the new talent coming in.

He was an early mentor of many of today's fashion icons, like Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs, Parsons alumni before me. Rizzo was a student himself. He had graduated in 1957 then returned to teach in 1966. Like many professors I had at Parsons, he also worked full time in the industry at the same time. For him, he worked as a bridal designer. He took over as dean in 1982.

Our first day in the fashion department, everyone had an opportunity to meet with him one-on-one. All of us entering fashion were nervous and hoped to make a good impression. We all knew of the legends who graduated before us. When it was my time to meet with him, I tried very hard to seem mature, talk about my goals and (incredibly limited) credentials. I was devastated when he smiled and pinched both my cheeks like a kindly grandfather to tell me how adorable I was. I realized I had failed miserably.

Parsons School of Design of the 1980s-1990's was still very much focused on preparing students for "7th Avenue". The American fashion industry was mainly about sportswear, career wear and appealing to department store buyers. Thus, design students were often directed into creating fashion collections with this target. This didn't necessarily make for an exciting fashion show at graduation, at least in the minds of outside sponsors.

Mr. Rizzo brought in legendary costume designer Donald Brooks to mentor groups of students interested in fantasy costume design. I remember the first year I watched the show before entering the department; it was about giant flowers. In my graduating year, Donald Brooks mentored the theme of "Sabrina" with everyone designing big fantasy vintage styled pink gowns. The costume display always closed out the show. Today's Parsons Fashion Show, the students have a lot more freedom and creative autonomy, so there isn't a rigid sportswear or costume category they are slotted into. They are encouraged to forge their brand and artistic statement.

Frank Rizzo's passing is a huge loss to the American fashion community. It also represents the change of how designers were once trained to get jobs in the industry through their portfolio and professionalism. Now they are prepared to launch their brands with the help of technology and social media. Frank Rizzo's warm nature and respect for all dreamers also showed me how classic style will always be in vogue.

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