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Monday, October 20, 2014

Farewell Oscar de la Renta

oscar de la renta studio

With sadness, I say good bye to one of fashion’s greatest designers.  Oscar de la Renta passed away tonight after a long fight with cancer.  He was an American icon, dressing First Ladies and Hollywood legends alike.

My personal recollection of him began in high school with me discovering we shared a birthday.  I poured over the glamorous coverage of his fashion shows, hoping to experience his world when I got to New York to work in fashion.

oscar de la renta balmainThat ambition came true in 1997 when I started working as an embellishment designer.  He designed not only his own collection but the Balmain Haute Couture collection as well.  He used one of my first embroidery designs of a viney sequin and bead pattern on a sheath in his show.  He later used another one of my designs, where I had experimented with spray-painting gold fleur-de-lis patterns across sheets of copper sequins.  I was overjoyed to see my work as a part of my idol’s runway. 

Visiting his studio at 550 7th Avenue was a treat.  He and his close staff always looked impeccable.  I would have been intimidated if it weren’t for his warm demeanor.  One appointment I had there was cut short expectantly.  I was shooed out for security clearance as then First Lady Hillary Clinton was coming in for a fitting.

  I remember one instance where his son Moises was doing homework in his office.  Everyone knew that whenever Oscar had his family there, he would be in a great mood.  Oscar was in the middle of fitting a gown on a model a few weeks before his runway show in the studio.  He came back to the office to ask his son if he wanted to watch the fitting.  Adolescent boys generally don’t jump at watching their fathers pin clothing.  However, Moises could see the enthusiasm in his Dad’s eyes and reluctantly joined him to make him happy.

In recent years, Oscar de la Renta created memorable looks for pop divas like Beyonce Knowles and sartorial fantasies for Sarah Jessica Parker and Sex and the City.  I hope he is surrounded by love and beautiful things like what he himself gave to this world.
 portrait by DAVID LORD DE LA RENTA, magazine clipping from officiel magazine 1998

Sunday, October 19, 2014

#NYBW: Pamella Roland Bridal 2015

I’m going to end my NY Bridal week coverage with the glamour of Pamella Roland.  Sprawling, romantic silhouettes and trumpet shaped skirts were the preferred look of this penthouse presentation. 

The designer worked her magic with fabric manipulation and embroidery.  I loved the more fashion forward use mixing irregular large crystals and jewels to encrust necklines and cuffs onto a very delicate lace dress.  This pattern was then interpreted with matte pearl sequins also cut irregularly and encrusted with stones and beads. 
Metallic stud embellishment was a big trend in streetwear.  Pamella Roland reinterpreted that trend into elegant bridal wear by creating spikes of crystal rondelles on top of long bugle beads and clustering different sized pearls to create the studded effect concentrated around the shoulder. 
 The final effect was an edgier nuptial look perfect for brides who prefer to mix street style into their ultra-glam wedding day.

Almost a pre-requisite for showing at NY Bridal week, Pamella Roland too had her Frozen-inspired “Elsa” dress.  There was a beautiful pale blue gown worn by, (surprise surprise) a blonde model with her hair pulled back.  The dress had sheer cap sleeved shoulders and was embroidered with crystal beaded vines that looked like cracked ice.  The pale sequin embroidery also looked like flakes of frost and snow on the body, culminating into long sheer godet panels at the skirt. 

Well there you have it. I didn’t cover a lot of bridal shows this time around, but I think I spotlighted some of the best.  Down the aisle or on the runway, don’t you love see a swirl of tulle?
Photos by Mariana Leung

Blogger Love: Fall Girls


With fall in full swing, we're all breaking out the sweaters, getting the coats out of storage. And of course, doing a bit of fall shopping. Now is as good a time as any to investigate where the trends are headed so you can make the most of your fall fashion budget. This week the community at IFB has a great roundup of fall hauls, trend reports and outfit inspirations to help you decided which way you're going to fall this year:


Friday, October 17, 2014

#NYBW: Monique Lhuilliers Bridal 2015

monique bridal 2015monique lhuillier embroidery
 Were you obsessed with jewel box ballerinas as a child like I was? I'm so happy that Monique Lhuillier’s bridal collection for 2015 shows that she loved them as much as I did. 

Her latest collection of wedding dresses was inspired by ballet dancers and the delights of an open jewelry box.  The featured model on the runway was Alvin Ailey dancer Anne O'Dell.   The gowns were offered a range of off-white pastels in additional ivory and white.  Intricate lace was paired with trumpeted silhouettes or layers of tulle in elaborate full skirts were like the dresses I fantasized about as a clumsy ballet student in first grade. 

ballerina jewelry boxThe delicate embroideries of this collection included gold edged fabric flowers and chiffon leaves in a vine pattern.  She does a great job in using dainty motifs accented with some sparkle in the form of crystals or pearls.  She has used a few of my embroidery designs in the past.  She was always meticulous about layout and balance of the design.

Monique Lhuillier's shoes collection was also highlighted on catwalk.  The shoes were named after famous characters from classic ballet productions, like "Odile", "Odette" and "Belle".

While her main collection at NY Fashion Week often has more forward looks, her bridal group is unapologetically romantic. Why shouldn’t it? Your wedding day is a celebration of love.  Your Monique Lhuillier wedding dress should be a treasure.
Photos courtesy of Monique Lhuillier/HL Group

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#NYBW: Theia Bridal Fall 2015

New York Bridal Week’s biggest trend was Frozen.  While other designers took it from the Disney movie, THEIA’s Don O’Neill took his inspiration literally, as in the frozen tundra of Mongolia.  Why Mongolia?  For Theia’s bridal fall 2015 collection, the designer worked with socially responsible cashmere supplier Naadam, who worked with nomadic tribes in the country to produce a unique gown for the show. 

In a beautiful collaboration of two cultures, the dress was hand knit in Mongolia, but using traditional stitches from Don’s Irish heritage.   The distinct texture of Mongolian lamb was also used as a poncho.  One of the gowns had the colors and pattern of a winter spruce landscape.  Other dresses had crystal and mirrored pailette embroidery that had the effect of glittering snow.  Disney’s “Elsa” could only wish for this wardrobe.  Theia was inspired by the myths and Goddesses of Europe long before the animated movie hit the theaters.

What I like about Don O’Neill’s approach to bridal, is that he thinks outside of the traditional wedding style box and takes more of a high fashion approach.  There was a slim jumpsuit paired with a wrap, a crop top with a ballgown skirt or woven ribbon tweed full length coat as an option.
The gorgeous bouquets also had a frozen flora look to them to accompany the runway looks.  The flowers were created by Fleur de Pascal. 

The models’ beaded hairpieces had the look of dripping icicles, but the dangling charm details have their roots in the garb of Asia's ethnic tribes (check out my Dad’s photo of a girl from the Yi tribe).

Thank you Don and THEIA for another gorgeous show!
 Runway photos by Robert Mitra, Mongolian Nomad and Yi tribal photo by David TW Leung

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#NYBW: Karen Sabag Bridal 2015

Feeling romantic? I love the parade of wedding gowns across New York for Bridal Week.  Designer Karen Sabag’s bridal collection for 2015 was inspired by the opulent interiors of Versailles.  Her fashion show venue probably came as close to those interiors as you could find in NYC at the French-styled James Burden Mansion.

Fashion Institute of Technology alumni, Sabag is known for her love of corseted looks, intricate embroideries and luxury fabrics.  This collection was a portfolio of all of her specialties.  There were gorgeous silhouettes with swishing mermaid tails and epic trains.  Shorter dresses were also on offer for the contemporary bride.  Lace gowns were further embellished with contrasting lace piecing as appliques.  Delicate pearls and jewels were embroidered with shredded chiffon flowers.  She used a range of bridal colors like blush, ivory, white, taupe and champagne.

The two looks that were cute, but did not seem to fit were the dresses that had a pattern of plastic pailettes embroidery.  While on their own, these looks were fun and modern, they were a stark contrast to the classic luxury of the rest of the collection.  They made a lot of noise as the model walked and did not exactly fit the Versailles theme.

The showstopper was the final look of the runway.  Based on reports of other bridal week shows, this would be the “Elsa” dress.  It was seemingly communicated to all bridal designers that the hottest look next year would be the signature look from Disney’s “Frozen”.  Designers interpreted this into pale blue glittery gowns, dresses with sheer capes, etc.  For Karen Sabag, she paired a heavily beaded fishtail gown with a cap sleeved organza coat that billowed out like a cape. 

Whether you’re the ice queen of Versailles or just want to warm up the aisle, you would find something in Karen Sabag’s 2015 bridal collection for everyone.
photos by Mariana Leung