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Monday, January 23, 2017

What They Wore: Women's March in DC

orange is the new whack
The Women's March in D.C. and sister marches throughout the entire will go down in history. Women and their supporters united to protest racism, misogyny, violence, oppression, control over our own bodies and many other issues that are being threatened with the new administration. What they wore was a huge ("YUGE") part of that.

knitting pussyhatThe Pussyhat project is a grassroots movement that quickly spread throughout the world. The call went out to women to make the most famous protest accessory in history using traditionally female arts of knitting, crocheting, and sewing. The photo above is of a few of my crew at the March in Washington D.C and me. The hats were made by the amazing Margarita Soto who wore a sash holding balls of pink yarn around her body and continued making hats all through the march. Watching her knit while advancing towards the White House, wearing ammunition of yarn like a bandolier was my favorite images of the entire weekend. The most powerful image was standing at the National Monument and turning 360 degrees, seeing every street in every direction in waves of pink.
Other powerful fashion statements were women who dressed as their heroes. Those included heroes from history, like Frida Kahlo, Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinem. Women also dressed as fictional heroines like Wonder Woman and Princess Leia. I saw plenty of signs with "A Woman's Place is in the Resistance" as a theme. Closer to the heart were women who proudly wore a hijab in the American flag to pay tribute to the Women's March poster.
womens march dc fashion
In addition to the Pussyhats, protesters created many other more wearable statements. There were t-shirts screened with personal heroines, hand-crafted masks, proud traditional garb customized with pink, to men dressing in drag as a tribute to the women in their lives. I also found intricately embroidered jackets like this one, with the Star Wars resistance symbol and beautiful quotes from pioneering women. Other embroidered jackets resembled sports teams with tough female names or inspiring advice to young women. A fashion designer friend Jennifer Chun wore a pussy bow blouse.

For anyone who discounted the fashion crowd as shallow, apathetic to politics, the last few months proved otherwise. I was proud to see so many of my fellow fashion and Parsons School of Design colleagues at marches in D.C. and NYC. I was proud to see designers like Rebecca Minkoff showing support. I loved seeing my peeps using their fashion and design related skills to make a statement.

Seeing millions at the Women's March and how what they wore empowered them empowered me as well. It showed me that traditional crafting and fashion skills could make history. This March showed me that anything can be accomplished with unity and passion. I am so proud of everyone that supported and participated in the movement around the world.
Photos by Manny and Mariana Leung

Friday, January 20, 2017

Runway VS. Reality: Cropped Fendi Sweater

fendi spring 2017 sweater

The IT item for Spring 2017 according to this month's magazine selection is the cropped Fendi sweater. They were the darlings of that season's runway show. You will see it on the covers of Elle magazine modeled by Shailene Woodley and InStyle with Gwyneth Paltrow. 

shailene woodley elle cover
The sweater is cute, simple and the ribbed band gives you a modernized twist on a classic garment. However, the ladies over at Go Fug Yourself mocked the knit top as the "worst" among other details of the Rosie Huntington-Whitley cover (not surprising). Did they have a point, though?

As a non-model body type who fits all types of bodies as a technical designer, this sweater, while editor-friendly is a nightmare in real life. It's safe to assume that both the runway models and cover celebrities are rocking bodies no bigger than a size 0. They still have skin, though, and a ribbed knit band on its own would likely be very tight to fit the rib cage they way it does in the photo or be stretched or not tight enough in real life to fit this way. Any deviation from the sample fit model could go either way. Of course, with a cover photo shoot, you can pin as needed and Photoshop as needed. When you wear this sweater for more than a photo, be prepared for any all variations!

My sketch above represents various turnouts this sweater could have, even on a size 0. If your bust doesn't fill the knit to cup the top bodice correctly, you could get a stretched hem effect. The ribbed band could hang loose after the first wearing. Even a size 0, if the tension of the sweater knit is too tight to cup the body, if could just squeeze your skin to give a bulged effect. Third, depending on the height of the fit model, you could be taller or shorter than the body proportions the sweater intended. That means that ribbed band could hit you right above the ribcage and feel awkward or right AT the waist instead of above, adding extra bulk on top of your pant waistband, while losing the original design intent of the sweater altogether.

This review is not to put down the designer of this style. All of fashion design has to make these considerations when developing the collection. The reason this particular garment makes good press is precisely because it takes so many risks that many manufacturers don't want to take on. Mass retailers demand "bra friendly" "generous waists" and less sexy designs to appeal to the most shoppers, directly contradicting what looks great on the runway or magazine.

In the end, every customer has to decide whether the Spring 2017 Fendi Cropped Sweater is for them. The variables of the design and high end luxury label limits the customer base. No doubt, fast fashion companies are preparing their version before I finish writing this, and the quality will be much worse. If the original doesn't have the problems I cited, you can bet the bargain, low rib count knit will.
Sketch by Mariana Leung

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Custo Barcelona Spring 2017

custo barcelona spring 2017
custo barcelona men
Future so bright, you gotta wear shades? Custo Barcelona's Spring 2017 collection was one of the most optimistic runways of the season. Models wore tinted sunglasses in shades of rose and sunrise yellow.
I love looking at individual garments of Custo Barcelona. Each piece is a collage of colors and embellishment techniques combined into one. Metallic sheer jackets could be re-embroidered with sequins and wood. A skirt in crochet could be layered beads, jewels, and tweed. As much as it may look like a jumble, it always works. 

The color palettes have a 1970s vibe of earthy shades mixed with shine and pastels. The key accessories were the tinted sunglasses as mentioned earlier. Handbags were prominent. They were also given the collage effect of contrasted decoration. Your bag wasn't meant to be matched exactly to your outfit, but complement it in tone and texture. 

Wide band sandals were the footwear of choice for both men and women. I appreciate that the flashy aesthetic of Custo Barcelona's Spring 2017 collection is balanced for both genders. I know my male friends who are fashion fans are often disappointed with brands that are afraid to carry through their high fashion concepts for the gents. So often, menswear can look the same from label to label. If a designer is going to go for it, go all the way!
All photos by Mariana Leung
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Leanne Marshall Spring 2017

How is your 2017 so far? I thought I would bring you some spring fashion from Leanne Marshall in light of the unseasonably warm weather in New York.  

The Project Runway alum showed a beautiful,  ethereal collection for modern Goddess dressing. There were many dresses in fluttery chiffon and transparent organza that had a luxurious feel. Yet despite that, Marshall somehow made it look casual and unfussy
 The dresses were paired with unexpected flat white thick-soled sandals, built for comfort over chic. The models either had natural hair or edgy, lopsided styles where it looked like it was barely pulled back. 

The overall effect felt like it was  statement of how the modern woman may will pretty things, but she is in control and will enjoy them on her own terms. She will not be a slave to her fashion, she will own the dress not the other way around.

If NYC weather keeps up like this, I might step into a chiffon frock from Leanne Marshall Spring 2017 before the month is out. Everyone needs to look and feel like a Goddess once in awhile.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Golden Globes Red Carpet - Beyond Sample Size

Happy 2017 awards season! I am dishing on my favorite Golden Globes red carpet looks based on how well fashion designers accepted the challenge of fitting a celebrity outside of their comfort zone.

It is easy for a designer to knock out a gown in their sample runway size with no extra curves, made for a size 0 of a 5'8" body frame. Many (gorgeous) celebrities who don't fit this exact proportion have told their tale of rejection and frustration of designers who are unable to accommodate them.

Christian Siriano has been a vocal champion of celebrities outside of the typical sample size, coming to Leslie Jones' rescue and featuring varied body types as models at his last NYFW fashion show. Several actresses were dressed by him for this awards show, including Rachel Bloom in the embroidered black gown up top. Bloom's viral song from her show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was called "Heavy Boobs," a body type generally not well accommodated in red carpet fashion.

Octavia Spencer made a star out of under-the-radar designer Tadashi Shoji, choosing him to dress her when she was on an awards sweep for her performance in "The Help," choosing him specifically because he was one of the few designers at the time to work with all body types as a regular practice. This season, she chose a tailored suit by Laura Basci, leading the pack for one of the best trends of the 2017 Globes. A constructed suit is hard to pull off when your body has a lot of curves, she slew it.

Wonder Woman Gal Gadot was flaunted a baby bump in a slinky sequined gown from Thierry Mugler that highlighted her maternal curves perfectly. Gwendoline Christie's 6'3" frame (not including heels) make it a challenge for many designers but Vivienne Westwood's team created a beautiful, soft georgette gown that made her look like a classic Hollywood pinup.

Award winner Tracy Ellis Ross has a strong pear-shaped silhouette that was illustrated with stunning beading on a semi-sheer column from Zuhair Murad. While most designers love to dress a stick figure, many others appreciated the Murad-clad, 44-year-old Ross from every angle tonight.

First-time Globes nominee Chrissie Metz wore an elegant velvet dress with an intricately beaded waist cinch by Nathan Paul. If she didn't choose this gown, Christian Siriano had also made two others for her as alternatives. While the fashion industry needs to progress a lot further, I am glad to hear that multiple designers worked hard to give a first-time nominee so many choices.

Seeing how the fortunes of a fashion label can turn by dressing the right celebrity, I hope the diverse silhouettes of the Golden Globes Red Carpet are a start of what is to come. A designer who can excel at dressing beyond sample size is in-demand and in vogue.

Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


Saturday, December 31, 2016

#2016bestnine The Year of Ms. Fabulous

ms fabulous
At the end of the year, Instagram once again offers to show your #2016bestnine based on what their engines have determined to be your most engaged and liked photographs. I looked at them and tried to see if they reflected the year of Ms. Fabulous in any real sense, whether an algorithm could actually figure out what we actually liked or where we traveled. Surprisingly, that answer was yes.

Like #2015bestnine, it is evident I personally still love the color red. It dominated five out of the nine images like the year before. I am a bit surprised that four of these images features me as the main subject and I am flattered, as these pictures are chosen based on your likes. As they are me (in a bathing suit!) and one photo featuring famous full figure model Sabina Karlsson I would like to think that coincides with 2016's shift in the acceptance and celebration of diverse body shapes. A record number of mainstream designers featured real people on their runways for Spring 2017.

I was truly grateful to have the opportunity to travel to several of my dream destinations this year. I visited Thailand, Paris for my 10th wedding anniversary and to shoot Guo Pei's Haute Couture show, London Fashion Week and Miami Swim Week in addition to my home base here in NYC. All of those locations were reflected in the collection of nine.

As a photographer, my favorite runway shots feature the movement of the fabric. The fact that three of the top nine are images with flying fabric in motion on the models tells me that you guys like that too.

Another year goes by and for many, a rough one (judging by the trend in memes). While I was bummed out on a few things that happened in 2016, this group of my #2016bestnine showed me that there were plenty of fabulous moments to appreciate. Here's to slaying 2017 my friends!.

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