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Friday, February 27, 2015

Badgley Mischka Fall 2015 - Matadors

No bull here. Mark Badgley and James Mischka tapped into a classic fashion designer inspiration of the Spanish matador for their fall 2015 collection for Badgley Mischka. Balenciaga did it, Givenchy did recently (remember Madonna's thong from the Grammy's?)

For this collection, the inspiration wasn't quite so literal. There were a few bright red wool pieces that might have had a matador's cape as a muse. The golden metallic embroidery that was built up around bodices and shoulders mixed with deep red, brown and earthy colors might have taken its inspiration from the embellishment of matador costumes. There was tinted lace in some of the dresses that hinted at the lace accessories worn by Spanish women in the church in centuries past.

Otherwise, the dress silhouettes followed many of Badgley Mischka's signature shapes of the long fishtail gown, corseted trumpet skirt and form fitting column dress. Looks that were more suited to day wear included tailored blazers and skirts from beautiful tweeds or brocades that resembled Spanish tapestries.

I loved the tall bouffant half updo hairstyles on the models. The sexy cat's eye makeup had shades of Amy Winehouse as a muse. The nails were embellished metallic gold to match the gorgeous embroidery. I am really happy to see that the designers did not feel the need to add a bullfighter's montera hat as an accessory to get their theme across. 

There were elegant little clutch handbags that coordinated well with the clothing. Some were beaded, some had chunky jewels. I loved the embroidered cuffs with organza that were worn on the wrist as a bracelet alternative. I think I need to make some of those for myself... 
Badgley Mischka celebrated their 25th anniversary as a brand last season and the guys have been in an even longer relationship as a couple. I'm amazed that two people can have such a long run at work and play and still produce good things year after year.  Maybe they can add relationship counselling as the next extension of their brand.

Photos by Mariana Leung


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

#NYFW Anna Sui Fall 2015

viking fashion
anna sui nyfw

The Vikings are coming! For fall 2015, fashion designer Anna Sui took inspiration from Nordic culture and interior design. You see contemporary bold prints in the style of Marimekko. You see layered textures of knit, fur, and patterns upon pattern to give the Viking look a contemporary update. Who knew Hagar the Horrible was a fashion icon?

As with every season, that theme was mixed with Sui's bohemian and rock and roll aesthetic. Her signature purple is always there. Her flea market sensibility is always there. While I haven't always liked her collection, this one was a lot of fun with several outfits I would actually want.

anna sui
photos by David TW Leung
Anna Sui for me always embodied the club kid of the 1990s, but like myself, we all had to grow up. Her look maintains the fun sense to please her diehard fans overseas but matured with more versatile pieces for fans that grew with her. She even just launched a home collection for fans who want to live her lifestyle all day and all night. I wonder if that includes a couch shaped like a Viking boat?


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#NYFW Zang Toi Fall 2015

zang toi fw15
zang toi ny fashion week

How about a journey to somewhere romantic? For his fall 2015 collection at New York Fashion Week, designer Zang Toi took his fans to Venice. He traveled to the Italian city to immerse himself in his inspiration. The soundtrack was full of opera. The fabrics were the most luxurious cashmeres from Loro Piana, silks, and Fortuny-style pleated metallics.

The day looks involved impeccably tailored suits and fitted sheath dresses. The transition from day into evening was indicated with a briefly darkened runway like  the second act of a theater production. For regular Zang Toi fans, you know to get ready to gasp. Of course, he did not disappoint.

Zang Toi gave us a Venetian-themed fashion collection

georgie badiel zang toi

Zang Toi's seasoned models know to take their time and truly show the beauty of the outfit they are wearing. Whether that is to swing a precious fur stole around the shoulders or to fan out a full cape or arch the body show highlight a dress silhouette, the artistry in modeling comes out on this runway.

Ms. Fabulous contributor Elaine Fioravanti always looks to Zoya's nail polish collection in the gift bags as the teaser for the season. The organic nail lacquer company offered up colors that reflected the key hues of Zang Toi's show in champagne, copper and black. (The designer joked that he was really calling this season "50 Shades of Bronze" backstage).

zang toi fall 2015
photos by David TW Leung
Wherever I sit during a Zang Toi show, I am convinced I am among his biggest fans. In the audience, fashion fans practically swooned when an intricately beaded silk cape depicting a Venetian city scene. When I am with fellow photographers, I hear them yelling "Yesss, Yesss!" every time a model takes a dramatic turn in a stunning gown. The photographer's pit is generally a stoic lot, but they gush about how Mr. Toi has the perfect lighting, feeds the shooters and casts the best models.

It's rare that someone in his position has managed to generate such good will among so many segments of the industry. His staff seem fiercely protective of him, have stayed with him for years, but the most helpful for those who make an inquiry. Even former staff have only great things to say about him.

Once again, fashion designer Zang Toi has managed to elevate the New York Fashion Week experience for everyone involved. The beauty of his collection makes all the crowds, waiting, sweating and previous egos worth it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

#AskHerMore Academy Awards Red Carpet 2015

reese witherspoon tom ford

As a fashion enthusiast, I have always written about my favorites on the red carpet from my perspective as a designer. Having your gown worn and name mentioned on-air does tremendous things for the livelihood of a label. It never occurred to me that doing so might be diminishing the accomplishments of the person wearing the fashion. Reese Witherspoon was one of the top supporters of  the #AskHerMore campaign. This was social media campaign that challenged reporters to ask actresses more compelling questions on the red carpet rather than reducing them to the mani-cam and dress details. She told journalist Robin Roberts “This is a movement to say we’re more than just our dresses. There are 44 nominees this year that are women and we are so happy to be here and talk about the work that we’ve done. It’s hard being a woman in Hollywood or any industry.”  For tradition's sake, Reese wore a Tom Ford contrast dress that the E Network cast called "mind-blowing".    

Watching the E Network's red carpet coverage, I did not have a lot of hope for the campaign to work out. Things looked especially dire when Ryan Seacrest expressed that he couldn't wait to ask Dakota Johnson what prop she took home from 50 Shades of Grey like he had spent all night coming up with that question. (Perhaps it's not the sexism of the reporter, but the lack of intelligence in forming the questions that are the problem). 

julianne moore oscars 2015

Fear not, this award season saw actresses taking charge to get their message across anyway. Julianne Moore made a compelling statement about what she learned about Alzheimer's disease while researching her Oscar-winning role in Still Alice. “There’s this misnomer that dementia or Alzheimer’s is a normal condition of aging, and it’s not. It’s a disease-- and a disease without any treatment or cure. It’s the sixth leading cause of death.”  For the record, Julianne Moore wore a beautifully embroidered custom Chanel gown by Karl Lagerfeld (I actually did geek out over this dress, I won't lie).
Best Supporting Actress award winner Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech got Meryl Streep to stand up and roar when she declared "It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America." Ms. Arquette's dress was created by her close friend Rosetta Getty

So there, you have it. You can be a fan of the fashions at the Academy Awards red carpet without having it define the people wearing them. Was this really a big problem with the media? How about asking intelligent questions and just adding designer tags on the screen? I think that's a win-win situation.

photos by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP,Jason MerittMark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images, gif from The Daily Dot

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Blogger Love: Wardrobe Refresh


There's nothing like Fashion Week to get you thinking about your wardrobe. Getting that preview of everything that will hit the streets in six months feels like a little trip to the future. Your present wardrobe? How can you refresh it so it's future proofed? That's where paying attention to fashion month comes in handy. This week we look at what's been happening, and how to give yourself that little treat to keep you from the winter blues.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Academy Award Party Tips with M&MS

It’s the Academy Awards again! Admit it, how many of you think the real winners are on the red carpet instead of picking up the statue? I have been hosting Oscar parties the last few years now. The best events have lots of treats and a lot of styles. An easy treat to celebrate American cinema is the classic candy of M&M’S. I use them to bring color and texture to desserts. You can totally pair them with your outfit or movie theme.

If you are walking your own red carpet, make sure to wear a color that flatters you. If you can’t do a custom gown, the key to making a dress look expensive is one that fits you well. One of my all-time favorite looks was Viola Davis at the 2012 Academy Awards wearing a custom green Vera Wang gown. This dress looked so great on her because it worked with her skin tone and the bodice highlighted her face. Just for fun, I re-interpreted this look with the famous Green M&M’S.

I also made boozy chocolate cupcakes. I used chocolate liqueur, which gives the cake a moist texture and chocolate buttercream. I topped it with a crispy M&M to match Viola’s dress. Have fun with the recipe:

Chocolate Liqueur Cupcakes: (Makes 12)

3 oz.  High-quality dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup brewed espresso
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons Chocolate Liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with the paper cup liners (I like the foil ones for glam events).
Pour hot espresso over a large bowl of the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside the bowl.
Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla into the cooled chocolate until the mixture looks smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake tins. Bake for approximately 17-19 minutes, until just firm to the touch. Cool on rack for 10 minutes, and then remove cupcakes from pan to cool completely.

Chocolate Liqueur Buttercream 

1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
1 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 to 3 tablespoons Chocolate Liqueur

Cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. Mix until combined. Add chocolate liqueur. Mix at high speed until light and fluffy, adding more sugar and/or liqueur until desired consistency is reached. Add your buttercream to a piping bag (I like to add a star tip) and frost.

Top with a crispy M&M for crunch!

To make your guests feel like VIPs, make sure you have good lighting. An inexpensive flood light in a flattering hue or even lots of tea lights can make that happen. If you have a screen (or sheet) you can project the Academy Awards onto, it looks very impressive.

If  you need more tips for impressing on the red carpet, these little guys can help you out. What are your favorite tips for hosting an Oscars party?
Presented by M&MS.