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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Matador Costumes in Madrid

matador costume
bullfighter costume

Hello from Madrid. I attended my first bullfighting event at the historical Plaza de Toros De Las Ventas arena. I was drawn to see the beautiful embellishments of the Matador costumes. They are called Traje de Luces, roughly translated as a Suit of lights.

They richly embroidered garb uses metallic sequins as well as gold and silver metallic thread. The overall look of the suits takes their inspiration from the Spanish dandies of the 18th century.  The black hat is called a montera and was added to the standard ensemble later.

The ritual of dressing for the bullfight is a production in itself. The star matadors have a squire to help them dress. The typical elements include the short, rigid jacket, attached at the shoulders, so the arms are free to be graceful with the cape. The incredibly snug (as in nothing left to the imagination) tights are also embroidered. I was surprised I didn't see scores of groupies stalking the performers on this item alone. Considering the danger of being gored by a 1200lb bull, I was surprised at how little protection the footwear provided. Little flat, ballerina-type slippers and thin socks provide little to shield your toes from big horns.

I had a very tough time with the goring and violence of the event. However, I did want to attend to see the costumes, the performance and to see what it was about this tradition that inspired work from composers like Georges Bizet, art from Pablo Picasso, prose from Ernest Hemingway and couture from Cristobal Balenciaga.

There is a deep pageantry in what they consider both a performance art and sport. Many bullfighters come for multiple generations of matadors. There is a lot of passion and respect for the culture from aficionados of the tradition. Is it possible to see only the beauty of the dance and the details of the Matador costume without the sadness of the kill?
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Monday, April 17, 2017

Top Bonnets from the NYC Easter Parade

butterfly hat
flower bonnet
New Yorkers will take any excuse to dress up. The NYC Easter Parade is a tradition for the fashionable to flaunt their style that dates back to the 1870s. The head gear has evolved way beyond an elegant bonnet and has expanded to wearable art, fashion designer masterpieces, protest symbols or an afternoon of family crafts.

There's me in my butterflies that I made the night before. I was inspired by the Philip Treacy hat that was part of Alexander McQueen's Fall 2009 show. I was flanked by two gentlemen who created a headpiece of gravity defying ties. What a great way to incorporate menswear for masculine style if you're not into flowers! Otherwise, many parade revellers live by the "Go big or go home" motto. They created dramatically large hats to dominate Fifth Avenue.

easter parade 2017Unsurprising trends were outfits and hats that protested the current administration. One of the most popular was a pouting, childlike Trump mask. Another protested Trump's ties with Russia by incorporating him into Faberge inspired Easter eggs. Others used more generic protest imagery that corresponded to their outfit.
oz easter parade
nyc easter parade 2017
all photos by Mariana Leung and Adam Weinstein
A popular trend this year was The Wizard of Oz. I found lots of groups who were inspired by this story for Easter. Bonnets were depicting different scenes or characters from the story. There was a giant diorama on one person's head that included all of the characters. Different parade guests dressed as their favorite character from head to toe. I always thought Alice in Wonderland would be the go-to Easter story, but I was wrong.
As this is New York, some of the best looks were carried off with the appropriate attitude. There is my handsome husband in dapper tails and slick black derby and rabbit mask next to a Tim Burton-esque outfit depicting a hot air balloon. I love the multi-generational preppy duo at ease on the East Side. The older gentleman at the top right was a favorite of everyone at the parade for his sassy attitude with orange-dyed cigar carrots that he smoked and kept in his pocket.

The NYC Easter Parade counts as one of the best (free!) events of the New York. There is great history, celebrates fashion and creativity and inclusive to anyone who wants to watch or join. Which look was your favorite?

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Eddie Bauer Collaboration With Ilaria Urbinati Fall 2017

eddie bauer bowery hotel
Does Eddie Bauer make you feel rugged? Woodsy? Ready to take on a bear? Growing up, this brand was the practical staple of outdoorsy guys. With celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinati, the collection for fall has been revamped into an elegant example of rustic chic inspired by pioneering active women.

eddie bauer wifeThe main inspiration was Christine Bauer, Mrs. Eddie Bauer herself. She was an avid outdoorswoman. She pursued hunting, fishing and made it look like a sophisticated pursuit. A more contemporary muse was Margot Tenenbaum of The Royal Tenenbaums movie. Urbinati imagined how the emo heiress would dress if she were out in the woods.This is the look the stylist herself was projecting this week at the collection press previews (above).

cyclops actorThe capsule collection itself had great plaids in soft wool in cropped stylish silhouettes or a longer, modern A-line with faux fur. Another jacket was a super fluffy cream fleece that felt like being hugged by a baby lamb. I also loved the faded, vintage hunter's print in flannel and Pendleton blanket inspired scarves.

Ilaria Urbinati is responsible for the hunky red carpet looks of your favorite guys like Bradley Cooper and James Marsden. She was also the woman behind Shaileen Woodley's transformation into fashion force.  Her first collaboration with Eddie Bauer was to revamp their Men's offerings. The brand has been celebrating their heritage of posh outdoor pursuits and the wardrobe to complement it for awhile now. With women's fashion, that usually doesn't sound exciting unless the silhouettes and fabrics are given the injection of style that Urbinati gave.

Her male charges appreciate her style guidance. Her intimate launch party drew clients James Marsden and Mr. Robot's Rami Malek to support her at the Bowery Hotel.

If you are looking for cozy and fierce offerings this fall, look no further than Eddie Bauer's collaboration with Ilaria Urbinati.
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Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fools! 5 Times The Fashion World Punked Us

Between fake news and horrible political reality, I can't stomach April Fools pranks this year. Instead, I would like to give a shout-out to some of the most entertaining pranks the fashion world pulled on us that made us smile.

Legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour has made her ambivalent feelings toward the Kardashians visible over the years. She expressed disapproval at Kim's pregnant Met Gala look. Her tight-lipped tolerance of the West children at a fashion show was photographed by many. Kim Kardashian and family responded with the sincerest form of flattery in 2014. Kim dressed as Wintour for Halloween, with daughter North West dressed as editor Andre Leon Talley.

Street artists Kidult tagged (defaced) the exteriors of several Marc Jacob's boutiques. It was allegedly a comment on the obscene price of the t-shirts sold inside. Jacobs gave a sartorial middle finger to the artist by selling screen printed t-shirts with imagery of the graffiti, $686 "unsigned" and $430 "signed." as an additional insult. The tongue-in-cheek response prompted many to wonder if this was actually a collaboration instead of a feud. 

Alexander Wang loves his fans. In 2013, he invited his biggest fans to a mystery event. Some speculated it was a secret fashion show, some hoped it would be a private sample sale. The reality was better than they had imagined. When the doors opened, the designer announced the warehouse full of his collection was free for the taking. The resulting video documenting the event was both exhilarating and terrifying.

One of my favorite museum fashion exhibits of all time was the Jean-Paul Gaultier show at the Brooklyn Museum in 2014. One usually expects beautiful fashions presented on mannequins and pedestals. This exhibit, the mannequins were animated, occasionally with voices. While you looked at the mannequin, thinking it was stationery, they eyes would spin around and glare at you. Others were placed on a moving runway. While you watched them, the mannequins behind you would whisper "I'm beHIND you!" creepily in your ear.


In 2015, posh retailer Barney's introduced a dogs only menu in their elite restaurant. Dishes offered included grain-free spaghetti and meatballs as well as the Bark's Madison avenue salad. This was the department store's April Fool's offering. Most people saw through the hoax, but the photos were adorable anyway.

photos from Instagram, Barney's, fashionista.com, Mariana Leung
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Susanne Bartsch Presents Adrienne Landau's LandauLand

Have you ever considered fur coats stuffy and boring? Shame on you. Iconic fur label Adrienne Landau turned the idea of a fur salon presentation on its head by collaborating with nightlife legend Susanne Bartsch for her Fall 2017 show at NY Fashion Week.

Instead of a standard runway or stationary pedestals, the models gyrated and seduced the guests in an interactive nightclub tableaus. You first approached a sapphic bridal couple on a horse dressed in a tux and white fur wedding ensemble. Next was a surreal vignette with legendary club figure and trans celebutante Amanda Lepore vamping it up as a disturbing Mommie Dearest. Her little fur-clad kids were chic as hell.

Another scene was a giant banana beach, a disco dance floor, a vintage telephone booth and then an entire gallery of performers behind glass flaunting colored fur and elaborate headdresses inspired by South American tribal cultures (see below). Super curvy burlesque Diva, Dirty Martini sprawled across the floor while a bored androgynous model looked on.

Producing a large range of accessories and coats in wild colors was a great way reinvent the fur fashion market. Having a range of body shapes, genders, ages showed the diversity of the customer. Pairing fur stoles with lingerie showed how sexy fur could be.

This Adrienne Landau/Susanne Bartsch presentation was so much fun. It brought me back to my club kid years when I first landed in New York City. If my budget allowed it, I would hit the town tonight in every color of this furry rainbow.

All photos by Mariana Leung

Also on Ms. Fabulous:
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dennis Basso Fall 2017

dennis basso fur
dennis basso fall 2017
A touch of mink this season? How many of you were caught off-guard with March snowstorms? Designer Dennis Basso had everyone covered with a mix of breezy gowns in organza and georgette, but his signature fur coats were on hand at his NY Fashion Week Fall 2017 runway.

Dennis Basso is a heritage brand at this point. Ladies who lunch, New York's privileged class have been fawning over him for over three decades at this point. While he has his long term clients seduced, he is making a (sartorial) play for their daughters as well. Tiffany Trump was sitting front row of this runway. Long, relaxed dresses had a contemporary vibe with fully luxurious fabrications. My favorite was the compass, and map inspired gown with embroidered sheer land masses.

The color palette was minimal. Warm, neutral shades of brown, beige, cream as a tonal complement to the natural shades of luxurious fur on the catwalk. While the big fur coats may still be favored for Mom, there was a young gateway accessory of on-trend chokers made of fur on the models.

Politics and social commentary played a part in many of the Fall 2017 shows at NYFW this time around. Some were overt, some more subtle. Tiffany Trump was a new face on the scene at several shows I attended. She looked to be warmly welcomed by editors at Dennis Basso, but I was sad to hear she might have been rudely treated at another show.

Trust me, I am NOT a fan of Donald Trump or his administration so far. However, his daughter, often the rebellious one, is not her father. She is a young woman who is supporting fashion designers at a time when any support should be appreciated. While Dennis Basso is well established, she also attended the shows of designers who were up-and-coming and could use the promotional help. I also saw her at the Taoray Wang show, a Chinese designer, still new to the American scene. Trump wore Wang's work to the Presidential inauguration even though it was probably not politically correct with her father's cronies because she chose design over their BS.

 I can't stand Mean Girl BS in the fashion industry, it's tough enough out there. I am happy to hear that Whoopi Goldberg, also not a Donald fan, extended a friendly invitation when she saw Trump being shunned. The fashion industry is already depicted as shallow and snobbish. Editors, designers, all fashion professionals should be taking the high road and conduct themselves with class. You don't have to invite the offending person into your home, but at least treat others with the dignity and respect you would hope they would treat you with.

Dennis Basso may cater to the elite, but the beauty of his work can be appreciated by all. The runway looks of his Fall 2017 collection were not stuffy but sophisticated. The dresses were sleek and sexy, but you could cocoon yourself in a big warm coat when a snowstorm hits.

dennis basso designer
all photos by Mariana Leung
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