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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

Monday, March 6, 2017

Dr. Sketchy - Drawing Dior's New Look

I took a break from myself to indulge in an evening of drinking and drawing at Dr Sketchy. The theme of the day was Dior's New Look. You could call it an art club. You can check out previous sessions of mine. These days, the meetups are hosted by champagne lounge Flute Midtown.

Themes often involve all manner of geekery like comic-book characters, Green fairies and sci-fi perversions performed by saucy burlesque dancers. Sunday was a tribute to post WW2 fashion. A big fashion history fan Mademoiselle Quaintrelle posed in her cherished collection of vintage Christian Dior suits, full skirted dresses and retro-styled skivvies. (Great tip from Ms Quaintrelle, you can buy vintage styles spiral stitched, bullet bras from the website What Katie Did).

Dior's New Look was a celebration of the end of fabric rationing and restraint. The signature silhouette was an exaggerated hourglass shape. Tiny waists from starving through the war were highlighted in the sculpted jackets. Big skirts with yards and yards of fabric defined much of late 1940's and 1950's fashion trends.

With a two-drink minimum, you give into Flute Midtown's menu of champagne, cocktails and nibbles to accompany them. I can't say my arm was twisted too hard. Even more fortunate that the gentleman sitting on the next couch over, ordered a bottle of bubbly for himself and found he could not finish it. I was the lucky person he shared it with. Thank you, Dude.

My goal when I attend a Dr Sketchy session is to try to win back my admission fee in the form of liquor or prizes in one of their contests. Sometimes they are sexy and silly, but this time it was to make your drawing into a tribute Vogue Magazine cover. As you can see above, I loved the old-school covers when they used a script font. My mutual fashion history nerdiness with the model won me that round so I can return to future sessions for free. I drew the iconic Dior Bar Suit, a look Ms Quaintrelle was obsessed with and also owns.

Anyone who loves style should try fashion sketching. If you can't commit to a class, Dr Sketchy is the perfect antidote. How can you resist champagne, DJ curated playlist and sexy models in various states of undress? It is the perfect outing!
Photos and sketches by Mariana Leung

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Oscars Red Carpet - Life Imitating Art

brie larson oscars
My Oscars Red Carpet recap this time highlights the best looks that evoke iconic fashions from favourite paintings and films. Taraji P. Henson and Brie Larson both wore stunning sculpted black gowns that had the sexy appeal of John Singer Sargent's famous painting of Madame X. Henson wore a velvet Alberta Ferretti gown. Brie Larson channelled Charles James in an Oscar de la Renta gown.
leslie mann zac posen

If there is anyone that can make a grown Hollywood actress feel like a Disney princess, it is designer Zac Posen. Some of the most memorable big ballgowns at previous award shows and the Met Gala have been made by him. Here, he created the enchanting yellow ballgown for Leslie Mann that Beauty and the Beast's Belle would be proud of. Wait, does that make Hubby Judd Apatow the Beast?

janelle monae elie saab

This has to be my favourite gown of the night. Janelle Monae is positively regal in this gorgeously embellished Elie Saab gown. The twinkling jewels on the black organza emulate the stars and space she represented in the Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures. The silhouette evokes a queen of an earlier era, specifically, Marie Antoinette in the 1938 film version of her life. The paniers on Norma Shearer's hips are more exaggerated, but both gowns feature intricate metallic embroidery and command whatever room the wearer walks into.

So there you go. These were my favourite Oscars Red Carpet looks that imitated the most iconic fashion looks from art. What were your favourite Academy Awards looks from last night?

Red carpet photos by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP


Monday, February 20, 2017

Vivienne Tam Fall 2017

vivienne tam fw17
vivienne tam hong kong

Who is ready to go out tonight? Vivienne Tam brought Fall 2017 back to Hong Kong and its legendary nightlife. The city celebrates the 20th anniversary of its handover back to China. Their festivities are centered around youth and the generation that came of age in this era.

Vivienne Tam paid tribute to the 1990s of the turnover with a nod to the fashion silhouettes of that time but with her signature twist. Ruching details were popular in the late Nineties, and she worked them into unusual placements on skirts and jackets. 

There were some dazzling prints depicting the neon lighting and signs that define the Hong Kong nightlife scene. These were juxtaposed with tailored menswear plaids and metallic brocades. There were some fantastic crochet knits in chunky textures combining black and bright primary colors.

If you are ready to party on a global scale, Vivienne Tam has your wardrobe ready!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

NYFW Zang Toi Fall 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! Let me start with a sweet image of a designer and his muse at the Fall 2017 show. Zang Toi always shows his love for his team, his models, the photographers and his guests. It is no surprise that he is a favorite, season after season.

Toi's collections are the best in escapism. He takes his inspiration from an impeccably luxurious destination that we all fantasize about traveling to. This season he fell in love with the royal blue textile of the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin. It was a dark, intense hue that the designer knew he had to use well. Getting the shade wrong could be the difference between garish and elegant. As you see from the photos, he nailed elegance.

Zang Toi uses the most luxurious of fabrics. This season included baby angora, Lori Piana cashmere, silks of all textures and rich velvet. He paired full cropped cocoon jackets and wrap with slim column dresses for a striking silhouette. Gigantic ballgown and capes swept down the runway to make the photographers' riser swoon. The day wear included many a sophisticated ensemble that looked slim and draped.

For the jewelry, beaded tassels and jeweled updates on the choker were beautiful. The hair was swept back into an elegant, simple bun on most models. 

I love this designer and show much, that partner Mdivani and I actually camped out for 4 hours in then riser to make sure we got the best view. Zang Toi's Fall 2017 was absolutely worth it.
Photos by Mariana Leung

Monday, February 13, 2017

NYFW: Jenny Packham Fall 2017

The British are coming! Jenny Packham's Fall 2017 collection was a celebration of English heritage and their cliches. The designer is a red carpet favorite during awards season. Her dresses offer a modern take on traditional evening wear silhouettes.

all photos by Mariana Leung
Packham's take on the "Idiosyncrasies that define the British identity" is a tongue-in-cheek take on iconic motifs of the U.K. There were the tartan patterns both in print and embroidered tulle. The color Wedgewood blue was important throughout the collection. Pearls, delicate sweaters were nods to "Sloane Rangers," the Preppy fashion girls of England. Various versions of moto jackets were a tribute to punk style. Of course, each theme was upgraded with luxury details, like rich crystal beading on sweaters, or embroidered cut-outs on the leather. A tribute to the Queen's Corgi dogs materialized on a silk t-shirt.

Scarves wrapped in Ascot style accessorized a few models. The white ones also symbolized the Business of Fashion's #TiedTogether movement. The BoF's initiative for fashion month to get designers, editors, influencers to wear a version of a white bandanna to stand for unity, inclusiveness, and solidarity against the negativity and discrimination of the world right now. Their site also asks supporters to donate the ACLU and the UN Refugee Agency. This showed how activism at NYFW can be as subtle as the simple styling of your models.

Jenny Packham put together classic heritage with humor and modern fashion. She managed to put out a positive message while delivering beautiful clothes. Fall 2017 is looking up for all of us.

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