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Friday, May 6, 2016

Ms. Fabulous Mother's Day Gift Guide

I'm off to visit my family in Toronto. With me as always, I am bringing gifts to the wonderful women in my life. It will be Mother's Day, so my childhood friend, sister and actual Mom will be getting some of the goodies here.

Citizen watches are fast becoming a favorite of mine. This stainless steel Citizen Ladies' Diamond one is a posh treat for Mother's Day that I have decided to keep for myself, (sorry Mom!) I just fell in love with it. I am super picky with my watches. I like them sleek and dressy enough for the most formal occasion, but can look great with jeans too. I really groove on their Eco-Drive technology, not just for the eco-friendly aspect but because I am lazy and hate to change batteries. 

Mom loves color. MyWalit has a great collection of brightly colored wallets with beautiful leathers and color-block design straight from Italy. I thought she could use a compact wallet ($68) with lots of pockets to brighten her purse.

Those of you who follow me a lot know that I also moonlight as an embellishment designer for other brands. If you wanted a pretty accessory for yourself, I have been producing one-of-a-kind embellished headbands, cuff bracelets, necklaces and belts under the label Weng Meng Design Studio. Supermodel Carol Alt and actress Genevieve Rodriguez have worn them, why don't you take a look? 

I was introduced to DCL Skincare  by Ms. Fab contributor Geraldine. It was developed with serious science to treat your skin at multiple levels. One of the few drawbacks with looking young for your age (runs in the family, don't hate me) is you still get breakouts long after you should have stopped. The "Build Your Beauty" ritual function on the website is very helpful in finding the products for specific for your needs. Now that I have tried a few, I am a convert. I brought up the Spot Therapy ($32) product for my family to try.

I brought Modern Doll Cocktail Lab enhancements ($10) for the tired Moms this weekend to spike their coffees and teas with. Each variety was inspired by a strong woman in the arts of an earlier generation.  Cocoa Canelle is a chocolate and cinnamon bark infused liqueur with fashion icon Coco Chanel as the muse. The Vicious Purple was inspired by writer Dorothy Parker. The bitters are made from flowers like hibiscus, lavender and elder-flower.

I recently went a little crazy during the Bauble Bar sale. The dramatic crystal necklace is going to my Mom. She is going to look amazing in it. 

For my sister, she has more Minimalist taste. This delicate Ilana Ariel necklace is elegant and small enough not to get in the way of her hectic day.

The ladies in my family love our hair products. I was already a big fan of Strivectin skincare and jumped at the chance to try their haircare too. I already blazed through the shampoo and conditioner. Dry hair and annoying wispy little baby hairs run in my family, the Bodifying Radiance Serum is going to be our secret weapon. Since my family travels a lot, the UV protection helps too.

Mom is traveling to China, Lithuania and Russia this year. I got her this trio of Diane Von Furstenburg leather pouches ($70) for her toiletries, vitamins and jewelry. Three of them in super bright colors are nestled into one another like Russian Dolls (felt appropriate). They are very cute on their own as a clutch bag and easy to maneuver in a filled suitcase on a big trip. Hope she loves them!

Ok, what is everyone else getting the Moms in their life? If you're a Mom, treat YOURSELF. You more than deserve it. Happy Mother's Day!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology

You have seen all of the hyped up Met Gala outfits. Now take a look at the Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology exhibit that inspired it all. Costume Institute head curator Andrew Bolton and Chief Design Officer of Apple Johnny Ive examined the link between crafting by hand and design innovation using technology.

In fashion, the old-school thought was that Haute Couture fashion, made by hand was the elite. A work of artisans, craft and art while machine-made clothing was cheap and for the masses. Meanwhile, every innovation in technology opens up new ideas and possibilities for taking design and fashion further, which is at odds with old-school thinking. Bolton came across a Chanel bridal ensemble (above) that he felt was a marriage of both which inspired the exhibit. Traditional Haute Couture techniques were employed in the construction, but the elaborate embroidery pattern consisted of digital design. That was hand-embellished on top.
Judging by all of the cyborgs looks from the Met Gala, it was obvious a lot of people assumed that this was a futuristic fashion show. I found that while modern manufacturing was highlighted, the exhibit was more about different categories of embellishment. This subject speaks to me of course as an embellishment designer. 

Embroidery was celebrated. From classic thread work and hand knotted flowers to machine patterns. All forms of flowers from fabric manipulation of the Prada dresses to plastic laser-cut daisies of Dior to shaped metal flowers of Alexander McQueen.
Pleating as a technique was explored. Mariano Fortuny's dresses in the 1920'same swept the industry in its time, then Mary McFadden in the 1980s. Issey Miyake took it further with flying saucer dress and flat garments that folded out to fully dimensional pieces. Raf Simons merged old and new with ribbon and tulle pleated skirts.

In the section on lace, there were examples of antique lace that was hand-knotted and crocheted. Then there were hand-cut lace-like patterns. In recent decades, designers are creating lace-like looks out of non-traditional materials using a laser-cut technique. Proenza Schouler created a ceramic appliqued on tulle dress that gives an appearance of traditional Guipure lace while Iris Van Harpen 3D-printed a lacy dress that looks like it morphed from a rib cage. ThreeAsFour's 3D printed creations were floating sculptures that looked like they defied gravity, but still had a lace effect when worn.
The one thing I was disappointed about in this exhibit was that many of the most innovative pieces were just rolled over from the recent Beauty Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.  I JUST saw the Iris Van Harpen iron filings dress, Maiko Takeda headpieces and Gareth Pugh drinking straw dress two weeks ago. If this is the premiere fashion exhibit of the year, it shouldn't look like a re-run. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had an entire year to put this together, they couldn't check in with the other museum?

Unlike the dramatic staging of the Alexander McQueen tribute a few years ago, the setting of this exhibit was minimal. Domed sheer scrim tents framed the key garments of the show. Some had projections of the embellishment in closeup swirling in the background. The soundtrack in the background was ethereal. The Met Museum always treats fashion as exquisite art. However, this reverence also makes it inaccessible and at times, elitist. The average citizen who hasn't studied fashion or cannot afford these designers might have trouble relating to what they see beyond an item on a festival. The best fashion exhibits inspire the viewer to want to wear it, want to design it, see how they can fit it into their lives.

Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until August 14th, 2016.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Met Gala Red Carpet Trends - Manus X Machina Style

kurkova marchesa

 Aaaand it's another year of the Met Gala (aka Fashion Prom). The celebrities were challenged once again by Anna Wintour and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibit theme, Manus X Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology.
The name sounds very sci-fi and futuristic. The exhibit itself (more on that later today) was a study in different types of embellishment and how they have been updated over the years with technology. The exhibit showed artificial flowers as a traditional Haute Couture embellishment. Naomi Watts bridged both the modern mirrored embroidery with fabric fleurs applique on her Burberry gown. Karolina Kurkova was elegant in her Marchesa gown of oversized blossoms. By the way, those blossoms light up.
alien fashion
Many were clearly under the impression that this was a science-fiction theme. Ex-Machina star Alicia Vikander looked like an adorable robot in her Louis Vuitton dress. Lady Gaga went with a chic alien in a Versace ensemble. Michelle Monaghan wore Rosie Assoulin. FKA Twigs wore Versace.
The museum exhibit was divided into different sections highlight an embellishment technique. These ladies paid tribute to each one. Alessandra Ambrosio honored the lace section by wearing a Balmain crochet gown. Solange Knowles did the pleated section proud in her yellow David Laport creation. Rita Ora represented the featherwork section of the museum perfectly in a sexy Vera Wang dress.

rita ora met gala
From casual observation, the winning designers of the night for sheer volume of celebrities seemed to be Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Balmain and custom H& M. For the winning designer of THE BEST LOOK OF THE 2016 MET GALA was hands down, Claire Dane's stunning ballgown by Zac Posen. It was breathtaking on its own. The perfect color on the actress, a gorgeous shape, but wait, when the lights went out, thousands of fiber optics made the gown glow, highlighting the construction beautifully. It was the ultimate combination of classic Haute Couture as made by hand and the technology nod of having the dress light up. Bravo Zac Posen! Until next year folks.

zac posen claire danes
Images by Andrew Toth, Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Aritzia Fall 2016

No one feels fall/winter more than the Canadians. Aritzia is one of my sister'site favorite stores to shop in Toronto. If she can't make it to the store, I will actually FaceTime her with my phone from the boutique IN New York so she can virtually shop with me. That's sibling love. That is also the loyalty of the Aritzia customer. I like to think if her as the cool girl with a job. She isn't into the stuffy corporate look but is still appropriate with a twist.  She has style and is shopping for herself from her own money. 

I love their abstract prints that they update season to season (I keep buying them). They include complimentary colors that work with pieces that you add from Aritzia in future seasons. Fall 2016 had a lot of deep navy, mustard, oatmeal, gray and black. There were some eggplant colors. There were cozy boiled wool long coats and vests. I am looking forward to some of the swishy washed silk dresses around the holiday. The skirt and dress lengths were long for the cooler weather. rib knit, lace and pleated textures make sure you are warm.

Aritzia's Babaton handbag label have pieces I am constantly drawn to. They aren't particularly fashion forward but have great shapes and great leather. They are rather timeless, so they work the day to day Aritzia wardrobe. 

The awesome team at Artizia always treat me to something nice when I visit. This season, my 'IT' piece is a sleeveless trench that I already love. Look for me and the garment on Instagram soon!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NY Bridal Week: Mira Zwillinger Nature Spring Bridal 2017

zwillinger bridal 2017

It is cherry blossom week here in New York. The Mira Zwillinger show at NY Bridal Fashion week was blooming all over the catwalk. The mother and daughter design team worked with a theme of nature for spring 2017.

The collection had the most exquisite embroideries. Scores of three-dimensional flowers in shades of cream and blush embellished bodices and capes, hiding naughty bits on sexy "naked" dresses. I loved the sculpted blossom branches that made up the headpieces of the models.

Mira Zwillinger launched her fashion label in the early 1990s in Tel Aviv. Her daughter Lihi Zwillinger eventually grew to join her after learning the design ropes from Mom. They have now expanded their collection to sell from Australia to America.

The Sakura Matsuri festival is celebrated at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden this weekend. We at Ms. Fabulous just hosted our spring cherry blossom brunch here in Manhattan on Saturday. The trees of the city are in full bloom. Mira Zwillinger's brides? They were the crowning flower of them all.

zwillinger couture
photos by Mariana Leung


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NY Bridal Week: Austin Scarlett Spring Bridal 2017

What's new with Project Runway alum Austin Scarlett? The refined competitor held an intimate presentation on Sunday to show his newest bridal dresses. His elegant design sense landed him an assignment with JLM bridal in the past and since 2012 he has launched his own wedding collection.

He has create costume designs for the Metropolitan Opera and other dance, opera and theatrical companies.. That work clearly influenced his current collection. The bridal dress styles are named after musical terms like "Allegra", "Sonata" and "Serenade". 

His mastery of drape is clear. The soft silk gowns look like they are carved from marble. The silhouettes are so defined in their sculptural beauty. He also plays with the sheerness of fabric with trimmed edges to highlight the shapes even more. The Serenade gown featured an abundance of silk, handmade flowers. He was happy to credit M&S Schmalberg as one of the New York Garment Center's few remaining companies who still make things in the old tradition. They are one of my favorite places to frequent for flowers I use in my own design work. They handform and stitch handcut petals into European millinery irons that date back to the 1800's. 

Scarlett was a gracious host throughout the presentation. He created pins and barettes with more of the exquisite flowers for his guests. He was constantly hands-on in fixing the dresses on his models and happy to elaborate on any of the gowns.

Austin Scarlett will go down in Project Runway as one of the most refined designers of its history. While there were many divas on the show, he is more the maestro. He doesn't play theatrics, he conducts all of the players with ease. After seeing his spring 2017 collection, I can't wait for the encore.
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