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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tadashi Shoji Fall 2015

white feather dress
tadashi shoji fall 2015
It was all about celebrating the beauty of flight for Tadashi Shoji's Fall 2015 collection. He expressed his love of flight with two running themes throughout the show. Of course, he did this in the most gorgeous way possible at New York Fashion Week.

 The first theme was interpreted through the mechanics of airplanes. While it was not obvious, the lovely embellishments of beaded circles and brocade lace represented the gears of an plane. This technique was used to accent necklines, straps, and waistbands or as engineered embroidery on a bodice or as a full-length gown.

The second motif was a bird theme. Cocktail dresses were trimmed with feathers. Shredded organza and fur were manipulated to give the look of wings and feathers on other looks. The most beautiful styles were the embroidered appliques of wings and feathers that curved around the body in different ways. There was even a group of styles that incorporated both the birds and plane gears into elegant brocade.

You had your choice of classic black and white or rich jewel tones of amethyst, emerald, and sapphire. While the collection was sexy in a sophisticated way, the dresses have an appeal for those who have a more modest taste or like more coverage. Other designers who show a lot of skin seem to forget that there is a huge customer base who like to leave more to the imagination.

Whatever your preference, Tadashi Shoji's fashion design for fall is ready to fly and soar.
photos by Mariana Leung


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kate Spade Fall 2015

Have you met the Fantastic Mr. Fox? Kate Spade's Fall 2015 collection was styled in the quirky chic aesthetic that I  love film director Wes Anderson for.

The overall presentation had rustic elements in wool plaid and fur clutch handbags. There was an artsy element in the Roald Dahl inspired sketches along the walls and whimsical colour palettes. There were Kate Spade's signature feminine (though not girly) accessories of hats and gloves with the candy box handbags. The larger carryall purses were either crocodile embossed leather or color blocked. The starring Mr. Fox was featured a leather applique face on bags and sweaters.

photos by Mariana Leung
The retro styling of the clothes themselves did look like they could fit into a Wes Anderson movie. Skirt lengths were either short or Ladylike A-line past the knee. Sweep Peter Pan collars added to the deceptively demure looks with a modern edge when paired with heeled oxford shoes. The bright pink and floral prints looked like they could fit into a painted movie set or out on the streets.

I love that the Kate Spade brand has continued to keep her tongue-in-cheek attitude throughout the years. While personal style is nothing to joke about, fashion should never be taken too seriously.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Theia Fall 2015 - Exclusive Studio Visit

theia fall 2015
theia art nouveau
 I had the honor of visiting designer Don O'Neill to preview the THEIA Fall 2015 collection before much of the world. You can be embedded in the photographer's pit, interview backstage, but nothing lets you see a designer's vision as being in their design studio as they work on the collection itself.

Visiting the design space itself, you can see Don's design process. He started with contemporary Irish furniture designer Joseph Walsh. Specifically, his Lumenoria II collection. Walsh's signature aesthetic are his flowing, sinewy organic lines an naturalistic colors. The table below was a piece that Don O'Neill was moved by when he viewed it at The Salon At + Design Show at the New York Armory this past November. The lines in Walsh's work had symmetries with early 20th century Art Nouveau. The art movement was recognizable for its curved design lines and nature motifs that were popular in interior design, art, jewelry, you name it. Don incorporated all of it in his fall 2015 fashion collection.

joseph walsh design
photos by Mariana Leung
You can see the elegant curved lines in both the dress silhouettes and embroidery design. He tweaked the classic art nouveau dragonfly motif into a more modern butterfly beading. There is a nod to Tiffany glass in his "liquid glass" fabrication.

The sweeping shapes are incredibly flattering on yes, the "average" woman. It may be hard to believe, but I have always been impressed at how much Don takes (real) customer feedback into consideration when he designs THEIA. The style lines are flattering to the curves of the body. They are often "bra-friendly" or have built in fabric construction to give women some extra support in their shape. He adds little touches like shirring in strategic places just in case you (not just hungry celebrities) some breathing room at their next gala. Just in case you were wondering though, that leather halter dress on the left? Yes, Idina Menzel (aka Adele Dazeem) wore that at the Academy Awards last week.

I love seeing a designer and artist at work. Double bonus when THEIA's fashion collection is one that is attainable and one I can picture myself in for a glamorous occasion. Don O'Neill does it again!

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.