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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Zang Toi Spring 2019 - Vive Le Yves

pink ballgown
zang toi spring 2019
I know sing designer Zang Toi's praises every season. For Spring 2019, I felt he created this entire runway show directly for me (because I am vain and narcissistic). Why? This beautiful collection incorporated a bunch of my favorite things.
First, the collection was a tribute to Yves Saint-Laurent. Granted, the late designer was an inspiration to most people in fashion so I won't assume this was picked for me. Zang Toi referenced the designer in several ways. First, the Mondrian-inspired prints were a motif in the flowing silks of the show. Some of Saint-Laurent's most iconic looks were also inspired by Mondrian. Second, the intense blue color is reminiscent of the hues found in the Jardin Majorelle, the gardens in Morocco founded by the designer. The hipster scarves worn by the models are also taking inspiration from the Bedouin women who live in Morocco.
Why else did this collection seem personal to me? I love butterflies. I wore tons of them on my head and wore the wings for the NYC Easter Parade. Now Toi has them fluttering all over the purple (my favorite color) and pink gowns in showstopper section of the show.
The soundtrack? It's like he stole my iPod. Grace Jones' Libertango played over the runway with the models sauntering out like the queens they are. One of his consistent star models, Georgie Badiel, was recently married and had her new husband sitting in the audience. Zang Toi himself walked her down the aisle during the wedding.
The reason so many photographers are so loyal to shooting this show when there are many other shows competing in the same time slot is how thoughtful Toi is to us. He collaborates with photographers on lighting and model staging rather than dictating the conditions like many other producers do, leaving photographers to scramble and hope for the best. He sent out care packages to the photographers, with a (much needed) snack and water, with the bonus of his gorgeous Papyrus couture greeting cards. 
Thank you Zang Toi, for gifting us another wonderful show for Spring 2019. It was extra special as you clearly custom designed the collection around me (ha!). Kidding aside, butterflies, blue gardens and Yves Saint-Laurent, how could you go wrong?
pink butterfly dress
all photos by Mariana Leung
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

#NYFW: Pamella Roland Spring 2019

pink tulle dress
yellow evening dress
One expects and wants to see flowers in Spring fashion collections. Pamella Roland's Spring 2019 show did not disappoint. There were beautiful flower brocades in cheery yellow blooms made into jackets, cocktail dresses and gowns. The cheerful palette continued into embroidered feather fringe with beading, then swirling gowns of silk.
Other happy colors included rich fuschia pink and sky blue. There were gowns with masterful manipulations of fabric into ruffles and pleating. There were delicately embroidered florals of organic vines. This was the collection where Pamella Roland aspired to an Haute Couture look with the muse of her Bali travels to inspire the colors and lightweight fabrics.
On the other hand, her sleek, New York socialite on-the-move looks were still well represented. Think slim, tailored suits in bright colors. Sleek pencil skirt sheaths and fitted gowns with mermaid silhouettes. These were all ready for Real Housewives and other heiresses (Nicky Hilton) to wear to hit the red carpet, ( I counted four wives today).
This is glamor for the crowd who doesn't worry about what to wear to the office, because she doesn't really work for a living (maybe for fun). It must be nice.
Pamella Roland Spring 2019 had some of the most beautiful dresses I have seen from the designer in the many seasons I have followed the brand. I hope to wear one someday.
fashion designer pamella roland
Photos by Mariana Leung

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

#NYFW: A_I_R Atelier Spring 2019

air atelier nyfw
nyfw rooftop fashion
Is there a perfect setting for a collection called A_I_R Atelier to be showing their Spring 2019 collection out in the open air on a rooftop? A few influencers winced at the lack of air conditioning, but the Hudson River breezes made up for it. Also, if you're over-eager to wear your tall suede fall boots on a humid 90-degree day, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Impractical fashion guest choices aside, the AIR collection did a great job presenting several groups of print themes. They are whimsical but sophisticated. The label is a collaboration with Project Runway alum Jeffrey Sebelia and artist Kirk Nelson. There was a tropical floral group with stripes as a contrast accent, safari animals, sea creatures, an abstract delicate floral and more. Some pieces used them as an all-over print, some as large graphics, so e complementary prints. The execution of separates worked well to mix and match items where all the fun patterns could work in a combined outfit. 

The models were a diverse group of ethnicities, men, and women that represented the modern urban generation (I tried to avoid "hipster," but I failed.) What I liked was the juxtaposition of the 'sexy' open shirt male model and other models showing skin with a model wearing the same collection following very modest rules for dress. By doing this, it showed how stylish they were to customers of all faiths and comfort. The modest fashion customer loves fashion and is happy to spend money on it. It would be a tremendous missed opportunity for any designer not to address that.

If you have a chance, check out the A_I_R Atelier collection when you want an artful print. Whether your style is all skin or all smiles, this label has you covered. 
Photos by Mariana Leung
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African Fashion Week Toronto

african fashion week toronto 2018
I had the privilege of starting Fashion Month off by attending African Fashion Week Toronto. This was a gorgeous collection of student designers, high fashion, and bridal designers brought together in Canada from a mutual muse of African style. I appreciated the diversity of body types on these runways and how this event celebrates diversity with a focused fashion market.

The NYKWALE label was one of the student designers who debuted on this runway. Designer Eugenie Amegah-Wovoe had incredibly vibrant colors and textures collaged into patterns that hinted at traditional African garb, but with a thoroughly modern look. I liked how flattering they were to all body shapes. She mixed print, fringe, patent leather, embroidery to create a sexy collection soon to be a hit with for her fans.
afwt nykwale

Phresh Empire was another student designer winner. He used traditional African fabrics in modern streetwear inspired silhouettes for men and sweet dress silhouettes for women. I loved the styling of the hair, which were works of art unto themselves, created by Sandy W.
phresh empire fashion show

Andrea's Dresses designer Andrea Smart got the fashion bug as young as age 12 in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago. She works African colors and patterns into a diverse collection that ranges from casual items like t-shirt dresses to full formal gowns. She used brightly colored African motifs in strategic ways to flatter the body. A body conscious gown with contrast color and pattern for slimming elongated effect. Patterns that are printed in curves then draped to accentuate the actual body curves. Using color to highlight specific parts of the body, then using black as contrast and minimize.
andreas dresses afwt

The Zalahari collection was an accessible menswear collection doing modern twists on African motifs. High tech digital prints used bright backgrounds, and African animals in a repeat pattern in a style designer Ezomoh David calls "Afro-contemporary." These fabrics were worked into well-tailored jackets, shirts, and updated Dashikis. I loved how the male models all had the perfect suave attitude as they strutted down the runway in this collection.
african menswear zalahari
So there you have it, a few of my favorite collections from African Fashion Week Toronto. A vibrant showcase of designer talent with a cultural muse from the other side of the world. I can only see this event growing in attendance and customers once word gets out. Torontonians and fashion fans are missing out.
Photos by Mariana Leung and David Leung
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Monday, August 20, 2018

The Blonds Fall 2018

No collection at NY Fashion Week says fierce to me season after season more than The Blonds. The models stalk down the runway like Amazons, the makeup severe, gorgeous and intimidating. I am always in awe of the layers and layers of embellishment that make their looks a combination of burlesque and Haute Couture.
For Fall 2018, the theme was the battle between good and evil. You don't need a devil and angel on your shoulder when exquisite fashion pieces are adorning them. Elaborate embroideries of Preciosa components helped shape each character. Think dripping red crystals and sharp spikes and studs, sometimes sitting in as Devil horns to represent evil. Imagine all sizes of pearls and glittering fringe as a stand-in for angelic wings.
I love that The Blonds never execute their theme in a cliched or expected way. You don't need literal feathered wings for angels. You don't hooves and a spiky tail to emulate the devil. I love that the hair in two peaks on the top of the head gives the impression of horns or even Gary Oldman's Dracula from the 1992 film.
I doubt your average woman will be buying these looks off the rack and heading to the office with them. The Blonds are divas and know how to dress them. Expect your favorite pop icon or entertaining legend to sport this collection.
Fashion curating legend, Daphne Guinness closed the show in her styling of a rockstar.
Good or evil, angel or otherwise, I would commit a ton of sins to get my hands on a dress from The Blonds.
Daphne Guinness The Blonds Finale
All photos by Mariana Leung
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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Playboy Sketch Night - Society of Illustrators

playboy costume
You know I love a Drink & Draw kind of night. The Society of Illustrators has weeknight sessions inspired by their current exhibits where models get in costume. Bring your art supplies and get settled in their bar/lounge on the top floor, enjoy a drink and some nibbles out on their lovely deck during breaks and sketch your tipsy heart away.

I love that you can admire their exhibits on your way up and down to their lounge. They showcase great artists with social and also current pop culture significance. This summer has the art of The Avengers with iconic comic book artists. They also have important works from female artists with themes of resistance. 

This particular evening, they had a Playboy Sketch night. This meant a sexy female model in retro Playboy Club outfit posed with a dapper male model exuding classic Hugh Hefner vibes. If you're looking for more traditional life drawing, the Society hosts those on other nights. I prefer costumes and cocktails. Regular life drawing makes me feel like I am back in school.

sketch night
spiderman art
photos by Mariana Leung


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