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Thursday, February 22, 2018

NYFW: Custo Barcelona Fall 2018

Do you need to see a fashion collection in person to review it properly? Custo Barcelona fall 2018 is a brand that makes the case for yes. This label is one where no amount of fabrics or embellishment is too much for one outfit. Many of the established editors have long since taken the easy way out and written their NYFW recaps from the comfort of their office or laptop, and readers looking for the scoop are getting ripped off as a result.
Looking at photos of Custo Dalmau's fall looks, you don't get the full scope of the work put into each outfit. An edgy cocktail dress might look like an interesting mosaic of patterns from a graphics standpoint. However, a photo can't convey the delicately layered peacock feather eyes, paired with beaded embroidery and how it moved when the model walked. The metallic brocade pieced trim was perfectly cut to curve around the shoulder. In a photo, an editor couldn't possibly distinguish a cheap print from 3D couture.
In fall 2018, there were big coats mixing leather, iridescent, metallic fabrics and embroidery. When urban areas get cold, people generally hunker down in dark, somber outerwear, which is how most designers treat cold weather. I welcome flamboyant fashion statements when everything else around is grey and depressing. Even the accessories are coordinated with the clothing. Shoes are just as embellished, mixing patterns and textures as the clothes. Sunglasses are not subtle either.
This season, the message of the collection is "Yes, this is Me." The bold statements on the runway are to support women who are empowered to make bold statements in real life.
If I took the time to describe every individual look in this show, you would be ready for weeks. If you are looking at every outfit in a slideshow, they might blur after awhile. From a customs standpoint, it is satisfying to know whatever look you choose is your statement piece. Whether you buy a winter coat or slip dress for a night out, you know it will be the most striking piece in the room. 
Looking to shed your wallflower ways? Custo Barcelona fall 2018 is your go-to collection to command the room.
All Photos by Mariana Leung

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dances of Vice Venetian Valentine Grande Masquerade

Happy Valentine's Day! Yours truly celebrated this romantic day with Dances of Vice's Venetian Valentine Masquerade Ball. The venue was the dramatic former bank in Manhattan's Lower East Side. The soaring columns were lit with artistic lighting and draped velvets and silks.
The dress code was Venetian opulence (or naughtiness) with masks being a required element. Alternatively, guests could choose a black tie, but thankfully, most complied with the theme. The main floor was packed with glamorous costumes and a floor show of burlesque, opera, aerialists, and contortionists to give the air of an elegant circus. These performers came courtesy of Company XIV, known for their erotic Nutcracker Rouge production during the holiday season in NYC.
The upper floors were reserved for VIP ticket holders. They included a lounge of the martini glass and vintage bathtub burlesque dancers to tickle your fancy. A mesmerizing juggler looked like he was just casting a spell to make glass balls levitate. A more risque lounge was dedicated to BDSM demonstrations for curious guests. I would call it "bondage light" for newbies who wanted to explore the equipment in a comfortable, supportive crowd.
Shien Lee, the founder of Dances of Vice, produced this extravagant party. For years, she has been the maven who got New Yorkers to dress up and party in theme for the most stylish soirees. Her events have grown more and more popular, taking over massive venues each season.
I dressed up in an outfit inspired by Shakespeare's Titania of a Midsummer's Night's Dream. Hubby was my Oberon in tails. This is an event where you go all out and wear that crazy extravagant outfit that you could never imagine wearing. I can't imagine a more stylish, sexy way to spend Valentine's week with a  (lusted after) loved one.
Photos by Mariana Leung and Adam Weinstein

Saturday, February 10, 2018

NYFW: Tadashi Shoji Fall 2018 #MeToo

tadashi shoji fw18
tadashi shoji nyfw
In the most unlikely of places, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement have landed on the runway. Tadashi Shoji's stated his Fall 2018 collection was a tribute to the diverse, strong women in the movement. The looks were presented in a range of silhouettes and lengths to have the wearer feel empowered.

The use of shorter cuts on some dresses or perhaps sheer or lace fabrics was to make the statement that women should feel confident and comfortable to wear anything they wish. There were also a dozen black looks for solidarity to the #MeToo movement demonstrated in the red carpet looks at the Golden Globes Awards.

backstage nyfw
Backstage at Tadashi Shoji
Looking at the collection purely for its fashion merit, the looks had a certain 1930's Hollywood glamor. The asymmetrical draping and bias cut seams and gathered details was flattering to most body types. Intense jewel tones looked great on different skin tones as did the platinum metallic shimmer fabrics. Hair and makeup gave the models gorgeous big rolled waves, many with a side part a la Veronica Lake.

Shoji's popularity grew on the red carpet after actress Octavia Spencer wore several of his looks over the awards season where she won multiple awards for The Help. She made it a point to choose Tadashi Shoji because he was one of the few designers happy to dress full figured women towards the beginning of her career.

If you are about to walk the red carpet, make sure you are dressed by a designer who has your back. Tadashi Shoji is the supportive, glamorous choice you need.
Photos by Mariana Leung

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

#NYFWM: Joseph Abboud Fall 2018

I LOVE starting my New York Fashion Week with dapper, dashing leading men. Joseph Abboud brought us back to classic Hollywood style for his fall 2018 collection. Handsome gentlemen were dressed in tailoring that brought back the elegant style of silver screen idols.
Rich tweeds, herringbones, tapestry, pinstripes were displayed in a pared-down palette of charcoal grey, pale grey, burgundy, and black. Double-breasted jackets and waistcoats were given updates cuts and style lines while jacket collars framed the model's faces to flatter a perfect headshot.
The bespoke, custom luxury look here comes from the brand's new studio in Bedford to present high quality, artisan American made clothing. They also partnered with a heritage shoemaker, Allen Edmonds based out of Wisconsin.
The fashion show itself provided the Old Hollywood set. A lovely band played vintage hits. Guests were seated at tiny cocktail tables amid big palm fronds while they sipped champagne at the historic Wolcott Hotel.
The guys shooting this show around me were just as impressed as I was in drooling over this collection. Joseph Abboud is how I fantasize my men would dress. Amid all of the streetwear that became the norm in recent seasons, it was a real treat to see this level of artisan luxury. Can't wait to (realistically, sample sale) shop this Joseph Abboud Fall 2018 collection.
All photos by Mariana Leung

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Blonds Spring 2018 - Platinum Paradise

DO blondes have more fun? The label is called The Blonds for a reason. Spring 2018 for the designers took the general concept of streetwear and amplified the glamor and embellishment to the Nth degree.
Starting with the basic garment items of denim jackets, jumpsuits, slip dresses and shorts, the pieces were then given an extreme bling treatment. 
The Blonds are known for dressing the biggest stage divas of our generation. This collection offered outfits for performing AND for when they want to step out without losing the glamour.
Embellishment artisans were working backstage right up until the moment models took the runway. The Blonds collaborated with Preciosa Crystals to create colorful jeweled embroideries that elevated each piece. The three-dimensional look to the embroidery was achieved through a combination of mixed sizes and shapes of the crystal components, embellished with an irregular pattern. Large, chunky chains were also used to give a shiny, urban glam effect to the hardware. Big cut fabric appliques were twisted and folded to give a dimensional, lacy look.

Preciosa crystals were also used for the beauty looks. Make-up artists painstakingly applied crystals for elaborate nail art and as eye embellishments.
Despite the "platinum" theme, I liked the diversity of the models. A full range of ethnicities, genders and body shapes were represented, as long as they looked fierce. 
Celebrities in the front row included Paris Hilton and Instagram meme curator and The Fat Jewish, rumored to be launching a fashion collection together. 
Attending The Blonds Spring 2018 collection does set the bar high for you guys, so good luck.
Need a dose of bling and fabulous-ness? You can rest here.
All photos by Mariana Leung

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Christian Dior at the ROM

Enjoying the Haute Couture shows this week out of Paris? Well, I just returned from Toronto where I got to explore Christian Dior at the ROM. This fashion exhibit was on the smaller side at the Royal Ontario Museum.
The show was not a career-spanning, sprawling retrospective of the brand like you would expect to find at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This Christian Dior exhibit mainly focused on the era around the New Look's popularity. Think the 1940's and 1950's. The fit and flared silhouettes of this time period defined that generation. Many would even refer to that era and the clothing aesthetic as the "Dior New Look period."

What I really appreciated about this exhibit, was the tributes it paid to their artisans. Most people don't realize details like hand-beading, ribbon making, etc. are services that are often handled by outside contractors at the Haute Couture level. Usually, those names are lost to history. This exhibit had cases of embroidered swatches from the top embroidery studios that the designer used. Studios like Maison Rebe, Maison Hurel and Gynisty & Quenolle.
The show also highlighted how Christian Dior purposely used ribbon as an elaborate design element as a way to preserve the ribbon industry itself.
If you cannot afford to fly to Paris and order Haute Couture creations every season, your local dressmaker can pay to use licensed editions of designer patterns and sketches to make a legal designer copy for your clients.
I liked seeing screen monitors that educated the viewer on the construction of the garments. Some looked deceptively simple until you saw the many, precisely drafted pattern pieces that made up the gown on the mannequin,
You got to see small glimpses of the design process. There were sketchbooks and hand cut fabric swatch catalogs on display. 
Brand-expanding licenses were covered. Everything from perfume, jewelry, and shoes were shown. I was a little disappointed that this exhibit did not have more personal anecdotes or items that would give you a sense of the man behind the label. However, the process of the label and everything that made up the dress in front of the label was covered. 
I also would have liked to see the work of other designers that have led or influenced the brand, rather than just a little bit of the work process for Christian Dior.

Now that you have seen a bit of elegance in Toronto, why don't you visit the exhibit sometime? The Christian Dio at the ROM show will be in Canada until March 18, 2018.
Photos by Mariana Leung
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