Saturday, February 27, 2010

Important People....

I've been speaking a lot lately of the people who influence and inspire me - friends, family, mentors, prominent can tell a lot about a person by who they surround themselves with. But I find that it's difficult for me to express my admiration for the people who are closest to me, especially in one fell swoop. 

Such is the case of my boyfriend Josh. It's hard to put into words a description of who he is - to emphasize just one aspect of him seems a disservice, but it would be impossible to give an accurate portrayal on paper (or computer screen).
The best I can do is to say that Josh is the most honest person I've ever met, and he's redefined the importance of honesty in my life. When I'm with him, I know I'm getting all of him - he's not withholding anything, he's not testing me, he's not playing games. He is generous of himself.....willing to meet you where you are. Although he's one of the most intelligent people I've met, he's never set out to make me feel inadequate by my comparative lack of academia. He wants to share and be shared with and is the most uninhibited person I've met in this respect.....he gives so freely of himself.
Josh is also one of the most talented people I know, and in so many ways. He has a natural intelligence that translates into many forms of study and an artistic eye that examines art and design of all sort with equal clarity and style. If there's anyone I'd trust to critique my own work, it's Josh.
It would be impossible for me explain everything that I love about Josh....the list is just toooooooooo long. But I hope that he can know how thankful I am to have him in my life.

Happy Birthday, baby!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm a Hustla, I'm a, I'm a Hustla

I've become a television addict.

There are a couple of reasons why:
1. I do a lot of work from home and absolutely need some kind of noise in the background (growing up the child of musicians, I'm accustomed to being surrounded by sound).
2. My music collection hasn't been updated since I lived in a dorm - man, I miss OurTunes.
3. My attention span these days is too short to follow the plot line of a feature length film, without practically being strapped to my seat.

So, I've grown attached to the small screen, and since nothing good comes on before 8pm,* I've gotten very efficient at navigating the On Demand menu. *With the distinct exception of any of the Law and Order franchises, at least one of which is on air at any given time of the day.

As of late, I've exhausted all seasons of Mad Men, Weeds, True Blood, Californication, Nurse Jackie, The Goodwife, The Tudors, and Big Love, so I ventured out to find something new and exciting........and stumbled upon How to Make it in America.

     From the opening credits, I was hooked (see video below). The first few images reminded me why I love this city - the energy, the diversity, the eccentricity. In the first scene, one of the main characters, Cam, a young New Yorker of Dominican descent, is gliding around in Williamsburg, listening to hip-hop through big studio headphones. Only, when the camera zooms out, you see that he's hitched a ride on the back pegs of a Hasidic boy's bicycle. That's a great New York image....people from such different backgrounds helping each other, using each other, just trying to get where they're going. 

Opening Credits of "How to Make it in America"
      And the rest of the show elaborates on that theme. Ben and Cam, the two main characters, are hustling, doing whatever they can, so that eventually they can make a name for themselves. It's made me recall something my mom said when I was getting ready to move up here for college - "People don't move to New York if they aren't willing to work hard. It's just not an easy city to live in. But you can make things happen for yourself, if you're willing to work for it." Or something to that effect.

   I can relate to this show on so many levels - it's almost exactly what's going on in my life and the lives of my friends. The only difference so far (there are only 2 episodes out), is that most of my friends have a real, specific passion. For instance, my friends Chris Barnes and Jason Roman, who I spoke of HERE. Another example is my good friend Jason Pfaeffle (see Array Series). He's an incredibly talented artist and designer with real vision. Right now he's working a few different jobs to support himself until things take off. The same with my sister Sydney. Sydney is one of the most diversely talented people I know - an amazing printmaker and artist, incredibly intelligent and well read.....she's working her tail off supporting herself, finishing school, and she's out all the time meeting people and making connections. I'm in the same situation too - working two jobs, plus freelance projects while trying to build my fashion line. (And the list goes on......I will continue it in my Important People "series.") As far as I can tell, that's the secret to making it in New York. That or being very wealthy and well connected.

And now for something COMPLETELY different.....

     Josh and I were watching Olympic ice dancing last night. Or rather, I had one eye on the TV and the other on, making selections for my ever-expanding Dream Wardrobe, and Josh was asleep on the couch. It's shocking to me how completely cheesy most of the routines are! Tacky costumes, weak concepts, melodramatic choreography, and horrible music.......I think if I ever hear another song by Andrew Lloyd Webber my ears will bleed. Admittedly, I'm pretty cynical when it comes to figure skating - its proponents boast of grace and elegance, but more often than not I find that the focus on athleticism overpowers, no matter how honest the artistic intentions. Furthermore, any sense of 'artistry' seems to be derived from a definition far too inwardly focused, without any attention paid to what that means to the rest of the performing art world. What we as viewers are left with are regurgitated themes (primarily romantic), the same old overly dramatic music, and costumes that have no roots in modern style. To me, the hope of rescuing ice skating from the doom of having no artistic relevance is completely lost.

Yet just when I was about to change the channel (why I had waited so long is a mystery), Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated onto the ice.

See their winning Free Skate program HERE.

     They are a young, attractive couple and their costumes were the least offensive of the night. I thought to myself, "Hey, there might be something here." They took their first pose and their chemistry was immediately undeniable. They seemed both naively romantic and knowingly sensual, and the routine that followed demonstrated their fluency in both modes. Their movements were genuinely graceful, sensitive, and elegant. It is the first couple I've seen actually 'dance' on the ice, as opposed to just transitioning from one lift to another. Everything about this routine set them apart from the rest of the couples - the balletic quality of their movement, the true chemistry between them, their choice of Mahler's Symphony No. 5 for their music, and their costumes that were relatively understated and lovely. 

     I thought, "I was all wrong! There IS artistry in figure skating! There is hope!" 

And then......

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, skating to "Ave Maria" in costumes that look as though they've been through a disco paper shredder. (See their routing HERE, if you dare)

All hope is lost after all.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

La Di Da

Work today is soooooooo slooooooooooow. Torturous, really.
So I've done some sketching, reading, facebook stalking. Oh, and I checked out the last shows from NY Fashion Week on

I have a soft spot in my heart for Isaac Mizrahi. The man lives in a sublime fantasy, and each season he dreams up clothes for some obscure woman in an obscure scenario. You know an Upper East Side housewife/Socialite, who absolutely has to wear a neon pink fur jumpsuit to walk her Bichon Frise down 5th Avenue. As luck would have it, these fantasy women live right here in New York City and shop at Bergdorf.
"OH, I just Love walking my bog in my pink fur jumpsuit!" (Illustration by Me)

For Fall 2010, Isaac sent us on a stroll down "Parka Avenue," with chic references to camping. An implied hi/ low mix showed up in details such as toggle closures and hardware, as well as a sleeping bag-esque jacket over a brocade skirt suit - appropriate for the "ladies-who-lunch" set, should they encounter a snowstorm in the East 70s.

But the camping references didn't catch my eye as much as the use of texture throughout. Isaac employed his signature blend of colorful, patterned, and textural cloths to give this collection a quirky vibrance and sense of humor.

Crystals applied to look like alligator hide!

Sequins? Beads? Whatever.....I love how that looks like shagreen.

Isaac is one of the few remaining designers who really seem to have fun with fashion (Jean Paul Gautier is there with him). His work is clever and unexpected, and whenever I see something like that shagreen gown, or his inside-out fur coat (I couldn't find a picture), I can't help but smile. Because his clothing is unfailingly chic and sophisticated as well, it makes perfect sense that his target demographic is a society woman - it is important for her to be dressed elegantly for whatever occasion, but in Isaac's clothes that job can feel like play. Oh the luxury of a woman who can claim "dressing" as a hobby.

This is just beautiful.

And this looks like so much fun to wear!

And not to beat a dead horse, but Mr. Mizrahi also adopted the dropped/cropped shoulder trend (that I mentioned HERE and HERE.

Oh, and.........

...So did Reem Acra.

I LOVE to say, "I told you so."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fashion, Schmasion

Any fashionista worth her OTK* boots knows it's New York Fashion Week right now. I've been tracking the shows on, and I hate to admit it, but so far I've been pretty disappointed.

*Over The Knee Boots (Prada Fall 2009)

New York is a hotbed for young designers, so it's nothing new to see a budding label make a few side steps on the way to finding its aesthetic identity, myself included. But this is also one of the most exciting things about NY Fashion Week; although it's not the most avant garde of the fashion week venues, one really gets a chance to see where fashion is heading - it's mostly sportswear, not couture, so people will actually wear this stuff.
But from what I'm seeing this season, even the established brands are struggling to find a binding aesthetic thread. Silhouettes are all over the place. Styling is sloppy. There seems to be no forward movement - if you threw your wardrobes from the past 3-4 seasons into a blender, you'd end up with Fall 2010.
The only congruity I've witnessed is an overwhelming mish-mash of textiles, punctuated by a startling misuse of one of my favorite fabrics - Velvet.

Zac Posen


Alexander Wang

Marc Jacobs

Bibhu Mohapatra*

Velvet is everywhere this season. Jackets, pants, dresses, gowns. That in itself isn't such a crime - My own sketches for a fall collection featured many incarnations of heavy cotton velvet (Josh can attest to the fact that I have an uncanny ability to sense trends before they appear). But in so many instances on the runway, the cloth looked mishandled - crumpled, wrinkled, even crushed (I thought that crushed velvet had been relegated to bad ice skating costumes, but I guess I was wrong). It was shown over-embellished or paired with uncomplimentary fabrics and trims. Rarely did I see it displayed as the sumptuous, luxurious cloth that it really is (*with the distinct exception of that lovely black Bibhu Mohapatra asymmetric dress).

Another trend that has popped up also appeared in the men's collections a few weeks back - that is emphasizing the shoulders by breaking up the upper body with contrasting fabrics (See the Menswear examples I pointed out HERE....the Louis Vuitton section especially).
Philosophy di Albetra Ferretti

Bibhu Mohapatra

Donna Karan

Chado Ralph Rucci

Cushnie et Ochs

Like I mentioned in that previous post, this is something I've been experimenting with myself, based on the image of a woman rising out of a pool of water. It makes complete sense for Donna Karan to incorporate this shape, being that she has made quite a living on exposing her woman's shoulders. I think this is a natural evolution of the embellished, heavily padded, and over emphasized shoulder trend. This incarnation is more sleek, more feminine and much more wearable.

Aside from strong collections from sophisticated designers like Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan (celebrating the label's 25th anniversary), and Marc Jacobs (who I typically don't really jive with), there were only 2 collections that excited me....and neither were by designers I usually follow very closely.

Peter Jensen, with his unmistakably English approach to modern dressing, turned out a lovely collection on the theme of 1930's schoolgirl. He went beyond this typical predictability by giving not only excellent, simple separates, but quite a bit of charming sexiness. I feel that this styling referenced his Danish heritage - So many Danish girls I've seen have this uncanny ability to wear coy, cool and quirky all in the same look. There were looks from cute to chic, hip to classic - something for me, my mom, and my grandmother. And it was all cohesive - not an easy feat.

Can we say "Copenhagen?"

One of the more convincing arguments for velvet this season

Peter Jensen is a great representation of what New York fashion week has to offer - cool wearable clothes. Any of these pieces could be worn a plethora of ways by many different women, and each could add her own twist. Clothes for the people, that's what I say.

Zero + Maria Cornejo did the one thing any collection should do - present a cohesive aesthetic concept. It's really what any art should do: Tell you what the artist is thinking. What does she want you to see? What is he trying to get across? Most fashion shows this season have failed in this department. You leave feeling clueless about what the designer was trying to say. But Maria Cornejo has rarely faltered in this effort, her vision is so precise. This season she used her trademark androgynous tailoring to tell a vague 'England to Africa' story, but it wasn't the narrative that took center stage. It's simply that she makes cool, interesting clothes with a point of view, and real people actually want to wear them (Michelle Obama is a real person, isn't she?).

Backstage after her show, Cornejo said, "Everybody does fashion right now, and nobody needs anymore clothes. You have to do things that are desirable and look lovely and authentic."
...a woman after my own heart.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

When I asked Josh what he wanted to do for Valentine's Day, he went on this rant about how it's all a marketing ploy and only an excuse for spending money on things that don't really have much sentimental value any way. But just when I wanted to start pouting about his cynicism, he said, "We can be romantic any day we want - we don't need a calendar to tell us when." *Sigh* I love this man.

And I completely agree with him. But at the same time, I never shy away from an excuse to make a regular old day extra special. That's what made Valentine's Day so much fun in grade school - sure candy and cards are nice, but anything out of the ordinary was cause enough for celebration.
So we did decide to do a little something special today after all...

Josh made me my favorite meal - Chicken in Mustard Sauce, with egg noodles and green beans (I made the green beans). I couldn't eat it fast enough! If I were ever in a position to request a last meal, this would probably be it. We paired it with a lovely bottle of 2000 Maison Louis Latour Puligny-Montrachet - deliciously crisp, with a slightly smokey nose and a bit of green apple in the finish. A nice clean white to pair with the rich dish.

And I made Josh a Chocolate Ganache tart, which I decorated with cocoa powder. (I talked him into getting the heart-shaped tart pan for me last Valentine's day). It was DELICIOUS, and he's already asked me to make it for him for his birthday in a couple of weeks. 

I also wanted, in honor of today, to share with you some of my favorite red, pink, and otherwise Valentine's-y dresses.........

Dolce and Gabbana Spring 2010

Marc Jacobs Resort 2010

Valentino PreFall 2010

Carolina Herrera PreFall 2010

Jason Wu Fall 2010

Valentino Couture Spring 2006

Monique L'Huillier Fall 2010

Christian Dior Couture Spring 2009

L'Wren Scott Spring 2010

Louis Vuitton Fall 2009

Marchesa Fall 2008