Bow montage

The Cat-astrophe M·A·C-Hello-Kitty post (and this will be the last of my meanderings on this theme) has got me thinking about bows lurking in all kinds of places. On hats and cats; Minnie and GaGa.

The style blogs are agog with the hair-raising (well, more hair-placing) accessory ever since Leighton Meester’s character, Blair Waldorf, from television series Gossip Girls has been donning them, episode after episode.

I confess, I’ve never watched the series, but judging from the pictures available of Meester’s looks online, it appears the bow-band (consider that trademarked!) offers a sense of class, (in every sense of the word) to two variations of the same haughty attitude: I have money and I’m flaunting it with my overpaid for appropriated wardrobe part bubby part Bergdorf, or I’m better than all these private school uniform clad students who are like the speed bumps of life. Argh!

Mischa Barton, from The O.C. (the other Josh Schwartz calorie-wise programming), tried to revive the headband earlier, in an exclusive collection developed with accessories designer Stacey Lapidus. Although the selected bands remain for sale online, the press has been more critical towards the actresses new turn in career, and front-row attendance at fashion shows, than the line itself that I’m hard-pressed to know if the collaboration has been successful. Read more

Shrimpton eve gown

With a new year comes the editing of clothing in my closet. Far from being a hoarder, I make every attempt to subscribe to the most frequently worn pieces, the absolute must-haves, and emergency formal wear. This means, the hoodies stay, the lint brush is taken to the knit black skirt, and as long as I remain this size, the full winter coat is a permanent fixture. The box-cut large-knit sweaters are out and so are the long-sleeved Ts–too loose to layer with, too thin to wear on their own. The crisp, white blazer, with the tag still on it, purchased nearly eight years ago, needs a new home. It seems I have followed post-Labour Day clothing convention without even knowing it.

Although my shopping habits are incredibly vigilant and absolutely tame, I am imposing a clothing moratorium of sorts for the better part of the new year lest I fall into many a fashion faux pas both my closet and my wallet will not be able to endure. I’m going to be less about owning, and more about styling and rediscovering the new ways on how to put existing items together. An image of Jean Shrimpton, in evening dress, will be my muse. Read more

Lesage logomark

Couture is dead. So, would be the case without Atelier Lesage.

The famous Atelier is responsible for some of the most sacrosanct embroidery on ready-to-wear and haute couture items for Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, and in the past, Elsa Schiaparelli, Madame Vionnet, and many others.

The fine needlework techniques employed by the Atelier date back more than 125 years, when the establishment was bought by Albert Lesage from Charles Worth, later inherited by Albert’s son, François Lesage.

François built the Atelier into an empire, which to this day, remains in France. (Jean Paul Gautier has relegated some of his more intricate stitchery and beading to workers in India.) However, François’s vision for his inherited institution has come at a price.

In 2002, Karl Lagerfeld purchased the Atelier along with other smiths in France, now known as the Chanel satellites, which continue to influence what the couture price tag has certainly become about: craft and craftsmanship.

The corporate backing by the compassionate client is ideal for the Atelier that also runs a School for a new generation of petites mains to learn about embroidery! Classes include butterfly making, sculpted roses, and constellation cell phone pouches.

Incredible!

Living in France, learning something new, and being surrounded by fashion. Could there be anything better?

Further convincing can be established from Lesage, an engaging profile of the Atelier and the history of the embroidery arts, by Lydia Kamitsis. Embellished pieces photographed in the book not to be missed are the wedding bolero for Christian Lacroix, the Van Gogh Irises jacket detail , and the fish-scaled sequined dress, both for Yves Saint Laurent.

The select examples of garments made in the past decade attests, couture, is alive and well, sparkling and celebrated. As it always, necessarily, should be.

IMAGE | Atelier Lesage | Lesage logo | Atelier Lesage images.

Details equation

Many magazines today include articles about interpreting fashion to their reading audience. The articles are often titled things like “Runway, Our way,” or are simply a category heading like, “ATM, “Gold,” and “Platinum.” Some articles are disguised as DIY instructions on creating similar designer goods and looks. A cut T-shirt here, an elastic there, and voilà! Your very own Doo-ri look-a-like tank. (In some cases, a tutorial authorized by the designer himself.)

A word of caution to fashion mags everywhere. It’s a bit dangerous to walk into copycat territory. The reason is based on assumption. The publishers’ assumptions actually. In the long term, at the expense of the magazine’s editorial credibility. Read more

Vogue Knitting Spring Summer

Leave it to me to think of sweaters in the dead of summer. I just can’t help it! The Spring/Summer issue of Vogue Knitting (VK) has sparked my interest in cropped knit tops and above-the-knee dresses–that can easily be reworked as tunics when fall hits.

The “Ecologic” collection has completely won me over. Repetitive darting on an A-line dress makes for a tailored fit and inventive element of design. Peacoat details on a small, wrap sweater is a clever take on the new summer jacket (and a welcome change to the predictable cam-and-cardi-office-twin-set-then-out-for-Alize-on-the-patio attire). Adherence to pattern (or non-adherence to pattern) make for structured pieces that are casual and elegant; not too precious, but not too plain either. (Just take a look at the golden-coloured short-sleeve top with three large cable knits running through. The sweater looks like stalks of wheat amidst the brilliant sun.)

The Issue also features a bridal section that dares to knit gowns, wraps and accessories like this vintage looking purse. Although I can only manage girly-girl in small bits (I’m just not “lady” enough to pull of saccharine-sweet frills and flowers), I love the purse for its perfect blend of new and old, its whimsy, and its value as a true alternative–what I think accessories really are, and should be called.

But wait, there’s more! Read more

Suzy Kendall School Dance To Sir With Love

To Sir With Love is one of my all-time favourite movies. I love the colour and texture of the film; the relationships among the characters, but more so the ones that are open-ended and undefined (more on this later); and the range of emotion the story packs in without being trite or uncharacteristic.

Sidney Poitier makes the film. He is amazing as Mark Thackeray, or “Sir.” As a teacher to some of the troubled youth from the slums of East London, Poitier’s character provides incredible honesty in depicting the complex layers of his role with subtlety and natural finesse, I have yet to witness anyone else on celluloid possesses like him.

“Sir,” like any great teacher, is a mentor, a parent, an adviser and a friend, but one with authority, who commands a certain amount of respect. His demonstration of care among his students wins them over and engages the interest of his colleagues, in particular, teacher Gillian Blanchard, played by Suzy Kendall. Read more

Zip Off Sleeves Mary Rocks the Vest Hybrid

With the bit of sun that comes with spring, so does many closeted (literally!) ensembles of what to wear during summer transition.

Acceptable looks, I know I’ll never pull off, are small-floral print dresses with tall Wellies and thick knee-highs; flats paired with skinny jeans and long layered tanks; bolero jackets over vintage concert Ts with shiny, skin-tight leggings. All items, that could very well do double duty come fall and even late winter, except for maybe one item.

Vests.

Vests might be the fashion culprit of transitional seasonal wear. Read more