Friday, January 30, 2009

Interview with Maria Luisa Poumaillou

Her unique outlook and intuitive buying style has made Maria Luisa Poumaillou one of the most iconic and influential women in Paris. Owner and buyer of the directional Maria Luisa boutique, she has been feeding the Parisian’s discerning appetite for style for over two decades. Here, talks to the woman behind the boutique about her passion for new talent and freedom of expression.

2009 sees the 21st year of the Maria Luisa boutique in the fashionable Saint Honoré district, how did you make your start in the industry?

Maria Luisa: I’d say almost by accident. My husband and I were associated to this friend who had designed a collection and we were supposed to open a store with her, on rue Cambon where our first boutique was located. We clashed so both friendship and shop project sank. We ended up with an empty store which we had already invested money in. I decided to call all the designers I liked and had seen from magazines and asked them to carry their collection. Naively, when they asked me which other designers I carried, I mentioned the names of the other designers I just had called – and it worked! I think I already had a strong taste, but I didn’t know much how things worked at the time!

What were the first labels to be stocked and how have these names evolved since your first buy with them?

Maria Luisa: There are not many comments to make about the designers that I carried right from the opening of the store: Martine Sitbon – which I have always carried until today under the Rue du Mail label; John Galliano - what is there to say?; Helmut Lang - I was the first one to buy him here, before the 90’s – so influential. I could also mention Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, Issey Miyake, Comme des Garçons. A lot of the brands I used to carry have disappeared since then, but still, we used to have such a huge success with Jean Colonna and Patrick Kelly. Also Rifat Ozbek and some other designers have become huge under their own names or in houses.

You’re renowned for a unique and intuitive buying style and when the first Maria Luisa boutique opened, Saint Honoré was considered a very traditional, couture-focused area. What was the reaction to your radical buying style?

Maria Luisa: We have had a very strong press support right from the beginning. Of course, commercially speaking, it wasn’t an easy task, but there was a freshness at the opening of the store that people really liked. The fashionistas, editors, models etc made it a success pretty early on. I think people were just plain excited to see something new with new designers around. Remember what the ‘houses’ like Dior etc looked like at the time - they were boring. Afterwards, so many of these designers ended up taking the lead in the houses, Galliano, McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Margiela at Hermès etc. It was an exciting time because people wanted a new direction, a new way of conceiving fashion, different from the traditional ‘bourgeois’ luxury from that time - a new silhouette, like Margiela’s or Helmut’s.

The boutique presents a real diversity in its collection. With names as disparate as Ann Demuelemeester and Charles Anastase, how do you begin to curate such a collection?

Maria Luisa: What we like in fashion is the freedom to be whoever you like. There are so many different styles, identities. I don’t like being stuck in a style rut – even though I have my own favourite designers of course. What our designers have in common is their talent, their creativity, but also the ability of surprising us. They also have to be efficient at their work - it is not only about ‘art’ - they also have to deal with the reality of everyday life. I guess what we are doing is the total opposite of big group’s logics - we want to transmit our enthusiasm, the things we are excited about, basically we want to relay these designers to the consumer. We are not pushing in only one direction like today’s marketing, but we want to feel free. Not that we are running after new things just for the sake of it, everything should be justified somehow. It sounds complex and messy but it makes sense in the end, it works in the store – it’s our secret recipe I guess.

In 1998, you introduced Manolo Blahnik to Maria Luisa, with just a handful of stockists outside of the Manolo Blahnik stores, having the collection exclusively in France must be a great asset to the boutique?

Maria Luisa: Yes, I guess it is an asset for the store, but it is also a partnership, a kind of mutual recognition. It is the best product, in terms of quality and style, such an exquisite taste, we are so happy to work with him. You know, it is like a Rolls Royce, you can’t find much better!

After several incarnations through the years, the Maria Luisa boutique now consists of a menswear boutique and the newly opened womenswear boutique on Rouget de L’Isle. What was the concept behind the store design and what kind of atmosphere did you want to achieve?

Maria Luisa: We have never been a ‘concept store’ so there was no other concept behind the store than to give our intuitive buying a frame for a unique shopping experience. We have never had impressive or obnoxious boutiques, we like the idea of our store open to new ideas as a gallery, but in a more lively way!

As part of your commitment to new talent, you’re a partner of the International Talent Support (ITS), a project which offers a platform for young creatives. Can you tell us about the project and the role of the Maria Luisa Award within it?

Maria Luisa: The dedicated team of ITS contacted us very early at the start of their organisation and we liked their project and also the way they see fashion, it’s pretty similar to ours actually. We are part of the jury who decides who wins the awards, but we also have our own ‘Maria Luisa’ award. It is more of an opportunity than an award in itself - it depends on the designer and what they want to do - most of them have only just graduated and we like to support their vision as much as we can. Some of them need contacts for a job in a house or an internship with one of our designers, some of them use our shop as a showroom during Fashion Week when they launch their own collection, like Peter Pilotto or Justin Smith (JSmith Esquire), some of them just want to do displays to include in their portfolios etc. I think basically we are there to help them in their first steps in the professional word of fashion. But we don’t only do that for people who get this award, we asked Heikki Salonen, who got the Diesel Award to produce a small collection for us. We also check a lot of schools around the world and of course support Hyères Festival.

You decided to join the project and were one of the original boutique partners for the launch in 2008, how important do you feel the role of e-commerce is for emerging and established fashion labels and boutiques?

Maria Luisa: E-commerce has to be integrated now for all sorts of businesses today. Not doing it would be like still riding a horse when there are already cars. Even though you can still ride a horse and own a car.

What new labels can we expect to see from the boutique for Spring/Summer 09?

Maria Luisa: The US duo Ohne Titel - one of the best collection of the season - with Helmut Lang infused looks and innovative knitwear; the Finnish Heikki Salonen with a collection discovered at ITS; Olivier Borde with a menswear collection first shown in Hyères Festival - very refined and childhood inspired; the jewellery of Arielle de Pinto - thinly knitted webs of silver and gold chains.

Ohne Titel

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dior Haute Couture Spring 09-10

Making a Case for Retail Innovation

From Coolhunter

Economic doom and gloom does have an upside. It has laid the foundations for a fertile new landscape of creativity and innovation. When the market gets tough brands have to work harder to keep their customers, they have to find more creative ways to engage them. Innovation becomes a must in the design process. It's a case of innovate or risk a likely death. Which is why we predict a rebirth of creativity across product design, marketing and retail design. This new era isn't about big dollars, it's about big ideas and originality. Expect the unexpected.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Genius behind Chanel

Fifty Years Later: Chanel Couture Spring 09

From Women's Wear Daily January 27, 2009

“The idea was a white page,” Lagerfeld said days before his show. But there are white pages and white pages. For his, Lagerfeld commissioned a floral paradise crafted from 4,000 meters of plain, pristine paper. He “wanted everything graphic itself, no bling-bling,” to realize the idea, which came to him just after his over-the-top Russian-inspired satellite show in December: “Everything was so pushed — housecleaning was needed.”

Hence the move from the Grand Palais — “I’m glad it was empty,” Lagerfeld quipped of the landmark, now housing the show of another fellow, Picasso — to a former bank just up the street on the Rue Cambon. Along with it, he shifted his set approach from the single-prop, megainstallations of swirling tower, giant carousel and re-created city street to a glorious paper heaven (grand stairway and 32 columns covered in pristine bowers; paper flower centerpieces and lace cloths dressing cafe tables) that looked like the best work of the cleverest wedding planner in town, or a walk-in version of David Pelham’s ingenious pop-up book “Trail.” (Rather than the book, Lagerfeld’s own 18th-century porcelains, as well as the modern interiors of Marcel Wanders and others, served as primary inspirations.) The set, done under the direction of Stéphane Lubrina, boasted 6,700 assorted-species blossoms and took 40 people 15 weeks to create. (The paper was glass, rather than wood-based, all ye who might get your scratchy organic panties in a twist.) “Mr. Wertheimer said something very nice,” Lagerfeld relayed in reference to his own spending proclivities. “He said, maybe a shortage somewhere, but not in your department.”

Certainly, here was no shortage of pure delight, a collection inventively conceived and impeccably executed, from the wondrous paper headpieces crafted by Japanese hair genius Katsuya Kamo to several chic takes on spectator sandals. And the real stars of the day: the clothes. Lagerfeld sent out fab day clothes working a supernarrow focus — tiered structure in various shades of white. Anchoring the look: a square shoulder, often in a short, straight capelet, as if sliced from an 8-1/2-by-11 page. These perched atop little jackets and crisp A-shaped skirts, interspersed with softer moments now and then, and with an occasional flash of crisp black trim. Similarly, save for a brief digression to black and prints, high evening continued along the great white way, with stark lines contrasting more ethereal options.

In lesser hands, it might have been a snooze. Lagerfeld, however, worked each look to distinction. A plain suit featured a swish of chiffon at the wrists; a dress’ curious lace motif was fashioned from feathers. As for Lagerfeld’s no-bling assertion — not really. In this lineup, tight rows of bugle beads formed shimmery stripes, paillettes masqueraded as polkadots and the bride wore an austere sequined Sixties Space Age jumpsuit outfit, her endless frothy train decorated with, among other elements, paper embroideries, done by none other than M. Lesage.

Still, the mood chez Chanel is that the paper trail won’t end in his nimble hands. Recession or no, the belief is that more than a few clients remain plenty flush with cash. Or they can break out the kind of plastic that’s good for the fashion environment.

See Chanel Runway Slideshow

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Look back: Vintage Haute Couture, Chanel 1959

Something to Make People Dream...

Those were the words said by Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, backstage, while predicting that the crisis would not begin to recede until the end of 2010. (International Herald Tribune) This hasn't deterred any of the couture atelier's from presenting opulent collections showcasing the talent and creativity for which they have become so well known. As always, some of the foremost creatives in fashion take us on a journey; Galliano drops us in Vermeer's Amsterdam, Armani creates a vision of futuristic Chinoiserie and Stephen Roland presents us a sculpted and elegant utopia. It's not clear exactly what kind of dreams these designers would like us to have, but in such dire economic times, any flight of fancy is definitely a welcome escape.

From Associated Press, Report on the first day of Paris Fall 09/10 Couture shows:

PARIS: Looking at the shows that kicked off Paris' haute couture week on Monday, you'd never know the world was the midst of the most serious financial turmoil since the Great Depression.

Designers here delivered opulent, flamboyant collections that, instead of reflecting the gloomy economic reality, transported the viewer into a world of beauty and fantasy.

"My job is to make women dream," Christian Dior designer John Galliano told The Associated Press. "Of course I'm aware of the credit crunch, but it is not a creative crunch — not at the house of Dior, anyway."

Galliano sent out voluptuous skirt suits and sculptural evening gowns that took their inspiration from 17th century Dutch painters like Johannes Vermeer.

French designer Stephane Rolland — a newcomer to the elite club of made-to-measure labels — also went big, with a collection that played on volume through the use of ingenious bustles and capes.

Giorgio Armani Prive, the celebrated Italian designer's couture label, looked east for inspiration, delivering a distinctly Chinese-flavored collection.

Grand spectacles, the haute couture shows garner huge publicity for the handful of labels that still offer made-to-measure garments — which cost upward of $10,000 apiece.

Tuesday's spring-summer presentations include shows by Chanel, Christian Lacroix and Givenchy.


Associated Press

Duchess lace, delicate blue-and-white porcelain and other Flemish fineries recovered their long-lost status as the ultimate luxury goods in Christian Dior's majestic Vermeer-inspired show.

Designer Galliano said he was struck by the pose of subjects in paintings by the 17th century Dutch master and his contemporaries — and by their palette of luminous blues, yellows and creamy whites.

Ever the magpie, Galliano plucked pieces from the bourgeois Flemish wardrobe — the oversize lace collars, the droopy puff sleeves, the fitted bodices — and adapted them to the labels' hallmark skirt suit, which was created by Christian Dior in the 1940s.

The notes proclaimed the spring-summer collection "More Dior than Dior," and perhaps it just was. Waspwaisted jackets with big sleeves and even bigger hips were paired with ultra-voluminous skirts that used bonework on the hems to retain their four-leaf clover shape.

Ruffles abounded, draped over jacket necklines, bouncing off the seat and dripping down hemlines. The skirt of one slate blue suit was entirely covered in looped ruffles. Indigo flowers on the inside of another skirt — in ecru — made the garment look like a Flemish porcelain bowl turned upside-down.

Burlesque star Dita Von Teese said she there was "something about the suit looks I really love."

"It was beautiful ... all the very cinched waists and big crinolines and all the beading," said Von Teese, a frequent guest at Paris couture shows.

Other A-list guests at Monday's show included TV star Mischa Barton, rapper Kanye West, Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard — the current face of the "Lady Dior" bag line — and former French first lady Bernadette Chirac.


Patrick Kovarick/AFP

Rolland cited Constantin Brancusi as an inspiration for the collection, and the influence of the Romanian-born sculptor was clear in the show's big, bold volumes and harmonious lines.

A stiff cone-shape panel emerged from the bust of a strapless shift dress and, curling ingeniously around itself, attached to the hemline.

Another shift dress in fire engine red had a bustle-like drapery that emerged from the shoulders and attached to the hemline, creating a sort of chic superhero cape. One show-stopping look improbably melded a one-shoulder evening gown with a pantsuit.

Lozenge-shaped leather discs covered a sleeveless organza evening gown in an intricate scale pattern.

Artful mosaic beadwork also adorned the hemline of many of the other floor-length dresses, making tinkling sounds as the models strutted their stuff. At the end, the catwalk was littered with sparkling beads and rhinestones that had popped off during the show.

It was Rolland's first display since being admitted to the select group of haute couture labels.


Patrick Kovarick/AFP

Armani delivered his "dream" of China — a glossy, sleek and sophisticated version of the Asian economic powerhouse.

Lean skirt suits in luminous silks, embellished with tassels and appliqués dominated the collection. Glossy, second-skin evening gowns, heavy with sequins and beadwork, made up many of the remaining looks in the 62-outfit show.

Pointed shoulders and cuffs on jackets evoked pagoda roofs, while a purple and yellow pantsuit recalled a Chinese martial arts ensemble.

The dresses, in lacquer red and inky black, had a costume-like quality about them. A shift dress in red sequins with black piping was almost crying out to be worn by Chinese movie star Gong Li.

The models wore severe black bobbed wigs or had their hair swept up into a long thin tower wrapped in black leather. They tottered

down the catwalk in the pencil skirts and towering, richly worked heels.

Monday, January 26, 2009

U.S. Fashion's One Woman Bailout?

J Crew Homepage
by Guy Trebay
Posted January 8, 2008 International Herald Tribune

To the laundry list of global woes the Obama administration is expected to set right, starting Jan. 20, one can probably add the quagmire of American fashion. True, it will have to wait in line behind the hemorrhaging economy and the situations in Gaza, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. True, too, it will scarcely be a top-of-mind concern for the president himself.

But the scope of responsibility in politics these days extends to family members, and the messes are now so numerous that by the time Barack Obama sets foot in the White House, everyone in his entourage will have to grab a mop.
That includes the first lady, who throughout the campaign demonstrated not just that she understood the power of clothes to transmit a message, but a readiness to adjust that message as the need arose.

Michelle Obama was not alone in that; Cindy McCain notably tweaked her image as the campaign ground along, softening her appearance to seem more populist and less like a member of the rules committee at an exclusive country club.

Yet Obama did something bolder on the campaign trail and, in a sense, less expected. With flashcard clarity, she signaled an interest both in looking stylish and also in advancing the cause of American fashion and those who design and make it. She wore off-the-rack stuff from J. Crew and, at times controversially, designs by fashion darlings like Isabel Toledo, Thakoon Panichgul and Narciso Rodriguez. She brought to the campaign a sophisticated approach to high-low dressing, a determination to adapt designers' work to suit herself — adding jewelry or sweaters or wearing flat shoes with sheaths or even altering dressmaking details — as well as a forthright conviction that it is the woman who should wear the clothes and not the other way around.

Insignificant as this may seem in the larger scheme of things, it is less so when one considers the distressing state in which American fashion has found itself lately, with both chain and department stores shutting their doors, consumers confidence at its lowest level in decades and manufacturers struggling to remain afloat in what, as May Chen, the international vice president of the union group Unite Here, explained, "has always been a very credit-sensitive industry."

Hamish Bowles, the Vogue editor who was curator of "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years," a 2001 show of Kennedy's style at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said of Obama, "My perception is that she's already had an extremely potent effect" on the business.

"Just looking at the designers she's been drawn to, you can see she's shown astute sartorial judgment," Bowles said. What she has also made clear in her choices, he added, is "that thoughtful and intelligent American designers are perfectly capable of creating clothes that have an impact on the world stage."

The key word in that statement is "American," a fact not lost on the retailers burdened in recent years by the weakened purchasing power of the dollar in Europe, where most designer fashion originates, and by the decision American consumers seem to have made to shop in their closets as they wait out the recession.

"There is something timely about celebrating American fashion and American designers," said Stephanie Solomon, the fashion director of Bloomingdale's, although that "something" may be largely a function of the $5,000 price tag on a typical imported dress from Lanvin.

" Obama is, first of all, very elegant and has wonderful taste," Solomon said. "But she also recognizes the value of beautiful dresses and not big prices. She dresses like taste doesn't necessarily have to do with brand or status, but with what looks well on your body and makes you look glamorous, bottom line." And that, she added, is "very refreshing and appropriate for this period."

American fashion, said Steven Kolb, the executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, like the American automobile and banking industries, is "at a crossroads" in dire need of some kind of boost. Reviving a faltering homegrown industry may seem like a lot to expect of one woman, however highly placed. Yet, whether or not she likes it — or has any particular interest in fashion at all — the first lady has traditionally been expected to use her position to help promote American goods.

"What the first lady wears has a lot of effect on the industry, absolutely," said Arnold Scaasi, who began designing clothes for the wives of American presidents during the term of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The first lady, Scaasi said, "is seen every day in some form of media, and what she looks like is copied by other women."

Even Mamie Eisenhower managed to inspire followers with her goofy and pastel matron style. Although Eisenhower probably never set off a shopping frenzy, as happened after Obama wore a $148 dress from the label White House Black Market on "The View," she had an effect.

"Mamie wore bangs because she had a very high forehead," Scaasi explained. "But then hairdressers everywhere told me that women were saying, 'I want my hair just like Mamie's.' " When George H. W. Bush was president, he said, "Barbara Bush made a statement by having gray hair, and suddenly gray-haired grandmothers were chic."

When Obama's husband takes office, she will be roughly two decades younger than Bush was on the day her husband was sworn in. Three days before the inauguration, Obama will turn 45. Yet like her husband she conveys a more youthful impression, and her vital appearance has a lot do with her particular appeal to the fashion industry.

"She's like 25 years younger than the last few first ladies, and her age opens her up to a more youthful approach," the designer Anna Sui said. "I loved her choice of Narciso," she added, referring to the designer Narciso Rodriguez, whose dress Obama wore, in a version she adapted from the runway original and customized with a cardigan sweater, on election night. (That choice set off living room debates across the land over whether it flattered Obama or not.)

"She could potentially do what Jackie Kennedy did, bring about a new awareness and a fresh outlook, just by not being so intentionally 'first lady,' by mixing designer things with off the rack," Sui said. "She can give a big boost to the American fashion industry — and we need all the help we can get."

If one thinks about it, said Thakoon Panichgul, a gifted industry favorite whose name entered the mainstream after Obama wore one of his short-sleeved print dresses on the final night of the Democratic Convention, Obama does not "dress so young, exactly, and yet it's young because it feels fresh."

He continued: "She'll wear a sheath with flats and not pumps. That's not, quote unquote, appropriate, and people perceive that first ladies should be appropriate. She has the chutzpah to put it out there regardless of what anybody says."

If in Panichgul's view it is Obama's casual yet savvy approach to fashion that makes her compelling to watch, for other observers there is something deeper in play.

"Actually, her taste is very conservative, kind of jock-preppy, a version of a safe American WASP way of dressing," said Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "But what is truly compelling about her is her body. She has this athletic, commanding and confident presence that is very American." She may look great in a shift dress, he said, "but her body is so strong that I end up forgetting what she's wearing much of the time."

The potential effect Obama's physical and intellectual confidence can have on fashion, the designer Diane Von Furstenberg, president of the council of fashion designers, said in an e-mail message from London, is to promote "individuality" at a time when fashion is casting about for ways to replace the designer cultism it so recently enshrined. It does not seem insignificant, either, that Obama expresses her pleasure in following fashion without worrying that to do so automatically compromises her seriousness.

"The way Michelle Obama dresses is not her stimulus package to the fashion industry," said Kolb of the designers' council. "It's how she is. I think about my sister who lives in New Jersey and is a teacher, and about the women she works with, and how they can look at Michelle Obama and not have to pretend to be that woman, that working mother with kids who knows the big designer names but also shops at J. Crew and the Gap. She's who they are."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Will Michelle Obama Be Appearing on the Cover of VOGUE?

By: Amy Odell
Photo-illustration: Getty Images

Michelle Obama could be on the March cover of Vogue, which comes out in just a few weeks. The news leaked through her hairstylist, Johnny Wright, who signed a deal this week to develop his own reality series with the same production company that makes the Style Network's Split Ends. Stories on the deal, like this one in the Daily News, say Wright styled Michelle's hair for a Vogue cover shoot. Wright's rep hasn't responded to inquiries about this mysterious shoot, and a spokesman for Vogue would only say, "We're very interested in working with the First Lady." Teases, all of you!

This reminds us of the time Newsweek ran a story about Michelle Obama a month and a half ago, which casually mentioned she would grace the March issue of Vogue. At the beginning of December a Vogue spokesperson told us nothing had been confirmed and called the Newsweek report "incorrect." But earlier this month favorite Vogue photographer Annie Leibovitz was seen entering the Hay-Adams Hotel where the Obamas stayed before they moved into the White House. Also, March is the month of Vogue's spring fashion issue, which should be nice and weighty — ripe for Michelle's cover debut. Now even though Michelle is stylish and Anna Wintour raised a bundle for the Obama campaign, we're still having a hard time imagining Michelle on the cover. She seems more down-to-earth and Mom-ish. More Redbook, but in a good way.

Related: Michelle Obama's Vogue Cover Appears Likely [HuffPo]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

J Crew First-Class Style

By now we is aware of Michelle Obama's love of J Crew's classic All-American silhouettes, but the Inaugural Day coats designed especially for Malia and Sasha, by the company's childrenswear label, Crewcuts, have established J Crew as a true favorite of the first family.

Dear Abby Stands Up for Men in Skirts

The "man skirt" has been popping up in trend-setting cities like Paris and Antwerp, and seems to be building up quite a following, including Marc Jacobs himself. Although this is becoming a new and innovative way of dressing for men in the Western world, it does present a dilemma for those living in less fashion-forward areas, challenging well-established rules of dressing. This is the complaint of Joe, a man living in Pennsylvania, who says that he is constantly ridiculed for wearing skirts and he writes to "Dear Abby" seeking advice. Her response is that it takes a real man to wear a skirt:

From the Dear Abby column, December 31, 2008

DEAR ABBY: My problem is unusual, but I'm hoping that if you address it in your column it will help.

I'm a married man, confident in who I am, who wears skirts for comfort.

I feel that skirts are more comfortable than pants, which I find tight, restrictive and uncomfortable. I wear skirts around the house, when I'm out running errands and when I attend church. My clergyman has raised no objection to it.

After much research, my wife and I have concluded that the only thing against men wearing skirts is social pressure, and then only in certain countries - America being one of them.

Pants are a relatively new style of clothing. For thousands of years of recorded history, men and women both wore skirts. Then women fought for and won the right to wear pants, shorts, whatever they wanted - which is great. I believe men should have the same option. My wife supports me in this.

Our problem is that some family members who disagree have talked behind our backs, started rumors and turned people against us with false information.

How can I make them understand that they are entitled to their belief, but that they shouldn't gossip and create problems for us because I am not doing anything wrong?

- Joe in Pennsylvania

DEAR JOE: Gossip is the province of small-minded people, and it is sad that your relatives have used the fact that you have chosen to be different as an opportunity to spread malicious falsehoods.

As long as you have the testicular fortitude and shapely enough legs to wear skirts, then you have my blessing. Some men's clothing designers have been trying for years to revive skirts as part of men's wardrobes. Because fashion trends not only change but often revolve, who's to say you're not on the leading edge of what's to come?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A First Class First Lady

Images from

The speculation as to which fashion designer Michelle Obama would choose to wear on her husband's big day kept the newspapers and fashionistas alike guessing, especially since Michelle and her staff remained tight-lipped on the subject up until the last minute. After appearing at the Inauguration Ceremony in a bright vintage-inspired ensemble by Isabel Toledo, interest in the evening gown she had chosen only heightened.
Later that evening Mrs. Obama made her first official appearance as First Lady in a flowing assymetrical gown by newcomer Jason Wu, again showcasing her support for up-and-coming talent in the fashion industry.
With Beyonce singing "At Last" in the background, the First Lady and President took to the dance floor both elegantly attired and living up to their new official status as First Couple.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

50 Things Every a Girl Should Own (11-20)

More from the Times Online list of Fashion Must-haves:

One that’s seen much better days — for being very trashy in.

Vintage mini-dress on

12 A PAIR OF MAD SUNGLASSES They should be too mad to go on a date in, but just mad enough to feel liberated.

Vintage-inspired sunglasses from Giant Vintage

13 A SHORT, BLACK BOB WIG Check out of you-ness and be Louise Brooks for the day.

14 A STRING OF REAL PEARLS OR REAL PEARL EARRINGS Great for the complexion, as they diffuse light across your face.

15 A T-SHIRT DRESS One you’ve had since you were 22. Just throw it on and go.

T-shirt dress from American Apparel

16 A PAIR OF MEN’S BROGUES For looking playfully serious.

Vintage Perry Ellis Ladies Brogue Shoes at

17 SOMETHING DELICATE AND ANCIENT It must be kept in acid-free tissue paper — anything made of Victorian lace, for example.

18 DEREK ROSE FLANNEL PYJAMAS For spending Sundays and sickies in.

19 WHITE CORDS Less flash than white denim, more elegant than jeans. Wear with a navy pea coat, and you are Jackie O.

White Matchstick cords from

20 A KHAKI PARKA Just like the one Kate Moss wore with those Westwood boots in 2000. Never goes out of style, always looks cool — whatever anyone says.

Go to the original article here

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Michelle Obama: What Should She Wear?

Article from WWD December 1, 2008
by Bridget Foley and Bobbi Queen

Who says these are bleak times? On one matter at least, designers are positively euphoric. That is the Obama presidency, a two-part point of light. While much of the glee centers around the President-elect and his policies, Michelle Obama radiates a powerful style all her own. So step aside, Angelina. You too, Madonna, not to mention the bevy of pop tarts, gossip girls, “High School Musical” grads and even potential Oscar divas, now all suddenly second-tier. The American fashion industry hasn’t had a catch this big since, well, since another icon of Democratic chic took up residency on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1961.

For the big guns at least, dressing Michelle may prove even more of a challenge, since her chic is more lowercase democratic than was Jackie’s. Throughout the campaign, the first lady-to-be has avoided all major names save Narciso Rodriguez, while showing a proclivity for locals (Chicago’s Maria Pinto), young types (Thakoon; Jason Wu) and cost-conscious labels (Donna Ricco; J. Crew).

Nevertheless, just about everyone yearns to dress Michelle, who could raise the profile of American fashion around the world. Yet with the exception of Maria Cornejo, her current favorites, as well as a few majors, declined WWD’s request for sketches. Some are loath to presume to offer unsolicited advice, while others, it seems, are definitely in the Inaugural sweepstakes and prefer, or have been asked, to keep their participation low-pro.

But plenty more happily offered their visions for Michelle and her charming first daughters, for the big day and evening events of Jan. 20.

Inaugural ballgown by Monique L'huillier

A clean, modern look from Peter Som

Evening look from Christian Lacrois for Michelle Obama

Friday, January 16, 2009

Since we're talking about Karl Lagerfeld...

Kanye West paid tribute to the greatness of Mr. Lagerfeld on his blog this week. Here are some of the images, including a rare shot of Karl in his youth and B.S. (Before Sunglasses):

For more images of Karl in his youth check the Fashion Television site:
(Love the one of him in his lederhosen- so cute!)

You can see the full posting here:


Monday, January 12, 2009

The Enigma of Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld has earned his reputation as one of fashion's most mysterious characters by being eternally elusive with the media, so I was quite surprised to find that in 2006 cameras were allowed behind-the-scenes access to the offices and atelier at the House of Chanel. Not surprisingly, the first few frames of the first episode shows Karl waving a skinny ring-clad finger at the camera shouting, "No! No!"- there was clearly a period of adjustment.
I'm hoping that the resulting TV mini-series "Signe Chanel," available on Youtube, will answer some of my burning questions, such as "How does Karl design 20 collections a year?" and most importantly, "Does he ever take off those sunglasses?" The first episode ends with one of the assistants at Chanel dialing an endless list of phone numbers, hoping to get in touch with Karl. It's somewhat comforting to know that it's not just the media that Karl is avoiding: seems that he is a master of both style and stealth.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Get Your Roll On

Parisian twist on the rolled pant from Styleclicker

Riding the line between feminine and masculine Stil in Berlin

Katie Holmes in a rolled pair of hubby Tom's jeans

From the streets of Oslo on Oslostil

Thursday, January 8, 2009

50 Things Every Girl Should Own

There's no better way to start off a new year than by putting your best foot forward. If your New Year's resolution is to spend 2009 looking a little more fabulous, than be sure to check out the Times Online article "50 Things Every Girl Should Own." It serves as an excellent beginner's guide to style, but even the most savvy stylista will also benefit from this compilation of fashion must-haves. As opposed to focusing on seasonal trends, the list focues on timeless items that you can incorporate into your wardrobe for years to come. Excerpts from the list, as well as where to find items will be posted over the coming weeks.
Here's to a happy, healthy and stylish 2009!

1 GOLD HOOP EARRINGS For days when you wanna look J.Lo glam. These shouldn’t be so big as to look like you haven’t got over the gypsy trend, nor so small as to make you look like a three-year-old on a council estate.

2 A BERET For bad-hair days. It will take you straight to Kim Basinger in Batman. Just don’t obsess about the angle: they should be worn with nonchalance.

Cable Stitch Beret at

3 A VINTAGE OSSIE CLARK DRESS Separates the women from the girls. Fabulously flattering at any age, from 18 to 80.

4 EXPENSIVE BLACK LACE LINGERIE At least one set. For obvious reasons.

La Perla lingerie at (left)

5 A PAIR OF THERMAL SHORTS For when you want to wear a skirt without tights, but it’s a bit parky outside.

6 SILK STOCKINGS A rite of passage for every woman — and, subsequently, for her man. In slightly unusual shades — such as petrol or burgundy — they make an outfit. And in this country they can be worn for three-quarters of the year.

7 A DECENT TRENCH COAT Some people are scared of trenches because they look fussy — they’re not. Everyone from Burberry to M&S does them, so there’s no excuse.

A.P.C Trench Coat at (left)

8 A LEATHER JACKET It should be cropped and fitted nicely around your waist. Takes you from a gig to the supermarket via your mum’s and a first date. Enough said.

Y's by Yohji Yamamoto Cropped Jacket at

9 A GOOD WALLET Because if a bag matters, so does your purse — and people see it all the time. Jimmy Choo’s, we feel, are particularly well thought-out.

10 A PAIR OF FALSIES (eyelashes, that is). Instant divadom.

Shu Uemura False Eyelashes at

View the Times Online article here