Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Make Them Green With Envy

Earth day and Earth Week may have passed, but here are some eco-chic basics to add to your wardrobe without sacrificing an ounce of style

Japanese paper vegan handbag by matt & nat,
179 euros at

Canvas vegan sandals by Cri de Coeur
95 pounds at

Sustainable bamboo sunglasses by Kayu,
150 pounds at

Sustainable cotton sneakers by Converse,
35 pounds at

Organic cotton jeans by Ascension Clothing,
15 pounds at

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oscar Recants

“She’s entitled to wear anything she wants to. I may have chosen my words badly, and I regret it.”

Oscar de la Renta

Speaking about the comments he made on Michelle Obama's choice of fashion designers

Eco cheap & chic from Loomstate

Roll-Up Sleeve Sweater in Aqua, Pelican-Print Shorts in White/Black

Plaid Shirt in Green, Gray "Power in Numbers" Crew-Neck Tee in White, Board Shorts in Gray
Long-Sleeve Chambray Shirt in Gray, Color-Block Board Shorts in Aqua

One of the biggest challenges with making eco-friendly fashion mainstream has been price, but now CFDA award winning designer Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay Hahn from Loomstate are teaming up with Target create a more affordable line of their easy, relaxed organic clothing. The line includes board shorts and casual button-downs, all made of 100%organic cotton and the nicely priced collection launches April 19th, just in time for Earth Day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fashion Photography by Malik Sidibe

malik sidibe new york times magazine
Shot of Malik Sadibe's photos in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine
Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured a unique fashion editorial done by famed Malian photographer Malik Sidibe. Sidibe offers a fresh perspective on the Spring 2009 collections by having his extended family, which includes his 17 sons and daughters, modeling clothing by designers like Dries van Noten, Christian Lacroix and Marc Jacobs. The way in which the lively prints and African-inspired clothing, worn by the everyday people in the portrait-style photographs, come to life, speaks to the relevance of Sidibe's style, which has remained virutally unchanged for the past several decades. In fact, his influence can be seen in the Suno Spring/Summer 2009 collection, shot by Tina Tyrell.
malik sidibe african family
Photo: Malik Sidibe

Photo: Malik Sidibe
Photo: Malik Sidibe
Suno shot by Tina Tyrell

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Out of Africa

BY Suzy Menkes for The International Herald Tribune

The masked face with its feathers of hair glares from the instep. And the savage hybrid of a shoe mixes python straps and a sky-high heel with beads, wooden pearls, a cord and a tassel.

When it appeared on the runway at the Louis Vuitton show in October, who could have believed that the fantastical footwear — selling at €1,250 to €2,250 (about $1,650 to $3,000) a pair — could be the hottest item for summer 2009?

Louis Vuitton, Spring 2009 Photo:

No wonder that the designer Marc Jacobs baptized it the “Spicy,” giving a name to the shoe, as had previously been the custom with the now-fading It bags.

To spice up this footwear, the designer added everything but the kitchen sink — as long as it was out of Africa. Snakeskin, plumes and semiprecious stones set the tone for a shoe that was inspired by Josephine Baker, the famous singer and dancer of 1920s Paris. She resonated with the exotica that was prevalent in a period when the Ballets Russes had set off one fashion trend and the discovery of Egyptian mummies another.

But the surprising thing about the 2009 spring season, where African style is a drumbeat through clothes and accessories, is that it isn’t about the ethnic.

Instead, it is the sculpted, geometric shapes of Africa and its rich, spicy colors that are the strongest forms of identity.

John Galliano brought Africana to Dior, once again by the shoes, which had fertility symbols carved into high heels. But it was the sculpted hairdos by the couture coiffeur Orlando Pita that made the most powerful impact, along with the weave-effect textures of dresses that were pure Parisian.

Dior Spring 2009, Photo:

Fabric was the story at many shows, starting with the animal prints revisited — but in bright hues — at Lanvin. That echoed an African theme that had been seen in early designs, from Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s to Naomi Campbell walking the runway for Dolce & Gabbana in 2004 in a leopard-print dress.

The most dramatic example of tribal fabrics was offered by the Japanese designer Junya Watanabe. He came up with bold prints in an African palette of big-sky blue, burnt orange, earth brown and leaf green. Those fabrics were made into pretty summer dresses, while heads wrapped with bunches of wildflowers sweetened the mix.

Africa has had many moments in the fashion sun. Those YSL gowns even had pointed breastplates, long before Jean Paul Gaultier promoted that idea on Madonna.

When the Josephine Baker shows were in Paris vaudeville, ivory bangles climbed up fashionable arms.

The colonial world has also been mined for inspiration. The heat-and-dust colors of stone gray and sand beige, with a hint of military khaki, produced another African scenario. For Hermès, that meant re-creating the effect of desert sands on the surface of rippling suede dresses. For Ralph Lauren, the colonial looks fell somewhere between India and Africa, with low-crotch pants — those sarouel and jodhpur styles that are so à la mode this summer.

Accessories with an African stamp work best for summer in the city, as well as on vacation. Necklaces with a faintly tribal feel look great when in graphic shapes. Bangles are everywhere, from wide cuffs to narrow bracelets, mostly in inventive modern materials to emulate the ivory and horn of now-endangered species.

Junya Watanabe Spring 2009 Photo:

Bags have just a hint of the wild in their serpent skins or with other natural materials like galuchat (a type of fish skin) or stout saddle leather. For the smaller clutches, a few beads threaded on a cord are sufficient to pass the message — without resorting to the heavy embellishments that are going out of fashion.

But it is the shoes that are leading the forward march of African style — if you can get your hands on them. Chloë Sevigny is one Hollywood star who has managed to get her feet into the Vuitton Spicy shoe, thereby creating a celebrity gold rush for the footwear. The demand is all the more piquant because no pair of these shoes is alike, enforcing a desire for the unique, handcrafted object in which Africa itself excels.

The irony is that one step on African soil in this high and mighty footwear would probably bring even a hardened fashionista to her knees. Yet, in fashion, the dream creates desire. And there are, among the dizzyingly high shoes, sandals that are flat and strappy, in snakeskin or gilded fake crocodile, that would be as useful on the shores of the Limpopo River as in the world’s fashion capitals.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Oscar Takes Contention with Michelle's Royal Outfit

"You don't...go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater."
Oscar de la Renta

commenting on the outfit Michelle Obama wore to meet Queen Elizabeth

Because We Just Can't Get Enough...Mrs. O

Mrs. Obama has been receiving even more praise than usual for her great sense of style, as she accompanies her husband on his first official trip outside of North America. From her meetings with the Queen of England, to attending the many events planned during her visit, Mrs. Obama's choice of bright jewel tones and rich fabrics such as jacquards and satins, reflect the optimism and energy that the Obamas have brought to the White House. Even the much touted meeting of Michelle and first lady of France, Carla Bruni, ended in smiles, with the women discovering they have similar taste in coats.

If you're having trouble keeping up with Michelle Obama's whirlwind tour through Europe and her stunning array of outfits, there's no need to spend time crawling the internet; simply check out the Mrs. O blog which has been keeping an impressive log of Michelle's wardrobe and public appearances.

The new fashion darling's wardrobe during every day of the tour is well-documented by the Mrs. O staff, and includes photos. A great place to get up-to-date news on the first lady's fashions.

Photo from AFP/Getty Images