Thursday, 30 September 2010

Best in Show: Zac Posen @ Paris Fashion Week

Now, I've always been quite partial to Zac Posen (oh alright - I'd DIE to wear something of his), but this time I nearly had an aneurysm.

Posen has really outdone himself with his extravagant, glamorous Parisian affair - featuring luxe materials, sweeping hems, the eternally chic combination of cream and black and the hot material du jour, fur (harking back to the glamour of the 1920s), Posen's creations perfectly epitomize my favourite trend of A/W '10: 'Decadence'.

And, of course, my personal sensibilities.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Culture Vulture: Vapiano

I have just (yes, right this minute) discovered a absolute gem of a restaurant, and I'm prepared to divulge (only for you, darling).

Vapiano is a great little pasta place, pizzeria and bar located on Great Portland Street (just behind Regent Street) in London's West End, and is a bit of a novelty. You take your seat at any of the various tables (strangers can sit together, much like at Wagamama's), which display a range of condiments, including potted basil plants for you to prune onto your meal if you should so desire.

And that's not the only thing that's fresh (pun intended) about this place. The setup is also extremely unique. You are given a plastic credit card-sized card upon entrance - you go to the bar or one of the food stations (pasta, pizza or salad), order, and have your card swiped. (You pay later at the one-for-all cashier, handing your card (and money) over.) Your meal is made in front of you by the chef at the particular food station and you take it back to your table on a tray, refectory-style.

I sampled the 'filetto di manzo e rucola' - pasta with strips of beef tenderloin, mushrooms and rocket salad (very healthy and filling) with campanelle pasta (there are many different types to choose from; today's 8 included pappardelle and spelt fusilli). The meal itself was delicious: the way it was cooked (oil first, then beef and mushrooms, then pasta, all cooked together) allowed the meaty and nutty 'shroom flavours to melt into the actual pasta, and the rocket was perfectly mild, allowing the other flavours to take center stage.

Prices range from £5.85 to £8.85 for all the pastas and pizzas; salads weigh in at £5 to £7 and sweets (including Death By Chocolate and house Tiramisu) from £1 (an Italian pastry) to £3.75.

Other things that enchanted me about Vapiano:
1) Water is available for free from a large glass jug at the bar, and is stewed with mint and lime for freshness and a slight crisp taste.
2) There are delightfully amusing sayings on the walls: "You can have the universe if I may have Italy," "Don't let love interfere with your appetite," and "A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat," among others.
3) Free gummi bears instead of mints! Need I say more?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Culture Vulture: The Talented Mr. Ripley

For all those in the UK, a gem awaits you at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton: a skillful and full-bodied production of 'The Talented Mr. Ripley', a play by Phyllis Nagy and starring Michelle Ryan.

A fascinating psychological profile with some truly complex and exquisite script (especially on the part of Tom Ripley) and scenes, the play itself is, without question, excellent, and thankfully not let down by the impressive directing, resulting in the best of performances: smooth, slick, and entirely moving, holding the attention of the audience through a genuine connection between art and audience.

Fantastic acting, particularly on the part of 'Tom', very believable characters, captivating monologues and good use of innovative techniques: a lack of props focused the audience on the psychoanalysis aspect of the play, the cinematography used in the murder scene made it that much more dramatic; music and sound effects gave a useful though subtle insight into mental states, and, finally, the overlapping of characters' introductions/speech reflected Ripley's scattered state of mind.

All in all, see it! 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' runs through the present day to October 9th. Tickets can be booked online or by phone.

And what to wear? Darling, that's what I'm here for! The sartorial etiquette for the theatre is much more lax these days, so why not dress the part AND stay on trend, as Topshop's 214 magazine suggests, in a camel-coloured silk shirt, cigarette trousers, clogs and Argyle cardigan. Ah! So sophisticated.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Culture Vulture: Sword + Fern boutique

Emily Baker, jewellery-maker extraordinaire, has been running her magical lair, Sword+Fern in downtown Portland for two years. Magical is truly the only word I can possibly ascribe to it. Entering the boutique for the second anniversary party was like entering Aladdin’s cave, and I’m certain if I was instructed to touch nothing but the lamp, it wouldn’t work out so well.

Baker’s creations – blue glass tusks strung on recycled chains, garnet and recycled car parts hung on vintage silk, pyrite and freshwater pearls dangling on delicate spider-thin threads – tantalize from low-rise rafters and corkboards, vintage treasures like my new gold and miniature pearl heirloom pendant, glint from their perches in multiple tiny cedar-chest drawers, and the thick, sweet smell of amber romances me as I lean over the front desk displaying the bits and parts Emily uses to create her adornments.

After dedicating the proper amount of time necessary to explore Emily’s tardis of a shop, I head out to find the source of the exquisite music floating in the air, which turns out to be the beloved Portland band, Lovers. It turns out Emily is a multi-talented wonder: she’s the drummer with a good voice, too. The band is impressive and original and my Julliard-prospect friend with formidable talent and taste is impressed, which to my mind is the gold seal.

After soaking in the pleasantly relaxed and friendly atmosphere – odd for such an achingly cool crowd of trendy Portland hipsters and a fashion blogger – I take my leave with a sneaking suspicion that I might end up back here very soon along with the majority of my paycheck.

See the original article at

Monday, 20 September 2010

London Fashion Week: Best in Show

And the award goes to...Matthew Williamson. His collection was not unexpected or atypical in that it contained pure MW elements: the clothes were glamorous with a twist, as we have often seen from Mr. Williamson (I loved his pop-art-pink satin bowed heels).

However, the most pleasing thing, for me, about the collection was the textural and stylistic contrast between full-on glamour (epitomized in the underwear-themed necklines, bustier-type tops and heavy embellishments) and plain-and-simple (in design, colour, and material) cargo basics (my particular favourite was the cream cargo-inspired skirt, paired with a glamorous bustier top and vibrant blue silken blazer - yet another high impact textural contrast).

The mixture appeals to me as it seems the perfect way to embrace the new paired-down aesthetic (and hence lend a casual 'yeah, I always look this cool' air to any look) while still retaining the feminine glamour I love so much.

Williamson's show was inspired by the idea of a shipwrecked girl with a suitcase of fabulous clothes still intact. My response? All aboard!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

New York Fashion Week: Merits & Black Marks

Fashion Week season is upon us, and well underway. In the midst of all the beautiful chaos, I have identified a few of the best - and worst - looks.

Firstly, gold stars are awarded to Alice + Olivia, Chanel Saint-Tropez, and Oscar de la Renta (all above). Oscar, as always, impresses and awes with his transcendent glamour, perfectly epitomized in this stunning and dramatic gown, while Chanel and Alice + Olivia perfectly embody the current trend of polished glamour with their embellishments and luxe materials (just LOOK at those Chanel hotpants!) while simultaneously appealing to my glamour-meets-fresh sensibilities (Alice + Olivia's leopard-print and feathers mini A-line combined with embellished cream top and mussy up-do? Sheer perfection).

On the other hand, BCBG Max Azria disappointed, in my opinion. While the crisp lines, light fabrics and white colour scheme of the show set a new standard for the current trend of minimalism, I found it rather bland. When one gets dressed in the morning, one wants to display personality, not a blank canvas. Isn't that the point of fashion?

H&M debuts their online store for the UK

Only one word required here: FINALLY.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Gossip Girl, a sign of the times? Mais oui.

With the airing of Gossip Girl Season 4, Episode 1, I had to ask myself just what I was getting out of being such a...well, addict, frankly. Of course, there's the sumptuous fashion (and of course, as a budding fashion writer, it's always a great excuse that I'm giving myself a guess-the-designer-on-sight pop quiz), and the sumptuous sex (the critic Clive James' statement "by the end, everybody had been to bed with everybody else except the baby" about 'Bouquet of Barbed Wire' is equally apt here), but beyond that? Is Gossip Girl no more than an indulgent, voyeuristic guilty pleasure?

Of course that's exactly what it is, and exactly why most people watch it (as my father enlighteningly commented on 'Bouquet of Barbed Wire', "The only reason people watched it was to see Cassie's tits"), but the fourth season of Gossip Girl also happens to correspond with a global trend - one that resonates through all spheres of society, including fashion - that may well speak to our futures, as well as our hopes.

The recession of 2007 hit the world harder than expected, and for most, things have truly gotten worse. But things may be about to get better, at least judging by the current trend of - brace yourselves, gents - glamour. That's right, you heard me.

What, you would be justified in asking, is the place of glamour in a society plagued by economic troubles? Well, that's just it. There isn't a place, and hasn't been one since the beginning of the recession. Yet now, gracing the cover of British Vogue: 'The return of 60s glamour' - and the centerfolds are positively gold-gilded. The same goes for American Vogue, and countless other fashion print-mavens, and the same mighty swing towards opulence and - god forbid we say the word! - luxury, is reflected in pop culture (truly one of the most accurate and timely reflections of the turning of the tides), of which Gossip Girl is certainly a part.

But what does this mean for society, exactly? It certainly reflects a change in the global mindset, at the very least. Our attention is turning to luxury once again, the thought of living comfortably, and just as our mindset has changed, so may our reality, eventually. That change may not appear to be even on the horizon as of yet, but just the fact that our minds are turning towards it indicates a significant shift in the future ahead of us.

So Gossip Girl, I salute you. I will proceed to watch the sex and the scandal in total indulgence, but I will also remember that you are a sign, pointing to many different points along the journey: Change, Optimism, and possibly, Revolution.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

My Oscar speech goes like this...

...Thanks to my best friend Sage, for fostering my Nylon obsession and my ego!

Check out this beautiful thank-you note/work of art my dear friend Sage made for me after we went to a downtown Portland gig (serenaded by Lovers, no less) at jewellery boutique Sword + Fern together. It's so incredible! I'm currently searching for a nice gilt frame for it... Maybe I'll lend it out to the MOMA.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

In Retrospect: The Recession - Fashions Life Vest?

In my opinion, yes. We are all well aware of how devastating the recession has been (you know things are really bad when the rich are actually affected) since it hit in 2007, and while there is some debate as to whether we are actually still in it (some think it officially ended sometime in the summer of 2009), personally, my wallet ain't looking any fatter. However, while the state of my bank balance may remain critical, at worst, and touch-and-go at best, fashion has been revived, gotten off the life-support machine, and taken on a new lease of life.

Why exactly is this, in my opinion? Before the recession, fashion remained in some regard a little impersonal, at least to the majority of us. We were still living in a time where a custom-made Chanel gown costing five years' salary was not entirely unthinkable, albeit unlikely for most. Kind of like mountain-top monasteries: most of us may not (or ever) get the chance to meditate there, but it doesn't seem so unbelievable to imagine visiting one. The rich were still filthy rich, and the elitist top-tier echelons of society were still capable of supporting fashion.

As a result, fashion had a different definition than it does now: that of expense. Only those who made six figures could be chic, because fashion equaled exclusivity. Obviously, this often meant couture. And wearing couture means having somewhere to wear it. Hence, fashion was a bit of a triple threat: exclusive, expensive, and ostentatious.

When the recession hit, however, the fashion world was shaken to its roots. It learned the art of evolution. It had to: now, couture was a relic seen only in the museums of magazine archives, no longer even imaginable. I would have been less surprised to learn of the existence of a flying pig than of an outing of a custom Chanel creation. And the rich did not remain unaffected, as in the past, and fashion suffered.

However, fashion itself is nothing if not constant: everyone has to get dressed in the morning (unless, of course, you live in a nudist colony). And so it adapted. The result? Fashion took on a new definition, even a new slogan: every woman (and man) can be chic. Fashion became more prevalent, if anything; accessible now to the everyday person, much more personal than before, and frankly more wearable (sure, you can wear a Dior suit to work, but how about a crushed red velvet peaked-shoulder Alexander McQueen custom gown?).

In retrospect, the recession has done fashion a favour. It has lifted it out of a depression (no pun intended!) that fashion wasn't even aware of, and has shifted fashion to the forefront of the average person's agenda. Fashion is more engaged in the world than it has ever been, and for that reason, despite my limp wallet, I am grateful.