January 07, 2014

Prada's Rainbow Warriors


Image via fashionologie.com

Fashion advertisements are often quite focused and direct: one to three models whose outfits show a concise snapshot of the collection from whence they came. While flipping through a magazine proves that this format is the go-to, these campaigns actually relay little information about the collection they are advertising. Naturally, they will pique the interest of many consumers, yet for others they may leave something to be desired.

Shot by Steven Meisel, Prada's Spring 2014 advertising campaign tries a new approach, in which twelve models showcase the best and brightest of Miuccia Prada's designs for the season. The looks chosen represent the perfect balance of elegance and whimsy and the deep gem tones are just lovely to look at. Graphics, solids and embellishments intermingle, showcasing a wide array of designs. The advertisement is distinctly Prada. 

Some may say that the advertisement is too busy, but a closer examination of the color scheme shows that this is a controlled chaos: everything works together, just as a fashion collection should. The image succeeds in catching one's attention, and is that not what an advertisement is supposed to do? Those who are interested in fashion will spend time contemplating the image, and these are the individuals who are likely to become Prada consumers. 

It works.

January 04, 2014

The Statement Sweatshirt

The fashion world has had its eye on the sweatshirt silhouette for some time now, but given the sudden drop of temperatures across the Midwest and Northeast, it seems especially appropriate to consider it as an option. While the shape is more familiar in the form of school or athletic apparel, designers have promoted the sweatshirt to the leagues of high fashion with inventive graphic prints and sophisticated embellishments. These sweatshirts are created for the public eye, rather than the cozy confines of the home. Yet they do double duty, as many of the newest styles are both aesthetically pleasing and extremely warm. It is nice to see fashion embrace the cozy and comfortable as we approach the harsher months of winter.
The Statement Sweatshirt
First row, from left to right: Christopher Kane sweatshirt, $315 (available here); Mary Katrantzou sweatshirt, $700 (available here); J. Crew sweatshirt, $375 (available here).Second row: Mary Katrantzou sweatshirt, $530 (available here); C├ędric Charlier sweatshirt, $490 (available here).
Third row: Kenzo sweatshirt, $780 (available here); Topshop sweatshirt, $140 (available here); Emma Cook sweatshirt, $385 (available here).
Some of this season's best offerings are from Kenzo, with its ubiquitous tiger and evil eye motifs, and Mary Katrantzou, with her excellent prints of vibrant landscapes. (I am the proud new owner of a design from the former, which can be seen here.)

Are you fan of the high fashion sweatshirt? Let me know which of these is your favorite.

June 28, 2013

Shoetopia

My mother lived the majority of her life disinterested in fashion, until my sudden enthrallment with shopping and fashion magazines forced her into a relationship with trends, designers and fancy department stores. She accepted it perhaps reluctantly at first, but ultimately with open arms, and I would see her delighted by racks at Saks and Bloomingdales. As she learned about fashion and developed her own list of favorite designers, one matter consistently confounded her, and there have been several instances in which she has asked me: "Why are shoes so expensive?"

My family has had dinner table discussions about Louboutins. My father asks me how much a typical Louboutin might cost today, and I give my estimate. It launches an entire conversation and debate. And I write this in the present tense because this is something that has happened multiple times. Generally I take a defensive stance, and I believe that in this way I am fighting for the industry I feel most tied to. But simultaneously my mind runs quickly, asking me, "Are luxury shoes worthy of justification?"

Eric Wilson's recent piece for the New York Times, entitled "Shoe Battles," offers a lot of evidence in favor of the side that I defaulted to in those nights with my family. He reminds us that shoes are fetishized in fashion, a category notorious for the frenzied lack of self-restraint it inspires in many a female shopper. Wilson suggests that shopping itself is a primal urge, and with shoes giving the wearer more bang for her buck, it is no wonder that the average purchase in the shoe department of Barneys New York rings up to $850.

In Wilson's words, shoes, "offer more perceived value to a customer than a designer dress that she might wear only a few times."

"The prices are insane, and yet I could tell you a million reasons why they are justified," said Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director of Us Weekly, in the Times article.

The main justification presented is that shoes are simply becoming much more expensive to make. The introduction of the euro and its strength against American currency has driven up the cost of producing shoes in Europe. There is a gap of raw materials and leather. Asian factories are competing for quality materials. Christian Louboutin stated that, "his costs have doubled within five years." Signature Louboutin styles are often priced from $600 to $800, yet many of his over-the-top designs require a customer to shell out thousands of dollars (please refer to the collage below).
Some colorful designer shoe styles that have caught my eye.
Clockwise, from top left: Saint Laurent, $875; Manolo Blahnik, $595; Christian Louboutin, $845; Charlotte Olympia, $1,450; Nicholas Kirkwood, $640 (marked down from $1,275); Giuseppe Zanotti, $695; Christian Louboutin, $650; Christian Louboutin, $6,395.
On the other hand, the president of the Manolo Blahnik company, George Malkemus, said that shoe prices are generally "out of whack." Individuals such as my mother and father and, I'm sure, a large percentage of practical people, agree that designer shoes have reached crazy extremes. Yet luxury department stores are in fierce competition with each other to create even larger and more lavish shoe departments; the launch of Saks' famous shoe zip code seems almost a nonchalant member of the distant past.

Women (and, increasingly, men) continue to splurge on shoes, citing the fact that they will surely wear them more often than a pair of right-off-the-runway pants at the same price. Competition between stores has reached the consumer level, as shoppers flock to designer shoe sales and fight for the last pair in their size.

The president of Bergdorf Goodman, Joshua Schulman, put it frankly: "I don’t have any concern that this phenomenon is going to go away anytime soon."

So, mother, why are shoes so expensive? Well, because people are buying them!

Click here to read Eric Wilson's New York Times article, "Shoe Battles," in its entirety. All quotations are excerpted from this article.

May 05, 2013

May Inspiration

Clockwise from top left: Street style photograph by Tommy Ton; Lilacs photograph, source unknown; Louise Amstrup Fall 2013, photo by Susie Lau for Style Bubble; Details March 2013, photographed by Lacey; Lulu Frost Vendome Earrings (available here).
I've been extremely busy in my internship at the Cut, and in my spare moments each day at the office I often spend time finding inspiration on the Internet, whether it be shopping online or browsing the newest images to show up on my Pinterest.
Creative pursuits are fueled by inspiration, which is why it is vital to tend to a growing collection of images and ideas that provoke thought. Most of the time I prefer my body of inspiration to be exclusively visual, as what I can see always affects me the most.

This May mood board that I created for Girl Loves Color contains a select few images, but it encompasses the different design aspects that have been inspiring me of late. I have here a cacophony of flowers, omnipresent in my springtime mindset, that play well with the shockingly bright patterns that I have been especially drawn to. These phenomenal earrings by Lulu Frost call to mind my recent obsession with vintage-inspired jewelry: "vintage-inspired" is a broad category, but I've been particularly drawn to the 1920s, Art Deco and The Great Gatsby. Lastly, street style never fails to get me going, particularly the sartorial aesthetic of photographer Tommy Ton. I'm very into the idea of using prints to inspire the color scheme of an outfit, as with this emerald and cerulean example.

If you have any inspiration to share, I'd love to see it.