August 31, 2012

Mati Klarwein's Surrealism

The late Mati Klarwein is the artist behind a new species of surrealism. His initial art training surrounded him with the works of Salvador Dalí, later a friend of his, and the fantastic realist painter Ernst Fuchs. The psychedelic heyday of the 60s served as the backdrop for Klarwein's multifaceted paintings, which were considered a reaction to the movement.
Whilst the American era was a revolution in itself, Klarwein's works were radical in their own right. Inspired by a varied European upbringing and extensive travel, the artist was inspired most by non-Western deities and symbolism. Yet despite religious controversy, Klarwein was able to cement his status within the culture of the time; high-profile projects included a portrait of John F. Kennedy and album covers for Miles Davis.

The paintings that most intrigued me fall under the category Visionary, and it is a simplistic yet fitting label for some of Klarwein's greatest pieces.
Although many of the religious connotations are masked by my inexperience in such matters, the paradoxes are not lost.
Case in point, Klarwein's painting "Walking on Water" depicts a sunshine blond Marilyn Monroe character drowning in a cacophony of colors and florals.

I love to draw out fashion inspiration from the far corners of the art world. Mati Klarwein's paintings offer an abundance of ideas, and here I have created two outfit manifestations that stem from two different Visionary works.

Bavarian Angel (1970)
Mische technique (layers of oil and tempera on primed canvas)
Bavarian Angel
Issa silk jersey dress (available here), Jimmy Choo pumps (available here), Lulu Guinness lips clutch (available here), Delfina Delettrez earrings (sold as singles, available here).

Walking on Water (1961)
Mische technique (layers of oil and tempera on primed canvas)
Walking on Water
Rag & Bone sweater (available here), J. Crew floral brocade skirt (available here), Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem tweed-print ankle boots (available here), Matthew Williamson embellished clutch (available here), Lulu Frost circle drop earrings (available here).

The leading designers of high fashion often discover inspiration within the realms of art history. On the other hand, those of us who take the most interest in getting dressed each morning will look to past eras to inform their styles. But we can still take a cue from the specifics that catch our eye: whether a painting or a building passed on the way to work, the most interesting ensembles will sprout from our everyday creativity.

Paintings belong to Mati Klarwein, from the artist website.
Visit matiklarweinart.com to see more.

Please do leave a comment below with your thoughts.

August 23, 2012

The Complexities of Embellishment

Embellishment has been distinguished thus far as one of the major trends of the Fall 2012 season. And for good reason, with high fashion's biggest names having walked ornate designs down the runways in February and every major fashion magazine putting their own spin on the embellished garments everyone has to offer.
I often receive the question from my non-fashion-absorbed kin of how designers know what will be trendy, as they marvel at different runway shows showcasing the same ideas as their fashion brethren. There are many forces at play, but I am always intrigued with cultural and societal influences that show up subtly in the shows each season.

I've been reading Elizabeth L. Cline's book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, which has been fascinating for me as a consumer who feels guiltiest shopping at H&M. (I won't get into it.) This is where embellishment comes in: the influence of fast fashion.
I define fast fashion as lower-quality and trend-focused, in other words, fashion that is made to last one season and then be discarded. Though the idea may be touchy for some, fast fashion mostly depends on copying (or near-copying) the designs of high-end and contemporary designers.
There is currently no way to prevent designers from stopping fashion design piracy, so instead they must find ways to combat it. Embellishment is perhaps a subsequent solution; such ornate detailing can hardly be transferred into a $30 dress at your local chain store.

Cline goes into many points to support her argument that I won't list here, but she also presents the theory that the growing influence and domination of fast fashion is actually driving the luxury market further into the zone of elitism. (I could talk for ages about this, but I'll restrain myself.)
Anyway, here comes embellishment once again. To further their high-end appeal, designers are reaching to extremes. Both Spring and Fall 2012 RTW runways showed dazzling details. Intricate embroidery, beading and gem-incrusted garments were all signatures in a host of shows. Naturally, because lavish embellishment epitomizes a regal air - and has done so for eons.



Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2012 incorporated vibrant stones and crystals.

Designers have kept with heavy embellishment for two main seasons now, so it will be interesting to see how the "trend" progresses.
Fall 2012 took a turn towards neo-Baroque, enlisting the notoriously luxurious color gold for the most complex designs. The subsequent looks felt as if they waltzed out of a Renaissance-era palace.




From top to bottom: Marni, Balmain, Bottega Veneta.

I'll conclude my over-conscious analysis by saying that I truly love embellishment. I adore the three-dimensional textures when I graze my hands over designs at nearby boutiques and the exotic feel that such details lend to today's fashion.
I'm a huge supporter of fashion as an investment. Although many of these garments are extremely pricey and perhaps not as timeless as a black leather bag, per se, I think one can find an incomparable joy in owning such a one-of-a-kind piece. Not so much in the materialistic side, but simply in reveling in the beauty of the craftsmanship and design, two characteristics that are growing sparse in fashion today.

I will say that the dry cleaning bill would be ridiculously expensive. 
So, although I write this the night before I plan to visit Barney's Warehouse Sale (I think you see where I'm getting at), I'll try to resist the pull of heavy embellishment in favor of finding these details in a more practical position.
Embellished garments will lead to equally exquisite accessories, of course. And I know few females who can resist a stunning handbag. I've selected some colorful (and extravagant) clutches:

embellish
Clockwise, from top left: Matthew Williamson embellished suede clutch (available here), Santi Bags Aztec embellished clutch bag (available here), Anya Hindmarch metallic glitter and leather Valorie clutch (available here), SANTI Mykonos sequin clutch (available here), Alexander McQueen embroidered satin box clutch (available here), Forever New Madeline embellished clutch (available here), Blackfrangipani bead-knitted purse (available here), Lanvin Sea Breeze embellished satin-covered metal clutch (available here), Kotur multicolor sequin Epsey clutch (available here).
Well, these aren't much more practical.

I'd love to hear your opinion on what I discussed in this post. Let me know if you're a fan of embellishment this season.

August 20, 2012

Lust List: Fall Sweaters

There's nothing better than shopping for sweaters come fall. A thin pullover serves as a shield from intense air-conditioning during the summer and is equally adept when outside is equally breezy.

Much of our appearance refers to beauty is pain, e.g. waxing, plucking and/or poking your eye with a mascara wand. Similarly, the fashion industry thrives on a population of consumers that are willing to sacrifice comfort for style: see stilettos, tight waistlines and/or bare legs.
However, this isn't a musing about why we go through so much for the sake of fashion and style. Rather, I like to think of fall as a time of comfort. I relish the ability to thrown on a slightly oversized sweater with skinny jeans and boots and walk out the door; it's a simple solution for put-together casual chic.

To launch my venture into the land of sweater shopping, I've compiled some favorites that will be informing my purchases. From a ribbed knit in a subdued shade of blue to an emerald green pullover decorated with a raccoon graphic, there are so many ways to keep warm!

Fall Sweaters
First row (left-right): Acne sweater (available here), Rebecca Taylor pullover (available here), Rag & Bone top (available here).
Second Row: Sonia by Sonia Rykiel paisley jumper (available here), Sonia Rykiel Racoon sweater (available here).
Third row: Tory Burch peplum sweater (available here), Monki sweater (available here), J. Crew polka-dot sweater (available here).
I'm always busiest in the fall, even more so this year with so many plans lined up. I like to look orderly without deliberating over a potential pairing for twenty minutes. Therefore I'll be filling up my closet with the best of the cozy knits. There is more variety than ever, with well-loved staples being sold alongside fun textures, prints, graphics and even peplums.
And with so many sales still on, there aren't many reasons to deny yourself comfortable sweaters at great prices.

Which sweaters are on your wishlist, and how will you be styling them come fall? Leave a comment and let me know where you'll be shopping for yours.

August 16, 2012

Aspesi

Among my fashion finds from my recent trip to Milan was Italian label Aspesi, founded by Alberto Aspesi in 1961 in order to pursue an aesthetic of timeless basics.
The brand is focused on quality materials and craftsmanship; indeed a visit to their Via Montenapoleone boutique included my fingers grazing over the garments hanging from each rack, and it was evident that  their mantra is consistently fulfilled. Each collection involves elaborate research in order to find impeccable fabrics from which clothing may be crafted. Every season introduces reinterpretations of iconic designs, where materials will be slightly tweaked to mold in order that they might evolve with changing times.

Certainly the above description seems slightly unlike the usual Girl Loves Color fare. Classic basics don't often lend themselves to the style of my blog's features; they rarely contain color.
The Aspesi store sells a myriad of designs that fit the image instantly evoked by my initial words, but there are other offerings that I found much more fascinating.
True to the idea of quality material and craftsmanship, Aspesi hosts a multitude of racks filled with vividly printed clothing from the finest silks et al. Encompassing a distinct vintage vibe, these designs were from the Spring/Summer 2012 collection, but they fascinated me to the point where I knew the brand had to inspire a piece of content.

Despite the idea of basics, the Aspesi look is quite whimsical. It's a very different interpretation of a word that is essential to American fashion and practically synonymous with neutral tees, tanks and skinny jeans.
The store interiors itself speak to this image, as do shopping bags printed with a cartoon face in the shape of a heart. Other locations are decorated with colorful sculptures and vases of flowers inside minimalist concrete interiors.

While Aspesi offers a wonderful selection of neutral-toned basics (the outerwear designs are phenomenal), the bright solid hues are the stand-outs of the label. Prints played a huge role in S/S'12 and perhaps not so much in the upcoming collection, but it is these designs that showcase the versatility of the label as well as its enthusiasm for fun, creative pieces swollen with personality.

The window display at Aspesi's Milan boutique.
An emerald dress with an astro-turf texture greets shoppers at the door of the Milan boutique.
I brought home a printed silk blouse from the Aspesi Spring/Summer 2012 collection that epitomizes the whimsical prints that Aspesi has mastered for the collection that is unfortunately coming to a close. The colorful artistry exhibited by these designs drove me to instantly fall in love with the brand. Design combines with fine craftsmanship for an end result that could be identified as contemporary, avant-garde luxury pieces. But in an era where creativity is difficult to hunt down, it's well worth it.


The Aspesi website can be found at aspesi.com, which also houses the label's extensive online shop.
Images not credited belong to Girl Loves Color.

August 15, 2012

Three Ways: Chambray Shirt

With the ongoing phenomenon of tomboy-style dressing, it is no wonder that the chambray shirt has cemented its place as a staple in the wardrobes of women across the country (and in many others). Jeans are forever an American icon, providing comfort, variety, and versatility. The chambray shirt achieves similar success: the soft material and loose shape ensures maximum comfort, a multitude of washes and styles provides an option for everyone, and it can be worn with almost anything.

For these reasons, the chambray shirt is a favorite, and especially so as we consider the dawn of autumn. Equally effective as a top or an extra layer, the style is fully capable of carrying your summer garb into the next season.

I've created three different looks as inspiration for summer-to-fall outfits for the chambray shirt. These ideas will work with one that you already own. My example is the Perfect Chambray Ex-Boyfriend Shirt in Harvest Wash from Madewell: the basic in its simplest form, for those who are looking for the perfect chambray find.
chambray1
Madwell chambray shirt (available here), Kenzo skirt (available here), Cheap Monday boots (available here), Cole Haan belt (available here), Moon Raven Designs ring (via Etsy - available here), All Saints feather ring (available here).
Wear your chambray shirt over a colorful, printed skirt and add a skinny belt for an instant hourglass effect. The new season calls for chunky boots; accessorize with subtle but edgy rings to keep the focus on the garments.
chambray2
Madewell chambray shirt (available here), J. Crew wool pants (available here), Pierre Hardy sandals (available here), Stella & Dot necklace (available here), Topshop spike ring set (available here).

A chambray shirt is the perfect canvas for a statement necklace. Choose one that is detailed all the way around; heavy embellishment only in the center will weigh down the look. Cuffed trousers in a fun hue and heels with metallic detailing provide elegance.

chambray3
Madewell chambray shirt (available here), Alice + Olivia floral dress (available here), Alexandre Birman calf-hair platform pumps (available here), Pieces skinny belt in neon peach (available here).
Try wearing your chambray shirt over a bright summer dress. Belt at the waist to define your shape. Add neutral shoes and minimal to no accessories so all eyes are on your eye-catching frock and its chambray companion.

Now that summer's coming to a close, my chambray shirt from Madewell will finally be seeing the light of day. How do you wear yours?

August 13, 2012

Prada's Ugly Chic

I visited Prada and Schiaparelli: Impossible Conversations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art a little over a week ago, and although I found the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty retrospective to be much more captivating in its avant-garde curation, I have discovered that there is one idea that remains stirring in my mind.

For those who know little about the exhibition: it is a pairing of storied fashion designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, who have little to do with one another, yet whose designs vividly communicate different themes of fashion.
Legendary names in their own right, Impossible Conversations intertwines the work of both designers in a series of distinct categories. Waist Up/Waist Down highlights Schiaparelli's focus on embellishment above the waist, and Miuccia's tendency towards elaborate design below the waist. Different sartorial personalities are spotlighted in Ugly Chic, Hard Chic and Naif Chic; The Classical Body, The Exotic Body and The Surreal Body showcase different themes in silhouette.

The idea that has resonated with me in these past few days is that of Ugly Chic, particularly Prada's role in the seemingly paradoxical terminology.

The Prada Fall 2012 collection has been the subject of much criticism since it first walked down the runway. Many first impressions - in the form of blog comments, YouTube comments, etc. - were snide remarks that the collection was ugly.
Generally, the retort would be that this is artwork. But Miuccia Prada is adamant that she does not see fashion as art.

A look from the Fall 2012 collection was included in Impossible Conversations's Ugly Chic section, accompanied by a series of telling quotations from Prada herself:
All my life is working against the cliche of beauty. And the necessity and obligation of being sexy, of being beautiful.
In our contemporary American society, where the bombshell is glorified and celebrities can rise to exclusive tabloid-worthy status via sex tapes à la Kim Kardashian, fashion seems to be more so about transforming the woman into a sex symbol. (Not to go off on a quick tangent, but isn't this such a sad demotion of our feminist kin working so hard for equality? Women want to be taken seriously, yet they glorify themselves as sex over substance.)
And this is where my appreciation for Miuccia Prada comes in, because before my visit to Impossible Conversations, I was neutral about the following collection and it didn't symbolize much for me.
But Fall 2012 is the epitome of Ugly Chic. It is exotic design flooded with femme power. Severe hair and harsh makeup with hard model stance and movement. It is femininity that comes from our (sadly) newfound ability to dress for ourselves and not for others.
In a world where pretty seems to be the most important thing for girls, Prada revives substance. Women should not dress to be beautiful; women must dress to feel beautiful and strong, and this is an entirely different thing - and, unfortunately, most cannot tell the difference.





With a digital age dominated by Facebook comes narcissism but not confidence - rather, a downslide in self-esteem.
Miuccia's collection is a call to arms to restore our confidence without having to depend on sex appeal in our fashions. It's testing the boundaries in a refreshing way.

Images via Pinterest
All credit goes to Prada

August 07, 2012

It's in the Jeans

Denim has held a permanent place in the wardrobe as the reliable staple, the loyal go-to. This won't be changing anytime in the near future, but recent seasons have debuted a collection of denim innovators who seek to introduce a new identity to the plate.
Jeans have acquired a second role in the evolving modern closet: that of the standout.
This fall, I'm looking at statement denim. Prints in a myriad of hues will be a refreshing change from busy summer tanks and dresses. To coat the legs in fantastical images printed onto America's favorite fabric provides a surprise to jaded eyes that were previously satiated on the intrigue of the garments draping the torso.
The change of season always calls for a surprise. The new intrigue of denim adds a multidimensional pop to the neutral knits and outerwear that will soon become mainstays in our wardrobes.
In the meantime, these pairs are perfect for the last weeks of summer with lightweight cotton tees.

m1
Mother The Looker Jeans in A Day in Paradise (available here), Steffen Schraut cardigan (available here), Monki blouse (available here), Michael Kors crossbody bag.

For a subtler version, take inspiration from the following pair.

m2
Mother The Looker Jeans in Magical Forest (available here), She Inside blazer, AllSaints tank (available here), By Boe necklace (available here), Matalan envelope clutch (available here).

What denim will you be wearing come fall?

August 02, 2012

Dress to Empower

One of the things that I enjoy about interning in an office space is the care to choose out an outfit each morning. Although the dress code is rather casual, I always prefer to veer towards formality in a professional setting, particularly because I am always the youngest individual.

As a fan of color and print, I like to keep the elements of an outfit to a minimum. The consistency with which I drape myself in eye-catching garments has led to a point where I rarely accessorize. The clothes can speak for themselves, and it is in the power of skillful design to do so.

Mary Katrantzou has long-mastered the technique with which she may tell a story through fabrics and fantastical prints. Her work is always a guest on Girl Loves Color for its consistency with theme of the blog as well as my ongoing admiration for her creative talents.
Mary's most recent collaboration with Topshop marked an evolution (and expansion) for my wardrobe. As I mature into an adult, items that formerly held a place in my teenage heart have had to make way for transitional garb that allows the free-spirited fun of youth but innately contains a budding sophistication that can be summoned in later years.
The Mary Katrantzou for Topshop SS'12 collaboration did just this for me. The collection is no longer available, but as the hype has withdrawn, I am able to clearly see that the exclusive line can do for me what many garments cannot.
Simply, as I progress through these years, my wardrobe must grow with me. While many possessions will be donated and sold in favor of new ones that match the next age, a select few will be able to stay with me throughout the journey.
I wholeheartedly entrust Mary with the task.



Dress by Mary Katrantzou for Topshop (SS'12 collection images here), Topshop belt (no longer available), Welcome to Mupp clutch bag (shop similar styles here), J. Crew sandals (available here).

This dress has a way of becoming a second skin. As I walk the New York City streets, I feel empowered by my boldly printed garb but not betrayed by the attention it may garner.
Many statement designs are inseparable from self-consciousness. They must be worn with modern confidence and a pleasant demeanor.
And some statements, with the attention they demand, expose the wearer and his or her vulnerabilities.
This dress celebrates confidence and wipes away feelings of insecurity. It's a feel-good piece.