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.

April 13, 2013

When Fashion Danced: Stephen Burrows


“Clothes should be fun and easy to move in. To me, they’re like toys for adults to play with.” So said fashion designer Stephen Burrows, whose dance-ready designs are memorialized in an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. Aptly titled When Fashion Danced, the collection of videos, sketches and garments brings Burrows’ innovative design aesthetic, originally a fixture of the 70’s-era New York City disco scene, to a modern-day audience.

Below a ceiling draped with tissue-thin white fabric that evokes Burrows’ featherweight dresses, the stark white room provides ample contrast with the designer’s psychedelic color schemes and eye-catching metallic fabrics. The space categorizes the archival pieces by design signature, from silhouette, which focuses on his penchant for bias-cut draped designs that were enlivened by movement, to his use of decorative red zig-zag stitching and “lettuce hem,” originally the accidental product of a design assistant. Burrows learned the rules of fashion design only to break them, setting a precedent for leagues of avant-garde designers to come: “When they told me...that everything had to be on the straight or seams couldn’t be crooked, I just did it my way.”

Worn by the likes of Farrah Fawcett and Diana Ross, Burrows was a designer deeply embedded in the emerging counterculture of his time, an era of personal and sexual freedom that called for an exciting new way of dress. His exuberant clothing reflected the enthusiasm of a liberated culture that thrived in the increasingly over-the-top nightlife scene. The exhibition stimulates nostalgia for a time devoid of inhibitions, in which women donned Burrows’ gossamer chiffon dresses and draped metallic tops, and their garments twirled and flowed as they danced the night away.









"When Fashion Danced" is on display now at the Museum of the City of New York through July 28, 2013. 
Visit mcny.org for more information.

March 13, 2013

Candy Land

I recently looked back at the sweets-centric fashion editorial, entitled "Candy Land", in New York Magazine's spring fashion issue. Teenage actress Elle Fanning plays both model and muse for artist Will Cotton's sugary inclinations. Normally I am not a fan of fashion editorials that focus on celebrities, but this one marks an exception. In this context, the pairing is relevant, and it emphasizes the underlying story.

I took a class at FIT in Photo Styling, and I vividly remember a project in which we had to take inspiration from a shoe and use that to inform the setting of our shoot and the image that would emerge from that. A lot of magazine styling nowadays doesn't create a relationship between these distinct parts; instead, what we see is a beautiful image and beautiful clothing. Without a doubt, the result is often worthy of admiration, but I like to think of styling being much more than that.

The "Candy Land" spread takes the themes of naïveté and playfulness, stemming from the common young actress stereotype, and combines it with the season's best high fashion and couture. Yet much of the fashion isn't really clothing at all, but rather edible sweets that imitate specific pieces, such as a Vivienne Westwood headpiece, as in the cover image of the magazine and the first image seen below.

One thing that occurred to me was the idea of imitation within the fashion industry, and the way that Cotton translated that dilemma into sculptural pieces of candy and frosting. It's an interesting interpretation, although maybe not so far-fetched.

On the other hand, this fashion editorial really utilizes the epitome of what I learned in my Photo Styling class. Cotton turned this clothing into something more than that, creating a new interpretation of what we saw on the runways. One of the best examples is the image of Fanning lying amongst yellow plastic-wrapped confectionaries, in which Raf Simons's Dior frock looks just like a piece of candy. And that's the point.





Images via The Cut
Credit to New York Magazine
Artwork by Will Cotton; styling by Rebecca Ramsey

I especially enjoy fashion editorials that aren't afraid to connect the different dimensions of a fashion image. The "Candy Land" spread introduces a symbiotic relationship between design, props and model that has yet to be rivaled by many modern American fashion editorials.

Don't get me wrong - I love simple fashion editorials. But there's something about an editorial like this that reminds me why I love fashion so much.

February 20, 2013

Thoughts on Fashion Week

I've been thinking a lot about fashion week in the midst of busy days. Whilst I've experienced phases of guilt for being so behind on the shows, it's not as if it were just a blip on my radar.

If you're an individual with a Twitter account who follows anyone rather keen on fashion, chances are that you have been bombarded with images of blurry runways, backstage preparations, or outlandishly dressed ladies and gents posing outside Lincoln Center or Milk Studios (et al).

It is virtually impossible (pun unintended) to avoid it. Every day, my social media is filled with photos of the same runway look from different angles and various seating rows. Naturally these are images that I would want to see, as an avid follower of fashion and aspiring fashion journalist. But it gets to the point where, even though I have never been in the tents myself, I feel somewhat jaded.

I read this article on Independent Fashion Bloggers today that questions the value of blogging about fashion week. Fashion bloggers, myself included, seem to feel obligated to write about fashion week; it is, after all, the pinnacle of the fashion cycle. But there's so much information and media out there, much of which is live-tweeted as the looks walk down the runway. Do we really need more?

Fashion week has become so widespread that it seems to have lost its magic.

In other news, Suzy Menkes wrote a rather controversial article for T Magazine about fashion week's evolution into an event that is about being seen. The piece focuses on "peacocking," which in this case is when an individual dresses to show off for the street-style paparazzi that have become rampant nowadays. (The heated response in part stems from the fact that the criticism is targeted towards fashion bloggers.)

Fashion week now seems to be less about the clothes and more about showing off. Shows are becoming increasingly bigger, and it's not just the fashion flock attending. Two new seasons have become a part of the mix (pre-fall and pre-spring), plus there's resort and a host of rising international fashion weeks.
Fashion week is everywhere.

Fashion week should be about the clothes. The solution may be to streamline; I hope to restore the awe I once had in these magical fashion moments by curating my coverage, focusing on newer designers and avoiding the shows that are already flooding your social media feeds.

I'm a bit belated in my sentiments at this point, but my less frequent posting allows for more inspired pieces that mean a lot to me.
Girl Loves Color will, of course, have fashion week - and a colorful one at that!

February 03, 2013

Graffiti Makes Its Marc

Born and raised in New York City, I have long been a fan of street art, although it is often rather commonplace for my jaded urban eyes. The best examples, however, let creativity run rampant. Despite what the law may state, it seems that there are no boundaries for graffiti.

Graffiti creates its own world, which is somehow simultaneously utopian and dystopian. It is a chaos in the views of many, yet one of the perks of modern society is that we have learned to see the beauty in the strange. Marc Jacobs, ever the fashion pioneer, has caught on to the appeal of street art and has set his latest ad campaign for diffusion line Marc by Marc Jacobs in a graffiti chaos.

The setting is grunge, with its models posed in corners of rubble and grimy public bathrooms, but the decorated walls enliven the bright geometrics of the Spring 2013 collection's casual separates. One might think that the result would be too busy, that it would create a clashing catastrophe. In fact, the elements produce a campaign that revels in its contrasts.

Not to mention, the images are some of the best examples of photographer Juergen Teller's signature aesthetic. He is a mainstay for the Marc campaigns, but this latest product feels fresh.



Color has been rather slick and sophisticated in fashion as of late, which makes this campaign's urban sprawl of hues especially enjoyable.

Photographed by Juergen Teller
Images belong to Marc by Marc Jacobs

January 28, 2013

Where Light and Dark Meet

Couture week transports us to a time of elegance. As much as we would hope to remain in such a saccharine fantasy, we cannot. We return to wintertime, with its brooding color palettes and gothic florals. Yet this chilly realm is not without its own version of romance: we mix dark and light in order that we might still cling to our sugar-coated fantasies.
“Be soft.
Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
-Kurt Vonnegut

kv
Moschino Cheap & Chic graphic print silk tank top (available here), A/wear floral skirt (available here), Alexander McQueen box clutch, Charlotte Olympia platform pumps (available here).
Kurt Vonnegut's musings inspired my play between dark and light. While he urges us to hold on to our sweetness, we may find a new fashion dimension by maintaining a whisper of hardness. I am a color enthusiast, but darkness may bring out the lightness in us all.

January 22, 2013

Christian Dior Spring 2013 Couture

Relative newcomer to the house of Christian Dior, Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons showed the Spring 2013 Haute Couture show amongst a set of vibrant green foliage. In this fashion garden, the first breaths of spring emerged and Simons's aesthetic came to a ripe bloom.

The collection proves that his seasoned taste in minimalist tailoring can flourish under an arc of feminine charm. Technique was the reigning queen here, as it ought to be in the world of couture. Whereas select couture designers get carried away by a cacophony of detail, Simons's floral embellished frocks were extravagant and bold, yet most importantly tasteful. The use of color for these designs was sublime - a dark, glittering blue against translucent black; sparkling layers of red encircling petal pink, gold, blue and green.

Most of all, the sharpness of Simons's minimalism for Jil Sander took an exciting turn towards the dainty. The woman who wears the angular periwinkle dress is self-assured, have no doubt, but she does not sacrifice girlish charm for her power.

The simplest looks were masterfully done. Take note of the canary yellow gown with a cut-out sheer panel by the thigh. It is obvious that Simons knows his fabrics, for he has manipulated it into a cut that rests perfectly upon the body. Such craftsmanship puts other designers to shame.

Although the brief usage of luminescent fabrics did not quite succeed in enticing me and the outfits of layered separates proved somewhat unflattering in their bulk around the hips, the show was still an obvious high point for Simons. He is settling into his new seat of fashion power, and it is one that suits him.





Images from Style.com

A parting note: I have nothing but appreciation for the individuals who enliven couture with the technical skill and attention to detail that it demands.

Click here to the view the show in its entirety.
I recommend taking advantage of the Zoom tool; only up-close can one fully enjoy a haute couture design.

January 15, 2013

Weave Me Alone

I love to collect handicrafts throughout my travels. This instance of souvenir shopping supports craftsmanship in a world becoming increasingly consumed by factory work. Forgo the tourist traps of magnets and tote bags emblazoned with the name of your current destination for a trinket that is more exotic. In the case of fashion and accessories, crafty finds add another dimension to a mainstream wardrobe. When we all shop at many of the same stores, it is nice to diversify.

Aruba is a notoriously touristic vacation island, but I discovered this hand-woven bucket bag on my recent getaway. My new addition marks a departure from a previously leather-focused collection of bags. It is roomy enough for my everyday necessities, yet upon the shoulder it is a subtle postcard from the latest destination.




Top: Elizabeth Peyton for Marc by Marc Jacobs; Jeans: Earnest Sewn.

I love to acquire colorful accessories, and I am excited to experiment with ways in which to pair this beautiful color scheme with varied apparel.

Have you discovered any unusual souvenirs in your travels?

January 12, 2013

A New Year of Color

Although I'm a bit late to the party, I would like to impart some commentary on the turning of the new year. This transition is distinct in that it is a universal time for people to decide on a new vision for themselves. We sit down and transcribe a list of ways in which we would like to remake our personhood in the coming year. It is a noble effort, yet most would agree that it comes to naught as the newness of the year wanes and we settle into our old habits.

I could wax eloquent about the manner in which I hope to evolve this blog and my own personal fashion identity, but specifics seem to stick to their original form - writing, that is, rather than transferring into daily life.

This blog has carried itself into something more than intended at its initial birth. As Girl Loves Color approaches its third year of existence, it also approaches a celebration of the development of a new kind of creative thinking. My writing has matured from brief captions into analytical prose; my subjects have evolved from simple features to more complex juxtapositions between the niches of the art world and my own fashion ideas. Girl Loves Color has expanded upon my ideas of color and entered into something more: a different mode of thought, a different set of perspectives on the ways in which I bring creativity to various areas of life. What it is, I can't say exactly. The blog has brought itself here, guiding my teenage hand to the point at which I type these words.

Kathryn Schulz in this week's New York Magazine proposes, "maybe we humans change the way species do: through random variation." We make specific attempts to help ourselves (in this specific example, Schulz discusses the genre of self-help books), but is this really how we change?
Schulz says that the self helps itself. We dream up different hypotheses, but ultimately we must "throw all the options at the occluding wall of the self and see what sticks."

So, here is to a year of trying new things. I hope to bring Girl Loves Color more into the practice of my everyday life: becoming inventive in my everyday outfits and shopping habits, letting the inspiration I feel online flood my real-life fashion circumstances. I can't make a list of specifics to help me achieve these things, but I can try a multitude of things in order to make it work.

We can know how we wish to change, but we cannot identify what makes us change: this is the conclusion of Schulz's argument. And we can bring it to fashion as well.

I'm going shopping today, and I feel more informed than ever about the ways in which I want to update my wardrobe this year. I know how I want to bring colorful fashion to my 2013, and I am willing to experiment in order to fulfill this goal. I may not know what will bring me to the point I will be at on this day 2014, but I will know that somehow I got myself there.

Happy (belated) New Year!