Oh, my freaky friend, sometimes I love you in spite of myself...
This bag is made by Naco Paris and is available on Arty Dandy, a French website. I'm not sure what their policy is on shipping to the US, but there is an address where you can write them and query. There is also a t-shirt in this design. They aren't cheap, but they are hilarious.
Whatever you think of Kaiser Karl, you have got to give him credit for a sense of humor here. While I'm not sure I ever want to sit down and have dinner with him (or even a quick drink), I must admit -- I'm glad there is a Karl Lagerfeld in the world. I appreciate what he does for Chanel more than I love it, if you know what I mean; but I just adore his work for Fendi and his own line, and I think those are a better representation of who he is deep down as a designer. Bottom line, Karl Lagerfeld flies his freak flag high and proud, and I love that about him.
Hope everyone has a great, freaky, hilarious weekend!
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Oy. I had a crabby day today. No particular reason -- I'll chalk some of it up to hormones and some of it up to the relentless heat and some of it can probably be attributed to various & sundry low-level family agitas that are keeping my brain a little busier than I'd like. But it was just a crabby day -- I pretty much hated everyone who crossed my path, which made me miserable. I had a bright spot at midday, when I had a lovely lunch with a dear friend who gifted me with fantastic early birthday presents, but after we parted things got prickly again. I dunno, whaddaya gonna do? We all have 'em, right? Bad days?
By the time I got home this evening I was well & thoroughly sick of myself. I needed cheering up. And what cheers me up best of all (besides my friends & loved ones & this goofcake:)
are pretty things from my closet. So I came home & put on this:
It's just a slip -- a sheer black slip with lace inserts. It's not fancy or expensive -- it's Vanity Fair & I got it at some department store, but it's pretty and it makes me feel sexy. Like Sophia Loren, except without the boobs. Or the Italian accent. Or the mesmerizing cat eyes. Or the electrifying sex appeal. But still... sexy for me.
And then I put on these:
These are the newest beauties in my collection. Ooooooooh, boy, are they fantastic. They're Alaia -- satin with pink croc heels. I was parading around in them at the Neiman's outlet last weekend where they were having a ferocious sale and I had just about decided I couldn't live without them when I rounded the end of a rack of shoes & nearly bumped into a darling friend who wrestled them out of my hands (once I'd taken them off) and insisted on treating me to them as an early birthday present. (Such treats, I assure you, I do not deserve.) The shoes are described as gunmetal gray, but they read as black. The toe is perfect -- exactly in-between round and pointed and thus will never go out of style. The ankle strap is also perfectly in the ankle strap sweet spot -- not so skinny it's too dainty and not so wide it's bondage-y. Very sexy, that ankle strap. I really think everything about these shoes is perfect and destined for immortality. An ankle strap d'Orsay pump can never be wrong. J'adore beaucoup ces chaussures. They've been living on my bedroom dresser since I got them because I want them to be out where I can see them instead of hidden away in the closet.
I've topped the ensemble off with this
Wonderful Kenneth Jay Lane enamel flower pendant that was still another early birthday gift, from my lunch companion today. (It's not even August yet & I'm already cleaning up in the birthday gift department! Lucky me!) I developed an immense crush on this collection of Lane's when I first encountered it this spring, and my ardor has not dimmed. So now I finally have a wonderful piece of it and it's making me smile all over. This is a happy, happy piece of jewelry -- the pendant is about the size of a golf ball, and I'm going to wear it all the time, I just know. Flowers! And sparklies! And tiny little ladybugs and butterflies! Rarely do I run across things this sweet that are not twee.
So, there you have it. The at-home sartorial stylings of a cranky fashion blogger. Do I look ridiculous? Oh, undoubtedly. Do I care? No, not at all. I feel pretty in my pretty things. And what's even better, these pretty things were gifts from people that I cherish. So not only do I feel pretty, I feel loved.
Now, that? Is some good fashion right there.
How about you guys? Do you have anything in your closets or drawers or jewelry boxes that's a sure-fire mood lifter? Tell me about it!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
On July 19, thanks to the fabulous Plumcake's fame, charm, and media passes, I got to attend the Austin Fashion Awards, complete with some time hanging out on the "red carpet" with equally fabulous photographer Nathan Black. We watched folks saunter down said carpet, got some posed pictures, got some candid shots, and were frequently... um, let's say... impressed by some of the fashion choices we beheld.
During the awards proper, we were treated to the reading of nominee names in various categories, envelope tearing, and actual acceptance speeches -- just like one finds at most awards shows. This being Austin, it was also viewed as an opportunity for some live music, which I was totally down with. The music was played behind mini-fashion shows featuring work by UT design students. I am sorry to report that most of the student designers' work, with one exception, ranged from mediocre to downright hilarious. As the clothes appeared, Plummie & I took a whack at dissecting the personalities and influences of each of the designers represented based on the garments they showed -- "former cheerleader from Dallas," for example, or "wishes she'd been at Studio 54."
And then this bobbled down the runway:
Holy cow. And what you can't see? The shiny confetti bits all over the front of the dress appeared to be holographic. You know, that silvery iridescent rainbow plastic stuff they make into the covers of the Trapper-Keeper your sixth-grade daughter carries to school. My goodness, was it shiny!
As this sparkly, shiny, frothy, ruffly, bubblegummy confection bounced down the aisle, I turned to Plummie and said, "This kid is a big ol' 'mo who just wants to grow up and design pageant gowns."
So far, so uninspired. These are pretty conventional prom & party dresses of the sort you could find at most small-town "special occasion" boutiques all over the country. But, oh boy, things ratcheted up a notch at the next exit:
Good googly-moogly! I'm having a flashback! It's like Fashion 'Nam! (Also -- how do you know you're at a Texas fashion show? The models are all bone-thin. With D-cups.)
Seriously, these bear a striking resemblance to the horrifying gowns from the Miss USA pageant that I featured here in April.
And ya know why?
If you're a regular Project Runway viewer you'll probably recognize this guy from Season 3. His name is Kayne. His full name appears to be Johnathan Kayne Gillaspie, and guess what! He designs pageant dresses!! In all the excitement of the awards show (and by "excitement of the awards show" I mean "three glasses of champagne I'd put away while milling around in the lobby pre-show and at intermission") I'd completely forgotten about seeing this minor celebrity on the red carpet earlier that evening. In addition, there wasn't a separate introduction for his part of the fashion show; they just sent his goods out on the heels of one of the student designers, so I didn't realize right away that this wasn't the work of just another student.
Now, I know that someone's got to design the pageant dresses. Goodness knows, we can't leave such an important endeavor to chance. I mean, we don't want our beauty queens just picking random gowns off the rack at Dillard's, heaven forfend! And without the pageant gown designers, the world would be deprived of things like this:
I mean, really... Who wants to live in a world without dresses like this?
Me. I do. And as soon as possible.
This thing is about 67 different kinds of awful. The "design" is shockingly tacky, the fabric is cheap-looking, and the construction!! Good lord, they appear to have basically just bought a bra and covered it in that cheesy stretch lace, then attached a panel at the center & made it into a skirt. For pete's sake, you can see the outline of the underwire!!! (And the same for the sparkly purple number in the picture above.)
I hate this dress. I hate all these dresses, and I can't believe anyone chose this guy to be featured in a "fashion show." This is not, I repeat, NOT fashion. Pageant wear is costuming, pure & simple. One of the other guests on the red carpet at the Fashion Awards was Corey Lynn Calter, who is an actual designer who makes actual clothes, some of which are pretty great.
(Photo by Jake Holt)
Here's Corey on the red carpet, wearing her own designs and a BRILLIANT vintage Christian Dior necklace that Plummie & I could have easily gotten into a slap fight over. I really love those pants she's wearing, they're some of the most successful of that sort I've seen yet. Even Plumcake, who is not a fan of the whole harem genre, had to admit those looked great, and we both loved how she worked her shoes over the pants:
I'm going to be looking for some of those. Calter had a Pop-Up Store during the Fashion Week that led up to the Awards, but they didn't take the next step and give her some time on the runway, which I think is a dead shame.
But back to the sequined abominations. I have to say, even for pageant gowns, these dresses are bad. When you go to the website & look at them en masse, they become, unbelievably, mind-numbingly dull. Just one long, sparkly, skin-tight sausage casing after another. Even the colors are bad -- garish or predictable or both. I know Austin is pretty small beer, fashion-wise, but still. This was the best you could come up with for a "fashion show"???? I mean, helloooooooo!!! Corey Lynn Calter -- RIGHT THERE. WITH A BUNCH OF HER CLOTHES.
But as I like to say, the cutting edge of fashion here in Austin is pretty dull. It's getting better -- there are a few boutiques that have opened in the last few years that are actually selling some interesting clothes. We have a Neiman Marcus now, although you wouldn't believe the comparative amount of floorspace devoted to St. John ladies-who-lunch knits; and we have a Barney's Co-Op, although it seems mostly given over to Marc by Marc Jacobs (no more puffed sleeves, Marc, I'm beggin' ya) and DVF (great clothes, but not exactly challenging). The whole world seems to be a lot more fashion-aware these days, thanks to television shows like Project Runway and The Fashion Show, and most of all, our friend the Internets. I'm not hopeful that Austin is ever going to become a major Fashion Capital -- the trophy for the Austin Fashion Awards was shaped like a cowboy boot, for pete's sake. That's okay -- there are lots of other things that we do extremely well (music, Mexican cuisine, dog-friendly public spaces).
Besides -- if everyone in Austin suddenly became brilliantly fashion-literate, what would I have to feel smug about? I'd be out of business! So when I think about it that way, I guess all I have to say is, "Bring on the pageant dresses!"
Images except where noted: Nathan Black
Monday, July 27, 2009
So I took it out & put it on, trying to decide if I wanted to keep it or if there was anything that could be done to make it a bit more wearable. I looked in the mirror and asked, "What is it about this dress that makes it user-unfriendly?"
The answer, of course, was the neckline. I love the asymmetrical pick-ups of the skirt, and I don't mind the Big! Blue! Stripes! because we all know how I feel about color. But the big ol' ruffle with the off-the-shoulder action and the foofy, poofy sleeves combine to make it, let's be honest, decidedly wench-y.
Style Spy does not do Wench.
Safe to say, any character AT ALL you might find at Ye Olde Renaissance Faire is not a look I want to be emulating at any time, ever. EVER. (And neither should you, unless you are actually employed by an actual Renn Fest.)
So in order to save this dress I decided I need to get rid of the ruffle and tone down the sleeves, and also fix the sliding off my shoulder problem. And so I did:
The ruffle wasn't actually that hard to take care of -- I turned it under like a facing, stitched it down, then trimmed off the fabric. I added ribbon ties to the back in order to keep the neckline together -- the bonus of that was I actually really like the kind of drapey cowl effect it creates in the back. The sleeves were a much bigger PITA, it turns out. Somehow, the geometry of this dress is really wonky and my usual tricks for dealing with sleeves (like folding the dress in half to measure) didn't really pan out. There was a lot of eyeballing that went on. Happily, the dress is pretty loosey-goosey, because I still don't think they're exactly even. Here I stuck a sweet little vintage half-slip under it, so that the adorable crystal-pleated flounce on the bottom peeked out. Just for giggles. And here's how the dress looked when it went out for Sunday evening moules et vin -- with a hat & various pieces of jewelry:
So there ya go. I'm pretty tickled about this little project. I was very hesitant to embark upon it because... well, who am I to second-guess Alexander McQueen? On the other hand, I wasn't wearing it, and if someone like me, who is fairly fashion-adventurous, wasn't wearing it, it didn't seem likely that someone was going to see its inherent magic on the small screen if I listed it on eBay and take it off my hands. I really had nothing to lose.
I know this is the sort of dress that, for some people, no amount of alterations is going to make tolerable. But I don't dress for those people. I dress for me, and for the imaginary coterie of street style photographers and fashion editors that live in my head. (Yeah, it's crowded in there.) Some will probably quibble with the volume of the dress, saying it looks bulky. In response to that criticism I have to say that still pictures don't do it justice -- a lot of this dress is about the movement. Besides: in shoes like the platforms I'm wearing in these photos I'm almost six feet tall -- I can wear the bulk without being swallowed. If I were a smaller person, yes, this dress would probably be too much for me.
So what do you think? An improvement? Or do you think it's a lost cause? Should I have left it alone? Burned it? What? Tell me what you think!
Images: Style Spy
Friday, July 24, 2009
Style Spy has a birthday coming up, so I'm keeping my eye peeled for this year's birthday suit. I usually use my birthday as an excuse to buy myself a dress of some sort that I wouldn't ordinarily be able to justify. Of course, I'm still working on a tight budget, so I'm looking at sale stuff.
I'm really taken with this
I love the simplicity of the shape, I love the one shoulder thing, and I lovelovelove all that gorgeous color. It's so hard to find a print or patterned dress that isn't awful or kitschy, and I do love color. And I think that something like this is a year-'round dress, if you live in a climate like mine. So I really like this.
But I dunno. Maybe I'll skip the dress and get myself a really astonishing pair of shoes, like these Haider Ackermann boots.
These make my heart go pitter-pat, I tell ya. They look a little weird, I know, and suede boots are the absolute last thing I should be looking at during a record-breaking summer in Austin, (Oh. My. God, y'all -- you cannot BELIEVE how hot it's been.) but something about these just really, really speaks to me. Lordamercy, those are cool. I would wear those with EVERYTHING. (And in case anyone is wondering -- size 39, please.)
Oh, I'm sure I'll see lots more stuff I'm interested in -- there's no hurry, and half the fun is the hunt, of course. (Honestly, where I'm concerned, it may be more than half the fun.)
Have a good weekend, everyone!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Do you like these little sandals?
Now, we all know I like a nice pair of shoes, and that my tastes do ordinarily run to the spendy. But I am also the proud owner of several pairs of mid- and low-range shoes that have given yeoman's service and garnered me plenty of compliments. I'm not that much of a snob. And the shoes above, after the sale & the code & sales tax, top out at under 27 bucks. That seems llike a very reasonable amount for a little mid-week pick-me-up. Plus, Piperlime does free shipping & returns; so if they don't work, no harm done.
So I ordered 'em. (You can, too, just click on the photo.) I'll let you know how they work out.
Rumor has it that Amy Winehouse wants to license her name to create a celebrity perfume.
Okay, IF they made the bottle in the shape of a hip flask and called the stuff "Skanque," it would at least be funny. Otherwise? My friends, there is not enough jasmine in all the world...
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
My apologies, but herewith follows yet more pictures of me in clothes. Which is probably tiresome, but better than pictures of me out of clothes, wouldn't you agree?
It started out like this:
So I decided to shorten it. No sweat, right? Just chop it off, pin it up, sew it. I've hemmed hundreds of garments (probably) in my life, this should be a piece of cake.
Not so much. Bias-cut + very sheer silk fabric + sheer silk lining = hair-pulling, frustrated, hem-pinning madness. Eventually I gave up and I took it over to my mom's house to have her do it, and after standing on her cedar chest for a while and klonking my head on the ceiling fan (we turned it off first, don't worry!) multiple times while she crouched at my feet trying to pin it, I realized this was a job for a professional. (There is no need to torment my mother like that, she is a perfectly nice lady.)
I headed over to Exclusive Alterations here in Austin, which is where I take all of my tailoring, and once again they did me right. (And in my defense, even the pros were grinding their teeth a little -- they had to re-do a bit of the hem in the back where the lining peeked out. So I don't feel so bad about not being able to manage it. And they did not, of course, charge to make the adjustment.)
See? Now it's a nice, flippy-skirted little slip dress that I can wear in multiple ways. I could leave it like that and stick on a pair of fancy shoes and be all sexy-salsa-dancing Style Spy, or I could do something like this:
I slapped on a double-wrap red patent belt, then my fantastic vintage lace vest, along with my adorable Stuart Weitzman patent flats, and went off to a baby shower brunch for a dear friend. While there, a friend said, "Look at you! How on earth did you come up with... this?" (Accompanied by that circling-finger gesture like you're drawing an imaginary ring around the person.) I think she meant it as a compliment, judging by her tone -- at least I hope so.
And I'll tell you how on earth I came up with "this": I wanted to make more of a waist on the dress because I didn't feel like putting on a giant padded strapless bra, so that's why the belt. The vest was another way to balance out the top half a little more (I'm slim, but I'm still a pear) and also to alleviate the bareness, which seemed a bit much for a Saturday brunch.
The moral of this story? If there is something in your closet that you're not wearing but hanging onto, ask yourself why. Is it the fabric? The color? Does this garment really, truly have potential, or does it just carry fond memories that you don't want to part with? If it has good bones, be creative. Can the design features that might be dating the look be removed? You can take those gigantic 80's puffed sleeves off a lot of things, and some collars can be removed -- not to mention changing out buttons or narrowing a skirt or hemming a pair of bell-bottoms into bermudas and other easy fixes. Follow this link to see a great example & get Thumbelina's excellent advice on alterations.
Part B of the moral, of course, is to seek out a good tailor. There are few things more frustrating to me than folks who refuse to avail themselves of this service. Yes, it costs a little money. But could I have bought that dress for what it cost me to have it hemmed? No, I most certainly could not. And now I have a garment I really love and am going to wear instead of a garment I loved and let hang in the closet. It was money well-spent.
How about you guys? Anyone have a good creative alteration story? I'd love to hear it!
Images: Style Spy
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Need shoes? That's great, 'cause I'm selling some more.
GORGEOUS pale pink Ted Baker sandals. Worn once. Ostensibly a size 9, in reality a 9.5 or 10. $60. Go here for details.
Beautiful, classic, NEVER-WORN ivory Pollini sandals, size 39.5. Fantastic shoes. 70 bucks. Check them out here.
One of the most perfect party dresses I have ever bought:
Gorgeous red David Meister that I promise will get you noticed -- I got soooooo many compliments on this dress. $60. Details are here.
Another beautiful dress -- teal chiffon & velvet Maria Bianca Nero, size M. Never worn. Lovely, lovely dress. $65. Details here.
Monday, July 20, 2009
So. after ooh-ing and ahh-ing (and quite frankly drooling all over my keyboard -- what a mess!) at the Dior Haute Couture, I decided I needed to get a little vintage lingerie into my life. There's all kinds of sheerness and lace and lingerie-inspired stuff going on in fashion right now and I wanted to get in on it.
I decided not to take this route:
What I did come across was this:
Once again, Connie Day, at the Antique Mall here in Austin, comes through for me. Gorgeous, gorgeous thing.
Let me just explain that the DIY part of this endeavor was not limited to browsing around in the air-conditioned comfort of the Antique Mall looking at beautiful things. This vintage long-line bra is in amazing condition. Except. The foam rubber padding that lined the cups had hardened and then disintegrated. It was like two bags of coal dust, or crumbled charcoal. An hellacious mess, is what it was, that left me gritty all over my hands and black under my fingernails and around my cuticles whenever I handled the thing. I had to split open the seams on the back side of the cups and scoop all that stuff out with a stiff brush and my increasingly-filthy fingers. It took forever, and it was a gigantic pain in the ass, frankly, not to mention a hideous mess. And then the alterations had to begin. Because this little item is a 36C, the cups were way too big for me, even over clothing. (Because it is a vintage 36C, the bodice, on the other hand, fits me like a glove. Numbers, apparently, were smaller in the 50's. Mysterious.) I had to basically remove the top half of the cups, take in a couple of darts along the sides next to the underwire, and then re-apply the trim that I removed from the original edge. That was much less a pain in the ass, but it took a while. Worth it, however, because it's just fantastic-looking.
First, inspired by this,
First I tried a full-on Dior homage:
The shoes are my Michael Kors Bad Girl shoes, the blouse is random but great white cotton number, and the skirt & hat are both vintage. We all know I'm a freak for tulle, and when I saw this skirt in a vintage store several years ago, well, I like to lost my mind, as we say around here. Because not only does it look wonderful, but you can do this:
After establishing that I like the bustier over a blouse I wanted to play with the transparency idea a little more, so I tried this:
This is the DIY project I posted about not long ago -- the lace top whose sleeves I cut off. I like this a lot, too, I like the play of the two different kinds of lace together.
Being the kind of person I am, I happen to have more than one tulle skirt in my closet. (Yeah, I know, I'm a freak.)
This is a little less successful, I think. The dark slip read better in the mirror than it does in the photos, but it still looks more like a mistake than a choice, I think.
There was one more thing I wanted to try:
This is a vintage crinoline that I've had for quite a while. I don't have a black garter belt, and the shorter layer underneath is a shortened slip, not tap pants, but I think this is pretty close. Honestly, I really love this. I was this close to wearing it to the Austin Fashion Week Awards Sunday night (about which more later, but here's my capsule review: "Oh, dear.") but it was, as it has been for seemingly years this summer, incredibly hot and I really didn't want to deal with that bustier in 105º heat.
So there you have it. What do you think? Any looks that particularly speak to you?
Images: Style Spy, Style.com
Friday, July 17, 2009
For some reason, the other day I woke up convinced I need a pair of sunshine yellow sandals. I think I'm blaming this on the English Rose, who sent me a link to a pair of adorable yellow sandals that she bought not long ago.
(Speaking of which -- if anyone has any ideas on how to get red wine out of yellow suede, the Rose and I are all ears.)
How cute are those? They're from Jonathan Kelsey and she bought them in London. I couldn't find them anywhere here, so sorry for getting your hopes up. They do carry a selection of his shoes at Saks, including a wicked hot pair of black shoe-bootie type things that are extremely on sale right now and that could find a very happy home in my closet.
Anyhoodle, me being me, I figured that if I want yellow sandals, then you must want yellow sandals, too! Right? Of course!! So here are some.
A classic espadrille from Dr. Scholl's, of all people, and you won't believe how cheap they are!
These are almost good, but the flower on the toe looks too much like a bunch of cantaloupe seeds & kinda skeeves me out.
Great shoe. I like the idea of these with a nice air of khaki bermudas & a breezy white blouse, topped with a big-brimmed straw hat.
These are from Barefoot Tess, which means they come in large sizes only. Cute classic little thong.
Another great, simple, classic silhouette, without the thingie between the toes (which I happen to loathe.)
Completely in love with these. Great sandal in a slew of colors, with Nike Air technology & a cushy rubber sole. Doing any traveling this summer? Thee would be perfect.
Fantastic. Love the covered wedge and the tortoise links. Crazy about these.
So there you have it -- a little sunshine below the ankles!