Monday, March 30, 2009

The Want Monster Has a Pear-tini

Saturday, I attended a fashion show that took place at a shopping center here in Austin called The Domain. (Could we be a teensy bit more grandiose with the name, do you think? Did the PTB at Simon Malls feel that "The Promised Retail Land" or "The Fashion Fiefdom" or "Manifest Shopping Destiny" wouldn't fly?) I have been to a few pretty lame fashion shows & events here in my town, which I love desperately but is still not, despite my efforts, a very big pin on the Fashion Map. This one was actually kind of fun, however, because they gave away booze (Pear vodka & grapefruit juice cocktails! Hooray!) and appetizers from some of the excellent restaurants in the Domain (Yummy nibbles of sauteéd salmon and crabcakes! Hooray!) and the stores that were featured in the show were some of the best ones in Austin. (Neiman Marcus! Barney's Co-Op! Intermix! Hooray!)

A note: a drink containing pear vodka and grapefruit juice is not, I repeat not, a martini, no matter what shape glass you put it in. It has no gin, it has no vermouth, it is not a martini. I am sick unto death of everything being -tini'd these days. It sullies and cheapens the good name of a classic beverage, it degrades the inherent sophistication that used to come from holding one of those delicate, frosted glasses in one hand while you swirled your toothpick-impaled olives around the slightly oily surface of the cold, cold gin with the other. What next? I'm waiting for some bartender to pour my Guinness into a triangular glass and call it a "stoutini." But I digress...

Austin, bless its heart, is not without its pretensions. This fashion show was supposed to be exclusive and invitation-only, although it and its opening little cocktail soirée was held in a tent plonk in the middle of the street that runs down the center of this open-air mall, so that the invitees swirled around inside our roped-off area like very well-dressed antelopes at the zoo, while retailers in cargo shorts and flip-flops gawked at us as they shuffled by swinging their Banana Republic shopping bags. My invite came courtesy of my delightful Denim Guru Broc, who works at Barney's Co-Op and is so sweet and so cute I could make him into a sandwich and eat him for lunch. (Seriously -- if you need jeans, go see Broc. Dayum, he knows a lot about denim.) An RSVP via e-mail was required (which I had duly performed) and there was a young man with his list at a table near the entrance of the shindig. He dutifully checked off my name, then he handed me a neon green rubber wristband, of the sort made popular by various charitable organizations.

Seriously? Neon green rubber and you want me to put that on? Because folks, I was wearing this:

(Black cashmere Robert Rodriguez cardigan with fox collar, triple-layer tulle Michael Kors skirt, black Stuart Weitzman Goliath boots. I apologize for the lame photoshopping and the faux artiness of the photo -- Style Spy, bless her heart, is also not without her pretensions.)

I defy you to tell me what part of that outfit says, "And what would really cap this off is an acid-green rubber wristband!"

Yes, pretty dressed up for a shopping mall on a Saturday at 6:00 pm, but the invite said, "Dress to turn heads." Well, ya don't have to tell me twice! And can I just say, my head turned a lot. Mostly, my head turned in order to look away, or turned toward my gorgeous friend Margaret to exchange horrified looks and urgent whispers. (Mags was turning heads for the right reasons, including her gunmetal-gray leather pencil skirt and a pair of silver & gunmetal patent round-toed platform Chanel slingbacks that make me die a little inside -- in a good way -- every time I look at them.)

My Want Monster has been fairly dormant of late. Sure, there have been some things around that I've thought I would really like to have, like those YSL cage booties, but not really anything that made me think, "I HAVE to have that!" Not really anything that gave me the feeling that I would plot & scheme & plan & even save my money (the very idea!) in order to acquire them. The sort of shoe or skirt or piece of jewelry that I instantly know will go with -- nay, improve -- about a squillion things I already have in my wardrobe; some fashion doohickey that my mind's eye is already forming a season's worth of outfits around.

Until Saturday at the Domain, when I snapped this photo:

It is a bad photo and I apologize. Some of that is due to my general ham-handedness at photography, some due to my camera being... well, let's just say that if my camera went to school it would probably go in a short bus, and some of the photographic badness can be chalked up to the fact that I was having a Fashion Epiphany and was quivering and babbling in tongues like a Pentacostal preacher at an Arkansas tent revival.

The shoe in the shot above stomped down the runway during the Intermix portion of the show and so as soon as I roared back home (after a yummy dinner and some more wine -- hooray! -- with Mags), I hied myself to the Intermix website to find these babies.

They're from Chloé, and here they are.

Oh, those just tick all the boxes for me. Big, chunky, statement-y shoe (I'm still in the throes of this phase), patent leather -- love, nice wide forefoot strap to keep 'em from biting into my tender white flesh, interesting monochrome buckle that gives good detail without distracting from the shape of the shoe, good sturdy ankle strap to keep 'em from falling off my hoof, Cinderella-like, as I trip down the palace stairs, fantastic neutral color that is going to go with everything.

Oh, and they're $700.

When I saw that I felt like someone had poured a bucket of very cold pear & grapefruit non-tinis over my head. Owowowowowowowowow. Seven-hundred clams? Is a lotta money for a pair of sandals, despite their perfection.

I'm going to need to think long & hard about this one. I'm going to need to think at least until the next round of sales at Intermix...

Photos: Style Spy,

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Further Befuddlement

Somebody help me out here.

I do not understand this ad:

Um, what????

That ad does not make me want to wear Diesel clothing. All it does is make me nervous about going over to that guy's house. "Gee, thanks, Sebastian, I appreciate the invite, but Saturday is the day I... uh... push back my cuticles."

I thought perhaps I just didn't have the context, and so I took a look at the Fall 09 Diesel Black Gold runway show.

Nope. Not helping.


Still not helping.

Droogs gooly down the runway in Diesel platties!

Right, then. Well, still confused about the advertising (but completely clear on how much I don't want to wear the clothes). I will entertain any & all theories or clues the rest of you might be able to provide.

You know what makes sense to me? This:

This gorgeous navy silk kimono jacket from YSL, which is part of an exclusive collection of YSL offered currently by Net-A-Porter. It's a kimono jacket. With a drawstring waist. And a notched collar. It shouldn't be right, but it is! It's so, SO right!!! (::insert whimpering noises here::)

Also chock-full of sense, a thing of Aristotelean beauty, nay -- perfection?

From the same collection. The day that came to live in my closet might be the day I stopped shopping. Seriously, what else would I need?

Okay. My world makes sense again. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Photos: Diesel,,

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Come Fly With Me

Jean Paul Gaultier seems like a happy guy. Whenever I see photos of him, he's smiling, and in interviews he seems about as far from the stereotypical moody, Sartrean Frenchman as you can get. My theory is that he's really enjoying his life, and why wouldn't he? He has his namesake label, where he's allowed to pursue his wildest fantasies as a fashion designer, pulling in influences from around the world and staging runway shows that can look like the world's friendliest and best-designed acid trip. And he also gets to design Hermès. Designing Hermès means access to some of the most luxurious materials and exquisite craftsmanship in the world. It also means you're responsible for the look of one of the oldest and most storied fashion houses in history, a beloved institution in France; and that, frankly, you don't have to worry all that much about how much your stuff costs.

See? Happy.

I'd be happy, too, if I were responsible for this

Hermès is famous, of course, for its leathers. The company began in the early 19th century as a maker of harnesses and saddles, and is still best-known for its leather goods (like the mythic Kelly & Birkin bags). (They also do a nice little sideline in silk scarves.) Gaultier has been designing the clothes since 2003 and it's been a successful collaboration. The clothes are always good, French to the eyeteeth, sexier than their classic lines give them a right to be, and ageless without being stodgy. JPG has got it down cold with this line. Wearing Hermès, people might not know that you were wearing Hermès, but they would know you looked gorgeous.

This season, JPG was inspired by Amelia Earhart and other aviatrixes. Do I know why? I do not. There seemed to be a goodly dose of 1940's-inflected fashion on the runways this season, and my feeling is that this reflects a sort of life-in-wartime mindset that we're having due to our economic troubles. Rationing, make-do-and-mend, toughing it out, making sacrifices -- all those stiff-upper-lip qualities we look back and admire in our wartime forebears.

Not that an alligator bomber jacket with a mink collar is exactly scrimping by. I do not recall hearing about rationing coupons for alligator...

The aviator influences were mostly found in the styling for the show (no one at Hermès expects you to wear one of those hats this winter, I promise) and the classic military cuts of the jackets

I like Ike!

and so this collection is actually extremely wearable. Yet another example of a designer giving big bang for the (big) buck this season -- there's really nothing that went down this runway that's not going to be wearable for years to come.

Like this. There's not a one of us who wouldn't be better off having this in our closets.

Those pyramid-shaped studs are an Hermès signature. The sort of subtle detail on an all-leather skirt suit that whispers, "Why yes, I did pay $30,000 for my outfit," but doesn't scream it.

Speaking of good leather, get a load of these shoes

Holy cow. Come to mama.

I can't quite tell if this is a removable gaiter-thingie and the boot underneath is just this

in a knee-high version. Doesn't really matter, though. I just love the way it looks.

It wasn't all leather -- there was also, as one would expect, some truly gorgeous silk

Amelia Earhart wears a cheongsam. And looks killer in it.

See? That's just ridiculously good. Classic, easy, beautiful...

But back to the leather, she said, wiping a tiny drop of drool from her chin.

I don't currently have any leather pants, but I need some. I'll take these.


Here's a dress I'd feel good about wearing.

Ooooooh, mygoodness. You thought it was silk, didn't you, until you saw the close-up. There was a silk version or two of it in the show, but the leather? Much more interesting. My god, that's fantastic. Not for nothin', but I would totally rock that dress.

Not that I'm going to. Sad truth is, these clothes are entirely out of my reach. Usually when I look at Prada, or McQueen, or any of the other designers I love, one part of my brain is stashing away ideas because some of it will appear in Neiman Marcus, go on sale, eventually filter down to the outlet stores, and just generally be attainable to me if I save my pennies and am judicious. Not so much with the Hermès. First off, it's next to impossible to find the stuff -- the only place you're going to see Hermès clothes is an Hermès boutique, which are not exactly thick on the ground. I've been in the Dallas boutique -- they have a few garments, but not all that much. It's mostly bags, scarves, and other smaller items -- they must save the fashion for the really big stores in New York & Paris (and godhelpus Las Vegas). Although even in the flagship store on the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, I don't recall seeing any clothes. Where are they keeping this stuff, anyway??? Doesn't matter. Even if I could find it, I couldn't afford it. The prices are astronomical, and they do not go on sale. Remember, this is a company with years-long waiting lists for handbags that cost $7000. I don't even want to know what that full-skirted leather trench would set you back. (Makes those $350 silk scarves seem like a stone-cold bargain, huh?)

So Hermès is for dreaming. Head in the clouds. Flights of fancy. Vrrrrrroooooom...


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Balloon

If the gods continue to smile, it looks as though I will be in New York for a week at the beginning of May. I'm looking forward to this an awful lot. As I may have mentioned once or twice recently, I am in bone-deep need of a vacation, and being in New York always makes me happy. Amazingly, I have not been there for two years now, so I'm good & due for a visit. I will be museuming, retailing on a very minor level (probably only some perfume) and catching up with old friends, not least of which is the city itself. I thought, also, that I might like to meet some new friends, so I'm herewith floating the idea of a live-and-in-person meet & greet with anyone who might be interested. An opportunity to have a drink and chat with some of you who might be so kind as to take the time to come and meet me.

So if any of you (fellow bloggers, readers, Anna Wintour, Ralph Rucci, random dodgy men who like to buy expensive shoes for women you don't know...) think you might be interested, let me know in the comments section. As my travel plans firm up I'll keep you posted on the when & where. It will likely be somewhere in midtown, and also sometime mid-week. I have some more scheduling to do before I know for sure.


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Wherein Style Spy is Befuddled by Newfangled Gadgetry

A few days ago I received a press release for something called "Isabelt."

Perhaps I am being dim here, but I'm not all that impressed. It's a piece of plastic that you wrap around your waist like a belt instead of... a belt?

So this

is better than this?
AK Anne Klein - 1 Ombre Belt 1035675 (Pewter) - Accessories

All the literature proclaims that this gizmo prevents the dreaded "BELT BULK" (caps theirs) and that it "virtually disappears" once you put it on. That "virtually" modifier causes me to frown. That thing is plenty easy for me to see in every photo & video available, and I really hatehatehate the way it looks. Seriously, why not just wrap a strip of strapping tape around your waist? Sure, it's not bulky, but you'd have to be wearing a top that was guaranteed to never, ever ride up above your waist so that it didn't show. Also, my experience with that sort of clear plastic (the sort from which they make those "invisible" bra straps) is that it isn't terribly sturdy. How long is this thing supposed to last?

Also worrisome? The fact that in this three-and-a-half-minute video, something like 20 seconds of it is devoted to "remove the Isabelt from the packaging." Seriously? You have to tell me to take it out of the box??? How dumb do you think I am?

I get the idea -- sometimes you need a belt, but don't like the way it looks underneath your top. I suppose in a very specific situation, this could be a good solution. And there is a LOT of positive press on their reviews page, although much of it looks like people regurgitating the press release without actually trying it. Which is another thing that grates my cheese. I'm on the e-mailing list for a lot of PR offices these days, and I get random releases all the time. A lot are like this one -- just a page of copy, but no product for me to actually look at. So I'm either supposed to just parrot your company's information to my readers without knowing if it's true or not, or I'm supposed to drop 20 bucks to find that out? Mmmmmm, no thanks.

So how about you guys? Any of y'all tried this? Would love to hear about it!


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Monday, March 23, 2009


So I had a lovely visit from my friend Miss Jody this past weekend, and it involved some retailing, bien sûr. Some very successful retailing, I might add. Once again, Style Spy's shopping karma rubbed off on her companion and my friend went home with even more bargains than she had planned on. Style Spy herself also benefited:

It's hard to tell from this photo, but trust me when I tell you this top is adorable. It's a heavy black knit, hits me just below the hip, and has two zippered slash pockets on the front as well as the nifty exposed zipper on the back. It's very basic, but still interesting, and worn with a narrow cropped pant, it's so very Jean Seberg, which is a look I'm loving right now.

The definition of "gamine."

Anyhoodle, I've seen this top every time I've cruised through the Neiman Marcus outlet here in Austin for the last several months, and always thought, "Oh, goodness, that's so cute but I wish it weren't black." Because I'm trying to go with less black -- I prefer color in general, and as I've said before, I feel like as I get older black is awfully harsh against my face. So I've tried on the top a couple of times, but always backed off, trying to stick to my Less Black Rule.

But when I was out with Miss Jody this weekend we hit the Saks outlet in San Marcos and they were having a delightful sale event -- everything that was marked down to final clearance was an additional 40% off. Now, this is a pretty significant discount, and final markdown prices at the Saks outlet are already pretty low. And there, hanging on the rack, insouciantly whistling a Serge Gainsbourg tune, was my little black Jean Seberg top. And it was kah-razy on sale. So on sale that I got over my Less Black Rule. This top started off its life as a $300 item of clothing, but Saturday, after it was all said & done, it came home with me for less than 25 bucks. So I felt pretty good about that.

Got home with the top, and took it into the A closet to hang it up. When I discovered that I'd already bought it.

Yep. Apparently, I'd had the very same conversation with myself about the very same top and come to the very same conclusion a while back, only I had it in the Neiman Marcus outlet. According to the sticker, the impetus price point had been almost exactly the same.

Well, you can't say I'm not consistent.

Even more hilariously, Jody and I had earlier that afternoon had a fairly involved conversation about this very phenomenon, which each of us has observed in herself -- the tendency to buy the same kind of garment, and occasionally the very same actual garment, over & over.

In one way, I think this behavior signifies that I know my own style and it's consistent and identifiable. On the other hand -- one would think a person could remember what hangs in her own closet, for pete's sake.

I do sometimes do this on purpose, of course. I have a few items that I've loved so much upon acquiring them that it's pretty clear they're going to become go-to items that I'm going to get tons of use from and when I wear them out I'm going to feel pretty bereft, so I've bought a back-up. (My tortoise patent Cole Haan driving mocs, for example -- I bought two pairs of those.)

This, however, was not one of those times. This? Just plain old boneheadedness. Well, at least it was boneheaded at a bargain price.

How about you guys? Anyone else ever done this? What item have you bought multiples of, either intentionally or not?

Photos: Style Spy,

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Sense & Sensibility

Speaking of YSL...

I love these shoes.

They're from the Spring 2009 collection and they are starting to pop up in stores now. There are a few different variations available, but these are the most complete iteration of the look, which I find fascinating and super-cool. I like these because you could wear them in the cool weather with a tight, and you could also wear them in warm weather to give the proportion/look of a boot without dying from the heat (a major consideration here where I live). Oh, forget the justifications -- I just like 'em, okay? I think they're FANTASTIC.

I have the same feeling about those shoes that I had about these:

when I first saw them, on the Prada Fall 07 runway and these

when I met them in the shoe department of Neiman Marcus a few years ago. I fell instantly in love with both of these shoes, and eventually brought them home to live with me and have no regrets about either pair. They were expensive, yes, but I still wear them and I will continue to wear them for a long time, I'm sure.


I'm less sanguine about that in this case. I'm worried that the cage booties are a little too... extreme to be a multi-year shoe. And those babies are expensive -- seriously expensive, they make the Manolos look like a bargain -- so they need to give me several years of wear to justify them. While the Pradas are instantly recognizable from their season (that's another shoe that was everywhere, editorially speaking), they are still, at heart, a pretty neutral, wearable sandal. The booties? I dunno. The ankle or mid-calf boot is a silhouette that comes & goes, it's never (so far) been one that stuck around indefinitely like the tall boot or the sandal. And while I always advocate wearing what you love regardless of whether it's "in style," there does come a point with some items where they are so hopelessly dated that I can't bring myself to wear them.

But, oh. They're so fabulous. And truly an archive piece. And I do love me some YSL. I harbor a secret and as-yet-unfulfilled ambition to collect at least one YSL piece from every season. I figure if I do that, by the time I'm 70 I'll be able to wear nothing but Yves Saint Laurent. Heh.

There are a couple of other versions available.


Probably the sandals would be the most wearable and longest-lived version. But. Honestly, they just don't speak to me in the same way. The thing I like about the boots is the extremity of them, the over-the-top-itude. The sandals are cool, but not really as statement-y as the boots.

There are also these, which are gorgeous:

These are on the actual YSL website, I haven't seen them on any other e-tailer. These scratch the itch better because they have that fantastic heel -- actually, I can see that I'd wear these a lot. They're pretty stunning, aren't they? But unless they came in black, I'd never wear them, because I just don't wear silver.

But lookit what else I found:

This is may be the best option of all. I'm pretty sure I would wear that for a hundred years. I do like a big bold piece of jewelry, and that certainly is one.

All of this is academic, of course. It's not like a have a pile of extra money sitting around panting to be spent on goods from Yves Saint Laurent. (Actually, all my money is panting to be spent on YSL, but things like rent & groceries take priority, dagnabbit.) Even the Luxury Tithe is spoken for at present -- it has become the Travel Tithe, in anticipation of a much-needed (much, much, MUCH-needed) vacation in New York this spring. But I do like to have a back-up spending plan, just in case a long-lost relative bequeathes me a princely sum in the next few months.

One more quick thing -- I have a new affiliate:

New Season available at

This is more news for readers in the UK, because it seems that they are not shipping to the US yet. This is a shame, because they have some sweet, sweet stuff on this site. If you are lucky enough to have friends in the UK who could receive delivery and then forwar dthem on to you, you'd be golden; however, their returns policy is only 14 days, and it's unlikely that you could get them here & back in time in case they didn't fit. So mostly, for my non-UK readers, this will just function as Shoe Porn; but it's pretty good Shoe Porn, so it's not the worst use of a few minutes of your time I can think of. I am particularly enamored of these:


Okay, everyone, have a good weekend! Today is the first day of spring - perhaps you should celebrate with a little retailing?

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