Friday, March 21, 2008

Taxidermy Chic

I can't get over the texture of this Armani bag. Made of perch skin, it walks a fine line between deliciously decadent and vaguely creepy. Personally, I like the taxidermy-esque look of it, but then, I'm also thrilled by the recent flourishing of natural history references in design in general. Discovering the beautiful in the strange can be so uplifting.

It helps that everything else about the bag is totally understated. Delicate, discreetly glowing gold hardware, utterly simple shape. And obviously, given my obsession with pale grey, I think the color is fantastic too.

Bag by Giorgio Armani. Image from Harper's Bazaar UK Shoes and Bags Supplement, March '08.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shoe In

Alexander McQueen has been designing some pretty amazing shoes lately. The pheasant feather pumps in his Fall '07 collection had me rabidly scouring eBay for an affordable pair in my size. Still no luck on that front, and now he trots out these babies. I love everything about their shape, from square snub toe to spindly, vertiginous heel. Proper and retro and sexy all rolled into one.

I'm also really feeling closed-toe pumps right now. I know it's spring and most people's thoughts are turning to pedicure-baring styles, but I can't help but admire the way the color and shine of these shoes helps one buck that trend but still feel au courant. They're spring-y, but not desperately spring-y. Showing a little restraint in transitioning between seasons while the fashion pack goes new-season mad seems like a good idea.

Shoes by Alexander McQueen. Image from Elle UK Bag and Shoe Supplement, March '08.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I'll Take the Knock-Off

I'm writing about this because it never happens: I much prefer the cheap knock-off to the designer original. Here's the copy:

And here's the Gucci version:

See what I mean? The inexpensive (£45) Per Una version is way better. While I love the knock-off, I wouldn't even give the Gucci dress a second glance on the sale rack. The Gucci dress has too much going on, causing it to upstage the wearer. One-shouldered with a bold floral print, a big knot on one side and a jagged hem, it's overkill. The Per Una version takes the best ideas from the original but is utterly wearable. The simple, crisp black and white color scheme is enlivened by large, irregularly-places sunflowers on the skirt. Simple fit-and-flare knee-length summer dresses are my holy grail and this one's a winner.

Images from British Elle, March '08.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Color Palette: Rust, Canary and Navy

It's common knowledge that I love navy and brown. But here's a little twist on those familiar favorites: rust brown, canary yellow and navy blue. Hello! Is this fresh or what? The yellow perks the others right up and the rust is a litle more studious and unexpected than the usual chocolate.

Then I saw these other two pieces which I think appeal largely because of their colors. (Though the silk fabric of the skirt is always nice and the sculptural gathers on the blouse are unique-good.)

Silk skirt and silk georgette top both by All Dressed Up. All three images from Lucky, January '08.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Flippy Skirts

Lately I've been really excited about flippy skirts, like these two. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I broke down and bought the Frye Engineer boots I was drooling over a couple of months back and have been wearing them constantly with nubby tights and short flared dresses and skirts. There's just something so practical and cozy, but still pretty, about the look, even more so when a sweater is also involved. (The boots were also first rate for shoveling out after yesterday's huge snowstorm.)

I like the two pictured skirts because despite their girlish shape, they still have a touch of elegance. The very large scale lace is fresh (and a nice change from the more common smaller scale patterns) and the wool blend has the look of raw silk, which is lavish and wonderfully tactile.

Now if only designers could get on board with the fit of these voluminous skirts. Even on the tiny sizes, the waists are always huge. Who wants something so giant that it barely stays up on the hips and constantly swivels around? The wool blend skirt looks like it might be a candidate for a well-anchored fit, but the lace one sadly appears to be a low-rider.

Lace-trimmed skirt by Binetti. Gray and white wool blend skirt by 3.1 Phillip Lim. Images from Lucky, January '08.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

And The Winner Is...

At this time of year the glossies are full of features about party dresses and stores are brimming with evening frocks. This makes perfect sense given that the holiday season is upon us and people have more social functions to attend. Nevertheless, something about this once-a-year display saddens me. Pretty, sexy and flirty dresses shouldn't just be for the year's end. We should be glamming ourselves up and stepping out in all seasons! (Plus, if you adopt this mindset you'll always have enough of a stockpile that you can bide your time until the lovelies go on sale.)

Maybe because many people do wait until this time of year to buy an evening dress, the choices seem overwhelming. If you don't know your taste and style in formal evening clothing, then of course it will seem like buying a costume. When fantasies play themselves out at Halloween it's expected, but for real social engagements, the fantasy element looks a lot better when it's tempered to bear some relation to your actual day-to-day fashion sense. If your usual look is sleek and black, now's not the time to go all out with a voluminous shape and a bright print. One or the other if you need a change, I'd say.

So far, amid the abundance of options, my favorite dress is this one:

I've been obsessed with feathers since my trip to Vegas and the Rainbow Feather Company (*the* place for only-in-Vegas souvenirs). The feathers at the dress' neckline are charming and the large-scale lace print at the hem is pretty, but also grown-up. The dress articulates the right kind of fantasy, not because of the whopping $13,000 price tag, but because it's in keeping with my usual style: neutral colors, classic, body-conscious shapes, feminine and, when possible, opulent touches. I imagine it would make me feel the way any good cocktail dress does: like myself only better.

Dress by Yves Saint Laurent. Image from Harper's Bazaar, December '07.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Breaking the Rules

That old fashion dictum that you shouldn't wear more than one boldly-printed item per outfit is so deeply etched in my mind that I have a hard time questioning it. I'll happily wear the leopard print shoes, but not with a leopard print blouse. Despite the fact that I embrace mixed and layered prints in interior decorating, that attraction doesn't affect the way I dress. Until, perhaps, now.

I love the more-is-more aesthetic of this Gap ad. Even though the two striped items bear identical patterns (rather than ones that just use the same color palette), the outfit still works, coming across as playful, even joyous. It doesn't overwhelm because the rest of the outfit is completely tame, comprising the simplest shapes, textures and colors. All you focus on are the stripes, and without them, the clothes would be utterly bland. I also wonder whether the fact that the patterned pieces are at opposite ends of the body, with the plain fabric giving the eye a breather, keeps the prints from being too busy. I won't be racing out to Gap to buy these matching pieces, but I do intend to keep their styling idea in mind for future outfit inspiration.

Gap ad from Lucky, December '07.