Pamela Thompson: The Designer's DesignerJune 2, 2008
She has a cat named Moby (after the musician), hangs out with Betsey Johnson on Christmas and is a cookie-baking fool during the holidays. Meet veteran designer, Pamela Thompson. After years of designing for everyone else, Thompson is turning a new leaf and branching out on her own this summer. Though this is the first collection for her self-titled label, she’s no amateur. While some designers debut with gimmicks and ride on the backs of previous labels they’ve worked for, Thompson doesn’t. Her “previous employers” are noted as afterthoughts to the bigger picture. That bigger picture being: Hey! I have a new label and it’s pretty damn cool.
As a contemporary designer she approaches her craft with a no-holds-barred aesthetic. To put it plainly, she designs confidently. Her inspirations are clear. Her choices of color are brash, yet they somehow manage to work. Whether this can be attributed to her Club Kid history or just current state of mind is anyone’s guess.
“I loved the club scene in the mid 1990’s. I think it will always be something I carry with me. I loved those days because people were not afraid to express themselves… It was such a celebration of creativity,” she says with enthusiasm.
Though, this isn’t to say she takes her work so serious that the fun is stripped entirely. No. No. Quite the contrary. In her debut collection the dress is king (actually it’s sole court as the collection is only dresses.) The timing for this is impeccable, as the dress has returned this season with a vicious vengeance against our forsaken jeans. Her knack for these garments can be traced back to her previous life as a head designer for Betsey Johnson. But it seems Thompson’s intuition is also on par, as the inspiration for her this collection is heavily inspired by marionettes. Those beautifully eerie puppets from era’s past, which inspired many recent collections throughout Europe and Japan (they also have that doe-eyed, lifeless Olsen twins expression.)
“I was given a chalk doll from 1919 (I named Lillie) by my friend Jeffrey and I was so inspired by her. I love vintage dolls and knew that my first line should revolve around her. The collection is called Dolly Kingdom and was also inspired by some 1970’s Sarah Moon photographs as well as by silent movie star Mary Pickford.”
This collection is a vignette of three unique dresses: the Debonair, Menagerie and Wonderland. The Debonair Dress is hand-printed on black chiffon charmeuse. It’s full sweep hemline and large scallop is a creation made for twirling. The Menagerie Dress is a lavender silk chiffon, with a skirt of nearly thirty free-floating panels and a bow tie belt. Lastly the Wonderland Dress is a puff sleeve cotton/silk.
“I fell in love with designing dresses after working for Betsey. I love that dresses are a complete outfit in themselves and make a statement about the woman wearing them,” says Thompson.
But to really appreciate Thompson’s deft hands and wild imagination, review her background. She was responsible for creating best-selling pieces for Betsey Johnson, many of which are still being sold after her departure a short while ago. She was also head designer for label Heatherette and continues a collaborative relationship doing web design and t-shirts for Anna Sui. (for over a decade mind you.) Needless to say, Thompson’s debut as a designer has been a long time coming. And while her past successes might seem to give her an advantage over the countless other wannabe Sui’s, that’s certainly not the case.
Delusions of grandeur are long gone as the reality of waking early and working into the wee hours have become commonplace.
“The money aspect and having enough time in the day are the two hardest parts. It is so important to plan ahead. My husband and I are financing the line ourselves, so our capital is limited,” she says. “That is why we have planned so carefully to make certain we have the money to not only produce the collection but to make sure it fits and is sewn perfectly. We are starting small to manage it properly and building it as our customer base grows.”
Whatever the future holds for Thompson one thing is certain, her knack for transforming the styles of yesteryear (or yesterdecade…) into deliciously modern gems is intrinsic. From tapping international influences, to knowing exactly what types of garments will be in high-demand, it’s clear her ear is to the pavement. When asked about the possible directions the next collection might venture, she said:
“I will always have a modern/vintage approach to my [work.] For my next collection for spring 2009 I have been very influenced by the mystery of twins; of which evoke symmetry, mirror images and kaleidoscopes.”
Wherever she takes us, we’ll look forward to the ride.
photographer: Michael David Adams (www.michaeldavidadams.com) Makeup: Viktorija Bowers (www.viktorijabowers.com) Hair: Oliver Chomienne, Model : Kara Searle – Elite)
Jasper Conran Gets OBEMarch 19, 2008
Buckingham Palace has anointed Jasper Conran and Officer of the British Empire. While not exactly a knighthood (that would be GBE), it is one of the highest awards given for citizens of the empire. Conran, who gets this Order of the British Empire from the Queen will receive the accolade at Buckingham Palace. His first women’s collection debut in 1978 and he has gone strong since that debut.
Fashioning AfricaSeptember 5, 2007
IT’S NOT ALWAYS GLOOM AND DOOM AS AFRICA STEPS OUT OF THE SHADE INTO THE FASHION LIMELIGHT.
Africa. Utter this word and dare to ask anyone the images that come to mind. Death and destruction, AIDS and evil dictators (think Forrest Whitaker’s portrayal of Idi Amin in the Last King of Scotland.) Then there are the celebs. It seems every celebrity or mega-label under the sun, has adopted an Africa-related issue as a charitable cause of choice. George Clooney & Darfur- Bono & AIDS- the Gap & the whole (product) REDïƒ¤campaign… You get the idea.
Rarely, (if at all) does a positive remark come up, let alone the word: fashion.
Needless to say, yes, it is important to educate ourselves about the aforementioned issues and act in any way to help the situation-but there is more to Africa. Much more. Aside from being the most culturally diverse continent in the world and possessing some of the most beautiful scenery one can encounter (we’re torn between Africa & Australia), fashion thrives here. Africa’s fashion scene is nothing short of inspiring and more advanced than most realise. Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa alone possess a myriad of designers worthy of showing in Paris or New York. These are just 3 of the countries containing some of the most progressive and intriguing designers many have yet to see. This past March Nigeria launched its own Calabar fashion week, based on the ever-expanding group of young, talented designers, with innovative visions for ready-to-wear and couture (state trade developments also aided the development.) Recently iPapier was invited to a private showing of the Kenyan label Wildllife Works and were left completely blown away.
Last year Cape Town Fashion Week had roughly 72 designers from across the continent show and generated nearly 30,000 audience members, according to reports. Not bad, for being considered under the radar and having Nokia as a core sponsor. Johannesburg Fashion Week and South Africa Fashion Week have also attracted mainstream publicity and continue to entice international audiences. South Africa’s role in Africa’s fashion industry as a whole is an important one as so many serious designers flock to this locale to show their collections.
“Africa is the new frontier of design, most other markets are saturated and we have the new and unique,” says Malcolm Kl-k and Christiaan Gabriel Du Toit, the masterminds behind label KLuK CGDT. The duo, who began as solo designers, have been movers and shakers of the South African fashion industry for years. Kl-k and Du Toit joined back in 2001 after a chance encounter during the South African Designer Collections show in Cape Town. They then shared a boutique for 3 years and only last year saw the marriage of both of their separate labels. The boutique is in the ever-so-chic Green Point (in Cape Town) and sells bridal, couture and pr-t-a-porter. Over the last decade Kl-k has seen a great deal of change in South Africa’s fashion climate. “When I first arrived back in South Africa fashion was bland and derivative of other designers, over the years a local perspective of international trends is emerging that is fresh and interesting. You must understand that South Africans do not want to look tribal and local but sophisticated and international,” he says.
Of course like any other city that isn’t Paris, Milan, New York or London- fashion visionaries without big-city backing do struggle when proper resources aren’t aligned. South Africa is no different as much remains a work in progress.
“I think that development projects must be placed on the political agenda for development. We in Africa involved in the fashion and clothing sector-academics, designers, factory owners- should be working closer together establishing networks,” says industry expert Renato Palmi. Palmi is a researcher and development practitioner for the clothing, textile and fashion sectors in South Africa. He lectures students, evaluates designer shows-you name it he does it. Not to mention he is also the founder and director for Redress, a company devoted to assisting emerging designers.
Christian Dior 50 Years More!July 12, 2007
To properly define how Christian Dior changed the fashion world, look no further than the “New Look” trend that resuscitated post-war fashion of the late 1940s & 50s. It was an era rid of excess pleasures and brimming with austere necessities. Although fashion-resuscitation during this period was not a task carried out by monsieur Dior alone, tis only a fool who ignores his impact. 50 years have passed since Christian Dior’s death, though his footprint remains stamped in our subconscious guide to “chic endeavors”.
Dior was born into a family of wealth and stability. His future was prematurely mapped out and the word “fashion” was not part of the plan. While still quite young he developed a knack for drawing and was fascinated by his mother’s garden and the visually pleasing setting of the local carnival. This ultimately culminated his decision to enroll at an art school. Not a pleasing career choice for his mother who was deadest on having an ambassador for a son.
With much opposition from his family he set out for the then bohemian lifestyle of Paris. Unfortunately his academic life proved volatile and instead convinced his father to fund an art gallery. Proving that even the most successful can be fickle in their youth, this also didn’t last long. Hardships eventually halted financial assistance from his father, closing the art gallery, leaving him to fend for himself. This was a turning point. At a friend’s request— who was working in couture—he began sketching some designs… Then I’m sure you can imagine how the story unfolds. However what you might not know is that it was at the age of forty, that Dior’s career was still budding.
After strategic persuasion, Dior convinced a wealthy textile tycoon, Marcel Broussac, to back him financially. Whatever X factor nourished the designer into believing he could successfully open a couture house in the midst of a war-stricken society, is anyone’s call. However, the impact of this decision is unquestionable. February 12th 1947, was the day Christian Dior became a fashion revolutionary. His collection, ‘Corolle’ was the light at the end of the tunnel. Full skirts with yards and yards of fabric swept away the dated and dreary styles that so many women were forced to wear. This single gesture revived the women of France and shocked editors around the world. Nevertheless the appeal went from guilty pleasure to standard style, as it crossed the Atlantic.
It was Harper’s Bazaar’s then famous editor-in-chief, Caramel Snow, that dubbed the collection “New Look” (her shrewd unrelenting reputation would leave Anna Wintour in the dust). If Dior decided to change careers after that moment and become a small-time farmer, this moment would’ve still been etched in stone as a supreme revelation in fashion—and he a man with supreme ideas.
His famous fragrance “Miss Dior” which was launched, to accompany this collection, is still to this day one of the most popular fragrances internationally. 50 years after his death we can still credit that figure 8 figure to this designer. Since 1957 we’ve seen many designers rise from this man’s legacy…
Yves Saint Laurent (who took over the reigns at Dior after his mentor’s death at the age of 21).
In 2007 the house of Dior still remains to have an unbridled effect on how women dress. After Christian Dior’s debut in 1947, its popularity has stood the test of time, making it one of the most successful houses in the world. We can only hope for 50 years more of Christian Dior.
Interview with Chailie HoMarch 10, 2007
Student. Designer. When associated with fashion design, these two words can be a curse. An instant flash of over-the-top, overeager fashion engulfs the brain. For some, the words represent a pit-less plot, a graveyard of such, where creativity comes to die. Of course the opposite can also be true and Chailie Ho, 25, is proving this. Only recently did she decide to pick up a needle and thread, let alone create entire garments. Born and raised in Hong Kong her vernacular is as soft and delicate as the work she creates. In just a short period she’s had stints for legendary names like Clements Ribeiro and Hussein Chalayan. The designer has also had work shown in various exhibitions across London and in Denmark. In just a few months she’ll graduate from arguably the best fashion design school in the world, London’s Central Saint Martins. With her degree in foresight and a pulsating ambition, she just might be ready to take on the industry. I sat down at Match Bar in Central London to have a chat with Ms. Ho and of course a sip of Earl Grey. (I know, I know’ tea in London. How original?)
So how long have you been designing?
Two and a half years.
Wow two and a half years? Do you mean seriously designing, or was this the first time you picked up a needle and thread?
That was the first time I picked up a needle and thread.
What made you get into design?
Well, I actually began in fashion retailing, and then I just decided to get into design. I’ve always been into drawing.
Did you have any design challenges at first?
Oh I had so much trouble sticking to one idea. It is very hard to commit yourself to just one idea when you want to do so many things. The way people work here it is just so different than my country.
In what way?
In my country, when people design they add a lot of different elements and copy a lot of different stuff, then add it all together.
And here it’s more focused on one idea and how to keep developing it.
So here you kind of start with nothing.
There’s such a difference between eastern and western design techniques, do you think that is why?
Yes. The west has so much more of a fashion history than us. That history has had a longer time to develop than ours. In China people do have [a lot of] history in individual design and creative design but in the west they have [hundreds and hundreds] more years. And how people think in the
culture too, it’s just different.
When you came to London to attend CSM was this the first time?
No I came here before when I was 18.
So what made you choose London, instead of New York or anywhere else in the world?
Well I was going to try F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) but [instead] I just chose Central Saint Martins.
How would you describe your most recent work?
It’s very quiet and soft. I like to play with layering and movement. I enjoy designing something that attracts the hands’it makes you want to touch it.
Are there any designers you’re particularly inspired by?
I like the work of Roland Mouret. He just had this way of using fabric that was just amazing and also Balenciaga.
What do you like about Balenciaga?
I like the original creations and the work from [Nicolas Ghesquiere]. It’s so balanced and structured and the cut’it’s just all a perfect match.
Well, I bet you where very happy when Balenciaga made such a strong comeback a couple seasons ago?
Yes! I was ‘it was amazing?
So how would you describe your personal style?
I dress for work, so, very comfortably. But I love to dress up when I get the chance; like when I go out with my boyfriend or hang out with friends.
Do you design a lot of personal items for yourself?
Actually I don’t. So far most of my work is course work. it only happens when I need something fast. Like if I need a bag to go with something.
When I need it it’s like OH MY GOD’and I sew something
Ha!It must be good to be a designer?
So who have you worked for recently?
How was that?
When I interned for Hussein Chalayan it was amazing, I went to Paris to assist for the show. I was in the studio. It was great.
Chalayan’s work is so theoretical. Especially all the mechanical aspects, as a designer are you interested in that style?
I think designing a mechanical dress is interesting, but right now I am more interested in the possibility of the fabric. I looooove fabric.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the increase in eco-friendly fashion. Mostly because of global warming and natural disasters. Do you have any thoughts?
I think when we (designers) design we should always be concerned with the production and how the design is made. It’s all about minimizing the waste. This is everyone’s responsibility.
So what’s after graduation?
I was thinking about doing a masters degree but I’m still not sure. I do want to go to New York though eventually. Who knows? Many people think that designing is glamorous but if you’re into it, then you know it’s very hard work. As a designer we of course expect to earn some money, but not a lot.
So anything else you want to add?
Not many people have the opportunity to do something creative in life. I think the work of a designer affects a lot of people. I want to fully experience this industry. Even it takes my entire life, I want to be apart of it.
Ready? Jet-Set …Go!May 1, 2006
Travel. The one thing we all need to do more often. Whether the distance is a few hours away, or an entire world, an occasional getaway is essential. But, let’s face it. Even if we can get those few extra days off from work, getting away to paradise can be a nightmare. You know what I am talking about: planning, packing, jet-lag, lost luggage … the list can go on. So in celebration of the approaching travel season: here are some tips from me to you.
Packing (and unpacking):
Ugh. I’d rather sleep in a bed of needles than try to figure out what to take, what to leave and all those other things in between. Although I stake no claim on being an expert, I have had my share of experiences.
Lesson 1: Just what exactly are you doing on this trip? This is the easiest way to conclude what not to take. For example, if you’re trekking it to grandma Rubie’s house 4 hours away (it’s not St. Tropez, but her vintage collection of pill box hats and Armani suits are worth the sacrifice) then that Marc Jacobs mini won’t do. Put it down and wear it when you return.
Lesson 2: What’s the temperature like at your destination this time of year? Remember the weather station is your friend, rain or shine. Visiting Miami? Therefore that beautiful blue knitted sweater from Kenzo you bought last year, yes it’s your favorite, I know, will do you no justice in the Miami heat. Don’t you dare justify it by saying “I’ll use it for the cool evenings.” Restraint, restraint, restraint.
Lesson 3: my favorite, if you over-pack there will be no room for all that new stuff you’re going to buy.
Lesson 4: Actually, it’s a tie, this is also my favorite: your junk shouldn’t be carried in junk. Whether or not you have the funds now, know that luggage is an investment and therefore gives you every reason to buy whatever your heart desires. It should be cool, classy and ooze you-ism, screw the trends. After all, you’ll have it for life. And, oh yeah, that whole quality thing, make sure what you’re buying is worth every penny.
My dream piece: Ghurka Batan floral bag $895 (www.ghurka.com)
My dream carry-on :Terrida Effetto T Duffel bag $885 (www.neimanmarcus.com)
Planning and My Personal Travel Agent:
In a perfect world, a travel agent would be hired for every traveling occasion, near and far. Heading overseas: get a travel agent. Heading an hour south to your parents house: hire a travel agent. Heading uptown to that sale at H&M: you get the idea. But it ain’t happenin’. On that note, for those of us who can’t afford the luxury of having someone find low airfare, hotel rates etc, www.kayak.com is the best. It’s simple, it’s quick and they don’t have annoying commercials (i.e. expedia.com and travelocity.com.)
Any traveling excursion wouldn’t be complete without a few extras. For all those traveling far this season, a GPS device need be in tow. But instead of walking around Milan with an Italian pocket dictionary, MP3 player and currency calculator, downsize. A new GPS device called the Garmin Nuvi 350 (www.garmin.com)which does all of the above and then some, will be hitting this side of the shore soon. And consider this another investment. Although the price has not yet been announced it can be assumed this won’t be cheap. Another item that might come in handy are the Style Sheets by Ted Gibson. My hair is big and massive (a la Diana Ross) and given the typical traveling circumstances (running around like a mad woman trying to see every site all in a few days) my hair will need a mid-day touch-up. These little packages can easily be tossed in your carry-on or purse, as they are packed with extracts and amino complexes. So because I’m a hippie at heart, I am in love with some of the Aerotherapy (yes Aero) stuff in the specialty store Flight 001 (www.flight001.com.) My favorite is the Aromatherapy Travel Kit by Ashleigh and Burwood of England. The kit comes in different scents (patchouli & ylang ylang and lavender and orange etc.) Palm oil candles, scented cushions and incense are included.
Navigating in style is a must, you won’t look like a tourist when you pull this out. (www.garmin.com)
A pack of 10 for $25; seriously if it works for my hair it can work for anyone’s. (www.beauty.com)
Items to put in your carry-on:
Style Sheets (refer to Extras above)
Diane Von Furstenberg Wrap Dress (who’s in favor of low-maintenance chic?)
Moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or higher (I prefer Neutrogena’s Oil Free SPF 15)
A good book (try: Free Gift With Purchase by Jean Godfrey-June)
Ballet flats in black
Big black sunglasses
MP3 player (I’m anti-IPod)
Digital Camera (disposable cameras are no longer cute )
A small bottle of parfum
Anything of value (jewelry, electronics,)
Whatever you don’t want to be a victim in the “lost luggage” story
Passport and all those other technical papers
Nuvi 350 (refer Extras above)
Needless to say, although I’ve learned to be adamant in my packing regimen, my carry-on is my weakness (and my heaviest.) What will you put in your carry-on?
Scope: Signature StyleJanuary 2, 2006
Trends come and go. Regardless of how fabulous the trend is at the time, an expiration date is always summoned at the height of its popularity. In 2005, we witnessed the continuance of Uggs and boho chic. We also witnessed one of the fashion industries brightest protégés become a fashion designer herself; can we say Gwen Stefani?
What does all this mean, you ask? Well, it means that with this brand new year we fashion folk are bound to make some hits and misses with our own wardrobes. Plaid has been said to be making a comeback and I hear that Parisian chic is also slowly creeping back in. So before we sit back and let the good times roll (and break the bank) let’s review what we already have. We’ve all heard of the fashion must-have list regarding which items will never go out of style. You know, the little black dress, a great pair of jeans, red lipstick, etc…
But, if you ask me, black dresses are great, but it gets a little old (and noticeably lazy) after a while. And, needless to say, as much as I’d love to wear red lipstick, it just doesn’t correspond with my complexion (the fact is I’m more Beyonce than Nicole Kidman.) Oh and that whole “great pair of jeans thing” is a great idea, but there are too many great brands and styles to choose from and one pair just doesn’t cut if for me anymore.
After looking through my personal wardrobe and reviewing the goods, the bads and the uglies, I realized that over the years I too have acquired some true-blue items and ideas that stick around year after year. And none of them involve red lipstick.
Behold my personal list of timeless chic (in no particular order.)
1.(authentic)Vintage shopping – Okay, so heading to H&M for the cool retro Chanel Suit knock-off is great, but the real thing or, for God’s sake, a vintage knockoff, serves a better purpose.
2. A long silk scarf with a bold print – Whether around your neck, head, waist or arm, the possibilities are endless,
3. Black flats – It’s not always about the pumps.
4. Wide leg pants – Note: pants do not equal jeans. Wide leg jeans are, for me, an acquired taste.
5. Silver and/or Gold hoop earrings – The size of the hoop depends on the season, but let us not mix the silk scarf and earrings; pirate chic can only work for Galliano girls…
6. Costume jewelry – It causes conversation, it makes dressing up and dressing down much more interesting.
7. Plain ol’ wife beater t-shirts are comfy and the neckline is actually versatile on a variety of body types, although I’ve never been fond of the name.
8. A fitted black blazer – Mix it, match it, wear with it what you will.
9. A fragrance – It should be one of the first things you put on and the last thing you’re remembered by.
10. Confidence – This item works even when you’re naked.
Remember, what you wear speaks volumes about who you are. Trends are tempermental, true style is natural.
What items will you still wear in 2006?
Anna Wintour has definitely created a signature style of her own over the years.
Do you think Ms. Hepburn would’ve traded her flats for Uggs this past year?
Retro: Bill Blass – The Dean of American DesignersSeptember 6, 2005
“This is a big, rich country, and Bill Blass looks it right in the face.”
To describe American style without mentioning the name Bill Blass is unheard of. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1922, Blass created a following that was new to American fashion in the 1960s. In a time when Vogue magazine’s Diana Vreeland was controlling American fashion (which, although beautiful, was always too whimsical and illogical for the American woman) Blass gave women an alternative. He gave them the glamour and elegance they wanted with the sophistication and functionality they needed. During the prime of Blass’s career women were in an era of power and progression. The presence of a Bill Blass ensemble proved to be a provoking and remarkable display of both what a women wanted to convey and who she really was. Blass was the first designer to mesh casual and chic which later not only became his trademark but an American hallmark in the world of fashion.
The allure of Hollywood and the glamour of Vogue captured him at an early age, when he began to sketch the images he saw.
“The beauty of being able to draw, or paint from an early age is that you never feel trapped,” Blass said in his biography titled “Bare Blass.”
His work reflected the eras of supreme grandeur and the utmost glamour. It captured a time when women wore fur over their shoulders that fell past their knees and smoked mile long cigarettes on chic terraces; his work reflected Marlene Dietrich among many other icons of Hollywood.
Growing up in a time controlled by the troubles of the Depression, this might have been the force behind Blass’ infatuation with glamour and elegance. But little did he know that his days of eating leftover mashed potatoes with lavish swirls of Miracle Whipâ€ and lots of black pepper on white bread would be over.
At the age of fifteen he began to sell sketches of evening dresses for $25 to a manufacturer in New York. Although he claims to have not made much from the sales, it was enough to help pay for school. At seventeen he traveled to New York to study at Parson’s school of design. His first home in New York was the YMCA, which according to him was where many American families sent there sons to live cheaply before marriage.
Blass was a war veteran having fought in WWII, at an early age. After the war ended in 1945 he worked for Anna Miller. When Miller retired in 1959 Blass was chief designer. He bought the company, which slowly began to represent his image, in 1970 when it became Bill Blass Ltd.
Blass had a knack for choosing the right textures, colors and lines that would be popular for years to come. He also had a knack for attracting women on a platonic level ,although he was steadfast on being a loner and never married.
“I fell in love with him, like every woman. He was as warm, friendly, intelligent and talented as he was good-looking,” Nan Kempner said.
His Philospophy: Designing for the woman not obsessed with fashion and that still cares about clothes although she has a family a career and a home.
Who he dressed: Nancy Reagan, Barbara Streisand, Nan Kempner pretty much all of the well-known supermodels.
Fall Denim: BCBG DenimAugust 29, 2005
As a dedicated follower of fashion, it is necessary to shop with the utmost optimism. For years I’ve trained myself to think that everything has potential with the right fit, accessory and attitude. And because I was in BCBG, which when translated into English stands for good style, good attitude, no problem … right? This is what I told myself when a sales associate at BCBG on Oak Street in Chicago handed me a pair of indigo jeans w/ small-rhinestone-like embellishments, resembling an arts and crafts project gone wrong.
It was an aggressive stab at the Boho-Chic style that has engulfed the fashion world in a sea of hobo bags and slouchy boots. Thank you Sienna Miller. I tried them on and needless to say they weren’t my cup of tea. With the more tailored and grown-up style of the forward coming fall season, polish and substance are required for successful execution. A simple pair of soft denim jeans in a shade of deep, creamy, blue caught my eye. The $98 price tag alone was an attention getter. No extra buttons, no zippers on the ankle (a la Jordache circa 1980’s which have recently shown their faces again) and best of all, no over-styled washes. They made the legs appear long and lean without out added detailing or an over-tappered ankle. They were timelessly chic with modest embroidery on the back pockets. They could easily be dressed up or dressed down, for work or play, Manolo’s or Delman’s. Judging by the soft flexibility of the fabric they could fit a variety of body types.
The second pair of jeans on the list were a thicker denim in a more trendy wash and a low – very low – rise. They were great for elongating the torso for those that have higher natural waistlines. The wider-than-average back flap pockets gave them a fun and trendy vibe; a great jean to go out and party in. But reader BEWARE: only wear these jeans with low-rise hipster underwear, low-rise thongs or just plain go commando. A small camel-colored suede patch resembling wings sits on the upper waist, which added to the fun and trendy vibe.
Another trendy alternative spotted were gauchos. Gauchos have slowly crept back onto the fashion radar, worn in a plethora of fabrics against a canvas of both eclectic and classic style.
BCBG offers a light denim gaucho with a slightly angular waist. That falls pretty average on the hips. Because of the simplicity (light wash, average buttons and basic cut) they could easily provide a jumping point into a variety of looks. However, because of the light shade and thin fabric, the life of these should not go further than an Indian summer.
Though only separated by a block, the Italian brand Diesel felt worlds away from the spirited Bon Chic and Bon Genre that defined BCBG. Inside of a fitting room at Diesel on North Rush Street in Chicago I stood. Actually I squirmed, attempting to pull a pair of Keate jeans over my knees, thighs and around my behind. I began to panic. Good God, have I gained that much weight?
Though I have increased trips to the local hole-in-the-wall Thai carryout, I didn’t gain this much weight. Just as I vowed to commit to carb-less, meatless existence, my thoughts were interrupted. Eureka! I got them on; it was by far the most rewarding and productive 4 minutes and 26 seconds of the day. “This is my size, right?” I said, bemused as I opened the door. “They’re supposed to fit like that,” says Jillian a young and sweet sales associate dressed like an 80′s roller rink girl. Long white socks with navy stripes around the calf a pair of navy hot pants, and a ponytail. With the exception of needing to take very short breaths … deeper breaths might provoke the buttons to pop off. I was impressed at what I saw in the mirror. The straight-leg and wide-belt loops made me look three sizes smaller and made my legs look long and lean. They were perfect for a night out with the girls and a pair of round-towed kitten heels (to soften the narrow lines.)
Jillian also explained that Diesel jeans (any high-quality denim for that matter) should be extremely fitted in the waist and throughout the leg, which guarantees a better long-term fit for your body. It was described almost as a molding process. The Keate jean comes in four different washes currently ranging in price from $140-$250. And of course the jeans I fell in love with were for about $250. Go figure! Keate Jean Link
The Cherone jean was another option or so it seemed. Before journeying back into the fitting room Jillian warned me that this is one of Diesel’s more difficult jeans to fit into, based on the cut and style. It’s available in over a dozen different washes and can go as high as $250. The Cherone has a thicker, overlapped waistband and is very slim through the legs which was an instant negative for me. True to my nature, I tried them anyway and failed miserably. I couldn’t even get a leg inside of my recommended size. This is a jean made specifically for a very small waist and skinny legs. This is a jean made for Kate Moss. Definitely not Marquita Harris. But that won’t stop me from trying again next season, if I cut back on the Thai… Cherone Jean Link