Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back Issues: InStyle, October 2006

With the autumnal chill here to stay and the skies outside a soft gray, I put the tights back on, this time with a simple tank, and tried to discover the mystery behind why I never recycled the October 2006 issue of InStyle.

The first thing I noticed about this magazine was its weight. I forgot that pre-financial clusterfuck even non-September issues could be hefty. On the cover, as was the case for most fashion magazines by that point, was an actress. In this case it was Scarlett Johansson who had two movies being released that fall. (I've seen them both. I highly recommend The Prestige.) But her presence, no matter how pretty, wouldn't have been the reason I kept the magazine. I tended to skim the interviews with actresses. Or skip them altogether.

The advertisements featured many of the faces that were popular in the fall of 2005. There were actual models, not actresses, for Louis Vuitton. What a novel idea. A cadre of Supers, Kate, Christy, Angela, Carolyn and Daria, wore all black for Versace. Also light on the actress front was the Audrey Hepburn inspired black pants ad for Gap. (I bought a pair of those pants. I wore them once.) It took 111 pages to reach the first real story in the magazine. I doubt we'll ever see those days again, but I'm a pessimism-leaning realist.

I realized that if I kept up with the intense analysis of the ads this was going to take all day. So the skimming began. Past the horoscope that let me in on the fact that I was looking forward to dressing for fall and should, therefore, head to the gym. Past the Zach Braff "Man of Style" story that reminded me that I stupidly paid money to see The Last Kiss in theaters. Skim. Skim. Skim. Stop.

The title of the story was simple. Coats. Eight pages that made this New England girl giddy. A high necked black Alberta Ferretti that might now remind one of Mad Men. A double breasted houndstooth Martin Grant. And then there it was. The one coat that had saved this magazine from the discard pile.

I spent most of that fall lusting after this 3.1 Phillip Lim coat. His line was only a year old at the time, but it had quickly become one of my favorites. I was temping that fall. Wearing business casual clothes that I hated every day. Answering phones and swimming in a sea of ennui. But this coat, with its camel color and the fur at its collar, was everything that my life wasn't.

So I kept the magazine. It gave me the chance to look at it whenever I wanted.

And that bit of escape was what I needed at the time.

Photos via, via

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Rabbit Hole

Today, after yet another staffing agency interview, I didn't want to be anywhere near my gray, pinstriped pants. They, much like these pants, now had the stench of the desperation brought on by my unemployment all over them. After removing them, I stomped around the house looking for something to wear.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when I wore sweats. But now they make me feel sloppy. Even when I'm inside. By myself. With nothing to do for hours but write cover letters.

There was an autumnal chill on the air today, so I left the windows open wide before finally deciding to throw on an old, now oversized, oxford shirt and a pair of opaque black tights. After putting something together for lunch and settling in for an afternoon sitting by the window with my computer, I realized why people sometimes made the mistake of wearing tights as pants.

Tights are one of those items that are hard to fuck up. Though they can become uncomfortable at times, they are also slimming. Hiding lumps and bumps on your legs. Keeping secret the fact that the weather has made you far too lazy to deal with the hassle of shaving. Thighs that sometimes rub together in an uncomfortable way slip and slide past each other with ease. Your legs are warm, but you can still feel the wind. The chill only reaching the surface of the skin as opposed to penetrating to the bone.

When I decided it was time for a break, also known as some ice cream, I almost skipped to the kitchen. How comfortable I was. How free I felt. If I had thrown on one of my vintage 80s blazers (shoulder pads thankfully removed), I would have fit in most anywhere below 14th street and over the East River.

And that's when I realized that the ease of being that comfortable could make the next step of putting on some shoes and walking out of the house simple. One riding boot and then the next. A jaunt down the stairs. And suddenly all that stands between you and the crisp Boston air is a door.

I never made it to that point. I like my clothes to be comfortable. But I also like them to be actual clothes and not accessories masquerading as such. When I reminded myself of that, staying home and enjoying the air as it came through the window didn't seem all that bad.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Favorite of the Day: Aquilano.Rimondi

After all of the rain and the clouds yesterday, I found myself wanting something rich. Colors that you can sink into. Fabrics whose weight you can feel through the computer screen.

Aquilani.Rimondi satisfied that urge.

Photos via

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Favorite of the Day: Bottega Veneta

Whenever I enter the Boston Barneys, the first collection I visit is the Lanvin. That stop is followed soon after by a trip through the Bottega Veneta.

Apparently that schedule will remain intact through most of 2010.

Photos via


Three days into Milan and I find myself with very little to say. I'm not exactly surprised. After almost two straight weeks of writing at least once a day, one might assume that this is due to simple burn out. It's not. Milan is just experiencing a bit of middle child syndrome. New York, being first and infused with energy from Fashion's Night Out, was met with an abundance of excitement. London, with its birthday and the return of many of its native sons and daughters, was a bigger party than it has been in the past. And Paris is, of course, Paris.

By the time I got to Milan, I was a bit tired of all of the trends I'd been seeing. Okay, I get it. Pants are out. Awkward takes on adult diapers are in. I've already seen this in two different cities, and I'm kind of done with it now. Thanks. I barely pay attention to the pictures. I bookmark a few things and then play a game of Sudoku online. Or run outside for brunch. Anything but writing about it. I'm ready for Chanel and Stella McCartney and the new Phoebe Philo-helmed Celine. I don't like the idea of writing about a favorite if there isn't one that really gets to me. I skipped a day in both New York and London. But not two.

Today I found a favorite. It's a brand that you'll know the name of, but I'm stretching my rules a bit. And after I finish writing about it, I'll go back to waiting for Paris.

There's a reason it's last.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Leftovers: London Fashion Week SS10

New York, along with most of the world, is usually about a good twelve months behind London when it comes to trends. So though many of the dominating colors were the same, it seems that awkward cutouts will not be long for this world. There were still many, many prints. Maybe it’s that I’ve been looking at pictures of prints for two weeks now, but I’m starting to like them on sight without the usual groaning and moaning followed by eventual acceptance.

Or it could be that Matthew Williamson, back in London this season after showing in New York for the past few years, has a way with them that many others don’t.

His show had a shot of brights that’s generally been missing all season. And though I tend not to wear them, there was something a bit dreary about next spring and summer without their presence.

Though Williamson didn’t do any print mixing, others did. And in general the results were much like those seen at Peter Som, playful and beautiful.

At Clements Ribeiro:

At Peter Pilotto:

The flashes of skin could not be avoided all together, but, yet again, I felt that they were handled more gracefully.

At Jonathan Saunders:

Burberry decided to stream their show live for the entire internet to see. Only realizing this about an hour before it was to begin, I quickly prepared myself with snacks and an appropriate outfit aka the yoga pants I only ever wear inside. After the show ended, I immediately told a friend about how lovely it was. How feminine. How I can never resist a perfect trench.

Her response was Of course you loved it, you're a Burberry girl.

And she's right. Season after season, I am.

Photos via

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Leftovers: New York Fashion Week SS10

The 80s are dead. The early 90s are here. Or, more appropriately because things are never that black and white, we're in a transitional period as we shift from one to the other. There was no rebirth of grunge, but give it a season or two. It’ll be here. There will be Kurt Cobain doppelgangers walking through the streets. I knew this point would arrive eventually, and surprisingly I don't dread it. It does, however, make me wonder how people will reference the 2000s, a decade that has primarily been spent looking back to every decade of the 20th century without ever taking the time to define itself.

There are always some trends that I can't get behind for anyone. But even with all of the awkward cutouts (seriously, a semi-circle cutout centered on the navel?) and the dresses so tight that sitting, standing and living would be difficult, I was happy to find a somewhat moody palette for next spring and summer. I've spent the better part of the last three springs and summers flouncing about in sun dresses, and though I doubt the flounce will completely disappear next year, I'm looking forward to a chance for change.

Though I focused a lot on dresses during my Favorite of the Day series for New York, I mostly wanted to pack my closet with the many easy separates for day.

At L.A.M.B.:

At Boy by Band of Outsiders:


At Rag & Bone:

At Alexander Wang:

But still, the flounce.

At Chris Benz:

For evening, I like my hemlines high and any hint of shine or sparkle dark.

At Oscar de la Renta:

At Proenza Schouler:

At Doo.Ri:

But back to the trend that I'm trying to ignore. The cutouts. Usually they featured sheer material or plastic. Mostly they displayed areas of flesh women have never thought of showing off. Mainly they were frustrating. But there were some who took this tendency toward the sheer and played it correctly.

At Jason Wu:

At Calvin Klein:

At Chado Ralph Rucci:

At Narciso Rodriguez:

In the case of the accessories and shoes, I'm far less analytical in general. If I like something, then it just is that way, and there's rarely a discernible reason. And unlike many other parts of my life, I'm okay with the mystery. A mere That's pretty will suffice.

At 3.1 Phillip Lim:

At Alexander Wang:

At Donna Karan:

At Proenza Schouler:

Though I think I'm starting to figure out why I love Vera Wang's jewelry year after year.

The quiet drama.

Photos via

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back Issues: Vogue, November 2005

I have a habit of hoarding fashion magazines. When I was living by myself in Brooklyn, I kept every single one that I bought during my two and a half years there. A small mountain took root in one corner of my apartment. It wasn’t until it was time for me to move home that I culled the pile, throwing out everything except for a few special issues.

But on yet another search through my mother’s house, I came across magazines saved from college as well as the time that I lived at home right after graduation. Unlike the ones in my apartment, where the space and the solitude allowed me to keep even those issues I became bored with, these magazines had been kept for a reason. But now, many years on, I didn’t necessarily remember why some had been kept over others. So I decided that I should start reading them and try to remember why they were spared.

For what must have been the 57th time since I bought it nearly four years ago, I picked up the November 2005 issue of Vogue last week and considered recycling it.

But that time, just like the previous 56, I read it once again before putting it back in its place.

It’s easy to forget how quickly the model population turns over. There were, of course, the old standbys. Kate Moss for Dior. Gisele for St. John. Daria Werbowy for many. Jessica Stam before the blond and the Fendi. But there were also a lot of faces that I hadn't seen in years. A story told of the arrival of the Topshop Unique line stateside four years before the store itself would make the leap. I must have been excited about the prospect at the time. While I was studying abroad in the first half of 2004, I had spent innumerable hours in the Oxford Circus store. The loss of access to it had added an extra patina of sadness to my return that June.

After skimming through the long piece on women dressing for work and the accompanying editorial on suits from the Resort collections, I landed on what I assumed was my reason for keeping the magazine. It was a fashion editorial featuring Josh Hartnett and Gemma Ward. Mario Testino had shot them at the coast. And they had put her in the types of pieces that I wished I could wear. Light and romantic. They were also, of course, those I was most afraid of trying.

I always liked when they had editorials with a male actor and one of the models. The pictures reminded me of stills from a film. Together they told a story, which was an element that I loved yet didn't often see.

I was satisfied that I had found the reason for this magazine's rescue.

I flipped through the last two stories. Remembering when Trovata was nominated for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and had four designers. Dreading the return, once again, of Boho Chic. When I turned the final page, the real reason I had kept the magazine surfaced. A phantom red dress. A Carolina Herrera that Gemma Ward had worn as she mimed playing the cello. Every time I picked up the magazine, including this last time, I would hope to see the dress before remembering, once again, that this was not the magazine.

It was another from that fall, but I couldn’t remember which.

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