Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cloning Klum's Style: Project Runway's Impossible Task?

Last night to wind down I watched most of the Project Runway episode wherein designers were tasked with making a red-carpet look for Heidi Klum to wear at the upcoming Emmys. Ms. Klum would be one of the judges selecting the dress.

This is, I believe, an impossible task, because I have always thought that Heidi Klum has really bad personal taste. 

But wait!  I want to invoke Diana Vreeland here, who once said (and I paraphrase) that it's better to have bad taste than no taste. 

One of the three top looks represented bad taste, thought I.  It was Amanda's gown, with a bodice covered in some sort of ric-rac-y beaded trim stuff that looked stiff.  Zac Posen was having none of it, though he did think that the back of the dress echoed Geoffrey Beene in a favorable manner.

Another top three look was in quite good taste.  Kini's black gown with curved beaded inlay was elegant and lovely. It didn't win.

The third gown--and the winning look--was somewhere in between. One could say that Sean's layered ombre fringe gown was on the edge of bad taste, and so I shall. 

So what do gentle readers think?  Does the fringe dress represent a foray into good taste or is it an example of Ms. Klum being consistently bad?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Travels in Color

This summer in New York I returned home with two purchases from two different shops that surprised me at the time. Only now, when I open them up, do I see what they have in common.  It's all about color and whimsy. 

The first is a (child's?) notebook from Lapin & Me, which I bought in Soho from the children's department of an otherwise grown-up boutique.Was I drawn to the ears (see my avatar)? Peut etre. It was the color that hooked me, as these shades of sherbet pink and aqua-blue were too delicious to pass up.

Second on my curiosity list is fabric from Liberty (found at Purl). On one hand, Liberty fabric is a no-brainer, as any gentle reader knows.  I adore the florals and have made many a quilt and bunting from them.  But this print, called "The Isle of Wight," is novelty, not floral, so, again, it's the color--pale aqua with a hunt of mauve-y-pink--that catches my eye.

And I would write in my book and sew with my fabric while staying here, one to add to my list of (little) pink houses:

The Isle of Wight is, generally speaking, a patchwork quilt on its own. It reminds me of an aerial view of Prince Edward Island, except with white cliffs instead of red. Here are some images to travel with via color.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Of Capsules, Time, Wardrobe, and Other

Today my children begin school, but for my eldest the day day is even more special, as it marks the beginning of not only high school but of a uniform-free wardrobe.

Here's a time-capsule type of memory: my experience was the reverse. In Grade 10 (which marked the beginning of high school in Canada) I moved to a uniform, complete with hand-tied necktie.  It was soooo easy.

Because before that, I remember spending an enormous amount of time choosing my outfit for the following day--trying on item after item, accepting and rejecting looks over and over again.  My uniform was a capsule wardrobe, if you will: five easy pieces before Bob Rafelson TMed the concept.  (Or maybe it was Donna Karan's seven easy pieces, also TMed. Note those iconic bodysuits, above.  I had a couple.)

One dress, many ways.

No matter--the limited choice was, as noted above, easy.

Today I still follow that capsule concept: I have little clothing, but clothes I really like.  Dresses are key, because they're easier than easy.  But with the advent of high school and its style challenges?  I may need another sort of capsule.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Just Fryed"

The above phrase was quite common when I was growing up, used in a number of contexts--"fried" could mean "exhausted," from excessive intellectual or physical work, or it might refer to other kinds of excesses.

I was feeling "fried" last night, due to a combination of things: returning home from a four-week vacation with a miserable cold; trying to sort out my three children's school and extra-curricular activities; getting ready for my own school year; encountering 84+ degree days while living in a historic house without super-duper modern central air.

One of my children is entering Grade 7, and her preparations reminded me of another kind of "Fried"--the emergence of the highly desirable Frye Campus Boots when I was in my Grade 7.  I remember the girls who had them with the western stitching; they'd roll up their wide-leg jeans and wear them as a sort of culotte over the boots; other times they'd tuck them in and gently balloon the pants over the rim.  I LOVED that look and desperately wanted a pair. 

 But my parents denied me the boots, probably thinking that the price tag was too high for a tween with growing feet. (In turn I just denied my Grade 7 girl a pair of Coach wedge booties for a similar reason, plus the high heel.)  So I eventually bought, on sale, a "sort-of" Frye boot that was perfectly attractive, but had a zip up the side. Still, I culotted and ballooned with the best of them and made those boots my own.

While in Soho this summer, Mr. C and I ventured into the Frye store and these boots caught my eye once again.  Because they were the pair that got away? Because they represent the remembrance of things past? Or because they'd be perfect for fall and beyond?

I'm still my parents' daughter, though, and would find it difficult to buy something on a nostalgic lark.  But I am asking myself whether I'd like to get Fryed this fall.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Knit Wit: New Photo in Selvedge

When Mr. C was a Fulbright Fellow in Iceland, back in 1993 or so, I flew over for the Christmas holidays. I had wanted a cross-body bag for the trip and the day before my flight I went to Saks to search for one.

My treasure hunt was cut short, though, when I spied a perfectly, ridiculously fanciful hat by Eric Javits. It was dark blue wool, with a Dickensian/Doolittle swoopy brim that swept over my brow and then again, anchored by an outrageous brown plume.  That's what I bought instead of a bag and have never regretted it.

When do I wear the hat? Occasionally I've worn it in a theatre production when I played a Victorian lady; I've worn it to class when it fits the novel. And I wore it most recently during a hot day in June to get my photo taken for the fall issue of Selvedge.

Here it is, in the original colour photo (that's a dressmaker's Tahari military coat below, with beautiful pick-stitching on the collar) and, in a black/white screen grab from the online edition of Selvedge.

The September/October issue features "knits," as you'll see from the dreamy Tim Walker cover (of Gilles Deacon) and my knitting anecdote, which coincidentally also references Iceland!

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Solar System (the Queen, her Corgi, and a Mountie)

When we drive into Midtown Manhattan we usually park below the Hearst Building, with its stunning PoMo architecture.

I like parking here because when we walk out to 56th Street, we pass Bricco, a little Italian cafe where happy patrons have left lipstick imprints on the ceiling. (I have not left one, though I have dined there.)

Then when we return, it's up 57th, past Carnegie Hall, the Russian Tea Room, the Art Students League, and on to a prolonged stop at Lee's Art Shop.  This is the store that the Jolie-Pitt children are often photographed leaving, arms full of art supplies. But I love it for its whimsical first floor, full of cards, wrapping paper, and curiosities to dress up one's office.

The other year I purchased my Solar Queen (Jubilee Edition) from Lee's, and she stands contentedly on my office window ledge, waving at all who enter.  This summer I've "adopted" a couple more solar mates to join HRH.

First is Elroy, who's available in brown or blonde.

 I chose blonde because it seems that the royal corgis are that color.

Then, continuing my Commonwealth theme and acknowledging my roots, I'm welcoming a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (aka a Mountie) to my ledge. He's obviously not mounted, but in the spirit of the Musical Ride (Canadians will know this), I'd like to play Pharell Williams' "Happy" on loop. (His Westwood Mountie hat, you know.)

And lest my ledge be deemed too English/Canadian, I'm also adding something to help my American visitors feel at home: a light-up glass Statue of Liberty that changes colors. Indeed, I hope that these guests, important symbols all, will be "Happy" chez moi.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Slouching toward Fashiondom

Every fashion rule known to humankind states that baggy clothing makes one look bigger.  So fitted shirts, slim sweaters, cigarette pants, and pencil skirts are typically flattering.  Why, then, is Fall 2014 such a slouch?

Take these sweats (below) from Gap, for example: they're loose at top and tapered at the bottom--not quite Hammer Pants, but perfectly slouchy. 

J Crew follows suit.  Perhaps this wool/leather tee to the right looks constructed, but it requires a slouchy, very long shirt underneath. And the generous cut of the tee adds material to one's silhouette as well. 

I haven't tried the sweat pants yet, but on Friday evening I tested J Crew's slouchy separates in various sizes, to see which provided the best look. The slouchiest sweater I wore in S and although a fitted sweater looked just fine in my regular size, I opted for one up in order to layer a shirt underneath and to (you guessed it) give it some appealing slouch.

I'm ready to pair said generous/slouchy sweaters with the tailored bottoms mentioned above, but am also looking forward to trying something looser, just to see.

Are gentle readers ready to trade in their fitted separates for something slouchy?