Major Shade

September 25, 2013

I'm a big-time fan of sunglasses. Not only do they protect my dainty light gray eyes from being permanently damaged by the sun (and keep me from squinting, which will mean less wrinkles when I'm older!) but they also instantly make people look ten times as fierce. For this reason I've got quite a few pairs of shades, from Tory Burch aviators and Ray-Ban Wayfarers to $10 cat eyes and free USC sunglasses from football games!

For spring of next year, I'm already picking up a major emphasis on eyewear. Specifically, designers are doing their own interpretations of very retro styles, like cat eyes and smaller frames.

Prabal Gurung, Rochas, and Burberry are some of the many brands taking on retro shades for spring. Combined with a fifties-style getup and a fierce pout, this is an absolutely killer fashion statement. Count me in!

Erdem and Fendi get catty


September 16, 2013

Whenever I consider writing about all the florals seen on the spring runways, I am always haunted by the eternal words of one Miranda Priestly:

Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.

 And I know. I know it's the oldest cliche for spring (and therefore spring fashions) that there is.

And there are designers who try to make something new out of florals. They make them small patterns, oversized, geometric, painted, subtle, strong, colorful, dull, et cetera. But overall I understand why the Prada-wearing Devil is absolutely bored by the thought of florals on the spring runways. It is entirely overdone and hardly ever original.


But in 2006 a certain British designer had just launched his own namesake label and probably wasn't on the forefront of fashion editors' minds. Perhaps, if Miranda Priestly had seen the newest collection from Christopher Kane, she would have at least admitted that not all floral themes are overdone. Because Kane gave us something truly original here, and it deserves to be talked about.

There is always a part of Christopher Kane that wants to educate. It's quite clear the man is fascinated with science (He even declared "I love science" during his 2014 resort presentation) and each season he turns clothes into fabulous lessons in anatomy, biology, chemistry, etc.

His clothes are always very technologically advanced in terms of their construction. Kane has a knack for utilizing inventive and unconventional fabrics in his designs, and almost always uses computer-print textiles and patterns.

But the clothes themselves often come together to give the audience a lesson in some sort of scientific matter; for Spring, it was all about the anatomy of flowers.

How absolutely genius, I thought as I browsed through the collection images.

Flowers will always be a major player in spring collections, but nobody has done it quite like this. Instead of the typical pretty prints, Kane plastered colorful anatomic diagrams of flowers and their different scientific terms onto sweatshirts, skirts, and dresses. The diagrams were straight out of my seventh grade science textbooks, blown up on the bodices of dresses and shrunken down into a repeated pattern on skirts.

Arrows played another big motif in his textiles. In most cases there were giant arrows pointing to the different parts of flowers and explaining their scientific names, but in some instances the arrows became their own repeated pattern.

Not all of the collection was quite so literal. Per usual, Kane had plenty of looks that illustrated his mastery at concocting new and original forms and silhouettes. The opening outfits weren't floral diagrams but simple suits and dresses with tear-shaped (or petal-shaped, I realized further into the collection) cut-outs lined in shiny patent and metallic leather. Some cutouts were subtle (lining pockets, creating collars) while others were placed a little more precariously (high on the thigh or on the chest) but they all turned what would otherwise be simple, somewhat drab forms into something truly magnificent.

So. Maybe florals can be groundbreaking after all. All I know is if these looks had existed back in the seventh grade when I was learning all about plants and flowers, I probably would have paid a lot more attention.

NYFW - part III

September 11, 2013

Marc by Marc Jacobs has always been a line that is obsessed with youth culture - from fall's 70s fare to the grunge-y 90s. Spring 2014 seems to be about the eighties, in particular the high school fashions of the notoriously funky decade. The colorful athletic tracksuits done in luminous silks, the experimentations with menswear, the heightened reputation of the peppy cheerleader - the Marc by Marc girl this season is all about experimenting with her style while she tries to find where in the high school world of craziness she fits in. 

In all honesty Tory Burch's spring 2014 collection was nothing earth-shattering. The clothes were her typical brand of preppy infused with a world-traveler edge, this time in fitting garden greens and pristine whites. Mainly I just wanted to talk about the super awesome fancy fanny-pack-like purse belts. You may not know this, but sorority girls have an unhealthy obsession with the tacky tourist butt bags. All these Tory bags need are monogrammed Greek letters and sorority girls everywhere will be fainting with glee.

Lim explained that his collection was inspired by the earth. I don't exactly know how literally we are supposed to take that statement - on one hand, there are metallics and seismic prints that literally resemble the natural world; on the other hand, there is something so simply grounded about this collection that is really drawing me in. Lim is a master of wearability without predictability, meaning his looks are simultaneously comfortable and new and exciting, always slightly pushing the boundary but not busting down any walls. And to be honest I really do love that about his clothes. It's the kind of stuff that actually sells, and there is something to be said for an artist who knows how to make something that is both beautiful and commercial.

A fascination with swimwear and surfer style has remained constant throughout the past few seasons, with all sorts of garments being made of neoprene and other swim-like textiles. Tommy Hilfiger is the latest (but certainly not the last, I assume) to be inspired by those who live endless summers. There were the literal translations - fabulous neon one-pieces and pants slightly unzipped and folded over to mimic the surfer post-hitting-the-waves - as well as more subtle accents - neon neoprene stripes added to jeans and sweatshirts, rashguard-like tops turned into ultra-hip dresses. The overall effect was sporty and chic, sure to make a splash for surfers and land lovers alike.

Stay tuned for more NYFW coverage!

NYFW - part II

September 9, 2013

The collections continue on, and I am seeing some trends solidify more and more, while new ones emerge as the days go on. Here are some memorable shows from the past few days:

 In the days leading up to Alexander Wang's Spring 2014 presentation for his own label, some worried that the designer's time at Balenciaga would actually detract from his namesake collection. When you're designing for a storied fashion house, why worry about a contemporary collection? It's good to know, after seeing his designs for next spring, that Wang hasn't forgotten where he's come from, and his clothes were as urban cool as ever. Easy-going slouchy pants in luxe fabrics, precariously-unbuttoned shirts, and the coolest platform Mary Janes you will ever see (not to mention the "Parental Advisory" sweatshirt that is sure to become the new Kenzo tiger sweatshirt among street style stars). Another successful collection under Wang's belt.

Jen Kao's dresses were absolutely lovely. Instantly wearable but also beautiful and original, and with a hint of 60s flower child but in cool, modern colors. I just really enjoyed the overall vibe of the collection - the textiles, the colors, the flowing stick-straight hair on the models, even the pops of mustard shoes and flowers throughout. Also, there is a dress made entirely of Bunnicula illustrations (if you don't know Bunnicula, I pity you) and for that I absolutely love this whole presentation.

Cool. That is always the best way to describe Opening Ceremony. When the company started a little over a decade ago they changed how people in New York and Los Angeles shopped and I really do think OC was a big part of the recent successes of contemporary and "cusp" brands. Now the brand has debuted its very own collection, for the first time on a runway, and it's as cool as ever. Oversized ponchos in punchy prints mixed with ultra-minis, plenty of pockets, and slouchy-relaxed maxi dresses ruled OC's first runway collection, and everything was, dare I say, totally cool.

NYFW - Let's Do This!

September 8, 2013

Ah, autumn. What a lovely time of year. I write this as I anxiously await USC's first home football game of the season, all decked out in my Alpha Chi gameday gear and ready to kick some Washington State butt. Granted, it is still 90+ degrees here in Los Angeles on this scorching September Saturday, but no matter, football means fall (and here at USC, fall means football).

On the opposite coast, however, a new season is already beginning. I'm talking about the start of New York Fashion Week, of course, where many collections for Spring 2014 have already debuted. Fashion moves pretty fast, and it's funny to see clothes for next summer already being displayed when this year's summer has scarcely come to a close (why, here in LA it feels as if it has only just begun, temperature-wise!) but so far I've been loving the collections in New York - if only we didn't have to wait 6 months to wear them!

There is something so beautiful about a well-executed monochromatic look. Chadwick Bell's spring 2014 collection was geometric minimalism at its best. Each look is at once effortless and impeccably thought-out and everything is very, very cool. And can we all just agree that the rectangular mini skirt with sheer maxi underneath is the greatest thing in the history of the earth?

The theme of spring 2014 seems to be black and white and not a whole lot else. Ordinarily I would be thoroughly disappointed by the lack of saturation in the collections, but so far I've been pleasantly surprised by the season's black and white turn. As evidenced with Helmut Lang's clothes, the lack of color allows designers to really focus on shapes and textures. And the result thus far has been wonderful.

Of course, the runways weren't entirely devoid of color, and Prabal Gurung was an excellent example of a show full of vibrant, almost electric pastels (if such a thing makes sense!). Gurung was inspired by the elegant mid-century woman, and Marilyn Monroe in particular. I love his bold combinations of prints and colors, and that off-the-shoulder electric blue dress is pure fashion gold.

Similarly, Tanya Taylor was not afraid to inject a little rainbow into her clothing, but did it in a sophisticated, silhouette-based way that reflected the mood of New York Fashion Week thus far. Hits of rainbow stripes and punchy florals clearly skewed toward spring, but there were more subdued looks that could be worn any time of the year. I hope the floral-and-navy panel dress (second from the left) makes a fabulous red carpet appearance.

Keep posted here at The Fashion Barbie for more Spring 2014 runway coverage!