Couture Week, so far

As a design student, I've realized that it is near-impossible to take even a day's break from your chosen medium!

I've been throwing myself into fashion-related endeavors, from creative directing costumes for the theatre production I'm currently involved in, to crocheting for a dress at my internship (for a NY fashion show!) Here, I took a little break...only to catch up on the couture shows!

S p r i n g 2 0 1 0 - H a u t e C o u t u r e

Josephus Thimister: Maybe the reason I like his stuff so much is because this is technically a Fall show. Spring collections have a ubiquitous airy feel that is beautiful, but can also be dull. His bloodstained pieces sometimes went overboard, but the above designs capture such subtle sophistication, and read as sinister without being overly dark. Not bad for someone who just took a hiatus!

Dior: Galliano has always been one of my favorites, but I haven't been thrilled with his work lately. He brought us the lingerie trend and still makes beautiful work, sure, but technical perfection isn't everything (and is more the work of his atelier assistants). I'm still waiting for his theatrical genius, which brought us this and this, to reappear in all its glory.

That said, there was some lovely asymmetrical sculptural pieces in this collection, one of his strengths of which I've always been enamored.

Elie Saab: Aside from the usual goddess gowns, these two pieces felt extraordinary to me. Color is expressed so whimsically in the left dress, and the printed textile looks quite labor-intensive. I would love to see someone wear these on the red carpet, but stars will likely opt for safer choices in the collection.

Givenchy: The most diverse collection yet! I love that Ricardo Tisci isn't afraid to play with organic flourishes, tailoring, feathers, and full-out lace jumpers under one aesthetic umbrella.

Alexis Mabille: Ah, but I was disappointed with most of this collection. I liked the last one so much that I think I was expecting more risk-taking and whimsy. These pieces feel safe to me, albeit exhibiting some very pretty fluidity.

Chanel: Much ado about silver is being made in the collection reviews. I for one am just glad he's eliminated black (a subject that will used in future blogging!), and that some of his work is truly gorgeous. Karl Lagerfeld is not undeserving of his fame, but a designer's worth is hardly measured in which metallic shade he currently favors.

All runway photos courtesy of Style.com.

Do I come off as too harsh? It's just that editing and integrity are so important in fashion design, and it baffles me when designers at the top of their game fall short of these principles. Couture is most exquisite and daring form of fashion. The level of economic and artistic responsibility these collections bear is truly enormous, and needs to at the very least be matched by output.

The above work gives me hope, though!

What are your thoughts on the recent collections?



Excerpts from le sketchbook

Updating my portfolio today... thought I'd put up a little bit of what I've been working on! They're not meant to be fully-realized or anatomically perfect, just a way to get my thoughts out.

It's all ink and pencil on paper :)


"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."
-Emily Dickinson

Sometimes the days all wrap together and it seems like I'm always trying to play catch-up with my to-do list. I become, as a friend put it, like a product of my environment.

When that happens, it can be wonderful to take a step back and breathe, enjoy being in the present moment. Dickinson's quote, above, is one of my favorites. Would that we could always live like that, ready to be startled at any moment.



Some thoughts on creation and absorption

"Time not spent creating is wasted."

A friend expressed the above to me yesterday. And curiously enough, I've been thinking about the very same thing. A coincidence that may not make, but a blog topic? Definitely!

Snapped in the studio of one of my favorite artists, Leah Tinari.

As a full-time design student, I am literally creating things all the time for artistic projects. But creation is not limited to full-fledged or completed pieces of work! It does not have to be creative in the traditional sense. It doesn't even have to be tangible!

Think about it. Do you equate "creating" with drawing, writing, or making music? Do you see your own work as an act of creation?

I define creation as an act of conscious thinking with some kind of implication. I believe the majority of creation happens in idea form. To brainstorm for a project is just as powerful as working on it. In my own design work, I spend at least half the time working mentally aside from tackling anything on paper. This process is not only what leads to creation-- it is creation at work in itself.

Likewise, much of philosophical thought is also about creating. By delving into any intellectual issue, one inevitably creates at least a single opinion! Creating new angles of thinking is just as important as innovative design.

One major way to create, I've come to realize, is to actively absorb information. This could be from one's environment, other people, or media. To elucidate the difference-- just sitting in a movie theatre doesn't necessarily equal creation. But thinking about the film, subconsciously making connections to larger issues, and storing the visuals in the back of your mind to use for future inspiration-- now that is just as important as hypothetical or theoretical creation!

Books have long been my primary medium for information. When I am really engaged in reading, it feels on par with my deepest creative exploration. If you've never felt that way about a novel before, don't give up! I recently created my first Listmania on Amazon (took me long enough!). It is called "Intensely beautiful books" and consists of the novels that have changed and shaped my thinking since I was four years old.

What else encourages creation? Curiosity. Asking questions. Paying attention to people and surroundings. Making connections. Forming positive relationships. Thinking twice. Making it a point to do and experience something incredible through your individual, one-of-a-kind existence.

Because isn't that what life is all about?

I'd dearly love to hear what you guys have to say on this topic! How much time do you spend creating every day?



living at full CAPacity!

On http://43things.com (a fantastic goal-setting website that I encourage you to check out!), 5,576 people have declared that they want to Live Passionately.

Whew, that's a lot of people! But what is passionate living, anyway? To me, it means living consciously, staying active, and as a friend reminded me recently-- without fear. It is having the courage to engage with the outside world as well as the desires within you.

I've always been a sucker for acronyms. Since I'm hoping to make this a reoccuring post topic, I present to you CAP, which stands for being conscious, active, and passionate!

Here are some ways to fulfill your CAPacity:

1) Stay inspired. It might sound cheesy, but passion is like a fire that needs constant feeding. Also, inspiration IS all around you, but don't wait for it to come to you (contrary the myth of creative types sitting around dejected until inspiration strikes like lightning). Create inspiration for yourself!

I've been keeping an aesthetic inspiration book for more than a year now. It's a gorgeous thick-papered Canson that allows me to collage freely on its pages without fearing stains or buckling.
You can also make posters, cover your walls, buy a pack of glass-safe markers and scribble quotes on your windows-- anything that excites you!

2) Get up when the alarm goes off. Do you hit the snooze button three times, or set three different cell phone alarms (guilty!) to delay waking up just a littleeee bit longer? Try setting an audible alarm halfway across the room! Or commit to a sleep schedule! You can try Steve Pavlina's technique here. It worked for me in the summer, but I've found a more realistic approach is to sleep for relatively the same number of hours each night, regardless of specific times.

In any case, the way you start the day is so, so important, and affects your actions thereafter. If you're energetic and prompt as you rise, you'll be so much more uplifted and efficient throughout the day. If you greet the day with procrastination...you get the picture!

3) Know what you want. To me, this is hands-down the most important way to live consciously. It sounds simple, but so many people don't pay enough attention to this! How often do you ask yourself the following questions?
  • What do I want out of this situation?
  • Is this task/errand/phone conversation/relationship in my best interest?
  • Am I doing what I really want with my free time?
  • Am I heading in a direction that will make me happy?
You don't need to take it to an extreme and ask yourself every other minute, but taking some time every day to re-evaluate will revolutionize the way you live. Of course, you can always argue that you have no choice but to do x, or spend time with y. But you know what? You almost always do.

It just takes a little (or in some cases, a Lot) of courage! But isn't that what living passionately is all about?


Please let me know what you think! Should I continue these "CAP" posts?



That feeling

Whatever you want to call it- wonder, euphoria, or just the thrilling comprehension of possibility. For me, it is the closest feeling in the world. It's like the whole world sharpening around the edges, a photo coming into focus, human existence coming to a single point.

For me, these things (among a few others) trigger possibility. A possibility of being at once human and divine.

The way cats just know how to wait. And observe. And be, in supreme calmness.

"He doesn't want to rule the universe. He wants the universe to rule itself!" -The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Finding an old Wordpad document that simply reads: "The defense rests."

The poem when it comes out of your throat.
Especially when you haven't said a word.

That instant when seemingly unconnected thoughts suddenly converge. When the world hasn't exploded, or even moved perceptibly, but internally it is like lightning.

...Anything Regina Spektor, Nada Surf, or Andrew McMahon have ever breathed into reality. They're all songwriters, but one of these days I'll write about the books that have changed my life.


Dear Readers,

What makes you weak in the knees? Or fall to your knees?
Tell me about what makes you feel the most alive.



Either define "real woman"... or define "fashion"

"Why don't they look like us?" Thousands of magazine-reading women have cried out, and here's the editorial answer.

The latest from The Independent...

Professional models barred from German magazine
by Tony Paterson

The 29-year-old blonde teacher was among a cast of more than six "normal women" selected by the mass circulation middle-market Brigitte to pose for its January fashion feature following an editorial pledge by the magazine to keep controversial size-zero models off its pages.

Andreas Lebert, editor of the 700,000-circulation magazine, announced the ban last October after receiving letters from hundreds of women readers who complained that they had no connection with the models shown in the magazine and that they no longer wanted to see "protruding bones". He claimed that the models Brigitte used for years on its fashion pages were so skinny that editors had to "fatten them up" using Photoshop. "This is disturbing and perverse and what has it got to do with our real readers ?" he asked.

Brigitte launched its "normal women as models" campaign late last year and claims that some 20,000 of the magazine's readers have since put themselves forward as potential candidates. The magazine says that it pays its amateurs professional rates

The magazine's campaign has already provoked controversy. Karl Lagerfeld, the veteran German fashion guru, has described those who criticise so-called skinny models as "fat, chip-eating mummies" and claims that much of the objection to them is sheer jealousy. "Nobody wants to see a round woman," the 71-year-old designer insisted.

Full article here

I think we all need to step back and take a good look at the issue. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now.

On one hand, it makes sense. Anything in print is all about relating to the readers. I should think that most readers of Brigitte will be thrilled. I wouldn't be surprised if it provoked a trend in the magazine industry!

On the other hand, what are we trying to say about fashion? Magazines like Marie Claire and ELLE might be trying to promote lifestyle fashion, but ones like Vogue and iD are definitely more about fantasy, conceptual fashion. It's about fashion as an art form. Why else do designers try so hard to get into these top glossies? In any case, those high-fashion editorials should pull us away from reality, instead of trying to integrate more mundane aesthetics. If it's about inspiration, then the experience should be heightened and idealized.

As beautiful as ordinary women are, there's a Reason a tiny percentage of us are paid to model. It's not about models being idealized women, it's about them being idealized clothes hangers. You wouldn't decorate the museum gallery like a suburban living room to make it more "accessible." Unless that was the point.

Just like movies have professional actors and reality tv shows feature "real people," we have to be discerning here and not lump it all into the "fat vs. skinny" debate.

Please jump in here with your two cents!



Living fancifully, faithfully, and seeped in reality

My suitemate basically bought out F21! Feathers and bows galore. All of us have been wearing them, but none as crazily as me...

Thursday thoughts.

Not sure if I'm going to make this a weekly habit, yet. But just some stuff I've been mulling over, and fodder for thought and discussion. Some of these might get expanded into their own posts later on.

-When you think about it, our lives are a series of memorable events, connected by countless transitions. So which part should we focus on? The action or the thought? The process or the result? In other words, do we focus on the journey, or the stopping points? The dreams themselves or the work we do to get there? You see how complicated this gets.

-Why, exactly, is fashion so obsessed with animal imagery right now? I know I'm totally guilty of it (see above, & cat shoes in previous post photo).

-In this age of self-improvement, we have become interested in the calmness of zen and yoga, in structure and organization. Yet in the process of finding balance, I begin to fear eliminating the extremes altogether. Things like passion, madness, and frenetic energy... even dips into depression. As unsettling and detrimental as they can be, how can one thrive artistically without them? How can one experience life to the fullest?

-Speaking of balance, can we find a specific co-existence between determinism and free will?Most people these days seem to believe in aspects of both. And what about predeterminism? (More on this later).

-The possibility of romance in a predominantly female school environment. Har, har. Hopefully many of you don't share this predicament.


Here are more aesthetics to throw into the mix. Just so you don't think all I've done this week is think....ha!

My favorite headband of the bunch.

Best appetizer ever. Silken tofu inside a crispy exterior.

Our friend's beautiful bedspread & pillow.

What do you think? What has been tying your brain into knots this week? (Now there's some lovely imagery).



On Dressing Comfortably

Tommy Hilfiger slacks, F21 tights, kitty shoes from daddyos.com, my new Studio DVF carryon bag!

Airports. Test days. Sick days. Long weekends.

What do all of the above have in common? On all of the aforementioned occasions, even the most stylishly-minded of us probably have a tendency to dress....well, like a bum. "I just want to be comfortable!" is not a difficult excuse to use, or buy! Yesterday, while waiting for my flight back to school, I looked around and took in the following:

It's pretty obvious Americans like to travel in comfort. This translates directly to jeans, sweats, and sneakers.

Sneaky pic of woman sitting next to me. Is her way of dressing really that much more comfortable?

I want to talk about a topic that's sort of evolved into a passion of mine: why I believe dressing comfortably is a state of mind.

Honestly, dressing like anything is a state of mind. Why do people get dressed up for big events, or work-related engagements? Part of playing the part is dressing it. Not only would showing up to an interview in a tracksuit be unprofessional, you would also feel ridiculous. Likewise, wearing sweatshirts or lazying around all day in your PJs probably makes you feel lazy and yes, comfortable-- but also sluggish. If you're sick, you're not going to feel attractive to begin with, so why dress to magnify that feeling? I make it a point to dress better than usual when I'm not feeling well, because it's a mental-pick-me-up.

Furthermore, if you're sitting at a desk in a big comfy sweatshirt, would you not be more likely to fall asleep than if you were wearing a nicer, more fitted top? I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who have done just that- fallen asleep during class or even in major test-taking scenarios. Any number of factors can play into that, but I think it's probable that none of them were particularly dressed up! Tons of people thought I was crazy for wearing heels to my AP tests in high school, but they made me feel on top of my game- and hey, we were sitting down!

So why look as tired or as sick as you feel? And since when was it decided that sweats and jeans are the only comfortable attire in the universe? Hmm. Feels like an American Eagle marketing ploy evolution based on what is socially-accepted, to me.

I've jumped on the Polyvore bandwagon to highlight a few alternatives to typical "comfort dressing." If you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to comment!

Alternative Comfort - Classic
Alternative Comfort - Chic ~ Get upgraded to first-class with this pulled-together look!

Alternative Comfort - Classic
Alternative Comfort - Classic ~ Update your t-shirt and jeans with a (still soft!) cute top and skinny cords. Pair with funky but practical sneaker flats and some classy jewelry.
Alternative Comfort - Eclectic
Alternative Comfort - Eclectic ~ I love wrap cotton jersey dresses- in fact I almost always travel in one.

The thing is, most people dress up for other people. And then maybe test days, sick days, and traveling days become exceptions to the rule where they don't have to care as much. But why not look AND feel good, for yourself? So before you automatically slip into that same pair of sneakers you trek to the gym in, ask yourself if that's really how you feel today (this could also be called "Conscious Dressing"...I might just have write about that later on!) College Fashion has a great expanded list here on reasons to dress up every day.

What do you guys think? Do you dress down on certain days? Or do you fly in crinolines, go grocery shopping in sequins? Do tell!



New beginnings

"...the air tastes of clean things, cold and fresh and newly cut open."

Cassandra Claire, from her fanfiction "A Season In Hell" (which is not altogether an uplifting story, but the writing imparts so much beauty and possibility that I thought it fitting.)

What an amazing decade we have in front of us. To think, this millennium is in its TEENS. I hope that means every bit will live up to its implications of originality, growth, maybe even a dash of rebellion!

My 2010 planning notebook & red rooibos tea in a handpainted mug!

Anyway, this post inspired the above photo. Since its capturing, the page has filled with intentions ranging from sketching for an upcoming design contest to organization to uploading a stack of old CD's onto my iTunes. Mozart, Duke Ellington, Diana Krall, Jeff Buckley, Chinese pop group S.H.E... I like my playlists to be a kaleidoscope of genres!

What exciting things are on your to-do list for the new year? What ideas are you cutting open, what aspirations are you letting into the open air?