December 17, 2013

Boy Meets Girl

A friend of mine inspired this post when she commented on how she would have preferred a gender neutral pronoun in reference to "designer" in my Am I Materialistic? post. This lead to a brief, but interesting, discussion on how most designers in fashion are actually male. My friend was skeptical of my claim, and I don't blame her. It only makes sense that women should be succeeding in an industry that caters so dominantly to other women.

This is a topic that has been flushed out many times over, but as I did some research, I came across truly fascinating stats on Daily Life:
  • While male designers have taken home the Vogue Fashion Fund/CDFA Awards' Womenswear Award 13 out of 18 times, a woman has never won the Menswear Award.
  • The most fast-rising under-30 designer success stories all belong to men.
  • 70% of fashion graduates are female, yet the majority of them don't make it to the top.  High street, fast fashion is comprised proportionally of more women than the luxury fashion sector.

So why is this?  Obviously history of a male-orientated culture has driven this trend, with a lot of today's biggest, most historical labels having been started by men.  Yet, there were still women who made a name for themselves (Coco Chanel, Madame Grès, Elsa Schiaparelli), and the numerous designer changeovers we've had over the years should have evened out the gender disparity by now. Could it be true that men know what we want better than we do?  That we aspire to fashion ourselves into the image men expect of us? Or, as another argument goes, that because men tend to be more extravagant, whereas women tend to be more practical and functional, we just find ourselves more attracted to male designers?

Men don't live the life of a woman, but they go out of their way to understand what it is we want. Their efforts don't always translate into complete success (Christian Louboutin...your shoes are amazing, but goodness, that heel.  Made for walking 5 steps, at most), but when they do, the results are astonishing.  The way I see it, it's not that male designers know us better than we do, but that they give us what we need and want, along with what we didn't know we wanted.  They give us the functionality and female flair that we require, along with the titillating freshness of an outside perspective.  However, I don't believe this is a result of men being more fantastical than women; that's too much of an over-generalization.  The way I see it, women know exactly what it is other women want, which makes them more accessible to the average consumer, and thus, more successful in the realm of fast fashion.

Then the next obvious question is: why aren't women dominating menswear?  Men and fashion have a rocky relationship.  Fashion is something we realistically deal with everyday as we get dressed, but it just isn't "masculine" to care about the way you look.  No matter how much we try to understand men, the way a girl thinks/wants a man should dress isn't always what a man is willing to wear.  Women effortlessly step into androgyny, but that step is more of a leap for men.  However, with male designers actually making menswear more feminine, creating society's new "metrosexual", it's now quite admirable to see a man who puts a little effort into how he looks (girls, rejoice with me).  So whether it's menswear designed by men, or menswear designed by women, it really shouldn't matter moving forward.

Even as I sit here speculating the reason why men dominate the upper echelons of fashion, I'm already a step behind, because women are quickly rising to the top. There's digital-print queen Mary Katrantzou, wildly successful Miuccia Prada, celebrity favourites Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa, and unconventional talents Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, among many, many others.  It won't be long before female designers even out the gender imbalance, and show the world that both men and women have equal chance of making it to the top.

Image Source: Photo 1, 2, 3, 4. 5

December 14, 2013

Burberry Prorsum Pre-Fall 2014

I never used to pay attention to Pre-Fall collections, but they're really starting to grow on me. Spring/Summer is a great season - it's a study in colour, print, gossamer fabric, and lace as far as the eye can see - but there's something about combining Spring/Summer with Fall/Winter to form a sublime mélange of textures that's undeniably fascinating. Chiffon leads gracefully into thick angora, fur mingles with filmy t-shirts, and winterwear is finally done in colour.  The last time I talked about Pre-Fall was in 2012, but let's pick it up again with Burberry Prorsum Pre-Fall 2014.

For me, it's all about texture.  Texture, texture, texture!  Christopher Bailey mixes them so expertly in this collection, creating looks that are truly multi-dimensional.  Fur, leather, name it. Besides incredible cocoon coats, Bailey gives us jacquard cigarette pants in rich emerald tones.  So rich I can taste it.

The aforementioned duality of Pre-Fall is evident in this collection.  When dresses are long-sleeved, they display a plunging neckline.  When dresses are sleeveless, they hit high on the neck.  Thigh-high slits find their place alongside knee-length coats, and colours finally alleviate the mundanity of all-black winterwear.   A lot of the times, it's juxtaposition that makes fashion so intriguing, and Pre-Fall is the perfect embodiment of this allure.

See the full collection here.

Note: Just wanted to give a shout-out to my Secret Santa for the thoughtful gift - a phone holder in the shape of a high heel...with a red sole!  Perfection.  I've always considered Red-Soled Fashionista as simply the name of my blog, but now I realize in some ways people see me as Red-Soled Fashionista. I am Red-Soled Fashionista.  Truly, I can never say this enough: thank you everyone for your support.  Much love!    

Image Source:

November 21, 2013

Am I Materialistic?

Naturally, being in fashion, I have a deep love for things like clothing and shoes, yet I never considered myself materialistic until someone joked about it a couple months ago.  To an extent, like any fashion lover, I am materialistic.  The ridiculous amount of joy I get from a good pair of shoes should technically be enough to send me to an insane asylum, but is being materialistic really just about wanting and liking things?  Or is there something deeper that distinguishes between being materialistic and being a fashion addict?

When you're materialistic, you ascribe value to objects that exceeds the value you ascribe to things such as relationships and other people.  Right off the bat, I don't seem to qualify as materialistic.  I do attribute excessive symbolic value to fashion pieces, but that does not mean I value my handbags over my friends. The value of fashion to me is different from the value of relationships, and the two cannot be compared in parallel.

The value of relationships is the fulfillment they bring - they're what make me happy with the overall state of my life.  The value of fashion is the dose of satisfaction it infuses into my daily life - it gives me confidence and makes me happy knowing such amazing creative talent exists.  There's a difference between what relationships and fashion mean to me, and because of that, I think they can both co-exist in perfect tandem.

Yes, I love fashion, but the physicality of fashion is only half the story.  Behind every fashion piece is a culmination of passion, talent and dedication.  Behind every design is a designer who has slaved over the drawing board to give life to what initially seemed like an ambitious vision.  In the end, a love for fashion is really a love for people!  It's not just about the shoe, but the designers, the suppliers, the artisans, the models, the retailers, and the salespeople who all work together to make the shoe what it is.  I have a love for luxury fashion not because of the material goods, but because there is a real heart in everything that is done.  Sure, a Rolex would bestow upon me a certain reputation, but that's not really what I see. What I see is the quality of design, of mechanisms, and of materials.

So what's the verdict?  Am I a materialist in denial, or is there something to be said about the difference between a materialist and a fashion lover?

Image Source: Photo1, 2, 3, 4

November 17, 2013

Isabel Marant for H&M

Tradition continues with a post on H&M's most recent collaboration: Isabel Marant.

H&M went avant garde last year, but this year, they're going just plain cool with Isabel Marant. Isabel Marant is one of those labels that has a very loyal following, thanks to its consistent brand attitude and almost instantly recognizable aesthetic.  Marant designs for the cool girl - the girl with that easy slouch, that lazy saunter, and that nonchalant attitude you just can't ignore.  Her girl is androgynous and edgy, and never leaves the house without skin-tight pants, a loose-fitting tee, and a well-made jacket.

What does Isabel Marant for H&M offer?  A chance to be that girl.  With a collection consisting almost entirely of fitted pants, slouchy tops, and mannish coats, being a cool girl is just a hip jut and shoulder tilt away.  The colour palette revolves around grey, black, white, blue and red, and is accented with staticky prints.

I've always loved Isabel Marant for its model-off-duty ease and a complete dedication to its image.  I believe this H&M collection will be among the most accessible, providing girls and guys with easily adaptable pieces to achieve that Marant effortlessness.  Highlights of the collection for me are the nicely tailored jackets and coats. The thick knit sweaters with mind-tingling prints are also pieces I would consider worthy purchases (men, I'm talking to you).

As for accessories, Marant always completes her looks with a pair of boots or pumps.  In this collection, she gives us wide, slouchy boots.  I wouldn't recommend pairing them with her cropped pants or dresses, but otherwise, they are just what you need to finish off your new cool girl persona.

Image Source: Photo1, 2, 3, 4

November 4, 2013

Joe Fresh is So Fresh

Today, I was involved in a short discussion of Joe Fresh. It was briefly concluded that Joe Fresh was a "bargain" brand and that its decision to open a flagship store in Manhattan was a "bold" move. I was itching to add to the conversation, but once I start ranting about fashion, things get heated.

Firstly, I don't disagree that Joe Fresh is a so-called "bargain" brand (although I would rather the words "cheap chic" or "affordable").  Joe Fresh regularly has clothing discounted to around $10, and being associated with Loblaws/Superstore, it obviously isn't trying to be a luxury brand.  People are certainly not wrong in considering Joe Fresh a "bargain" brand, since that is a matter of consumer perception, but I would argue there is a distinction between "bargain brand" and "just plain cheap".

While Joe Fresh does have cheaper clothing and does position itself beside cereal isles, its clothing is hardly of low quality.  Comparatively to other bargain brands, Joe Fresh is actually quite impressive (have you seen the atrocities otherwise known as Walmart's George, Hudson's Bay's Jessica Simpson, and Forever 21?). In fact, every season, there are a handful of standout pieces that do cost between $50 to $100+, and are made from fine materials, such as silk, wool and sequins.  I own several Joe Fresh pieces, and I can assure you the quality is better than H&M, and quite possibly even Topshop.  Joe Fresh's designs are always on trend, and like any true fashion label, it has a distinctive brand image - preppy, chic, minimalist, wearable - almost like The Gap's younger, slightly more polished sister.

To move on to a more basic argument: Joe Fresh is a regular at Toronto Fashion Week.  True, having a runway show doesn't necessarily give you fashion cred, but it does say that enough people believe in the quality of your brand to warrant a show.

Finally, Joe Fresh is designed by Joe Mimran, previous head of Club Monaco.  Club Monaco is clearly a quality (and heartbreakingly expensive) brand, and Mimran's core design aesthetic is not lost in the Joe Fresh label.  In addition, Mimran's wife is Kimberley Newport-Mimran, designer of Pink Tartan, one of Canada's top luxury labels.  I mean, Pink Tartan and Club Monaco...Joe Fresh can't possibly be a mere "bargain" brand.

Joe Mimran is a respected designer, and Joe Fresh is a respected label.  "The Joes" revolutionized the way we shop by introducing the idea of being able to buy a quality pencil skirt in the same place you buy your weekly can of beans. This was an interesting look at Joe Fresh's either successful or unsuccessful shaping of consumer perception, but all in all, I don't think it was bold of Joe Fresh to open shop in Manhattan.  Joe Fresh was meant to eventually stake ground on Fifth Avenue.  If you ask me, it belongs on Fifth Avenue.

Image Source: Photo1, Photo2Photo3, Photo4, Photo5  

October 31, 2013

Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2014 RTW

Recap: For the past couple of seasons, Raf Simons has been hitting the archives and really dissecting the core of Christian Dior - clearly defining each aspect and presenting it in its purest form.  No fuss, no frills, just plain Dior.  This season, Simons doesn't lose touch with quintessential Dior, but begins exploring the edges of what define this historic label.  There were little details that stood out and turned traditional pieces into on-trend must-haves: a button up that buttoned around the body, diagonal pleats on skirts, and racerbacks with straps of uneven thickness.  The unexpectedness of detailing is most strongly displayed in a very traditional bar jacket that packs a punch from behind: flouncing floral pleating all along the back.

Verdict: Finally, a collection I like!  You're all probably tired of hearing me lament about Simons at Dior, and so this is likely a refreshing verdict.  No, this wasn't the perfect collection, but at least I was intrigued by the unique detailing Simons inserted into each look.  Even my conscious attempts at finding an obvious flaw were thwarted.  When the bar jacket came out and I thought, "Simons, I knew you just couldn't help but put one of those in there!", I was rendered speechless (and frankly, impressed) when the model turned around and I was confronted with the floral pleating.  Keep it up, Simons!  Really looking forward to once again feeling that sense of excitement before every Dior collection. 

Watch the entire show here.

Image Source:

October 27, 2013

Prabal Gurung Spring/Summer 2014 RTW

Recap: Despite the shockingly bright colours, there was a cold mechanical feel to Prabal Gurung's Spring/Summer 2014 RTW collection.  Models walked deadpaned with their lips painted as perfectly as a mannequin's.  It was as if the models were robots made to seem more human through their clothing.  They stood in two stiff lines behind a wall of glass, which resembled storefront windows, and slowly emerged one-by-one to parade in front of a group of shoppers.  This stark futurism was futher emphasized by the sharp cuts, severe off-the-shoulders, and bowties that weren't floppy, but rather cut to be as severe as a metal blade.  The (forced) infusion of life came in randomly placed feathers, screen-printed PVC, sheer panels and haphazard embellishment. Whether this collection was a comment on how clothing cannot conceal who we truly are inside, or a critism of the cold-hearted robotism of fashion, or done for just plain fun, Gurung's creativity is what really stands out.

Verdict: I first took notice of Gurung when he showed sheer pants with metallic purple "acid" dripping down the legs for Spring/Summer 2012 (I still want those pants so badly), and since then, I've been keeping an eye on him.  He lags slightly in his Fall/Winter collections, but his Spring/Summer collections are always strong.  There's a uniqueness in his designs that is so distinctly Gurung - bold, abstract patterns, unashamedly bright colours, and stark cuts and lines that work to befuddle the mind.  This season, he once again proves he has promising potential.

Watch the full show here.

Image Source:

October 26, 2013

Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2014 RTW

Recap: At first, it took a while to settle in, but once it did, realization came in floods. The set. Marc Jacobs' set for Louis Vuitton. It was a walk down memory lane!  There was the fountain from Fall/Winter 2010, the elevators from Fall/Winter 2011, the carousel from Spring/Summer 2012, the clock from Fall/Winter 2012, the escalators from Spring/Summer 2013, the hotel doors from Fall/Winter 2013, the print from LV's collaboration with Stephen Sprouse...but wait, it was dark; it was all dark.  This was not a collection of celebration, but a collection of mourning - mourning the departure of one of our most influential designers from one of the world's most influential labels.  The clothes themselves reflected Louis Vuitton's past 16 years with Jacobs: a mix of extravagance, and street fashion.  There were barely-there, sheer bodysuits and baggy, oversized pantsuits; grungy motercycle boots on the bottom and over-the-top ostrich plume headpieces on top; ornate jackets dripping (literally) with jet black crystals and slouchy denim pants rolled at the ankles.  Even before Jacobs walked out for his final bow, the audience was standing in preparation for an ovation.  And as he headed backstage, something happened that I have never before witnessed at a fashion show: the audience stalled for a couple of seconds before getting out of their seats.  Usually audience members are eager to run out to their next show, but this time, the audience lingered, trying to absorb the final, fading moments of Jacobs' overwhelming legacy.

Verdict:  If anything, this was an emotional collection.  It played at your heartstrings.  As each reference to past collections revealed themselves to me, I could feel the tears pushing at the back of my eyes.  The grand scale of the show brought shivers to my arms, and at times, I could do nothing but exhale in exhaustion from the formidable, almost emotionally draining collection.  Farewell, Marc Jacobs.  You will be mourned. 

Watch the entire show here.

Image Source:

October 25, 2013

Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2014 RTW

So first I had my ever-ambitious Fashion Week Marathons, where I made comprehensive reviews of collections as they came out. Then I had my Fashion Week recaps, where I briefly commented on my highlights at the end of the season. And now, after admitting defeat, I am going to attempt a hybrid of the two: shorter, but more frequent, reviews of individual collections. Just going with the flow and adapting to my new hectic life schedule. Let's see how this goes, shall we? First up on my marathon list: Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2014 RTW.

Recap: In this high energy fashion presentation, the art of step dancing was brought to life by women from four step dancing sororities, all wearing creations that were hiked and slashed to provide optimal movement - a true departure from Owen's usual draped, somber attire.  But the clothing really didn't mean anything the instant the first group of women walked down the runway.  It was electric.  The scowls set in their face (used to intimidate the competition) radiated strength, and with each movement, power and energy could be felt pulsating through the room.  Each woman had her own personality, and you could see it in her dance; you could feel it in her motion. 

Verdict: This could have easily been the most memorable moment of Fashion Week.  It was a slap in the face - a slap in the face that fashion considers to be ideal and beautiful.  For once, a forceful fashion presentation that actually wasn't about the clothing, but rather the woman, her culture, and her beauty. Round of applause for Rick Owens.

Watch the entire show here.

Image Source:

October 14, 2013

3rd Year and 18th Day!

 has finally gotten so busy that I forgot to mark my blog's birthday, hence the ridiculous post title. I would have almost written off my own birthday (which is 4 days after my blog's birthday) if it weren't for my amazing friends who surprised me with a dinner while I was in the midst of completing a group project.  So much love.

3 years.  It's not really a special number.  No one holds big celebrations for such an odd number.  But to me, it's another year gone by that I've stayed true to who I am.  Being in a business program, you learn a lot about self-marketing.  You're told to use social media as a tool, to network, to find those connections that will open doors...and I sit there and think, sure, I can do that, but in terms of my blog, I will never use it as a catalyst towards exposure and fame.  My blog is me, not a business.

If there's one thing that remains sacred, it's my blog.  I will not worry about SEO, I will not create numerous social media outlets for my blog, and I will not post to become popular.  I post for myself and I post from the heart.  Recognition may be a result, but never the driver.

Happy belated birthday, Red-Soled Fashionista.

Image Source: Birthday

September 20, 2013

Reality Hurts

Let's get real. Being a girl who has decided to pursue a career path (or should I say an uneven, barely visible dirt road with skidding debris and sharp rocks) in fashion, publishing, and business, I've learnt a harsh truth:

There will always be people better than you.

From sitting in a room surrounded by classmates whose intelligence seems unmatched, to hearing about people my age (or younger) who are already living the career I've dreamt about for years, life ahead appears to be an uphill battle.  I sit quietly in my room wondering, "Am I really cut out for this?"

But if there's another thing I've learnt over the years, it's that I am not a pessimistic person.  If I were, I would never be in fashion.  Fashion is for the dreamer, the believer, the nerdy girl back in Grade 8 who knew she wanted to get into the industry, despite everything around her that made it seem like an impossible dream.

See, the corollary is this: There will always be people better than you, but you will always be better than them at something else.  In fact, let's get rid of this whole "better" business!  Success is defined differently for each and every one of us; success is personal.  I'm not saying it's easy - getting there requires headstrong self-confidence.  I would never be where I am now in fashion if I weren't confident in my own skills and abilities.  I've never had formal fashion training, and have only touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of experience, but as they say, dress for the job you want, not the one you have. The moment you become discouraged and let go is the moment your dream dies. No one can stomp down your aspirations but you; your own insecurity is the only thing you have to fear.

So while I may see a fellow 20-year-old travelling the world, witnessing the industry's finest fashion first hand, and parading through numerous high society events, there's nothing out there to say I won't be doing the exact same thing at 25.

Image Source: Wallhere

September 14, 2013

Poppy Barley: Made to Measure

One of my goals this summer was to engage in my local culture scene. I didn't end up getting as involved as I wanted to be, but I did get the opportunity to discover a beautiful art gallery, a fantastic street for boutique shopping, and attend a local fashion and art event. The fashion and art event is what I would like to elaborate on today.

So you know how I'm on the hunt for a pair of pointed toe flats? Well, if I had copious amounts of money, I would buy myself a pair of Poppy Barley Custom Made to Measure flats.  Poppy Barley was one of the vendors at the event, and it had me enraptured the instant I walked towards its booth.

Actually, saying that I would only buy this if I were well-off is a misleading statement.  In fact, at $170 for a pair of custom, made to measure flats, Poppy Barley is an absolute steal!  You pay equal amounts for a pair of flats from Town Shoes, and don't even get me started on how much a pair of designer flats costs.  However, being a broke student means that $170 in itself is too much for anything.  But anyway, let's move on to what Poppy Barley actually is.

Poppy Barley is a company based in Edmonton that produces luxury handcrafted custom footwear (mainly flats or riding boots) for women looking for that perfect fit.  The name comes from the fact that shoemakers traditionally used barleycorns and poppy seeds as measurements for footwear.  Essentially, the process Poppy Barley customers go through includes choosing the preferable style of shoe, picking from swatches of quality leather material, deciding on whether to decorate the vamp with select hardware, and finally, getting their feet meticulously measured to determine the perfect fit.  As with any high quality product, it's all in the details - padded insoles, arch supports, and goat leather lining.  Seriously, all of this costs only $170?!

What drew me to the shoes in the first place was the pure classicism of the shape.  They immediately reminded me of a pair of Tabitha Simmons loafers I had seen in Vogue, which I have subsequently been pining after for some time.  Simplicity at its finest.  On top of that, I could tell from just looking at the shoes that they were well-made, with rich, high quality leather material.  Feeling the shoes...I could feel a familiar warmth of adoration spreading from my heart.

Of course, with the ability to custom design your shoe, I had to check out the Poppy Barley website and visualize what my ideal shoe would look like. This is it (photo courtesy of Crown Photography):

Even though there are limited customizations based on what material and styles are available, I still can't believe how this pair of Mary-Janes is SO ME.  Beautiful robin egg blue paired with shimmer from a gold heel - 100% my style.  I came up with this custom design with such ease!  I had a bit of a debate over what style of shoe I wanted (I honestly love all three styles), but it soon became obvious that the Mary-Jane style modernized with a slight d'Orsay design was the winner.  And from there, it was even easier.  Light blue is my favourite colour, and I'm a fan of sparkle/metallics, so the colour combination was almost a given.  In terms of which colour went where, I always look for a smooth vamp, making it without question that the gold pebbled leather belongs on the heel.  I decided against hardware because I wanted to keep it simple and classic.

As an average girl living the life of a fashion lover, I'm always desiring the unattainable.  If only, one day, this pair of flats could become a reality...

Check out Poppy Barley's website, and create for yourself a pair of shoes that is SO YOU.

Image Source: Poppy Barley 

September 6, 2013

First a Rose, Then a Kiss

I love trying on things when I shop, but doing so under the scrutiny of a stranger whose main goal is to get you to spend money is unnerving, to say the least.  In no other instance does this become more apparent than when shopping for makeup.
I went out shopping for new lipstick last month to replace an old Elizabeth Arden tube I had.  Almost the second I picked up a lipstick to try, a saleswoman popped out of nowhere to assist me, which was fine and dandy until she started recommending all sorts of colours even after I said I would take a look by myself.  Under the pressure to buy, I walked away towards another counter, only to be handed the same experience.  Shopping for someone like me is tough - I have very specific wants and details that I look for, and very few people have success recommending fashions to me.  When I buy something, it means it's 100% something I want: it makes my heart beat faster, my mind whirl with ways to wear it, and my conscience feels completely satisfied that my money is well spent.  With such specifications, really, the only person that can help me shop is myself.

So with such an intimidating lipstick shopping experience, I'm surprised I managed to find a colour!  Presenting Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra in Rose.

Although all the pinks the salespeople kept on recommending were verging on Barbie doll level (do I really look that young...), this pink is less bright, making it more akin to normal lip colour.  Because I've always used Elizabeth Arden, it has become a brand I trust. Furthermore, the reason I gravitated towards Rose was because when my mom was younger, she had already determined that rose was a flattering colour.  This colour gives my pale lips a natural flush, while its beads of shimmer coyly hint that I'm made up.  The formula is so amazingly smooth, with the lipstick feeling almost like a good, thick chapstick.  I never thought lipstick could be so moisturizing!
The price of this was about $30.  Apparently this is considered fairly expensive (I don't normally buy makeup, so I wouldn't know), but the blindingly shiny "gold door" tube in itself is worth it.  I fully understand why women whip out their lipsticks after meals...with a tube like this, applying lipstick is a public affair.  Now I finally have an answer if someone ever asks me what my colour is.  Darling, it's Elizabeth Arden Rose.

Image Source: London Drugs, Beautylish

August 28, 2013

Summer Lovin'

The night before my last exam of the school year, my mind was whirring.  Not with my course material, but with my blog.  I had been putting off my blog for the past year or so to focus on school, and had only been able to post about once a month.  The guilt began settling in, and my desire to keep my blog going for as long as possible led me to promptly set up a Facebook page for my blog the next day.  It was my first step towards rejuvenation.

Next step: blog more often.  I spent hours upon hours drafting up posts while I waited for my flight home.  This past summer, I have managed to bump up my post count to four posts a month.  Hardly close to the daily posts I used to make, but come now, I was young and naïve back then!

And finally, an idea I had toyed with about a month before summer: guest blogging.  In my stupor of studying, I discovered that there are many guest blogging opportunities out there.  Breaking out of my own little territory, introducing myself to other bloggers, and gaining exposure through other channels...I was only left pondering why I hadn't pursued guest blogging earlier!  Unexpectedly, and thrillingly, guest blogging was a huge success from the start.  I received such positive feedback from the bloggers I approached, and at one point, I even had so many guest post deadlines on my plate that I encountered major writer's block.  Here's a compilation of all the guest blogging I've done (there were many other opportunities, but one person can only write so much!):


Rose & Pine: Fashion's Game of Musical Chairs - I speak my mind on some of the latest designer changeovers.

Rose & Pine: The Great Gatsby: '20s Inspiration - I deliver fashion tips inspired by my most anticipated movie of the year: The Great Gatsby.

This Girl's Life: A Shady Afternoon - I pick out the season's top shades.

This Girl's Life: Floral Fanatic - I teach you how to tackle florals - from beginner to advanced.

Anni's Bubble: Midriff Mama - I try my hand at making one of the runway's most daunting trends more practical for stylish moms.

Chic and Casual: One Step Ahead - I reveal a strange new trend in footwear that has me itching to embrace modernity.

What's Hanging: Florida Florals - I get inspired by Robyn of What's Hanging's trip to Florida and cook up some outfits worthy of the beachy state.

All Things Unpredictable and Chic: I See Right Through You - I show you how to wear lucite.  Clear and simple.

Makeup by Lauren P: Top Summer 2013 Hairstyles - It's never too late to look at the season's hottest hairstyles.


But this isn't it.  I came across an advertisement looking for paid fashion bloggers in May, and without hesitation, sent in samples of my work.  Just like that, I was contacted and now, for the first time in my life, I'm getting paid to do something I truly love.  Here's a look at the work I've done so far:


Only Swimsuits: Top Swimsuits for Every Body Type

Size Plus Dresses: Top Plus Size Summer Dresses

Vintage Fashion London: How Dandy: Yves Saint Laurent's Le Smoking

Dress in Style: Surviving the Summer to Autumn Transition

Lily and Coco: Top AW 2013 Hair Accessories


I first knew I loved fashion writing when I sifted through every occupation I could imagine and assessed whether I was willing to go through the work required for each one.  Time and time again, I came to the conclusion that a future towards any other career would be a burden.  But when I looked at the work required to get into publishing, I felt such strong conviction and excitement.  You cannot deny when you feel a feeling like this that it is your heart's true calling.  I was willing to do anything - to push myself beyond my comfort zone - to achieve my dreams.  I've started from the lowest rung in the ladder - being a nobody in the vast world of fashion - to slowly, somtimes painfully, but always happily, climbing each individual rung.  I'm not saying I've made it anywhere near the top (and I may never), but it's been a steady progression up.  Hard work pays off.  Couldn't be truer.

Looking back, I MUST thank my friends.  The feedback I've received from them has been phenomenal.  They have always, always been my biggest supporters.  I'm so grateful to have friends who never question me even when I question myself.  In those nights of laying in bed wondering whether my passion is a mere hobby, I remember my friends and it's through their confidence that I gain my own strength.  Thank you, my dear friends, for your incredible support.  This is not my accomplishment, but ours.

Image Source: Photo 1, 2, 3

August 15, 2013

I am trendy!

"I never try to be trendy."  That seems to be fashion's favourite phrase, but in reality, what nonsense!  Everyone in fashion who utters that phrase seems to say it with such pride, as if they are so horribly different and admirable.  Face it - it's an overused phrase.  It's the equivalent of "They're just like us!" in celebrity gossip.  If no one's trying to be trendy, then what's so special about not being trendy?

Fashion designers and style setters constantly insist, vehemently, that they are not trendy.  It's as if they believe the world around them to be madly buzzing with panicked trendsetters, while they stand nonchalantly in the centre, oblivious to all that goes on around them, proudly proclaiming their unique style.  But open your eyes and you'll see a bevy of people just like you, with their heads in the clouds thinking that not being à la mode is something special.  I have no doubt that you have a unique personal style, and in fact, I probably even admire it!  But the phrase "I'm not trendy"?  Fashion has been so heavily criticized for caring about what's hot that the whole idea of being trendy has sunken into a pit of negativity. 

I adore classic fashion through and through, but I also love being trendy and experimenting with the latest innovations.  Being in vogue does not mean you're a slave to fashion.  We need to get rid of that connotation.  Being trendy just means you enjoy the constant hunt for new shapes, new fabrics, and new ways of flattering your body.  You can still wear pieces that are considered on trend, and express your inner personal style.  If you stay true to who you are, wearing trends will not, in fact, make you like everyone else.  You will be you.  And after all, fashion is never static.  Trends cycle.  What's red hot in one season is classic in another, and vice versa.  It's exasperating when designers assert that their designs are not trendy.  If you think about it, designers play a significant role in developing trends in the first place, so please, stop the charades!

There's nothing wrong with designing or wearing classic pieces.  Everyone needs their basics.  Everyone has their own personal style that doesn't always run parallel to what's in style a certain season.  But don't try to pass yourself as being better than those who follow trends.  All you're doing is hunkering behind the safety of classicism, when there's a whole world beyond you bustling with excitement, and most importantly, potential.  You're missing out if you define yourself as not being something so integral to the nature of fashion.  Take a stand, and don't be afraid to say, "I am trendy!"

Image Source: Photo1, Photo2, Photo3

August 7, 2013

Vionnet Fall 2013 Couture

I may have witnessed the fall of Christian Lacroix and Givenchy's current break from couture, but I have also witnessed the return of Atelier Versace, Viktor & Rolf, and most recently, Vionnet.  Vionnet is an especially heartwarming return, seeing as Madeleine Vionnet is among the early couturiers, known for her Grecian dresses and popularizing the bias cut.  In my eyes, she is as evanescent as Madame Grès: both of whom will always be referenced in modern fashion, but whom I will never be able to truly experience.  So with Goga Ashkenazi at the helm bringing back Vionnet couture, I couldn't even care less that she decided on merely demi-couture.  No, her latest collection doesn't rival Christian Dior Fall 2011 Couture, but it far exceeds the Alexis Mabille collection I just posted about; it's on such a different plane that it scores major points as a beautiful collection that is still close to my heart.

The music was what first hooked me.  Alluring classical music (oh, how I love the piano!) set a mood of pure opulence, but it had a more vibrant, rhythmic beat that played wonderfully against the idea of demi-couture.  It started off, naturally, with a bias cut dress that was easily the most stunning look of the entire collection.  An amazing emerald green laminated matte satin half-peplum cutting across a minimalistic slip, with soft pleats along the hip that dissipate into a draped skirt.  Stunning.

The "demi-couture" comes in with the modern aspects of the collection - sheer gazar, teasing leg, and at times, a flatly draped cut.  I found these more casual notes to be an invigorating departure from how couture is generally envisioned to be.  But as casual as some aspects were, it was never casual to the point of ready-to-wear.  Remarkable, sweeping capes ensured we all knew this was still couture.

Couture has had its high moments, and it's had its low moments.  Couturiers have come and gone.  But remember this: couture has never died.  Couture revolutionized what it meant to be a fashion designer, and it will continue to stay at the heart of today's (and tomorrow's) fashion scene.  No matter how wearable the public demands fashion to be, couture is what keeps the spirit of fashion alive - it is what allows us to keep dreaming.

Watch the entire show here.

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August 4, 2013

Alexis Mabille Fall 2013 Couture

Oh, couture.  The season that makes every fashion lover's heart flutter.  Nonetheless, I think it's safe to say that I haven't been truly infatuated by a Couture collection since Christian Dior Fall 2010 Couture.  Nothing - not even Givenchy's ethereal creations - has lifted me up to the same level of euphoria that Dior did back then.  However, Alexis Mabille came close this season.

So close that Youtube users are comparing him to John Galliano at Dior (To the one user who so venomously denied that this was Dior: Face it, Galliano redefined Dior to the point they were one and the same, and this collection undoubtedly breathed wisps of Galliano's work.  After all, Mabille did work under Galliano at Dior for 9 years...).  Mabille took the sweeping brushstrokes of 19th century painter Giovanni Boldini as inspiration, resulting in a painterly sensibility not unlike the one Galliano possessed when he emulated flower petals on his dresses.  Mabille applied his inspiration to trouser legs, leading to a stunning set of muted, ombré pants that reflected very well the true character of paint.  I adore these pants.

There were only two pairs before the show moved on to a play on texture.  Lace and satin, embellishment and organza...all in a lovely pastel palette.  The minimalistic shoes acted as a great blank canvas on which to showcase the clothing, and the "pressed" flowers in the hair heightened the decadence.  Trousers were as fitted as if they were painted on, but every look had a blasé edge that mirrored the trailing end of a brushstroke.

From here on is where Mabille had a slight mishap, stunting its ability to rival Dior's work.  Mabille began to show leg-of-mutton sleeves and duchess satin gowns.  The change of pace was too heavy, and the stiff folds of the dresses were harsh.  One creation had an unfortunate resemblance to the Grim Reaper, albeit in a slick, almost metallic cloak.  I do agree with Nicole Phelps of when she calls this portion of the show "more of a thud" than luminous.  But all was not lost; a sophisticated cross-body neckline dress with a cascading string of pearls reminded us that the collection had its moments worthy of praise. 

The initial blasé air soon gave off a slovenly appearance when the leg-of-mutton sleeves billowed into excessive volume.  Volume can be done well, but it becomes very difficult in duchess satin.  Few designers have made it work for contemporary times.  It ended up being a simple black velvet gown with a flower design that stole the latter end of the show.

It's not rare to see growing designers start their show better than they end it, or vice versa.  An incoherent collection signals the lack of a strong, solid vision, or a misunderstanding of how different pieces come together to create a melodic tune.  Experienced designers start strong, and end strong.  However, this is not a review against Mabille.  Remember, he had almost equaled Dior in my eyes!  I find him to be a talented designer.  Phelps picked on the fact that his exaggerated shoulders would never be worn by the living woman, but my oh my, have you forgetten that this is couture?  That this is fashion?  (Evidently, Phelps has not yet proved to me she is a critic among the ranks of Tim Blanks).  Designing is a process of growth that takes many years of hard work, thick skin, and gritty experience.  Mabille's passion shows he has potential.  You start strong, you end strong.

Watch the entire show here.

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