Thursday, January 31, 2008

If I was a penthouse

If I was a penthouse, I would be Betsey Johnson's confection pink abode in Greenwich Village. Not only is it located in my favorite Manhattan neighborhood, but also it tickles my senses with its lavish feminine gestures.
I imagine myself lounging around the rosette-embellished living room with an impeccably chic Christian Dior Spring 2007 Couture hairpiece clipped casually to the side of my head while rosewater and pistachio cupcakes are baking in the oven.

I seem to have left out the reality of the $3.6 million asking price. Oh well, perhaps someday I will be able to snatch up this fabulously romantic pad.

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Miss Couturable

The unpaved future meets the parents

christinel posted an interesting comment on my previous entry -- I read through her comment a couple times because in many ways, she sounds a lot like me when I was 15 years old. Granted, I'm still only 17 -- but I've come a long, long way since my days of driver's education and knee-high socks with UGG boots. This comment has been provoking my mind so much that it is currently almost 2am and I cannot go to bed until I reach a conclusion.

I had my first private college counseling session at school today -- my daddy was present, and we talked a lot about my prospective college choices as an English and Art History major. I learned a lot and created a list of fantastic colleges that I will most likely be applying to, but that hasn't left an impact in my mind as much as when my college counselor and I were discussing my extracurriculars. I told her all about my cheerleading experience, dedicated volunteer work, leadership positions as cheer captain and as multiple club chairs, Spanish Honor Society status -- but mostly I just emphasized my work in fashion.

My college counselor's response to my comment about being president/co-founder of my school's fashion club?
"I won't put that down. Colleges won't take it seriously."
How about to my independent study course (for credit) in fashion history?
"Colleges won't take that seriously. They'll discard it."

I'm puzzled by the time all of my extracurriculars are jotted down on paper -- I take fashion history very seriously as an academic subject (after all, it's related to art history) and a club is a club, right? I emphasized to my college counselor my involvement in fashion journalism as my positions as both a writer and editor of multiple independent fashion publications and websites, as well as my internship with Seventeen for the summer.

I realized just how hard it is to be taken seriously as an academic scholar and a fashionista at the same time. I want to study art history and English and revel in the great classics of civilization, while sporting a Miu Miu headband. I want to solve the toughest problems facing our world today -- and attend Paris Fashion Week. Is this possible? I wholeheartedly believe so.

My parents are traditional Chinese immigrant parents -- they hold very educated jobs that pay well and allow me to attain the future that I want. They try to support me, but I can tell that they wish that I would choose a different career path. Two weeks ago, my daddy tells me that I would have a better chance of getting into college if I conducted scientific research in a laboratory over the summer -- but is that me? After college counseling today, he tells me that I should stay in Silicon Valley and become director of marketing for a high-tech firm -- but once again, this isn't me.

I'm the girl who adores tiaras and tutus and too much adornment and gorgeous photography and fashion week and writing and inspiring others and everything else that represents pure beauty and fantasy. I cannot deny who I am -- and being the stubborn girl that I am, I must follow my dreams.

Mommy sighed at me today and said, "You have a knack for doing exceptionally well at things no one else would dare to try. I suppose I can't stop you -- because I have a feeling that you may succeed and prove us all wrong."

I wish this piece of writing would convey to you how much fashion and writing and academia and so many other things mean to me. Since I was 15, I have not spent a day without the assurance that fashion is where my future lies. It's been a long journey of pulling all-nighters since I've finally attained my first magazine internship with Seventeen, but I can't stop myself from the rush and pure joy I've been experiencing lately.

Ah, if only I had some clever witty way to end my thoughts before bed. christinel and everyone else who might have shared the same thoughts, thank you for admiring me -- although I am only 17 and barely older than any of you (if not younger), and I do not deserve to be admired for any reason.

I wish I could look ten years into the future and see myself as the new editor-in-chief of a major fashion magazine and tell you that yes, it was all worth it and that I've worked out the equation to fashion industry success. But no, I'm only 17, and I am also toiling along, trying to make a name for myself while enjoying the uncertainties ahead of me.

My college counselor chuckled when I said I wanted to be editor-in-chief of a large fashion magazine. "I always get one or two of them every year," she said.

No, I thought, this isn't some teenage fantasy that grew out of a obsession with The Devil Wears Prada. I don't see why it's not as plausible as becoming a doctor or a lawyer -- in my mind, passion is logical. Now if you'll excuse, me, I only have three more hours before school begins.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. You have only a few more hours to vote for Miss Couturable as best teen weblog at the Eighth Annual Weblog Awards! Please do so if you enjoy reading my blog, cutefaces!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Advantages of the young and privileged in the fashion industry

Perhaps you've heard of Kira Plastinina, the fifteen year old Russian fashion designer with the multi-millionaire father who recently debuted "her" designs at Rome Fashion Week. Paris Hilton was paid $2 million to sit front row at the show and wear her t-shirt. Notice the parentheses around the word her -- she doesn't actually design anything -- she has a team at work for her. Nonetheless, she visits her office after school everyday to approve designs and give suggestions.

Looking at the website, the Kira Plastinina line is ideal for young ladies who really like tulle, hot pink, and hearts. It's very cutesy and youthful, if not fresh and innovative. Some despise Kira for good reasons -- she's rich, privileged, and her daddy's the reason for her success. After all, what happened to the idea of the starving artist who achieves success as a brilliant genius after years of hard work? Then again, can you blame this girl for being born into a privileged life of the post-Soviet Union bourgeoisies? If you have the resources for this kind of endeavor, you might as well use it to fulfill your own career plans -- granted that you're working hard. Even though she admires Paris Hilton as a style icon (my, my, why), Kira doesn't party or sneak out at night like American celebutante, Cory Kennedy.

This girl doesn't have the ability yet to become a great fashion designer, but at least she's making a name for herself. Even though she has it easier than other fifteen year old aspiring designers, at least she's staying in school, making plans to attend design college, and working with her design team everyday. That, my lovelies, is just as commendable as any Cinderella story. Kira is someone I'd love to meet someday, as someone else who has always wanted to work in fashion and takes initiative to achieve that dream.

It's probably very true that the young and privileged may have a better chance to enter the fashion industry. Fashion assistants don't even make enough to cover a year of my prep school tuition -- and yes, I do admit that I am privileged and very lucky to be where I am. While I am interning in the fashion department for Seventeen Magazine this summer, I do not have to worry about housing or living expenses because my parents will pay for it. However, I will be keeping a record book of all my expenditures -- I refuse to max out my credit card. I never have to complain about not getting new Taryn Rose pumps or buying a new See by Chloé dress -- within reason, of course. I can write and learn about fashion as much as I'd like without ever having to worry about getting a paid job -- but I do have a job, in fact. I'm saving money to pay for my first month's rent out of college. I have never been denied of anything because of money issues, and I do recognize that I am blessed with privileges and opportunities in life that 99% of the world's teenagers would only fantasize about.

Still, I've come to realize that there is nothing with being young and privileged and wanting to work in the fashion industry. I will never have to worry about money even though I refuse to rely on my parents when I become an adult -- and hopefully neither will Kira and other privileged teen aspiring fashionistas around the globe, but we must learn to make the most of what we have.

If we have a lot to begin with, we have a lot of expectations to live up to in the future. An article I once read in New York Magazine said that the number one dream for privileged teenagers was that they would rightfully earn success themselves. Just don't forget the important values in life while you're at it: family, friends, faith (if you're religious), hope, and love.

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Miss Couturable

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Sunday Six: January 27th, 2007

After I took the SAT exam yesterday morning, I refused to do any work that would result in me being productive. So I ate Japanese food, checked out two books from the library that I haven't read yet, watched 50 First Dates (a very uplifting chick flick!), and became addicted to Cashmere Mafia. Unfortunately, I'm going to be submerged in work today.
  1. In case you haven't voted yet, please vote Miss Couturable as best teen weblog at the Eighth Annual Weblog Awards! It's such an honor already that your votes have made me a finalist -- I would be so grateful if you could find some free time to do so. It's also a great way to check out other blogs -- I'm especially obsessed with the political blog, Daily Kos.
  2. Gala posted a photo of Salvador Dali by Philippe Halsman -- definitely worth checking out, saving to your computer, and setting as your desktop background!
  3. Okay, I know Cashmere Mafia received negative reviews for being too cliché, but you can't deny the fact that Patricia Fields did a fabulous job with the wardrobes. My favorite member of the Cashmere Mafia? Mia Mason, played by Lucy Liu. Not only do I think she has the best wardrobe (huge bauble earrings appear to be her signature piece), but she works in the publishing industry as a publisher -- and attended Wellesley for undergrad and Columbia for grad. Her fiancé left her because she beat him out in a competition to become publisher -- and since then, she has buried herself in work. "But Mom! Look around, I am happy!" she says defiantly to her mother, who desperately wanted her to find someone else immediately after the break-up. Mia is strong-willed, motivated, funny, and smart -- a great role model, in my opinion. She definitely became tied with Blair Waldorf as my favorite television heroine after this letter she wrote in Modern Man magazine, after allowing her ex-fiancé's offensive cover to be used:
    Dear Modern Man,
    You know what this modern woman wants for breakfast? Maybe oatmeal. Bacon and eggs if she's craving protein. Definitely coffee, but relax -- I'm not gonna have you for breakfast, so please don't be such a wimp about women at work.
    It's high time to accept the fact that a woman might not just be your co-worker. She could be your boss, and you're gonna have to be prepared to deal, to be a man about it in the true sense of the word. Sure, more working women means more competition, but instead of being threatened by it, be challenged by it. Let's bring out the best in each other. Win or lose, if you're a good sport, everybody wins.
    Until you get your head around this, you'll be on your road, and I'll be on mine. I hope at some point we meet in the middle.
    Cheers,
    The Modern Woman
    Feel empowered yet? Even if the plot is overused, watching Cashmere Mafia will make you realize that you can do anything. Personally, I feel that I can identify with Mia Mason (and not just because we're both Asian) in almost everything -- well, as much as a 17 year old girl can. Dream big, my lovelies.
  4. Stephanie posted the Disney portraits by Annie Leibowitz! I've only seen the Cinderella one, but these are just all so fabulous! Ah, I could never outgrow Disney.
    (Photo Credit -- Style.com)
  5. John Galliano, every year your Christian Dior couture collection makes me want to wrap myself in layers of silk and satin.
  6. Moccasins were always too similar to loafers for my taste, but Tod's Heaven Gommini Moccasin looks so comfortable and reminds of me of my favorite Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Filling squares. Yum.
Can you believe January is almost over? Time stops for no one.

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Miss Couturable

Friday, January 25, 2008

Exam day dress: I'm ready to rock n' roll

I've got my five #2 pencils sharpened, fat pink eraser fresh and ready, and extra AAA batteries just in case my calculator dies during the SAT exam tomorrow morning.

I've reviewed through vocabulary words, grammar rules, works of literature, important points in history, and common mistakes in mathematics.

I've taken plenty of practice SAT exams over the past week -- constantly scrutinizing over the silly mistakes I made after each grading.

The only aspect of the exam I haven't prepared for? My outfit. Shall I dress 'smart' with a pencil skirt, buckled heels, and oxford shirt -- or get a little more sleep and snuggle up in my UGGs and sweatpants instead?
As an alternative, I'd really rather femme fatale my way to a great score -- channeling Eymeric Francois Spring 2008 Couture. Fill in bubbles and conquer.

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Miss Couturable

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ciao, Valentino!

"I do not make dresses, because it is the season to make dresses. I make dresses because a dress fits the new picture of a very modern way to dress - you can wear a dress with a jacket, coat or a sweater over it. You can wear a fine sweater under a dress. I don't think there is anything quite so nice. The dress is far more useful than just another wool suit." -- Valentino Garavani
To commence Paris haute couture week, Valentino Garavani presented his last fashion show -- a culmination of his 45 years spent revolutionizing the couturier art. His decadent and delicate designs have always been the ones I would paste up onto my walls as a little girl -- intriguing me with their subtle flounces for years. The one collection that always makes me sigh with resplendent dreams of chiffon and satin, Valentino couture by Valentino Garavani will remain in my lookbooks for years to come.

Alessandra Facchinetti has some satin brocade shoes to fill -- but as she said, "I like a fairy tale." Her predecessor, Valentino Garavani, had mastered the difficult art of fairy tale dresses.

He's also rather adorable looking, is he not? I just want to give him a great big hug and thank him for creating the stuff of little girl dreams and bake him lavender cupcakes.

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Miss Couturable

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Be pretty for a rapidly-changing world

"Has the internet been a curse or blessing?" I asked my tour guide as he showed my journalism mentoring group around the newspaper office today.

"A curse, it's definitely been a curse," he replied with a bittersweet smile. This newspaper was once one of the top ten newspapers in the country, priding itself on its commitment to exclusive foreign correspondents and two Pulitzer prizes. Now, the paper that had multiple offices around the bay area and was an example of our cosmopolitan and educated society was reduced to a dilapidated building of browning walls and dirty plastic linoleum. At 4pm in the afternoon, there were barely 10 reporters in the room. Loss of revenue from advertising because of the internet resulted in huge cuts in staff. There were no more Pulitzer prizes, no more foreign correspondents -- just big empty rooms with old computers and lots of good memories.

Technology is rapidly changing journalism as we know it -- gone are the days when I'd wake up on Sunday mornings as a kid and wait for the familiar "plunk" as the Sunday paper landed at my doorstep. I myself am contributing to this phenomena with my blog. Yet, I will never give up my monthly glossies, or my hardcover novels -- or even the paper-version of the Wall Street Journal. Technology is nice, but to give up the art of paper and ink? Reading by the fireplace just isn't as romantic when it's on a laptop.

But it was really amazing to see the few dedicated journalists still in that room, devoted to making something articulate and beautiful out of something that could look so dismal.

I started writing Miss Couturable as a fashion blog, eager to develop my own voice in fashion journalism and to provide an outlet for me when writing a few articles a week for my gigs wasn't enough. Within less than six months though, my blog has evolved to be more about fashion -- yes, fashion is a huge and fundamental part of my life, but there is so much that I want to share with you. Do I write like a journalist? Perhaps not, but I like to think I'm having a conversation with you -- and sometimes you may choose to gloss over what I'm saying to you, but sometimes my voice will resonate in your head. I want to write to make you feel wanted, to make you feel inspired, and to make you feel like you can change the world.

We're going to go through ups and downs, but promise me you'll stick it through. Enjoy his ephemeral sweet words, cry your tears out when it's all over -- pull a couple all-nighters, say something stupid in front of a fellow authority figure -- and don't forget to always look your best. Just promise me that you'll learn and discover what a beautiful person you are in a world that wants to be beautiful.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. While we're on subject of technology, journalism, and blogs -- Miss Couturable is a finalist in the Eighth Annual Weblog Awards under best teen weblog! Thank you so much to everyone who nominated my blog -- it means so much to me. Between now and Thursday, January 31st, please venture over to the awards site and vote for my blog -- it's the one with the black taffeta bow as a snippet. Yes, you do have to make a vote in every category -- but it's a great way to check out some other wonderful blogs.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vivienne Tam for Mickey and Minnie Mouse

My first kiss was from Mickey Mouse. It was the summer before sophomore year, and I had been waiting in line to see Mickey in Disneyland for over an hour. When I finally got to take a photo with him, I eagerly skipped up to him while embarrassing my little sister who only wanted to see Minnie in the first place. I gave my favorite mouse a big hug and glowing smile, and he kissed me on the cheek. Ah, the magic of Disney.

Apparently Hong Kong fashion designer Vivienne Tam shares my fascination with Mickey -- going so far as to design Chinese New Year outfits for him and Minnie. Mickey's Mao suit is reminiscent of an era in China when communist simplicity was untouched by capitalist ventures, and it suits the purpose of bridging East and West quite well.

Now Minnie on the other hand, is the real showstopper in her ruffled babydoll dress. Vivienne Tam always does a great job with combining Eastern intricacies with Western style, and apparently one doesn't have to be human to look good in her clothes.
"Oh, what you do, Mickey
Do, Mickey,
Don't break my heart, Mickey!"
I imagine the irresistible Minnie would be singing 'Hey Mickey' to her boyfriend after park celebrations.

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Miss Couturable

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Sunday Six: January 20th, 2007

I'm taking the SAT I exam in less than a week, and I'm starting to wonder how I can be assessed with only a 25 minute essay and a couple hundred multiple choice questions in math, critical reading, and writing. Yes, I can easily memorize vocabulary words and churn out a two-page essay to refute or support an argument, but the actual classes I'm taking in high school represent my academic aptitude far better than a standardized 3.5 hour exam. Yet, I suppose this is a milestone in every American high schooler's life that is just as important as a first kiss or a first Balenciaga handbag -- the only difference between them is that you don't want more SATs.
  1. The style website I work for, doesthislookstupid.com, is hosting a "best snow bunny outfit" contest -- the winner gets a $50 Burton Snowboards gift card! Unfortunately, I've never been skiing before -- but I'm definitely craving a chic furry coat. If you love skiing or you just like wearing warm aerodynamic clothes, be sure to enter by February 16th!
  2. I'm obsessed with Disney princesses, so I was overjoyed to read Stephanie's Disney-inspired style article! When I was younger, watching Snow White was a nightly routine. I longed to have Belle's gorgeous gold ball gown, and to marry a handsome prince like Cinderella. I still use a Disney princess wall calendar, in fact.
  3. Every weekend I read two books. This weekend, I read The Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus and Horseradish by Lemony Snicket. I used to think chick lit was extremely shallow literature, but many of the books in the chick lit genre are cleverly written social satires -- sometimes I wonder if a century from now, high school and college English classes will be teaching 21st century social satire with excerpts from Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus or Plum Syke's novels. I always balance out my chick lit obsession with something different though; this week, Lemony Snicket's brilliant quote book left me feeling very inspired and somewhat wiser.
  4. Gala wrote an amazing article on being a writer -- it struck me to the core. Two years ago, I would never have considered writing to be a passion. Nowadays, I can't spend more than three hours without the need to scrawl something up.
  5. It's never too early to start thinking about prom. Freshman year, I attended junior prom and wore a satin pink Betsey Johnson dress that I begged my parents to take me to San Francisco to buy. Sophomore year, I attended junior prom again (different boys, as you can tell) -- in a simple black and white dress that I got for only $80 at Macy's -- everyone thought it was from BCBG though! This year, I'm thinking about going vintage, right down to the long dress gloves. Perhaps something from Vintageous will suit me.
  6. As it is Sunday, I think it's the perfect day to discuss spirit and faith. Do you have a religion? What do you think about religious stereotypes? I'm a Christian; I started attending a Baptist church in Corvallis, Oregon when I was just a toddler. When I moved to California, my mom and I switched around a couple churches, but eventually she stopped going and I stopped going as a result too. I haven't found a church in California that I'm comfortable with yet, but hopefully someday I will. In the mean time, I read my Bible a lot and allow time with personal reflection -- I do believe God is proud of me and I intend to live life to the fullest for this reason. I am awfully ticked off when people mention one religion to be better than the rest though -- in my opinion, we all just want to live purposeful lives.
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Miss Couturable

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Viva forever

"There are those who say that life is like a book, with chapters for each event in your life and a limited number of pages on which you can spend your time. But I prefer to think that a book is like a life, particularly a good one, which is well worth staying up all night to finish." Horseradish by Lemony Snicket
I've been told by many family members, teachers, close friends, and distant acquaintances that I am a passionate dreamer in which absolutely nothing in the world that can discourage me. I would initially scoff at this notion because if I was truly a dreamer with a the-glass-is-half-full perspective, why would I accept my dearth of musical talent or inability to grow taller beyond my petite frame? Why aren't I honing my throat muscles in private voice lessons and drinking milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It seems that I am quite selective when it comes to my passions -- I will gladly spend all week writing articles on haute couture while baking doughnuts and coffee cupcakes, but I wouldn't make it past the first period of a multivariate calculus class -- but I'll probably arrive early for my Honors American Literature class.

A passion for life doesn't entail becoming perfect in every single bit of drudgery that may cross your path -- it's about becoming passionate about your own life. If we could all harness that inner "acorn" of potential nested in our hearts, we'll definitely be happier and perhaps not as lost. I found my "acorn" in dressing up in costumes as a young girl and discovering Vogue in the public library -- being a shy girl without a voice, who would have thought that ten years later, I would find it in fashion and writing?

Chanel handbags won't pop up at your door, heartbreak is inevitable, fate will always serve an entrée of failure once in a while, and legs that go on for miles won't grow overnight -- but once you've found that "acorn" that is your very own, you'll find more a lot more reason to love and to cherish memories, people, and yourself. Personally, I feel that the world just becomes a little bigger for you and me when we wake up every day with an appreciation for the past, a love for the present, and a dream for the future!

What is your "acorn", and what events in your past led up to this discovery?

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Miss Couturable

If models starred in horror flicks

With the public release of fall/winter show packages from modeling agencies, the most unique and utterly memorable one is from One Management -- a brochure of eerily placed horror-film inspired elements and excellent models in mesmerizing photography.

The layout is intriguing, but the models are even better. Even without the eye-catching design, I believe each model could stand on her own for fall/winter 2008. There's a raw and candid focus in this show package that I haven't noticed in the others.

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Miss Couturable