Sunday, May 31, 2009

Airhead giveaway winners

So, perhaps in compliance with airhead mannerisms, I almost forgot that I was announcing the winners of the Airhead giveaway today!

Once again, the prizes are:
Grand Prize (1): $50 LeSportsac Gift Card, Airhead T-Shirt, Airhead paperback book
First Prize (5): Airhead paperback book

To enter, you had to leave me a six word story and provide me your first name, age, and email! I was extremely impressed with all of the stories -- especially because, well, I failed to provide an example from myself.

The Grand Prize winner is:
Jessica, age 20: "Finance final 8am tomorrow -- tequila drink."

The five First Prize winners are:
Carolyn, age 20: "She loved six word stories, too."
Erin, age 18: "Drunk with beauty, the night danced."
Claire, age 19: "Valley girl: glittery hedonism, in heels."
Lucy, age 14: "If only life were this concise..."
Stacy, age 19: "Should study. Youtube way too tempting."

Please email me from the email that you provided when you entered the giveaway with your mailing address! Congratulations and thank you so much for the fun entries!

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Miss Couturable

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oh my, Jackie O.

I don't wear sunglasses because 1) I don't like to see things dimmer than they really are and 2) I figure that if I'm trying to avoid the sun, I should just turn around.

However, I've always wanted a pair of round sunglasses like the signature ones worn by Jacqueline Kennedy.
I'm especially a fan of the Christian Dior Josephine sunglasses -- I guess rectangles just aren't my cup of tea.

I mean, in terms of First Ladies, I love Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, but I still idolize Jacqueline Kennedy. In times of distress, I could just slip on these shades and maintain my "cool", much like the admirable former First Lady herself. I could also use the sun protection.

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Miss Couturable

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Even though she didn't go to college

I found this photo of Anna Wintour at the 2009 Columbia University Commencement on the blog of Natalie So, a former schoolmate who is now doing wonderful and brilliant things at Harvard University. If you didn't know, Anna Wintour's daughter, Bee Shaffer, is a member of the Columbia class of 2009.

On a related note, Anna Wintour was the speaker for the 2003 Fashion Institute of Technology Commencement -- and her speech is a witty and insightful read:
Thank you President Brown, Trustees, Faculty, Honored Guests and Students. I am so honored to have been asked to speak to you this morning.

I didn't go to fashion school. I didn't go to college. When I was your age, and living in London, the fashion business was nothing as professional as it is today. I started off as the most junior of junior editors at Harper's & Queen. This was at a time when fashion magazines were widely regarded by one's mothers as finishing schools for girls of a certain background and a certain name. One had fun there, but one merely dabbled in the business in anticipation of marriage and, all being well, a large house somewhere in the English countryside. Fashion shoots were an amateurish affair: I remember once being sent to India for a weeklong assignment with nothing more than 20 pounds (in those days, less than 50 dollars). When I asked my editor, How am I supposed to pay for everything? He said, "Oh, just find a maharajah with a palace." And I think I did.

It was possible for magazines to function in this way because interest in fashion was limited to a very small section of society. People with money and time on their hands wore fashion; everyone else wore clothes. At that time, fashion wasn't streetwear, and it wasn't workwear; it was something you might encounter at a party or on special occasion. When I went to Rome for the couture shows -- back then, couture was shown both in Paris and Rome -- the shows were black-tie affairs, held in the evening in Palazzos. There were no celebrities and no paparazzi. J. Lo might be wearing Sixties Valentino couture to the Oscars now, but she would not have been allowed anywhere near the show where that dress first appeared. It was a narrow, self-regarding cocoon. If a designer was famous, it was only in a small, elitist way. Nowadays, someone like Calvin is a world-famous artist whose name operates as a huge cultural force. The same could not be said for Charles James, a world-class designer who was extremely influential to fashion but labored in obscurity a few blocks from here at the Chelsea Hotel. It seems hard to believe, but there used to be an embargo placed on all sketches and photographs of the couture dresses. This was to stop knock-off merchants from illegally reproducing the designs. Nowadays, as you know, you can simply log on to Style.com and see the shows in their entirety on the very same day.

So you are heading out into a different industry than the one I entered. When Vogue takes Pam Levy and Gela Taylor, the designers behind Juicy Couture, to the Paris couture, they see that Brittany Murphy is wearing Juicy mixed with Dior in the front row, and John Galliano, backstage, tells them that he goes to work every day in their tobacco velour trackpants. So the fashion world is more inclusive than ever, and more in demand than ever. You will not have failed to notice that since you've been in school, celebrities--actresses, singers, TV anchorwomen--have all turned into fashion experts. This is not just about fearing red carpet scrutiny. It's about these women realizing that they can look chic without compromising their professional seriousness or their mainstream appeal. A certain generation of actresses, for example--I'm thinking Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Diane Keaton, even Julia Roberts--became stars of great standing without ever venturing much past Armani; and even then, only on Oscar nights. To have asked them about the clothes hanging in their closets would have been inappropriate. (At that time, we had the supermodels to show us how to wear Versace.) The more recent crop of movie stars -- Nicole, Halle, Salma, Renee, --are completely different. Although they're every bit as serious about their careers, they are also serious about their wardrobes. And the two, as you might have suspected, are not unrelated. The truth is that stars use fashion as a commodity: carry a Vuitton Murakami bag to a premiere and you're going to be photographed. Of course, the funny thing is that models, who actually look better than anyone in clothes, these days wander around off-camera in Rogan jeans and Ugg boots.

All of this, by the way, is fantastic for fashion. The fact that actresses love clothes as never before means that more women than ever before will be inspired to take an interest in fashion, and maybe even to wear it. Just consider what Sarah Jessica Parker and Sex and the City have done for the fortunes of Manolo Blahnik and Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli! Fashion is now a democratic business. After the recent Costume Institute Ball at the Metropolitan Museum, a few old society types grumbled to the press that the wrong sort of people were now allowed to buy tickets to the premier fundraising event on the New York calendar. I couldn't have been happier to hear about this. I believe that the vitality of the industry (and society at large, for that matter) depends on a constant flow of new faces and new ideas and new stars.

Which brings us back to the FIT graduating class of 2003. As I've suggested, you are part of a society that values design and style more than ever--and I'm not simply referring to new clothes. At Vogue, these days, we don't just cover the collections; we cover style in its many and ever-multiplying incarnations, from the man who designed your Nokia cellphone to the people responsible for those cool new Altoids. We ask questions about what it means to look great for women of different body types and of different ages. And we recognize that the fashion and beauty industries can empower women. In Afghanistan, for example, we're working with an organization called PARSA that trains beauticians. In addition to learning how to style hair and do manicures, women in the program, many of whom lost their husbands in the wars that ravaged the country for decades, will be learning how to run businesses and support their families.

Now I'm not suggesting that you board the next plane to Kabul or Baghdad, armed with a box of lipstick and ideas about how henna can change your life. The point I'm trying to make is that the revolution in consciousness about style that has taken place in the last few years--and which many of you will quite naturally take for granted--is very good news for you. It means that, although there may not be a hiring frenzy out there at this moment, there have, historically speaking, never been more opportunities for those who are determined and creative. If you do not succeed in landing the plum fashion design job that you've long dreamed of, with resourcefulness and self-belief and above all flexibility, you will succeed in the end.

Let me give you some examples. At Style.com, our fashion director is Candy Pratts Price, who some of you may know from her fabulous cameo in Unzipped. After attending FIT, Candy was hired as an assistant at a portrait studio, then worked as a model at Bergdorf Goodman, then became a display director doing windows at Charles Jourdan, then took over windows for Bloomingdales with a team of 105 under her. She's been a set designer for movies, gave Patricia Field her start as a wardrobe stylist, worked as the fashion director for Harper's Bazaar, and then I hired her to head up accessories at Vogue. She left Vogue to become a designer for Ralph Lauren, and now she's with us again at Style.com. Candy's career illustrates that that if you've got style, you can apply it in all sorts of ways. Candy's vision has never wavered; all that has changed is how she directs it.

Rebecca Moses--FIT class of '77--is another case in point. She started as a coats designer for Pierre Cardin; left to start her own brand, a life-style oriented cashmere line, which turned out to be a rollercoaster of commercial highs and lows; then fell in love, got married and moved to Italy, where she designed Genny, a label that was, by her own admission, completely different from her own aesthetic. Now she's the creative director of Pineider, a wonderful old and revered Italian stationery house, where she's very happy making wonderful wicker furniture and incredibly chic desk accessories. Moses told me, quote, "You can never be too broad in your search for challenges. Whether you do clothes or shoes or silverware, it’s all about channeling your creativity.”

By contrast, Michael Kors-another FIT star-always wanted to be a fashion designer and nothing else. When I was at New York magazine in the early Eighties, he would arrive fresh from the subway with garment bags of his designs. He struggled and struggled and struggled - and then he made it. Again, his style never changed; it just took a while for the rest of us to understand his idea of luxury.

Michael, by the way, was instrumental in launching the career of Lazaro Hernandez, one half of the brilliant new label Proenza Schouler. Lazaro was an intern for Michael, and his partner in Proenza, Jack McCollough, was an intern for Marc Jacobs. These young men are part of the next wave of New York fashion, and what I find so smart about them is their focus and their modesty. They don't stage expensive shows or try to do everything, all at once, on a newcomer's budget. Instead, they concentrate their energies on designing wonderful pieces that are becoming instantly recognizable as Proenza Schouler. This is the way to start: with clarity and purpose and flair.

When I was thinking about what to say to you, I decided to tap the brain of the number 1 FIT graduate I knew. I said to him, What should I say to these students that might actually be of use to them? He said, The most important thing is to have a vision.. It doesn't matter what you're doing, just so long as you have a point of view that's entirely your own. Calvin, I couldn't agree more. Congratulations, class of 2003.
The devil knows her Prada.

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Miss Couturable

Monday, May 25, 2009

Save the best for last

I realize that I didn't post what I actually wore to senior prom this year (other than the dress). The photo of me in the previous post just reminded me.

The only jewelry I wore was a pair of Swarovski crystal drop earrings because the Vera Wang gown had a giant brooch on the shoulder sash. I paired it with a leather faux-crocodile clutch because I didn't want a bag that was as shiny as my dress. I wore four-inch stilettos, making me 5'5" for the night (until I took off my shoes for attempted dancing).
Oh, and indeed, I did get my hair done -- I wanted a giant pouf with loose curls à la Anne Hathaway or Mary-Kate Olsen at the Met Ball. Now, Connie of EverybodyIsUgly prefers to keep her hair casual for formal events (a tip I generally follow because I'm terrible with hair), but I do believe there is a way to get your hair done for prom without, well, having "prom hair". It's simple: Bring in a photo of exactly what you want your hair to look like, ask (and keep repeating) for loose curls instead of springy debutante curls, and stay away from the glitter.
Indeed, my long dress gave me difficulties in getting into the car, which my daddy has on record through photos such as these.

What did you wear to prom? Did you have any wardrobe malfunctions?

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Miss Couturable

Hello to the rest of my life

I rushed myself through high school. I wrote research papers overnight, dashed home at midnight after parties and dances to study until dawn, and memorized vocabulary words during water breaks at cheerleading practice. I wanted there to be 48 hours in a day so that I could do everything and be with everyone but I rarely took time to, well, smell the roses -- which may be why a friend of mine created a perfumed tissue paper flower bouquet for me.I graduated high school yesterday, and my last week of high school was just rushed as any other week in high school. I went to my last prom (I'm in the middle, in case you couldn't tell by my dress) where I managed to not trip, even though dancing was functionally difficult.
I spent two days with my senior class in Laguna Beach, where we scraped our knees on the beach and got sunburned and strolled around town. We watched "How I Met Your Mother" on the bus ride home and I admitted to laughing at the shallow guy jokes.

So I came back home. I participated in and rejoiced in the senior prank. I attended Baccalaureate, where one of my dearest guy friends, the Harvard-bound salutatorian, gave his speech.
And then I graduated -- but not until after an excruciating graduation rehearsal, where I learned to stand up one beat after the word "recess" and to smile pretty for the camera. All under the scorching sun in the mountain winery.
(Photo Credit -- Laura Yau)
But yes, I did graduate from high school (with the release of doves and a shiny diploma!) -- and as excited as I am to begin the rest of my life, choosing to attend The Harker School was the best decision I had ever made in the short eighteen years of my life (this is for all the prospective parents who are googling the school). I am going to miss Socratic method discussions, the carving station at lunch, idling away my free period with my friends, the convenience of the Harker Homework Management System, ego-boosting and ego-deflating Monday school meetings, football games filled to the stands with parents instead of students, using laptops in practically every class, getting away with dress code violations, and everything that made my high school experience both atypical and typical.

I'm not going to miss getting in trouble for dress code violations, Mathematica, strict dance rules, and always having too much good food at lunch that test my will power.

Oh, and I don't know who are more inspiring -- the students or the teachers. Thank you to both the students and the teachers for teaching me that education is one of the greatest gifts and privileges we could ever attain. And you know, the riveting personal stories and ice cream sandwiches in class are pretty sweet too.

At Laguna Beach, a fellow classmate said, "My dad told me that your childhood friends are your truest friends. They're the friends you make before money, status, or jobs matter."

College is going to be fun, but I loved high school. You make friends during your awkward stages and you graduate together (hopefully) less awkwardly. You fight with your family but you'd just as well fight for them.

And for me, well, I graduated with a clear idea of who I am -- something I didn't have when I graduated from middle school four years ago. This isn't a goodbye.

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Miss Couturable

Thursday, May 14, 2009

But everyone loves the French

One of my favorite aspects of getting ready for prom is getting a manicure. I'm terrible at painting my own nails and I love the massages that come with the manicure application -- so I'm excited about venturing to my manicurist today after lunch. Appropriately, I stumbled upon a post by The Daily Obsession about French manicures.

It reads:
Editors and other fashion and beauty insiders are known for their love of anything French. Even if they don’t love it- they say they do. But when it comes to manicures, there seems to be nothing as taboo in this industry as a French manicure. I don’t even know why- I just know that I dare not sport those white tips at press events. If you have to, they say, then get an American manicure at best.
Anyway, call me tacky and a little too obsessed with all things shiny, but I love a natural polished American manicure with a single rhinestone on the nail -- but I actually don't think French manicures are bad when they're real nails and not acrylics. This is coming from a girl who rarely applies more than a coat of clear polish on and only owns three bottles of nail polish though.

What do you think?

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Miss Couturable

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sartorially ready for graduation

Quite honestly, schoolwork was very minimal today. I watched Othello in English class, finished up some work in yearbook, went to a Japanese curry house for lunch with friends, rushed to graphic arts class and found out it was canceled, and watched a pet lizard eat crickets in psychology class.

Luckily, I was somewhat productive -- I reviewed for my AP English Literature & Composition exam and I bought my graduation dress. A graduation dress, to be worn under the black robe until the onslaught of photo opportunities after the ceremony, needs to be both light and dressy. Because my graduation ceremony is at a mountain winery, the sun will have no mercy on us. At the same time, the family luncheon afterward dictates something grandparent-appropriate (no ripped leggings and excessive cleavage!). And of course, a girl wants to welcome the new era of her life after graduation in a smart outfit.
So, while browsing Gilt Groupe today, I found this Marc by Marc Jacobs dress -- and bought it for only $80 ($257.00 on Bluefly), when I once saw it in Nordstrom for over $400.

I don't know if I'm emotionally and mentally ready for high school graduation just yet, but I'm about there sartorially.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. Only 20 days left until entries close for the Airhead giveaway! Send me your best six word stories, please.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Miss Couturable's first giveaway!

One of the first blogs I began reading on a regular basis was Meg Cabot's -- yes, the author of The Princess Diaries series and All-American Girl series. This was before I began indulging in guilty chick lit pleasures, by the way. I remember the same year that I discovered The Princess Diaries, I tried to read Lord of the Rings, but I just couldn't appreciate the somewhat more classic piece of literature.

Anyway, what I've always found interesting about Meg Cabot is her ability to relate to teenage girls even when writing far-fetched tales about princesses.

To share my not-that-embarrassing Meg Cabot love, I'm hosting Miss Couturable's first giveaway! Not only will you be able to enjoy Meg Cabot's newest book, Airhead -- which, I've discovered that even though the book titles are rather fluffy, the story is always entertaining and well-written -- but you may also get a chance to splurge on LeSportsac. I'm infatuated with the Stella McCartney for LeSportsac Deer Rucksack, in case you're looking for suggestions.

What is Airhead about?
Emerson Watts isn't your average sixteen-year-old girl. She loves playing video games with her best friend, Christopher, and has made peace with her less-than-supermodel-esque looks. But when she's involved in a bizarre accident, she wakes up to find she's now in the body of a supermodel. Who's behind it? What's the motive? And how can she get Christopher to realize she's still the same person inside? From #1 New York Times bestselling author MEG CABOT comes Airhead, now available in paperback! And look for book 2 in the series, Being Nikki, in hardcover in stores now! Click here for the book trailer.
Prizes:
Grand Prize (1): $50 LeSportsac Gift Card, Airhead T-Shirt, Airhead paperback book
First Prize (5): Airhead paperback book

Okay, so what do I have to do to enter?
Leave your name, age, and email under comments -- oh, and write a six word story like Hemingway ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn."). Check this out for more inspiration.

Entries open until May 26th. Results will be out May 30th! Good luck, and read more (chick lit or not, it's always a good idea to fuel your brain)!

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Miss Couturable