Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One last time for oh nine

Instead of recapping my entire year, I just want to point out that the most important thing I've learned in 2009 is that I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's. Upon high school graduation, I decided that I could no longer compare myself to my peers. I spent the entire car ride, from the mountain vineyard where I received my diploma to the banquet hall that hosted the luncheon, listening to my parents talk about my illustrious and brilliantly successful classmates. It was the sort of conversation that left you breathless to a whisper because you knew that you had just walked down the stage with some of the brightest -- and quite honestly, most privileged -- 18 year olds in the world.Well, after coming to Columbia University, I met some more illustrious students -- students who didn't share the same area code as me, this time. I remember befriending one of my good friends out of curiosity because he reminded me of Bryanboy (and he's Filipino-Parisian!) -- and befriending Anna Cooperberg Gonzalez, fantastic intern for Purse Blog, who happens to be the sweetest Vera Wang-clad southern debutante (and a fierce contortionist). I still recall the awe in my voice when almost every other student I met was either class valedictorian or a Siemens Competition Semifinalist. I am still amazed at the athletes who get up at 5:00am to work out -- and still make it to class on time, without falling asleep. I fondly remember a recent conversation in the elevator about a girl that my friend was convinced was his soulmate -- she had the women's version of his studded Prada shoes.
Well, these fantastic encounters have made my year. I began this year without a clue about my future. I had just finished my college applications, just as Arabelle of Fashion Pirates is about to accomplish. I was a second semester senior, and I still had to write papers and take exams -- to my frustrated dismay. I was restless. I finally graduated from my prestigious -- and sometimes disorienting -- prep school with an Ivy League acceptance letter. I went from being the strange girl in heels with her nose buried in a copy of Lula magazine at family dinner parties to the Perfect Asian Daughter, thanks to a large white envelope mailed from New York City. Never mind the fact that I never learned to play the piano, I didn't win (or even compete in) any math competitions, and that I didn't take a single science course my senior year of high school. I chose fashion, journalism, cheerleading, and history classes. My parents were criticized by other parents for letting me spend an entire summer in New York City by myself, interning for Seventeen. They looked at my parents with curiosity and pity until the news of my college acceptances spread (and if you didn't know, Asian parents love to gossip).

So, merci beaucoup to Columbia University for giving me a chance. And merci beaucoup to my parents for turning the other cheek when I was pursuing seemingly far fetched dreams across the country and buying clothes from the boys' section at thrift stores off the corner of the road. I know you didn't like it. You still yell at me on the phone, but I've also learned to turn the other cheek.

On top of my suitemate's bed, there is a bumper sticker with J.R.R. Tolkien's quotation, "Not all those wander are lost." Perhaps, as college students, we're all wanderers -- uprooted from the homes we've always known and thrown into a community that forces us to move forward, whether or not we know where we are going. Swim or drown.

Basically, I've had a hard time balancing between blogging and real life this year, and I want to do a better job of it in 2010 now that I'm getting used to college. What do you want to see on Miss Couturable?

Have a terribly delightful new year! As usual, I hope 2010 will be nothing you expected and everything you wanted.

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Miss Couturable

Masquerade ball magic

Gilt Groupe opened up a fantastic sale of twelve masquerade masks created by some of my favorite fashion designers this morning -- with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Art of Elysium, a non-profit organization that works with children battling serious medical conditions. Back in high school, I interned for a fashion designer who was preparing her costume for the Venetian Masquerade Ball. We bought fantastic hats and masks -- all ostentatiously yet beautifully decorated with an assortment of feathers and adornments. Needless to say, I have made it one of my life goals to attend the Ball. When mystery combines with beauty, you get allure -- and that's irresistible.
Costello Tagliapietra
Vena Cava
Rodarte
Tory Burch
J. Mendel
Rachel Roy
Peter Som
Catherine Malandrino
Charles Nolan
Erin Fetherston
Brian Reyes
Behnaz Sarafpour
J'adore Rodarte and Behnaz Sarafpour -- but Erin Fetherston's vixen of a panther is tempting too. And Brian Reyes' simple but expressive mask has a charming doll-like quality, no? Which one is your favorite? Click here to join Gilt Groupe if you're not a member already!

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Miss Couturable

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just try not to spill, please

These four short months in college have taught me a lot about that cheesy cliché known as girl power. I found myself grappling in a community where I was determined to prove myself not only as an individual, but as a woman. There is nothing like navigating your way through a dark brownstone townhouse full of frat boys to make you assertive and more wary of your surroundings. No means no, boys. Supplement that with essays by Edward Said and Judith Butler, and you get a college education.

Honestly, if you spill beer on my Bill Blass jacket, please don't ask me for a second dance. And then spill more beer on it when I say I need to get some fresh air. I know you're tipsy, but I'm the one traipsing around in the platform pumps.

So, all of this "rah-rah girl power" energy combusted when I found these photographs of Jacques Fath dresses by Walde Huth -- yes, a female photographer in the 1950s. She took photographs for top German fashion magazines and various commissions around Europe. In a time when women were still considered to be delicate blossoms, this daring lady was traveling around Europe, calling her own shots.

When I was little, I would don a cape blanket and jump on my bed, pretending I was Superwoman. Perhaps it is time to invest in a pleated organza cape à la Jacques Fath.

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Miss Couturable

Monday, December 28, 2009

Topless thinking

I haven't been following runway fashion closely for the past few months, and admittedly it's because I've been too busy with schoolwork. Style.com is a great tool for procrastination, but I've been frequenting the website less because procrastination is no longer a viable option for me. I don't even use my laptop in class now that I'm in college.

In any case, I feel as if I am missing a time that I was never a part of. Frequent discussions about feminism in my classes have led me to become intrigued with Rudi Gernreich's topless gown of 1970. Indeed, it objectified women -- but it also provided another outlet for gender dynamics to be explored in a time of uncertainty and monumental social change. 'Twas far from a swingin' minidress.

I just want fashion that makes me think again.

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Miss Couturable

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New spring in my step

I adore my recently purchased BCBG Mendel Wedge Booties, but I've discovered that one needs to walk a lot in college. Even though I thought my high school campus was fairly spacious at five acres and classes spread all around, I was able to wear heels without experiencing the sensation of limping into my eighth period class at the end of the day.

However, here in college, I am constantly walking between various campuses for classes, running down the stairs when the elevators are broken, and running around the city for my internship and various errands. And sometimes, when I am about to be late to an appointment or a class, running in heels appears comical and dangerous.My dear beloved Valentino Polka Dot & Crystal Strawberry Ballerina Flats are finally wearing away; the Swarovski crystals are falling off and the straw is splintering. I still treasure these shoes like nothing else, from their slip-on glamour to their handcrafted bling-bling -- because as you know, I like shiny.
So, yesterday, while I was shopping at the Marc by Marc Jacobs store in the West Village, I picked a pair of these whimsical Marc by Marc Jacobs Love Mouse Ballerinas Flats. They're more childish than my beloved Valentinos, but they prove to be a worthy flat alternative for days that I'm running from place to place.

And on the most stressful of days, I can always look down at my feet and smile. It's good to be young. And 5'1".

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Miss Couturable

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A study break well spent

We have plenty of boutiques in the San Francisco bay area, but only in New York City can you walk into a random store and find the designer there to personally greet you.

Dara Adeeyo of Secretista and I wandered into the Cynthia Rowley store in the West Village today, and to our delightful surprise, the absolutely adorable Mademoiselle Rowley herself was there! She was so sweet and talked to all her customers, and had the cutest daughter in the world.

I asked to take a photo with her in what must have been a deprecatingly shameless tone of voice, and she responded, "Are you serious?" Yes, Mademoiselle Rowley! I adore your simple and sweet designs, books, and the boots that are on your feet right now.

Now, I have two French compositions to write, a Greek drama paper to write, and an art history final examination to study for -- but alas, at least I had a good study break.

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Miss Couturable

Thursday, December 10, 2009

One year later

Today, at 5pm EST, Columbia University Early Decisions came out, and a lot of dreams were crushed, revived, or created.

It brought me back to this time last year for me, when I was slaving over my college applications and too scared to talk to my parents, lest I see the disappointment in their eyes. I had gotten rejected from Yale University -- yes, I am not afraid to admit that. I spent the rest of winter break thinking that I could never, ever, get into college. I didn't even know where I wanted to go anymore. When I got into Columbia, I still didn't even know if it was the right choice for me.

Look, my darling 2014ers, I could tell you that Columbia University is the best school in the world and that you'd be a fool to go anywhere else, but anyone can say the same thing about Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Duke, or any of the other "elite" schools.

But, I'll tell you this: Columbia University is the best school for me because I made the conscious decision to come here -- and make the best of it. You can make the best of any school, trust me.

I'm here now, and I'm taking six classes next semester in pursuit of majoring in Art History and a double concentration (our version of a double minor) in Anthropology and Economics -- in addition to pursuing a part-time internship with Town & Country magazine. I have had to make sacrifices here, such as consistent late nights in the library, in order to do the things that I want to do -- and have fun like a normal college student should.

I was scared to come here. Scared because I knew I was going to be pushed. Scared because I knew I was going to push myself. Scared because everyone here has such a spark for learning that I am still trying attain. For example, my co-editor in chief of Hoot, the campus fashion magazine we're founding, is a pre-med Biochemistry major with hopes of becoming a dermatologist.

So, even though I got extraordinarily excited when the fantastic Arabelle of Fashion Pirates asked me for advice before her Columbia interview, I try not to convince people to come to my school. I know these brilliant 2014ers can do well anywhere.

In any case, I hope my fellow 2013ers reading this can look back and smirk a little at how we've changed -- or just became more of ourselves.

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Miss Couturable

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Efficient for all the wrong reasons

This is how great I am at time management (not really): As soon as my writing class finished at 3:55pm, I looked up a list of BCBG Max Azria stores in New York City. I called each one up, asking for a pair of the widely coveted and blogged about Mendel Wedge Booties in size 6.5. I wanted a pair so terribly that I was even willing to go for a pair of size 7's.

You see, it's not often that a pair of shoes transforms you, but these shoes did it for me. They add six inches to my height, which means I can say I'm 5'7" when wearing them. They're extraordinary comfortable for six inches because they're wedges, and they coordinate with almost anything at any time of the year. When I wore these to the dining hall, my friend said, "I think three guys just eye-raped you," which I suppose is both creepy and flattering at the same time.

In what must have been a stroke of fate, the third store I called -- the BCBG Max Azria at Fifth and Fortieth, had the shoes in size 6.5.

"Can you please hold them for an hour for me?" I begged the sales associate on the phone. We finally reached an agreement; they would put the shoes on hold for me, but they'd call me if a customer wanted to buy them before I arrived at the store.

I was already walking to my local subway station by then. By 5:25pm, I had already tried on the shoes, fallen in love thrice over, and was headed back to campus.

I then proceeded to eat dinner with my Hoot co-editor in chief at 6:30pm, lead a Hoot meeting at 7:30pm, and immediately headed to the library afterward to write a research paper, where I am sitting right now, equipped with two sugar-free Redbull drinks.

If only I could write research papers as fast as I shop.

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Miss Couturable

Lazy and loving leggings

It's fairly embarrassing. Maybe I'm just hiding the effects of the freshman fifteen. Maybe I just keep forgetting to do my laundry. Maybe I'm just lazy in the mornings, now that I think my 9am French class is too early (how did I do it in high school?).

In any case, Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl wouldn't approve. "Leggings are not pants!" she exclaimed.

That's okay, Blair. We may share a love of Wolford stockings and we may both be perfectionists, much to the chagrin of our friends, but the similarities end there.

I wear leggings on a frequent basis nowadays. J'aime my Madewell stirrup leggings. J'adore my Wolford sheer leggings. Je chéris my Uniqlo satin leggings. Oui oui, Mademoiselle Waldorf -- I do wear them as pants!

I'm not the only freshman who has resorted to leggings as an outfit staple; I just had a conversation about this with a few of my friends at Columbia. Leggings are sleeker and much more polished looking than sweatpants -- and just as comfortable. I have no problems with slipping on a pair of black stirrup leggings, a cropped jacket, a cashmere sweater, and a pair of black heels -- and going to class or work.

So, answer me: can you wear leggings as pants?

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Miss Couturable