Saturday, July 17, 2010

Good-bye misscouturable.com, hello noelduan.com

It was last October when I accidentally renewed the domain, misscouturable.com, for two more years. "Well, I guess I'll be obligated to blog until then," I said to myself.

But that's not right. Personal blogs shouldn't feel like obligations, which is why I am discontinuing misscouturable.com.

I started this blog in high school as a diversion to make summer listlessness a little more bearable. I didn't think I could meet so many amazing people through blogging. I didn't think I would get thick skin through comments. I didn't think Miss Couturable would become, essentially, a part of my identity.

And frankly, it will always be a part of me. My friends will probably always make fun of me for ending every post with "ex.oh.ex.oh," after all. I will never delete this blog, for it is a reflection of years of immaturity, burgeoning maturity (well, hopefully), creativity, frustration, inspiration, and wonder.

I am now blogging at noelduan.com, which is still under construction. Why? Because as much as this blog is a part of me, I have grown beyond my voice as Miss Couturable.

I'm getting teary-eyed as I write this, because I have had some amazing experiences through this blog. You, my readers, have shopped with me in New York City, eaten North Korean food with me in Beijing, and attended my 18th birthday party in San Jose. The power of the internet is frightening, but beautiful at the same time. Yet, in spite of these amazing experience, I began writing on misscouturable.com less and less -- but I never stopped writing. I wrote for publications, I blogged for other websites, I wrote in my private journal, I wrote letters to loved ones, and I sent plenty of emails. And admittedly, I really missed you all -- but I didn't have the time or energy to continue anymore.

After all, Miss Couturable is just one layer of me. I'd rather share all sides of me with you.

With noelduan.com, I will be writing for myself -- but hopefully, with some value to readers. There will still be fashion posts, but there will be other posts, which you may or may not want to read. Feel free to email me if you ever need anything or just want to talk. Merci beaucoup, everyone!

And, for the last time:

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Monday, July 12, 2010

Not really in North Korea

I spent the past six weeks in China, where Blogger, Foursquare, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google Documents are blocked. Nonetheless, while my social media life was waning, I was busy experiencing real life in one of the most diverse countries in the world. Jokes about how "all Chinese people look the same" aside, China is a country made up of many mingzu ("tribes" or clans) and foreigners. I visited Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai during my six weeks there. A trip to Tibet was planned, but alas, sickness stopped us in the tracks.

The four weeks I spent in Beijing were filled with new experiences -- especially in the culinary area. One of my readers and a new friend, Viii, brought me to a North Korean restaurant owned by the North Korean embassy. All of the waitresses and hostesses were the prettiest, most-educated girls from North Korean, who were sent down to Beijing to work as waitresses and "ambassadors" of North Korean -- and the rumors say, as spies too. The restaurant was eerily reminiscent of a Chinese restaurant from the 1980s, from the ornate chandeliers to the giant wall paintings. A small television, playing clips from a North Korean musical performance, aired in the background.

As you may know, North Korea is one of the most isolated -- and poorest -- countries in the world. While they call themselves a socialist state, a totalitarian regime is more appropriate. Every single one of the waitresses and hostesses wore a pin with a photo of their "Dear Leader," who they call their "father."

Not only did they speak Korean, Chinese, and English, but also they played musical instruments and sang traditional Korean songs. I have uploaded a video I hastily took with my half-broken camera, in case you are curious.

As an American, it is very unlikely that I will have a chance to visit North Korea -- but hey, I ate their food, talked to their people, and visited their pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. I am closer than I was two months ago.

Before this trip, I had the conception that North Koreans would be like characters straight out of 1984 -- I had never met a North Korean, but I had seen videos of their rhythmic gymnasts and traffic patrol officers. After eating dinner with Viii, and watching these girls laugh and giggle and wrinkle their brows like any other recent college graduate, I realized that I -- and most of us -- will never truly understand the lives of the North Koreans -- but I can understand them as fellow human beings.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. For more information about North Korea, searching "North Korea" on YouTube is a great way to start. Also, check out Noko Jeans -- designer jeans made in North Korea.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Woohoo(t)

Ever since I was a high school student, I had been a fervent admirer of BARE, UC Berkeley's award-winning student fashion magazine. Putting together any magazine, after all, is no easy feat -- from attaining the funding to scheduling photoshoots, students have a lot of hurdles to jump. On top of a full course load and the bittersweet nuances of the adolescent years, BARE is a time-consuming but worthwhile activity for the students who dream of following the legacy of their fellow Cal brethren, from Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony to the Rodarte sisters.

Once upon a time, Columbia University had a student fashion publication too. It was called MODE, and Marc Jacobs was once on the cover. It died more than 10 years ago, but this year, I met a group of students who wanted to resurrect the presence of a fashion publication on campus.

Hoot faced a lot of set backs this year. We applied to every single grant foundation on campus -- only to be rejected but all but one. One group even rejected us because we looked "too organized and proactive to be in need of funding." CUarts took a chance on us. Most companies would not trust us with their samples for photoshoots (really, a bunch of college students asking to borrow clothes?). Many beauty companies sent us samples to help us prep for our photoshoots. Makeup Artist Jennifer Nam gave us a free photography makeup lesson.

Most of our staff had never written an article before. I was lending out my digital voice recorder left and right. Those of us who had never interned at a magazine before did not know how to request samples. Some of our design team staff had never used Adobe Photoshop or Adobe InDesign before. Many of our bloggers had never written a blog entry before.

We had a lot to learn, and we're still learning.



Not only have we launched the issue in digital form, but also we have scrounged enough money to be in print.
We've launched a new website and blog, and we're determined to keep growing and learning as members of the Columbia University community!

In any case, Hoot hopes to prove that within our student population, students can be substantial and smart, and still find pleasure in the frivolous.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Remember Now" by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel

As final examinations come to an end for most of you (I finished yesterday), Karl Lagerfeld's new short film, "Remember Now," should be the perfect launch into summer.









May you have a few early-morning dance parties, sparkly knits, and good laughs of your own.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his. - Oscar Wilde
My mother is not a glamazon with a walk-in closet full of Manolo Blahnik pumps and Givenchy gowns. My mother taught me nothing about wearing make-up beyond washing my face every morning and night. My mother has never shared stories about her first kiss with me. My mother is not a size 2. My mother does not speak perfect English. My mother does not have a wedding ring.

My mother was valedictorian of her graduating class in college. My mother gave up her dreams of becoming an artist for a career that could put bread on the table for her children. My mother works six days a week. My mother has two Master's degrees. My mother still wants to travel the world.

She once told me that she still regrets dragging me with her to her college classes and laboratory sessions, where I often sat in the corner, with a book or two. I don't think she realizes that without waking up at 7am every morning with her for a full day of classes at age four, I would not have understood the importance of education as much as I do now. I read my first book, See Spot Run, in the laboratory, as she spliced genes.

I learned how to record lectures on tape as I sat with her in the dark auditorium.
I learned how much perseverance paid off, as she replayed her lecture tapes over and over again because she couldn't understand the professor's rapid English. I learned how to put up with tedium as she analyzed the same mice cells over and over again, every day.

My mother never stopped believing in me.

In many ways, we are from two different worlds. She does not understand why I dress the way I do. She doesn't understand the lyrics to the songs I listen to. She has only been to New York City once.

But, if what Wilde says is true, I am looking forward to turning out like my mother, for my mother has an undying passion and love that never runs out, even when her back aches from a day of treating her patients. Thank you for everything, Mumsies -- I cannot wait to be home in four days.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I never left high school

A couple weeks ago, after a Sunday brunch with high school friends at Riingo in Midtown East, I wandered into the mass pandemonium that was Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue. I really should have headed uptown to start studying for my final exams, but instead I was surrounded by fresh-faced 16-year-old girls and their high-heeled mothers, sipping sparkling water and pink lemonade. I met up with Chelsea of Pink Rock Candy and Arabelle of Fashion Pirates -- ironically, Arabelle is the only one of us who is in high school. Ah, well, it's swell to be young at heart, no?

Lord & Taylor was launching "Prom-a-Palooza" -- consisting of a makeshift fashion show, 25% off prom dresses with free basic alterations, and three exclusive dresses designed by Parsons alumni: Hannah Haien Lee, Nicki Cozzolino, and Samantha Sleeper.This was my favorite dress, designed by Hannah Haien Lee and retailing for a reasonable price of $300. Paired with Betsey Johnson lace ankle boots, it offered a sugary sweet confection of a dress. I would have added a pair of motorcycle gloves and a simple string of pearls to complete the look.
Samantha Sleeper designed this nontraditional dress. While the outrageous skirt can easily be glammed up for prom, it could be suitable for future nights out with a tailored blazer and a nonchalant attitude.
And, of course, for the girl who reluctantly shows up to the dance and intends to leave after 30 minutes -- only to dance the night away against her prior discretion -- Nicki Cozzolino designed this short number. It's a bit short for a school dance, so you better wear tights or leggings with that.

In between mouthfuls of miniature cupcakes, I started thinking about my high school proms, and how I rarely have an opportunity to wear frothy, frilly dresses anymore. While I may have left these days behind for the collegiate world of dangerous minidresses for clubbing and "themed" clothing like "anything but clothes"for frat parties, I could not help but feel slightly nostalgic for the days of yonder, when I shopped (and fought) with my mother for an age appropriate dress.

For those of you in high school who are going to prom this year, I offer you three pieces of advice, as someone who went to junior/senior prom every year of high school and had wardrobe misshapes almost every year (I guess I don't learn my lessons very well):
  1. Get alterations done. If the dress is a bit too loose on top or it drags too far past your feet, please seek a tailor. You've spent so much time shopping for the perfect outfit -- don't let it go to waste. A night of dancing can easily be ruined if you're too busy pulling up your dress or tripping over your date's feet.
  2. Eat before the dance. Yes, you're probably thinking that you don't want a "food baby" in your awkwardly-posed studio photos, but you need the energy for dancing.
  3. If your dress rips or a button snaps, don't worry -- no one's looking. Frankly, prom is very self-indulgent; after the initial glances at your outfit, no one else is going to care that your strap accidentally broke. Bring an emergency sewing kit in your clutch, get a good friend to stitch you up in the restroom, and forget about it for the rest of the night.
And as always, send me photos! I'd love to see what you wore to prom. Stay safe!

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Monday, April 26, 2010

Being Asian in the fashion industry

(Photo Credit -- Sharon Shum)
That's right. That's me with some of my heroes in fashion, art, publishing, business, and entertainment: Joe Zee (Creative Director of ELLE), Carol Lim (CEO and Co-Founder of Opening Ceremony), Arabelle Sicardi (Blogger for Fashion Pirates), E.J. Samson (Online Editor of Teen Vogue), Humberto Leon (Creative Director and Co-Founder of Opening Ceremony), Ujjwala Raut (former face of YSL cosmetics and first Indian model to walk Victoria's Secret), Tina Chai (freelance stylist and a graduate of Columbia University), Phillip Lim (do I need to explain who he is?), Patrick Li (Creative Director of Li, Inc.), Aya T. Kanai (freelance stylist and former editor of Nylon and Teen Vogue), and SuChin Pak (MTV Correspondent).

All fantastic, articulate people -- and Asian American, to boot. I could barely sleep last night. I shook Phillip Lim's hand, Ujjwala Raut gave me a kiss, SuChin Pak gave me a hug, and I told Joe Zee that I stalk his Twitter obsessively.
In case you didn't know, I organized a panel discussion at Columbia University, "Asian Americans in the Fashion Industry," where some of the top figures in the fashion industry came together and spoke to the public about their experiences (tickets were $5 each and proceeds benefited the Tibetan Village Project to help victims of the Yushu earthquake in China). This was in partnership with Asian Pacific American Awareness Month and Hoot magazine, in which I serve as Arts Chair and Co-Editor in Chief, respectively.
(Photo Credit -- Anna Cooperberg)
The event was moderated by SuChin Pak, who is one of the coolest girls I have ever met. Not only did she rock that cashmere dress, but she has a talent for facilitating conversation. I mean, that's why she's a television personality, right? Needless to say, I now have a huge girl crush on her.
(Photo Credit -- Sharon Shum)
Anyway, the point of the panel discussion was to spread the idea that Asian Americans are succeeding in the fashion industry because they are talented -- not because they fulfill a special niche of "Asian Americans." We opened up the majority of the panel discussion to audience questions, since this is one of the few opportunities for us plebeians to talk to the fashion greats.

To my slight dismay, most of the questions from the audience members were along the lines of, "How do I become like you and can I please have an internship or job?" I sat on the aisles listening to students attempt to impress Joe Zee and Phillip Lim with a long list of Asian designers that they need and analysis of the fashion industry. I was expecting more questions along the lines of, "How has the fashion industry changed for the new crop of Asian American designers?" Maybe just because that's what I'm interested in, but I felt that we weren't able to go in-depth into the topics that we aimed to discuss because of the "How do I become like you and am I impressing you?" comments from the audience members.

However, I can't blame them. This is one of the few opportunities that these students have face-to-face with some of the most influential and successful figures in fashion, and I can understand why students brought their resumes and portfolios and asked "self-masturbatory" (not my words) questions. However, I've decided that in the future, I will be filtering questions beforehand. I would like to give some of the other panelists more time to talk too, instead of audience members repeatedly trying to impress Joe Zee and Phillip Lim.

Additionally, an issue that I wanted to address -- that Arabelle Sicardi already pointed out in her blog -- is that Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto are not Asian American designers. Someone in the audiences asked why there is a dearth of truly groundbreaking Asian designers like Miyake and Yomamoto and why Asian fashion is not thriving (for example, Takashimaya closing down in New York City).

Well, frankly, look at Phillip Lim, Richard Chai, Alexander Wang, Derek Lam, and Jason Wu -- they are well-known designers not because they design Asian fashion, but because they design well. As Phillip Lim said during the discussion, "You can't redesign the t-shirt," and there is nothing wrong with that (although I would say Alexander Wang's t-shirt line is his own take on the basic).

He went on to explain that so many students, coming out of Parsons and Central Saint Martins, think only of concept and forget about context. "Watch the master do his work," he said.

I do feel that a common misconception that people have is that if you're Asian or Hispanic or Black, you're expected to incorporate some of your "culture" into your work. Is that really necessary? We have great designers like Vivienne Tam to embrace the merger of East and West. We have great designers like Rei Kawakubo to push into the avant-garde. And we also have great designers like Phillip Lim who design for their clients. And there is nothing wrong with any of them. They're all achieved success for staying true to themselves.

To be successful, you need to be good at what you do, no matter what your ethnic background is. And if you're Asian, you're not obligated to bust out the dragons and lotus blossoms. Just look at the speakers from last night.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. For more coverage, check out these articles from Columbia Daily Spectator, Style.com, MochiMag.com, and genuine incongruity.

Also, thank you so much to all 300 of you who showed up! Expect more in the future.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Invitation to Asian Americans in the Fashion Industry

I do not usually get this excited over campus fashion events -- and I may be biased because I'm organizing the event. Nevertheless, I have been working day and night for weeks on this event, and I would like to personally invite all of you, in the New York City area, to come.

Panel Discussion: Asian Americans in the Fashion Industry
Hosted by Columbia University's Asian Pacific American Awareness Month and Hoot Magazine

Sunday, April 25th, 2010
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Roone Arledge Cinema
Alfred J. Lerner Hall
Columbia University
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Speakers include:
SuChin Pak, MTV Correspondent (Moderator)
Humberto Leon, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Opening Ceremony
Carol Lim, CEO and Co-Founder of Opening Ceremony
Joe Zee, Creative Director of ELLE & Stylist (newest confirmed panelist!)
Tina Chai, Stylist
Aya T. Kanai, Stylist
Phillip Lim, Fashion Designer
Patrick Li, Creative Director of Li, Inc
Ujjwala Raut, Model
EJ Samson, Online Editor of Teen Vogue
Arabelle Sicardi, Fashion Blogger of Fashion Pirates

Refreshments will be served.

Columbia University's Asian Pacific American Awareness Month and Columbia University's first and only fashion publication, Hoot Magazine (hootmag.org), is hosting a mega-panel discussion with top Asian American figures in the fashion industry in order to promote the education and discussion of fashion and careers in fashion. In accordance to this year's theme, "Deeper," we hope to dive deeper into exploring the different ways in which Asian Americans have made revolutionary contributions.

The limited number of tickets (only $5 each) can be reserved through the TIC box in Lerner Hall or online at https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/8095855. You may also purchase your tickets and pick up your will-call tickets at the door, but please be aware that seating will not be guaranteed last-minute.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Tibetan Village Project to aid in relief for those devastated in the Yushu earthquake in China.

RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends here:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=105120179527908

Please email apaam@hootmag.org for more information or press passes.

Basically, this is going to be a fun event, and you should all attend! And say hello to me if I'm not running frantically all over the building. You do not need to be Asian to come celebrate the achievements of people like Phillip Lim, Joe Zee, and SuChin Pak.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Change of plans

Everyone and their mother (literally) has read the recent article from the New York Times, "Growth of Unpaid Internships May Be Illegal, Officials Say," by Steven Greenhouse. My fellow schoolmates, many of whom are unpaid interns in the fashion industry like me, and I have laughed about how our parents called us after reading the article, demanding that we seek compensation from our employers. The Ivy League student that "spent an unpaid three-month internship at a magazine packaging and shipping 20 or 40 apparel samples a day back to fashion houses that had provided them for photo shoot" was close to home for many of us.

It's funny because, well, none of us would dare ask our employers for compensation. The fashion industry is all about paying your dues, and the internship opportunities are more apprenticeship than internship -- your job is to make your boss' job easier. You definitely learn a lot and you learn to think for others.

"It's not enough to be booksmart. It's even more important to be able to do the smallest menial tasks with full competence," said my mother, when I was helping her sort files last summer.

The truth is, though, it can get expensive being an unpaid intern. When I was interning for Seventeen, the summer before my senior year of high school, I spent over $2,000 on summer housing, not including my budget for food and transportation.

This upcoming summer, I am interning for a fashion magazine in Beijing, China -- unpaid, too. My mother just called me to inform me that plane tickets will cost about $2,000, and that doesn't even include housing, transportation, and food in Beijing, one of the most expensive cities in China today.

"We support you, but this will be the last summer that you're allowed to do anything unpaid," she said.

Understandable. After all, I go to school in New York City and I can do all the unpaid internships that I want during the school year, without any additional financial burden on my parents.

Additionally, I understand how my parents feel -- my friends who are interning in the finance industry are making about $10,000 this summer. They have comparatively much less experience in the finance industry than I do in the fashion industry, but I am unpaid and will most likely always be unpaid as an intern.

The truth is, this system is not fair to students. Many students cannot intern at all because they cannot afford to -- because they're working part-time jobs to pay for college. However, for every intern who is unwilling or unable to work unpaid, there will be ten interns who are willing to. And it continues.

I've learned a lot in my internships, and I wholeheartedly believe in making sacrifices to achieve your dreams -- but my parents end up being the ones making the financial sacrifices. And that's not fair to them.

So, I don't know what I'm going to do about future internships. I am going to continue to intern during the next three school years, but I can't work full time in the summer after this upcoming summer anymore. Is this going to hinder my fashion magazine dreams? Will it appear that I am less dedicated?

Well, I think summers should be used to explore new things. So, this summer I am improving my Chinese, working at a Chinese fashion magazine (unpaid), and exploring China. Next summer? Perhaps I will put my business and analytical skills to work and try to get a consulting internship. Or try my hand at finance. During the school year, I will continue to intern in fashion and try to learn as much as I can.

So, Mum, there you have it. Hope this compromise appeases you. And while I was initially frustrated that this basically shuts me off from all the summer magazine internships in the city, this may just be an excuse for me to explore the world and learn even more things to complete my education.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. What is the best internship you've ever had? And what was the best thing you've ever done for a summer?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Panel Discussion: Voices of American Fashion

(Photo Credit -- guestofaguest.com)
As you may know, I love Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion journalist and Washington Post Style Editor, Robin Givhan.

So it grieves me deeply that I have an important class at the same time that she will be speaking at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (2 East 91st Street) tomorrow (April 1st).

However, you don't have to miss it. She will be speaking on a panel discussion called "Voices of American Fashion" with with past National Design Award Winners Francisco Costa (Women's Creative Director of Calvin Klein Collection), Yeohlee Teng (designer of YEOHLEE), and Maria Cornejo (designer of zero + maria cornejo) about their work and the role of fashion in contemporary culture. Their designs will also be on display from 5:30pm to 6:30pm in Design USA: Contemporary Innovation.

The icing on the cake is that the event is free for students. But even if you're not a textbook-toting fashionista, you can get in for $15 or $10 for seniors/members. Just register here.

Maybe I'll sneak in a glimpse or two on the live webcast here.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A/W 2010: Betsey Johnson & Long Live McQueen

I refrained from writing anything about my feelings toward Alexander McQueen's death because everyone else has said everything that I want to say.

I found out about his death on Twitter, before Anna Wintour even found out, if she really did rush out in the middle of the BCBG Max Azria show. It was the first day of New York Fashion Week. I was waiting in line for the BCBG Max Azria show, curing my boredom by incessantly checking Twitter on my Blackberry. I found out about Brittany Murphy and Daul Kim's death on Twitter too.

I've heard many grownups complain to me about how "kids like me" don't read the newspaper enough and how we seem to think Twitter is a suitable substitute for sharing news. Well, sometimes it is.

I remember calling my friend, Anna, the moment I found out. I remember we grieved incredulously as I sat there in Bryant Park and she hurried to get to her laptop.

I sat there, staring at the sky-high stilettos and tinkering bottles of Diet Coke, wondering how fashion could go on when one of its greatest visionaries had just committed suicide.

But it did.

Sunday night, I was at the Betsey Johnson show, sitting behind my blogging hero, Susie Lau of Style Bubble. Every girl in middle school and high school once wanted a Betsey Johnson dress for prom or graduation. Betsey Johnson is to 14 year olds what Vera Wang is to brides-to-be, after all. I still remember my first Betsey Johnson dress, when I was invited to attend prom by a junior in high school -- frothy pink in various shades, multiple bows, and reluctantly purchased by my dear parents, who took me up to San Francisco to the boutique. It was a dream come true to finally be sitting at the Betsey Johnson show.
(Photo Credit -- Style.com)
I have never seen models have so much fun on the runway. Kelly Osbourne walked down twice, with attitude that I can only hope to achieve someday. The adorable Hyoni Kang gave a sassy little booty dance before she strutted down the runway. Models like Tati Cotliar and Heidi Verster walked down, with long trains held up by sullen male models in striped bodysuits. Empowering and cheeky.

I found myself in the Wild West, where anything goes and Betsey runs the town. Models of every shape and ethnicity walked (or danced) down then hay-covered runway.
(Photo Credit -- Style.com)
And then, when all of the fun seemed to be over, the final pair of models came out as a tribute to the late Alexander McQueen, wax lips and all. The entire room was eerily silent, and yet slowly, applause began to accumulate. I'm sure I wasn't the only one tearing up.
As an ode to Valentine's Day, the models marched out with giant inflatable hearts, which were thrown out to the audience.
Betsey came out in all her glory, hugging and cartwheeling down the runway.

And it was then that I realized -- indeed, fashion has taken a hard hit with McQueen's death. But shows will go on, and we are still allowed to smile. Spread the love, whether it's in the form of a hug or a leopard print Betsey Johnson thong. It might make all the difference to one person.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Monday, February 15, 2010

Failure of imagination

I was so overwhelmed with Fashion Week this past weekend that academics were the last thing on my mind -- not exactly the model Columbia University student, I admit. I reluctantly decided to skip out on the shows today because I passed out in the afternoon and needed to go to class anyway.

I trudged to my psychology class across campus, thinking about the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation show and Alexa Chung for Madewell presentation that I was missing. The throbbing pain in my head prevented me from paying attention fully.

However, at the very end of the lecture, my professor, a brilliant and renowned researcher, talked about extrasensory perception. According to the textbook, "Little or no good evidence supports the intriguing idea that some people have additional sensory systems that allow them to know what other people are thinking, for example, or to predict the future."

He told us about a researcher named Charles Honorton, who performed an experiment in which participants were contained in a sensory deprived environment, preventing influence from the external world. They were asked to guess which cards out of four cards were flipped. While they should have guessed correctly one-fourth of the time, the cards were guessed correctly one-third of the time.

Honorton performed his experiments to the utmost of scientific experimental standards because he was ridiculed and laughed at for his belief that there could be the possibility of extrasensory perception. He fought to publish his paper in a scientific journal -- which was only published after his death. In that same scientific journal, there was a rebuttal from another psychologist, who basically stated that Honorton's findings were false because extrasensory perception was not real. I don't know about you, but neither I nor my professor thinks that the rebuttal is conclusive.

After telling us about this, my professor said, "This rebutting psychologist committed a fallacy that we in academia are so prone to: the failure of imagination. Just because you cannot properly explain something, does not mean that it does not exist. Do not let the limitations of so-called reality prevent you from exploring the world."

And with that, class was over. And I walked away, feeling renewed as a student again.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

A/W 2010: Lela Rose

Lela Rose originally designed bridesmaid dresses, so I expected nothing more than variations of cocktail dresses and other pretty numbers that one could wear to Sunday brunch. I half-expected a cohort of Ladies Who Lunch to sit in the front row, in fact.

However, I was pleased to discover that indeed, while one could easily wear this collection to tea with the grandmother, one could also easily transition to a party at the Boom Boom Room later that day.
(Photo Credit -- Style.com)
I suppose the one deviation from the typical cocktail wear collection that kept me interested was the usage of texture -- there is nothing like tactility to keep a person thinking. I spent half of the show thinking about how adorable Hyoni Kang was, admittedly. I'm turning into her biggest fan this season.

My favorite piece was a particular gold jumpsuit that look fantastically comfortable. I've been in my pajama pants all day (sick, sigh), so I can't help but want a glamorous one-piece suit. Lela Rose's pieces are always wearable and fairly modest -- and yet youthful, which I would imagine to mediate compromise between my mummy and me. She still thinks a bikini is risqué.
(Photo Credit -- Style.com)
Lastly, Lela Rose herself is adorable. I tried to snap a photo of her myself, but it was too blurry. Luckily, Style.com did what I couldn't.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

My early end to Fashion Week

(Photo Credit -- ELLE Germany)
I passed out this morning in the bathroom, prompting me to make the ultimate decision of skipping all shows from the day, from Tracy Reese to Carlos Miele to Alexa Chung for Madewell to Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation. I am not pleased with my choice but I'd rather pass out surrounded by my suitemates than in the middle of Bryant Park.

However, on a brighter note, I made my "street style" debut on ELLE Germany's blog. You can see all of the other pictures here. I am wearing the ubiquitous BCBG Mendel Booties, Betsey Johnson crocheted tights over hot pink metallic stirrup leggings from American Apparel, a purple Nanette Lepore dress that you cannot see, an Alice Ritter coat, a Louis Vuitton bag and a Goyard tote (borrowed from my dear friend Anna Cooperberg Gonzalez of Purse Blog), a string of pearls from Mumsies, a giant cocktail ring from Nugaard, and a Lavinia hair bow from my dear Loulou of Loulou Loves You!

Stay tuned for updates about Betsey Johnson, Tony Cohen, Vassilios Kostetsos, Lorick, Rebecca Taylor, and Lela Rose! With illness and schoolwork closing in around me, I may be attending only one or two more shows this week.

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Miss Couturable

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A/W 2010: Twinkle by Wenlan

I found myself sitting in the second row at Twinkle by Wenlan today, close enough to notice which models had acne. I have a weird fascination with models who stumble and models with acne -- mostly just because knowing that they, too, are human, makes the "perfection" of fashion more approachable.
I noticed that there were some terribly emaciated models, but there was also a certain model with wonderfully muscular legs. We need more models like that. Hyoni Kang was also walking, and I snapped up quite a few photos of her.
(Photo Credit -- Getty Images)
My favorite pieces were the bold jewelry and the crazy matching top and pant set. Normally I don't like matching prints, but in this day and age, when people wear onesies, why not? I enjoyed how the collection wasn't completely black or muted colors -- there were jewel tones, pretty prints, and nudes.

I am also a huge fan of designers who support a diversity of ethnicity in casting their models. Wenlan Chia is Taiwanese herself.

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Miss Couturable

A/W 2010: Andy & Debb

Seokwon Andy Kim and Wonjeong Debbie Yoon, the designers behind Andy & Debb, are a terribly adorable husband-wife duo -- which is fitting, because the collection debuted just in time for Valentine's Day.
Devon Aoki sat in the front row, and because I am an ultimate creeper, I snapped this photo of her. She's adorable and tiny. I wish I had the courage to talk to her (someday, someday!).

Additionally, I sat nearby my former boss and editor at Seventeen. As silly as this sounds, it is such a wonderful feeling to see a familiar face when you are in the tents.
(Photo Credit -- Getty Images)
Everything was very wearable and well-made, but the only pieces that stuck out to me were the intricate furs, made of individual balls. I suppose I was already jaded by the dull tones in every collection I've seen so far -- I wanted bright colors in the winter. There was a certain dusky rose dress in the collection, but I am not a fan of satin dresses in most cases.

One of Andy & Debb's strongest points, however, is the clean-cut tailoring and simple elegance of every piece. While I found each individual piece to be bare, I could imagine building a great outfit from such simple foundations. Too bad my closet is full of over-the-top dresses from high school.
Ah, so this is love.

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Miss Couturable

A/W 2010: Edition Georges Chakra

The first thing I noticed about being at the Edition Georges Chakra show was that I was one of the youngest ones there. I sat there wondering if I was about to watch a show featuring clothing that my dear mother would wear.
(Photo Credit -- Getty Images)
Well, frankly, I doubt my mother would wear these pieces become some of them resemble high school prom dresses. While I enjoyed the tasteful but sensual cutouts on the gowns, I felt like their elegance was thrown up by an excessive usage of sequins (which is saying something, since I love shiny things). I loved the Chantilly lace gloves, which I found out later was vintage Georges Chakra.

However, I was intrigued by the lace caplets. Is this the new poncho? Is it translatable into eveningwear? Only time will tell. I would wear it though.
In the meantime, I will confess to you that my heart beats the fastest at the finale, when all of the models walk around. I almost expect them to wave. But of course not.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. The nicest comment I heard of the day was at Edition Georges Chakra. "I gave the pregnant lady a seat," said one of the PR girls.

A/W 2010: Charlotte Ronson

Charlotte Ronson is the cool girl-next-door. I have to go to her show someday, I told myself. Amazingly, I received an invite this season -- in addition to a cute swag bag of cosmetics and hair products (thanks to the sponsors) at my seat.
Indeed, I am a creeper and I took a photo of Mark Indelicato, who plays Justin Suarez on Ugly Betty (being canceled?!). I am obsessed with the show.
First of all, though, I must ask -- who is this girl? When she came out, everyone was cheering for her and she grinned sheepishly. My friend from Paper, who was sitting next to me, and I, exchanged confused glances. Educate me, mes amis!
There were two things that stuck out to me -- turbans and sheer "pants." I suppose, if I were a gypsy, I would love the collection. Will they sell Charlotte Ronson turbans? Will there be knock-off turbans at American Apparel?

In all seriousness, I hope sheer pants will never catch on. However, I can appreciate the valuing of sheer and lacy materials when it comes to layering (and really, you're going to layer in winter). Charlotte Ronson is known for its ability to appeal to young women, which is evident by the placement of Tinsley Mortimer in the front row. I will opt for the turban instead of the lace pants.

I can now scratch "Attend a Charlotte Ronson show" off of my high school-self dreams list.

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Miss Couturable

A/W 2010: BCBG Max Azria

BCBG Max Azria was an extremely packed show -- but it was high-profile, of course. I spotted my boss from Town & Country sitting in the front row, along with Amy Astley, Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue, and Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue.
However, in spite of its well-known name, I actually think BCBG Max Azria is underrated. My Mendel Booties are some of the sleekest and most comfortable shoes (yes, at six inches) I've ever encountered, after all. In my opinion, BCBG Max Azria is not known for innovation -- it is known for chic wearability. However, one cannot deny the sculptural elements of the Mendel Booties...
That said, I enjoyed the sculptural elements in this particular collection. There were a lot of neutrals, color-blocking, and muted tones, but it wasn't full of winter dreariness at all. In fact, there were sequins galore! And as you all know, I love shiny.

I am going to start wearing tablecloths and curtains. Really.

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Miss Couturable

A/W 2010: Mackage

The first show I attended for Autumn/Winter 2010 New York Fashion Week was Mackage at the Salon at Bryant Park -- on Thursday, February 11thth at 9:00am. Admittedly, I overestimated my ability to shower swiftly and I ended up arriving in the tents at exactly 9:00am. Luckily, fashion shows are always late, and I was considerably early compared to the drifters who arrived later.
You have to admire photographers for their incessant clicking and flashing. While I can sit and admire the clothes, they must find the perfect shot.
Mackage is, essentially, an outerwear company designed by Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan. However, this time, they were also debuting a ready-to-wear collection.
(Photo Credits -- New York Post and Getty Images)
While I lived in California, I dreamed of wearing luxurious wool coats and wrapping myself with cashmere shawls, but I didn't understand how cold I would be until I actually moved to New York City. Since arriving here, I've become extremely interested in outerwear. In California, one wool peacoat was enough. Here on the east coast, I have three coats and I still need more. Mackage seems to serve the quintessential New Yorker, with its muted colors and attention to tailored perfection. I was enamored with a particular gray coat, cinched by a wide black belt.

While ready-to-wear did not blow me away, I could see the sophisticated but urban lady in Mackage, taking off her Mackage furs and revealing her scalloped sleeves and high-waist pencil skirt underneath. I'd suggest leaving the leather shorts and thigh-high boots for an equestrian-worthy day though.

Although, truth be told, Mumsies did just buy me a pair of heeled thigh-high leather boots. Perhaps there will be a little Mackage in my winter wardrobe after all.

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Miss Couturable

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New York Fashion Week commences

'Tis my first snow day ever and I am already excited about the prospect of snowball fights and makeshift sledding down the steps of our regal buildings tonight, but I am also gearing up for a frantic but exhilarating New York Fashion Week. Check back on Miss Couturable every night for updates. Hoot, the fashion magazine at Columbia that I co-founded, will also be covering some shows (I've decided to give some of my invites to my staff members so that they could have a taste of Fashion Week and get some experience writing reviews -- and so that I could attend class without wasting invites).

What's on the agenda for tomorrow? Mackage, BCBG Max Azria, literature class (one must never forget that academics are priority), Ports1961, meeting at the MoMA, office hours with my astronomy professor, MIK CIRE by Eric Kim, and a birthday celebration for my roommate. May I stay upright in the snow at all times.

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Miss Couturable

Forever Seventeen

Two years ago, I had my fifteen minutes of fame in Seventeen, when I was one of the Best-Dressed Girls in America. My parents bought out the entire supply of August 2008 issues at Barnes & Noble, and I came home to California from my summer fashion internship at Seventeen to see my face, framed on the wall. Talk about embarrasing.
Well, nowadays, Seventeen's annual Best-Dressed Girls in American feature has reincarnated into Style Council -- a select group of girls from the tri-state area who blog, give fashion advice in the magazine, and interact with the readers. Coincidentally, one of my good friends at Columbia, Anna, is one of the members of the council. Anna is not only the sweetest southern debutante on this island, but also Accessories Director of Columbia University's fashion magazine, Hoot, and an intern for the Purse Blog. She is also a talented contortionist. Be sure to read her posts on the Seventeen Style Blog from now on!

Also, she lends me her bags and tights. And we're both a size 6 in shoes. 'Tis nice to have kindred petite fashionistas as friends. We're obsessing over the Alexander Wang 'Darla Pyramid Clutch' at the moment.

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Miss Couturable

P.S. Another one of my good friends, Katie from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, is a member of Seventeen's Freshman 15! Be sure to check her out in the magazine too.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sorority madness

After Fashionista posted dress code requirements for Cornell University's Pi Phi sorority recruitment process, I wanted to check out the sorority recruitment process myself. Would I be told that my Uniqlo skinny jeans are inferior to designer jeans (by the way, they are not)? Would I be told that my chandelier earrings must be replaced with pearl studs?

So I did it. I did sorority recruitment this weekend. And I definitely stressed out about what to wear more than I should have.

I was hesitant at first. An hour before the first event, I was sitting on my bed in my pajamas, realizing that I had forgotten to do my laundry. Apparently, I was supposed to wear something "comfortable and cute" -- so I opted for a pair of long black Uniqlo leggings, Marc by Marc Jacobs mouse flats, a hanii y blazer, and a silk tank top. Simple, safe, and sweet.

Too bad almost all of the other 258 girls were in sky-high heels. I regretted this when I was staring up at a particularly tall girl at one of the sorority parties I attended. Too much neck strain and not enough poise.

So for the next round, I found myself wearing six-inch heels. My feet were bleeding by the end of the night.

I was naive. I didn't know you could get cut from the recruitment process. "Keep your phones on!" we were told. No one ever mentioned that you had to keep your phones on just in case you didn't get any invitations from any sororities.

Luckily, I didn't have this problem -- but the next day, I started realizing that the selection process was, well, selective. You could only get invited to up to three sororities in the next round. I got invited to three, but I knew some girls who only got invited to one.

When the invites came out, my stomach churned. "Why does this feel worse than college decisions?" I asked out loud.

"It's because we're judged on our personalities here," replied a girl standing next to me. "And looks," I thought to myself.

"Ugh, you're so popular," said my friend, who just confided in me that she only got invited to one party. Yet, I didn't feel popular. I didn't get invited to my first choice, after all -- a sorority that many of my friends were invited to.

The next morning, I was filled with anxiety -- more anxiety than I wanted to experience from sorority recruitment. In the grand scheme of things, we have other issues to worry about.

I quit that night. For some reason, the sorority recruitment process made me feel bitter and resentful. It made me feel insecure. It made me feel like I couldn't dress the way I wanted to -- and trust me, that's a big issue for me. I had heard that the sorority sisters had stalked us on Facebook and knew more about us than we could see behind those pearly smiles and luscious lashes.

Sororities aren't a bad thing at all. They provide a sense of community and group identity. They're fun. They're full of nice accomplished girls. They're a great college experience to have and I know many of my friends who are in Greek life at their respective schools.

But I wanted to join a sorority because I wanted a family. I didn't realize that, well, I already do. I already do have many families I love. I have my parents in California. I have my biological little sister who I consider to be my best friend. I have my friends from high school who are still friends with me after those awkward and traumatizing years. I have my friends in college who brought me medicine and cough drops during orientation week -- before we even knew each other as well as we do now.

And truth be told, I will always choose fashion week over formal dances.

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Miss Couturable

Friday, January 15, 2010

New header by Sara Rabin

Ladies and gents, Miss Couturable is about 2.5 years old and it's changed quite a bit since I began writing it as a junior in high school. With that, I present to you a new header -- because I'm too tired to revamp the entire layout.
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The current header illustration is drawn and painted by the amazingly talented Sara Rabin of inks. She approached me a year ago to inquire about my experiences as a high school intern for Seventeen, because she herself had procured an internship at Seventeen as a high school student (and if you visit her blog, you can easily see why -- she's brilliant). All I can say is, high school students put me to shame. Merci beaucoup, Sara!

Maybe I'll get around to editing the layout when I have time.

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Miss Couturable

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why you should pursue an internship during the school year

Having a part-time internship and taking a full courseload in college (I'm taking five classes each semester) is doable -- but not without its sacrifices. While many of my friends are romping and frolicking late into the night (er, morning) on Thursdays, I have get to bed by 11:00pm because I have French class in the morning and a fashion internship at Town & Country magazine immediately afterward. I once went to work after pulling an all-nighter, but I had two Red Bulls to "sustain" me. Not a brilliant idea.

"Is it worth it? Not being able to have fun on Thursday nights," asked a friend.

Yes, it is -- and I'll explain why it's a good idea to have a part-time internship with a full courseload in college:
  1. You don't need to party three days a week to have a fulfilling social life. Well, perhaps I enjoy curling up in my bed with a novel a little too much, but for the weekend, I make an effort to go out and have a jolly good time for one night and then study hard the other night. 'Tis better to have one fantastic night that you'll never forget (or remember, if you prefer) than to have two mediocre nights. Besides, I make sure to meet up with friends for meals and study breaks.
  2. You'll learn how to manage your time -- and that looks great to employers. If you're getting good grades on a full courseload and pursuing an internship, it'll show employers that you know how to work efficiently and effectively. You could get good grades if you studied all the time, but balancing work, play, and study is when you show your true abilities.
  3. The connections that you make while you're in school will place you ahead of the competition. Many college students that I know don't want to pursue an internship during the school year because it takes up more time, but you're going to graduate in four years with plenty of references and experience under your belt -- and that's going to save you time when you're looking for a job.
  4. Work experience is especially important when you're pursuing a liberal arts degree. I'm studying Art History and Anthropology, with additional classes in French, film, women's studies, and economics. People always ask me, "What are you doing to do with your degree?" Well, I'm going to know how to think critically with my degree, and I'm going to know how to kick derrière with my work experience. Being culturally intelligent and skilled at work is a deadly weapon.
  5. An internship is an escape from clubs and academia. Let me tell you, I love going to work at a magazine because it is a completely different world from college. And really, I need that to stay sane insane.
  6. It's usually easier to get an internship during the school year than it is to get one during the summer. And with the experience you have during the school year, you can get an internship during the summer. Fewer people are able to and are willing to intern during the school year, so you might as well seize the opportunity.
Hopefully, I've convinced some of you to take a chance and pursue an internship on the side! It's worth it -- trust me.

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Miss Couturable

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Every little bit helps

There have been a few earthquakes in my nook of California, but none have been as devastating as the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti today. The damage is heightened by the fact that the earthquake happened in a country where the average family makes $400 a year. Hospitals have collapsed, shanty houses are destroyed, and according to the news anchor, "People are singing their prayers."

Well, the first thing that crossed my mind when I heard this news was, "I have shoes that cost more than $400." The gross reality hit me like a wet slap across the cheek, and I tried to brush it away.

Yet... It got me thinking. One pair of Dolce & Gabbana wedges can feed two families in Haiti for a year. One Moschino scarf is enough to double the income of a family in Haiti. One Halston dress is enough to build a house in Haiti.
I don't know about you, but I don't even have a closet the size of Jane Aldridge's and I still don't wear all of my shoes.

If we all donated one pair of shoes or one fur coat -- how many lives can we change for the better? How many children can we send to school? How many babies can we vaccinate?

The question boggles me. I wonder why we don't have a worldwide fashionista charitable fund yet, like a consignment store owned by that sweet hippie lady who wears harem pants, but much more global.

Goal for 2010: Miss Couturable's out to find her soul and do something with it.

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Miss Couturable

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Feline shades

I know I've been chirping on about Alexander Wang for the past few days as if he were my long-lost brother (ha! I dream), but I am infatuated with these new sunglasses that he designed for Linda Farrow, to be sold in Opening Ceremony soon enough! Robot cat ears, no?
I used to watch the Jetsons every day as a wee little bird, dreaming of riding in hovercrafts and befriending aliens. I can easily imagine Judy Jetson, with her fantastic snow white hair, in a pair of these shades.

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Miss Couturable

Friday, January 8, 2010

Funds for charity

This year, I didn't come up with New Year's Resolutions -- but there is something that I need to do.

I'm busy in college. I haven't found the time to do the volunteer work that I came to New York City for. I have a stack of applications on my desk that I have not filled out because I know I don't have any extra time in my week.

But I grew up volunteering, from being the youngest reading tutor at my favorite library as a young child to working with the March of Dimes in high school. I miss it. I need it. Everyone needs it. Everyone needs to do something for the sake of others.

So, this is what I am doing for 2010: I am donating 100% of the proceeds I make from Miss Couturable to charity for the entire year.

And why? I'm a college student with an unpaid internship next semester, after all. I no longer have time for a part-time job. I don't touch the money in my savings account because I want to save up for my first apartment after college graduation.

Well, I can live without another designer purse. I can live without more designer shoes. I can live without more clothes. I can live without French macarons for dessert. Everything that I am choosing to "live without" is laughable.

There are plenty of people who are living without much more than me. There is a reason why I tip more generously these days too -- people are working just as hard for much less.

And just so you don't think I'm a saint, my parents give me a monthly allowance that I live comfortably with. I can't buy clothes with it, but I can fund my Metrocard with it. I always pay my credit card bills on time too. I'll live. It might sound outrageous that Miss Couturable is going to stop shopping, but you know you have other blogs for fashion consumption. I love fashion -- but I don't need to consume it.

So, my lovely readers, every month, Miss Couturable funds will go to a different charity. I ask you, what charities should I consider?

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Miss Couturable

P.S. Or one charity for the entire year?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My school has the best cookies

{J. Crew jacket, Calvin Klein cardigan, By Francine silk minidress, Wolford sheer leggings, BCBG wedge ankle boots, silver silk scarf}
I returned to visit my prep school years today, coming back to awkward conversations with former teachers and delicious cookies with hot apple cider. I also learned from my friends at Brown University what Emma Watson is truly like in college. Amusing conversation, I must admit.

"You grew!" everyone exclaimed. No, it's just the shoes. I'm still only 5'1".
I've decided to join the alumni planning committee in organizing events from now on. I fell into it because the new alumni director attended Columbia too, after graduating from boarding school. We're going to be having an alumni gathering in New York City in March, which I will be attending and planning! If anyone knows of any student-friendly restaurant or lounges, please let me know.

In any case, it was wonderful to meet up with old friends and professors and know that I will no longer get detention for violating the dress code.

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Miss Couturable