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.

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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.

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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.

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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