Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shop my wardrobe and save the world

I am somewhat of a pack rat and a hoarder, so throughout the years, I have accumulated more clothes than I can fit into my pocket-sized dorm room closet.

Luckily, I-ELLA, an invitation-only marketplace where you can sell your wardrobe and shop from other wardrobes (including celebrity wardrobes such as that of Selita Ebanks!), is hosting its College Week, in which you can shop from the wardrobes of your fellow stylish college students. The best part about I-ELLA is that a portion of the proceeds go to non-profit organizations.

They asked me to participate, and so I am selling a few select pieces from my wardrobe, from a pair of Nanette Lepore booties to a classic Lacoste polo to a never-worn-before pair of J.Crew sandals -- all at tiny fractions of the original retail price.

So, if you're a dress size 0 and a shoe size 36 or 36.5 (or you have a friend who is), shop my closet here (they also did a brief interview with me here). To join, you can use referral code COLUMBIA.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Friday, January 28, 2011

Uniformity, not conformity

I attended the press preview of the Gilt Groupe Warehouse Sale tonight, and in between eating e.e. cookies and convincing myself not to purchase a pair of Rick Owens shoes in my size (college campuses are not the most fashion-friendly places -- not even Columbia), I picked up this Shipley & Halmos blazer with a fantastic sheer paneling on the side and in the back. Originally $545, it was now $125.

My friend picked up a giant faux fur coat (only $75) -- and as we stood in the dressing room with our pickings, we reminded ourselves that we were technically on self-imposed shopping bans. The two of us, having become close friends on the first day of freshman year because we liked each other's clothes, were really trying to veer away from impulse purchases this year. She, having lost an expensive new pair of Balenciaga sunglasses, and I, already running out of closet space in my dorm, were not in the best shape to be buying new clothes.

Additionally, we were exceptionally predictable in our picks. Amongst our friends, I am known for owning all sorts of tailored and structured blazers and jackets, and she is known for her beloved propensity towards fur -- unfortunately for her, even her faux fur pieces attract sneers from many of our fellow leather-wearing and meat-eating Columbia students (yes, I'm pointing fingers).

We finally decided to purchase the pieces, because we knew these were pieces that we would wear a lot. $125 for a statement blazer isn't so shabby when you wear blazers all the time, and $75 for a fur coat is a good deal when you wore a fur coat to the sale in the first place.

Is it wrong to know what you like and to stick with it? We think not. At the end of the night, we considered ourselves lucky in knowing what works with our style and finding pieces that fit into the formula. I wear my blazers frequently, much more than I wear any cardigans or t-shirts, and she later discovered tonight that her new fur coat was the warmest coat she has ever owned.

Experimentation should be encouraged, but there is a simple joy in realizing what your style is. I would like to think of it as a step toward growing up. Also, it was cute that we understood each other's preferences.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When we all need that pick-me-up

I sometimes wonder what fashion editors were like back in college. For the most part, I like to imagine that they were always stylish, coiffed, articulate, and experts at walking in five-inch heels. In the cases of editors like Teen Vogue fashion news director, Jane Keltner de Valle, I'm quite sure that's not too far from the truth.

Anyway, she attended Barnard College, so I asked her to write a letter to the readers of Hoot, Columbia University's student fashion magazine. It was published in the Fall 2010 issue starring Tinsley Mortimer, which you can read online here. Even if you don't attend Columbia or Barnard, I think you can gain a lot of inspiration by reading this letter:
Dear Hoot reader,

Full disclosure: When I was asked to write this letter, although very flattered, I was a little stumped. I didn't have the “typical” college experience. Never been to a frat party or a football game. My extracurricular of choice was WWD (fashion industry bible) not DDD (popular Greek house of worship).

Part of the reason I chose to attend Barnard is because I'm a strong believer that education extends far beyond just the campus gates. As a native New Yorker, I grew up with the Metropolitan Museum in my backyard. I never learned how to drive because I never wanted to have to forfeit all the merits of a pedestrian culture (street-as-runway being a central one). After touring various schools across America, I came to the conclusion that going to a first-rate college in a second-rate city seemed counterproductive. Within Columbia's gates on 116th Street is a historic academic enclave that appears totally cut-off from the city around it. You can barely even see the high-rises that lie just beyond. But as soon as you exit onto Broadway, all of New York City is at your feet.

I attended my first fashion show spring semester of freshman year. A friend at Parsons had a ticket to Daryl K, and she was too sick to attend so she passed it along to me. (Brief fashion history lesson: in the late ‘90s, Daryl K was pretty much what Alexander Wang is today—the coolest young designer in New York.) The fashion show was held in a huge industrial warehouse on the West Side Highway with rough wood planks for a runway. I can't remember if my friend's ticket was seated or standing, but it didn't matter. As soon as I walked in, I positioned myself right next to the photographers’ pit, and proceeded to photograph each and every look that came down the runway. I still have a photo album with all the images (this was back in the old days when pictures were taken with film, and developed not downloaded).

I started interning at W and Women's Wear Daily at the end of my freshman year. The subway commute from Columbia to the offices on 34th Street was only twenty minutes, but when I exited I was in a totally different universe. Whenever I wasn't in class, I was there. Other interns would arrive in June and leave in August, but because I was there year-round I became a part of the staff. Sophomore year, I remember receiving a call in my apartment on 110th Street asking if I had a passport. They needed someone to deliver a dress to a photo shoot in Poland that night. I wrote my first byline article about a year and a half into the internship. Meanwhile, at Barnard and Columbia, I sought out fashion- and journalism-specific classes to balance out my Victorian literature and art history classes. I took an incredible class on the history of fashion with Valerie Steele, the director of the museum at FIT. And I remember writing a comical piece about a Fendi sample sale for one of my journalism classes.

My college experience wasn't typical, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I also don't think I could have gotten it anywhere but Columbia University. I've been the fashion news director at Teen Vogue for a little over six years now, and it's no coincidence that two of my best interns were Barnard students. One is now the online editor of Teen Vogue, and the other graduates this May. I have no idea what she'll do next, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't keeping my eyes on her!

Best,
Jane Keltner de Valle
Fashion News Director of Teen Vogue
I keep this letter in a box of inspiration (with other knickknacks).

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. That online editor of Teen Vogue is the gorgeous Naomi Nevitt, and she has a pretty sweet Tumblr too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Barter system: votes for bad haiku

Sometime in my insomniac state last night -- between finishing up a philosophy write-up, convincing myself not to buy a pair of Proenza Schouler boots (verdict: still debating with myself), ranting about my frivolous pet peeve, and finally dozing off to bed at 6:30am (and then waking up at 7:30am for class), I decided to enter Refinery29’s and COVERGIRL’s Hunt For The Next Big Style Blogger. The winner gets a trip to New York City (although, I guess I'm already here -- lucky me), a $1,000 cash prize, and most importantly (and the reason why I entered), a guest blogger gig at Refinery29.

Basically, I read Refinery29 obsessively (I even bought my Oberon Design iPad cover because one of their articles) and I've also been a huge fan girl of the infinitely cool editor Connie Wang, from back in her Pretty Legit days (You mean she was once an awkward Asian college student who spent too much time on the internet too?!).

So, if you have five seconds and a Facebook account, I would be so grateful if you would vote for me once here. As of right now, I'm one of the more recent entries, and I'm Noel from New York. The most popular blogger has 240 votes so far (and I have two, ha) -- but hey, it's worth a shot. I get more than 240 views a day, at least.

In return, I will write you a bad haiku (if you request one -- and you tell me about yourself. Otherwise it would have to be a bad random haiku.). Merci beaucoup!

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. I'm slightly better at writing about style than I am at writing haikus. Vote for me and we can keep it that way.

Monsieur Vuitton never designed clothes

Yesterday, someone asked me what my pet peeve is. I thought about how I don't like peeing in public bathrooms or how I don't like when people reply to emails without reading them thoroughly, but in actuality, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people say Louis Vuitton is their favorite fashion designer.

It's not that I don't love the fashion house, Louis Vuitton -- I can even appreciate the revolutionary nature of the ubiquitous monogram canvas. I can appreciate the business genius and prowess of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. I can appreciate Marc Jacobs.

I just can't stand when people don't realize that Louis Vuitton is not a fashion designer -- but a fashion house. In fact, the real Monsieur Vuitton designed flat-bottom trunks with trianon canvas, and I'm pretty sure most people aren't talking about him.

But I could be mistaken. Maybe these people are talking about the luggage designer from the 1800s. I can also appreciate a good suitcase.

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Miss Couturable

Saturday, January 22, 2011

An Education in sartorial transformation

I'm obsessed with the British film, An Education, and starring the ever-so-coquettishly-ethereal Carey Mulligan playing smart schoolgirl Jenny -- she's playing Daisy Buchanan in the 2012 adaptation of The Great Gatsby, by the way. One of the best lines in the book, uttered by Daisy, is "All right... I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool -- that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool." Good stuff, Fitzgerald.
Anyway, a couple of my high school friends found An Education to be atrociously boring, but I beg to differ, as not only do I have a penchant for coming-of-age films and novels (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn comes to mind), but also I really enjoyed the contrasts between Oxford-bound schoolgirl preppy and worldly belle du jour, as evidenced in Jenny's costume. Set in 1961 England, it plays upon the excitement and confusion of growing up in a modern society that threatens to be torn down by nuclear bombs every day. It's about romantic love and disillusionment and falling in love with the world again. And realizing that your dowdy-looking Cambridge-graduated high school teacher might be right about some things after all.
The costume is designed by Odile Dicks-Mireaux, who worked with the director, Lone Scherfig, to brilliantly weave together the concept that clothes provide transformation of identity. While the expensively-dressed Helen, played by Rosamund Pike, looks sophisticated and worldly, she fails to exhibit Jenny's self-introspection and education. For example, when Jenny first meets her at a concert, Jenny begins speaking in French, assuming Helen would understand her. Additionally, the camera shows Jenny blissfully appreciating the music while Helen stares dumbfounded at the stage.
But still, much attention should also be given to Jenny's schoolgirl dress, for even if you don't care much for the A-line skirts, who can deny the whimsical yet serious pleasure of a leather satchel bag?
I own one myself, in red, made by the Cambridge Satchel Company in Cambridge, England. Individualistic as I think I am, I got my initials monogrammed on it in gold emboss. It is technically called a batchel (briefcase and satchel combined) because of its top handle, but you can also buy the traditional satchel without the handle.
The batchel is superb for heavy school books and it'll make you feel smart -- even if your mind is flitting off to a world of dazzling balls, scandalous French music, and memoir-worthy escapades.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Guess who's back?

(Photo Credit -- Sharon Wu)
Six months later, I am making a spontaneous return to misscouturable.com -- while maintaining my personal blog at noelduan.com. I didn't even think of returning back here until this morning, when I found myself accumulating emails from readers like you, telling me how much the Miss Couturable archives have meant to you.

I don't deserve to be the one who changes your life. I'm a 20-year-old college student who is busy trying to figure out her own life, after all. I really didn't -- and still don't -- have much time to offer you as much as I'd like to on this blog. Most certainly, I'll be at fashion week, but I don't have enough time between shows and classes and work and The Good Things in Life to post my own thoughts on each show I attend.

I stopped posting here because it didn't seem fair to you. I didn't have time to provide constant fashion week coverage or even a daily post. I didn't think I had much to offer anymore.

But, for some reason, some of you found usage in the archives. And whether you were reading to procrastinate or you wanted college application tips, I'm glad my blogging was not in vain.

I miss this blog, and I'm returning back to this blog because I finally realized what I can offer you: A glimpse of life (and fashion) through my eyes. It's not that different from the life of any other college student who has a penchant for Marni jewelry (and frankly, I know quite a few), but maybe some of you would like to share your stories with me as I share mine with you -- as many of you have already done through email with me. We may not always agree with each other, but we will always have something to say.

So, bonjour, hello, and 你好.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. The above photo is from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week back in September. I'm on the far right, sitting with two of my genius and stylish friends from college (and a third who is taking the photo). We sat across the runway from Robbie Myers, the editor in chief of ELLE. Just goes to show that fashion (and life) is more fun when you're with people you love, and you never know who is facing you -- so remember to dress well and smile.