I think that New York Fashion Week ended a week ago today. As much as I love clothes, I must admit that I’ve never been big on “fashion”. I’ve often wondered why I feel this way; there always seemed to be a disconnect. While I couldn’t articulate it coherently to anyone who cared to listen to me wax on about style vs. fashion, it all became crystal clear when I read an article written by Robin Givhan in New York Magazine’s fashion edition last week called Why Fashion Keeps Tripping Over Race: The Paint Chip Problem Revisited. I won’t bore you by trying to re-cap the article here, click on the link and read it for yourself. I’d love to know what you think.
That said, I loved clothes as a child! I came from family of stylish ladies and I couldn’t wait to be just like them with their fur coats and beautiful high-heeled matching boots, leather shoe bags (it snows in Michigan so you have to bring your shoes with you) and handbags. But when I looked in fashion magazines, I rarely saw models who looked like us. I wanted to love Seventeen magazine and Young Miss (I know, I’m dating myself, do forgive me!), but there was something missing. Then lo and behold, the black beauty above started appearing in Seventeen magazine spreads. I could relate to her. She even had short hair like many of my friends and I. Because she was the lone black model of my teenage years, I knew who Whitney Houston was long before she became famous for wanting to dance with somebody. Her appearance in Seventeen magazine made fashion seem a little more relevant to me personally. But, then I graduated to Glamour and Marie Claire. And, like Seventeen they’d have one or two models who looked like me in every other fashion spread; slowly but surely the allure of “fashion” waned for me. I just didn’t see myself standing in a studio with my hair wind-blown in some high fashion get-up; therefore, the idea of purchasing the clothes featured or other pieces by the designers featured in the photo shoots wasn’t my ideal.
Now this was all very subliminal. And, as much as I’m writing this article within the context of race, I would have to imagine that this very same truth rings like a clarion bell for short women, plus size women and any woman of any hue who does not fit into the tiny box of Super Model. I couldn’t have articulated any of this as a teenager, but I can now and that’s why I am. Of course I have friends who went in the very opposite direction and bought every expensive designer they, or their credit cards, could afford to prove they were and should be a part of the conversation. Neither is wrong and neither is right. It’s just the world we live in. So, back to my point. I like fashion, hell I write about – and covet – things in the fashion world regularly. However, what I love is style. One can be stylish and not have on a stick of expensive fashion designer duds. So dear readers, enjoy fashion to your hearts’ content, but please be sure to celebrate you and remember to Possess Your STYLE!
Touted as one of the coolest Fall 2010 FW Invites
New York Fashion Week officially kicked off last week on, Thursday, September 9th. My friend Geneva invited me to attend the Vessel by Lois Samuels show with her on Thursday, so I was lucky enough to be a part of the hoopla. What I love about Fashion Week is people watching! Everything about Fashion Week is a production. If you’ve ever watched a Season Finale of Project Runway, you’ve gotten a good glimpse into the maddess behind the scenes. It’s electric! Definitely organized chaos – the models, the celebrities, who gets seated where, the PR girls with lists and walkie talkies, the red ropes and the lines; not to mention the poor designers scurrying around backstage trying to make sure that their shows go off without a hitch.
The Vessel show was at Grand Central Station in Vanderbilt Hall replete with all of the above. In attendance were some true fashion dignitaries - Michaela Angela Davis, Harriette Cole and Beverly Johnson to name a few. So, who is Lois Samuels you ask? She’s a new designer, but she’s not new to the world of high fashion. The Jamaican-born Samuels was a model, photographer and publicist in the fashion industry. Her line is about strict minimalism. Geneva interviewed her for Uptown magazine and gives a great description of Samuels’ style: ”[s]he embraces uniformity with contemporary office looks and vintage women’s industrial work wear, along with farmer’s jumpsuits, long-tailed jackets, and starched white apron dresses.”
Here are some shots (please excuse the quality of the photos, I took them with my blackberry – yes, we were that close!) of The Vessel’s Spring 2011 line. Tell me what you think.
Lois Samuels (center)
[invitation image from Refinery29]
It’s official! The New York Times reports that Lanvin, one of the oldest Parisian fashion houses (and one of the most luxurious), announced that it is going to do a collection for H&M this Fall. Drop date? Write it down ladies, November 23rd. Be there or be square!
Do you remember the movie Pay it Forward? A school kid comes up with the idea of repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. Well, meet 26 year old Caitlyn Boyle, who came up with a great twist on this concept. Caitlyn says, she “began Operation Beautiful by leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms — at work, at the gym, at the grocery store. I scribble down whatever comes to mind — “You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!” My personal goal is to leave as many Operation Beautiful notes as I can. Maybe some people read them and just smile, but I bet some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger.”
The goal of Operation Beautiful is to end negative self-talk and help others experience the power behind an anonymous act such as Operation Beautiful. Caitlyn’s started a movement and recently published a book, Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time, with some of her favorite post-it notes that others have shared with her.
I learned about Caitlyn and Operation Beautiful on The Today Show and was touched by the random acts of kindness she’s set in motion. As I jotted down my Operation Beautiful notes to leave around the city, I recalled that my sister and I used to practice random acts of kindness when we were younger. We used to stand at the corner of our sub-division during the Summer when we were bored and we waved to the cars (driving along the main street) as they drove past. Yes, waved. As in stood there in our little girl outfits, plaits and whatnot, and waved and smiled at cars as they drove by. Some cars would just pass without notice, while others would slow down, the driver would smile and wave back. We were delighted when someone waved back, our mission accomplished – a little random act of kindness. I don’t know when we stopped waving (it was definitely an activity for us); I’m guess more important things like cheer-leading, camp, sports and friends filled our time as we got older. But, leaving my notes around the city today brought back that same warm feeling. Join me in helping Caitlyn spread the love of Operation Beautiful; jot down a note on a post-it or two (come on, they’re right there at your desk!), leave one in the bathroom, subway station or post office, snap a picture of it and email it to her at OperationBeautiful@gmail.com.
Never underestimate the power of kindness.
Someone over at The New York Times must’ve known I’ve been channeling my inner Francophile this week. Ann Morrison’s article on French women in Thursday’s Fashion & Style section - Aging Gracefully, The French Way -beautifully describes their secret to aging stylishly. Aging gracefully is on my agenda, which means I now have another reason to move to France!
The Washington Post reports that Full Figure Fashion Week is here to stay, plus-size women are demanding change and the fashion world is taking note.
If you need some quick advice in the morning as you’re getting dressed, rather than calling your best friend, check out one of the new sites that lets you upload a picture of yourself to receive instant advice as detailed in The New York Times.
Retailers have finally begun to clue-in; plus-size women want to look good too and have the money to spend on beautiful clothes reports The New York Times.
Diane von Furstenberg will be wrapping more than dresses around nimble bodies; she just landed at gig at the venerable Claridge’s hotel to re-do 20 rooms in her hotel of choice while staying in London according to the Wall Street Journal.
New Pucci designs minus the prints; the latest trend on the red carpet as detailed by Christina Binkley in the Wall Street Journal.
Even the rich and famous use consignment shops. In a recent WSJ article, a Kentucky socialite reveals the Chanel suits, Fendi purses and Manolos she consigned (some with pricetags still on them!).
CNN reports that tennis fashion plate Maria Sharapova just signed a $70 million dollar deal with Nike.
They say what goes around comes around; The New York Times reports that a number of retailers are bringing back styles from the Summers of 1910, 1949 and 1957.
In Fashion News This Week . . . is a new post that will appear weekly on Possess Your STYLE to help keep you in the loop on the latest and greatest in the fashion world. Let me know what you think of it – I love to read your comments. And if you read an article that you think others should know about, please be sure to let me know and I’ll add it in my weekly round-up!
- The Cut reports that a Fashion Caucus was created on Capitol Hill to stifle the knock-off industry. They’re working on a copyright protection bill that has the potential to affect stores like Forever21 and H&M. Hmm . . . If it passes, the WSJ reports that hot new young designers who are setting the trends that stores like H&M knock-off will be afforded some measure of protection from “The Problem of With Being a Trendsetter.”
- Takashimaya, the venerable Japanese department store on 5th Avenue, is closing its doors in June. The closeout sale began on May 3rd; diehard devotees began lining up at 6 am. Racked NY
- Kobe Bryant did a fashion shoot for The LA Times, have you seen it? AverageBro had some thoughts on it and so do Kobe’s teammates. Definitely, something to make you go, “Hmmmm ….”
- If my post on Consignment Shops made you re-evaluate your relationship with some of your handbags, check out this WSJ article titled “Where to Go for Help After a Handbag Fling.”