Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Designer Spotlight: Thurley

Not very many clothes evoke such an alluring sense of sophistication and femininity, but Thurley certainly takes the cake. Australian designer Helen O'Connor, who studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, founded the label in 2006. Already, her clothes and the rich, unique fabrics she uses to make them are gaining a solid fan base. I'm in love with nearly every piece from her latest collection, which practically oozes with subtle glamor. Each piece is beautifully detailed and timeless, and possesses such strong attention to detail that your eyes are immediately drawn to it.

Baroque Dress in creamy silk with lace detail
Crochet Embellished Camisole with pleat detailing, side buttons, & an intricate crochet front

Lace Trim Dress in a fiery red color with meticulously detailed crochet panels

Friday, May 23, 2008

Designer Spotlight: Tsumori Chisato

I first stumbled upon the designer Tsumori Chisato while shopping at a boutique in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2004. I was enamored as soon as I spotted one top--a sheer, floaty black blouse with cream trim, a braided neckline, and sash tie at the waist--which will never leave my closet. Born in Japan and a graduate of Tokyo's famous Bunka Fashion College (past students include Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo Takada), Tsumori once worked with Issey Miyake in 1977 before starting her own line. Her clothing is beautiful, quirky, and oftentimes eclectic in her use of embroidery and embellishment.

For her Spring 2008 Ready-to-Wear collection, Tsumori incorporated sea motifs--coral, octopus, shells, even a pretty blue starfish placed strategically on one side of a model's head. The shapes of the brilliantly multicolored clothes coming down the runway were truly unique and so unlike any other designer I've seen. For example, one model worked the Aurora, a gorgeous chiffon bubble dress with stand-up shoulder pleats and oversized sleeves, while another strutted down in a pair of tie-dye pants made to look like a skirt.

Thankfully, several online retailers carry select items from Tsumori Chisato. Two of them, probably the most well stocked I've seen so far, are Shop Zoe and Shop Bird, both offering the latest darling designs from her sea-themed spring collection.

(Credit to Elle.com for photos)

On Sale: Audrina's 3.1 Phillip Lim Dress

One of my favorite outfits from The Hills' Audrina Patridge is this 3.1 Phillip Lim dress she wore to the Cloverfield premiere back in January (appropriately, the color of the dress is called clover). I first spotted it at a Neiman Marcus store in Las Vegas, tried it on, and loved it--just not the price tag ($595.00)! The swingy fit is comfortable, yet the adorable rose appliques and vivid green color are dressy enough for a formal event. Shop Zoe is offering the dress on sale for $416.00 now, if you're interested in snagging Audrina's style!

(Credit to Getty Images)

Spring Picks from Banana Republic

Lat night was Banana Republic's special shopping event for Luxe members. While I've grown bored with their last several collections and rarely shop there now, you can almost always count on Banana for safe and wearable clothes that reflect current trends.

Building on yesterday's Indiana Jones theme, BR's Safari Shirtdress is perfect for adventures in both the city and jungle!

This Sleeveless Ruffle Blouse from Banana's more upscale Monogram collection gives off that Victorian-era vibe with its high neck and ruffles.

The Eyelet Tunic is comfortably cool for summer. Its neckline and slightly puffed sleeves boost the style factor in this romantic blouse.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

White Hot Natalie

Nowadays, Natalie Portman seems to favor frothy, dramatically ruffled dresses, and her recent appearance at amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS 2008 benefit is no exception. In snow white Givenchy, Natalie looked both angelic and edgy at the same time. The asymmetrical neckline shows off her lovely neck and shoulders, while the tiered skirt displays a flirty flash of leg. I love the shredded look of the skirt but the only thing I'd change about Natalie's outfit is her shoes. With such a fun and fearless dress, I wish she had veered away from boring, black heels and tried something crazy. No worries though, because she still looks absolutely fabulous...perhaps even better than the runway model who wore it on Givenchy's Spring 2008 Couture Collection runway!

(Images from Style.Com and Getty Images)

Young, Broke, and Fabulous Striped Dress

This Young, Broke, and Fabulous flirty striped dress with ruffled hem and dropped waist tie instantly reminded me of Japanese fashion. When I lived in Japan, this kind of dress is exactly what so many young Japanese girls would wear and what trendy stores like Cecil McBee carried. Japanese style isn't for everyone, but I always enjoyed seeing the girls pushing the limits of fashion and going totally over the top! I can see a Japanese girl pairing this dress with sky-high heels, leggings, long curly hair, and crazy accessories.

For the States, I'd tone down the effect and keep it simple. I think this super comfortable dress (it's a luxurious blend of cotton and cashmere) would mesh well with skinny jeans (try a stretchy pair by Cheap Monday) and vibrant shoes for an unexpected pop of color (these L.A.M.B. platforms come to mind!). With that kind of ensemble, you'll definitely look young and fabulous--just not necessarily broke!

Inspired by Indiana

I am a huge fan of Indiana Jones, so I was super excited to hear that Harrison Ford would reprise his role as the famed archaeologist. Fashion-wise, I don't see anything not to like about Indiana Jones and his leading ladies. My favorite is definitely Dr. Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Even though she turned out to be a bad guy, her fashion sense was tasteful and impeccable. And obviously, Indy's trademark fedora, brown leather jackets, and safari-inspired vests and shirts are some of the latest trends for spring right now!

In honor of today's release of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, I've found some Indiana-style outfits perfect for trekking to the movie theater (or to some faraway desert).

I absolutely adore this Proenza Schouler Hemp Vest! Made of linen, it's sure to keep you cool and stylin' in the heat of the desert. A detachable belt cinches your waist for a slimming effect. This versatile vest can be worn with anything, but I like it best layered over a simple black dress.

Forever 21's Braided Leather Belt is affordable, stylish, and looks just like the female version of what Indy might wear!

An inexpensive alternative to the Proenza Schouler vest is Forever 21's Safari Trench Jacket. The shoulder epaulets, cargo pockets, and large buttons are all outstanding features for an adventurous fashionista.

Complete the look with this woven Botswana Safari Shirt by Ever. Its loose fit and sheerness will help you survive the heat.

No Indiana Jones look is complete without his signature fedora, undoubtedly the most memorable part of all his outfits! Try this feminine take on the fedora with the Jaxon Crushable Safari II. The thick grosgrain ribbon bow is a sweet touch to this otherwise tough adventurer's hat.

(Credit to IMDB.com and AllMoviePhoto.com for Indiana Jones pictures)

On Sale: The Elizabeth and James Chanteuse Dress

Nothing ever feels as good as when something you've wanted for so long finally goes on sale. I've been eyeing this Elizabeth & James Chanteuse Dress, exclusively at Neiman Marcus, for a while now. The website explains that the intricate frills and ruffles of the dress were inspired by French cabaret singers. I've seen the dress in stores and the bright cerulean blue color is gorgeous, while the frayed-edge tiers down the front are a cool detail.

My only problem with this silk party frock is that it's not for every woman. The heavy shredded ruffles and short bubble hem isn't a flattering look for all body types, possibly making you appear wider or stouter. The dress obviously works well on its own, paired with pretty heels and a clutch, but I also see it with a fitted black blazer (imagine the bold black and blue combo!) and long leggings. Try the Pencey Scuba Snap Favorite Leggings--the snaps add an innovative touch to any tunic or dress!

The Elizabeth & James dress is on sale from $575 to $403.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spotlight On: The High-Waisted Pencil Skirt

It's a well-known fact that every girl should have a high-waisted pencil skirt in her closet. But not all of us can afford one by L'Wren Scott, such as this streamlined beauty that sells for a whopping £785, which translates into...well, knowing the exchange rate nowadays, a lot of US dollars. Sigh. Thankfully, Rebecca Taylor comes to the rescue with a classic knee-length pencil skirt. With sexy seam detail down the front and a buckle, the skirt is designed to give a trendy twist on a classic look. Plus, the camel color matches just about anything!

Abigail Lorick (known as the designer behind Gossip Girl's Eleanor Waldorf Designs) makes a high-waisted feminine skirt in yellow and black. Though this one is probably a challenge to color coordinate, its whimsical pattern and flattering silhouette are too difficult to ignore. And big plus, it's on sale!

I love that the pencil skirt breathes some style into workplace outfits. I usually pair mine with a ruffled shirt, like this cool sleeveless one by Geren Ford, for an ultra-feminine style. How do you wear yours?

Spotlight On: Floppy, Wide-Brimmed Hats

One of the best travel purchases I ever made was a large, floppy black hat bought at the retail shop of the Jim Thompson House & Museum in Thailand. Perfect for blocking my face from the intense sunlight and heat, the hat accompanied me as we traveled through Bangkok, Phuket, Phi Phi Island and Ko Lanta. Not only did I find wearing it convenient while lounging on the beach or strolling through a tourist market, the hat was also a fashionable accesory to my travel outfits! Now that the weather is heating up, I'd highly recommend investing in a large, sun-shading hat.

While mine is very similar to the black Helen Kaminski Kaylee Hat, the Virginia Johnson Floppy Hat, with its cheery yellow-and-white motif, is one colorful alternative. You also can't go wrong with its cousin, a white hat printed with bright blue sailboats. Even Nordstrom makes a beautiful hat with contrasting black grosgrain ribbon that looks right at home at a country club or golf course.

Something about these hats with wide brims is both elegant and adorable. And you can't lose--after all, they offer the most sun protection and hide your mane on those bad hair days!

Society for Rational's Slouchy One-Shoulder Top

Hundreds of different versions of one-shoulder tops exist, but this Society for Rational Dress has captured my heart! I love its slouchy and unstructured silhouette, especially the way it slips casually off the shoulder for a carefree look. Made of gentle 90% micromodal and 10% silk, this thin and slinky top was made for summer.

Pair it with some interesting earrings and a stack of bracelets for a fun bohemian vibe.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shanghai Style

For as long as I can remember, I've admired, loved, and tried to wear outfits inspired by traditional Asian, particularly Chinese, clothing. But for the look to work, the pieces must be modern and versatile enough to wear daily; otherwise, I feel like I run the risk of looking campy or cheap (as in, $5-ugly-cheongsam-from-Chinatown cheap).

That's why you can never go wrong with Shanghai Tang, a Hong Kong-based company which makes elegant, beautiful and quality clothes capturing Chinese glamour, as in the era of fashionable, nostalgic 1930s Shanghai (think Maggie Cheung in In The Mood for Love). I've long been a fan of the brand; unfortunately, you'll find them mostly abroad, in cities like Jakarta, Dubai, Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei, Milan, and so on.

Thankfully, Shanghai Tang has an online store which I've only just discovered! Among their selection is a beautiful beaded cocktail dress with mandarin collar, a cotton hand crochet coat in vibrant orange with frog buttons and a sash, and one of their basics--a cotton wrap tee with a high collar that comes in white, black, red, and fuschia.

Jude Law...with Kimberly Stewart???

I just had to post about this juicy bit of celebrity news. The Sun has a story about Jude Law (one of my former favorite actors) making out with Kimberly Stewart, with the photos to prove it!

I feel a little bad for Jude. He's slipping from the radar, slightly balding (I mention this because of how his golden good looks were so hyped up in the media), and he had so much potential! His looks and his career started to go downhill after his relationship with Sienna Miller ended for good. I guess that's what you get when you cheat on Sienna with your children's nanny!

I always thought he was an impeccable dresser (for a guy), but even that has faltered a bit since his Sienna Miller days. Here's a picture of one of my favorite Jude outfits, a long time ago at the premiere of Cold Mountain.

(Credit to Getty Images and DListed)

My Picks from Net-A-Porter's Online Sale

On top of Lucy Liu's Alexander McQueen creation, Net-A-Porter is offering some truly fabulous dresses in their US online sale extravaganza. Take the Missoni Beaded Silk Organza Dress in a cool mint-green hue, perfect for a spring or summer wedding. The heavy black-and-white bead trim and cut-outs at the hemline are two of the gorgeous, eye-catching details of this sophisticated frock. I'd keep the accessories at a minimum while wearing this one!

I can only imagine how flattering the deep purple (they call it electric blue) Zac Posen Strapless Pouf Dress must be because of its corset bustier and full skirt. With its brilliant color and fun attitude, this is the ideal party dress--flirty, girly, and elegant all at once.

My personal favorite? The Matthew Williamson Atomic Beaded Dress, a multicolored racer back tank dress with floral embellishment, button detail at the neck and hemline, and sparkly paillettes everywhere. Wear it alone for a fantastic statement piece or pair it (like they do on the website) with a sharp black blazer and a clutch.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Alexander McQueen...On Sale!

If you want to steal Lucy Liu's look when she was promoting her show Cashmere Mafia on David Letterman earlier this year, then you're in luck. Net-A-Porter is selling her hot pink Alexander McQueen Drape-front Dress and it's on sale, marked down from $1,930 to $1,448.

Now all you need is a cream brocade poncho, leather elbow-length gloves, Christian Louboutin pumps, and some stunning earrings to complete the outfit!

(Image from Just Jared)

Beatrez's Perfect White Cotton Tunic

How unique is this button-down white tunic from Beatrez? The crisp white color and cotton material is perfect for a hot summer afternoon, but the best part about this tunic is the innovative tie collar. I love how the collar slightly exposes your neck and collarbone. Also take note of its form-fitting shape , which isn't excessively loose and billowy (and therefore, unflattering!) like so many other tunics!

The model pictured wears black tights and flats, but this versatile shirt dress-like tunic could easily be paired with skinny jeans (J Brand's Ankle Length Skinny Jeans come to mind) and gladiator heels (like Nine West Gaulla in Taupe), channeling a more bohemian vibe. Even better, spice up the tunic with a pair of shoes in one of the colorful shades of spring (consider BCBGirls Iriana in a lovely lemon yellow) for an easy, trendy look.

FOUND: Jessica Szohr's Dresses

Two of Jessica Szohr's red carpet looks weren't difficult to track down as both of them are from American Apparel.

On the right, Jessica looks lovely at the Entertainment Weekly/Vavoom Upfront party. She's wearing AA's Cotton Spandex Jersey Double U-Neck Dress. Paired with Jessica's tan, gorgeous hair, and heels, the $30 dress looks amazing! Find it in all colors of the rainbow, including cranberry, purple, asphalt, creme, and raspberry.

At another event, pictured with Gossip Girl co-stars Chace Crawford and Taylor Momsen, Jessica is wearing the Sheer Jersey Long Sleeve Henley Dress. At $36, the form-fitting dress is a steal and comes in colors like sangria, coral, mauve, light aqua, and forest.

Looks like Jessica has taken some fashion cues from the Gossip Girl character she plays, Vanessa, by working some very affordable outfits and making them her own!

(Images from Getty Images)