Royalty in the Front Row at London Fashion Week

Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire URN:35112178

At 91, Queen Elizabeth II, attended her very first London Fashion Week. Sitting in the front row and brushing shoulders with longtime Vogue editor Anna Wintour. The monarch, wearing a powder blue tweed dress and jacket could be seen speaking with Wintour and clapping her black-gloved hands as models walked in British designer Richard Quinn’s runway show.

The monarch was on hand to present the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, the first of its kind and meant to highlight the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy – to designer, Richard Quinn. The special award, initiated in recognition of the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy, will be awarded annually to an emerging British fashion designer who shows exceptional talent and originality, while demonstrating value to the community and/or strong sustainable policies, according to the palace.

The style of clothing that Quinn favors is eccentric and structural. A former intern at Dior and Richard James on Savile Row, the 28-year-old Quinn mixes big prints as well as fabrics within one piece, which tend to be based on classic Dior New Look silhouettes. He’s known for covering models’ faces in fabric, a practice he expanded into headwear for fall 2018. Beyond his designs, Quinn is giving back to his community, an essential element to this particular Queen-approved recognition. Well done!!

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Mary’s Mother’s Coat

Winter made its presence known this weekend and I am happy to have the cold temperatures so that I can wear Mary’s mother’s coat. My friend, Mary, was holding on to her mother’s custom-made black faux fur coat for 25 years. When her mother gave it to her and asked her not to give the coat away, Mary took her mother’s request seriously and tried in vain to wear the coat. Though Mary remained hopeful, she could not wear the coat – it just didn’t feel right on her. Finally, just as Mary was ready to give the coat away, she asked me if I wanted to see it. The minute the car door opened and I saw this beautiful black coat with gold buttons staring back at me, I fell in love.

Dressy and elegant, this coat would happily go to the theater and a dressy dinner. But I like to do the unexpected; I am pairing the coat with jeans and a turtleneck, and casual shoes. Of course, I will also wear it dressed up but I believe that beautiful things can be worn every day, too. I will always thank Mary’s mother for this luscious coat! Did I mention the hot-pink lining??

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New York Fashion Week Ended as it Began: in the 1980s

Marc Jacobs, fall 2018. Credit Landon Nordeman for The New York Times

I am less aware of February’s New York Fashion Week (a week that included the fall/winter 2018 runway collections and ready-to-wear styles presented by popular and lesser-known designers), as it has moved downtown from more well-known sites like Lincoln Center and Bryant Park. But indeed, NYFW wrapped on February 16th – ending just as it began – in the 1980s. And the clothes made the message – the visual effects of over-the-top, with asymmetrical and overblown color and size and shape. Nostalgic, yes, and perhaps a message of where and how a designer works a silhouette and the power of the image. Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic of The New York Times, says:

Because of the exaggerated coats with battering-ram shoulder pads that triangulated the body in the extreme, and looped with great swaths of scarves tossed around the neck. Because of the pleated leather clown trousers with giant taffeta and silk rosettes at the waist and blouses with matching out-to-there bows at the neck, all in a Cover Girl palette of ruby, hot pink, turquoise, marigold and grape.”

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L’Amour on Valentine’s Day

L’Amour: Photo credit Serena Chmelar

Sending L’Amour today! Here is a t-shirt with a message I can rally behind – today and everyday: LOVE.

Will you be my Valentine? 

T-shirt, Milly

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I Dreamed about a Handbag

Last night I actually dreamed about a handbag! In my 57 years, it was the first time that I dreamed about a piece of clothing! I had seen a handbag during the day, liked it very much, but had pondered whether to make the purchase, so I didn’t get it. Obviously, this handbag stayed with me, even in my subconscious.

I try not to buy impulsively because I have made my share of mistakes with purchases I have regretted the minute I brought them home. So I have learned to hold back. There are, of course, the clothes that I know immediately are perfect for me. I try not to waver with those – as I have also had my share of heartbreak after losing something because I waited. In general, though, my philosophy about buying clothes has served me well: for the ones I really like but can’t say for sure – I hold off for a day or so to see if it leaves my mind. If I stop thinking about it, it was not meant for me. If I continue to think about it (or in this case, dream about it) and if I can picture it as part of my wardrobe, then I will buy it.

My clothes are my friends. We become a team. I think my dream was telling me something – so I returned today to purchase this special handbag – without hesitation!

Handbag, vintage Gucci; t-shirt Milly; tuxedo blazer, Bebe

Photos: Serena Chmelar; shot on location at Batavia, Summit NJ

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The Power of the T-Shirt

Wearing my Fair Food Program T-Shirt; Photo: Lauren Hagerstrom

Today London’s Fashion and Textile Museum opens its new exhibition, T-shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion – where the tee takes center stage – with the exhibition taking a comprehensive look at the evolution of the T-shirt, charting the history, culture and subversion of this most affordable, popular, and humble item of clothing. But the narrative of the exhibition is the T-shirt’s social and political power. Quite simply, T-shirts say who we are and what we want to be. In the 1960s, it was anti-war designer-campaigners Vivienne Westwood and Katherine Hamnett, who saw the potential of the T-shirt as a platform for political messaging. The exhibition features a private collection of Vivienne Westwood T-shirts from the early days of “Let it Rock“, “Sex“, and “Seditionaries“, through to recent collections, such as “Active Resistance“, “Propaganda” and “Climate Revolution.”

I am reminded of a feature I wrote a few years ago on TFIO, after seeing an illuminating documentary about the need to support fair food wages and to protect the people who harvest our food. Lauren took this photo of me outside my local Whole Foods Market, one of the designated stores which supports Fair Food Program. It was a simple T-Shirt that reflected my deep appreciation of the businesses who are called-to-action to support those in need. I believe in the power of clothes and in the power of the T-Shirt to reach the masses with social messaging.

How I wish I could be in London today for the opening day of this inspiring exhibition!

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Awards Season Camaraderie is Heartwarming

Stylist Elizabeth Saltzman

With The Oscars just around the corner (March 4, 2018), I found this commentary from stylist, Elizabeth Saltzman heart-warming. Says Saltzman, the London-based stylist behind Gwyneth Paltrow, Saoirse Ronan, and Uma Thurman’s wardrobes:

THE greatest thing about this awards season is the camaraderie that’s going on amongst womenIt doesn’t feel like it’s a competition anymore, it feels like family. “There is so much going on in the world that’s not positive,” she continued. “At the very least fashion, which is such a big business, better be fun and friendly. If it’s not, then something has gone even more wrong, because we have to support one another – I have given people dresses, I have given people shoes, I’m having open conversations,” she recalled. “There are a billion critics now, so it’s important we’re on the same side.”

 

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A Visit to Brooklyn, Meeting Mia, and ZWD

When I met fashion designer Daniel Silverstein in his Manhattan studio several years ago, I knew he was a visionary on to something special with his commitment to reducing the waste of fabric in the fashion industry. But I had no idea how his passion would evolve into a movement for change. Now located in Brooklyn, Daniel transformed his designs to zero-waste in 2016 with the creation of ZeroWasteDaniel – ZWD – and Daniel is bringing his mission and message not only to Brooklyn and local designers, but to everyone through his global website. Every scrap, every piece of material is used and re-used: “At Daniel’s studio, fabric waste is kept to zero. pattern making techniques, appliqués, tiled mosaics and embellishments absorb one hundred percent of the textile goods that are brought into the studio and ZWD takes factory scraps and turns them into new goods.

Abrina and I visited the studio in Brooklyn and met Daniel’s teammate, Mia Lopes, lead textile artist for ZWD. Mia spoke about the mission of zero waste production and how she has come full circle working with Daniel, whom Mia met when they were both students at FIT. Zero Waste is about creating inclusion; every design is unisex and meant to be worn comfortably by both sexes. Zero Waste is about educating consumers of the responsibility we all have to protect our environment and creating a sustainable future. Zero Waste is about partnering with local artisans – to tackle the wasteful fashion industry in larger, growing numbers. And Zero Waste is about producing everything entirely locally, in New York City, and bringing jobs home. Meeting Mia, I see that Zero Waste, at its core, is also about creativity and expression, because without inspired alternatives to conventional fashion, no one would join in this exciting commitment to change and do what is right for our world. And the future for Daniel? As far as I can see, there is no limit to his vision – in fact, Mia said that they are considering Zero Waste furniture design!

Photos: Abrina Hyatt Continue reading

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Do the Unthinkable: Wear Tights in Winter!

Tights are my essential go-to’s to offset the chill of winter without the sacrifice of style. These days, tights are so versatile that you can style them in creative ways – with a dress, under boots, peaking out from beneath ripped jeans, or in my case, with a skirt and booties. Wearing tights has changed the way I dress in the winter months, allowing me to wear the leg-bearing outfits I thought only possible in warmer months. I am willing to pay more for my statement tights since I wear them most every day; I choose Wolford for its quality, durability, and high style. Do the unthinkable: wear tights in winter!

Tights, Wolford; boots Sigerson Morrison; sweater Dolce & Gabbana; skirt Issa London

Photos by Kendra Olson

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A Mother-Daughter Couture Moment!

Getty Images

Getty Images

A charming first for the spring/summer 2018 haute couture runway shows happened at Jean Paul Gaultier’s catwalk when Coco Rocha walked the runway with her two-year-old daughter, Ioni James Conran, beside her … in matching outfits. From the pale blue lamé gowns, elbow-length black gloves and white tights to the angular wig with spiral ponytail, the mother-daughter duo mirrored one another. Gaultier put his surrealism in full blast, but his muse, Coco Rocha, who has a history of memorable catwalk moments, took this show to a new level with her daughter – taking Paris by storm!

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