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My name is Melissa Kaplan Guarino. Welcome to Turning Fashion Inside Out! I believe there is a connection between fashion and self-esteem and I am interested in understanding that relationship. Tell me … What is your story?

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The Juicy Backstory of Lilly Pulitzer’s Designs

Lilly Pulitzer, 1961 - Palm Beach, Florida: Getty Images

Lilly Pulitzer, 1961 – Palm Beach, Florida: Getty Images

The story behind the fashion is the most interesting. And it seems there is always a story. This one is juicy – literally! I recently read that Lilly Pulitzer’s original designs were a means of covering up juice stains! Lilly Pulitzer was a New York socialite who eloped with Peter Pulitzer and moved to Palm Beach, Florida, full-time (which was unheard of in her social circles at the time). The story goes that Pulitzer opened a juice stand in Palm Beach – from the fruits of her husband’s citrus groves. But when stains from the fruit found their way on to her clothes she designed a cotton sleeveless shift dress splashed with bright colors – pinks, yellows, greens, and oranges – to disguise the messy stains! The original dresses in her collection were called “Lillys” and their simplicity and style grew so popular that they became the go-to uniform for resort-goers, socialites, and celebrities. One especially famous friend and former schoolmate, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, was often seen wearing Lilly Pulitzer’s colorful sheaths. Eventually, Lilly Pulitzer opened stores up and down the East Coast. And the rest … as they say … is history.

The original rollout of the Lilly Pulitzer Collection, circa 1960

The original rollout of the Lilly Pulitzer Collection, circa 1960: Courtesy Lilly Pulitzer

 

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Singing the Praises of Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali

The question isn’t who isn’t going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?Norma Kamali

You may not know New York City fashion designer, Norma Kamali.  But at 71, she is ever a fashion influencer and inventor, pushing boundaries and bettering the lives of women. Here are some things to know about Norma Kamali – Allow me to sing her praises:

She has been in the fashion business since 1967

She has won awards for fashion, film, interior design, and architecture

She is known for ‘the sleeping bag coat‘ of the 1970s, shoulder pad trends of the 1980s, and her influential swimwear collection (she designed the iconic red one-piece swimsuit worn by Farrah Fawcett)

She loves denim and always has denim in her collections: “It’s American. And I am an American designer.”

She, in fact, is a jeans wearer and prefers jeans to the red carpet

She designed active wear long before it became ‘athleisure’

She created the Stop Objectification Campaign to build awareness of the universal objectification of women and with a goal to “free women of the stigma of those experiences that can take them down emotionally and spiritually, inhibiting their chances for reaching their true potential.”

She is committed to wellness as a lifestyle (something she learned from her mother!) and the power of meditation

Quite simply, Norma Kamali is a woman ahead of her time.

 

 

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The Man Behind the Pretty Woman

26cc42a548b1782b45323d1336c82ddePretty-woman-quiz-holding-shot150319132420-richard-gere-julia-roberts-pretty-woman-super-169I was saddened to hear that writer and director, Garry Marshall, died yesterday. He created the television show, Happy Days and its spin-off Laverne and Shirley, brought stage-play, The Odd Couple to television, and directed films Runaway Bride and The Princess Diaries. But it was his movie, Pretty Woman, that I will remember. I love that iconic scene with Julia Roberts, in her beautiful red dress, and Richard Gere. Favorite fashion moment!

Rest in peace, Garry Marshall!

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Lighting the Fashion Torch at the 2016 Olympics

Swedish athletes Tomas Hjert, from left, Stephanie Ydström, Sara Sjöström, Khaddi Sagnia and Simon Sjödin model pieces designed by H&M for Team Sweden. (H&M)

Swedish athletes Tomas Hjert, from left, Stephanie Ydström, Sara Sjöström, Khaddi Sagnia and Simon Sjödin model pieces designed by H&M for Team Sweden. (Photo: H&M)

In just a few weeks the Summer Olympic Games in Rio will kick off and the world will not only be tuning into the global athletic competition, but to the fashion show that begins with the August 5 Opening Ceremony. Once again, fashion designers will be outfitting their designated teams. Stella McCartney is serving as designer for Great Britain’s team with her original idea of a coat of arms, Polo Ralph Lauren is once again designing for Team United States, Giorgio Armani is designing for Team Italy, and Stockholm-based H&M is designing for Swedish Olympic and Paralympic athletes. What I love about the H&M fashion story, is that the designs will be made of recycled polyester fiber. H&M has made eco-consciousness and sustainability a focus over the last few years and I love that this concentration is inspiring the team’s Olympic outfits.

Many of the teams have yet to reveal the fashion looks, which will make the Opening Ceremony one really large global red carpet. I will be watching!

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Make Way for Alexa Chung!

Alexa Chung | Photo: Zackery Michael

Alexa Chung | Photo: Zackery Michael

I’m not making something that has got a crazy high price point. I want to make sure its something that is speaking to just everyone on the street.” ~ Alexa Chung

Exclusive news via The Business of Fashion: British television personality and model Alexa Chung will be launching her own design label in May 2017. Chung will step into the role of creative director at the helm of Alexachung, a contemporary-priced ready-to-wear line. After working on successful collaborations with clothing brands AG Jeans and Madewell, Chung has garnered the confidence to create her own label: “I just wanted the freedom to sort of make my own world, without someone else’s brand’s brief to stick to.” 

Known as a fashion icon and a style guru, I can tell that Alexa Chung loves fashion and creative pursuits. I enjoy her interviews with Vogue UK, “The Future of Fashion,” and her fashion voice hits a real chord with women in Britain and beyond. At 32, she represents the future of fashion in many ways – with her charm and wit, you have the feeling that she will indeed make her own world with her fashion line. Fashion is evolving and I get the sense that Alexa Chung’s curiosity, combined with her sense of style, will keep her finger on the pulse of what sells. Considering that her collaborations with AG Jeans and Madewell sold out after their debuts, I think she can do it.

 

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Spending My Birthday with DVF!

Optimized-IMGP3483Optimized-IMGP3487-2Yesterday was my birthday. The minute I saw that the sun was shining, I pictured myself celebrating the day in my Diane von Furstenberg summer wrap dress. That’s how it has been for me – every morning, since I was three years old (when my mom says that she could no longer dress me!). I awaken with an idea of how I want to express myself that day. Every piece of clothing, every accessory, has to be mine. I don’t know how to live another way.

Now that I have turned 56, I see no need to change. You are as young as you feel  but I don’t feel any age. Some days I want to look one way, some days another. I never know what that will be until the day begins. What I do know is that the choices I make will not be based on what I think I should wear but what I want to wear. This is what 56 looks like!

Dress, Diane von Furstenberg; Shoes, Talbots; Photos by Alexandra

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Kids Hit the Target

Photographer: Ackerman and Gruber

Photographer: Ackerman and Gruber

Photographer: Ackerman and Gruber

Photographer: Ackerman and Gruber

Very shortly in mid-July, Target’s mainstay kids’ labels, Cherokee and Circo, will be replaced by all-new kid-inspired exclusive label, Cat and Jack. In other words, Target will be throwing out what has been working for them, to take a chance that kids’ visions will lead them into the future. To do so, Target will have conducted heavy research, interviewed hundreds of kids, and talked to companies like Walt Disney and Nickelodeon. “That was a big decision, because Circo and Cherokee were successful,” says Julie Guggemos, head of product design and development, who’s been at Target for almost 26 years. “The kids’ business wasn’t broken. It was strong.”

All the more reason then, that this is a big leap of faith for Target. But kids clothing is one of the more reliable categories for retailers and a $30 billion market in the U.S. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “Cat & Jack is a crucial step in a long-term plan to revitalize Target, the second-largest discount retailer in the U.S. Executives are funneling their attention and resources into four broad areas—babies, kids, style, and wellness.”

Kids hit the Target. Will it be a bullseye?

 

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Givenchy Brings Democracy to the Runway

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

French fashion house, Givenchy, will be making news this September when it shows its collection at NY Fashion Week: members of the general public will make up a large portion of the audience. Givenchy is working closely with the city of New York on this project; most of the 1200 tickets (820 of them) will go to real people and non-celebrities – registrants on a /first-served basis in partnership with nycgo.com, the City’s marketing office. And a portion of the tickets (240) will be set aside for students and faculty from local fashion schools. Chief executive officer of Givenchy, Philippe Fortunato, says that it is creative director, Riccardo Tisci, and his fascination with American culture that inspired the decision to show in New York: “Riccardo talks a lot about America as the origin of trends, very much looking at the streets,” he explained, emphasizing the influence of both youth and minority groups on such trends.

The date of the show itself, September 11th, is notable, and Fortunato is well aware of the meaning of this date to this city: “Of course we celebrate craftsmanship, of course we celebrate creativity. But we want to celebrate what’s behind that, a kind of purpose for the house, and a message of resilience. And a message of humility, because we have to remain simple throughout the big elements of life. Despite what happened, the strengths of the American people, the strengths of New York, are even stronger after 9/11 than before 9/11.”

For too many of us the fashion world feels like an exclusive place we can only view from a distance. So this chance to bring this otherwise closed world to the public is exciting. I’m buying it – actually, I really will try – to buy tickets! I will keep you posted …

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Can You Pull off Shorts At Work?

Optimized-P1060030Optimized-P1060025Optimized-P1060026You bet! There is a way to wear shorts to a work day – it may not be the obvious choice but it is a summer option, as long as you differentiate the look from your casual go-to weekend shorts. Instead, pair them with sturdy, solid pieces, so that the look is polished and professional.

I gave these Alice & Olivia shorts new life when I styled them for the office. I stepped out of my comfort zone with this look but isn’t that what fashion is about?

Shorts, Alice & Olivia; top, Talbots; shoes, vintage Ferragamo; blazer, Banana Republic

Photos by Abrina Hyatt

 

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The One That Got Away …

 

(Annabelle New York black faux fur jacket) Similar to ... The One That Got Away!

(Annabelle New York black faux fur jacket) Similar to … The One That Got Away!

I have a philosophy about shopping for clothes: if something stays on your mind for a day and you haven’t bought it – go back and get it. If it leaves your thinking, let it go and move on. Because it’s better not to buy anything you don’t absolutely love, but it’s worse to let something go that you really like, and could love for a lifetime.

I have passed on many things and that is fine. I don’t remember them. But I do remember the ones that got away. And that hurts.

Last winter, when I was working at Talbots, there was a black faux-fur jacket that was perfect in every way – the right length, the right touch, the right feel – and the right price, especially since I had the employee discount. But for some unknown reason I didn’t get it. I am not sure why. I liked it – it stayed with me – and against my better judgment I passed. By the time I tried to buy it, it was already sold out. You may wonder why, in the middle of a summer day, I am thinking about a black faux fur jacket, and I have a hard time explaining it myself, but that’s what I mean. The one that gets away stays with you!

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