Kendra: The Girl with Flair!

A young Kendra; outside Yves Saint Laurent, Milan, Italy 2009

Kendra, Easter day in Villefranche sur Mer, 2008

Kendra

One of the joys of writing my blog is meeting and collaborating with photographers. I love sharing my vision and ideas and then waiting for my partner to take over and bring the ideas to life. I have been especially lucky with my dear friend Kendra Olson. Kendra is a natural photographer, yes, but she is so much more: Kendra is a creative force! Working with Kendra has elevated my blog to new levels of experimentation and creativity. Kendra tries new angles and perspectives and truly brings my vision to life. It is no wonder that Kendra is an original young woman, with her own unique style and flair! We have been working together for over a year, and I could go on taking photos with Kendra forever. But I am heartbroken because Kendra and her family are moving to California today. The Olsons have been world travelers for Kendra’s entire young life – it is what makes her a free spirit – and now, her travels take her out West. I will miss Kendra immensely. But I will take her with me as I go forward. And of course, I am already dreaming of taking fashion photos with Kendra as soon as possible – with the Pacific Ocean as our backdrop!

Love to you, Kendra and Hang Ten! x Melissa

Photos: Susan Olson

 

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The Woes of Dressing Postpartum

Rachel Simone Schneider

I remember very well, the first postpartum months when my son Eric was born (21 years ago!); we were living in New York, on the Upper West Side. I had spent much of my pregnancy in my overalls, and they were my favorite go-to’s for the first few months after he was born – for their ease and comfort – but not for their looks. I am sure that by the time I found real clothes again, I was so sick of those overalls that I wanted to burn them – but somehow, I didn’t. In fact, they returned three years later, when my younger son Cameron was born! Why?? What is it about postpartum dressing that makes it so hard? Hard to find the clothes that say, ‘I am myself, I am still who I always was?’ Because you aren’t the person you were. Because your life has completely turned around. But does that mean that you are forced to turn to overalls? Does it have to be overalls?

My dear cousin Rachel gave birth to her first baby, a beautiful girl, a few months ago. When Rachel asked me for ideas for postpartum dressing, all of my memories of myself  21 years ago came rushing back. Rachel and I sat down to talk about clothes, post-baby, and what is one to do with a new reality of clothing shopping …

MKG:  Rachel, what have you been wearing these past few months?

RachelI’m proud to say that I’ve finally graduated out of newborn wear-old-garbage-that-can-be-projectile-vomited-on-multiple-times-a-day clothes (which was mostly old, super large t-shirts and pajama bottoms) and now I usually wear yoga pants, cotton tees, and flip flops – but I do work at home. On those fun occasions that I go out and engage with the world, I put on Lysse “jeans” that are high enough to cover my post-baby belly and have panels that help hold in that whole wobbly area. I am now able to go back to the same shirts I’ve always worn, but I suspect my hips and stomach have been forever-changed by carrying our little lady for nine months.

MKG: What are you looking for in a wardrobe?

RachelThis may sound strange, but I’m searching for myself in my clothes. As you said, after having a baby, you’re not the same person you were. I keep calling this post-baby era my “Vampire Life” – I feel like I existed before and I exist now, but the blood that courses through my veins isn’t the same, and while I’m learning to love this new life I’m living, I can’t quite go back to who I was before. It’s why I find myself standing in front of our closet and my dresser, asking – who am I now? What does this version of me wear?

I’m finding that I’m starting to be influenced by new things, like our daughter’s wardrobe. The clothes I pick out for her are either classic (like her first bathing suit, which is white and blue with a big bow and has a seersucker feel to it) or early 90s influenced – lots of bright colors and patterns and fluttery sleeves. I’ve always loved classic styles and while I was an 80s baby, I was a 90s kid, so of course I’m drawn to the black leggings and hot pink. I’ve found that the few shirts I’ve picked out since giving birth are truly influenced by our daughter. My favorite shirt right now is soft cotton, white with a pink and red strawberry pattern. But otherwise, I don’t know what I’m looking for – comfort mixed with some semblance of style? A hard balance to strike. If I could, I’d start a clothing line for post-partum women. I think the fashion industry has sorely missed this unique niche and transitory market. Continue reading

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My Love Affair with Wedding Dresses

Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy in Father of the Bride

Last night, in honor of Father’s Day, I found myself watching the movie,  Father of the Bride; not the Steve Martin version but the original 1950 version starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. It is the story of a father who realizes that he is losing his daughter when she announces she is getting married. The moment Elizabeth Taylor appeared in her wedding dress, I sighed. She looked so beautiful in that dress of lace and what was it – satin? And it came to me that I have always had a love affair with wedding dresses. When I was four years old, I wanted more than anything to be a bride for Halloween. And my mother obliged – I remember feeling so excited in my wedding dress. The only problem was that I lived in an apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens, and trick-or-treating meant schlepping up and down several flights of stairs. By the end of the evening I had ripped-through the bottom of the dress. That was not a happy memory for me, but my love of wedding dresses still runs deep. I am a romantic so that makes sense, but I think it is the dress itself: the white, the special fabrics, the elegance. It could also be about what the dress represents – beautiful promises of what is to come.

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Myriam’s Foulard

Myriam and her foulard, along the Mediterranean

Foulard: the French word for scarf! During my recent trip to Paris and the South of France, I couldn’t help but admire the foulards around the necks of many elegant French women. Their outfits are never complete without them, no matter the time of year or fashion tendency. French women will always make it work. There are day-time styles – light and airy, and night-time styles – more luxurious and silky.

When I reached my destination on the Mediterranean, I found out that the South France had been key in the manufacturing of silk fabrics during the Middle Ages. The first silk factories opened their doors in the region during the 15th Century and became an engine for the local economy of the time. On my long walks around a few Medieval towns which still maintain their old-world charm, I felt the importance of this icon and its place in fashion. It was nearly impossible not to be seduced by its shine and luminosity. I walked into a tiny store filled with silk scarves in all colors imaginable and waited until one of them called my attention. Its soft pink shades were shining and inviting. I tried on many, but I kept coming back to my first choice. The owner, a lovely woman in her fifties, looked at me and said: “I believe the right scarf found you.” It was clear what I had to do.

As with so many things in life, I see now that the love affair between my French scarf and me was pure destiny. Medieval roads lead me to it.  Now I am home and I wear it with pride and let it take me back to beautiful memories of an extraordinary trip, full of discovery, charm, and glamour.

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Creating the World of Magic Through Costumes

Jany Temime at the 15th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards in February 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images for CDG

When I was four years old — I was designing for dolls all the time. That’s all I wanted to do. My parents were designers and had a ready-to-wear company in Paris, so I grew up in the studio. The idea of working for films was difficult, so I really had to fight for it, but I did what I wanted. You always do what you want, when you want, if you’re determined enough to achieve it.” – Harry Potter costume designer, Jany Temime

These inspirational words belong to costume designer Jany Temime, who came to the Harry Potter film series during the third film, “The Prisoner of Azkaban“, and designed costumes for the remaining six films. This fashion designer, who grew up in Paris in the 1960s and 1970, spent her Saturdays at the studio of her parents’ ready-to-wear company, designing sweaters on the side for pocket cash, would eventually create the dark world of magic in the most world-beloved series – Harry Potter. Did she have any idea of the magnitude of its popularity?  “At the time, I didn’t realize how important it was. Thank God, because if [I had] I would have been completely paralyzed and incapable of doing anything. It’s now that I realize what a nerve it [hit].Continue reading

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Angles and A-Lines

Stylist extraordinaire and person with exquisite taste, Kim Naci, gave me one assignment after helping me clean out my closet; get myself a black a-line skirt! There is no single piece of clothing that looks as flattering on every body type. A-lines are the Goldilocks of fashion: not too full, not too tight … but just right! My skirt of choice is Theory. Kim’s goal to help me “be the master of my own closet” started with this single A-line skirt addition. Now, I have so many choices and new outfits. I say, find yourself an a-line skirt and build your wardrobe and your self-esteem!

Skirt, Theory; blouse, Jil Sander; shoes, Pierre Hardy

Photos: Kendra Olson

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That Same Tuxedo For 8 Years!

That tux. Photo: © 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP

Cute story: Speaking at an event this week former first lady, Michelle Obama, pointed out how ‘unfair’ it was that in the 8 years at the White House, she always had to come up with new looks, while her husband — former president Barack Obama — got away with basically wearing the same thing to different events. At a conference in San Jose, California, Michelle was asked about a picture that had gone viral, of herself in a black gown standing next to her husband in his tried-and-true black tux (she, adjusting his bow tie). “This is the unfair thing, you talk about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, no matter what we do, he puts on that same tux,” she said. “People take pictures of the shoes I wear, the bracelets, the necklace. They didn’t comment that for eight years, he wore that same tux, same shoes.” The former First Lady said that President Obama  would tease her about how easy it was for him to get ready for his formal events, that he was “proud” of his repeat outfits: “He was like, ‘Hm I’m ready. I’m ready in ten minutes. How long did it take you?’” she told the crowd. “And I’m like, ‘Get out of here.’”

 

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“All Roads Lead to Chanel”

Before I boarded the plane for my latest adventure to Paris and the South of France, I asked my darling friend and favorite fashionista, Melissa, what would she like me to bring her from the City of Lights? Her answer was simple: a photo of Chanel’s original store. And that is how my walking tour of Paris began. The mission was clear, but the challenge proved to be unexpected.

Who would have thought that not many Parisians know which one of the many Chanel stores in their lovely home city was the first one to open its doors and change the history of fashion forever? Such a piece of information, I later found out, is only known to the style experts or the eternal romantics, like Melissa.

After lots of walking, wandering, and practicing my French asking for directions (I couldn’t check Google since I had no Wi-Fi connection), I reached my coveted destination: a beautiful French chateau on the lovely Rue Cambon. The only problem was that the building was under renovation. Despite my disappointment, I was glad to have carried  out and executed my mission successfully. But mostly, I was happy to have brought Melissa’s soul along with me. So I closed my eyes, and let my imagination take me to that moment in time, when a petite but fearless woman decided to turn the world of fashion upside down with her fresh ideas, signature style, and most of all, her love of feminine beauty. – Myriam Alvarez

 

 

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The Gingham Resurgence!

My Diane von Furstenberg gingham dress

You may have noticed that gingham is making a comeback this Spring. That fresh fabric that was all over J.Crew about a decade ago is now all over Instagram as it enjoys a 2017 resurgence. It is the singular color print and the close-knit checks that make gingham distinctive and full of charm. Not just the preppy standard it was years ago, gingham of today is styled in new and unexpected ways, including shoes and other accessories. Last year, I bought my own gingham dress (Diane von Furstenberg) and what I love is that this dress can be dressed up or down. I have worn it to work, for a family brunch, and plan to wear it to a summer evening party in a few weeks. Give yourself a fresh start to Spring with this ultimate playful fabric.

Dress, Diane von Furstenberg

Photo by Alexandra

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The Queen of Cashmere

Laura Biagiotti, center, with her daughter, Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, right, after the presentation of her collection in Milan in September 2011: Credit Daniel Dal Zennaro/European Pressphoto Agency

“Being a fashion designer is like taking vows … It becomes your religion for life.” Laura Biagiotti

Italian fashion designer, Laura Biagiotti, died last Friday in Rome at 73 years old. I didn’t know her, I didn’t know about her business, I didn’t know that her elegant fashions made from fluffy goat’s wool defined her as the global queen of cashmere. But I love her story and it touched me to read it.

Biagiotti was born in 1943, and was envisioning an independent life for herself when she enrolled at a university in Rome to study literature and archaeology. But her life changed course when she was drawn to her family’s dressmaking studio where her mother, Delia Biagiotti, designed the uniforms for Alitalia employees. In 1972, she went into business for herself and presented her own collection by introducing a relatively new material at the time: cashmere. According to the New York Times: “Her original collection was so small, Biagiotti recalled, that at her first show, models wore the same white jacket three times, with two skirts and a dress. She developed a passion for linen and also for the color white, which many mourners wore to her funeral last week.” 

A woman in a profession dominated by men, Biagiotti told an interviewer in 1981 that “a woman designer faces the same odds as a woman trying to get a job as a 747 pilot.” But she did it and by the 1980s she was making her mark. In 1988 she became the first Italian designer to put on a fashion show in China presenting dresses and blouses in silk and cashmere, and in 1995 she was the first to have a show inside the Kremlin walls in Moscow. Today, The House of Biagiotti (based on Via dei Condotti in Rome) is listed among the largest fashion houses in Italy. Her daughter, Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, is the creative director of the business and represents the third generation of Biagiotti clothiers.

 

 

 

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