Fashion Insider Jo Ellison, Speaks

Jo Ellison

In July, I read a fascinating piece in Financial Times, by fashion editor Jo Ellison. The subject of the feature: Why fashion isn’t always as silly as it seems … Irrelevant? Elitist? The fashion industry makes mistakes, but we should still take it seriously. I loved reading it and was drawn to the writing of Ms. Ellison. And then I thought … what if I could track down Ms.Ellison and ask her to share her thoughts on TFIO? Never mind that Jo lives in London, never mind that she is a true fashion insider, living a fashion insider’s life of interviews and fashion coverage, and getting access to top international fashion shows. I reached out to her. And reached out again. And after several months of not giving up, Jo Ellison answered my questions. What a coup! Now my next goal is to meet Jo in person – London? New York City? Here is a fashion insider’s look at fashion and self esteem …

What is your personal fashion story? Did you always love fashion and think of it as your destiny?

I always loved shopping, and clothes. But I wouldn’t describe myself as one of those people who always saw fashion in their destiny. I was more of an enthusiast. Fashion, to my mind, was always a bit remote and inaccessible. I have always been more interested in the broader societal impact a piece of clothing might have – what it says about us and the world we live in. Whether that’s Theresa May in a leopard print pump, or Julia Roberts winning an Oscar in vintage Valentino.

You worked at Vogue – tell us something about Vogue we don’t know.

Everyone there was far friendlier than people might believe. There seems to be a popular misconception – much mythologized by films like The Devil Wears Prada, or shows like Ugly Betty – that women working in fashion are all horrible to each other. In fact, the office at UK Vogue was one of the most encouraging, team-worky and supportive I’ve known. Continue reading

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Ellen: “I dress to express not to impress!”

Ellen Lubin-Sherman

Ellen Lubin-Sherman – Photo by Chris Jorda Photography

I met Ellen Lubin-Sherman recently at Talbots; she had come to shop for a white blouse for a friend. After spending just a few moments with her it was clear to me that Ellen was sophisticated and talented with exquisite taste and a strong sense of self. Ellen knew what she liked and how to express herself through clothes. We had a conversation about why she loved Japanese fashion, the necessity of having a proper tailor in one’s arsenal, and why, when it comes to style, labels aren’t what matter most. Here is more from Ellen …

MKG: What is it about Japanese fashion and its fashion culture that you find so appealing?

EL-S: I fell under the spell of Japanese fashion about six years ago. I was visiting L.A. and stayed in Santa Monica. I discovered a marvelous shop called “Weathervane.” Evidently, the owner has a love affair with Japanese designers and my ace saleswoman/stylist introduced me to the concept of wearing pieces that don’t accentuate the body but rather establish an idiosyncratic look that’s original and quirky. I’ve been “quirky” for the last 10 years in terms of my style but these clothes — the oversized shirts, the selvage baggy jeans, the unfinished hems on a skirt — spoke to me.

MKG: You spoke to me about the fact that Japanese fashion is made without labels; why is this important to you? What has happened to American culture, that we follow labels?

EL-S: I totally get it when it comes to wearing a label. It’s comfortable, non-threatening, and indicates the kind of money you can spend on a handbag or a pair of glasses or a shirt. These “labels” are, unfortunately, a result of insecurity. It’s hard to wear clothing and accessories that don’t “shout” your financial wealth. Most of the designers — Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Kate Spade — make a deliberate effort to keep the labels front and center. They’re very much aware that people prefer to be in a “community” of like-minded people so they feel as if they belong. Clothes that are label-free are what I call “stealth.” They’re under-the-radar and mysterious and confident. Continue reading

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Oh, Valentino!

Oh, Valentino!

Oh, Valentino!

Consignment shopping is the best – especially when you happen to hit a sale. If you don’t already have a tried and true high-end consignment shop near you, find one now!

Years ago I worked part-time at a local shop. It was a little dangerous for me. I was always first to spot the finds as they entered the store. It was also a life-changing experience because I learned a new way to add to my wardrobe and shop with distinction. What a thrill to find beautiful, often couture pieces that I would never be able to own at the original prices. As it happens, I’m not often impressed with labels and I love to mix high and low end fashion – it’s my favorite way to dress. But there is a reason that couture is what it is; generally speaking, the fabrics are exquisite and the fit is perfection. That’s what you are buying – quality and longevity. To be able to own a few noteworthy gems makes me feel special, too. And I know that if I care for and preserve them, they will be with me forever.

That is just what I did today. I bought my first (and perhaps my only) Valentino piece – a white, eyelet blazer! I bought it on sale, 50% off an already majorly-reduced price: a jacket that retails for over $1700. It’s in perfect condition and what can I say, but oh! oh! oh! Valentino!

And there is more … I found an edgy striped sleeveless COMME des GARCONS shirt, again 50% off. It’s fitted with an uneven hem giving it the feel of a peplum, a current fashion trend. Another benefit of consignment shopping is that not only can you find high-end designer names at much lower prices, but you also acquire unique pieces that you cannot find anywhere else. This is remarkable in today’s cookie-cutter shopping experience where it is virtually impossible to find variety and one-of-a-kind dressing. Here is a way for you to truly stand out while building a wardrobe.

My advice? Run, don’t walk to your nearest consignment shop. Go with my blessing!

What do you think?

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