Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chambray Away!

Derek Lam S/S 2011

You know about the Canadian Tuxedo right? It's head-to-toe denim. And unfortunately considered a fashion faux pas by many. For real: it's listed on the Wikipedia Fashion Faux Pas page. Call me crazy (or Canadian) but I think it's actually an awesome look. I think I may have convinced my intern Shakeira who helped me select these chambray-rific pieces.

Club Monaco 'Savi' Blazer ($149 CAD at Club Monaco);
J.Crew Japanese Selvage Chambray Shirt ($198 US at J.Crew);
Madewell 'Perfect Chambray Shirt' ($68 US at Madewell and Shopbop)

Rather that thinking white trash like Britney and Justin (please click!), I'm thinking Alexa Chung, Kanye, or my fave double denim-ers Flight of the Concords. Of course, Derek Lam and I are on the same page (as usual). In the summer, I switch to chambray -- it's lighter, more comfortable and a lot more versatile. Yes, head to toe.

H&M Chambray Pants ($19.95 CAD at H&M);
ACNE 'Auris' Shorts ($140 US at Shopbop);
Madewell 'Sightseer' Skirt ($98 US at Madewell)

 A.P.C. Belted Chambray Dress (on sale for $134 US at Net-a-Porter);
GAP 1969 Denim Dress ($74.95 CAD at The GAP);
Levi's Chambray Playsuit ($198 US at Net-a-Porter)

And it's Canada Day tomorrow after all! Ditch the boring red shirt and rock the Canadian Tuxedo!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shoe Wednesdays: J.Crew "Mona" Pump

I'm going to have to tone down my sky high heels a little. I think the older I get, the lower the pain tolerance is. Or at least, I have to make sure to check in advance whether the event I'm going to has seating available or not. Because, let me tell ya: I was ready to toss my $600+ designer 6" pumps out the car window last weekend (glad I didn't).

I did realize that I need to make some serious investments in "normal" shoes (my husband agrees for once). What's normal? These J.Crew pumps. At "only" 3.5", they are shoes I will love from day to night, and they will love me back. Cheerful coral colour too!

I'm so jealous that Toronto is getting a J.Crew store! They have everything.

$200 US at Net-a-Porter and J.Crew (in more colours!).

PS. I got them! They are super comfortable.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Screen Style: The Talented Mr. Ripley

I'm not sure why Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley hasn't become more iconic, both in terms of film making and fashion. This 1999 adaptation (there was an earlier French version from 1960 titled Plein Soleil starring Alain Delon) of Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel of the same name captures the beautiful mix of American prep and southern Italian style. 

The film is set in 1950s, but the clothes can provide summer inspiration year after year. Not to mention that the said clothes are on what may possibly be the best looking cast ever: Matt Damon (in the title role), Jude Law (at his best), Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett. A costume designer's dream, I would think. The design was brilliantly executed by Anne Roth (google her, she is fabulous!), a long-time Anthony Minghella collaborator and an Academy Award winner (The English Patient). 

All the characters are, in a Hitchcockian manner, equally unlikable and likable. Jude Law (that face!) and Gwyneth Paltrow play Dickie Greenleaf and Marge Sherwood, a wealthy WASP-y couple, the types strolling comfortably through a life of leisure and luxury. On the other hand, Matt Damon's Tom Ripley is a man living in pretense of said life, insinuating himself into their lives and developing an unhealthy infatuation with Dickie (not that I blame him).

This film is all about menswear, and Dickie's clothing in particular. He comes from an old money East Coast family, a Princeton graduate and a free-spirited brat. Dickie is definitely someone that would have inspired the book Take Ivy. His summer wardrobe could be a how-to-guide from day to night. When we, and Tom, first meet him, he sports some pretty wicked patterned swim trunks. His summer wardrobe consists of knitted polo shirts, an array of colourful Bermuda shorts, white slacks, and linen blazers. 

Tom, rocking a slightly more boy-next-door look, enjoys the styling of gingham shirts, khakis and corduroy blazers. Although incredibly handsome in his own right, Tom always feels inadequate in comparison to Dickie -- brilliant casting on the part of Minghella. 

Another brilliant casting move is Gwyneth Paltrow as a Grace Kelly-esque all-American young intellectual. Unlike Dickie, she is actually working on a book in Italy. She's a fan of short sleeve white dress shirts tied at the waist, paired with mid-length summery skirts -- quite girlish and a bit flirty. 

Later as her love life shatters into pieces, she adopts a darker Hitchcockian blond look, complete with a leopard print coat (like, the most beautiful leopard print coat ever!) and a cigarette. 

Cate Blanchett's Meredith Logue is a supporting, but very crucial, character, as a wealthy heiress that befriends Tom. For the ten minutes she is on the screen, she sizzles in cashmere, fur and bright red lipstick, never letting you forget that she will return in the most inopportune moments in Tom's life. 

So much of the film's storytelling is in the clothing. Dickie wears his clothes with ridiculous amounts of confidence, a trait Tom lacks. Tom is the character who wears the simplest, most generic, non-descript attire, perhaps mimicking his devoid personality. It lets him blend in and hide behind all the flashy glamorous characters he so longs to become, hoping for an acceptance. 

I was trying not to spoil it for you, in case you haven't seen it. But if you have, what did you think?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Item of the Week: Madewell 'Saltspring' Sweater

Holey sweaters! Love them. So ideal for those summer days when it's just a little too crisp to go bare armed. Plus they are really sexy, revealing and concealing at the same time. I wear them over tank tops and dresses and it's a great way to transition a daytime outfit over to nighttime.

This one looks so cozy and soft -- mercerized cotton is a brilliant invention. And it's such a gorgeous gold colour (although it does come in cream too). 

$98 US at Madewell (yes, they do ship to Canada) and Shopbop.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beauty Fridays: ILIA Pure Lip Care

I already did a little feature on ILIA for Vitamin Daily, but this line deserves a little blog love too! It's rare to come across a product that is so beautifully thought out, formulated and branded. What's even more rare is when said product is of Canadian origin -- from Vancouver, to be exact. A brainchild of a graphic designer who happens to be a natural living enthusiast, ILIA (named after her great grandfather) strives to fill a gap in the market between luxury and organic cosmetics, providing a quality, natural product that evokes sophistication.

Nobody's Baby, Dizzy, Shell Shock

ILIA Lip Conditioners are 85% organic (it's difficult to achieve rich colour without some synthetic ingredients) and packaged in a slick recycled aluminum tube. The formula exists on the lovely line between a lipstick and a lip balm, an ideal combination for those needing just a hint of colour. With pretty shades like the neutral Nobody's Baby, peachy Dizzy (my fave!) and tropical Shell Shock, I've got my summer lip staples.

$24.95 at LYNNsteven and Misch in Vancouver and online at

Have you tried ILIA yet?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recent Work

I've been so busy juggling my other writing work and this blog, so I thought I'd share some recent articles. 

Brian Atwood, The Block S/S 2011

My Brian Atwood piece in the current issue of The Block is, perhaps, my biggest achievement to date. I'm so crazy proud of it! It was truly a dream come true to get to speak to him in person -- just ridiculous! For those wondering, he's super nice.

Charlotte Taylor F/W 2011

Another amazing designer I got to interview for The Block (online) is British up-and-comer Charlotte Taylor. I just adore her literal interpretation of animal prints, along with her bold use of colour. She's smart, funny and will go a long way. 

 (click to read)

There are more (told you I've been busy!): Tony-nominated Broadway actress Hannah Yelland; menswear designer Dana Lee, Brandon Svarc of Naked & Famous jeans, Britain's legend-in-the-making Carolyn Massey, emerging Italian designer Caterina Gatta, and my favourite jewellery designer Amanda Assad Mounser

And that's just work for The Block. There is also Vitamin Daily

I've been doing this blog alone for a couple of years now. It's been a blast and it's provided me with a lot of amazing opportunities! No worries, I'm not going anywhere. 

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shoe Wednesdays: Diane Von Furstenberg 'Rebel'

I love this shoe and its chunky retro-inspired heel. I'm not sure when Diane Von Furstenberg began producing shoes (two seasons ago maybe?) but it's pretty solid and at a great price point. To me, DVF has always been about practicality and timeless style that carries over year after year. 

They could be worn today, back in the 1970s, or even the 1940s. Just a really lovely silhouette. Plus that soft suede and that rich cranberry hue! 

$280 US at Shopbop.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Style Icon: Tina Chow

Tina Chow by Andy Warhol

Tina Chow was truly one of a kind, in every sense of the term. In the late 1960s, a time when the fashion world was preoccupied with California blonds, she rose pretty close to the top of the modeling scene with her unique Eurasian beauty. Although a muse to many, from Issey Miyake to Karl Lagerfeld to Andy Warhol, she is remembered now, not just as a style icon, but as a groundbreaking designer herself. I struggled whether to feature her as a style icon or as a jewellery designer, but I realized that she embodied her designs: a precise interpretation of a life split between East and West, taking a visual influence of Japanese minimalism and American pop form. 

in Issey Miyake photographed by Marcus Leatherdale (1983)

Tina Chow began her design career late in life (sadly, she only lived to be 41) with encouragement from her friend Andy Warhol (past his whole Svengali phase), who introduced her to healing crystals -- they became the basis of her creations. And they were magical, just like Tina. 

Vogue (August 1987)

in Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue (August 1984)

First time hearing of Tina Chow? Let me rewind! She was born Bettina Lutz in 1950 in Ohio to a German-American father and a Japanese mother. When the family moved back to Japan in the mid-60s, Tina and her sister Bonnie were discovered by a modelling agent and soon became the faces of Shiseido. 

Bonnie and Tina Lutz (1970)

She married restaurateur Michael Chow (formerly married to Grace Coddington!) and when the couple moved to New York in 1972, they became part of the art and fashion elite. Tina became a muse to the likes of Helmut Newton, Andy Warhol, Issey Miyake, Karl Lagerfeld, Manolo Blahnik (Tina's daughter China Chow is his goddaughter), Armani... you name it. There is a pretty amazing story going around: a fashion magazine (either Vogue of Harper's) was doing a story on designers and their inspirations, and they asked designers to pick their muses to be photographed with. Well, eight out of ten selected Tina Chow! 

in Chanel photographed by David Seidner (1984)

It wasn't her beauty (and she sure was stunning!) but her personal style that everyone was struck by. Karl Lagerfeld credits her with inventing minimal chic: "Nobody looked better in it than Tina did." Her daytime wardrobe consisted of a very androgynous ensemble of a black Kenzo trousers (she loved them so much, she had them copied year after year), a simple white t-shirt and usually a grey cashmere cardigan. In the 1970s, when everyone was embracing disco glitz and glamour, big hair and sparkles, Tina stuck out with her short cropped hair and her minimal approach to designer fashion. She was a collector of vintage Balenciaga, Poiret, Chanel and Fortuny Haute Couture, a collection that was auctioned at Christie's after hear death.

in Chanel (1984)

in her own jewellery

She was never a fashion follower, but rather a leader. "Tina had an innate elegance and never needed any designer to do anything for her. Rather, she did a lot for us," said Giorgio Armani. When she was photographed for magazines, she often just wore her own clothes.

in vintage Fortuny couture (1987)

Her influence is undeniable. If you take a closer look at her jewellery, you will see themes currently used by Martin Margiela (especially!) and Alexis Bittar. Tina incorporated her healing crystals with bamboo using the traditional Japanese craft of basketweaving. The shapes were simple, often dictated by the form of the stone or in her words, "uncut stones are so wonderful, why muddle about with them?"

Harper's Bazaar (1990)

Along with uncut crystals and bamboo were sculptural pieces, light and elegant -- almost ghost-like. Although they were sold at Bergdorf's to moderate success, the pieces were clearly way ahead of their time. Nowadays, they are extremely difficult to come by (trust me, I've tried). I guess, maybe, I'll have to settle for Margiela (never thought I'd utter those words). 

Vogue (August 1987)

A couple of years ago Vogue Paris did a tribute to Tina Chow in a jewellery editorial starring Tao Okamoto (great choice of model!). It really exhibited just how, even though they were produced 25 years ago, they could still be considered cutting edge. 

Tao Okamoto as Tina Chow in Vogue Paris (September 2009)

I wonder about all the wonderful things she would have produced had she lived longer. Before she passed away in 1992, she began work on furniture design, in the same organic and minimalist manner. Just imagine.

in her own designs, photographed by David Seidner in 1988

Further reading: 

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Look: Versace for H&M Fall 2011

I would have never guessed it: it's Donatella! Here's the scoop!

"H&M is proud to announce that its fall 2011 designer collaboration will be with one of the world’s most legendary fashion brands, Versace. Designed by its creative director Donatella Versace, the exclusive collection will look back to the vibrant heritage of the brand, full of leather, print, colour and exuberance in exclusive materials at fantastic H&M prices. The collection will include lines for women, men and selected pieces for the home. The collection will be released in North America on Saturday, November 19th. It will be sold in about 300 stores worldwide as well as online. In addition, Donatella Versace has also designed a pre-spring collection for H&M which will be exclusively available in countries with H&M online sales from January 19th, 2012."

Who's excited?

PS. Thoughts and theories on the collection coming later. I'm tired...

Images courtesy of H&M Canada

Item of the Week: Theyskens' Theory 'Dewi' Dress

I'm completely in love with Olivier Theyskens' collection for Theory, aptly named Theyskens' Theory. It's everything I consider basics should be: gorgeously cut and constructed in an array of quality fabrics like silks, cottons, wools and leathers. I can't think of a single person that wouldn't benefit from having a thing or two from this line in their closet.

The super pretty "Dewi" dress is one of my favourite pieces from the collection (and they are many!). While it also comes in blue, as well as a splattery paint print, the rich deep purple really gets my heart. This dress is all about little Theyskens touches: the criss-cross black straps, the irregular hemline and the pockets. I love a dress with pockets! 

Now, ten years from now -- this dress just works. 

$346.50 (on sale from $495) on Shopbop.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Beauty Fridays: Micro-Zone for Micro-Loan at Spruce Body Lab

Picking the right skin treatment at a spa is always a difficult thing. Do I pick an 1.5 hour long epic facial and do that once a month or do a quickie one but more regularly? The good short little ones are hard to find – you often get the ones that are basically little more than a glorified face wash. Alas, starting on June 21st, Spruce Body Lab in Vancouver is doing a really cool promotion, Micro-Zone for Micro-Loan, where you can purchase six mini 20-minute treatments for $294 and the proceeds go to Dermalogica’s FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) initiative. For those not familiar with FITE, it’s a program that supports women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

This is how it works: One can choose from these three treatments depending on what your skin needs that week:
  • Flash Exfoliation - A brightening, smoothing peel that reveals vibrant fresh skin.
  • Hydration Treatment - Relieve skin tightness and flakiness, smooth out fine lines and minimize pores while boosting your skins collagen and elastin.
  • Rapid Spot Clearing - No more picking! Helps speedily peel, dry and heal unwelcome breakouts.
I’ve done the Flash Exfoliation and the Hydration Treatment, and let me tell you: Spruce really works your skin in 20 minutes. The Flash Exfoliation is powerful stuff, with a combo of several Dermalogica professional products (20% Glycolic Peel) working together to peel and reveal. The Hydration Treatment is pretty cool with Dermalogica’s colloidal mask accompanied by a high frequency machine works to penetrate active ingredients further in to the skin.

I can see how after six quick treatments one would see an improvement week by week, rather than having to wait a month in between. 

Spruce Body Lab, 1128 Richards Street, Vancouver, 604.683.3220

PS. Have you tried Dermalogica products? I think they are the bee's knees. In fact, you should check out my recent Q&A with Dr. Diana Howard on Vitamin Daily

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shoe Wednesdays: ALDO 'Dyle' Espadrille Wedge

The summer sales and in swing which means we can get shoes for under $100! Crazy, I know. Other than the spectacular Julian Louies, Aldo has been enjoying the most colourful and their best season yet. I'm always hesitant to post Aldo shoes because a few of you have complained about comfort. I agree, but I think it depends on the individual shoe. I've had some comfortable ones and I've had some ridiculously painful ones. The quality of each shoe also varies: some are leather and some are not, some are like bricks and some are like pillows (like harder pillows, not like super fluffy ones). It's a gamble.

Anyhow, I love these wedges! Happy in grassy green or lemon yellow, they are ideal for ones looking to add some bright colour to their footwear without having to break the bank (or last past this season although they might not survive past this season). My favourite shoe in the collection.

$68.98 (on sale from $100!) at ALDO.

PS. They are a slew of Aldo collaborations coming up. Exciting ones too!