Thursday, May 31, 2012

California Dreaming: Q&A With Heidi Merrick

Heidi Merrick at Oliver & Lilly's (photo by Jamie Mann)

A quintessential California girl, Heidi Merrick was raised in what can only be described as a Californian dream. Her father is the esteemed surfboard shaper Al Merrick and her mother ran the family business, along with their very own surf shop. With both creativity and business savvy, Merrick launched her eponymous label in 2007, which in just a few short years generated a loyal following for her unmistakable West Coast breezy flare. We caught up for a casual chat (in true California style, she called me "dude," which, I have to say, made my day), during her trunk show at Oliver & Lilly's in Vancouver.

 S/S 2012

Growing up in surfer culture, what made you go into fashion?
My mom ran a surf shop, so I grew up in a store. So I think the clothes thing is really natural. I always knew the seasons and buying -- I always did the buying with my mom. Since I was six, I've been sitting in on buying appointments. I feel like I couldn't do anything closer to what my dad does. I mean, clothes are something that I understand from just being a girl. I wouldn't say I'm excessively into clothes -- I'm not that type of a girl -- but I am a type of person that likes to make things, run a company. 

S/S 2012

Your line is locally produced in California. Is keeping things at home of great importance to you?
We do [the manufacturing] within walking distance from the studio. I'm right in the middle of the fashion district, so we have a good community. For me, this is my namesake. It's important to me to know the people; to know them by name. When I write a cheque, I like to know who I'm writing it to.  

Do you feel like us West Coasters sometimes get a bad rep fashion-wise, being too casual and all?
Oh, yeah. I think they don't get it at all. I think it's mainly because they are jealous of the lifestyle. We have the better weather, and we have beautiful living. For me, it's about lifestyle and that comes through in the collection. 

F/W 2012

What’s the inspiration behind your F/W collection? 
We were going for a gentlemen surfer type, so the palette is cleaner. I took it from the picture of Shaun Tomson in the '80s. There is this great picture of him in a tube, wearing a yellow wetsuit, so I took my palette from the skin and the ocean. 

You recently added a home line. What’s next for Heidi Merrick? 
I'm really trying to get ready-to-wear to a point where it's recognizable. I feel like I have some collections that are really strong this way, and some that are strong in that way. We are working on a line of candles, so I have something really lovely coming up.

F/W 2012

What has been the proudest moment in your career so far? 
Tonight! This lovely girl came in, wearing three separate seasons. To see someone hundreds of miles away from me that gets my aesthetic and is wearing it throughout the seasons, it gave me the chills -- it's awesome! 

Define Heidi Merrick in three words.
Cool, luxe, and West (Coast).

Heidi Merrick collection is available exclusively at Oliver & Lilly's in Canada. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: Barbara Bui 'Biker' Sandal

It's fantasy shoe time. Actually, I was hoping these would be included in the sale, but -- just my luck -- they are not. Oh, well: nothing wrong with a little unrequited love. I have to admit I never paid much attention to Barbara Bui because, well, I was silly, but after going to her flagship in Paris, where I wanted oh-pretty-much-everything, she is now definitely on my must-have radar. 

It's her shoes in particular. Bui has this wonderful ability to combine incredible heights with a sporty element. There is always a certain toughness, even with the most elegant of silhouettes. And this colour combo always makes me gush. 

$970 at

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life's a Beach


L*Space 'Italia' Bikini Top ($84)
Rachel Zoe 'Delfina' Chiffon Pants ($495)

Oh summer! Beach barbecues, pool parties, boating adventures...endless fun, and an endless array of cheerful swimwear goes along with it. For the longest time, I only wore plain black bikinis (how boring), but a couple of years ago, I finally decided to embrace fun prints. I kind of felt like a changed person -- I finally stopped trying to blend into the crowd. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Item of the Week: Saint James 'Golathée' Tee

There are many, many striped shirts in this world, but there is only one Saint James. As you know, J.Crew recently opened in Vancouver and I was thrilled when I saw that they carry Saint James. Hailing from Normandy, this sailor tee has been on the style map since 1850, or at least since Coco Chanel discovered it in the late 1910s. The long-sleeved version was worn by Audrey Tautou in Coco Before Chanel. (Other famous fans included Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.)

What I like about the Saint James version -- other than the fact that it's so incredible soft -- is that it's slightly baggy. Its sleeve width is quite generous, allowing one to do that nonchalant sleeve roll. 

$108 at J.Crew (in more colours!). 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beauty Fridays: Eyes Wide Open

Puffy eyes: it's a genetic thing for me. Most of the time I have pretty good control over them, but a couple of late nights, one drink too many, and they're back with a vengeance. Lately I've been using Philosophy's new-ish Eyes Wide Open gel to great results. This is not to say that they disappear completely (when a product that does that is invented, I'll be ready to shell out hundreds of dollars), but it does do a little depuffing magic. Like most similar products, it does contain caffeine, which contracts the blood vessels under the skin and eliminates some of the excess water. If you are prone to dry skin under your eyes, it's probably beneficial to use it in addition to your regular eye cream. But, all in all, a solid depuffer. 

$39 at The Bay.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Style Icon: Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola in Little Black Jacket (photographed by Karl Lagerfeld)

I admit that I may have spent too much time on, because, obviously, I really, really want to be one. Or at least look like one. Sofia, of course. 

Cozy in fur at a Chanel Haute Couture show in 2008

There is no denying that Sofia Coppola was born into a life of privilege, but she was also born into a life of good taste. The latter is much, much more important. I mean, the entire family is ridiculously talented: Francis Ford and Roman Coppola, Nicolas Cage, Jason Schwartzman...even 20-something Gia Coppola is all abuzz now.  

In Louis Vuitton at a Somewhere screening in Tokyo in 2011

Francis Ford Coppola is an undeniable genius, and Sofia is not far off. There is an elegant restraint in her work, which can also be said for her personal style. You'll never see her overdressed (which I think is much worse than being underdressed), and her sartorial choices often tilt toward the casual end of the scale. 

Black on black at a Somewhere screening in New York City in 2010

Often opting for simplicity on the red carpet, Sofia mostly wears black, although she is a big fan of pink and lilac (also evidenced in her cinematography). Her style hasn't really changed since the early 90s, and neither has her hair. I suppose she found her "life cut" and stuck with it (coincidentally, it's pretty much my haircut right now -- maybe I'll keep it). 

In Chanel at a Marie Antoinette screening in 2006

As far as designer loyalty goes, Sofia prefers French houses such as Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Chloe, and YSL. She is also good friends with Marc Jacobs, for whom she acts as a muse (imagine!), and Azzedine Alaia, whose custom lilac dress she wore to her wedding, marrying Phoenix's Thomas Mars (for her first wedding to the equally awesome Spike Jones, she wore John Galliano). Oh yes, she is also really good friends with Anna Sui. 

In a pink and girlie Dior at a Dior show in 2008

And, as aforementioned, she has great taste in men (minus that rumoured brief fling with Quentin Tarantino -- okay, he is really talented so I'll forgive). Thomas Mars is amazing, and together they are a dreamy, lanky, indie power couple. 

Sofia Coppola (in Alaia?) with Diane von Furstenberg and Ashley Olsen at the Christian Louboutin/David Lynch party in 2007 (I want to be in this club)

And the company she keeps? Well, it includes anyone who is anyone.  Like, how dreamy is the picture above? I think once you're friends with Sofia, it's a sign that you are truly in the know (sorry Gwyneth). 

Vogue Italia (December 1992)

Honestly guys, go to now -- I can't do her justice in one post. Also, I really want this issue of Italian Vogue from December 1992 so if you have it, let me know. 

Images courtesy of, Fashionologie, and

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: Balmain 'Jaden' Heels

I'm not the biggest fan of Balmain (I mean, it's really cool and all, but it doesn't really live up to its name -- a story for another day, perhaps), but I love these shoes. I'm a fringe fan, although 99% of the time, it tends to look cheap. Well, not here. 

They are sexy, slightly scandalous, but not over the top. I'd wear them with jeans (both boyfriend and skinny), billowy silk slacks, shorts, or, if I was Carine Roitfeld, with a pencil skirt. 

$640 at (I think there might be a sale coming soon!). 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Item of the Week: Ora 'Sadie' Bag

I'm always super-thrilled when I find out that something I've liked for a long time is actually from my hometown of Vancouver. Such is the case with this Ora bag, which I spotted on a friend of mine about two years ago, but had no idea that the designer was a local. 'Sadie' is one of those ingeniously convertible things that can double both as a backpack and a bag -- the benefits of the bucket shape. I love its softness and carefree nature. One can just throw everything in, tighten the string, and go. 

$250 at (also in black and coral).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Beauty Fridays: Art Play

Ruffian S/S 2012

Ruffian always has the best nails. I've already talked about the F/W ones, but let's rewind a little to the current season. I love anything where stripes are involved so, of course, I also love this. Inspired by Ruffian's sporty collection, nail artists used CND (as always) to create the look. 

Instant Artist Kit ($15 at Shoppers Drug Mart)

Recreating the look at home is the tough part, but it just got a little easier thanks to Quo by ORLY's new Instant Artist collection. I spent some time this week playing with the brush, trying to do something similar to Ruffian, and it looked pretty good, considering I'm super shaky. The dotter tool, however, is super easy and precise, even for twitchy fingers. 

Quo by ORLY Instant Artist Nail Paint ($4 at Shoppers Drug Mart)

The Nail Paint from the collection is pretty thick, definitely more opaque than the average nail polish, so only one coat is needed. It itself has a skinny brush, but I found the one from the kit to be more precise. As far as the colours go, I'm all over the neons.

Ruffian image courtesy of Kimskie's Nails.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Comme Des Garçons, White Drama

Unless one attends Paris Fashion Week, it's a rare opportunity to see the entire Comme des Garçons collection in person. I mean, most stores only carry the Play line or, at best, a couple of ready-to-wear pieces here and there, but most of those are modified to meet buyers' demands.

Comme des Garçons' "White Drama" S/S 2012 collection is on display until October 17th at Cité de la Mode et du Design, Musee Galliera's temporary space during renovations. It is unusual to have a sole collection from a designer on display (fashion exhibitions usually involve some kind of a retrospective), but it's not unusual in the art world where many artists simply exhibit "new works" every couple of years or so.

When I think of Rei Kawakubo, I think "artist" first (although she is also an incredible business woman -- the company grosses around $180 million a year). You'll never hear Kawakubo say things like "I was inspired by a modern woman" or other things one might hear coming out of Donna Karan's or Michael Kors' mouths during Fashion Week. (Not that there is anything wrong with that -- it's just different.)

White Drama is Kawakubo's first all-white collection, a concept that takes one thorough ceremonial moments of their life that could be interpreted as birth, marriage, and death, although the collection has been wildly popular as bridal wear. It's extraordinarily romantic, whether slightly morbid or not. Even looking at what can only be envisioned as one's funeral dress -- a silhouette completely laid out of white flowers -- there is a sense of peacefulness and joy. 

The craftsmanship is impeccable: Kawakubo’s mastery of fabric and volume is reminiscent of Cristobal Balenciaga (who curiously enjoyed his own exhibit just next door), and her attention to detail is couture-worthy, or often referred as demi-couture.

The existential concept of life and death makes for a powerful collection and its presentation inside plastic bubble domes only adds to the dreamy element.  

"Comme des Garçons White Drama" runs through Oct. 7 at Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design in Paris.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: K Jacques St Tropez 'Papyrus' Sandal

Is it summer where you are? It's totally summer here, and Vancouverites are spending every leisurely moment on the beach. Unfortunately that means that they have also fully adopted a uniform of jean cutoffs and flip-flops -- even for the city. The former, I dislike (they can be cool on the right person), but the latter, I hate. Flip-flops are lazy, sloppy, and should only be worn to the beach. Or to your pedicurist and back. Agree?

However, I do love a nice, breezy leather sandal. A few weeks ago I featured Vancouver-based designer Erin Templeton's Roman Holiday-like sandal, and this week I'm going straight to the source of the ultimate summer dream: St Tropez. 

K Jacques St Tropez is a small family-owned shoe company that's been around since the 1930s, rooted in the town's handcrafted shoe-making practice. Over the years, they have collaborated with Balenciaga, Givenchy, Helmut Lang, and Kenzo -- all equally impressive! Zebra, neon...what's not to love?

$315 at Net-a-Porter. (Okay, a little pricey, but this kind of a sandal lasts forever and looks even better well-worn.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Item of the Week: H&M Tropical Blouse

I love this tropical landscape print. It reminds me of those silly Hawaiian shirts that even George Clooney had a hard time pulling off in The Descendants. But this adorable cotton blouse shouldn't have much difficulty integrating itself into one's wardrobe -- provided, of course, that you are open to a little Tropicalia. It also reminds me of both Altuzarra's and Dries Van Noten's S/S prints, but for a fraction of the price. 

$24.95 at H&M.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For My Mom

Here's my mom looking very cute and stylish back in the '60s. She still has the same haircut and reads my blog every single day. (Love you!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Beauty Fridays: SPF Smart

Gracia UK (June 2012)

This weekend is supposed to be nice and sunny across the country, so it's definitely time to talk SPF. Sun protection has come a long way since we slathered Coppertone all over our faces as kids. Last year around this time, I talked about some pretty smart SPF solutions -- I still think they are great, so please check them out

The latest, of course, are BB Creams.  Essentially, they are a new generation of tinted moisturizers. I wrote a pretty extensive article for a while back on all the different kinds currently available in Canada. There are two BBs, however, that I'm kind of gaga over, and one almost-BB cream. 

Estee Lauder DayWear BB Cream SPF 35 ($45 at Estee Lauder)

Estee Lauder is medium coverage and available in two shades. It has that lovely, refreshing cucumber scent many of their products have. 

Elemong BB Cream SFP 25 ($50 at Beautymark)

Elemong is one of the original Korean brands and it rocks. It's creamy and provides ample coverage, giving one a pretty flawless appearance. But here's the thing: it's only available in a very Snow White shade, so it's pretty limiting in that way. 

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ($39 at SkinCeuticals)

Finally, there is another product that is not a BB Cream, but is equally smart: Physical Fusion UV Defense by SkinCeuticals. Also tinted, its very sheer coverage helps even out the skin tone without looking like you are wearing anything. And this one is water resistant, so it's a beachy plus.

Tip: Use over your existing moisturizer.

Have you tried BB Creams or tinted SPFs? If so, which ones are your favourites?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

COS (Collection Of Style)

I fell in love while I was in France and I'm afraid it's totally of the unrequited kind. Well, sort of. See, I discovered COS (Collection of Style) and that stupidly catchy Carly Jay Repsen song started playing in my head...something along the lines of "before you came into my life, I missed you so bad." All this time I've been missing something I didn't know existed. And now that I know it exists, I can't have it. Why? Because COS is not available outside of Europe. Like, they won't even ship it.

I'm sure my European readers are probably familiar with the brand, but those that are just discovering it will be surprised to know that COS is owned by H&M. Think of it as H&M's cooler, sleeker, older sister, one that forgoes silly trends and focuses on crisp lines. And -- the best part -- nothing in the collection costs over €200, except for a couple of leather pieces. COS launched in 2007 and H&M launched in 1947 -- let's hope it doesn't take COS half a century to arrive to North America. In the meantime, my European readers: can I ship stuff to your house? 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shoe Wednesdays: Ash 'Bowie' Wedge Sneaker

When I first heard of the return of the wedge sneaker, the first thing that sprung to mind was the Spice Girls, both Sporty and Posh -- the latter especially. Remember when she first moved to the States and was a star of her own reality special with that terrible "May-jah" catchphrase? Yes, that was around the same time she wore these Dries Van Noten wedge kicks. I did like them a lot...on the runway, that is, and not on her. 

Isabel Marant

The lifted sneaker of the moment is, of course, by Isabel Marant. Everyone in Paris wears them, so I guess it must be a thing. Just kidding -- they really grew on me over time, although I would never shell out $700 for this type of shoe. But the Ash version above is much more reasonable for this current fad. 

I know some of you will not approve -- thoughts? 

$225 at Shopbop.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs

Marc's World

Being the fashion capital that it is, Paris is home to countless fashion exhibitions. Not surprisingly, I visited quite a few. One of them was Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs at Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The exhibit focused on the story of two men -- Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs -- and their respective journeys and legacies with the house of Louis Vuitton.  

Trunks For One Trip

To draw parallels between the two men, design-wise, would be a stretch, unlike with Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld or with Jeanne Lanvin and Alber Elbaz. Instead, the two were treated to two separate exhibitions: one dedicated to Vuitton and his legendary trunks, and the other to Jacobs, the resurrector of the iconic brand. 

Stephen Sprouse

Vuitton was not a couturier, but a craftsman -- or in his terms a "packer" -- while Jacobs is first and foremost a clothier. But what the show really communicated is their penchant for branding, a skill that is just as, if not more, valuable than being a great designer. 

Go Wild In The Country

In Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, author Dana Thomas begins her tale of the birth of luxury with the story of Louis Vuitton. Back in the mid-1850s, Vuitton invented what we see today as an identifiable fashion brand by trademarking his Damier checkered canvas pattern. Today, Jacobs' job -- one he has done extremely successfully -- is to keep the trademark visible at all times, while giving it a fresh spin here and there. In Deluxe, he tells Thomas that "Vuitton is a status symbol. It's not about hiding the logo. It's about being a bit of a show-off." 

My Favourite Colour Is Shiny

The quote itself sums up what I love and hate about the brand. While I consider Jacobs immensely talented, I would not consider him in the same fashion genius category as some of his contemporaries like Alber Elbaz or Raf Simons. But then again, Jacobs runs the most profitable fashion house in the world and he does so by being -- for the lack of a better term -- a marketing game-changer.

My Favourite Colour Is Shiny

Like Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs himself is a brand in his own right. He surrounds himself with the right people. He collaborates with the right people. Take, for example, his collaborations with Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami. What happens when your loyal costumers have already accumulated every iconic Louis Vuitton bag? Turn things on its head. Do something provocative and spark a whole new level of "want." (I suppose that was also Georges Vuitton's logic when he trademarked the LV logo shortly after his father's death.)

Put On Your Sunday Clothes

It's really what every Louis Vuitton collection in the last ten years has been all about: the spectacle. As was with this exhibition. It certainly didn't have the emotional pull of the Cristobal Balenciaga: Fashion Collector and Comme des Garçons: White Drama shows I saw a couple of days later, but it made me look at Jacobs in a new (shinier) light, as a global purveyor of mass-produced luxury. That is the parallel between the two designers. 

Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs runs until September 16, 2012 at Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Item of the Week: IRO Leather-Trimmed Linen Gilet

I'm back from Paris, and I hope you are ready for a French invasion. There are a few labels that I sort of paid attention to before visiting France and, while there, became a big fan of. Iro is one of them. They do that Isabel Marant-y French-girl-meets-Americana kind of a thing.   

In other words: I'm into it. Especially this leather-trimmed linen gilet. I love the way they styled it with a pretty little summer dress, although it would be a great piece to have all year round. 

$685 at Net-a-Porter. (Okay, it's a lot cheaper in France, but spring sales are just around the corner.)