I've been a big fan of designer Jackie Fraser-Swan's Emerson collection since I attended her Lincoln Center debut a few seasons back. I've also been a huge fan of Kork-Ease since high school, when I wore my Ava's (which we called Buffalo Sandals, for reasons I've never understood) til they fell off my feet. So I was beyond thrilled when Fraser-Swan collaborated with Kork-Ease for Emerson's spring 2013 outing, sending a trio of black-and-white beauties down the runway, which acted as a perfect counterpart to the collection's strong, graphic silhouettes. I was less thrilled to learn these covetable kicks were runway-only (cue sad face) but I wanted to share them with you anyway, since they're just so damn cool. (And maybe the parties involved will rethink their decision and release these styles for next season? Pretty please?) In the meantime, you can content yourself with off-the-rack versions of the styles shown at Emerson (Bette and Hailey, respectively). Or follow my lead and go old-school with the original Ava, which is the perfect blend of form and function and will see you through summer in style (knee-highs optional).
The Label:Fleur du Mal Based In: New York City Designed By: Jennifer Zuccarini, the social media loving co-founder of kinky-chic luxury lingerie line Kiki de Montparnasse and former design director of Victoria's Secret, who launched Fleur du Mal in late fall of last year as an online-only proposition. "We launched just five weeks ago," the Toronto-born, FIT-trained designer told TFI's Lauren David Peden just before the holidays. "I started working on the concept last year. The idea was to create a brand that evokes desire. When I discovered the name Fleur du Mal ("flower of evil"), it really represented a dichotomy I'm always drawn to—beauty with a bit of a dark side. The story behind Baudelaire is also very intriguing, we were using the theme "love hurts" for our campaign—a reference to his poetry. I see the brand as hopefully developing a culture and encompassing everything from music to art and design." To this end, many of the non-fashion items featured in the site's editorial images (from books and artwork to rugs and furniture) are also shoppable via the click of a mouse for a truly immersive online experience. Looks Like: Chic, strong, provocative and feminine, Fleur du Mal ranges from seductive underpinnings to sleekly sensual ready-to-wear (heavy on the leather, chiffon and peek-a-boo details), designed, says Zuccarini, for "women and the men who love them" (wink, wink). Spring 2013 was loosely inspired by the Seventies cult film, Death Race 2000, which showcased what the designer calls "crazy-sexy Seventies silhouettes, floral appliqués and women in helmets." The resulting collection blends all of the above (sexy bodysuits, satin tie-back panties, lacy balconette bras, leather-bodice dresses and chiffon panel t-shirts), sans the helmets. Zuccarini collaborated with the venerable Paris corset makers, Cadolle, for spring and has a few similar tricks up her sheery lacy sleeve for upcoming seasons. Sold At: Fleur du Mal ranges from $45 - $350 for lingerie and $195 - $2,500 for collection and is available exclusively at Fleur du Mal's website.
So after two fashion-and-fun-filled years, my partnership with Rue La La's The (Style) Guide blog has officially come to an end with this final post on Polly Mellen's talk with Fern Mallis at 92Y, which I attended just before the holidays. Thanks to all my Rue peeps, past and present, for making our collaboration so enjoyable.
I've been partial to Moleskine notebooks since I began my career as a journalist more than two decades ago. But that changed the day I received a Working Class Studio journal from the good folks at shopSCAD. Created by artists from the Savannah College of Art and Design using soy ink on post-consumer waste recycled paper, these colorful lined notebooks are the perfect—and perfectly chic—companion, whether I'm interviewing designers, covering New York Fashion Week or jotting down notes for my Great American Novel (hey, a girl can dream, can't she?). They're about twice the size of the pocket Moleskine and feature a similar elastic band to keep them closed when tossed into the darkest recesses of my bag. But what I really love is that they cost just $10 bucks and boast a variety of graphic print covers, so I can change my notebook seasonally, as I do my wardrobe. And that's about as stylish as it gets.
The Label:ZuZu Kim Based In: New York City Designed By: Christina "Zuzu" Kim, a self-taught classical pianist-turned-designer whose work is inspired by her passion for music. "The original idea came from designing dresses for my own piano performances and evolved into creating the ZuZu Kim brand," the designer said of her spring 2012 launch, dubbed "Concerto," which recast traditional musician's stage attire into ready-to-wear. "Fashion and music are so synonymous I don't think we can imagine one without the other." Kim, the well-traveled daughter of the former South Korean Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, studied fashion design and fiber at the School of Art Institute in Chicago and was head designer at Mary McFadden before stepping out on her own. The ZuZu Kim collection is aimed at a woman who is "fierce, independent, passionate and has a sense of humor," Kim tells TFI's Lauren David Peden. "She speaks to others without the need to speak—her inner joy and confidence speaks for her." That's certainly true of ZuZu Kim fan Olivia Culpo (aka, Miss Universe 2012, who also happens to be a talented cellist). Looks Like: Sophisticated and classic with a slight edge. Fall 2012 was inspired by the second movement of the designer's favorite Mozart piano concerto—No.20 in D minor, "Romanzo"—and resulted in elegant tuxedo blouses, hooded ponchos and conductor jackets offset with lyrical scallop and lace details. The spring 2013 collection, "Coloratura" was inspired by a bright, saturated, feminine color palette and complex yet seemingly simple techniques, as can be seen in the half-sleeve tuxedo, graphic print separates and pretty asymmetrical dresses. Kim, who still studies piano repertoire at Juilliard weekly, recently partnered with VH1 Save the Music—the non-profit organization whose mission is to restore instrumental education programs in schools nationwide—to co-sponsor her upcoming New York Fashion Week presentation. Sold At: The collection is available by special order online at ZuZu Kim.
The Queen of Clean is back! All Hail the Queen! That would be Jil Sander to you and me. After an eight year absence, the master of minimalism returned to her namesake label with the spring 2013 collection. But while the designer's other acolytes were busy swooning over her elegant dresses and color block sweaters, I was lusting after her two-tone leather boots with a sexy golden zipper that spirals around the leg from ankle to knee. They're a perfect complement to her spare silhouettes—and a perfect example of ebony and ivory, living in perfect harmony.
The Label:W118 by Walter Baker Based In: New York Designed By: Walter Baker, who launched W118 in 2009 after the recession hit as a more affordable counterpart to his namesake collection. "W118 is a bit younger, more fun, definitely edgy," says the accountant-turned-designer. "It's a very print driven line that totally tells a story. Walter is a bit more refined, the beauty is in its simplicity." Looks Like: Fall 2012 had a Seventies/James Bond feel. "Our girl was tough and in charge," says Baker. Spring 2013 is all about fun in the sun, with bright colors and tons of artfully clashing textures and bold tropical prints. This season, says Baker, the W118 girl is "a jet setter, a force to be reckoned with!" With W118 (and the recent additions of bags and jewelry) she's got a wardrobe designed to take her seamlessly from desk to dinner—and beyond. Sold At: W118 by Walter Baker sells for $300 and under at Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, specialty stores nationwide and online at W118 by Walter Baker.
In honor of the recent holidays, I corralled a bunch of fashion insiders (designers, stylists, editors and the like) into dishing on the best gifts they've given and received. Hand knit sweaters, personalized scrapbooks and vintage Rolex, anyone?
Really, what's not to like about Dallas Clayton's whimsically upbeat drawings? His cheerful, idiosyncratic creatures hop, skip and jump across the page (or computer screen), urging the viewer to Be Yourself, Make Magic, and Have Fun! Clayton's own story—he wrote a children's book called An Awesome Book!, after the birth of his son, self-published after being turned down by several major publishing houses and became an instant hit—is equally inspiring (as are his illustrated poems). He's now got a devoted international following and a three-book deal with HarperCollins, offering living proof to kids of all ages that if you work hard and believe in yourself, dreams really can come true. Which is, in a word, awesome!
The Label: Laura Siegel Collection Based In: New York City and Toronto Designed By: Laura Siegel, a Toronto native who studied at Parsons and London's Central Saint Martins before launching her socially conscious collection (made by artisans in India, Peru and Bolivia) in spring 2012. "A lot of the experiences that shape who I am as a designer come from my encounters and collaborations with artisans I would meet in my travels," says Siegel, who divides her time between New York and Canada and spent her gap year backpacking around the world. "Connecting with people is one of my favorite things in life. It's why I love going overseas to work in person with each artisan. Fashion is the best way to connect with other humans by going beyond my own creative expression and creating pieces that are a true reflection of my customer's personality—giving her a vehicle to express her inner self." Looks Like: Eco-chic for 21st century Mad Max-inas (or, as Siegel puts it, "a global-minded, cultured woman that is very comfortable in her own skin"). Relaxed, layered and highly textured, the fall 2012 collection, dubbed Dream Resurrected, came about, says the designer, "from a quest to create new dreams after mourning the loss off the old. It references cave, rock and soil imagery and landscapes through ancient hand-dying techniques, knitwear, embroidery and washed leather." Spring 2013 was inspired by life blooming in the desert (think: cacti patterns, lightweight knits and dusty, sun-bleached colors). "The idea is to combine all my passions together into a life-long project that would provide women with clothing that fuses comfort, beautiful textures and versatility, while sustaining cultures and crafts across the globe." Sold At: The Laura Siegel collection retails from $150 to $1,500 and is sold at Oak, End of Century, Curve and online at ShopLatitude and ILWYW (I Like What You're Wearing).