All Eyes on Raf Simons.

This morning I  left a raving  comment  for Colin McDowell’ entry at  the  Business of Fashion  on Raf Simons debut at Dior   and proceeded to watching the actual collection at vogue.com 

While Ms. McDowell must have found the collection to be too retrospective, I have found it very relevant to my pear shaped self.    Such an archaic and obsolete body type, I know.  I had a separate entry about it in my other  hips related blog , and here is my take on Raf Simons  hips regardless.

In her article, Ms. McDowell pleads Raf Simons to look into his heart  and mind and express his own uniqueness rather than “examine  and re-examine Dior archives   that are done to death already.”     I got pretty tired of  examining and re-examining Dior archives for myself   but  keep doing it because it’s virtually the only choice    to put my best face forward. Pretty limiting, don’t you think?

I have been longing for something  else outside of the ‘new look’ dresses paired with the ankle booties, a combination supposed to win the right  for a caption: “classy with the twist” and “elegant but modern.”    I wonder if there is any  way to get rid of  the apologetic mode and all these  ‘yets‘ and ‘buts‘?

My admiration with Raf started last Fall when he came up with the veiled beanie for  his Jil  Sander   Spring 2012 collection.   Being utterly European but  residing in  the most casual, rough California I felt  like my personal style  can be best described as an  English esquire held in ransom  by Zulu.    When  a veiled beanie  came along I knew that the cards are turning right for me.

For the first time in my life I felt like  jumping out of my skin  and sporting the trend.  Instead I was forced to take a rain check.  Being  at the last trimester of my pregnancy  I was  quietly watching all the veiled beanie rage with my very own veiled beanie in hand.   The nature claimed the body and dictated only the most rigid silhouettes leaving no room for  whimsy.   After  I gave birth to Lucas in February of  2012  I only wore it once to the opening of Gaultier show at the SFMOMA paired with the Michael Kors color block  shift dress.   This is all I’ve got.

As I was reading  Simon’s description of his last collection at Jil Sander  I had tears in my eyes, finally  there was something on the runway  about me and my life:  “Before the show, Simons explained that this collection was all about staying home with your family—and referencing those understated codes of the house. He was thinking about a woman who spends an amorous morning with her partner and then slips on a coat to take the kids to school.”

For my baby shower in February  someone gave me a book,  “Parisiennes. A Celebration of French Women.”  I was leafing through when the picture of the combination most unusual and most modern caught my eye.   A beanie  and a matching scarf (ski sweater) paired with the most feminine, tailored suite.   Turned out an outfit by Dior, 1960.

Dior, 1960

This is when I  realized  Raf Simons will be hired by Dior. When the news finally came through,  I took it very personally.  It  felt like my very own   little personal victory. And  a very large personal hope.   Turned out I  am not the only one looking at Simons as messiah and  he must feel under enormous pressure right now.

But I can’t tell you how optimistic I am about it all.   My life is  full of amorous mornings and understated codes of  the house, I have a  two year old and five months old, a soft wool coat to slip on whenever I need to and Raf Simons at Dior who thinks of it all.  La vita e bella.

Posted in Adopt-a-Trend, Business of Fashion, Personal Style | Leave a comment

Dressing up for Opera Nights.

This Saturday I  I went to the fundraiser event  for the San Francisco Opera Academy,  an opera  school  founded by my fellow Russian (or rather an FSU citizen),  Yefim Maizel. His students were performing at my friends house.

Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti. Rossini

 

Being a person I am, big on technicalities of all things beautiful the most pleasure for me  was watching Yefim  coaching his students en vivo.  His mouth shut, arms tightly crossed Yefim was  ‘singing’  along  with his students on the stage.  Spotting the imperfection, he took a cheetah like leap into the ‘ stage’ , stopped the singer and led him through re-doing the gesture, re-working  the mimics, re-singing  the  singing.   To me this master class open for the public   is a separate form of art.  Not any less than  opera itself.

Better yet,  just on Thursday I was at the Magic Flute in San Francisco Opera house.

Had a chance to  get backstage  minutes before the curtain went up.

For about a week    I was contemplating on how to distribute my outfits between the events.    At my disposal was  a Lela Rose dark blue dress with the beaded neckline and a Talbot Runhof  taffeta skirt I pair with the crisp white shirt   Sharon-Stone-Oscar-1998-style.

In all honesty  my choice was predetermined as  I wore this  “Sharon-Stone-Oscar-98″ look to another opera event at the same house, just a month before.  I enjoyed it, but don’t think it played to its full  capacity.  Palo Alto did not seem to have enough edge for this nonchalance.     It  certainly needed  a more eclectic surrounding, a  big city and a large venue.  San Francisco Opera House was a do. I threw Alex’s jacket on to protect myself  from the San Francisco chills.

Instead the Lela Rose dress  would be too classic in San Francisco. In  a boring way.  This dress makes you such a  marriage material, one should  wear it  for the  first date or fishing for one.  Anyone looking to marry well soon  should own a Lela Rose dress or two.  It   screams ‘credibility’, ‘security”,  “integrity.”   Nothing wrong about it, only unimpressive for the  night out in San Francisco.  Makes me think of Tina Fey in “Date Night.”  But a fundraiser in  Palo Alto  indeed.

The morning before the event I still could not get excited about the dress. Till  I realized that the veiled hat, brought from Venice in 2008  would  be a good whimsical touch for this classic number.

Posted in Accessories, Special Event, Why I Pay | 1 Comment

The Guide to Sicilian Tailors

Men’s suit tailoring is not creative in a way we are accustomed to think about creativity. Though it has its very own subtle artistic fleur, I see it as some sort of calisthenics for the creative minds: refreshing and systemizing.

Here is my latest fix, the blog I came across this weekend: http://sleevehead.blogspot.com  notes of the craft and business of men’s apparel.

The author put together the Sicilian Tailors Guide which I am about to buy (contemplating over the paper or iPad version). Putting together something like this has been my secret dream, but I have never been close enough to a subject to be able to embark on a project like that.

I had a similar feeling last year when learnt about a documentary by Vicky Vasilopoulos on Italian Tailors “Men of the Cloth.” I have donated when Vicky was doing a fundraising campaign and very eager to see the movie. But back to the “Sicilian Tailors Guide.”

It was another secret dream of mine (I turn out to have lots of secret dreams) while we were on our trip to Puglia in Spring of 2010 to have a jacket or pants made for Alex. I was looking into all windows and doors but encountered a sign “sartoria” only once, in Napoli. I did not  walk in because I did not feel prepared enough. Or rather my vague longings hadn’t shaped into a well-articulated dream just yet. I needed the “Sicilian Tailors Guide.”  But at the time of our 2010 trip it wasn’t written yet.

Reading the Guide’s reviews  and Sleevehead’s entries about the guide brought back memories of our other Italian journey, to Sicily,  in 2008. This is not us, but its getting pretty close ;)

For the  scarcity we encountered in the local stores, men on the streets were dressed too impecable. I figured  personal tailoring had something to do with that. This is when the idea akin of “Guide to Sicilian Tailors” must have slowly started tickling my mind. I am so glad someone acted on his ticklings!

The book is relatively pricy and the author justifies it with the exclusive nature of the subject. Basically you need to be a little bit of a fanatic to be up to this. I love how he put it in his own FAQ section:   “my aim is to introduce the superb work of Sicilian tailors to the customer best equipped to take advantage of this special opportunity. If you happen to be an adaptable, frequent traveler and an experienced bespoke buyer, this guide may be for you….”

While a bespoke jacket in Sicily will cost you around EUR600, a fraction of what you would pay for a similar job on Savile Raw, it can not be considered a bargain. And an author warns the bargain seekers against it. To borrow his words again: “the ideal reader of this book has reached a point in his sartorial journey where he is able to take on more risk, explore a new milieu of tailors and navigate comfortably in the expansiveness of his choices. Sartorially speaking, this is not an environment most men seek. Instead, most of us seek comfort in the familiar and vetted.”

On a side note: doesn’t this sound like hunting for antiques or  investing in modern painting? In all honesty this is what I think awaits  an entire apparel industry.  As we keep spending more time behind our avatars and social media profiles,  clothes become more of an eccentricity than a commodity.

But we are still here and now.  And clothes still make the man.  And how very exciting it is to learn about the “Sicilian Tailors Guide.”   I don’t think we will be able to act on it any time  before 2014, when kids reach more or less “travelling” age. But I am going to spend these two years educating myself on men’s apparel,  studying the guide and bringing back memories from our past travels to Sicily.

yours truly back in 2008.  Catania, Sicily. 

Alex, 2008. Catania, Sicily. 


Meanwhile,  dime would you be interested in doing something like this? Meaning, travelling to Sicily to have a bespoke suite made for your man?

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How to: crochet skirt.

Letter (Please click the image to enlarge)

This  email arrived more than two months ago,  just a week before  my second baby was born and  finally I am getting my hands on it.   Will be posting about the maxi pleated skirt  shortly.

I am not sure I will be able to give a comprehensive answer to the  “non-neutral color crochet skirt” question but I did  come up with  some suggestions that will help a lot of people squeeze the best out of a crochet skirt.  I  googled  “crochet skirt” and realized it has outgrown  the habitual summer wardrobes, getting into risky liaisons with boots and sweaters.   Any  sartorial experiment  is a journey not a guided tour,  but   for those who like to plan their journeys  well ahead,  here is my take on crochet.

Crochet is  evoking of something made in an old-fashioned way during  lengthy,  lonely evenings.     Given the amount of effort (even though a killing-time-ones)  put into it,  it ends up being a   special occasion item. But  think of an outdoorsy, rustic style special occasion.  This sets the mood for the entire outfit.

Crochet will always pull out an old-fashioned,  unsophisticated side of you.  Keep that in mind and make sure it’s your cup of tea and  that  you are able to manipulate  it well enough  to  flatter your image.

Crochet’s  strong provincial message can take you  two  different ways. It can make you look  peripheral and unsophisticated, wearing your  Sundays’ best.   Or it can grant you with the  touchingly romantic look  or even serve as a veil   for the raw sexuality, the   backbone of  the Dolce&Gabbana’s brand.

How to avoid the first and get the second. Provide it with the right company.

SHOES. 

Miu Miu at Saks.com

Oscar de la Renta at Bergdorf Goodman.


When wearing crochet skirt make sure you pair it with  shoes, heels or flat  that keep your heel in one place.  It shouldn’t be jiggling.    Don’t ask why, just trust me on this one. You will do yourself a huge favor if you  pair your crochet skirt with the shoes that keep your heel intact.

The only exclusion is mules with a very high heel.  And that’s the only one.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The rainbow of ivories.

My recent blanket shopping made me delve into a  highly nuanced and sophisticated world of  the color ivory.   Ivory, or soft white comes in myriad of  hues from porcelain bisque to pebble. Here is the story of my relationships with some of them.

I ordered an ivory wool blanket from Williams-Sonoma to replace the caramel cover I owned for so long I stopped noticing  the effect it makes on the interior.   I bought it years ago, while still dancing my life away in the salsa clubs of LA, returning home well after midnight with all my limbs intact.  Despite all the glitz of the dancing world I had very little warmth in my life and quite little worth caring about.  Needless to mention I wasn’t cared about much either. As if reflecting all that  my bedroom was tabula rasa white with a comforting island of the caramel duvet. Then  I moved to the Bay Area where I met Alex. He helped me carry the rest of my belongings I had left in LA, namely the bed and my caramel duvet. One of the weekends we  flew to LA in his four seater Mooney.  I was supposed to rent a van there, load my belongings  and drive it back to the Bay Area while he would fly back solo.  My incapacity to accomplish the project became obvious quickly upon arrival.  Alex parked his plane in the Van Nuys airport and drove the rented van with me, my bed,  the caramel duvet and loads of half-necessary stuff in it  back to San Francisco. I don’t remember how he picked up his plane from Van Nuys, but six years and two kids later my our bedroom turned much more warm-hued with much less white. May be that was due to the cooler climate of the Bay Area or inspired by  Alex’s warm skin tone and personality. Either way the caramel duvet lost its appeal.

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Posted in Color stories | 3 Comments

O tempora o mores!

When I came up with an idea of Manolo lines resembling the celebrated images from the history of art,  Ingre’s nudes weren’t the first thing that  popped up in mind at once.  At first it was just an archetypical nude woman from the classically themed European paintings. Searching for the one with her soles beautifully exposed I scanned numerous of classical nudes and read up on a couple of seminal works considered beacons of change in our sensual perception  that moved the history of art to the next level or rather signified that the move had taken place.

On a side track I kept thinking just what all these people living 30, 100 and 500 years ago felt while looking at those paintings. Why Titian’s Venus and Manet’s Olympia seemed so scandalous to them.  Looking for the perceptional clues I recalled  Helmut Newton’s photo of Daryl Hannah published in the May issue  of 1984 Vogue, a contemporary example of the outrage elicited by the Titian and Manet. For a moment all three  seemed to blend naturally  into a collage and the artistic inspirations that made   Newton, Titian and Manet push the envelope  became  aligned.

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Posted in Pictorial Precedence | 1 Comment

Another Orange Inspiration.

Every other morning I put the “Good Morning” video on youtube  from the “Singing in the Rain” for Syliva and then I usually click around  wherever  youtube takes me.  Sylvia seems to be pretty interested.  Today I ended up with the Barbara Streisand’s  “Don’t Rain on my Parade”  and couldn’t help noticing yet another orange inspiration. And just  how well it looks with mink.

I thought that this scene from the “Funny Girl” had a similar vibe with the  “Show Me” number from my “Fair Lady.”   And then watching them one after another made  me pay attention how in both scenes these ladies are breaking away from something; they are represented as fighters.  It looks as if the orange is brought in to  emphasize their wilderness and conquering moods.   Don’t you think so?

Also from what I understand  this icy, pale salmon color that Audrey is wearing  would be considered extremely bold for the Edwardian times she lives in.

Posted in Color stories | 4 Comments