ZBspoke

A Few Words on Fashion

Street Seamstress, Shanghai

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PRC, BRB

So my New York trip didn’t quite pan out, mainly due to dental emergencies (three surgeries in four weeks) and scheduling issues with work. But I really did pack in the exact manner I detailed and I had I gone, I would’ve traveled with said baggage. Unfortunately other baggage was heavier. Le sigh.

Never mind, I am Shanghai-bound tomorrow so let’s excuse my previous domestic travel mishap, shall we? Packing strategy for this trip: none.

Back-track for a sec here. Let’s approach this the way we approach everyday enrobement at our best: channeling.

Channelling (v.): the appropriation of a visual idea, usually from pop culture or—if we are to be very erudite and arcane, a literary or historic character, ex. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Daphne of Arcadia if we’re feeling demure—translated into one’s own dressing habits. Blah blah blah you get the idea right? Ok let me put it this way: you want do to flapper. You’re feeling blasé. Throw on some pearls, a loose fitting dress, and kitten heels in which you can’t properly drive and you can run all over people like Daisy Buchanan. But don’t do that; it’s a terrible look and doesn’t age well. I imagine Daisy ended up wrinkly and saggy as if she had been floating in a pool too long, which is justice in the end. Too bad they didn’t have La Mer in the 1920s, D.

But back to packing for our 10-day China adventure: These days we don’t have porters to carry our hat boxes and steamer trunks, and Hong Kong is done being British. Ergo, we must pack economically as per the times. In this case, I’m thinking sporty-tourist chic: Stella McCartney for Adidas mixed with Helmut Lang and Alexander Wang T tops, a large Gryson bag for major expeditions and my little Marc by Marc sling for night. Prada sneakers I picked up in Milan 10 years ago when they were a major thing, never really caught on in the US, but Fashion is afoot in Shanghai.

I’ve also stashed away a knit Rag and Bone pencil skirt that can do day or night outings, and a great strapless black Vince jumpsuit which I plan on belting with a vintage YSL rope number courtesy of my very fashionable mother, to whom I owe all my fashion and traveling savoire-faire, and a pair of jeweled Choos which have seen much, much better days. Please stay tuned for November when I elaborate on both these subjects.

But in the end, this really isn’t a fashion trip. I’m going to look weird no matter what I wear, because I’m a blue-eyed redhead and probably taller than most Shanghai residents. I don’t speak the language and I don’t read the characters. I have no idea what I’m getting into other than some notes I have on medieval China under the Yuan (I wrote a thesis on Mongol art my senior year in college) and an episode I saw of No Reservations. Only one of those things is probably still relevant, but from what I know of Shanghai—a city in constant flux at the epicenter of global exchange—neither may be.

So here I go, LAX bound in the morning, arriving in the PRC the following evening. Back in 10 days.

To Be Continued…

xx Z

Video of the Week: Lana Sings the Blues

One time, a few years ago, I made the mistake of shopping at H&M watching David Lynch’s Blue Velvet straight through, first thing in the morning, alone. When I say morning, I mean it was dawn-thirty in an old house in New Orleans and no one was awake but me. The spook factor was through the roof, which, unlike some of my former residences, was thankfully fully patched and leak-proof. Trust me, the intrusion of water into your living room and the subsequent ceiling damage it causes—ex. bits of it falling on your head—is considerably worse than any Pabst-swilling, sociopathic Roy Orbison fan stealing your baby and husband. Or maybe it’s not, but it’s still pretty bad.

Such was how I originally considered Lana del Rey: pretty bad. It was nighttime, I was alone in a house in Houston—this one built in the current century—and someone ambushed my inbox with a clip of Video Games. I want to use some Frank Booth language to describe my initial feelings towards the video, but I’m too much of a lady to speak like that (in public, anyway).

Both videos—the Games and the full-length feature mentioned above—left me more than a little disturbed, but both have come, in time, to be cherished, preferred pieces of my personal pop culture portfolio. From Blue Velvet to Blue Jeans, Lynch and Lana got me good.

…And that’s about as far as this argument can be extended. The parallels here are flimsy and drawn only for the purpose of introducing the baffling new H&M ad, which is in-and-of-itself a dubious piece of film.

The commercial, which debuted last Wednesday, presents the somewhat unceremonious and dimly-lit union of the internet chanteuse modeling H&M’s fall line and random Lynchian imagery. Its references are not even all from Blue Velvet, and I’m fairly certain Lynch was an unwilling groom. The clip is unsettling but not in a cerebral way, although del Rey’s cover of the film’s title song is good. Watch:

 

 

New York State of Mind

Thinking big in a small space: easier done in Manhattan than when trying to pack to get there, which I what I’m attempting for the coming weekend. Four days, three nights, two dinners, one brunch and myriad other activities, each necessitating outfits at varying levels of formality; all must fit into a carry-on. I am refusing the $25 checked bag fee–those are funds better allocated towards a post-plane bellini at Cipriani.

I need: shoes for night, shoes for day (walkable, both), blouses, shirts, a jacket, a sweater, a skirt, tights or leggings, a handbag for day, a handbag for night, and a rain trench since the forecast shows 66 degrees–that’s practically arctic for my Southern blood–and a 40% chance of rain. If there’s anything more detestable than being cold and wet, it’s being poorly dressed to boot. And boots are out of the question since we’re dealing with a cabin-sized suitcase.

Heels are warranted, but they’ll have to be somewhat substantial; I’ll need my toes covered and I can’t walk far in stilettos. So I’ve chosen a chunky YSL-looking (they’re actually Dolce Vita) pair in grey and black suede with gold piping and an ankle strap. The heel is thick; they go with everything and I’ll probably wear them to dinner once or twice.

This is step one in today’s prudent packing lesson: make sure everything is coordinated and can be worn more than once, but never reuse an outfit; that’s boring, folks. It helps to stick to a certain color palette, and also to make a list of what you’re doing and where (wear?).

Color-wise I’m doing greys, blues, and blacks for the clothes…

…and adding a P.O.C (pop of color!) with accessories.

One of my favorite modes of P.O.C.-ing? Lipstick. MWAH!

In addition to the heels, I’m packing a pair of black smoking slippers and I might throw in my white Converse, since I know it’s going to rain.

For that reason I’m also taking my rain-trench, which I’ll probably wear on the plane over my  pullover, which, unworn, assumes the most space of any one item.

Also wearing in transit: My jeans. Yep, I’m only taking the one garment. Don’t look at me like I’m an unlaundered child of the gutter; I said one garment, not one pair. Huh?

MY JEANS ARE REVERSABLE!! Haha!

These clever pants are made by Bleulab and they are AWESOME for traveling. I acquired them earlier this year; I think they’ve gone on just about every trip I’ve taken since.

So what’s left? Makeup, shampoo, face wash, and jewelry, all of which I will put in travel sized-containters (they sell them at the drugstore) and will likely put in my purse—black, pictured above with the blues and greys and is itself the size of a small suitcase—so as to ease the screening process at security. Flying from one major US airport to another major US airport does not a fun time with the TSA make.

And here we have it: all four days, three nights, and a couple of extras just for good measure all fit into my little bag, and I still have space for acquisitions!

xx

Z

Video of the Week: Coco vs. Coco

Supermodel Coco Rocha has now been twenty-four for exactly one week now—let me know how it is Coco, I’ll be joining you in exactly one month, eek!—and has had her new White House Black Market spot on the air for the same period of time. It’s cute, watch it here:

Did you know that Rocha was discovered at an Irish River Dancing competition? Truth. And OK so that’s kind of nerdy, but also kind of cool. Hidden talents, ya know?

And why do I know all these intimate biographical things about Miss Rocha? Because I grew up in the era of the Supermodel and only grew into a 5’5” frame so it’s like my bone marrow soaks up this knowledge it needs to grow but won’t use because my bone structure is stunted. It’s a particular affliction certain little girls of the early 90s must bear. It’s really a terrible thing and can cause a lot of stress on the joints; River Dancing is simply out of the question.

Z

White Noise

Labor Day has come and Labor Day has gone. Summer is [socially] fini, though technically we’ve got nine more days til the start of fall. But with so many autumn shindigs a-comin’, ie fall outfit ops, who has time to mourn the dog days past?

Now that we’ve had a full ten days to grieve, let’s just go ahead and address the big white elephant in the room: can one enrobe oneself in said animal’s skin tone past the first weekend of this month?

In short, oui.

Firstly, if we’re going to be all posh and bothered about this rule, let’s make sure we’re being correct as well: historically, the rule applies to shoes only, and that includes soles. Especially soles. Now think about who made this rule (we’ll get to that nonsense shortly but continue to consider for the time being that those who penned it are, and always will be, the utmost authority on les règles de la mode) and let us consider why this rule was made: if Labor Day is the end of summer, socially speaking, then all summertime activities cease and desist til the Day of our Savior’s Rising in the Spring. Until then, the tennis rackets and their accompanying footwear are shelved and the sailboats with their requisite white-soled boat shoes are docked.  So if you’re not out sailing you should begin saying farewell to your Sperry’s and promise you’ll see them again next year.

But if you’re in the Bahamas or Florida, or even if you’re even just down in Galveston, can’t you be out on the water well into December? But of course you can, and your boat deck needn’t be scuffed up just for fashion’s sake, and honestly, though boating may conjure up all sorts of Jackie O-on-Aristotle’s-yacht-type style fantasies, the truth of the matter is boating is not a glamour-driven sport. And so we begin to see the cracks in this allegedly unsinkable No-White-After-Labor-Day decree.

I’m reminded of a photo I saw several years ago on the Sartorialist’s blog:

http://www.thesartorialist.com/photos/on-the-street-white-jeans-for-fall-paris/

She’s walking through the Tuileries in November and looks perfectly seasonable. This is actually one of my all-time favorite outfits, and incidentally the one that prompted my acquisition of these Frye engineer boots shortly thereafter.

I currently have my eye on a black pair of OTK boots—I think these may finally be The Ones—and I do believe they’d look more than a little spiffy with a pair of white skinny jeans and black moto jacket, an idea inspired by the Tuileries muse. Per the Rule, I can’t wear that because white is now so passé. But if I wait until after Easter, my boots will be too.

Labor Day is a strictly American holiday but puh-lease; since when do we in America decide the world’s sartorial standards? Though the CFDA would likely disagree, “We the People” are not the international authority on how to dress. Though no one’s chic like a French girl is, I think the photo above proves layering and accented juxtaposition can transition any color, any garment, and anyone into Fall. If the Tuileries girl can do white jeans and make it seem appropriate, I can do them too. But let’s forget appropriateness; that’s not something I’d ever hear a French girl worrying about. And if French girls aren’t the standard, who is?

So let’s put color aside and consider cloth instead. Linen, seersucker, Madras and the like do not do well into early October. Garments in these fabrications should be put away when a chill hits the air, mostly because they’re just non-functional at that point. We need suede, and wool, fur, and—my favorite—leather. But again, if you’re a college kid in the SEC, by all means wear your seersucker to that Saturday morning tailgate. It’s 100% appropriate as long as the weather permits.

The issue then is not whether you wear the color white, but how you wear it. White jeans and boots with a dark color top? How clever! Hearing your silk blouse crying limply from its hanger? Layer with a turtleneck and take it out on the town. Still want to wear your platform sandals into fall? Put some opaque tights underneath. Love your jean shorts like you’re a Never Nude? Do the same thing. Kate Moss does. All the time.

White denim shorts + black opaque tights + boots + a turtleneck and blouse?  Do not mind if I do!

boots: Frye. shorts: 7 for All Mankind. sweater: Helmut Lang. blouse: Equipment. That’s right. It’s a sweater UNDER a blouse!

See you again tomorrow September; I’ll be dressed and ready.

Z–

 

Do You Know What it Means?

The thing about writing and managing your own blog is that you work on your own schedule; it’s not like in school where your paper is due and you either pull an all-nighter to git er’ done or get an extension that still ends with a due date.

I realize it’s been awhile since the last post but, if it’s any excuse, I was out of town this weekend in the City That Care Forgot (and where I forgot to care about this blog) and I have only just gotten back. When I say “just” I mean five days ago and when I say “this” weekend I actually mean “last.” But since I’m moving on Louisiana time this is practically prompt.

And of course whilst I was away I shopped. I didn’t mean to—I really didn’t—that’s not why I went. But shortly before I left I read an article in Women’s Wear Daily entitled “New Orlean’s Retail Rebirth” (Rebecca Kleinman. Tuesday, July 31, 2012) and I felt it would be a complete waste of my subscription if I didn’t visit at least one of the shops mentioned. We always find a way to reason.

One of the things I love best about New Orleans—the city I called home for several years until last September—is the symbiotic relationship of death and creation: it is quite literally a civic Shiva.  For every Rita churning in the Gulf there is a marg doing the same at Superior; for every timepiece that stops ticking, an artist’s cogs to turn the thing wearable again.

I bought the bracelet pictured above at last year’s Bayou Boogaloo festival where Forrest, the guy behind Arts Kinetic and these awesome creations, had a booth set up. Among the cleverest in the line: little watch cog people earrings, which I unfortunately have no image of but you can find them here. There are a bunch of other super cool collections too. I love this one especially.

Schade für mich, the bracelet broke (not due to faulty craftsmanship—I’m just seriously ungraceful) and I had forgotten to have it repaired until I saw similar pieces this weekend at Vernon, a shop on lower Magazine and also the only place mentioned in the WWD article I made it into.

Vernon’s walls are decorated with these awesome (I’m assuming vintage) James Bond movie posters and they stock a mixture of men’s and women’s ready-to-wear as well as fragrances and jewelry and other lifestyle tchotchkes. The space is pretty small but well used and there’s a small, old-school bar in the center back, maybe for decoration but since this is New Orleans it’s probably functional as well.

Of course my attention was immediately diverted to the shiny things in the cases around the register and since one of the shiny things was also a skull thing, well…you can see where this is going. The wares were by St. Claude Nola, another local designer/artist. I use these terms in conjunction with one another because most New Orleans-based craftsmen are totally hands-on with their product, which is pretty indicative of the local spirit in general. Anyone can tell you: it isn’t Washington that’s rebuilding New Orleans; it’s New Orleanians themselves, both natives and transplants, that are bringing it back.

Serious political talk over, let’s get back to the pretty things:

These are one of two pieces I bought that day. The skull earrings really aren’t an original design; I could have picked something similar up anywhere. I bet if you googled “skull earrings, buy” you could find a pair for sale quicker than I was able to type the suggestion.

But that pair won’t have soul. To me, there’s a significance in the fact that these were locally made, made from brass—which is a pretty unique metal for jewelry—and follow in the tradition of vanitas art: a visual reminder of our mortality, albeit a lovely one.

I acquired this necklace by St. Claude that day too. Since I couldn’t fit into the Saints bikinis Vernon stocked (apparently I have been eating my feelings about no longer living in NOLA for the past year…?), my funds fell on this.

Remember kids, you can never be too fat for jewelry.

And, on a separate outing to Magazine–because, yes, there had to be more thane one–I picked up these, courtesy of the Defend New Orleans store:

Hilarious. They’re not a fashion thing but I felt they needed some publicity. AND they go to a good cause, so while you’re preventing one spill, you’re helping clean up another. I don’t know if I can handle the level of puns here.

As a post script, I’d like to ask everyone to keep the victims of Isaac in our thoughts this week. It wasn’t a big storm, but a hurricane of any category is a serious thing, especially for that low-lying area of the coast.

xx Z

All I Want For Autumn Is…

 My two front teeth A pair of thesethis (in Frenzy), and thigh-high, over-the-knee flat boots.

Not a lot to ask, is it? Oh no. This is where one finds oneself harshly in the wrong. Frenzy is already sold out and boots are the hardest thing in the world to shop for.

Since c. winter 2009, I’ve been going completely crazy for a pair in the over-the-knee style but, fearing the imprudence of a possible one-season trend spend—I’m a [half] WASP: we make wardrobe investments—my guilt (blame that on my other half) staid me. Last year, in true Wasp-y Yuletide-y spirit, I attempted to cheat the eye and spare expenses by pairing a black thigh high sock with my black vintage Guccis (hand-me-down riding boots from my Episcopalian mother, duh). It looked somewhat foolish, more Hot Topic than Haute Hippie.

2012 shall be the year this nonsense stops. What with the Mayan Armagedon etc. occurring this winter, it may be the. last. chance., and we wouldn’t want our knees to be poorly dressed when the world ends, now would we? Indeed not. Ergo, Ima get on* a pair of thigh-high boots and say to the world: who cares where you’re from or the culture that bore you; It’s all about where you’re going and how fabulous you look when you arrive. 

 

*Feel free to laugh at my incredibly clever little pun. It’s not like I didn’t take that straight from Miss Congeniality, which if you’ve never seen (seriously though, why haven’t you seen it you’ve had well over a decade by now since it’s release) you should probably just quit reading this right now and get yo’self to netflix before December comes ‘round and you can never watch movies ever again ever. The world is ending, got it?

Buuut since it’s only August and still pushing 100 temp-wise, I have ample some time to [ful]fill my shoes mission. Stay tuned for thrilling updates.

In the meantime, enjoy these Givenchy feet coverings—I’m not sure they can be called shoes: 

Everytime I look at these I giggle. They look like yak feet, if the yak were shorn and maybe had gout.

The general consensus from the style crowd seems to be that these are super stylish; I think they’re super stupid and I’m just not going to waver on that. Sorry Ricky.* 

*That’s Tisci, for those of  you no smarter than yaks and yak-like footwear. 

 Also on my wishlist for fall: leather. Leather everything. I would bathe in leather soap bubbles and sleep in leather pjs if such things were manufactured. I LOVE LEATHER.

 

And the hoarding has already begun (courtesy of Kelly Wearstler and the August super-sales):

 

 

On a side note, I highly encourage the googling of “pictures of yaks” for brief and meaningless amusement.

 

bisou bisou,

Z

Slipping and Falling

When it comes to getting dressed, I take a rather Nietzschean approach: Follow trends I do not (and apparently take yoda-like speech patterns when discussing said dressing habits). Besides wearing one (almost shearling vest season, almost!), I don’t want to be a sheep, but even I cannot curl my toes up at this fantastic fall footwear trend: the smoking slipper.

Behold:

Miu Miu Tassel Loafer

FINALLY, something new. Swear, it’s like you see the same silhouettes season after season—tortuous ones, all about the stacked heel or the flatform (Love, but let’s be real, in my line of work—and most—it’s just totally impractical to have that much material between myself and the earth. The feets! They hurt!). The SS does the same job as a ballet flat, but working a different silhouette on the foot it looks fresh and feels the same.

I don’t love cats the way some folks do, but Charlotte Olympia‘s kitty slippers are too cute:

Some of the cleverest shoes on the market. Stop it! My sole is aching.

To ease the pain: Pour la Victoire’s Astrid flat is fierce and financially feasible. I shall most certainly be acquiring these in Black Pewter (pictured) and/or Tobacco and/or Tobacco Yellow and/or Burgundy Red and/or  every single color way P.l.V produces.

Pour la Victoire’s Astrid Flat

Look, even Jeffrey Campbell, possible king of the stacked heel/flatform/sky-high-spiked-glittery-whatever is doing smoking slippers, so you know this is a thing:

Jeffrey Campbell’s Martini Suede Studded Loafers

If you get a pair (though really, you should acquire more than one) in green or navy or one with an embellished toe, you could work up to four fall trends at once—imagine that!—without looking stupidly overdone.

Said trends could be, and I’ll type this quickly with my eyes clothes so I don’t have to go around bearing the guilt and shame (Friedrich would be so disappointed) of advocating fashion en masse:

  • navy and green—fall’s it colors
  • embellishment in the form of brooches, which could technically appear anywhere, even on the toe
  • masculine and British influence via the style of shoe, and then the shoe itself which if you haven’t been paying a lick of attention during this entire post, is IT for the footwear this season.

Since I am disinclined to give a full fall trend report at the mo, here are some others who have so graciously compiled ones for you:

Style.com’s Fall Trend List

Ken Downing’s Fall 2012 Trends

xx Z

All Pink Everything

Last Thursday was the annual Party in Pink at Hotel Zaza, benefiting cancer patients and survivors via the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation and a handful of the city’s 200 whose [social] health depend upon attendance at functions of these sorts. Only kidding! The party was circus themed—take from that what you will—and excellently executed. Everything, and I mean everything, was pink; even the water in the fountains and the rosé champagne that was [allegedly] being passed out (I never actually saw a full glass, sigh). Sprinkles Cupcakes provided treats, which, and this means a lot coming from someone who is not a big fan of cupcakes, were uh.maz.ing. I think I ate, like, four. Later Sprinkles’ offered pink candy-coated apples. Precious to pose with, not as cute to eat. Wish I had taken more pictures, for you readers’ eyes to feast on (since you can’t have any cupcakes mwahaha), but I think CultureMap got it covered.

inconsPINKuous in the evening’s color of choice

wearing: Joie dress, Chanel pumps, Marc by Marc Jacobs purse. Earring by Necromance.

bisou bisou,

Z