According to model Lily Cole, if you tally up the economic value of what people in the UK give each other each year - by way of a helping hand, volunteering, tutoring for free, offering, an assist, a favor...stuff - it adds up to more than the value of GDP. That's a lot of generosity. Which is the point of Impossible.com, the site Cole founded as a way to give us all a central digital hangout to express our better natures and offer to do stuff for others just because we can - and post wishes so others can do the same for us. I posted writing and editing help - 'cuz it's one of my superpowers & that way where someone is physically in the world doesn't matter. And I wished for someone's older Macbook Pro or iPad, either 'cuz they're bored with or because they're looking to upgrade. Most heartwarming though on the site, I think, are the thankyous that pop up in the stream. It doesn't say what for, just that gratitude is being expressed. Which is wonderful. (image)
And you? What do you wish someone could help you with or maybe give you? And what could you help others with?
This focus on people's better nature and how to harness it is one of the hallmarks of the FOLKSPUN fashion tribe that I'm tracking. Here's the podcast I recorded about this. Enjoy!
Giving jewelry as a gift is and isn't tricky - if you know the trick. Which is, I think, is to focus on good quality, whatever your budget, be it 5 Euros or 5,000. At least that's the word from the experts at Trabbia Vuillermoz, where they have bling for most any occasion, be it an anniversary, wedding, baptism, birthday...Christmas.
Speaking of which, Santa, are you listening? *ahem* Here are my Top 5 from Trabbia Vuillermoz, in order of preference. (Although personally, I'd prefer everything on the list.)
More sophisticated than rich purple (which can feel a bit too Prince) and definitely more elegant than full-on pink, Radiant Orchid combines what you love about both shades in a more subdued and intriguing package. "An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health," explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute about their choice for the 2014 Color of the Year. "Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination. An invitation to innovation, this captivating purple encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society."
Compared to this year's choice, Emerald - below with 2012's Tangerine Tango & 2011's Honeysuckle - Radiant Orchid is a universally-flattering shade that I think accurately represents the contemplative mood so many of us seem to be in as we prepare to welcome a new year.
In home decor, expect to see a lot of it used on walls; as accents with its sister shades of lavender, purple and pink; to liven up neutrals such as taupe, beige and gray; or for more vibrant visual appeal contrasted with pale yellow, turquoise and vibrant teal. In fashion, it looks lovely with greens such as olive and rich hunter. And for beauty, as blush it's a no-brainer, but also looks gorgeous on nails.
Here is a video of Eiseman discussing 2014's Radiant Orchid. Enjoy!
Scenarios of life after "the apocalpyse" are generally pretty grim and awful. And peripatetic. Lots of having to escape zombie hordes, evade gangs of ne'er-do-wells, fight to the death...and all generally before breakfast. In other words, lots of raggedy-ass threads and frantic moving around. Meaning shoes which will probably look a lot less chic than the fabulous footwear of "edgy" post-apocalypse fash-magazine spreads above and much more more like this charming "sort of Neo 18th century future cowboy (that's a tongue twister) living in the plains" created by Mo, a student at the University for the Creative Arts in the UK. The premise for the project was based on apocalyptic scenarios and "the items and clothing that the human race would be using in those situations...and what would these scavengers use on their feet."
Something pretty cobbled together, no doubt, but still - the look of Mo's "future cowboy" creation immediately brought to mind for me those super-long & pointy shoes of yore which were popular in Europe from around 1300-1450 or so. Called Crakows or Poulaines (meaning "in the Polish style"), they kept growing ever longer and needed to be stuffed with mosses and even reinforced with whalebone to keep their elaborate shape. Both the Pope and King Henry IV attempted to curtail the wearing of these things, but more fashionable heads prevailed. As did practicality, eventually, when at the 1396 Battle of Nicopolis, French Crusaders resorted to nipping off the tips of their poulaines in order to run away from the enemy.
Their shoes apparently made a run for it as well, straight to the new millenium in the form of these "half-Aladdin, all-Vegas" numbers that were apparently quite the rage to wear out dancing for a time in Matehuala, Mexico. "They would put all kinds of things on them, strobe lights, belt buckles, and those red lights that flash when you step on the shoes," recalls a DJ in a area of Dallas, Texas where many Matehualan migrants live. To which the wife of another wearer added: "The boots makes them look more sexy because you can tell they are daring." (via)
Saving the land doesn't necessarily mean a return to it. Especially if that means no more fashion...um, no thanks. Happily, there are innovative thinkers approaching the problem by working with Mother Nature, in particular with plant systems and their programming at the level of the cells. By tinkering in this area, they are able to biologically manufacture plants that produce nutritionally-supplemented foods and...fashionable accouterments.
The hybrid plant above produces strawberries in a Vitamin C-rich shade of black from the top end, while the root-end grows matching Haute Couture'ish lace. And like the Fragraria Fusca Tenebris (Strawberry Noir), Ocimum Basilicum Rosa would produce culinary and medicinal Basil No. 5 and a perfumed lace trim, while Solamum Lycopene Fabricae would yield both lace and a crop of tomatoes rich in Mother Nature's UV protective factor: lycopene.
Who knows how the Spinacia Aurea Electrica would taste but the fact your spinach came from a plant that grew micro-biological transistors for the electronics sector is nothing short of extremely cool. "This post 2050 scenario considers a radical mean to combine food production together with textile production, thus designing plants that could replace textile macherinery but also provide nutrients," explains Carole Collet of the Textile Futures Research Centre at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design about her project. "BioLace is a speculative design-led research project that investigates the intersection of synthetic biology and textile design to propose future fabrication processes for textiles. The motivation behind this research lies in the hypothesis that living technology can foster a new approach to address some of the key sustainable challenges of the 21st century." (via)
Here's the podcast I recorded about this eco-topian scenario and the FUTURENETICS fashion tribe:
If you've ever wished you could hide in plain sight but not blend into the background too boringly, then you probably intuitively understand the appeal of encasing yourself from toe to top of your head, face included, in a skintight nylon/spandex bodysuit. Zentai, it won't surprise you to know, originated - where else - in Japan during the 1980s. As it spread west, various companies began designing their own flashy versions, the flashiest of which is without a doubt the Morphsuits one festooned in 20,000 diamonds and priced accordingly. "If you like bling, shiny things and have £1million lying around," note the Morphsuiters (so named because "everyone who wore them morphed into a more fun version of themselves"), "the one and only Million Pound Morph is the morphsuit for you." (via)
The question for me is this: why would any morphsuit, diamond encrusted or otherwise, be for anyone?
"It’s like a portable safety blanket," explains one enthusiast, "like you’re pulling the sheets up over your head." While another compares it to "an all-over hug." What most everyone who enjoys zentai'ing as a normal part of daily life - grocery shopping; cooking dinner; playing video games with (non-morphsuited) pals - all seem to agree on is that they love the way the suits render them anonymous, invisible almost, and yet manage to turn them into a spectacle at the same time. (image)
And a touch cyborg'ish too, I think. The facelessness, in particular, makes the point of interest what's going on inside the suit. Which is what most of the Rich & Famous want to be loved for. Not their money, nor their flashily fabulous taste in morphsuits, but themselves. Which is a large part of what this trend speaks to, IMO. (image)
Here is the podcast I recorded about this morphsuit and how I think it fits into the vibe of the Supremium fashion tribe:
Resources are growing too scarce and our population too large for the fashion system to continue indefinitely along its current wasteful path. So what is to be done? The solution definitely includes less globalization and a lot more local wisdom. Which is also the name of an ongoing project at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, part of the London College of Fashion.
Through a series of photoshoots in different countries involving volunteer locals, Local Wisdom collects stories, habits and practices of how we use clothing. After all, most of us have to wear clothes every day, making us kind of experts in the art of getting dressed. Our collective experience, ingenuity and freethinking is being tapped by the project as a way to switch some of the focus away from the buy-buy-buy product side of fashion and explore instead the final destiny of garments and the ways they are lived. An area many design schools simply don't address. To say nothing of the way resources are wasted in the process, including crops like cotton and what goes into growing, harvesting & processing them.
Local Wisdom has proved so successful that in order to communicate the knowledge, skills, themes, strategies and practices identified and developed, a project dubbed the Craft of Use was launched. The goal of both projects isn't to grow or maximize consumption, but to pace it - all while keeping fashion fabulous, relevant and interesting.
Heres' the podcast I recorded about this. Enjoy! :)
Although the time has come to Christmas shop, you need neither drop...nor drop the gift-giving ball by gifting the wrong thing. Yes, fashionistas (and fashionistos) are a picky, persnickety bunch, butIf you can't go to Paris for a spot of #crossitoffyourlist shopping, bring Parisian chic to you via Carnet de mode. Their team of trendspotters has an enviable eye and they even put their money on it, helping crowdfund up-and-come'rs in the fashion biz.
The real fun of fashion is, of course, the fact that there is always some new trend, "must-have" or otherwise lustworthy piece to add to your wardrobe. Especially when it gets chilly out which means snuggly layers, badass boots, bold bags & cute coats. The un-fun part is, generally, when it comes time to pay. Which is one of the reasons Tidebuy rocks. I totalled up this cute head-to-toe look I pulled together and it would have cost me just under $170! The breakdown:
They have a ton of on-trend pieces at great to really-great prices, which gives a girl room to experiment a bit. Like I did with this ensemble. What makes it work, I think, is the mix of classic and edgy. The plaid coat would feel right at home at any proper prep school, but pairing it with punk-inflected jewelry and colors - particularly the bold cobalt-blue bag against the #checkmeout red of the pant - gives it a downtown vibe. And there are few outfits in life which can't be made that much more fabulous with the addition of towering leopard pumps or boots.
- Lesley Scott
[Note: This was written in partnership with Tidebuy. The words, editorial pics & artwork are mine.]
"I love these gorgeous new shots of Kendall and Kylie modeling for Sherri Hill prom dresses," blogged their proud sister Kim Kardashian. "Simply stunning!" Kendall also worked the Sheri Hill runway along with Miss China 2011 Luo Zilin, Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella and Carmen Dell’Orefice when Hill debuted her glam gowns at New York Fashion Week. She first strutted onto the scene after Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Universe contestants all won titles in her gowns; other celebs the designer works with include Selena Gomez, Carrie Underwood, Carmen Electra, Bella Thorne and Miranda Lambert who like to grace the red carpet and other big appearances in gowns that say G-L-A-M-O-U-R.
If you're more a denim 'n diamonds kinda gal, the strapless cocktail numbers with fun poufy tulle skirts look adorbs with cowboy boots or cute ballet flats. Wanna show off all your hard work at the gym? A lacey bodcon number has your name on it. And should you be black-tying one on for New Year's Eve, she has a good selection of floor-length fabulousness to choose from. For the upcoming 2014 prom season, she's mixed ladylike lace and beautiful beading to create frocks worthy your own red carpet events, whether you need a beautiful dress for a beauty pageant, to hobnob with A-listers, or reign regally at prom.
- Lesley Scott
[Note: This was written in partnership with DressFierce.com. The words are mine.]
While our taller sisters are usually described by the rest of us as stylish, graceful and lovely, they often feel otherwise when faced with the challenge of finding clothes that fit. From having to buy tailored shirts and blouses a size or two larger to get a long enough sleeve (which means putting up with droopy shoulders) or cropped pants that fit more like knee-length breeches instead of mid-calf capris, to the "short shorts" that looked like city shorts on the hanger, to say nothing of a correctly-proportioned rise or just the simple pleasure of an inseam that's long enough for once. However, those long legs that make the rest of us so jealous needn't be most challenging part of shopping thanks to the elegantly long-legged experts at Long Elegant Legs. All their trousers, leggings and jeans have 36" inseams and, depending on fit, a longer rise if need be; jackets, tunics and blouses accommodate longer arm lengths. The popular body-shaping skirt or dress is made to fit longer torsos, while built-in shaping will help keep your figure holiday-trim. And since no holiday can be considered complete without comfy stuff to lounge around in, good luck choosing between a sassy animal print, funky polka dots or cozy plaids.
- Lesley Scott
[Note: This was written in partnership with Long Elegant Legs. The words are mine.]
When I first laid eyes on the "Teddy Boy meets Punk" cutout boot on the Balenciaga S'11 runway, it was love/lust/obsession at first sight. I was determined to have a pair - and perhaps if the Fashion Gods were playing nice, they'd see fit to conjur me up some in not-blue. And see fit they did! Bank Fashion recently sent me a really cute version of cut-out booties in black (very me) by Bronx.
So what to wear them with?
Poking around the site and marveling at their excellent prices - which would allow you shop and have enough left over to be able to afford to step out & show off your new look - here's a fun home-girl look I came up with. It features all merch from Bank, right down to the cool laser-cut top, stylish ear-cuff and cherry-red satchel.
Growing up in a family of orthopedic technicians and prostheses constructors, Annelie Gross understands more than many designers that many of us were not blessed by nature with a perfectly functioning body. Her background fostered within her a knowledge and interest in unusual body shapes and special materials. This piece, "Scoliosis", is part of her work in the the Fashion Artefacts program at the London College of Fashion, highlighting clothing items that "distort and restrict the body and by that cause the very opposite of what is meant to be healthy, "she observes, which is "a phenomena...often seen in fashion.''
Here is a video of how her pieces look on bodies in motion:
When our distant ancestors moved up the food chain past mere survival and protection to enhancing their physical surroundings - scratching lines onto sticks, chipping stone into tools and adorning the cave walls creatively - they were engaging in what French anthropologist Andre Leroi Gourhan has deemed a significant turning point in the history of humanity: taking our mental thoughts and exteriorizing and amplifying them into physical form. The result? Our lives improved and our powers expanded. "Our most basic instincts have been driving us to climb higher and higher ever since," observed Stefano Marzano when he was CEO & Chief Creative Director of Phillips Design (he's currently Chief Design Officer at Electrolux) in a really interesting essay "The Culture of Ambient Intelligence".
"Simply surviving is not enough," he continues. "We want to become invincible, immortal and essentially demi-gods - at all costs and as our top priority. This deep-seated human longing is widely reflected in myths and legends, and popular culture: in the Faust story, for instance, and in Superman, and Bionic Woman. It is also reflected in many religions, where gods or goddesses are often seen as all-powerful and in essentially human form." Our drive to be everywhere, do and know everything, enjoy more power - and all accomplished with a minimum of effort and maximum of comfort - lies at the heart of our collective wanderlust. While airplanes are considered passable because they can take us most places, Marzano notes that if flying was less like cattle transport and more like what a bird experiences, it would be far closer to the ideal. And being beamed around Star Trek style, would, of course, be the ultimate.
And this trio of wishing to be superhuman, desiring omniscience and craving comfort is what drove once-giant clocks to became slim wristwatches, phones & audio systems to be crammed into smart gadgets and room-filling computers to be slipped into a stylish sleeve - all manifestations of this extremely long-legged trend of Miniaturization. "Many of the devices that we have created to exteriorize and expand our powers will make the journey back inside us - and become effectively re-interiorized," he adds. "But why are we driven in this way? Simplifying, I believe, exists because we want to survive, to attain the highest possible levels of comfort and freedom, and to make sense of the world. Today, the means may be different, but the goal of our activities is the same: Empowerment through comfort, freedom and simplicity."
- Lesley Scott
(images via Phillips; Lascaux cave painting via Wikipedia)
"Life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing, and that is that everything around us that we call life was made up by people who are no smarter than you, and you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don’t live one, build one."
The philosopher behind this bit o' wisdom is none other than Ashton Kutcher. I know, right?! However, in the spirit of not tossing the tool out with the crazed teen girls who wouldn't stop screaming during his surprisingly excellent acceptance speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards, I thought it would be fun to apply his insight to fashion.
By looking at how someone with flair to spare conceives of future fashion.
Like Australian artist and performer Onix Black, who is in her royal Cyberqueen incarnation here. "My vision is to inspire art and fashion into a new age of cyber elegance through the creation of iconic fashion and beauty images and video production," she explains. "I'm drawn to all things futuristic and I’m fascinated by beauty in all its forms. I create images that challenge concepts of beauty and fashion, that inspire progress into an age of futuristic grace, technology and style." (via)
Madonna. Catherine Zeta Jones. Jennifer Lopez. Sharon Stone. Jennifer Garner. Julia Roberts. Kate Winslet. Taylor Swift. Sarah Jessica Parker. Carrie Underwood. Mindy Kaling. J. Lo. Christina Hendricks. Taylor Swift. Katy Perry. Helen Mirren. Halle Berry. Brooke Shields. Jane Krakowski. Kate Winslet. Kelly Osbourne. Queen Latifah... Besides being gorgeous, what do these lovelies all have in common? A love of a glamorous Badgley Mischka evening dress that's a fab fit, whether you're a Hollywood award-winner, society bride, presidential daughter or one of the fabulous femme fatales that inspired Mark Badgley and James Mischka for their Fall/Winter runway collection.
"A paradox of the cool surface and the inner fire," notes Badgley. “Our style harks back to the glamorous Hollywood of the Forties," adds Mischka. As do their fine fabrics and excellent craftsmanship...which tend to be a footnote in fashion history all-too-often these days. While their designs typically include luxe touches and details, the overall silhouette is simple, streamlined and elegant - very retro glam but with fash-forward flair.
And yes, black is always a failsafe choice for evening, but it's fun to step out after dark in color, if nothing else to stand out in a sea of black-black-black. White is a surprisingly stylish choice as is bright lipstick red. I love the retro elegance and curve-flattering draping of the sapphire gown (below, far right) with its beaded overlay. And if you're ready to pull out all the style stops, shimmy into the shimmery emerald number oozing with enough va-va-voom to pretty much guarantee you'll be the belle of the holiday ball.
- Lesley Scott
[Note: This was written in partnership with Badgley Mischka. The words and choice of dresses are mine.]