Saturday, April 30, 2016

FASHION CONFESSIONS: Prabal Gurung

Prabal Gurung, a New York designer from Nepal, is known for his bold color combinations and elegant silhouettes. For him, a women’s intelligence is equally as important as what they wear often saying he’s designing clothes for a thinking man’s sex symbol. So it’s no surprise to see a range of women wearing his clothes from movie stars like Sarah Jessica Parker and Demi Moore to high-profile and influential women like Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. I sat down with Gurung at Neapolitan Collection in Winnetka to talk about many things including his new spring collection for the Chicago Tribune but I managed to sneak in a few questions for Fashion Junkie.

WHAT’S YOUR FASHION ADDICTION?
Vintage white tee shirts. I have a great collection where ever I travel I’ll go to thrifts stores to find something. So that’s my addiction.

WHO’S YOUR STYLE ICON?
Personally, for me, it would be James Dean but as a muse, it would be a mix of Audrey Hepburn and Catherine Deneuve.
Audrey Hepburn

PRIZED POSSESSION IN YOUR CLOSET?
I have this vintage Romeo gilet sports windbreaker. I don’t think I’ve ever worn it, but I still have it!

LAST SONG YOU DOWNLOAD?
I downloaded whole Rihanna’s album

Rihanna's Anti album

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
Grace under pressure

LAST TIME YOU WERE STARSTRUCK?
I was invited to the opening night of Color Purple by my friend Jennifer Hudson, and I was seated right next to Gloria Steinem.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people like the First Lady or the President, but that was a different kind of starstruck.

Steinem, with the history of all the work she has done I’ve always been in awe of and always admired her. Just to be able to meet her I was so nervous I was shaking.

Prabal Gurung's collection is available at Neapolitan Collection in Winnetka.

Neapolitan Collection

CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Gurung's Collection inspired by Nepal

Thursday, April 28, 2016

NEW WORK

Photographer: Erika Dufour
Stylist: Jessica Moazami
Hair: Angelica Costa
Make-up: Nika Vaughan
Models: Lina P and Jessica Larusso at Ford Model Management

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

FASHION CONFESSIONS: Betsey Johnson

Betsy Johnson at Macy's on State Street
You might know Betsey Johnson for her crazy hair or legendary cartwheels she does after her runway shows. However this 73 has been in the fashion industry for over 50 years and has seen it all and done it all. During her recent visit to Macy’s State Street store, I sat down with briefly Johnson to talk about her extraordinary life.

WHAT’S YOUR FASHION ADDICTION? I don’t shop! I’m addicted to going out by myself, sitting, relaxing, looking around. I realized I love to people watch.

AFTER LIVING IN NY FOR OVER 50 YEARS YOUR NOW IN CALIFORNIA, HOW’S THAT BEEN?
Ten months ago I became bicoastal. Oh, my god, I can’t believe it’s been that long, I feel like it’s been two weeks! Malibu is just beautiful. My daughter, her husband and their two kids were out there and asked me to come. However if they ever said move to LA, I would never go. I know LA well, and I just didn’t want another version of NY. And you can create craziness if you want to when you are there.

Isla two-piece platform sandals, $79.99, by Betsey Johnson available at Macy's

WHO’S YOUR STYLE ICON?
I look to music industry I love everyone from Madonna to Pharrell. Gwen Stefani is looking great and a young Keith Richards.

LAST TIME YOU WERE STARSTRUCK?
I won the lifetime achievement award last year from Council of Fashion Design of America and Pharrell won style icon. I and especially my family were excited to me Pharrell. I love watching The Voice.

Betsy Johnson with Pharrell at CFDA
Pharrell and Betsey Johnson

WHO HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO MEET BUT NEVER HAVE?
Daniel Craig. Remember him in Casino Royal when he comes out of the water? I also love his wife, Rachel Weisz.

WHAT’S ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Nothing…I’d like to live longer!

WHO’S YOUR CELEB CRUSH GROWING UP?
Elvis
Betsy Johnson at Macy's on State Street with Fashion Junkie Jessica Moazami

Betsey Johnson's Collection is available at Macy’s.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

FASHIONABLE INVITES: May

Who: Style Experts Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
WHAT: Meet and greet
WHERE: Ann Taylor, 600 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 312.587.8301
WHEN: May 3, 2016, 4-7pm
WHY: Receive a copy of their best selling book, The Knockoff, with any purchase as a gift.

Friday, April 22, 2016

REAL V DEAL: Prabal Gurung v Topshop

REAL: Knit sweater with cutouts, $2295, Prabal Gurung
DEAL: Cutabout cricket jumper, $85, Topshop

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times

The British period drama, Downton Abbey, has come to an end but don’t let that be the finale for you.  Currently at The Driehaus Museum on East Erie St. they are showcasing over 35 costumes from the series. As we all know the intricate wardrobe, along with the decorative locations, were integral parts of the show’s charm. Like most British period dramas of this quality, the production went to great pains to make sure the costumes were historically accurate. They recreated looks and also used original early 20th century fabrics and embellishments.
Robert Crawley, Earl of (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham
(Elizabeth McGovern) 
The exhibit is a real coup for the Driehaus with Chicago History Museum’s Costume Collection being the obvious location choice. However, the venue is perfect; the items are housed in an elegant Gilded Age mansion. Once the home of banker Samuel M. Nickerson the mansion, at the time of completion in 1883, was reportedly one of the most expensive and elaborate private homes. More importantly, they are placed in context surrounded by European and American decorative and fine arts from the late 19th to early 20th century. With the exhibit spread over three floors, it allows you the space to also view the Driehaus Collection, which itself is impressive.

The exhibition showcases some of the most iconic pieces including Dowager Countess of Grantham’s purple silk dress and Martha Levinson's silk and fox fur coat.
Martha Levinson's silk and fox fur coat
Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine)

I was excited to see my favorite dress, worn by Cora Crawley for Lady Rose MacClare’s presentation at court to the King and Queen of England.
Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham's lilac velvet and diamanté embellished dress

Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham 
(Elizabeth McGovern) and Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James)
Advanced tickets have sold out, but you still can get them on the day. My recommendation is arrive early. I went on a Friday morning and I haven’t seen an exhibition so packed during the weekday since the Bowie exhibit at the Modern Contemporary Art.
Lady Edith Crawley evening dress (left) and Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham evening dress
Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) and Martha Levinson ( Shirley MacLaine)
Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times
When: now through May 29
Where: Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St.
Tickets: $25; 312-482-8933 or driehausmuseum.org

Monday, April 04, 2016

IS THERE A NEW SEXY?

What’s sexy today isn’t what was sexy before, well as least according to Anna Murphy. In an article for The Sunday Times Murphy asks “What’s Sexy Now?”
Old sexy verses new sexy by Anna Murphy for the Sunday Times
“There always used to be an agreement of sorts on what sexy was, fashion-wise at least. Sexy was tight and short, or tight and low-cut; better still, it was both. It was skirts, not trousers; heels, not flats. Sexy was what men liked, and given that until a couple of generations ago most women’s future, their financial security, depended on them being what men liked, sexy was what every sensible woman liked, too. Of course, you wanted to look the right kind of sexy, the marrying kind of sexy – nothing too tight or too short or too low-cut.

Now women can dress for whomever they please – even, shock, for themselves – and there is no such thing as too tight or too short. We believe in a world in which fame and fortune can be built on a big bottom in a small dress. Many women, whatever the stature of their derriere, attire themselves accordingly, at least when they are out to impress.

Bodycon didn’t used to be a term that tripped off the tongue, or out of the store. Now – as anyone brave enough to venture onto Britian’s high streets after closing time on a Saturday night will know – bodycon is a way of life. Pretty much anything, it seems goes.

Yet though some of the fashion world, and most of the real world, has long been in love or rather lust, with S.E.X.Y, the majority of the fashion world isn’t, or least, wasn’t. This season, however, that’s changed. But let’s be clear: it’s the so-called ‘new’ sexy that the front row is getting excited about, not the kind of clobber that would be worn by Liz Hurley.
Liz Hurley is the old kind of sexy says Anna Murphy
There is, of course, mothering fashion likes better than to shove a ‘new’ in front of something old to pass off something that is unchanged. But in this instance the new is different from the old. New sexy is floaty, droopy, long, a tad boho, a bit louche.

It’s definitely a fresh fashion mood. Most women in the industry do not dress like Kim Kardashian. Nothing clings. They never show cleavage or thigh. To the untrained eye it’s not just that these women’s clothes aren’t slinky, it’s that they don’t’ even fit. Sometimes a front-rower may appear to have accidentally put on something of her husband’s, or shouldered a chair cover before she left the house.
Kim Kardashian West is the old kind of sexy says Anna Murphy
I think these women look amazing. They think they look amazing. These are women who have always dressed for themselves, and for each other, rather than for men.

The most high-profile example is New Yorker Leandra Medine, who even calls her blog Man Repeller. ‘Good fashion is about pleasing women, not men,’ she has said. ‘The trends that we love, men hate. And that is fantastic.’ (oh, the bizarre backlash when she married at 24.)
New Yorker Leandra Medine aka Man Repeller is the new kind of sexy says Anna Murphy
This season, however, even the most diehard man repellers are falling for sexy in its newest, least – well – sexy incarnation. Take Rebecca Lowthorpe, assistant editor at Elle: normally a lover of cutting-edge trousers shapes, she’s never concerned herself with sexy Now she does, with qualification. ‘I don’t want to look like the cliché of a sexy woman circa 1984. What is sexy now is to look as if you haven’t bothered. We are all too busy to wear a bandage dress with heels and stockings. That’s why labels such as Céline and Chloé – both designed by busy women – are so appealing.’

If there is any flash on show at all in the new sexy it is a soupcon, idiosyncratically placed. But it’s there, it’s undeniably there. And if you can’t work out quite how any of this could be classified as sexy, well, the fashion crowd don’t care. They know who looks hot and who not with out the semaphore of someone’s cleavage.

Céline is the lodestar of the new sexy. Ms Céline has always looked hip, intelligent. She still does, but now there is also a new kind of sultry added to the mix. New-season Céline even reveals some – shock – flesh. There are jackets that unbutton at the shoulder, skirts and dresses with carefully placed holes in them. When I spoke to Céline’s designer, Pheobe Philo, after her show she told me, ‘I wanted to explore the fine line between sexuality and sensuality. I find glamour quite complex. When is it sexualized, when is it not?’
Celine by Pheobe Philo represents sexy for the intelligent women
That Philo can bring herself to utter the word ‘sexuality’ shows the extent to which the new sexy has arrived. That she can refer to the notion of glamour, long considered a little too Strictly Come Dancing (known in the US as Dancing with the Stars) by many in the fashion world, shows how seduction is suddenly cool.

Céline and Chloé sell. Yet the financial power of straight-down-the-line sexiness is vast. The profits at the brands that do sexy luxury – sexury? – go up and up. Balmain, for example, has doubled its profits every year since 2011, when Olivier Rousteing took over. Rousteing hangs out with a Balmain Army of the similarly young, gorgeous and bodycon-addicted – Rihanna, Kendall and other first-namers – all over social media. ‘Sexy is about attitude, about a way of life,’ Rousteing tells me. ‘It’s about not being scared and taking risks.’ It is also, where Rousteing is concerned, about knicker-grazing shirts and see-through everything; it is look-at-me incredibleness.
According to Judd Crane, the director of womensear at Selfridges, ‘The Balmain uniform plays with traditional ideas of sexy, but is undeniably of the moment.’ Crane acknowledges the rise of a ‘softer, less obvious sexy’, but sees the alternative universe of the Balmain client as similarly distinct from the miniskirt wearer of old.

‘For the women who are buying into Balmian,’ says Crane, ‘or the variants of sexy at labels such as Versace and Saint Laurent, sexy is about female appreciation. It’s not about the make gaze. It’s about power and empowerment. Blamain customers aren’t thinking about looking sexy, but about being brave and adventurous with fashion.’

Hang on a minute. This is getting confusing. So even the old sexy can be new, too? So flashing your flesh and flagging up your curves isn’t about seeking out the objectification of the male gaze, but making yourself the subject of whatever you please, even if it’s only your latest selfie?

I need help, so I call up Juliette Dexter, parther at PR company The Communicaitons Store, a woman who is definitely subject, not object, and who is a long-time advocate of the power of cling. ‘Iused to wear a suit and try to look a like a man,’ Dexter says. “but I don’t feel I need to do that any more. I want to wear clothes that accentuate my femininity. Wearing a fitted dress by Roalnd Mouret that enhances my curves makes me feel strong. Dressing this way is empowering.’ The e-word again.
Old sexy verses of showing more skin new sexy covering up by Anna Murphy for the Sunday Times
And then there’s Sophia Neophitou-Apostulou, editor of 10 Magazine. She is one of British fashion’s most high-profile figures, and perhaps the only one on our front row to understand the might of a great pencil skirt and an epic décolletage. ‘What is sexy? Sexy is a weird invisible formula. It is more about what you exude than what you wear.’

Neophitou-Apostulou wears figure-hugging Azzedine Alaïa and Antonio Berarid – ‘because they accentuate the bits of my body I feel good about’. But she sees seductiveness in the softer, androgynous approach, too, and praises Céline for having ‘made an A-line floor-length gown sexy’. Sexy, she continues, ‘is about the self-confidence of a woman. It’s a cliché but it’s true. She might be wearing a sack or that Céline dress. All these looks can be sexy. On the other hand, someone can try to drss in a more traditionally sexy way and it can go horribly wrong if she doesn’t belong in those clothes. You have to own what you wear.’

Mmmm. so there’s the new sexy, and the new old sexy. Just the kind of opacity that - as long as the customer buys into one or other version for the new season - makes the fashion world happy. Still, it’s good news for us, too: we can choose. As Lowthorpe observes, “isn’t feeling sexy about feeling the best version of yourself?’ At last.”

As someone who doesn't wear bodycon dresses, short skirts, plunging necklines or super high heels I personally LOVE this 'new sexy'. Let's hope the makes it way to Chicago!