Fall 2010 Couture: Top 10 Dresses

Let it be said, from the get go, that there is no Dior on this list because Dior KICKED IT OUT OF THE PARK this time around.

Everyone else? Kind of ehh, bleh, and really, this is couture? But Dior? Man, oh man. Dior did what couture is meant to do and you should look forward to a post extolling their awesomeness soon.

So yeah, all the other couture showings for fall were, to my mind, a bit of a let down. That is not to say that there were not beautiful, creative looks–because there were–but overall it all seemed rather ready-to-wear and not at all elevated enough for the distinction of haute couture.

These dresses are just run down in alphabetical order by designer. My absolute fave, I think, is Jarrar’s.

I was unimpressed by Alexis Mabille. I loved the trompe l’oeil booby bows, but not the crazy sleeves. I love the pants. Otherwise: meh.

But I do like this dress. Then again, maybe that's just because it reminds me a bit McQueen's last collection. Pretty, and interesting, just the same. I love the falling petals.

I mostly really like, actually, what Armani Prive put out this time. I think that it was a nice follow up to the Spring 2010 showing. That said, very little blew me away.

This was one that did. The color is lovely, if oft used, but the color blocking and silhouette are crazy, creative, and I'm not even sure what's going on here but I love it.

As you can see the silhouettes and styling are very upper crust 1970s. This, I dig.

I also dig this dress. I'm not sure how one sits in it. But this is couture. It all art and no craft, all fashion and no function. And I think the model looks amazing.

Bouchra Jarrar actually brought out a pretty stellar collection of art deco-reminiscent jackets, dresses, and coats.

But this little number was the standout to me. I love, love, love this dress. I want.

Chanel was so-so for me. I don’t know what it is, but Karl is just kind of bugging me lately. I hate the unflattering length on most of these dresses. It’s a cut that does no one any favors. Even the models come off stubby. Also, these sleeves, showing up everywhere in the collection, are awful: similarly unflattering and awkward. I know it’s Chanel and I know he’s La Lagerfeld, but, just, no.

That said, this dress highlights the best of the collection, for me. The ornate embroidery, the opulent colors, the BOOTS! and the interest of silhouette underline what should be done.

Christian Dior: Again, this was a spectacular show. It’ll be getting it’s own post soon.

Elie Saab showed well, with a long line up of lovely, well-crafted, if unimaginative fancy frocks.

I love everything about this dress: the color, the shape, the length. It hangs sweetly and with spunk, the detailing is dynamic, and, again, the color is grand.

That being said, his looks really were beautiful. I had a hard time picking my favorite.

Givenchy offered a tight collection of only ten looks. While the first few are oddly crotchtastic, the mood is elegant and gothic, the detailing divine, and the tone consistent.

This one was my favorite. Though really I recommend looking through them all. The gold ones were also quite breathtaking.

Jean Paul Gaultier was very true to himself, I felt. Playing up the drama and dramatizing the playful, though there wasn’t much here we hadn’t seen before. The palette was dark, the good old fall back for fall.

This I love. Is it leather or sheer plastic? Lovely, sexy dangerous, and just a touch of crazytown. The perfect Gaultier woman.

This one is also seriously killer. One of each, please.

For Valentino’s run, we got 60s mod in the LA hills: one part classic, one part frill. Not much here screamed couture to me. The materials often appeared stiff and I just don’t like that. I did love some of the shorter, Patty Boyd-ish dresses though.

This one was by far my favorite though, for the invisible color, the ballerina-in-a-cage construction, and the imagination of the look.

More to come soon on the couture shows, including Dior. For now though, I hope that you enjoyed my run down of the best dresses. Thank you and please come again.

Privé

DIY FTW

In the on-going rivalry between homemade and storebought, homemade wins out nearly every time in my book. Macaroni and cheese? Dude, obviously. I mean, have you had my mac and cheese? It’s fantastic and Kraft is shit. Cookies? Check check homemade. Halloween costumes? Okay. I always wanted the ones from the store but my mom, as usual, was right. They were cheap and always broke before you made it the second block and my brother and I always looked amazing when we went the DIY route.

And I like making/building things with my own two hands. It’s satisfying. And Made By You guarantees One of a Kind. Which is undeniably cool and great and so on.

Here, I’ve put together some easy, no-sew DIY-dress-yourself projects, all culled from unattainably high-end sources.

So look, the Outnet.com prices this Burberry trench at $928 ON SALE. Work the ombre yourself with either dye or bleach, depending on your starting point. Easy peasy. The dress is from Designers Remix and is also on sale but this one goes for EUR 153, which is some higher number in American dollars. I say, if you ever find a lovely silk dress at Goodwill, abandoned there and forlorn because of some unfortunate stain, take it home and splatter wine and/or ink on it. Totally. And instead of spending $600-$1200 on a pair of killer heals, just bling out a cheap(er) pair. You will find both chain and feathers at any craft store anywhere. And don’t overthink it. Hot glue gun. Fun and done. And that clutch? That’s just the awesome.

I am completey annoyed by Marc Jacobs. With few exceptions, what he does for his eponymous lines elicits one of two responses from me: “eh” and “ick.” And this sweater is fine, but for serious, who’s going to pay over $450 for this? You know what else you can get at Micheal’s? Rad, iron-on appliqués for, like, I don’t know, $10 or something. And the breton tee? We’ve already established it’s a ubiquitous basic. Moving on…

Jeans plus paint equals paint-splashed jeans. Duh.

Rope belts! (Really bBelts from anything that can be tied around your waist) Tie dye! More feathers! Wooden beads! Children’s toys!

So what DIY fashion projects have you guys pulled off?

Oh, and Outsapop.com is the best source for DIY fashion ideas ever. FYI.

Is It Too Soon to Tell You that I Love You?

I’ve talked about Annie Bacon before. Her O-Shen plays all over town on a pretty regular basis. But she also wrote and performs in The Folk Opera. Tonight (Sunday June 20) this beautiful piece of work will be performed at Amnesia in San Francisco, starting at 6pm. If you can make it, I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you can’t make it (or you’re reading this on Monday, Tuesday, so on), you can still support Ms. Bacon and her operatic endeavor through the Kickstarter Project.

The Folk Opera tells of Elizabeth, a caretaker in her twenties in charge of Aunt Sara, an cantankerous, down-home grande dame afflicted with dementia. Their car breaks down on the way to the mechanic, and in one short afternoon their lives become entangled in those of the small town in which they find themselves. Tragedy mixes with romance, the personalities are clear and true, and the music is gorgeous, moving.

There are four main characters in this tale: Elizabeth, Aunt Sara, the Old Man, and Rita the Waitress. Here I’ve pulled together four vintage-inspired looks for these folks, all culled from Bay Area vendors.

Aunt Sara

Aunt Sara is, as I said, a little off her rocker, but it is clear from the little we know of her life that she is not and was not without bravery and gumption in her life. While it may be said that she led a pedestrian life, in her own small town, with her own tight-knit family, there is no reason, in my mind, why she wouldn’t also be stylish and daring of dress. She was once a very beautiful woman, I suspect. So for these reasons, I’ve chosen bold, balls-to-the-walls pieces for her and tried to throw them together like I imagine a drunk five year old would.

From BREDVintage: Gorgeous abstract floral, silk sheath dress by Mam'selle by Betty Carol, size 8, $39.99.

Aunt Sara should also pile on the costume jewelry like it’s going out of style, which, you know, maybe it is. Also, she’s may have Alzheimer’s but even she knows you can’t take it with you, so you might as well rock what you got while you still have it.

From BREDVintage: I think Sara should throw this crazytown, gold, sequin and bead, diamond-patterned vest over her red dress. It's $59.99, in case you're interested.

I picture her, for some reason, in high top Chuck Taylors. Pink maybe to match this coat.

Also from BREDVintage: Beautiful poppy print, linen, 3/4 length coat, $39.99.

Aunt Sara can top the coat with some great broaches. Grande olde dames favor broaches.

From Sewn in Pieces: To top it all off, I think these pink velvet combs are charming and appropriately quirky. And they're only $8.

Elizabeth

It is unclear, or unimportant, whether Elizabeth is actually related to Aunt Sara or whether she is merely her caretaker. It is very clear, however, that she takes excellent care of the old broad and cares for her very much. I picture her dressing casually and comfortably, particularly for this little dramatic sojourn, though I think she may also borrow liberally from Aunt Sara’s closets. I see no reason why this should be a bad thing. She is only much more simple in construction and compilation than Aunt S. Tone down the jewelry and piled -on prints and you’ll come closer to the truth.

From SweetRocket99: Green, paisley dress, $30. I love that this looks so easy to wear, while still being super cute with a vintage twist. Elizabeth also looks smashing in green.

I see her wearing Tom’s loafers, because they are comfortable, cute, and clearly Elizabeth is one who wants to give back.

From Triple Gemini: I see her topping off her simple dress with something equally simple, equally cute, and super versatile, like this blazer with puffed shoulders and a fitting waist, $36.

The Old Man

We eventually learn the identity of the Old Man but it would be wrong to tell you now. Know though, that he’s dapper as can be and suave from years of practice. He is a romantic. I see him in some classic suit, daily, and throwing on great accent pieces.

From OutFit: Like this 14k gold pocket watch circa 1894. It is an American Waltham Watch with exquisitely engraved decorations and it'll run you only $60.

From BREDVintage: This Jean Paul Gaultier men's pinstripe vest features a hand painted orchid, $50. It is perfect for the old man.

The funny thing is, Joel Dean Stockdill, who plays the Old Man, already kind of dresses like this. He’s got great style. I tell him so all the time.

Rita the Waitress

So Rita actually owns the diner in questions, the de facto home away from home for the residents of the unnamed small town. She’s got sass and she keeps all the secrets. I also suspicion she keeps all the clothes she and her kids have ever owned. I think she cultivates kooky.

From SweetRocket99: Like take this tee, she's probably been rocking it for years. I think it's probably always covered in flour and food stains, $25.

I picture her in jeans, possibly cut offs (though not of course as short as the ones worn by the young lady above). Of course, she wears and apron, and has bic pens stuck in her bun.

From SweetRocket99: This is the another example of the kind of shit Rita rocks. This boho patchwork vest, $15, will have been in her wardrobe rotation forever. Throw it over the tee. Whatever, it's cool.

I hope I’ve got you intrigued. I cannot recommend the Folk Opera enough. Please donate and help Annie hit her mark, and get a recording made of this amazing, musical, moving experience.

BREDVintage has a mantra: mantra is “Be Resplendent Every Day”. Dress with style, make people smile. Here you can find beautifully made vintage clothing, perfect for crazy women, apparently.

Sewn in Pieces is based in Berkeley and comes courtesy of a long-time fashion lover. She’s got a great eye and wonderful pieces to offer.

SweetRocket99 you’ll find hand picked vintage items from the 40’s to the 80’s. The aesthetic is influenced by everything from bohemian gypsy girl, Brazilian Tropicalia to 40’s pin-up and 80’s glam rock stars.

Triple Gemini has a great selection of vintage clothes from all the big decades. Free shipping on orders over $100.

OutFit is another Berkeley based vendor. Another vintage clothing seller with great taste.

Last but not least, Claridad sells all kinds of amazing little treasures and says she finds her inspiration from all over, especially San Francisco where she is currently based.

Style U to Style You: Accent, Accessorize, Adorn

I’ve been asked in the past, specifically and most recently by the immeasurably talented and increasingly stylish Annie Bacon, to impart some style tips upon my dozens! of readers.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, trying to figure out what exactly I want to say about Style and how to impart my suggestions for dress.

The simplest outfits benefit from major bling. Your favorite jeans from high school (which you refuse to throw out because, hello, you've had them since HIGH SCHOOL) and your lover's ratty undershirt (that you wear because it smells like him) are suddenly smoking with select accessories. P.S. Doesn't that necklace remind you of Sasha Tierney's stuff? Also I love anything with scarab beetles.

Because one of the things that I knew I didn’t want to do in this blog was to post a bunch of DON’Ts.

One, I think that a great, key thing about fashion is that it is our visual and outward avenue for self-expression, and I just never want to be the person to say that x,y,z is an inappropriate or unattractive way to do that. I’ve got Liberté (French for “freedom”) tattooed across my hip so clearly personal liberty is big with me.

Two, the Internets are full of haters, and I would rather just stay out of that whole mess of vitriol, pleasethankyouandyou’rewelcomeokayiloveyoubyebye.

Three, rules are meant to be broken. So I can say “Oh khakis lack imagination and epitomize blah and boring and caution and Connecticut,” but then Michael Kors – with whom I really, really just want to have brunch, is that weird? – sends something like this down the runway and I’m all “Nevermind! I take it back!” and start scouring the Goodwills for a stain-free pair in my size and dreaming of that matching sweater.

No joke, I saved this image (months ago) as korsfa10theonlywaytomakekhakiscool.jpg

So, yeah.

My first suggestion for dress is simple: Accessorize!

Now, this may seem patently obvious, but throwing on a funky necklace can make the most casual, comfy, and lackluster of outfits seem chic. And on those days when you just don’t want to make an effort, your jewelry can elevate your look and make it seem, my dears, like you do give a damn.

This idea for jewelry display comes courtesy of Real Simple magazine. While awesome, you also can't go wrong with simple hooks or a checkerboard of nails in the wall. I love hooks.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. The whole process with be easier and faster, and you will wear more of your pieces with more frequency, if you have your jewelry and belts and so on out in the open. Put your bling on display. You’ll be more apt to remember it’s there, remember what you have, remember to put some on.
  2. Jewelry and other accessories don’t have to “match.” In fact, contrast is key to creating a dynamic look. Seriously, just grab the first necklace and/or earrings and rings you see and run with it. It’ll be fine. You’ll look great.
  3. Sometimes, more is more. Don’t be afraid to Go Big. That whole “before you leave the house, take a look in the mirror and remove one thing” rule? Kind of like white after Labor Day, or pantyhose, i.e. STUPID.
  4. Belts! They’re not just for holding your pants up. In fact, I’m pretty convinced they have naught to with that.
  5. Goodwill et al., Etsy.com, garage and estate sales, Cost Plus, and your mom are all wonderful sources of (often, very) cheap but quirky and unique pieces. Load up.

Cupcakes and Cashmere screwed decorative knobs into her bathroom wall. Google DIY jewelry display for a crapload more ideas.

Interview with Sasha Tierney

Sasha Tierney is a San Francisco-based jewelry designer who makes gorgeous, covetous one-of-a-kind, repurposed vintage, costume jewelry.

I recently contacted her to tell her how wowed I am by her work, and she was gracious enough to allow me an interview.

Quick Said the Bird: “Repurposed vintage” is a neologism that we’re seeing more and more among fashion blogs and the like. It’s something that appeals to both a green living and a DIY mentality. What appeals to you most about using pre-existing and antique pieces in your work?

Sasha Tierney: Yes, it’s certainly a buzz word these days, and while I’m all about being green and eco-conscious–my husband and I eat mostly local and organic and do what we can in general—for me, repurposing vintage jewelry is just about using what I love. It’s what I’m drawn to. I don’t particularly care for super shiny modern pieces.

Seashell and Pearl Charm Necklace, $76

QB: Tell me a little about how you got into the jewelry making biz.

ST: My mom is a clothing designer. She started her own business when I was a kid–a local children’s clothing line called Mousefeathers that some of [you] may remember. I really grew up in the fashion business. I was one of their models and spent my afternoons after school watching my mother work: designing fabrics, picking trim, and really putting a cohesive line together.

I’ve always dabbled in creative processes, but I never really found my stride until I turned to jewelry design. I guess I just couldn’t compete with her sense of fashion in terms of clothing. I’ve been doing this for quite some time but I only recently started selling my pieces.

Think Pink Necklace, $68

QB: What do you look for when shopping for materials? Do you have an idea in mind when you go in—for example, maybe you’re on a pearl kick–or do you let what you find inspire you?

ST: It’s funny that you should mention pearls: I just love them. There is such a huge range of hue and sheen in them and I seem to want to collect them all these days. But the irony is that I have spent most of my life hating pearls. I always thought they were too traditional and drab for me. I don’t know what suddenly opened my eyes, but now I can’t seem to get enough of them. When I’m designing a piece and can’t figure out what to insert, I grab a pearl and usually it works.

Flea markets have always been one of my favorite places to shop for just about anything, and I’ve always been drawn to colorful, vintage, rhinestone brooches. But how many of those can a person own? Plus, I really don’t wear brooches. I wear a necklace almost everyday but a brooch just never seems as practical. So one of my favorite things about shopping for jewelry supplies is that I get to buy the things that I have always wanted. Making new things is a great justification for buying.

I should add that while I do a lot of my own shopping for materials, I have also received several jewelry donations from friends and clients. These donations are always fun because they usually contain some items that I would never buy myself. But then I’ll find the perfect use for them in a piece. It’s always a pleasant surprise and really does add a new dimension to the work.

Turquoise and 1922 Peace Silver Dollar Necklace, $68

QB: Tell me a little about your process.

ST: Sometimes I have something in mind before I start–you know, an image will just come to me and I need to create it–but most of the time, I am just experimenting and I don’t have a goal in mind when I begin. The majority of my necklaces are not only unique from one another in terms of materials used but are also unique in terms of style and design. I don’t have a formula that I follow, and I don’t ever want to have one. I like that my pieces are cohesive [as a collection] while still being different and unique from one another.

Vintage Brass Copper and Silver Grapes and Leaves Necklace, $60

QB: Do you have a clientele in mind? Do you cater to a particular kind of women? Do you aim for a certain aesthetic?

ST: [I believe that] my pieces really do appeal to a broad spectrum of women.  I make some real statement pieces, which not everyone can wear every day. [But] I also make more understated elegant designs, such as my “Sweet Whimsical Charm Necklace”—it’s the type of piece that you could wear almost every day, just to add a little something to your look.

Plus, I design both long and short necklaces. I think this array of styles is what makes my pieces appeal to so many. Like I said before, there is variety within the cohesion of my designs.

Sparkly Rhinestone and Pearl Statement Necklace, $88

QB: What inspires you?

ST: I think that Anthropologie has really broadened the market of women’s fashion and accessories. Their success in bringing what used to be on the fringe into every day fashion is really inspiring. I credit them with a lot of the success of repurposing vintage both in clothing and accessories.

Also, Etsy is a fantastic marketplace. It’s really inspiring that someone with a passion for creation can so easily get their products out there to the world.

Repurposed Tour Eiffel Charm Necklace, $68

QB: Do you sell anywhere besides Etsy?

ST: I’ll be selling at the Alameda Flea Market this coming weekend, Sunday June 6th at Booth C7, near the entrance. I’ve got a bunch of brand new pieces that haven’t been posted online yet. I sell through word of mouth locally as well and use my Etsy site and my Facebook fan page for an online presence. I’m hoping to place my jewelry in a few local stores in the near future.

Note: Sasha will be closing her Etsy store on Sunday, as she’s taking these pieces to the Alameda Flea Market. So if there’s anything you have to have, do it now. Or swing by the flea market to see what else she brings to the table (har!). And of course she’ll continue to stock the Etsy store, so it pays to keep checking back.