Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Worlds Are Colliding!

What's a photo of books doing on a fashion website? Did I get my book jacket site confused with my fashion blog? Nope. Look again. These are BAGS— gorgeous embroidered clutches by Olympia Le-Tan made to look like classic fiction. 

I was so excited when I saw these today on Brown's website. It's not often that my love of fashion and my love of book design intersect. And if they could tempt me any more: My favorite book, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, right out in front!

Check out more info on Olympia's site.

(images from Brown's and Olympia Le-Tan's website)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fashion! Fashion! Read All About It!

I've been on a fashion magazine kick lately. Now, I'm not talking Vogue (no offense Anna, I love you), I'm talking about those $15, glossy, unfamiliar gems that populate cramped magazine bodegas all over the city.

But $15? For a magazine? Why would anyone pay that much? Well, my personal reason is that it's an inexpensive alternative to shoe shopping and yet still satisfies my fashion appetite. But honestly, I really think these magazines are worth the price tag and more.

One of my favorites is Lula, from the UK. Thumbing through an issue over the summer, I was taken by the gorgeous photography and quickly paid the $15.99 price. I enjoyed every page. I couldn't put my finger on it, but somehow it felt like a different experience than reading Elle or Vogue or even the Seventeen magazines I devoured in Middle School. It felt more like an art book. And then I realized. It was missing advertisements.

(Photography by Jam, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 33)

(Photography by Frederike Helwig, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 54)

In the latest issue of Lula I picked up, there are 13 ads. THIRTEEN. And they are only at the front and back of the magazine. That leaves over 200 pages of uninterrupted fashion. As a result, the themes of each issue seem clearer and you avoid that awkward experience of skipping over a spread because you think it's an ad.

Most magazines split their content 50/50 between ad and edit. All magazines, whether they're your college's alumni publication or The New Yorker, rely on advertisements (and not sales) in order to make money. So, I guess ads are a necessary evil, especially when classics like Gourmet are folding . . . Still, it sure is nice to get though a whole magazine without seeing Madonna in Louis Vuitton "bunny ears."

(Photography by Jo McCaughey, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 63)

Not only does Lula have a 5 to 95 ad to edit ratio, the photos and stories are varied and engaging. They even have spreads shot by famous photographers like Ellen Von Unwerth— one of my favorites. The most recent issue focuses on redheads, and is filled with women crowned in red, whether natural or not. It's a fun exploration that travels from Grace Coddington to silent movie star Alice White to Karen Elson. I'm not sure how they continue to put out issue after issue with so few ads, but I hope they continue to do so. Maybe that high price helps...

(Photography by Nicole Nodland, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 121)

(1967 Photo of Grace Coddington in Missoni, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 129)

(Photography by Damon Heath, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 146)

(Photography by Ellen Von Unwerth, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 158)

(Photography by Ellen Von Unwerth, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 161)

(Photography by John Lindquist, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 193)

(Photography by Sandra Freij, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 207)

(Photography by Sandra Freij, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 210)

If you're looking for magazines in New York, I highly recommend Around the World on 40th Street, directly south of Bryant Park. Not only do they carry every magazine imaginable (In Trend Embroidery, anyone? only $59.95), they also have back issues. Just keep in mind that 10 magazines at $15 a pop will put a dent in your shoe budget.

(All images scanned from Lula Magazine)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dress Crush

I fell in love with this Oscar de la Renta dress today on Net-a-Porter. Maybe some event I have coming up warrants wearing a taffeta coat-dress . . . Let's see what iCal has in store . . . my high school reunion? a rock show at Le Poisson Rouge? my company's holiday party? Damn it . . .

It's way out of my price range ($1790!), but I'm definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for this silhouette. And pockets! Pockets will always change my opinion of a dress from "eh" to "hell yeah."

The dress also immediately reminded me of these fashion illustration note cards my mom bought for me a while back— so elegant and retro (and maybe because they're done in blue...)

(fashion illustrations by Alix Bentel for FAD Gallery)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fantastic Finsk

While flipping through a book called 100 New Fashion Designers a few months ago, I came across a shoe designer who really knocked my socks off (pun intended). Julia Lundsten is a Finnish designer who studied at the Royal College of Art in London. Her first collection for her own brand, Finsk, came out in 2004. And, oh yeah, she won the Manolo Blahnik Award 2 years in a row.

(Book photos © Littlehouse of Style)

The hallmark of her shoes are these incredible wooden heels that look like the love child of a Gerrit Rietveld zig-zag chair and a Bolotowsky painting— the result is perfect craftsmanship, angles, and colors. They really stuck in my mind, because recently I came across a pair of shoes online and immediately recognized them as hers.

(1938 Gerrit Rietvelt Zig-zag Chair, image from Sotheby's)

(Rising Tondo, Ilya Bolotowsky, 1968, from Artnet.com)

Then I started to do some research and saw the shoes she did for Ports 1961 and Basso & Brooke for Spring/Summer 2010...

(runway shots from Elle.com and NYMag.com)

Not only did every pair designed by Lundsten make me want to pull out my credit card, I liked them so much that when I could only find a few pairs for sale on the internet, I brazenly contacted Finsk directly. The Sales and PR Manager was beyond nice and actually sent me the line sheets for SS10.

It was almost impossible to choose, but I decided on the below pair. They're not shipping out the new line until February, so to tide myself over I inquired about a pair from the AW09 line as well.

Now, I'm not going to lie and say Finsk isn't pricey, but wearable art like this is worth taking on an extra freelance project or even wearing a burlap sack for a couple weeks. No one will notice the sack anyway, because they'll all be staring at my fantastic shoes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fantastic Shoes

If I had to choose between clothes and shoes, I would happily don a burlap sack for the rest of my life. This creates a problem because A) you can never have enough shoes and B) shoes can be expensive. So, I've made a rule that I will only pull out my credit card for truly fantastic shoes.

But, what makes a shoe fantastic? For me, they have to have some element of surprise— a great color, an interesting heel, something that looks different from what every other girl is wearing. They also have to be well-made— leather soles, suede-lined heels, sturdy straps.

I'll admit that I spend more on shoes than the average person, but I really think it's the best way to invest in your wardrobe. For one, your shoe size does not fluctuate like your weight can, so one pair of shoes will fit pretty much forever. Secondly, if the shoes are well-made, they will last for years with the occasional repair. And if they are gorgeous, they will be classic.

(photo © http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/)

I recently saw the above photo of Anna Dello Russo, Fashion Director of Vogue Nippon on The Sartorialist, wearing these amazing shoes with cherries on them. I assumed they were shoes that had just walked down the runway 5 seconds ago, so I was surprised to find out they were Yves Saint Laurent from 2003. Six years later the shoes were still eye-catching, not because they were trendy, but because they were beautiful.

Another shot of the shoes from Garance Doré.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

T-Shirts, T-Shirts, T-Shirts!

My company's holiday craft fair is coming up, so because I clearly don't have enough to do between my job, freelance projects, and blogging, I decided to sell silkscreened t-shirts. Who needs sleep?

I have a bunch of silkscreens that I designed a few years ago, and I thought it would be fun to print some shirts and make some money. Then I ordered 6 dozen t-shirts. I guess I wasn't exactly thinking that 6 dozen equals 72 until a box from American Apparel arrived at my office that was way too heavy for me to carry home. Oops.

After paying for a cab and galumphing the giant box up the 4 flights of my apartment building, I set to work. I got through 4 dozen in one night— woohoo!— only to wake up the next morning to realize every available surface in my apartment was covered with drying t-shirts. I think I need a studio...

(t-shirt photos: © Littlehouse of Style)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shoe Still-lifes

I was shooting some still-lifes this morning for a book jacket and decided to shoot some of my shoes while I had the tripod up.

I love how these shoes all work with the shape of the foot in a different way. When you start thinking about it, the possibilities of shoe design seem endless— What is the shape and height of the heel? How do the straps work? How does the shoe stay on the foot?

Each of these shoes solve the problems in a unique way, and although they are all shoes, they are as different from each other as can be. It's almost as if they each have their own personality.

(Shoe Silhouettes © Littlehouse of Style: From top; Proenza Schouler, Proenza Schouler, Kathryn Amberleigh, Nine West, Dries Van Noten)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wet leaves... and Wellies!

Every man, woman, and child should own a pair of Wellington boots. I can't even estimate how many colds I've avoided and how many pairs of shoes I've saved from ruination since I got mine at DSW a few years back. They are essential in a walking city like New York— pair them with a cute raincoat and you'll be bouncing down the street like the sun is shining.

(photo © Littlehouse of Style)

ps. Sorry for the short post! This week has been BANANAS.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Vintage Treat

I was fighting a cold over Halloween, so instead of a weekend full of costumes and candy, it was hooded sweatshirts and tea. I was pretty bummed out since I love Halloween, so on Sunday, when I was feeling a little better and passed this cute vintage store in Astoria, I decided a little browsing might cheer me up.

Loveday 31 isn't very big, but every time I go there I find something great. Unlike many of the vintage stores in New York, the prices are reasonable and the selection is well-edited. The owner really knows her stuff and will often suggest ways to wear a piece— "try it with a wide belt," etc.

One of the things I've learned about vintage shopping is that you should never pay attention to the sizes. A 10 from several decades ago could be today's 4. So when I saw this strapless dress with a dramatic neckline, I immediately tried it on, even though the size on the tag was not what I normally wear.

The fit was ALMOST perfect, but the bodice was a little large. I voiced my concerns to the owner and after looking at the seams she told me it would be easy to alter. I asked her if she could recommend someone for alterations and she said, "My mother. She's a great seamstress, but just moved back to Croatia. I don't know what I'm going to do now!"

I ended up buying the dress— even with the cost of alterations it will still be a bargain. It has a great shape and is really well-made with boning in the bodice and a nice lining. When I got home, I looked up the name on the label, Murray Arbeid, and was surprised when Google started filling in the search for me.

Apparently, Arbeid is a London designer who was very popular in the 1980s. He designed several gowns for Princess Diana— a few of which Christie's sold in a 1997 charity auction for $25K and $48K! The dress in itself was a great find, but I was excited to discover the history of its designer as well. All in all, the perfect vintage shopping experience.

(all photos © Littlehouse of Style)

ps. If anyone has a good tailor in New York who they can recommend, let me know!