Friday, December 17, 2010


Some lucky folks are hitting the ski slopes this winter.  Often, regular skiwear is all you need from the time the lifts open through dinner at the Village.  However, other slopes require a little more wardrobe planning.  If you happen to be heading there, keep scrolling.

Bogner Sport Ski 2011
slope wear
A ski line enjoying a sudden wave of popularity right now is Moncler.  The French skiwear company originated in 1952 but became popular among young Italians in the '80s.  Most of us think of Moncler as synonymous with the puffy, down jacket.  (In the US, rap artists even made wearing the Sleeping Bag Look cool.)  In recent years, Moncler has collaborated with designer, Giambattista Valli, to create the Gamme Rouge collection.  

Now THIS is different (apres) ski wear!

How do you turn a sleeping bag into a couture item?

Moncler Duvet
Gamme Rouge Winter 2010

Moncler Duvet
Gamme Rouge Winter 2010
Valli seems to have figured that one out.  These might be so warm, toasty, and oh so fashionable, you forget to put your skis on.

Happy Holidays to you Stylish Ladies!

(I may not be able to blog until January)

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Every one is a-flap over Rodarte's gorgeous black swan costume ("Odile" to ballerinas) for Natalie Portman in her latest film, "Black Swan".

Natalie Portman in "Black Swan", costume by Rodarte

The costumes are beautiful  though they function more on the red carpet than in actual ballet.  Mila Kunis was quoted complaining of wardrobe malfunctions in these lovely tutus -- and they weren't even really dancing.

Real costumes have straps to keep things in place!
American Ballet Theater's Gillian Murphy and Angel Corella
in "Swan Lake"

Let's gloss over the fact that, yet again, there is a dance movie where non-dancers pretend to be graceful.   Instead, let us focus on what ballet costumes and couture have in common.  Rodarte isn't the only design label to get involved in ballet.  Jean Paul Gaultier, Isaac Mizrahi, Versace and Giorgio Armani are just a few others who have taken to ballet costume design.

It may surprise many to know that professional tutus can cost over $1,000 each.  In fact, when I needed a swan costume a few years back, I decided to see if I could do it for less with the help of a friend who is a bridal couture designer.

DIY Swan costume
photo by Lily Dong

Materials alone were staggering:

  • Delicate, expensive fabrics
  • High-quality tulle, beaded appliques and special materials like feathers (lots of them)
  • Pre-made plain bodice with boning and pancake tutu skirt was already over $200
  • Additional accents cost over $200 before labor!

beaded appliques and feathers on tulle
photo by Lily Dong
We cut and hand-sewed all these trims. Both of us toiled several hours a day over a few days.  Imagine the billing cost per hour of that at a couture house.

Now you begin to see what you are paying for.  Experienced cutters, designers, and hand finishing all add up.  In some couture ateliers, the fabric is individually hand-dyed or distressed (say, at Rodarte) before expert folding and tailoring techniques are applied.

But the finished product -- expressed with grace, line and true technique -- is well worth it.

Julie Kent of American Ballet Theater
as Odile in "Swan Lake"

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I am heading for family gatherings in the tropics this holiday.  Too bad I am not a member of the Jet Set that Resort Wear was originally designed to clothe.

Packing means practical clothes that accommodate city days and nights yet can be versatile enough for island jaunts.   Luggage constraints also call for serious wardrobe editing.  I have no choice.  Simplicity is the only way to go.

(Following 4 photos from Celine Resort 2011)

Day-to-night, city or trendy resort
For style inspiration, who better to do Simple and Minimal than Phoebe Philo for Celine?  What a genius -- making simplicity utterly fashionable again.  I dig through my closet for all things minimal.  (I don't find much.)

Versatile looks in their simplicity

Love this column gown!
Goes from city party to fancy resort dinner

Minimal style is only one variable.  Fabric choice is also key for versatility.  Knit or stretch blend fabrics combat wrinkles and high maintenance steaming or ironing.  

Though not minimalist, Vionnet has neutral, relaxed dresses in their Resort collection.  The sassy draping is hip for the city, yet, it is easy enough to throw into a weekend beach bag.  You can also find budget-friendly versions of this style.  (It's harder to get away with cheap Minimalism.)

Vionnet Resort 2011

I guess the Jet Setters from days of old had their own kind of simplicity too.

The original Jet Set
(from Frances McLaughlin-Gil, Conde Nast Archives)

If Minimalism is too much for you, a little rebellion doesn't hurt.  I'm still taking tough boots and a few prints with me.

Burberry Prorsum Winter 2010
Toughen up a pretty dress with black boots

Enjoy the holidays! 
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