Saturday, September 30, 2006

You knew I’d get there sooner or later. Topshop.

The Oxford Circus Topshop has left me with two words, and two words only to describe it: sensory overload. I think—I’m not sure—but I think that it was amazing. There was just so much to see, so much to hear, so much to touch, so much going on that I ended up focusing a little more on not getting trampled or pickpocketed than shopping.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily a bad review. I mean, it speaks well of them that they’re so damn popular, right? And four floors amazing clothes? Wow. Actually, the clothes, I expected; the homewares, the café, and the candy shop, I did not. That all came as a surprise.

Other than the fact that it left me slightly deaf and claustrophobic (my own fault for going on a Saturday afternoon), the big disappointment was that, with our exchange rate (sorry that my blog has become a constant stream of “Exchange rate, exchange rate, exchange rate”), everything was SO expensive. I mean, Topshop is known for it’s reasonably priced trendy clothing and runway interpretations. An adorable dress at $54 wouldn’t upset me (though that’s not exactly Target or H&M pricing), but £54 is $108, and I could get a real designer dress for that kind of money at Century 21 or off eBay. There was a fair selection of £12 tops and £30 sweaters, and I guess that is pretty reasonable, but still, I definitely suffered from a little sticker shock. I think that the price of my apartment here has made me a little tight-fisted, but Topshop was, I suppose, pretty amazing, even if only because of its staggering popularity. Ok, I’ll admit it—the clothing had its amazing points, too. I loved that it had a (small) organic, planet-friendly line, the selection was incredible, and I probably will break down and buy one of those gorgeous £54 silk dresses. I bought a pair of navy patent flats today, and at £25, they weren’t cheap (because $50 is a lot for ballets!) but they’re so flattering on my feet that I think they were worth it.

Still, I’d like to know, do any of my UK readers know when things in London tend to go on sale?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Not quite missing the US, but still. . .

I'm thrilled to be here in London. I don't have much time (or money, for that matter, considering the exchange rate) to shop, but even window shopping is quite amusing here. Hell, the only thing I've really been missing about American shopping is that the exchange rate here makes H&M a lot more expensive than it should be. Still, I will admit to getting a little twinge of homesickness when I got my email from Active Endeavors. Active Endeavors is a Chicago boutique with amazing taste and an equally amazing website. Even if I lived in Chicago, I would get their newsletters anyway, because the wardrobes they put together aren't to be missed. They might well ship to the UK, but if they do, I certainly don't want to pay for it. If you're in the US and shipping won't cost you an arm and a let, I would recommend investing in this Ong jacket. If the jacket itself is too expensive (it definitely is for me, then at least sign up for their emails for inspirations' sake. Trust me. You won't regret it.

Pain and Suffering

Ok. It was bad enough that there was no episode last week. So how am I expected to cope with Bravo taking half a decade to put the newest episode of Project Runway up on iTunes? I need my next hit! Now!

Deep, cleansing breaths. . .

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Victoria and Albert--Go, go, go!

On a whim, I decided to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum today, because it's pretty close to my flat. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody that I love art and design. I was planning on looking at the Indian Scupture section, but I only spent about 20 minutes there before I got sucked into the fashion wing. Um, wow. I looked at the permanent collection first, which was spectacular--there are a few garments from the 17th century!--I would recommend a visit for the permanent collection alone. Still, the happy surprise was the exhibit on London's fashion scene in the swinging 60's. There's couture galore to be seen in the permanent collection, but the current exhibit really focuses on the way that mainstrem fashion was created in that era as an entity that's complete in itself. Before the 60's, fashion was couture, and what was accessible to those who couldn't afford custom clothing were watered-down, bland versions of whatever was on the Paris runways. In the 60's, fashion started to be generated at the retail level. The exhibit has lots of fabulous Biba and Mary Quant designs, among other quite notable London designers (in the permanent collection, keep you eye out for some stunning Vivienne Westwood). There was one lace minidress that made me want to break the glass of the display case, step into the window, take it off the mannequin, and keep it.

Don't worry, I didn't do it. The exhibit will still be fully intact when you go to see it.

Primark hits the mark

When discussing London shopping, everyone talks about Topshop. Topshop’s great. No one’s complaining. What’s shocking, though, is that people don’t discuss Primark. I had heard about Primark once before coming here. I went on a whim because I wanted to buy a blanket. I was shocked and awed and thrilled. And yes, I did get my blanket.

Primark is a little like Target, but it’s 80% clothing and 20% home wares. It’s not much to look at; every time I’ve been, it’s been swamped, clothing ends up on the wrong hangers and the wrong wracks, and the things that were folded on tables instead of hung up to begin with kind of look like they were hit by a hurricane. There’s also enough basic clothing that sometimes run into soccer mom territory that a first reaction to Primark could quite understandably be “eh.”

I’m awfully glad that I gave it a second glance, though. Amongst the £3 sweats are some true gems. I carted more to the dressing room than one would think possible, and actually, I had much less in my arms than everyone else did. Everything was so damn cheap that if it weren’t for the exchange rate that I’m fighting (and that I don’t really want to spend all my money within three weeks of getting here), I would have just gotten everything I liked. I settled for three items: I got a jacket, a mini dress, and a top. . . for £26! The jacket is a little olive bomber jacket, puffy and quilted, with a big knit collar and cuffs. I grant that it’s not a terribly original design, but it fits really well, it’s flattering, it’s warm, and it’ll go with everything. If it’s not well-made, who cares? It was £8! The top and the dress are truly extraordinary, though. Faithful readers know that I love Batwing, or Dolman, sleeved tops, and I came across a truly gorgeous specimen at Primark. It’s striped, but the pieces are put together so that the stripes are diagonal on the front, and horizontal on the sleeves. There’s also some ruching at the shoulder, which is nice, because it keeps the fit nice and snug at the top, despite the baggy sleeves. I know it sounds busy right now, but the stripes are dark grey and black, so it’s really not overwhelming at all. The dress is a sweater dress with sort of cap sleeves and wide armholes. It’s a lovely knit, soft marled dark grey and white, but the accent is definitely the neck line. It’s got a huge, floppy, cowl neck that’s the perfect counterpoint to the slim, neat fit of the rest of the dress. It’s divine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally going to shop at Topshop, visit Harrods (maybe shop?), get Faith or Office shoes, and get lots of things at Warehouse. I won’t limit myself. I will go to Primark on a regular basis, though, until those lovely grey boots are in stock in my size.

Maybe that’s why no one talks about Primark—no one wants the shopping competition.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

They're called braces here

My life here in London is a little more hectic than I can express (and mostly consists of things that people wouldn't want to read about in a fashion blog), so I'm not getting the shopping that I'd like to done. It's kind of sad. Still, now that I've moved into my apartment, things are getting a little less complicated here, and I'm sure I'll have tons to tell you all about Topshop soon (I did visit a Topshop, but I'm saving the entry for when I go to the one at Oxford Circus).

In the meantime, one thing that I am enjoying is the fashion dares that I'm willing to take here. There are lots of potential reasons for why I'm going a little more all out here: A) I'm pretty anonymous. I have my little crowd of friends, but I have a lot of independence too, and frankly, I don't care if random Londoners on the street think that I'm a fashion psycho. B) I spend all day (and sometimes all night) at an Acting Conservatory, so I spend most of my time wearing black movement clothes. Yeah. I definitely need a little more excitement when I'm dressing for myself. But I think that the main reason is C), that it really seems accepted, if not encouraged, here to figure out your own aesthetic and wear whatever you want wherever you want (within reason). It's cool.

Right now, for example, I'm wearing burgundy ballet flats, white fishnet tights, a brown tweed skirt with suspenders (those are the part I was a little anxious about), and a casual, thermal top. I like it. It works. And I haven't gotten a single strange glance yet. Fashion week is almost over here, but Long Live London Fashion!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Aaaand. . . London fog.

Well. Now I understand why the trench coat is Burberry's signature item.

Burberry trench, $1,495.

Fortunately, there are options for the rest of us.

Delia*s trench, $98.50.

Of course, my own lovely trench is an H&M creation, and frankly, I'm a little disappointed that the weather has been so strange here that I haven't gotten to wear it THAT much.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I'm sorry to those of you who are searching looking for fashion week coverage--I'd love to be more on the ball about it, but I just moved into my new apartment, and, oh yeah, I'm not in New York. I will do some post-mortem coverage, I imagine, but in the meantime, I can't do too much until I get internet access figured out in my apartment. In the meantime, try for runway footage.

And yes, I want to know what happens on Project Runway too.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Project Runway, Project Runway, Project Runway. . . what else?

Wow. I haven't liked this season of Project Runway as much as I liked the last one, but even I must say, this last episode was really, really good. Thusfar, I've been really disappointed with the eliminations--I couldn't believe that Alison Kelly, Keith Michael, Malan Breton, and Robert Best were all eliminated before the season was halfway over, especially considering that Angela and Vincent stuck around so long. Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging their characters, I just didn't particularly like their designs. At all.

But anyhow. Back to the episode at hand, it looks like we're finally down to a group of designers who are somewhat evenly-matched. I miss the way that the designers had fun together and supported each other last season, but now we've finally got a group that should at least be interestingly competitive. I'm sick of hearing Laura and Jeffrey whine about the other designers, but Kayne, Michael, and Uli all seem really, really cool on top of being awesome designers. It's interesting the way that they pretty much all have a singular aesthetic, but have managed to stay in so long. Last season, the designers managed to express themselves without sticking to one motif. I mean, it was easy to tell a Chloe dress from a Santino dress, but they were all flexible. I think that, even though I like the others, Michael is the only designer left with that kind of flexibility this season (Alison definitely had it too, but she was tragically eliminated when Vincent's abomination looked like an art school accident). Laura only designs dresses that have deep v-necks and some permutation of a pencil and/or A-Line skirt. I love what Uli does, but she definitely never ventures far from the mixed prints, empire waits, and halter necks. In my opinion, Jeffrey has three big hits--his recycled dress, his outfit for himself, and yes, ok, his couture gown. Everything else he's made has looked like it was patched together from fabric scraps by a desperate teenager who's trying to look edgy. Needless to say, I'd kind of like to see him go home next. But more on that later. Kayne's one-hit wonder is anything glittery. His dress for the Miss USA challenge may have been perfect, but rhinestones don't always translate into other things.

Speaking of Kayne, though, I thougth that a lot of the criticism aimed at him in this past episode was harsh. Ok, yes, his dress was overdone for couture, but hey, it really was gorgeous. I mean, as far as the detailing goes, there was too much of it, but if you ask me, it was all well done. The appliqued flowers looked really nice from afar, and I loved the sophistication of the velvet ribbon. The movement in the skirt was beautiful. I mean, it didn't really scream "Parisian elegance" to me, but I think he created something that was, yeah, beautiful.

But back to Jeffrey--Robert was eliminated for creating something boring and simple, even though it was nice and flattering. On that challenge (the every day woman challenge), Jeffrey created something that was boring, simple (I mean, a muu-muu?!? Com on.), unflattering, ugly, AND he made his model cry. I mean, does it really seem fair that Robert got cut for a design that was good enough but uninspired, while Jeffrey got to stick around despite have made an ugly dress just because it had a "point of view?" Oh well. You can't change the past, I suppose.

And, oh man, regarding the future, I cannot WAIT to see next week's episode!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

London bridge, London roads, London shoes

Wow. Well, I'm definitely in London. I say definitely because I've spent the last three full days running around trying to find an apartment, so I've seen quite a bit of London at this point. I think (cross your fingers for me!) I've found one, so hopefully I'll be able to take time to smell the shopping a little more now.

I haven't exactly been thinking about style much, seeing as the huge daunting task of finding an apartment has taken center stage, but I'm temporarily staying in Chelsea, so it's hard to miss the fashion. Even though I'm not really paying attention, the thing that strikes me most is that people are much more daring with their aesthetic here. Today, I saw a girl in an Hermes-esque scarf and raver pants. All the shoes and mini dresses that I'm seeing through the shop windows are making me salivate, too. The pictured shoe is from Faith and I lurrrve it.

Unfortunately, the same problem that I'm running into with apartment hunting presents itself with shopping, too--things are SOOOO expensive! I'll probably end up paying a good $700/mo. more than I would for a studio in New York City, and I always have to remind myself that if an adorable flat says 25, it's actually more like $50. Yikes. An amazing Topshop dress might not sound bad at 35, but when you consider that it's actually $70, you just can't help but reconsider. The pictured dress, from Dorothy Perkins, is 25, and I suppose that $50 wouldn't be unreasonable for it, but wouldn't it just be nicer if it was $25?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Help me out

Does anyone know when the new episode of Project Runway gets put on iTunes? I can't watch it on TV. . . I'm in London.

Yes, fashion updates from across the pond will be plentiful when I find an apartment, but in the meantime, if someone knows when I can expect to watch Project Runway, I'd really appreciate it!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Shopping Season

Fall is magazine season. Fall is sales season. Fall is (one of two) fashion week season(s). Apparently, fall is blogsearch season, too. I don't know why, but my hits from random searches have gone way up lately. I'm not the name dropping-est blog, so it's cool to see the random, sometimes little-known things I mention are being pursued by other people. So, what are the things you guys want for fall?

Well, first of all, baby doll tops and dresses are still hot, and you all know that I'm thrilled about that. All the designers are doing them, but the one pictured at right is from Necessary Objects, and well within most peoples' price ranges. Even Old Navy has picked up the empire waist--the best part of the babydoll trend is becoming its accessibility.

In a more specific vein, everyone wants Alice Ritter's clothes. Not surprising, considering how lovely, feminine, and ethereal her clothes are. They're still pretty hard to find on this side of the pond (she's a French designer, and as far as I can tell, definitely still in the "up and coming" category), but she's definitely hot right now, which means that it should be easier and easier to find Alice Ritter designs. Of course, this doesn't mean good things for the price points, but hey, if she gets really popular, maybe she'll do the next Go International! line for Target.

Speaking of which, people (me included) are still going nuts for Paul & Joe at Target. It's fabulous that they're doing the Go International line in the first place just for the fact that they're bringing such elite designers to such a wide audience. Still, I've been thusfar completely and totally impressed with their choices of designers with unique aesthetics. Paul & Joe is fabulous, Behnaz Sarafpour is looking maybe even better, and I can't wait to see who they get next.

You also all want cashmere and knits for fall, which isn't too damn surprising. Lily McNeal is a great choice. Her designs are basic, but the drape of her things is to die for.

Denim is always a wardrobe staple, but since it's durable and can be warm, it's great especially for fall. I'm thrilled that you guys seem to be into organics like Loomstate and Del Forte. I'm sure I've said this before, but organic and sustainable clothes in general are usually very well-made, since so much care has to go into the creation of the materials. Plus, Loomstate, and from what I've heard, Del Forte too, has fabulously great designs.

Sofia Kokosalaki also seems to be getting more and more popular by the second. I'm sure the collaboration with Nine West will only help her. Still, cute as the collection may be, her clothes are where it's at. She's the perfect designer to revive Madeleine Vionnet, too.

Lastly but not leastly, you're all fascinated by Eventide, and I am too. I can't wait to see what they come up with next, even if I won't be able to afford any of it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Friendly fashion

Ah, fall. The (global warming) heat is finally cooling, the leaves are turning, academia is coming back to life, and the shops are advertising back-to-school cool like mad. I'm back in New York after my long, unexpected stay in the midwest, and it feels awfully good to be here. You know, I would love and appreciate my friends even if they had ridiculous fashion sense, but it's so hard to call someone's aesthetic good or bad that I doubt I would ever say any of them look ridiculous. In fact, all of my friend do a damn good job of rocking a look, if I do say so myself. A good friend of mine came to pick me up at the train station the other day wearing a tank top, a sweater, jeans, sandals, and a necklace. Sounds basic to the point of boring, right? WRONG! Every single piece, especially her sweater and the necklace, was so well-chosen that it was a perfectly constructed outfit. There was enough detail to keep things interesting. There was enough simplicity that her nifty details (her necklace was a skull pendant on three really pretty, delicate-looking chains, and her sweater had a cool pattern) weren't overwhelmed. I'm beginning to believe really strongly in the power of a great necklace. They've never been my favorite accessory, but yesterday, I was wearing a shirt that I was extremely proud of finding on sale at anthropologie, and all anyone mentioned was my necklace. No complaining, though--a compliment is a compliment.

But I digress. Back to the self-indulgent subject of my friends, another good friend of mine is very much the thrifting-vintage type--but rather than going the route of 60's shifts and ladylike pencil skirts, she likes vintage leisure wear. I know that calls to mind the polyester suits of the 70's, but in a bright top, sweats, and a vintage puffy ski vest the other day, she looked surprisingly well-put together. She made me want to find a vintage ski vest of my own. Yet another dear friend who I was thrilled to see might come off at first as the staff of all easy dressing, because most of her clothing is made of jersey and in a neutral color, but she chooses things that fit her so well that she can easily make just a skirt and a top look like an outfit. Plus, I don't think she's a big fan of shopping and getting dressed, and she's found a great way to keep it simple and never have to work too hard while still looking good. One of my dearest friends is abroad this semester. She also happens to have been my freshman year roomate, where she learned how to share closet space with me (a difficult task) and I learned how to be unafraid of strange clothes (yeah, she got the short end of the deal. . .), because the girl can wear ANYTHING. No matter how outlandish or ridiculous something may be, when she puts it on, it's not only wearable, it's pretty damn cool. A custom-made sari from India, her grandmother's dress, a t-shirt from childhood, a vintage leotard, a bizarre apron, jeans that used to belong to one of our guy friends. . . all these things are things she can, and, for that matter, has, worked. I miss her like whoa, but I really can't wait to see what she brings back from Eastern Europe to try.

So, despite my absense, I'm still here, and I'm obviously still obsessed with clothing enough to write about it. I'm not really sure what the point of that entry was, save that individualism is cool and stuff. . . um. . . uh, go buy a necklace!

Friday, September 01, 2006

It's not my fault! I promise!

Oops. Did I just go a week without updating? I think I did. . . sorry about that.

I've had a hectic, strange past few days, fashionisti. The next few days, or week or so, aren't promising to be particularly easy either, so I apologize in advance if I don't get around to too much updating then either. But don't worry--I'm still fashion-opinionated, so I won't be gone forever.