Archive for June, 2012

One more reason to shop Allison Izu at Nordstrom

June 29th, 2012

mjbagPhotos courtesy Allison Izu
Enter to win this embossed snake Marc by Marc Jacobs bag, valued at $358, by shopping Allison Izu at Nordstrom, tomorrow through the end of July.

hotel-&-Smith-2Allison Izu Song is delivering her newest collection of Allison Izu petite apparel during a trunk show taking place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 30 in Nordstrom’s Petite Focus department.

New styles include the Honolulu Walk Short (a great casual mid-length short), the Peni Skirt (a classic, slimming pencil skirt), the Hotel & Smith (straight skinny jean) and the Hotel Capri (straight skinny capri), available in options of dark black denim, indigo denim, chambray and a new blue washed denim, all with stretch for comfort and ease, sized for women 5-foot-6 and shorter.

And, if you need one more reason to show up, while there you can enter to win the Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag pictured above. Entries will be taken up til the drawing on July 31. Good luck!

At left, Allison Izu's Hotel & Smith straight skinny jean, $138.

CUSP: A store within a store concept at NM

June 29th, 2012

cuspNadine Kam photos
Jewelry and accessories have been incorporated into Neiman Marcus's contemporary department, which has been rebranded Cusp.

After being out of town a while, I got my first chance to check out the new CUSP shop-within-a-shop at Neiman Marcus last weekend.

All my favorite contemporary brands are still there, including Alice + Olivia, Helmut Lang, DVF, Rag & Bone, Roberto Rodriguez, Rebecca Taylor, Theory, Alexander Wang, and 3.1 Phillip Lim, and the rebranding and remodel of the store's contemporary department has the effect of shopping a walk-in closet, with accessories from footwear to jewelry right there for mixing and matching as you shop and easy styling as you go.

I couldn't help but notice the comfy looking bright new ottomans that men could plop down on so that wives and girlfriends could shop longer!

Neiman Marcus launched the CUSP brand in 2006 with two freestanding stores that offered customers a contemporary assortment of apparel, shoes, handbags and accessories in a boutique environment. The brand has since grown to six CUSP stores and

cusp2Looks from Alice + Olivia still read young and fun.

cuspsitSeating areas to park the men and/or boys in your life so you can shop as long as you want.

cuspshoesAccessory displays within CUSP help shoppers create a head-to-toe look without searching the entire store.

cuspwallBright design elements and proximity of finishing touches like jewelry, below, give the department the appeal of a walk-in closet.


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Petites turn out for Sakutori at Nordstrom

June 20th, 2012

sakutoriNadine Kam photos
Designer Lynn Sakutori with Nordstrom general manager Brian Tatsumura.

Lynn Sakutori presented a trunk show of her latest petite collection at Nordstrom on June 16, and those who didn't show up early missed out on some of the best styles, which sold out in less than an hour. As an example, she started with 30 of the short-sleeve tie-back tops she was wearing, and an hour-and-a-half later, only two remained.

Although the designer prepared for the event by doubling the number of pieces from her sold-out debut a month ago, people started calling the store as soon as my story on the designer appeared in the paper two days before the event, and were waiting patiently while she set up that morning.

I woke up late that morning, so by the time I got there at 11:30 a.m., a half hour before the scheduled end time, I was lucky there were still some of her cropped pants available.

Not to worry, the hard-working designer will be introducing new pieces monthly, and it's great that Nordstrom is making a big push to promote local designers, using the Ala Moana store as a testing ground. If the designers do well, they may find themselves in Nordstrom stores nationwide.

Sakutori would be a great candidate because she's the rare designer who is also production savvy, with skills gleaned through seven years of working for such companies as The Limited, Kenneth Cole and Nine West in New York. She returned home and purchased her former employer, RPM Sales, Inc., continuing to design and produce its collections for Macy's and Sears, before introducing her Sakutori brand.

It seems as though Nordstrom is tapping into demand for more stylish and adult petite apparel. Next up will be a trunk show of petite-oriented AllisonIzu walk shorts, capris, pencil skirts and straight skinny jeans in chambray, black and blue denim, to take place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 20.

sakutori3Boomer Henthorne and Traci Deveraturda, holding up a brown tulip-hemmed cropped pant she picked up in addition to the black pair she already owns.

Of medieval armor and dressing evil

June 20th, 2012

Nadine Kam photo
Armor for German warriors and their horses, by Kunz Lochner, dated 1548, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Below is a Met photo of a suit of Italian armor from the 1400s.

armedIt's amusing and somewhat sad that I've come to relate to some aspects of history in terms of pop culture and film. When I think of medieval armor, for instance, I never gave much thought to the heft of it and how it might have felt to wear and move in it. That's because, without much suspension of disbelief when watching such period films, I just thought of it as light, flimsy Foamcore props.

But in New York recently, where I dropped in the the Metropolitan Museum of Art to check out the "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" exhibition, I was mesmerized by a walk-through of the armor galleries, with all manner of shields, chainmail and weaponry.

It's only upon seeing the real thing that I had a better idea of how much they weighed and how strong men had to be to carry both shield and sword while maneuvering in armored suits that I'm sure would have made it pretty difficult to get up if they toppled from their horse.

People were much smaller at the time, so much of the armor is no bigger than a 21st century woman.

Seeing the exhibition made me anxious to see the costumes for "Snow White and the Huntsman." Yes, it's one of those movies where you go for the costumes, not the story or acting, although I think it might have been better if "The Hunger Games' " Jennifer Lawrence had been cast as Snow White instead of the single-expression, somnambulent Kristen Stewart. She was so unbelievable in the part of a beauty radiating inner innocence that she was like a thorn in the film.

The real star was Charlize Theron's costumes as the evil queen Ravenna. Costume designer Colleen Atwood must have been thrilled to be able to dress her, with seemingly no limitations as to cost, materials or imagination. It was almost like a fashion show because Theron had to do little to impress but stand there and glower like a model with attitude.

armor2Kristen Stewart in "Snow White and the Huntsman."

costumeCharlize Theron's costumes by Colleen Atwood were sinister but breathtaking.

costume3Her wedding gown was part reptilian, part armored exoskeleton


'Impossible Conversations' at the Met

June 7th, 2012

metPhotos courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Naïf Chic gallery view, with Schiaparelli's circus-themed designs at left, and Prada's banana and monkey prints at right.

"Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations"
Metropolitan Museum of Art
On view May 10 through Aug. 19, 2012

This time around, my trip to New York coincided with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition, "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations."

It's an inspired exhibition that brings together two fashion geniuses whose designs are perfectly MFEO, despite their having been born nearly 60 years apart. Miuccia Prada started working in her family's bag manufacturing business in 1979, three years after Elsa Schiaparelli's death.

In exploring the affinities between the two Italian designers, I was intrigued by "Waist Up/Waist Down" pairing of Schiaparelli's tops, jackets and capes, with Prada's skirts. In many instances, they appeared to be a perfect "match." Schiaparelli's use of decorative detailing through the bodice was a response to cafe society of the 1930, when elite women had to put on a good show from the waist up, while seated at cafe tables. Meanwhile, Prada chose to simplify the top while employing a below-the-waist focus as an expression of freedom, modernity and femininity.

Inspired by Miguel Covarrubias's "Impossible Interviews" for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, the exhibition opens with one of many filmed conversations between the two legends, directed by Baz Luhrmann, with Schiaparelli played by Judy Davis, her comments taken from her autobiography "Shocking Life."


At left, portrait of Elsa Schiaparelli, 1932, by George Hoyningen-Huené. Courtesy of Hoyningen-Huené/Vogue/Condé Nast Archive © Condé Nast. At right, portrait of Miuccia Prada, 1999, by Guido Harari. Courtesy of Guido Harari/Contrasto/Redux.

Both profess to have been terrors as children, always questioning and going against the grain. It was interesting to hear Prada talk about how she initially was pegged as a minimalist, hiding behind black, streamlined designs. In Luhrmann's film, Schiaparelli tells her, "You can't hide forever," and we are seeing her fantasies emerge. I also like that they push beyond the boundaries of what is "acceptable" and never took the easy way out in designing stereotypically pretty pieces. A gold dress in "The Exotic Body" segment was among the beautiful pieces shown, but Prada said she hates to look at it now. It was an attempt to reflect Asian inspiration that, examined critically, was too literal. But it's one any woman, including me, would wear in a heartbeat.

Anyone into fashion today knows Miuccia Prada's work, but Elsa Schiaparelli is lesser known. She was a rival of Chanel whose extravagant and often flamboyant designs was heavily influenced by her Surrealist collaborators. However, she was unable to adjust to post-war austerity and was eclipsed by Chanel. Over the years, I'd come to think of her more as an accessory and jewelry designer, so seeing the extent of her clothing designs firsthand was a revelation.

The exhibition features about 100 designs and 40 accessories by Schiaparelli from the late 1920s to the early 1950s and by Prada from the late 1980s to the present. Signature pieces by both designers are arranged in seven themed galleries: "Waist Up/Waist Down," "Ugly Chic," "Hard Chic," "Naïf Chic," "The Classical Body," "The Exotic Body," and "The Surreal Body."

At the entry to the exhibition, Elsa Schiaparelli (played by Judy Davis) and Miuccia Prada are seated at a table, engaged in a conversation. The late Schiaparelli's remarks are taken from her autobiography, "Shocking Life."

met4© 2012 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents, left
The exhibition showed several "conversations" between Schiaparelli's tops, and Prada's bottoms. At left, Diana Vreeland in Elsa Schiaparelli, Harper's Bazaar, April 1937. Photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe,
Louise Dahl-Wolfe Archive At right, a Prada skirt from Spring/Summer 2005. This is one I had tried on and loved, though sadly, couldn't afford.

Partial view of the "Waist Up/Waist Down" gallery.

met shoes:hatsTop-and-bottom juxtapositions extended to Prada footwear shown with Schiaparelli hats in the gallery, "Neck Up/Knees Down."

shoe hatSchiaparelli's shoe hat, created in collaboration with Salvador Dali.

met3Elsa Schiaparelli in Elsa Schiaparelli, Autumn 1931; photograph by Man Ray © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP. At left, Miuccia Prada Autumn/Winter 2004–5; Photograph © Toby McFarlan Pond. Both incorporate trompe l'oeil pleats.

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