Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Celebrity Fashion Designer Merlin Castell Guest Stars in "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency" Show

On Tuesday, September 30th at 10:00pm, the "Latino John Galliano," Merlin Castell, will be guest starring in the Oxygen Network's "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency."

It is here, during this particular episode, Mr. Castell comes shopping for models for his upcoming fashion show.

As a part of the competition, the aspiring contestants compete for his approval.

Intersperse, the models add tidbits about what is it is liked to be strutting for their very first high-end fashion show.

Don't want to give anything away but watch Mr. Castell crack a whip.

While watching the show, you the viewer can enter to win the Merlin Castell's Fall/Winter 2008-2009 Collection Sweepskates.

You might have the chance to win a Merlin Castell ensemble. The contest will be live from September 30th to October 21st.

This whismical magician of fabric has swiftly switched from dreamy chiffon of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to the more hardcore sex kitten appeal of "Barbarella." Inspired by Jane Fonda's liberated character, his "Galactic Collection," stands for the assertive woman who is not afraid of her sexuality and independence.

So, if you want a sneak peek into what Mr. Castell is up to, go catch "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency," on September 30th at 10:00pm.

Max Azria, Working Girl, Spring/Summer 2009

Mocha Cotton Vest & Trouser
Remember Melanie Griffith's worship to Eigthies' power dressing in "Working Girl"?
Max Azria retooled it. He removed the linebacker shoulder pads. The pouf has been deflated. The power prints and the bold, in-your-face color palettes have been subdued into soothing earth tones, the refined version of the Eighties and Ninities's beige and browns and taupes.
He washed out the harshness of career dressing.
Mocha Silk Jersey Halter Dress
He disassembled the stiff armor of Ninties' stiff nylon and thick stretch black cotton then inserted more mallable silk jersey and lightweight cotton.
The softer, kinder, gentler version of minimalism.
Beige Cardigan, Mesh Tank, Leather Crop Pant
Mr. Azria also pushed forward the concept of together outfits together. For a casual outing, romp around town, he pair of leather pants, so futuristic that they look downright casual as khakis, with a more conventional, cozy wrap cardigan.

Silk Jersey One Shoulder Tunic

He also change the idea of eveningwear. Just as soft and easy as casualwear but no less luxurious. The fluidity of draping signifies a new wardrobe that examplifies multiple usage of day-to-night dressing.

Cap Sleeve Jacket, Crepe Shorts with Flounce

Here is another concept that Mr. Azria has turned on its head, taking the atheletic zippered jacket then feminized it into upscale contemporary. Shorts become dressier with a flounce, almost skirt-like.

He also changed the way leather is used and viewed. He took out the black then redid it in mauve, taupe, and cream then soften it in supple textures that makes it appear khakis far away when it is not. He deconstructed the traditional black leather blazer or jacket then retooled it into more cardigan-like construction and knitwear earth tones.

Mr. Max Azria is not normally heralded as an innovator, but his foresight in how women want to live and how to dress is visionary.

Chic Wearable Art for the Everyday Woman at Any Age

Owner/Designer, Naida Begeta modeling her asymmetrical ribbon-made dress/tunic
Among the boutique-heavy thoroughfare of Beverly Boulevard, an inventive little gem of a shop sits at 7227 Beverly Boulevard, evoking the independent but innovative spirit of the owner/designer and namesake.
Naida Begeta named her new-found boutique after her cinematic idols, Kao Pao Shu, a Hong Kong marital arts actress who became one of the women pioneers to direct Kung Fu movies. To honor her hero's fierce intelligence and drive, Naida named her brand new shop after her.
The fan of the Kung Fu actress, Naida Begeta, has her own compelling story that is reflective in her equally intriguing design collection.

Naida modeling the back of the ribbon-constructed dress/tunic
When the Bosian War broke out twice in 1992 and 1995, she fled to the more stable environs of Olympia, Washington, spent her teenage years at Olympia High School participating in the Fellowship of Reconciliation Project. Two years later, she returned to Sarajevo then enrolled in the University of Sarajevo, Academy of Fine Arts in the Product Design Department. This is where her design aesthetics took off.

A faux-pleated, ribbon-constructed strapless dress
In between classes and studies, she started twiddling with twill-woven ribbons and strips, instinctively learning the nature of how the ribbons would twist and turn while she sews each strip of ribbons together into a cloth. Starting out with handbags that are easier to control, Naida launched her first fashion endeavor, "STRIPE UP YOURSELF," a handbag line, in addition to her college studies and existing part-time job as an assistant curator at the Sarajevo Center for Contemporary Arts (SCCA).

A Ric Owensque Outfit with matching Tote Bag

She further finessed her eye for fashion when she segued into fashion styling for editorial shoots and films in Sarajevo. She recuited two friends, Irma Saje and Vanja Ciraj, to help her start and manage the clothing collection that would evolve into Kao Pao Shu.

Ribbon-Constructed Halter Dress

As soon she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Naida and her knowledge of ribbon structure really took off when she landed in Milan, Italy. Figuring why not expand into apparel, she pleasantly discovered that her twill-woven ribbons constructed at 45 degrees, bend, twist, and conform around a woman's bodily curves comfortably without being constrictly tight.

Ribbon-constructed bags, scarf, and wrap dress
By sewing the ribbons together into a garment, she discovered her cloth of ribbons give this trompe l' oeil effect of fooling the viewer in thinking that garment is pleated or themally-pressed when it is not. This caught the eyes of buyers in Milan and Tokyo.

After establishing her brand there then getting married to Italian, Marco Schillaci, a commercial director, the young couple decided to expand their horizon and she, her market by moving to Los Angeles.

The brand, Kao Pao Shu, finally nested at 7227 Beverly Boulevard.

Ribbon-constructed Mini Wrap Skirt, goes great with a black turtleneck

Playing around and trying on the garments, Naida noted that, due to the bias-weaved nature of the ribbons, one same outfit looks uniquely different on numerous people because the ribbons take on and adapt to that person's individual curves. This offers the specialty of tailoring without the stiffness and fit of Lycra without the tight stretch.

With Naida's avant-garde art background and cosmopolitan upbringing, her collection put forward an intellectual urbanity and sculptured construction that a trendy but sharp Baby Boomer woman is searching for, a fashion-forward but sophisicated clothes, evolving with her figure and life but puts her ahead of the fashion pack.

If you want to see more of Naida's handiwork, you go to or drop by for a visit at 7227 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036, the next time you are visiting the neighborhood of West Hollywood. You can even give her a call at (323) 937-0081.

Investing in a Kao Pao Shu piece is like investing in a piece of art, because it is.

Friday, September 19, 2008

James Aguiar's Full Focus on New York Fashion Week Spring 09

James Aguiar, the vivacious but deeply knowledgeable host of VOOM Ultra HD TV Network's "Full Frontal Fashion," "Behind The Label," and "Where D'Ya Get That?" and recurring personality to the Style Network's "The Look For Less."

Don't be fooled by his bubbly persona. This man knows the fashion industry cold due to his years as Bergdorf Goodman's fashion director then overhauling Paris fashion house, Nina Ricci.

After interviewing him for the past two fashion seasons, he is now my go-to expert on fashion and most significantly, the business of fashion.

As usual, I always ask him what are his favorites during a particular fashion week. Then, we launch into an intellectual discussion into the concepts and themes dominating the shows.

Marc Jacobs
He immediately inject Marc Jacobs. Aguiar was not afraid to highlight that the show started on time, a big change from Marc's previous tardiness. Leaving A-List rap stars, Jay-Z and Kanye West, standing up with the general public.
Marc Jacobs
Mr. Aguiar called Mr. Jacobs' current collection, "eclectic, a mash-up, a mix-up of "Mad Men," "Eliza Doolittle," and "Belle Epoque."
Marc Jacobs
I agree with Mr. Aguiar's sharp observation. I noticed a toss up of Orientalism of the big, wide Obi Belt which is more mature yet more fashion forward than the Eighties repeat of the big elastic belt and quasi-Mandarian shirt with colorful butterflies. Then, Mr. Jacobs mixes in the Fifties Primness and Forties Severity.
Marc Jacobs
Mr. Aguiar carefully stated that it takes the caliber of Mr. Jacobs to pull off this ability to take such diverse eras and time periods then to mix them together into a very out-of-box collection shows how experienced and how confident Mr. Jacobs is. Whereas, a younger designer would trip.
Marc Jacobs
This is an exhibit of a designer at his peak.
Although Mr. Aguiar added New York is still very much a business town, the designer has the goal and the responsiblity to present outfits in a fresh different angle. He emphasized how designers need to break the limits in order to push fashion forward. The designer needs to be both artistic and business savy.

Narciso Rodriguez

If Marc Jacobs is the wild card, then Narciso Rodriguez is the slow but steady reliable. "Slow, steady, subtle changes," Mr. Aguiar commented, "Mr. Rodriguez is true and pure."

Narciso Rodriguez

This doesn't mean dull. He is refreshingly classical.

Narciso Rodriguez

By being steady and subtle, Mr. Rodriguez developed a definite style that is unmistakably his. With these soft touches, these are black and white wardrobe investments to keep for years.

Narciso Rodriguez

Contrasting both Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Rodriguez are good case studies of two designers at the peak of their skills and creativity.

BCBG Max Azria

I asked Mr. Aguiar what is his opinion of the Max Azria show. He calls him a trend-setter.

BCBG Max Azria

Mr. Aguiar said Mr. Azria is very aware to changing ideas and concepts. He has his finger on the pulse.

Michael Kors

It was interesting that Mr. Aguiar hinted that Michael Kors added metallic platform high heels to spice his classic Middle-Class Americana.

Overall, Mr. Aguiar found this recent New York Fashion Week Spring 2009 to be very optimistic and very positive.

Hot, French, Jazzy Swimwear

By Laura Medina
September 19, 2008

Gottex’s designer, Israeli Gideon Oberson, knows what real women want. Something elegant to wear on the beach. Something elegant enough to wear at the beachside cafĂ© and restaurant without feeling overdressed or underdressed.

For Mr. Oberson, it was not about trying too hard to be sexy in order to look beautiful, it was about building confidence about portion and exposure. He knew if he offered enough coverage in the right area while exposing the certain areas for heat relief and comfort. He can make any woman at any age feel sexy.

Mr. Oberson was about portion, covering up while exposing another. For example, the bikini top with long, flowing sailor pants turned long skirt with the slit right under the knee.

Most of the swimsuits were topped with big, floppy sun hats shielding the face from the UV rays.
He gave women plenty of options in coverage and sun protection that were “Chanel Chic.”

The fail-safe black and while color palette were influenced by Chanel and the French Riviera.

The French nautical theme was hammered into further refinement by the anchor insignia, cheekily embroidered on a breast cup in gold thread.

The French sailor bib was cute.

The bikini bottoms were almost boyshort cut, not high-cut. They showed just enough peek of the butt without exposing too much cheek. The waistline hits just under the navel, not too high waisted to be faddish. The bottoms look comfortable to move and play in.

The collection became more increasingly elegant with clever concealment.

A woman who exercises normally, not extreme, and has yet to have a painful tummy tuck can option for this Old Hollywood Glamour of a bikini doubling as a shawl turned hood with a high-waisted bowed bottom in cream.

For a more modern, sporty but ingenious twist, taking a full-body caftan in a fuchsia Pucci-like motif then spooling It into a long scarf.

Gideon Oberson has an uncanny knack of knowing what women really want. Cute swimsuit, adorable to feel young yet exposing and concealing the right areas to be practical.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sugary Spring & Summer

The fun-loving Betsey Johnson does it again-and most importantly, consistently without failure.
Her Spring/Summer 2009 Collection was a confectionary swirl of cotton and chiffon in icing white fondant or in licorice black in sweet but clean tiers, ruffles, petticoats, and crinolines.

Instead of the regulatory VIP front row for celebs, she very sweetly and politely set up tables and folding chairs, stocked with cupcakes, macaroons, and candies to a vintage Seasame Street soundtrack.

The general theme was a childhood dream of fairies and pirates. To the astute observer, it was clear she was influenced by Tokyo’s Harajuku District’s Gothic and Sweet Lolitas, petticoat and pinafore teenaged girls obsessed with West European Rocco, Victorian, and Edwardian fashion.
As soon as Betsey cart wheeled down the runway as her official kickoff, a sugary parade of wearable ruffles, light cotton knickerbockers shorts, petticoat dresses reminiscing of the Eighties’ Christian Lacroix’s pouf skirt, and billowy cotton blouses in the Japanese Sweet Lolita’s candy pastels, bows and ribbons hop and skimp down the runway.

Betsey’s imagination is our entertainment. To further push the childhood dream theme, she invited “Pirates of Caribbean”’s Captain Jack Sparrow to strut and cart wheel down the runway as the lone groom tossing toy gold coins into the rapturous crowd.

Him strutting was the transition into the more edgy Gothic Lolita, the moody but more elegant of the Sweet Lolitas.

Still, the visions of cotton voile crinolines and pinafores but in more modern rompers, crop blazers, skull & crossbones t-shirt, accented with “Clockwork Orange” bowler hats in licorice black.

The black and white knickerbockers suit was downright Edwardian dapper.

The other pieces deviating from the fondant white and licorice black palette were more vintage. Seventies paisley with Rocco tailoring like the pannier dress with pockets.
Betsey Johnson infallible skills to make clothes that are so fashion-forward that they are immediately wearable right off the runway yet avant-garde enough to make them vintage investment pieces.

The jaunty styling of long sheer sweater over ruffle bloomer shorts...

or the continuation of the simple yet adorable polka dot babydoll dress/tunic the sweet but startlingly elegant ruffle white gown are commercial enough to wear as is, without alterations or moderations.
In reality, the majority of outfits can be bought and worn at the moment, as is, or be saved for the following Spring and Summer for a bunch of locations and events. The ensembles can be broken down into wearable pieces.

Licorice black or icing white, the pouf white jumper can be worn for daily errands,

the black romper for beach to bar,

and the tiered gown for the Summer soirees. Regardless of tailoring, they are terrific to wear in the sticky humidity in the city or the swelter of the beach because the majority of the collection is made out of practical cotton. With, some jersey knit and satin tossed in.

The show’s theme maybe childhood fantasy but there is not fantastical about these approachable clothes. Amusingly, this current collection is modestly cute, following the Japanese Lolita’s fashion symbolism expressing traditional Japanese traits of demureness and graciousness.

As in any runway show traditional, it ends with a bride and groom. With Betsey’s youth-driven spirit, it was the prom king and queen, with the queen wearing a dress so edgy that it’s innocent. An outfit that any tween can proudly wear to the junior high dance.