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Theresa LaQuey designed every one of these gowns as well as the costumes for the DecoBelles.

Theresa LaQuey designed every one of these gowns as well as the costumes for the DecoBelles.

Congratulations to Oakland fashion designer Theresa LaQuey who was among the eight honorees at The Art Deco Society of California Preservation Ball on Saturday evening May 23, 2015. An expert in design of the 1920s through the 1940s, Ms. LaQuey was honored for her contribution to the preservation and education of fashion in the Art Deco period. She has designed many a ball gown for Art Deco Society members and a group was on hand to show off their lovely TLQ originals. (A side note: I have several TLQ daywear creations including a super chic suit. Click here to see.)

The venue for this year’s ball was another honoree, The Scottish Rite Center. This 1927 building located on Lake Merritt in Oakland was recently renovated and sports a grand ballroom on the first floor as well as four more floors of rooms including a library and smoking room. We gathered dressed in our Deco finest on the fifth floor, which has a deck with a fabulous view of the lake and several anterooms leading into a ballroom where Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra played for the dance-lovin’ crowd.

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Dr. Elaine Ashby donning her own gloved gown.

Plus, just for added fun, it was a masquerade ball in honor of one of the other evening’s award recipients, Hearst Castle, and all the glamorous parties given there by Hollywood actress Marion Davies and newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Some attendees wore masks and others went in fancy costume including Dr. Elaine Ashby who, knowing her way around a sewing machine, made her own gown embellished with vintage white leather gloves. Handy skills to have as the lady is a surgeon. But when not practicing her craft on patients, she likes to attend Carnival of Venice for which this talented doctor has created many a stunning gown.

Autumn Adamme also arrived in a costume she made herself, which of course, had to include a corset. Ms. Adamme is the woman behind Dark Garden Corsetry a corsetry, couture clothing, and bridal shop in San Francisco. Known for excellent corset handcrafting, Dark Garden Corsetry attracts high-profile clients such as Dita Von Teese and Christina Aguilera.

Fellow fashion designers Autumn Adamme & Theresa LaQuey.

Fellow fashion designers Autumn Adamme & Theresa LaQuey.

Now that’s what I enjoy about this annual event, Deco dress-up and meeting such an array of interesting people.

Congratulations to all the winners: Diego Rivera Mural Project, Oakland Scottish Rite Center, Glenview Elementary School Preservation Efforts, Sailors’ Union of the Pacific Building, Brian Kendall (Administrator with the City of Oakland’s Façade Improvement Program), Ed and Karen Archer, Theresa LaQuey Couture, and Hearst Castle, which received the first ever award given by the ADSC for eclectic architecture of the 1920s.

Let’s have a round of congratulatory applause (clap, clap, clap) to Preservation Ball Co-Chairs, ADSC President Heidi Schave and ADSC Secretary Alice Jurow. And more claps for the many volunteers, who do magic behind the scenes.

It happens again next year. Stayed tuned to OverDressed for Life.

BOF-JW-9211-CropIn fashion today, yes it’s about clothing, but fundamentally, we live in a world now that demands a global picture. It entails the image. You know, who is the person? What is the cultural environment around that character? I think people want that more. They don’t want the bag without the story; they don’t want the shoe without the story, they don’t want the dress without the story.

– Irish-born fashion designer, J.W. Anderson.

If I’m understanding Mr. Anderson correctly, and I’m not sure that I am, he’s suggesting that fashionables now want what they buy and what they wear to give them their story, their personality. I suppose that’s Lifestyle Branding and it requires a certain approach to design. If we choose Chanel, that says something – if we choose Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, J.W. Anderson and so on. It’s like joining a club and wearing a uniform. The designers do the thinking for us.

I agree that this is true and a current trend and it’s fine. I get the appeal of one-stop style shopping as well as the sense of belonging that a designer brand can provide. But personally, I prefer to mix it up and create my own story. I sport a lot of vintage, some of it my mother’s which has a personal story. I also like custom-made clothing and that also gives me control of the narrative. Most of all it’s important to me that no one else can wear my “story.”

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate designer fashion, I do and I use it for inspiration. But ultimately, it’s my own tale that I want to share.

How about you, my readers? Any thoughts?

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Have you ever wondered who made that T-shirt you’re sporting? Jacket? Jeans? Until recently I hadn’t, nor had the film director Andrew Morgan. Then in 2013, Mr. Morgan was reading in the New York Times about the Bangladesh factory collapse in Rana Plaza. Shocked and horrified to learn of the conditions those factory workers (and many others) endure, he began to ask some basic questions: Who makes my clothes? What are their lives like? Are they better off?

In his new film, The True Cost Mr. Morgan helps answer these questions by traveling the world and talking to people in the industry from designers such as Stella McCartney to workers in far away factories. He interviews professionals about the business of fashion, globalization, consumerism and the toll all of this must-have fashion is taking on our planet and the people who make our clothes.

Mr. Morgan insists that his film is not a guilt trip but an opportunity to “… open our eyes and hearts to this idea that there are hands, physical human hands that touch the things that we wear and those hands are lives and they matter …”

The True Cost opens around the world on May 29th, 2015 with a local San Francisco screening on May 31st at Second Act Theater, 1727 Haight St.

Click here to watch the trailer. (It just might change your approach to fashion.)

Painting by John Robert Dicksee of Miss Hardcastle from Goldsmith's play, She Stoops to Conquer.

Painting by John Robert Dicksee of Miss Hardcastle from Goldsmith’s play, She Stoops to Conquer.

A modest woman dressed up in all her finery is the most tremendous object of the whole creation.

– Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774), Anglo-Irish novelist and playwright.

Design by Isabella Rose Taylor.

Design by Isabella Rose Taylor.

If art had legs it would be fashion.

– Isabella Rose Taylor, 14-year-old artist and fashion designer.

Congratulations to Ms. Taylor, who has launched her own teen clothing line now available at Nordstrom. After attending a sewing camp at age 8, the Austin, Texas native started drawing and making her own designs. Friends liked and wanted the Isabella style and soon her parents thought – hey, this could be a business. They found a fashion mentor for their young daughter and a few years later in 2014, the Isabella Rose Taylor line debuted. Ms. Taylor has since showed at New York Fashion Week and has won numerous fashion design awards.

What an inspiration!

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I believe part of having great style is keeping fit and healthy. Do you agree that what we put inside our bodies and apply on top of our bodies is equally important? Yes! To that end, clean food and clean cosmetics are essential ingredients in looking our very best.

Offering a little help with that is Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, the chain of preeminent pharmacy stores located all around the Bay Area including their new site in Los Altos. Pharmaca offers healthy alternatives in beauty care, snacks, and household products, as well as advise from professionals on alternative medicine and preventative healthcare.

Although around since 2000, Pharmaca was new to me several years ago when I popped in to the Rockridge store in Oakland after an appointment with my acupuncturist. She sent me over to pick up a Borin Homeopathic Remedy. I was thrilled to find an alternative to good old CVS and since then I’ve become a regular for super healthy parabens and general junk-free cosmetics, healthy snack foods, and an array of healthier alternatives to the usual OTC medications.

Some of my favorites:

  • Zuzu Luxe cosmetics. Great shades of lipsticks and glosses that moisturize and don’t smell like cheap perfume.
  • W3LL People, another healthy line of cosmetics. I like Universalist, a multi-stick for cheeks and lips. Great to have in your handbag for quick touch-ups. W3LL is manufactured in the USA and uses ingredients that help our skin such as vitamin E, chamomile, olive oil, and lysine!
  • Speaking of lysine, my favorite Pharmaca find is Super Lysine +. Anyone who suffers from unfashionable and painful cold sores must BUY THIS. Super Lysine Plus ointment cuts healing time in half. Better yet, catch the nastiness in time with Lysine Plus and it disappears. The best part is it does so naturally with lysine and 14 other vitamins, herbs, and minerals. I keep at tube at work, in my handbag, and my medicine cabinet.
  • Pharmaca Hand Soap. Lavender is my favorite. A light natural scent, it makes washing your hands a treat not a chore.
  • My Day Job requires opening and unpacking boxes of books and that really does a number on my cuticles. Dr. Hauschka Neem Nail & Cuticle Oil moisturizes and heals dry cuticles. Neem is a vegetable oil pressed from the seeds of an evergreen tree. The added ingredient chamomile gives a nice scent. I’ve used a lot of different products on my cuticles but this one by Dr. Hauschka has showed the fastest results.

Sure Pharmaca might be a bit pricey but they’re offering quality products that are hard to find elsewhere and if you join their rewards club you get a quarterly coupon. Also, check the website to order online and for sales and more savings.

Sadly, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala has become nothing more than a celebrity spectacle. With the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber showing up looking like clowns, the event-of-the-year that used to be an evening of elegance for people in the fashion industry and their supporters has descended into Hollywood Trash Night.

This year’s gala celebrated the opening of China: Through the Looking Glass, an exhibition that explores the inspiration Chinese culture has had on western fashion. Some attendees (and their stylists) took the theme of the exhibit and went mad with oversized headdresses and excessive sequins. Others came up with their own theme – Raunchy – and sported revealing gowns that showed off what, I guess, they think is their best assets. Too bad for them.

Sorry SJP this is not a good look for you.

Sorry SJP this is not a good look for you.

In my online research I spotted only two well-dressed women – Cher, which is surprising as she is usually leading the Trash Pack, and Chinese actress Ni Ni. Notice they chose elegant gowns with the subtle interest in the fabric. Excess isn’t necessary nor is semi-nudity. Follow a theme, yes, but don’t overdo it.

Ni Ni looks lovely in Ralph Lauren.

Ni Ni looks lovely in Ralph Lauren.

Cher with the designer who dressed her, Marc Jacobs.

Cher with the designer who dressed her, Marc Jacobs.

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