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Marc Jacobs Redux Grunge Collection.  The entire look, without the jewelry, can be had for $1990. 

There are all these conversations in my head about, What is fashion anymore? Who is fashion for? Where’s it going? With the internet, it all becomes so overwhelming. 

Marc Jacobs, American fashion designer.

Jacobs has remade 26 looks from his infamous Perry Ellis spring 1993 collection. The one labeled “grunge.” The one that was a disaster as far as fashion editors were concerned and the head honchos at Perry Ellis, who promptly fired Jacobs.

Pushing back against the current fashion system, which he says isn’t working, Jacobs wants to “mix things up” and try something different. So here we go again with grunge.

But since we’ve been here before, is grunge different enough?

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9baa7d28c628f14d175580c14bd74cddMaybe it means you buy one less T-shirt each year. Or maybe it means you buy one of higher quality because it lasts longer. Or you only buy vintage, recycled clothes from secondhand shops. All of the above works, and that’s the beauty of it. 

Stephanie Benedetto – co-founder and CEO of Queen of Raw.

This quote was taken from a Q&A with Mosaic magazine, November/December 2018.

Did you know that there are piles and piles of fabrics sitting in warehouses going unused? Brand designers sometimes overestimate how much fabric they need or a mill overproduces a particular fabric and voila –  we have fabric overload. On occasion these fabrics find their way to fabric shops but sadly, more often the fabric is burned or buried, according to the Queen of Raw website.

Queen of Raw offers unused textiles for sale that would otherwise be destroyed, giving them a second chance and us a greener way to go in fashion.

What a great idea for holiday shopping! Check it out here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Inauguration Day, 2009. Michelle Obama looking lovely in a dress suit by American  designer Isabel Toledo. 

Sometime during Barack’s campaign, people began paying attention to my clothes. Or at least the media paid attention, which provoked all manner of commentary across the internet. My pearls, my belts, my cardigans, my off-the-rack dresses from J.Crew, my apparently brave choice of white for an inaugurate gown – all seemed to trigger a slew of opinions and instant feedback … It seemed that my clothes mattered more to people than anything I had to say. 

Michelle Obama, attorney, mother, and former First Lady of the United States.

This quote is from Ms. Obama’s just released memoir, Becoming (Crown Publishing Group).

Michelle Obama was and still is the epitome of grace and style. But it’s not just the clothes she chooses to wear that make her such, it is her generous spirit, her confidence, and intelligence. What an excellent role model she was as First Lady and continues to be as an American working woman.

Fifteen days after publication, Becoming has sold more than two million copies proving that, indeed, what Michelle Obama has to say matters.

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I also love the Korean alphabet. It’s like … cubism. Very graphic!

Karl Lagerfeld – German fashion designer for Chanel.

This quote is from Korean Inspired, an essay Lagerfeld wrote for Couture Korea – the catalog accompanying the fashion exhibit of the same name at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, November 3, 2017-February 4, 2018.

Lagerfeld is among a few western designers inspired by the traditions of Korea. His 2016 Chanel Cruise collection showed in Seoul, South Korea and included many Korean motifs, such as embroidery and bojagi (traditional wrapping cloth).

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The Korean alphabet is called hangul and I agree with Lagerfeld – each letter is very graphic. Isn’t it interesting that when you don’t know the language, the letters are just shapes and therefore take on a different quality.

While looking at fabric in Seoul, I was drawn to a cotton printed with hangul. Although at the time I had no idea what I’d do with it, I bought two yards and had fun pondering how to use it.

Now I know! A jacket with top stitching in brick red. When I travel I often buy fabric and make or have something made as a memento from my travels.

Stay tuned for the finished hangul jacket.

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Entrance to the East Meets West exhibit at Legion of Honor Museum.

For a festive treat with plenty of sparkle I recommend the current exhibition at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, East Meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from the Al Thani Collection. On now through February 24, 2019, this exhibit includes 150 pieces of stunning jewelry and other accessories from 17th century India to modern interpretations by western designers.

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Turban ornament, India c. 1900, Silver, diamonds, emerald, pearl.

Much of what’s on view is from the private collection of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, including elaborate necklaces, strands of pearls, aigrettes, brooches, and turban ornaments – the most iconic of East Indian jewelry pieces.

In the west, royal women bore the task of donning the family jewels but in the east it was the men who had the pleasure. Interspersed among the display cases are photos of various decked out Maharajas. These images give an idea of how they wore their finest jewels – chokers at the neck, layers of necklaces covering the chest with dangling stones as big as chandelier drops, brooches adorning their jackets, and to top it all off  turban ornaments often featuring a large emerald, the favored gemstone for its green color. It seems the gentlemen wore their jewelry well and with surprising ease.

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Nizam of Hyderabad necklace. India, 1850-1875. Gold, diamonds, emerald, enamel.

In the early 20th century, with their mutual love of jewelry and gemstones, both the west and east cultures borrowed from each other. European designers began to use cabochon and carved gemstones in their designs, which we see in Art Deco jewelry, and  Maharajas brought their collections to houses such as Cartier to have them remade into modern designs.

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Pen Case and Inkwell. North India, 1575-1600. Gold, diamonds, emeralds, hubbies, sapphires, lacquer.

With six galleries there is much to learn and perhaps get inspired … to add to our gift wish list!

 

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Elephant Brooch, JAR, Paris. 2016. Titanium, diamonds, white cacholong (common opal), sapphires, gold, platinum.

 

East Meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from the Al Thani Collection is a nice alternative to the holiday madness. Check it out.

https://legionofhonor.famsf.org/exhibitions/east-meets-west

 

 

 

 

 

 

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41UA57KzwQLConfidence. independence, and intelligence are the new and permanent must-haves to be a sexy woman. Carrie Bradshaw displayed these characteristics,  behind Carrie was Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) – a natural example of the woman we are talking about. Behind Carrie and SJP was yours truly, making our combination organic and believable. 

Patricia Field – American costume designer and head designer for the television series, Sex and the City.

We continue to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sex and the City, which premiered on HBO in June 1998.

If you’re a fan of S&TC I recommend a new book, Sex and the City and Us: How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live, and Love. by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (Simon & Schuster).

With twenty years hindsight, Ms. Armstrong presents backstories on what went into creating and maintaining the hit HBO show. Having interviewed key players like SJP, producer Darren Star, writers Cindy Chupack and Jenny Bicks, she digs deep into the inspirations and intentions of each of the six seasons with commentary along the way on the impact the show has had across the country then and now. Armstrong opens the book sharing how the first seasons of S&TC influenced her life, as a twenty-something young woman in Chicago with NYC aspirations.

Sex and the City and Us is well written and a fun read for true fans.

 

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Traditional hanbok was worn for both everyday and special occasions by men and women from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) through the 1950s when western clothing took hold. The basic silhouette for women was a full skirt, often made of silk or ramie, and a short jacket in solid colors. Any embellishment was applied, embroidery for example, along the edge of the skirt or the shoulder of the jacket.

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Traditional hanbok.

 

While in Seoul, South Korea I had many encounters with traditional hanbok on the streets, in museums, and the fabric market but I was interested in seeing modern interpretations by local designers. I had first learned of this trend last year at the Asian Art Museum’s exhibit, Couture Korea.

I heard about a shop that offers modern hanbok, so one day I set out walking through our neighborhood of Insadong and into Bukchon in search of Tchai Kim.

One hour and four tourist guides later (they had trouble too!), I found the elusive shop tucked inside one of the many little alleyways that are so much a part of Seoul. I was greeted by a friendly and helpful staff member, Kim Ujin.

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Kim Ujin standing with my favorite reinterpretation of traditional hanbok.  It’s the unexpected plaid that does it for me.

Ujin explained that the shop is owned by designer Kim Young-jin, who had learned how to make traditional hanbok from a Korean Master. For several years Young-jin custom-made traditional hanbok mostly for weddings but she began to realize that the label “traditional” was variable – hanbok in the 18th century was different from hanbok in the 19th century and so on. Traditional Korean dress was ever-changing until it more or less disappeared. Young-jin felt it was time to bring hanbok back with a modern update and in 2010 she launched her ready-to-wear brand, Tchai Kim (tchai means different).

I was given a tour of various silhouettes all inspired by traditional hanbok of past centuries.

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Deoksugung Palace Guards, or actors who play guards. There is no monarchy in South Korea but there are five palaces in Seoul that, since 1996, hold reenactments of the changing of the guards.

 

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Here’s the cheollik dress with over-skirt.

One such silhouette particular to Tchai Kim is a dress based on the traditional cheollik, a one-piece tunic worn by men over loose fitting pants that were tied at the ankles. You can still see that outfit today on the palace guards. Designed originally for ease of movement, the reinterpreted cheollik for women offers the same ease for a busy modern lifestyle. The dress can be worn alone or with a pair of wide-legged pants or with an over-skirt as we see in the photo to the left.

Part of the traditional hanbok ensemble is the short wrap jacket, called jeogori. in solid colors. Young-jin has taken that idea and updated it with a v-neckline in cotton fabric and patterns such as plaids and polka-dots, shifting the look from youthful to sophisticated.

 

 

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There are many redesigns of the jacket. I tried on one that if worn in the U.S. would be considered very fashion forward but the inspiration behind Young-jin’s design makes the piece even more special. The pop of red embroidery (another Korean tradition) spelling out the name of the shop punches up the avant-garde factor. If I were to wear this jacket I’d mix it with vintage – 40s slacks and my signature suede shoes (look at my logo) and a grey or black beret with a red floral brooch attached.

The blending of traditional with modern is a marvelous way to move forward while honoring heritage and keeping it present.

Gamsahapnida (thank you) to Kim Ugin for taking time with me on that wonderful October afternoon! It was among the highlights of my visit to Seoul.

 

 

 

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