Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where Fashion Meets Nature and all Wild Things In Between

I’m a fan of animal print – zebra, snakeskin, and leopard. I have two snakeskin heels that have seen some days. All I need is a hint of it – bag, shoes, and belts – to stir my wild side and feel a bit sexy. And I love that I don’t have to sacrifice the source of these embellishments. I go faux. Which is not a faux-pas these days thanks to the increasing acceptance (and encouragement) of ethical/sustainable fashion.

This Friday, Dec. 19, Washingtonians and visitors will learn more about the role fashion can play in preserving the environment and protection of animals through a special event at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

The Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce (GWFCC) is hosting this one night event aptly called Fashion Night at ZooLights. In collaboration with Avani Ribbon, an organization dedicated to working with socially responsible fashion designers and retailers, the GWFCC aims to draw attention to the issues impacting our earth and promote corporate social responsibility.

Ethical fashion designers will be featured throughout the evening as part of the Zoo's educational component, "Love the Skin you are in - how animals dress for the winter." Organic and recycled clothing by fashion designer Ryann and new boutique Fashion Philanthropy will be displayed. GWFCC will also present designs made from recycled clothing by fashion design students from the West Potomac High School Academy.

I have the perfect vintage dress and faux-leather oxford heels to show off my own sustainable savvies. I can feel the wild child stirring now……

For tickets, go to www.fonz.org.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Meet the Designers: Elizabeth Wilson, Byron Lars and Daniel Vosovic

When I started this company, I knew the perks: witnessing a client’s transformation from blah to glam, attending fashion events, and meeting fellow fashion insiders. And I wouldn’t have to leave D.C.!

Most recently, I had the chance to cross paths with a few designers worth mentioning.

In late October, I met Elizabeth Wilson, creator of Asiatica. Her annual trip to D.C. is more than business; it’s a reunion for the secret society of Asiaticats. What is an Asiaticat you may wonder? As Elizabeth describes them, women who “derive satisfaction from filling their lives with things that have visual interest and feel that one’s quality of life is increased by sipping coffee from the perfect cup or wearing a exquisitely detailed textile.”

This woman is definitely resourceful. If she didn’t discover the collection from stopping by at Elizabeth’s showroom in Kansas City, then she stumbled upon a trunk show held in one of the 17 designated metropolitan cities. Then she becomes hooked - hooked to the rare fabric. [Asiatica is the only company outside of Japan to use fabric, which is made from high-tech weaving and design processes, from the company Nuno.] She doesn’t need to see the label to know you are wearing a kindred patchworked jacket or silk shirt, Asiatica’s signature pieces. Elizabeth employs a small team of women in-house who can spend months on one garment.

In the hour spent at Elizabeth’s trunk show, you can feel the Asiaticat rising from within. Elizabeth and her business partner entrance you with their graceful movement from one garment to the next. She’s the Chinese art historian by trade and you’re the awe-inspired student gushing over the intricate design work molded out of ancient materials. Even if you are not called to the society, then you are sure to leave impressed.

A few days later, I found myself in front of Everard’s Clothing boutique in Georgetown excited to meet celebrity designer, Byron Lars. Upon entering the boutique, I made a beeline for upstairs where Byron stood among a crowd of women adorning him and his collection of dresses, skirts, and signature blouses. Let’s just say it was hard not to be distracted by his charm. But back to his clothes. Since his launch in 1991, Lars has received praise for his artistic interpretation of the classics (i.e., men’s cotton dress shirt meets Dior) and penchant for the extreme. He made androgyny cool. He accentuated curves. He made Barbie a fashion icon (he designed a limited edition for the It girl, herself).

Byron’s current label of eight years, Beauty Mark, is homage to his earlier work. But it is the built-in features of a bodice, high collar, and pouffy sleeves that evoke a sense of royalty. Mixed in this collection are sweet floral shift dresses and pencil skirts with a hint of peek-a-boo pleats. The detailing is simply thoughtful and exquisite.

It was Byron’s first visit to the nation’s capital and he wondered what took him so long. And hopefully not his last. Did I mention that he was charming?

(First Lady-elect, if you are reading this, I highly recommend donning an original by Byron for the Inaugural ceremony – you will surely be on the “best dressed” list!)

Earlier this week, Daniel Vosovic graced the stage at the Corcoran Gallery of Art to promote his first publication, Fashion Inside Out: Guide to How Style Happens from Inspiration to Runway and Beyond. About 100 fashion mavens sat relaxed, laughing even, but attentive to the small-framed designer who entertained his audience with anecdotes that pieced together his journey into fashion. We were in the presence of an ingénue, a humbled ingénue.

Before there was Bravo’s Project Runway Season 2, there was recognition garnered as a student at FIT and abroad in Milan, Paris and London. The show catapulted him into the hearts of amateur designers and trendsetters. He has deferred launching his own line to collaborate with established designers and design staff uniforms for employees of a new hotel chain, NYLO. Oh, and design outfits for the NBC drama, Lipstick Jungle and its fictitious magazine – Bonfire Magazine.

The lights dimmed in the auditorium and we sank into our seats a little deeper as he took us through a slide show featuring the inside pages of his book. Not the picture book he jokingly referred to, but a photographer’s lens into the design process. Each page unfolded a truth about him and his worldview. Yes, it is a how-to guide relevant to the aspiring designer, but fashion aficionados like myself, can appreciate the ability to give life to an idea.