Thursday, September 30, 2010

Upstairs on 7th hosts trunk show to benefit Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

Last Friday, as suited employees rushed out of their high-rise office building on 12th and F Street NW to start their weekend, a distinct group of women a la bohème streamed into Upstairs on 7th boutique, located ground-floor, to let loose while shopping for a cause.

Owner Ricki Peltzman hosted London fashion designer Ray Harris and local jewelry designer Sissy Yates in a two-day trunk show to benefit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. The event, plus a month-long donation drive, raised $2,000.

For his spring/summer 2011 collection, Ray Harris delved into our dreams and sorrows to reveal beauty in the search for personal meaning. How does that translate into ready-to-wear? A range of textured fabrics in a palette of vibrant colors molded into the form of a v-neck blouse, floor-length skirt, and button-less “coat.” His trademark technique – a perfected wrinkle – appeals to a tactile woman who appreciates an artistic point of view.

“I love so many of Ray's pieces that I cannot decide,” says Peltzman. “They all work so well for both dressy and casual situations just by adding a casual shoe or a different necklace, a belt, etc and they are so light weight, easy to travel with and care for. I just love the line!”

Peltzman is a Harris-convert. “I found him at a show in New York that represents like designers and I actually walked by and saw all this crinkle and kept walking. But then I saw a woman wearing one of his dresses and I ran right back there and bought the line,” she says. “I have been buying it ever since and he always is changing and doing new pieces in new materials.” His velvet crush garments sold out in the first three hours of the show.

A regular featured designer, Sissy Yates returned to the boutique to showcase her collection, which sold equally as well. However, Yates needs no introductions. The designer is a favorite among Washingtonian tastemakers for her selection of rare stones and gems fashioned into necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Yates’ counts Ms. Oprah Winfrey among her admirers with features in three recent O Magazine editions.

Andrea Glazer of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance couldn’t resist trying on items from the designers’ collection herself. But she remained focused on her mission for the evening: to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. More than 21,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed annually, making it the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women, and is the deadliest of gynecologic cancers, according to the Alliance.

To learn more about the Alliance and how you can get involved, contact Ms. Glazer at 202.331.1332.

This is article is dedicated to my Aunt Kennie - we love you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

VirtuArte Launches Virtual Shopping 2.0

VirtuArte, the online upscale fair trade boutique, launches its revamped Web site for a bigger and more educational shopping experience.

The first experience: Meet the Artisan. VirtuArte exists for its artisans who are located worldwide producing items with local materials and traditional methods. The customer visits their world through detailed artisan profiles, sharp photos, interactive videos and a Google map directing them to the artisan’s residence.

The second experience: Attend a VirtuArte Event. Check online for upcoming trunk shows, a new feature on the site. The shows promise an opportunity to meet the designers while perusing inventory for your wardrobe or home.

The third experience: Introduce an Artisan to VirtuArte. Nominate an artisan – local or international – who you think fit the VirtuArte mission. Submit their information and images of their products for consideration.

Founder Debbie Myers refers to the improved site as a labor of love. “This second iteration takes us closer to our vision, which is to promote artisans who might not otherwise have an opportunity to contribute to the international market,” says Myers.

The instant gratification online shopping brings now delivers a human connection, thanks to VirtuArte.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fashion's Night Out DC Style

At the stroke of 6 p.m. EST yesterday, DC kicked off its second annual Fashion's Night Out party with nearly 100 stores - boutiques and department stores - participating in the world's biggest fashion party.

First stop, M29 Lifestyle boutique. Guests gnoshed on miniature cupcakes and sipped on champagne as they shopped the store's unique collection of apparel, accessories, and gifts.

Hu's Wear customers ignored the late-night construction on the store's expansion project and poured through the racks of the industry's most coveted designers such dsquared, Cacharel, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and most recently Proenza Schouler.

While over at Simply Soles, shoe-lovers received a complimentary Stiruppz, gifted in person by founder Lisa Church and shopped DeNada's fall collection of cozy scarves, knit caps and gloves. Simply Soles owner Kassie Kempel will continue the festivities to next Saturday, when she celebrates the grand opening of her second store at the National Harbor.

Two hours later and my trusty Tsubos carried me three miles west to the U and 14th Street corridor to check out the scene there. Lettie Gooch owner Theresa Watts rolled out the red carpet with the requisite "paparazzi" eagerly snapping away - I couldn't help but feel like a fashionista SuperStar! Not surprisingly, Theresa and her staff pumped up the volume and created a nightclub environment where customers rocked pieces from her fall collections.

At Rue 14, the crowd grooved to a live DJ, waiting patiently for local band U.S. Royalty frontman/GANT model John Thornley to grace the store with his presence. I walked away with a Eryn cute tee by Eryn Brinie and headed across the street for Redeem, my final stop of the night.

Entering Redeem is like walking into a den inhabited by creative spirits. Greeting guests was one of them, Thomas Griffeths, local designer behind Couture Saboteur. He is the reason for Fashion's Night Out, to celebrate the industry's talented artists. His collection of intricate, bold designs casts a shadow over his silent demeanor. But ask Thomas about each piece, and behold an animated response. More on Thomas in a forthcoming blog. I would be remiss though not to acknowledge Lori's other special guest, artist Shawn Helton. His interpretation of the human condition leaves you mesmerized - fitting for a night intent on celebrating the arts on a global stage.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fashion's Night Out - DC

DC fashion-minded retailers roll out the red carpet for an evening of shopping and socializing this Friday, September 10, from 6 – 11 p.m. Fashion's Night Out, heralded by New York City’s fashion elites last year in response to the industry’s economic blow, returns this year to celebrate the industry’s talent. The event’s gone global with stores participating from London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo to our nation’s capital.

Shop and mingle among local celebrities and stylists at any one of the 100 stores and restaurants in the Georgetown and U Street retail district. My Signature Look will be there to capture the night’s festivities.

Here’s a sampling of what to expect:

Alchimie Forever
– Ada Polla treats guests to complimentary facials and makeovers and a discount on Alchimie Forever products.

Caramel – Indulge your love for art and clothes by shopping new styles while viewing art by MidCity artist Dave Peterson ( (opening reception).

Lettie Gooch – Preview local designer Artistic Aya by Dana Greaves’s fall collection and be placed on Lettie Gooch's "Best Dressed" List by wearing your favorite Lettie Gooch wear!!! Special Guest "Muse" Anji Corley - On-Air Radio Personality of WPGC.

Lost Boys – Kelly’s got the guys covered with “Going Out Lost Boys Style: The Lost Art of the Pre-Game”. Guys get traditional straight razor shaves, shoeshines, Bourbon tastings, and Jeff Dufour's "Top Secret Destination Picks" for an unforgettable night-out on the town.

M29 Lifestyle Boutique – Enter a drawing for a Moyna LBB (little black bag) while shopping the store’s mix of home décor, clothing, and accessories.

Redeem – Fall 2010 Preview Party with special guest appearance by local jewelry designer Thomas Griffeths of Couture Saboteur, showcasing his one-of-a-kind hand-constructed collection. Also, DC artist Shawn Helton presents The Red Thread... mixed media paintings about myth and the human condition.

Reiss – Stop by this store from the UK for 10% off all full-price clothing and a free gift with purchase. Meet men's style bloggers Grant Harris from Image Granted, LLC, Klay Williams of Harrison Williams and style editors from The District Cut, who will be giving one-on-one style advice and showcasing their favorite looks from the REISS 2010 Autumn/Winter Men's Collection.

Rue 14 – Shop the GANT trunk show to live music, including a DJ set from John Thornley, the lead singer of U.S. Royalty and GANT model. Also meet with stylist Victor Price to create a fresh look with our new fall merchandise, and receive complimentary mini-makeovers from a professional make-up artist.

Simply Soles – Shop the fall collection and De*Nada Designs trunk show while sipping on cocktails and meet Lisa Church, the inventor of Stiruppz.

For a list of participating stores in Georgetown and U Street corridor.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Designer Spotlight: David Joseph Designs

In the quiet solitude of his studio apartment, David Fisher sculpts fabrics into couture. The self-taught designer contemplates over fabric choice when creating his custom-made designs for Washington’s socialites and tastemakers. He calculates how he will turn a concept into a finished product, operating on a 3-week start to finish timeframe for ready-to-wear and 4 – 6 weeks for bridal or couture. He is a one-man show.

The 23-year-old native Nebraskan arrived in DC two years ago after a journey across the states in search of the ideal location to launch his label, David Joseph Designs. It began in the costume department, where he interned at Creighton University. Under the direction of the head costume designer, he learned to sew and one costume design class later, he turned entrepreneur and started selling vintage clothing and worked on textile conservation projects for private collections.

I sat down with David in the lobby of his historic apartment building, a luxurious space restored to its original 1920s decor. Said place, in addition to DC’s museums and architecture, serves as inspiration for his vintage-inspired design aesthetic and reverence for the curvaceous silhouette. We talked about his design process, the Mad Men craze, and his green lifestyle.

: What does the collection say about your own personal style?
DF: I love the styles from the 1930s through the 1950s, and every design reflects that. I personally own a large collection of WWII jackets and wear them for special occasions in the colder months. They are definitely my favorite article of clothing. I also like the 1950s aesthetic where men dressed very sharp and tailored and women's clothing was fitted yet feminine. I think it was the last era where clothing was truly beautiful, and I try to encapsulate that in my design aesthetic.

MSL: Where do you acquire your materials?
DF: I acquire my materials from all over the globe. For day-to-cocktail ensembles, I procure materials both locally and through online fabric retailers. For bridal and couture designs, I often important one-of-a-kind fabrics and trims from Europe. For one couture gown, I purchased a custom silk produced in the same shop that made the costumes for the HBO series, The Tudors.

MSL: How many pieces are typically in a collection?
DF: Since each design is custom-made, I do not produce a typical collection. Each season, I choose a theme and make a select number of designs based off the inspiration. This usually ranges from six to twelve pieces per collection.

MSL: Who is your target audience?
DF: My target audience is modern women who are on the move. When I established my label, I wanted to create designs that could seamlessly transition from the workplace to a cocktail party to any type of formal event. The modern woman does not want to waste time and money constantly changing her wardrobe. For my ready-to-wear designs, I create fashion-forward pieces that work in a variety of settings, assuring my client is effortlessly chic at every stage of her day.

MSL: What has been one of your most elaborate designs to date?
DF: One of my favorite designs is the Lake Gown I made inspired by the one Natalie Portman wears in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Movie reproductions are always magical, as it is a labor of love to see a masterpiece on screen, and then see your inspired creation come to life. The minute I saw the gown, I knew it was extraordinary. It took three attempts and nine months to create the ombre effect with the dye. Start to finish, it took nearly a year to make. I sent it to a photographer in Ohio for a photo shoot and was absolutely mesmerized by the photographs. They are so beautiful, it looks like a dream.

MSL: Where do you see yourself in five years?
DF: Over the next five years, I hope to see my business grow into a thriving label. I am very happy living in DC and hope my fashions forever find a home in this wonderful city. It has always been a dream of mine to open a flagship store in New York, and I hope to achieve that within the next few years.

MSL: How does your green living influence your profession?
DF: I don’t waste anything! I measure my fabric carefully as not to waste and use fabrics that are high in quality and going to last. I recycle everything. And personally, I want to be healthy so I eat organic produce and walk everywhere.