Monthly Archives: May 2010

More of Paris!

The Chambre Syndicale

Yesterday our group had the opportunity to visit the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture here in Paris. The school for aspiring couturiers was established in 1927 by a group of couturiers in order to instill perfection of the technique in its students.

Our group was met by Patrique, the school’s coordinator and styling professor, who gave a presentation on the cold, hard facts of the school and then answered our many questions before showing us around and letting us poke our heads in some of the classes and meet some students. The English speaking ones at least. I was really surprised to learn that even though this school is known for its rigorous design curriculum many and even most of the students are starting to veer toward the merchandising side of the industry. I also thought it was interesting that the gender ratio was favored females; in a class of 25 only three might be male, but Patrique mentioned that the men tend to advance farther than the women. Overall this was an intriguing visit, I really enjoyed my time poking around the school.

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Louis Vuitton Museum


We were beyond privileged to be welcomed into Louis Vuitton’s former home to see the Louis Vuitton Museum. The house is beautiful, designed and built in the art nouvelle style. We were met by a woman with LVMH who welcomed us into the living room and told us about the history of Louis Vuitton and his trunks while we all sipped on the coffee graciously given to us. Then we went upstairs and watched a video about the manufacturing of Louis Vuitton handbags and the quality work done on the bags. It was a really inspiring video and made me want one of their handbags more than ever! After that we went into the museum and saw the evolution of the Louis Vuitton trunk. I say we were privileged to have this experience because the only people who get to see the inside of that estate are people in the LVMH corporation and press. The house only sees about 6,000 guests a year.

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The YSL exhibit at Petit Palais
Go see this exhibit. Seriously. It is awe-inspiring. The exhibition shows 340 of YSL’s couture designs throughout his 40-year career. Our curator was phenomenal. Rachel McGinness, you would have been in heaven at this exhibition, I certainly was.

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Madame Pico

I’m on a brief study abroad with my Fashion department and our first stay is in Paris. After a comedy of errors en route we finally made it to the land of chocolate croissants, Marie Antoinette and Madeleine. Our first appointment was at the Paris American Academy for a draping demonstration with Madame Pico.

Before our visit I had no idea who Madame Pico was, but if I had known she had anything to do with Madame Gres I would have had a stronger sense of what was coming. Madame Pico is fantastique! She spent her life working for different couture houses: three years working for Balmain, 24 years working for Madame Gres and 11 years working for Nina Ricci.

Madame Pico began by giving us a short background and history on Madame Gres from her childhood all the way through her death, which the press didn’t find out about until a year after she passed and her daughter allowed a journalist to meet with her.  Madame Gres and her couture house was known for magnificent draping, a very intricate technique that can easily make the construction of one garment take over 130 hours.

Madame Pico began working for Madame Gres making bustiers where she gradually worked up to making the drape pleated skirts and then onto making the draped bodice pieces for many of Madame Gres’s couture dresses. In one 80-piece couture collection there may have only been three or four draped gowns, but because they were so highly regarded, they are the most remembered.

Madame Gres only used silk jersey from France for her draping and one skirt could easily measure to 13 meters. The couture house’s first couture collection was in July 1942 where instead of showing a wedding dress like most couture designers did, she showed three evening gowns in the colors blue, white and red, inspired by the French flag.

Madame Pico still drapes, but her work is no longer for other designers; she creates dresses and other draped garments for herself, her daughters and her granddaughters.

Madame Pico showing us how to carefully make a drape pleat for a skirt.

This dress took Madame Pico over 300 hours to drape, she said it was the hardest and most intricate drape she did while at Madame Gres.
Madame Pico fitting a bodice on one of our girls. This bodice is for a jumper she is making for one of her granddaughters.

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The Carrie Diaries (part deux)*

*This is in no way a spoiler!

I know I literally posted about The Carrie Diaries than 48 hours ago, but the book is a must-read for any true Sex and the City fan. I couldn’t put it down. The ending is a total cliffhanger and I’m already aching for the next book, which isn’t due out until April 2011.

Also, it now makes sense to me why Teen Vogue got to publish the excerpt. It really is a book written to a teenaged-girl audience, but for Carrie fans at heart. The next book may or may not be quite as teen appropriate, but this one is just coming-of-age enough to work for the high school-aged female. It’s like a teen magazine in adult-ish novel. It touches on a young girl’s anxieties about having sex, dealing with frenemies, applying to college, prom drama and finding your voice. It doesn’t deal too much in fashion (I anticipate the next one will delve more into that), but I really want to see the Carrie bag.

The books and this whole prequel business really makes me wonder: if these Carrie Diaries were published before the series was created, would Carrie’s family have had any role in the show? I’m sure Candace Bushnell purposefully chose names that had not been mentioned before so that there would be absolutely no confusion whatsoever.

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I’m really not a fan of the s-word, but…

What do I have in common with the new ‘Schitbag’?

Before I get to the actual and kind of embarrassing handbag that this post is about I’d like to share an anecdote from my past. Back in the day I was a band nerd. During the marching season I was in the color guard (captain for two years, thank you very much) and during the concert season I played the clarinet. When you play a concert instrument there is this thing called solo and ensemble competition, perhaps you’ve heard of it. Well, I’ve always thought I had a fairly under-the-radar last name. Schmitz. It’s neither common nor embarrassing, although it does tend to get mispronounced fairly often. So in the eighth grade I was practicing my rockin’ clarinet solo for solo and ensemble competition. When it came time to show off all of my hard work I went to the check in table. The boys working the table were snickering about something. I walked up, pointed to my name on the list, and they tried to hide their laughing, but the poor things couldn’t. Apparently my name, ‘Schmitz’, was not on the list, but my name minus one letter was. You’re thinking right. ‘Schmitz’ might not have been on their list, but ‘Schitz’ sure was. They asked me how I pronounced my last name, really hoping it was pronounced the way they were imagining. I had lots of fun crushing their little eighth grade crude joke thoughts.

So now that you know what I have in common with the new Schitbag, what is a schitbag? Apparently it’s a fanny pack with a shoulder strap. Um, what? As reported by the New York Mag Cut blog, the press release for this new … catastrophe (?) of a handbag is calling it “The new status purse.” I guess all we really know about this bag is that they must not have used focus groups. I’m pretty sure if they had, this bag would 1) not exist in it’s current form and 2) have a different name.

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The Carrie Diaries

With summer here it’s time for me to start going through all of this semester’s magazines. I started with Teen Vogue and forgave the ed board for putting Miley on the cover for the second time in literally one year, lest we forget (May 2009, April 2010, tsk tsk). Inside the April 2010 issue is an excerpt from Candace Bushnell’s new book, The Carrie Diaries.

A little background.

When it comes to all things Sex and the City, I’m there. For instance, I own the entire series  and watch episodes whenever I feel like it, saw the first movie on opening day in New York (!), own the movie, read the Candace Bushnell book and even have the Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell book. I will see the second movie, although since I’ll be in Paris when it opens stateside, that will probably not happen opening day and it certainly won’t happen in New York.

Fast forward back to the now.

And now that Candace Bushnell’s first prequel to Sex and the City, The Carrie Diaries is out (and now that I’m done with my hardest semester ever, and made it out with a 3.9!), you better believe I’ve picked myself up a copy and am ready to lie next to my pool and drink it all in. I can’t think of a better way to reward my hard work.

Also, I really love the Stephen Sprouse design for the cover. This is truly one of the best book covers I’ve seen in a while.

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NYT Fashion: what do Rebecca Bloomwood and I have in common?

With how often these blog posts stem from articles I’ve read on the NYT Fashion section.. I should write for the NYT fashion section? Well, maybe someday.

So as the title inquires, what do Rebecca Bloomwood and I have in common? No, I’m not thousands in debt. No, I haven’t stumbled upon a magazine column-writing gig (yet). And now, I don’t have a roommate with awful taste in bridesmaid dresses (yet, but let’s cross our fingers that this one never happens). But I do have really great, and often expensive, taste for designer items. However, I am a poor college student and therefore don’t have the available funds to support such nice taste, so I resort to other ways of affording my style.

First I found eBay, that was in high school. And now, as a college student, I’ve funded my wardrobe by working at LOFT, where with my discount I can afford a few new styles each spring and, occasionally, my groceries (jk, I make sure groceries and rent come first). But soon I won’t be working part time retail and won’t receive my sweet discount. I’ll have to adopt new frugal ways. So on my normal NYT Fashion section prowl I found this slideshow. It’s only reason No. 568 why I can’t wait to move to New York. Onlyeightmoremonths, onlyeightmoremonths, onlyeightmoremonths.

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The WSJ and me

I might just need to pinch myself, and here’s why. Earlier today the Wall Street Journal’s fashion/retail reporter Elizabeth Holmes contacted me about one of my blog posts. In April I wrote a little something up about H&M not being in Texas. Today that blog got me an interview with the WSJ for an article on the subject. I was interviewed along with H&M President Daniel Kulle and Chief Executive Karl-Johan Persson. Kinda cool. Here’s the graph with my opinion. I suppose I acted as the voice of the hoi polloi, but I really don’t care, because at the end of the day I was asked to comment for a WSJ article. Link to the full article (for those of you with a WSJ subscription) here.

Meanwhile, some shoppers are growing restless, especially as the company continues its budget-friendly collaborations with high-profile designers. Ashleigh Schmitz, a 21-year-old from Colleyville, Texas, says she admires H&M clothes in magazine spreads. “In Texas, we are dying for an H&M,” she wrote on her blog.

The story breaks some unfortunate news to us fashionable Texans on the verge of a fashiongasm if H&M were to break ground in our sun-friendly state: it’s just too damn hot down here. The article didn’t say it exactly like that, but our lack of any real season change (our two weeks of winter doesn’t really count) is why we have yet to see this product of Sweden. Le sigh.

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