Monday, August 19, 2013

A Visit From Mr. Hilfiger

I couldn't think of a better way to end the course than with a lecture from the legendary Tommy Hilfiger. It was so surreal to have him two feet away from you, talking about his way to the preppy top. 


Tommy Hilfiger’s Winning Formula
The all-American designer shares some advice with the Condé Nast College
By Deanne R. Bañares

The students at the Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design welcomed legendary fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger into their halls last Friday afternoon. Duly dressed in preppy pieces, Hilfiger is the soul of the spirited, all-American brand that has garnered international renown. But, as he recounted with his audience, the climb to the top wasn’t one of ease.  

“During high school, I worked in a gas station to open my own clothing shop. My family laughed at me when I told them I wanted to be a fashion designer,” he shared. Ignoring other people’s perceptions, Hilfiger started doing what he was always meant to do by acting upon his intuitions and inspirations. “I looked at all America has to offer in terms of pop culture – fashion, art, music, and entertainment - and decided that I wanted to package it in a brand and carry it worldwide.”

Hilfiger’s extraordinary passion to do so resulted in establishing his eponymous label while learning the tricks of the trade. “I taught myself how to deal with the business and management side,” he said. Subtly dropping success hints for the students, he shared a piece of advice: “The best brands are about people who are both business people and creative people.”

This winning formula has brought his brand to an impressive status. But when asked what his greatest achievement is, he immediately answered, “the Tommy Hilfiger Foundation. The idea is to give back by helping others get to a better place whether through medical attention or educational support.”

Fashion tends to be a rambunctious ride but Hilfiger admits that, “Even after 25 years, I still love what I do and look for ways to grow.” Certainly, the aspiring fashion students can take more than a thing or two from the man who inspired a lifestyle.  

The seats were to be filled by Principal Susie Forbes and Tommy Hilfiger 

Funny - this was the exact outfit he was wearing when he gave the lecture 

Photo from 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

This Is Life In Color, Today Feels Like No Other

As I mentioned in my previous post, even though my day over in Brooklyn was quite eventful already, the day wasn’t even over yet. After Brooklyn, my friend and I had to go back to Manhattan to catch the One Republic concert. We wanted to get there earlier but there was a problem with the MTA as usual. Fortunately the delays were not super long and we were able to get there in time to have a decent spot in the crowd. We were literally just a few rows from the front and I was glad we were able to be so close because being able to experience One Republic that close was simply electrifying. There is just no other word to describe it. I’ve watched plenty of concerts this year alone and this concert without a doubt makes it in my top 4 concerts. It was everything I ever expected and wanted a concert to be. Ryan Tedder’s energy reminded me of Chris Martin’s energy when I watched Coldplay perform last December. Ryan Tedder used the entire stage, jumped around, and really connected with the crowd. I was in awe.

They opened their set with a song called Light It Up from their new album Native and even from behind the white curtain, I felt all their energy especially Ryan Tedder’s. I know I seem to just focus on him but I can’t help it! Seriously. Since when did he get so...unf?? There were a few moments in the concert wherein my friend and I thought he was Ryan Gosling. With his rolled up skinny jeans, grey V-neck shirt, and leather jacket...he looked like the epitome of a rock star, which he is. I couldn’t take my eyes of him. Wherever he went on stage, my eyes (and my camera) would follow him. I didn’t want to ignore the other members because they are equally as talented but my goodness did Ryan Tedder steal the show that night especially when he climbed the side of the stage. I nearly lost it. And when he sang the infamous Apologize with just him playing the piano...I felt a chill in the heart and bones. No matter how many times I hear that song, I always get chills but hearing him sing it live, I almost got a fever from it. It was so beautifully haunting and with the freedom tower in the foreground, it became more haunting for me at least.

I’m sorry if I’m not making any sense anymore. I’m still having a fan-girl moment. Watching One Republic by the Hudson River with the skyline of New Jersey in the front and the skyline of Manhattan in the back was truly spectacular. And when they closed the show with Life in Color, I knew that in that moment I fell in love with the city of New York once more. It was the perfect setting and the perfect way to end the night. My mission that day was to rekindle the fire and bring back the feeling that I had when I first moved here. While I have to admit, I do not think that feeling would ever be back; the fire is definitely burning a fire red and no longer blue. So thank you New York and thank you One Republic especially Ryan Gos...oops...Tedder for making me fall. New York, I love you and I always will.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I Swear It's You That My Heart Beats For

In every relationship, there is always the possibility wherein the fire fizzles out. Someone either falls out of it or gets too comfortable and eventually gets bored. Recently, I’ve been feeling all of the above with New York. It seems as if, my love affair with the city is dying. I’ve been feeling burnt out, restless, and a part of me was starting to wonder if it was still worth it. Ever since my short stint in London last year, I’ve been asking myself if I should have gone somewhere else or if I should move again. Don’t get me wrong. I love New York and the feeling that I get whenever I get back to the city from somewhere is pure joy and maybe that’s where the problem lies. Every summer I usually go out of the country and this is the first summer I’m spending in New York. I most definitely could have gone out of the country again but this time I decided to stay. I was telling a friend about this and she mentioned something about exploring the city and falling in love with it again. When she said that, it got me to rethink what I was feeling.

Other people are so eager to come to the city and here I am so eager to leave. What was wrong with me? I’m so lucky to even be here and I need to bring back the feeling that I had when I first moved here. I definitely needed to do something to get back that spirit and keep the flame alive. What better way to do that than by exploring and the getting to know the city I fell in love with once again. I wanted and needed to go somewhere in the city that I’ve never been, try to eat something I’ve never eaten before....basically just experience something with the city that’s well...different. I’ve never been to Smorgasbord in Williamsburg and I’ve been wanting to go for the longest time. Fortunately my other friends wanted to go there too so finally we decided to not be too lazy to go to another borough actually take the trip down there and check it out and it ended up exactly what I needed.

I haven’t been in Williamsburg for a while and the last time I was there was just to eat in a restaurant and immediately after I left. I’ve never really seen what it had to offer so I decided to go there early and explore on my own. I saw so many new developments such as new apartment buildings and restaurants scattered all over the area. There were so many quaint little cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and thrift stores that it reminded me of the Portobello market in Notting Hill except this one is a bit grimier which I guess just adds more to the neighborhood’s personality. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the new developments amongst the graffiti-ed walls of the older buildings that I couldn’t help but be trigger happy.

After a while, my friends came and I met up with them at the park where Smorgasbord was and I was glad I didn’t eat before going there because I wanted to try everything it had to offer but there were just too many to choice from. However from what we have at least tried, everything was absolutely delicious with the exception of the teriyaki balls but only because it wasn’t hot. (Ok, so maybe not everything...) From the gourmet lumpia and maple lemonade I got to my friends’ chicken and waffles, lobster roll, and hotdog with mango chutney, everything was simply amazing. Not to mention, the ice cream sandwich we got afterwards was a feast for my senses. I wish I could have finished it but I was too full already and finishing it would make me fall asleep from food coma.

Besides the food and the quaint little cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and thrift stores, Williamsburg also has a sick view of Manhattan to offer. Looking at the New York skyline reminded me of why I was here in the first place. There is really nothing that beats it. I haven't been all over the world but I has been to a few places and among the places I have been to, this is still the most beautiful. From the park, I could see the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Freedom Tower, and of course the Statue of Liberty. I could have sat there the whole day just looking at it. Of course, I couldn't do that because we still had places to go but I will definitely come back, stare at the view again, and try more of the delicacies and things Williamsburg has to offer.

Even though there was a bit of a hiccup with the trip back into the city, I still enjoyed the day and it wasn’t even over yet. Next up was the One Republic concert but that would be in a different post....

P.S. As for my outfit, I was feeling a bit of a hipster since I was going into the heart of hispter-dom. Wearing vintage Levis shorts and a Pink Floyd shirt that I cut up to make into a crop top with an old H&M belt and a fedora that I bought when I first moved into the city. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dream A Little

Dream A Little

So my personal fashion styling class has reconnected me with Polyvore. I think I've fallen in love with it all over again. 

And these things as well...

Charlotte Olympia's collection of Zodiac Shoes is such a creative endeavor. I love the light blue Gemini suede slippers that are decorated with Swarovski crystals. 

LPD New York's "Team" T-shirt collection is absolutely brilliant. The fusion between sportswear and fashion has never been so literal. Why didn't I think of that? I chose Team (Phoebe) Philo but if I could have more, I would go for (Marc) Jacobs and (Miuccia) Prada as well. 

Tackling gemstones during class showed me their beauty and value. When I was younger, I told myself that I would never get into the whole jewelry thing but alas, I have finally reached that stage where I think quite the opposite. It is true what they say... diamonds are a girl's best friend! Cartier's LOVE collection is stunning and this pink gold ring set with pink sapphire would be my favorite piece. Just look at its sparkle... 

A girl can dream.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

LDN: Marylebone

Familiarity breeds contempt. After four months of walking along Oxford Street, that place becomes a nightmare. I was in dire need of some place new so I looked to my trusty, not-your-average London guide book. It told me to go to Marylebone.

It's famous for the Baker Street Station, the world's first underground railway, and for Sherlock Holmes who was based in Baker Street. Amusingly, fan mail is still being sent to his fictional address. Madame Tussauds, London's wax museum, is also located here. So if you want a photo with Kate Middleton or Brad Pitt or Oprah Winfrey or whoever else you can think of, get in line.

The true gems though, the ones that truly speak of Marylebone's lifestyle and taste are to be found in the independent shops 'round the corner.

First up: Alfies Antique Market.

It's London's largest indoor market for antiques. I usually cringe my nose at the word "antiques" - images of dusty furniture and tacky chinaware come to mind - but this one changed my perception of it. It was a treasure trove of bits and bobs that can pepper your home with beautiful things. The four floors are filled with vendors for vintage furniture, fabric, jewellery, trinkets, clothes, posters, watches... you name it, they have it. They even have a gallery on the second floor, which features temporary exhibitions, and a restaurant on the fourth, where you can go to take a breather. Naturally, my eyes were drawn to the vintage fashion... I saw out-of-season Prada and Dolce and Gabbana pumps, 1950's wedding dresses, and wildly-embellished skirts. So much more character than the same old, same old high street shops nowadays...

I had my lunch at Food Filosophy (witty!), a Greek and Mediterranean restaurant that serves healthy (yay!) and affordable (double yay!) food. For seven quid, you can have a selection of fish or meat and three sides. I had salmon, Greek salad, tomato and parsley salad, and mashed chickpeas. It was a refreshing lunch but I think I went a bit overboard on the tomatoes. If you're not up for fish, there's always chicken and for sides, they have pastas and other salads as well. They also have a good selection of desserts, smoothies, coffee, and tea. 

The interiors are amiable as well... it's like having a courtyard within a restaurant. There's a huge picnic table across the serving area and shelves filled with Greek products. It's a bit of a walk from the main street of Marylebone but it's worth it if you want something different.

I spent most of my time in Daunt Books. I chanced upon this charming bookstore in Holland Park but I was on a tight schedule so I couldn't linger. When I heard that their branch in Marylebone was bigger, I told myself that I had to go. The wait was worth it. Its green and brown façade is so inviting but once you step in the store, that's where the magic begins. That distinct smell of book pages, of school libraries... Do you know that ? It fills you. It makes you want to stay. They should seriously capture that it in a bottle; I would take it with me everywhere. 

With its wooden decor and beautiful layout, Daunt Books looks more like a university library than a mainstream bookstore. There are even wooden chairs you can sit on. They have every genré imaginable but the spotlight belongs to the travel section - there's a two-floored room dedicated to it. It's one of the first stores that grouped the books by countries, giving you ultimate convenience. And it's not just travel guides about the country... any book from design to fiction to art referring to that country is there. It was so beautiful that I whiled away an hour in that place. 

Then I walked to VV Rouleaux, a ribbon wonderland. There were reels upon reels of ribbons in every color, texture, and pattern. It's the perfect place for craft makers as they supply you with exactly what you need and hold classes if you need a bit of help. They can teach you how to make a headdress and give you tips on how to use ribbons on your wedding day. Absolutely adorable.

And then finally to KJ's Laundry. If you're sick of seeing Primark, H&M, Zara, Topshop (okay, I'm talking about myself), this independent fashion boutique is perfect. Owned by Kate Allden and Jane Ellis, the selection of designers is tastefully curated. The choices of clothes are quirky, stylish, and individual that even though this shop is tucked in an alleyway, women in the know fill their wardrobe with pieces from this lovely shop. Such a good discovery. They have minimalist and structured pieces but also patterned and colorful ones. 

I saw all that in a day. Marylebone is perfect for an afternoon stroll where the roads aren't so wide, the crowds are nonexistent, and the shops go beyond the high street. Oh, may there be more power to independent boutiques!

Club To Catwalk

A brief description on British style: experimental, eclectic, edgy. The royals stake their claim on posh and pretty but hand it to the youngsters of the city and they absolutely use fashion to serve their jolting creativity. Victoria and Albert Museum's new fashion exhibition, Club To Catwalk, explains where English Eccentricity finds its roots.

The 1980's. A decade that defined the fashion trend currently being resuscitated in the fashion shows. A decade that "launched the careers of many". The first floor of the low-level lighted exhibition - totally capturing that club atmosphere, are you? - showcases the designers who sprung to the pages of magazines due to their innovativeness, albeit considerably subversive and shocking to many as well.

Michiko Koshino was one. This Japanese fashion designer was known for her layered, oversized styles and stretch fabrics which had dynamic movement. She took her inspiration from the streets and the bikers. Referring to the outfit below, the sportswear influence is apparent, allowing for the fusion of ease and style.

Katharine Hamnett was another. She was a case of using fashion to serve her. Opposing the stationing of nuclear missiles in the UK in 1984, the designer wore an opinionated t-shirt when she met  the late Margaret Thatcher. See photo below for reference. How cheeky. How brave. How fashionable. Thatcher looks pleased. Paul Smith, whose designs are also featured in the exhibition, said, "In order to sell a plain white shirt, it had to have a point of view." Apparently, the British designers had a consensus on using plain white shirts as their platform.

Of course, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood were part of the repertoire. What's a list of British fashion without those two? Galliano was inspired by the club scene, which is not difficult to believe considering his designs were theatrical, flamboyant, and outrageous. Westwood, following a similar train of thought, made punk fashionable, subversion creative. This decade also saw the rising fame of leather jackets and velvet clothing, of pairing blazers with jeans and of allowing the fabric to follow your body lines. It was just all about difference.

My favorite part of the exhibit was the showcase of the Blitz Denim jackets. Blitz, a popular magazine during that decade, commissioned 22 designers to customise Levi's denim jackets. This project allowed the aesthetics of the designers to shine through. Interestingly, in spite of slight aesthetic differences, punk fashion was the common thread between all the customised denim jackets.

Vivienne Westwood's Levi's jacket 

John Galliano's inspiration for his jacket 
I thought the first floor was intense... till I went up the second. I felt like I was transported to an 80's party scene. It was an explosion of fashion during that period... wild pants, huge shoulder pads, day-glo colors, metallic tones, goth, lace, leather, black, body-conscious silhouettes, glitter, studs. Absolutely Leigh Bowery's closet. Definitely not mine. If during the Belle Eopque period, the theater was the place to be fashionable, during the 1980's, it was the club (thus the title of the exhibit). It was what you dressed up for, it was where you had to be seen. Although it borders on eccentric and strange sometimes, you can't deny the creativity and imagination that was unleashed. It was personalisation at its finest. And considering the modern times where lack of that is evident, reviving punk is quite liberating. That's why we're seeing it in considerable volume in the upcoming season.

Chanel executing punk in its own tweed way
But the authenticity of this trend was only found in the 80's. It can never be done the same way again. Can you imagine getting dressed up the same way they did and then commuting via tube to SoHo or Shoreditch? At this day and age, it would be more absurd than fashionable. Fortunately, Club To Catwalk allows those who missed out on the theatrics of that day to see it in all its shining (literally) glory. Check it out. Your mind will be blown.

Photography isn't allowed so I grabbed some photos from London Evening Standard (Koshino, Westwood, Galliano), Dazed Digital (Hamnett), and (Chanel).  Thanks, guys.