Thursday, April 30, 2009

What the Cool Kids Wear

I attended the “Atticus Presents the Cool Kids” event last week. Owner Kristin Wild featured four young, up-and-coming designers from the Madison area at her trunk show event. I was amazed by their versatility and variety of viewpoints they had. All of the designers showing were UW students in the textile and design program.

Danni Trester designed amazing swatches of fabric for a school project—fantastical patterns in zigzags, dots and more. They looked straight out of a fabric catalog you’d find at a high-end fabric store! Trester also designs fun wallets out of vintage papers and shoppers can even have a custom wallet made—they can choose from among a book of papers Trester has, and she’ll make a wallet out of any pattern you choose.

Brittany Kucera’s looks are simple—a two-toned dress/tunic out of jersey, a cropped jacket with a major collar and a beautiful, dove-gray sleeveless top with a drapey collar. I loved her pink leather studded clutch for $100. Kucera said it took her quite a while to perfect the technique and amazingly, the leather lived a former life—as a piece from the now-defunct Wilson’s leather store! Reusing fabrics and products is hot—and just proves that we can live green and still be fashionable.

Meg Koglin’s looks were heavily inspired by the past—like the novel Little Women, for example. That’s right, Koglin’s inspiration/sketch book was chock-full of fascinating sketches of looks, many of which were inspired by books or plays. Some were costume-influenced and others were just looks she dreamed up, like a little white cropped short-sleeved jacket fashioned out of a men’s shirt and embellished with strips of fabrics from other shirts. Koglin also designed a wildly different look for MMoCA’s Hair Affair event I wrote about the other week—a tight, shiny black Spandex look adorned with gray cuffs, neckpiece and anklets enhanced with zippers (see photo of model with blue hair). It was quite a departure from the looks she showed at Atticus—which is a positive sign that Ms. Koglin can show different looks for different occasions.

I was charmed by Dokiang Thao’s looks—fun little party dresses and sassy tunics (well, it’d be a tunic for someone as tall as me!) many of which were made out of reclaimed fabrics. The vibrant colors and chic styles looked to be a promising start for this young designer.
More on these designers to come…

Atticus, 18 N. Carroll St. 204-9001.

Revamp Your Beauty Routine

Apparently it’s beauty day as I discuss some ways to revamp/update your go-to beauty toolkit…

With the seasons changing and it becoming a (tiny) bit warmer, it’s a great time to revamp your spring makeup palette. Now, I’m no makeup expert, but I do know what works for me—and many of the products I like and have recommended to others they’ve liked, too.

I am not advocating that every single product you purchase be pricey, although I think in some cases spending a bit more can make your makeup routine a little luxe—but not so luxe that you don’t have a few bucks left! Plus, these products last a long time, so while you think $28 is expensive for a cheek tint, the product typically lasts as long as anywhere from six months to a year-plus. Put in those terms, your makeup’s only costing like seven cents a day for a year’s use. To me, that’s worth it!

The other reason I pay a bit more for (certain) products is that for me, they have tried-and-true excellent quality that works better than the drugstore version. It’s kind of like dating—every dude you meet won’t be a perfect match—you’ve got to try what works for you until you find what you’re looking for!

For a lightweight, fresh foundation I use Neutrogena’s products—either the Glow Sheers or the Healthy Skin Enhancer, which are both affordable AND good for skin. For more coverage I just discovered Maybelline’s Dream Liquid Mousse foundation—which really evens my skin out and doesn’t look mask-like. Bonus: this one’s WAY affordable—like $8 affordable!

For summer you want makeup that lasts through sweat and hot temps, right? The latest miracle product I’ve discovered is Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Seriously, this stuff makes your eye makeup last for twelve hours. I’ve worked out after work and my eye shadow still looks perfect after sweating! This stuff is magic—before, my eye shadow would fade and crease by noon—after discovering and using this product, my eye shadow stays put until I take it off at night. Love it. At $17 it’s not the cheapest product out there but it’s definitely worth it if you want a fresh eye makeup look all day. I highly recommend it.

Another long-lasting product? Dior’s Diorshow waterproof mascara in black is a must-have, hands down. I have tried so many drugstore mascaras attempting to replicate the same thick, clump-free look of Dior’s mascara and haven’t been able to find that same quality. For bottom lashes though, Maybelline’s less-expensive Great Lash waterproof mascara in Very Black works excellently, and the brush is smaller to reach those harder-to-reach lashes.

I have advocated this product before, but Benefit’s Benetint is awesome. At $28 for a nail polish-sized bottle it’s not the cheapest product, but it last for over a year. Its tagline—“the most natural flush you can get from a bottle”—rings true if you’ve tried it. It’s a lightweight, long-lasting product that gives your face a little perk whenever you need it.

Finally to incorporate a little trendiness into my summer look I purchased Smashbox’s eye shadow in Safari—a lovely deep khaki/green color with a hint of gold shimmer in it. At $16 it’s not as affordable as a $4 Cover Girl eye shadow but the color is a lot more intense and you’ll use less of it when applying. I also recommend Napoleon Perdis’ loose eye shadow dust in color 37—a sexy champagne nude color that’s perfect as a shimmery eye accent on top of an eye shadow or in the inner corners of the eye. Napoleon Perdis is sold locally at PREP Cosmetics.

I’ve been having a bit of seventh-grade nostalgia—in my nail polish preferences, that is. My favorite colors back then were silver, white, neon orange, neon green and royal blue. Most of these polishes were by Wet ‘n Wild and at 99 cents, they were an indulgence I could afford back then. My color tastes have grown up a little bit this time around—though I was sporting a sunshine-y yellow a week ago ☺.

The colors I’ll be sporting this summer include gray, nude, yellow, safari green, tropical blue and deep plum, and they all reflect summer trends right now.

We’re seeing gray and nude in clothing as well as accessories—gray and nude scarves and shoes for example, are a hot ticket, while celebs seem to be sporting nude sparkly cocktail dresses left and right. Consequently Sally Hansen's nude (not shown) and Pure Ice's "Kiss Me Here" polishes are my go-tos for nude and gray shades for the nails.

The green color I purchased—“Camouflage” by Rimmel—is a direct reflection of the tribal/safari trend that’s going on. Items like multistrand necklaces, chunky bangles, maxidresses and even crazy headbands have all made their presence known in stores.

Of course bright colors always make a comeback come summer—shades like sunny yellow ("Lightening" by Sally Hansen) and aquatic blue ("Marine Scene," Sally Hansen again!) reinforce our need to have a little brightness in our lives—right down to our fingernails.

Deep plum is a holdover from our darker, winter days—but I can’t seem to let the dark colors go. As far as nail polish, dark shades are still popular and fit right in with urban/rocker looks for summer: studded purses; racerback, embellished tanks; skinny jeans; metallic pieces and gladiator heels. "Uptempo Plum" by Sally Hansen offers me a glimpse of the dark side.

Find most of the makeup above at Sephora, 71 West Towne Mall. 827-5958.

Napoleon Perdis available at Prep, 553 State St. 442-3366.

Nail polishes available at local drugstores.

This Weekend: Green Goods

I hope you’re stopping by the Going Green Wisconsin Expo. Read more about it here:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Chic Coifs

Last night I attended the fanciful Hair Affair show put on by the Art League of MMoCA. As I blogged about earlier this week, organizer Elizabeth Tucker says this event is a first for the museum. I sure hope it’s not the last. Everyone thoroughly seemed to enjoy themselves and dressed fab! I saw a silver dress with blouson sleeves over leggings and uber-trendy heels on one woman; a hot-pink strapless short cocktail dress with a flared skirt on another and a Jessica Catherine design on Natasha Vora (see picture!)

More importantly this event signifies that there are people in this city willing to put on an edgy, fun, FASHIONABLE event! An event that raises funds for the museum and is more than the standard cocktail party—it’s a (trendy) feast for the eyes!

The looks were part fantasy—but part reality: many of the looks rocked trends we’re seeing for spring: tribal/nature inspired looks, rock-n-roll edginess, metallics and touches of retro glamour were all woven in.

The models looked so different that I didn’t even recognize someone I knew—Lissa Koop, who gracefully modeled the nature-inspired look designed by Rachael Drechsel of Elements (photo, left). Nice job, Lissa!

Photos, top to bottom:
"Spring Fantasies" by William Jon Salon. Hair: Jekaterina Agapanova; Fashion: Egita Pearson; Model: Ashley Nelson.

"TexturEvolution" by Hair. Design team: Julia McConahay, Zach Zaricor; Model: Cat Ross.

"The Fix" by B.fix Salon. Hair: Adrian Borseth; Makeup: Shiva Borseth; Jenna Kundert; Fashion: Meg Koglin, Kyra Lawrow-Svedvik; Model: Kyra Lawrow-Svedvik.

"Earth and Air" by Elements. Designer: Rachael Dreschsel. Model: Lissa Koop.

"Migoto" by Aniu Salon Spa Yoga. Design team: Bentley Kreier, Melissa DeNure, Kim Martens; Makeup: Kendall Frisbee.

"'On' Wisconsin" by Ultimate Spa Salon. Design team: Mitchel Levey, Donald Fredrickson, Ericka Stellflue; Model: Carisa Meyer.

"Rockabilly Mama" by Cha Cha Beauty & Barber. Hair, Makeup and Fashion: Alice Ezrow, Sigrid Fanalé, John Bass, Gen Smith; Model: Marilynn Johnson.

"Post-Apocalyptic Warrior Princess" by Deonne Salon & Day Spa. Designer: Jenny Polito; Model: Jessica Fanone.

These gals were awesome, left to right: Kym, Mesa, Jenn Schultz, Angie Riker-O'Sheridan and Karen Wenning went all out.

I loved these table centerpieces—Barbasol comb jars with goldfish! The jars are very retro-chic, and reminds me of my grandpa's barber shop, where they have these!

Mad Mag unite:
Tiffany Thom, our marketing director, dons a purple wig in her own photo. Myself, Katie Vaughn and Tiff also posed. I tried to fit in at the event with my feather headband, but it's pretty hard to see in the photo!

Ladies in red: Natasha Vora (wearing Jessica Catherine) and friend Sarah matched in red.

Read Kative Vaughn's blog, Liberal Arts, for her take on the event!

Timeless Weddings

’Tis the season for “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” … and of course, our annual wedding photo spread. Our “Modern Vintage” spread showcases a look quite different from our two previous years’.

In 2007 our theme was modern elegance, shot at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The bride donned a breathtaking silk gown with a fitted bodice and gently draped skirt whose simple lines reflected the stark, minimalist museum. The wedding party’s equally upscale look fit right in.

Then in 2008 our shoot took on a decidedly different look: spicy high fashion at Samba Brazilian Grill. The bride’s mermaid-style gown was au courant, with a ruched bodice that gathered dramatically at the hip and set off with a flower and sassy feathers. Her feather hairpiece was the perfect accoutrement for the look. The wedding party shined in a champagne bridesmaid dress and in chocolate brown tuxes.

So what to do this year? My concept crystallized upon visiting the Bridal Expo back in January (yes, that’s how far back I started thinking about this!). I started noticing subtle hints of classic, timeless looks. Almost vintage—but not quite. Gowns were understated—with clean lines, sparkling accents and lots of lace overlay. That meant one thing: Modern Vintage. And so it came to be. In order to plan photo shoots I have to work closely with our art director and photographer to make sure that they’re not only on board with the idea, but that they can carry the vision through, too. Judging from our past shoots and this year’s shoot, I’d say we hit the mark again. Shown is the actual photo above that appears in the magazine, as well as some additional "behind the scenes" photos that I shot the day of the shoot.

The silk satin Jim Hjelm gown Becki Gongora wore in this year’s shoot was truly a winner. Her and I both absolutely loved it. It’s even more spectacular in person—and the back also had fun crystal and silver accents on it too! It was a very feminine, and almost evening gown-ish in its look—but thoroughly appropriate for a special day! And how can you not love the hairpiece?! Here’s what I wrote in the article about it: “ … [it’s] reminiscent of a fascinator—those quirky little hairpieces women wore in the early part of the twentieth century. Our bride is so beautifully wearing one, too … ”

So a toast to all of those planning their weddings for this summer—if it’s as much fun as planning the look for this photo shoot (well, maybe this is a little less stressful than planning a whole wedding!) I can see how the “I do” is for you!

Top photo by Luke Severson.

Photo with wedding party, from left to right: Ryan Berry, Caitie Taylor, Becki Gongora and Memo Gongora all did their "fiercest" poses throughout the day for us.

Bottom photo: Yay,
Madison Magazine interns! Meredith Beverstock, Kimberly Ecker and Lex Graves came to check out the shoot.

One Look, 10+ Ways

I love wearing things different ways: a cotton dress with gladiators for day and with heels and cardi for night; skinny jeans with boots and sweater and with heels and a tunic for night; and a blazer with a cotton tank for day and slinkier silk top and necklace for night.

Clearly, I like to make my dollar stretch. That’s why I love bop’s “Our Ultimate Closet (spring edition)" slide show. It’s not a new idea: taking fashion essentials (pencil skirt, belt, heels, button up shirt, whatever) and mixing and matching the pieces for different looks. But what bop does is showcase the pieces you need for THIS season—cutout platforms, scarf, fringed mini and jersey minidress—and pairs them all up in polished, fabulous looks. I’ve found that it’s worth it to spend extra money on those items that you’ll wear season to season and mix it up with less expensive items that are trendier.

I also think the cute Alexander Wang jersey minidress might be the least expensive item I’ve seen by the designer: a mere $85.

Shop the Closet:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hair Flair

As I included in my events last week, the Art League of MMoCA’s Hair Affair event is quickly approaching—this Thursday, to be exact. This is the first year the Art League is holding the event—and I think it’s an utterly fashionable way to raise money for the museum’s exhibition and education programs.

After all, fashion is about fantasy and fun. Take John Galliano, someone I’ve talked about on this blog before. Mr. Galliano is the master of fashion escapism—designing some truly out-there looks and pairing them with a fantastical runway experience. I’ve always longed to attend a John Galliano runway show—his crazy genius has always enthralled me. Yes, Mr. Galliano, I’ll take an extra helping of models that appear as though they’re wearing muppets on their heads and models dressed up like elaborate Russian nesting dolls in coats ten sizes too big. Thanks!

I really don’t think there’s a better way to spend a Thursday night than viewing “extreme hair sculptures designed and executed by premier area salons and stylists and displayed by live models.” Fashion fun and a good cause … a great combo.

I asked Elizabeth Tucker, project consultant with MMoCA, about why they chose to hold this event for the first time this year.
(Photos © Tom McInvaille)

Madison Magazine: What was the inspiration behind planning the Hair Affair event?
Elizabeth Tucker: I was brought on after some of the initial concepting of the event. The event was the idea of Annie Levihn, one of the chairs of the Art League committee. Other museums across the country do something similar—there’s an event that the Des Moines Art Center does that’s a similar concept (the Big Hair Ball).
The idea the Art League had was to do a fresh, different fundraiser to bring a new audience to the museum. [The audience will be] a really diverse group; probably half will be regular museum attendees and supporters. The other half of the crowd will be people that are newer to the museum, like people from the salon community or clients of the salons. In terms of ages it’s going to be a really diverse audience, which is exciting.
The salon community has been a new group to reach out to.

MM: What is the timeline of the event?
ET: The event begins at 7 p.m. We’ll have a silent auction and complimentary hors d’oeuvres, and cash bar will be available. Every guest [can try] the complimentary signature cocktail, which is a Red Mohawk: a martini made with Prairie Organic Vodka and pomegranate.
At 7:20 p.m. there will be a live music performance by the Ahn Trio. They’re a contemporary classical music trio from New York City. They will be playing a full concert the following evening at Overture, so this will be a preview performance.
The main event for the evening is at 8 p.m., which is the hair show. All of the hair sculptures will be shown on live models and they’ll walk down the museum’s main glass staircase. There are thirteen salons participating (Salons include: Aniu Salon & Spa, B.fix Salon, Cha Cha, Cinema Hair Studio, Deonne Salon and Day Spa, Elements, Hair, Hybrid Salon, Millenium Salon & Spa, Rejuvenation Spa, RZ & Company, Ultimate Spa Salon and William Jon Salon). Each design is wildly different and there’s a great variety. The models and stylists will be around after the show to talk to people about the inspirations [behind the looks].
The event concludes at 10 p.m.

MM: Is the hair show a competition?
ET: It isn’t a competition. It could be in future years; maybe we’d put out a call for entries to salons in the beginning of the process and have a jury process to select. This year all of the salons were invited and they didn’t have to submit a proposal.

MM: What about the outfits that will be paired with the hairstyles?
ET: Almost every salon has designed a dress or outfit to complement the hair sculpture. Or they’ve put together some sort of wardrobe selection to complement the hair. Some of the descriptions we’ve received … the hair and wardrobe almost become one… In one case the salon is doing 35 mm filmstrips in the hair and the dress will also have filmstrips incorporated in it.

MM: Will you be doing this event every year?
ET: Another event you’re probably familiar with was the Design MMoCA event in 2008. Designers were asked to design a room for the weekend. So in this case we asked area salons to design a hair sculpture for the museum. With both events one of the really great things has been drawing in a new and different audience. We might rotate [the events] every other year.

MM: Are tickets available?
They are $65 per person and some are still available. We will be selling tickets through the end of day Tuesday and possibly still the day of the event. There always seems to be a rush at the end!

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
, 227 State St. 257-0158

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lucky Liz: Isaac Mizrahi Makes Over the Iconic Brand

(I posted the above for the photos so you can see Mizrahi's looks for Liz Claiborne!)
I don’t think I’ve ever bought any of Isaac Mizrahi’s line for Target before
—his first foray into clothing at a lower price point for a mass merchandiser. I do think I would buy Isaac Mizrahi’s line for Liz Claiborne, though. Once again Mizrahi shines in the classic sportswear genre. He masterfully combines a number of eras in his looks—fifties Americana, sixties mod, eighties silhouettes—and combines them wonderfully for today. Bright, cheerful colors, sleek metallic accessories, mixing and matching, and tailored fits provide the necessary updates to his looks to prevent anything from looking too old-timey.

Mizrahi incorporates the true staples of a woman’s wardrobe in his first collection for Claiborne: a classic belted cardigan, fluid wide-leg pants, a tailored safari shirtdress, a sweet strapless party frock, a bateau-neck dress, sharp blazers, Bermuda shorts, a tie-neck blouse, a classic mackintosh coat and a satchel or two thrown in.

His cheeky "Colormath" philosophy on the website shows goof-proof ways to wear some of his looks—whether you mix one gingham piece with a neutral outfit or do the full-out shebang—head-to-toe gingham outfit with brightly colored accessories to boot.

Of course, his looks for Liz Claiborne run the more conservative route, and that’s OK. After all, Claiborne’s customers probably aren’t looking for cutting-edge harem pants or ripped white boyfriend jeans.

I speak with a (tiny) bit of authority on Liz Claiborne as I used to sell that line when I worked at Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s). Claiborne’s looks were always strong; dependable. Year-round you could find the pleated khakis in navy, khaki and white, the T-shirts were always stacked neatly on a fixture near the aisle and you’d always know to look for the non-wrinkle dress shirts (which changed colors with the seasons, of course). I cannot say that I ever contemplated purchasing any of Liz Claiborne’s clothing—as a college student her pieces just seemed way too old. Blouses and dresses were typically boxy and pleated khakis?! For shame.

But I like Mizrahi’s fresh perspective for Claiborne. Sure, it’s a little on the safe side—a gingham cardigan, high-heel loafers and a floral shirtdress are, admittedly, looks we’ve seen before. But I’ve often read (and seen) that when the economy goes awry, we turn toward “safer,” classic looks. Looks we can wear a long time. Hey, not having to buy clothing for a while always helps … well, not buying clothes for a while in an ideal world, right? ;)

Liz Claiborne is available at Boston Store, 215 West Towne Mall (I checked!). 833-9799.


Fair Indigo Employee Pricing on Best Sellers
Where: Fair Indigo, 570 N. Midvale Blvd. and
Details: Everyone needs wardrobe basics: long-sleeve tees, tanks, cardigans, jeans, V-neck and scoop-neck sweaters and more. Fair Indigo is giving anywhere from forty-five to seventy percent off regular prices on these basics for men and women. I spotted a women’s cashmere cardigan sweater for $60 (marked down from $129) and a men’s pima cotton dress shirt for $20 (marked down from $50).
More info:

Wine Tastings
When: April 8, 5:30–7 p.m., April 11, 2–5 p.m.
Where: Savoir Faire, 5 N. Pinckney St.
Details: Did you know Savoir Faire moved to a NEW location—and it’s back downtown again? Originally located on King Street, Savoir Faire moved to Greenway Station a few years ago. Now the shop is back to its downtown roots at a slightly different location. I’m guessing owner Kathie Retelle will still have all of her great gifty items, cards and wine for sale.
More info: 819-8066

Hair Affair: The Art of Hair
When: April 16, 7–10 p.m.
Where: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St.
Details: Give me hair! “Extreme hair sculptures designed and executed by premier area salons … displayed by live models” are what you’ll get at this event benefiting the Art League of MMoCA.
More info: 257-0158.
Photos above © Tom McInvaille

Wacoal Fit for the Cure
April 22, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Where: Boston Store, 215 West Towne Mall
Details: Get a complimentary fitting in a Wacoal or b.tempt’d bra by a Wacoal specialist. After all, stats show the majority of women are wearing the wrong bra size! Wacoal will donate $2 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every woman that participates. Wacoal will also donate an additional $2 for every Wacoal bra, shapewear piece or b’tempt’d bra purchased at the event.
More info: 833-9799

Atticus Presents Meet the Cool Kids
When: April 23, 6–9 p.m.
Where: Atticus, 18 N. Carroll St.
Details: Do you like smaller, indie designers and one-of-a-kind items? This event is for you—a trunk show featuring apparel and accessories from local designers.
More info: 204-9001.

Absolutely Art’s Re-Art Swap
When: April 25, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.
Where: Absolutely Art’s backyard, 2322 Atwood Ave.
Details: Perhaps the feathers your kids used for an art project are floating around. And you don’t need those extra beads for the necklace you made anymore. Bring them to the Re-Swap and swap them for new inspiration or simply donate them to someone else. Also don’t miss the Alley Sale for great deals, too.
More info: 249-9100.

World Fair Trade Day
May 9, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Where: Fair Indigo, 570 N. Midvale Blvd.
Details: Fair trade has long been a buzzword in retail—paying people fair wages and helping promote ecological practices just makes sense. On May 9, Fair Indigo is donating 100 PERCENT of its sales that day in honor of World Fair Trade Day—fifty percent will go to a local school and fifty percent to the Fair Indigo Foundation. The Foundation “is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities in the developing countries where Fair Indigo factories are located,” per a press release. World Fair Trade Day is the second Saturday in May and is organized by the International Fair Trade Association across seventy countries. It focuses on trading fairly with millions of producers.
More info: 661-7662.

Flux Fashion Show
When: May 9, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Where: Monona Terrace, 1 John Nolen Dr.
Details: Every year the School of Human Ecology at UW–Madison sends off promising young design students looking to make their mark in the sartorial world—like a junior Karl Lagerfeld, or perhaps a younger Donna Karan. See their work at this show.
More info: or 262-4897.