Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NEW! Madison Mannequin: Finely Dressed Friendship

Guest blogger Alexandra Graves is an intern here at Madison Magazine and my eye on the streets for all things chic, eccentric or otherwise inspirational. So check back weekly for the latest “Madison Mannequin,” posted every Tuesday from now on. Lex will be conducting all interviews and providing commentary for this special weekly segment.

I caught up with this chic duo as they paid for smoothies from a sidewalk cart. In the late morning heat, the light summer pieces that outfitted Amy Chinanzvavana, 26, and Amrita Batra, 26, were like smoothies for the fashionable eye—airy, refreshing and tasteful.

Chinanzvavana (above) and Batra (below) met at Grinnell College in Iowa but parted ways geographically after—Batra now lives and works in Madison at an environmental NGO, while Amy struck out to Washington, D.C., where she works as a program assistant at the Open Society Institute.

Although they live a thousand miles apart, Chinanzvavana and Batra looked almost as though they had coordinated—big, bright bags, eye-catching jewelry and breezy ensembles. Surprisingly, the two have differing fashion sensibilities.

“I like to buy standout pieces,” says Batra, who listed Sarah Jessica Parker and Anne Hathaway as her modern fashion icons. “I wouldn’t be happy wearing a cardigan and jeans.”

“I don’t think I have a style,” says Chinanzvavana, who claimed she wasn’t fashionable enough to have a fashion icon. “I pick for fit.”

“You have a style—you have dreadlocks, that’s stylish!” Batra protests. I’d have to side with Batra on this one—Chinanzvavana’s lovely sundress doesn’t shout utilitarian, and while that bag may be useful, it’s certainly got style.

For her part, Batra’s quest to stand out from the crowd knows no boundaries—one of her favorite new designers, James Ferreira, operates out of Bombay, where he makes seamless pieces that Batra loves. Her blue-and-white striped shirt was a new Anthropologie purchase and she got the Marc Jacobs arm candy as a birthday gift.

Chinanzvavana’s bag was also a birthday gift and her bracelet was a gift from Batra. These two may have different approaches, but their looks are as strong as their friendship.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I attended the Avant-Garde fashion exhibition, part of Wisconsin Fashion Week, Tuesday night at State Street Gallery.
What a show! Avant-garde typically means that the fashions are more fantasy and haute couture (handmade) creations—not necessarily ready-to-wear goods. In a sense, more art than anything.

Rachel Frank stitched up some fantastical creations—a white high-neck dress with full skirt with swirling fabric pieces cascading up and down the bottom half. It was tightly belted with a black belt and accented with black fingerless gloves and black lace-look fan. But the most fascinating part was the model’s eyes—feathered false eyelashes completed her Gone With the Wind-like ensemble. But it was Scarlett O’Hara updated for today’s world—leather gloves and all. Ms. Frank tells me that she made a similar dress for a friend who is getting married.
Her other creation—a red dress wool dress with large rosette accents on the neckline and skirt was also quite wearable—for the right occasion. I thought it was beautiful, although the model had to step out of her outfit because she got too warm in it! Regardless to even the casual onlooker one could tell the dress took much painstaking effort. Well done, Ms. Frank.

Rosalee Eichstedt is a triple threat—she’s talented in makeup, hair and fashion styling, says Kristi Moe, executive director of Wisconsin Fashion Week. Her look “was a play on the masculine/feminine,” according to Eichstedt. Behold the cute dress constructed of flowers and her (female) partner’s mannish, yet sassy, top hat/short-shorts combo.

Maggie Barber’s corset looks were so cute that they’d also be pretty wearable—albeit with a more downsized bottom half. But of course we’re going for art here, poeple, not necessarily what’s going to be selling next week at Macy’s. Anyway, the detail of these dresses were simply amazing close-up. Ms. Barber is a student in TASA—UW’s Textile and Apparel Student Association. If Ms. Barber’s future looks are anything like these two creations, I predict she’ll do well in her sartorial career ahead.

Tis the Season for Dos and Don’ts…

This weekend kicks off fair and festival season with Brat Fest (technically, Fitchburg Days was last weekend, but you get what I mean). That means the Dane County Fair, Waunafest, the Mt. Horeb Summer Frolic, Summerfest, The Wisconsin State Fair, et cetera.

Why do I mention this? Because I love to people-watch. People wear … fascinating outfits. Here’s my mental dialogue:
Me: Why is that woman wearing jeans three sizes too small? Can that possibly be … comfortable? Not to mention the dreaded muffin top that can accompany such situations. I wish I could tell her that no one will know her size if she goes one or two sizes up. Oh well. On to the cheese curds!

My point? Clothing that’s comfy and fashionable is well within your reach!

Here are my dos and don’ts for festival season:

Don’t: Wear a head-to-toe look. I can understand your passion for Def Leppard, or the Brewers, or, I don’t know, the “boho” look. But understand that taking a trend OR a look and wearing it head-to-toe only makes the trend, well, not trendy.
Do: Mix it up—show your passion for Def Leppard with just a tee (not with the acid-washed jeans and head-banger hair) or wear your fave boho skirt and leave it at that. No need to go all matchy-matchy—it’s overkill.

Don’t: Wear uncomfortably tight clothing. Or, on the flip side, clothing that’s too big. Rocking the club look in a tight tube dress and stilettos (yes, I saw this look more than once last year at Summerfest, actually) when you’re at the Miller Oasis is quite frankly, out of place.
On the opposite side, men and women wearing an oversized T-shirt or jeans and women wearing empire-waist sundresses and tunic tops when their figure can't rock that look is also a tactic employed when somone wants to be comfy. But sometimes it can appear sloppy or even worse—make you appear larger than you are!
Do: Um, wear clothing that fits! Too-tight clothing is never easy on the eyes—or the body, for that matter. Remember that if you’re going for comfort, you can still look stylish.
Gals: Know what works for your figure. Wear a cool cotton maxidress or, if you’re petite (maxidresses can dwarf shorter women), wear a lovely knee-length empire waist or A-line sundress that skims your curves.
Just be sure to select the right size—it doesn't matter if it's a great ikat print—if it doesn't fit correctly, move on to a dress that does. If you’re wearing a looser tunic top, wear more fitted jeans, capris, shorts, or Bermuda shorts to balance out the look.
Guys: For cooler nights, try a nice pair of bootcut jeans (not too big though!) and throw on a lightweight sweater or cardigan over your T-shirt instead of the usual hoodie, which can add bulk.

Don’t: Wear uncomfortable shoes. I’m all for cute heels and whatnot, but not for a casual affair like Waunafest. You want to able to enjoy your time strolling the grounds, not rubbing your feet and drinking away your pain at the beer tent.
Do: Wear cute, comfortable shoes like fashionable flats, cushioned flip-flops or wedge sandals, which are very chic right now and more comfortable than heels.

Don’t: Dress too young (or too old) for your age. I’ve seen this time and time again at summer events—young girls wearing far-too-revealing clothing (yes, I realize I sound like one of THOSE people that says “kids these days …” Oh well …) or guys and gals wearing clothing that’s far too young-looking for their age.
Do: Dress age-appropriately! Guys, there’s a reason that Abercrombie is targeted toward teens and twenty-somethings with their scantily clad male models and T-shirts with funny sayings—because those looks typically look better on, well, scantily clad male models, high school and college guys. Try Ralph Lauren! Classic.
I probably don’t need to emphasize this, but if you’ve seen how the Real Housewives of Orange County dress, that’s all I need to say about dressing too young for your age … (i.e. embellished halter tops, too-tight dresses, tube tops, et cetera) on women that would look far better in classic styles, like a draped Grecian dress, shift or sheath dress or a pair of trouser jeans with a classy ruffled top.

Ladies, look for some of these items—all fashionable, and all appropriate from day to night to wear at your fave fest!

Day-to-night dresses in jersey knits
—Grecian and draped styles are hot. Pick a brightly colored one or a cool gray or blush color—than add interest with vibrant accessories.
Find it: A Stone’s Throw or Target.

Gladiator sandals and heels
—pick up a neutral black or gray pair or glam it up with a gold or silver pair with beaded or gemstone accents.
Find it: Available at most department stores and shoe stores.

Jeans in unconventional styles
—the current favorite is the “boyfriend jean”—a style that’s a bit looser and relaxed, with a few tears here and there for a tough, cool look (sold at Atticus and Bop). Or try a crisp white pair of jeans, or a more rugged pair with a few tears (again, check out Bop). Colored skinny jeans also continue to dominate—and can be found anywhere from Target to Bop.
Find it: Atticus, Bop and Target.

Embellished tanks
—appropriate from day to night, these tanks add polish and flash to an otherwise simple racerback style or loose A-line tank. Pair with skinny or bootcut jeans and you’re good to go. Urban Outfitters has the widest selection I've seen.
Find it: Urban Outfitters

(or any dress, for that matter)—as noted above, maxidresses are best for taller women as they can dwarf shorter women. No need to worry, there are lots and lots of cute empire-waist and A-line styles totally appropriate for petite women too.
Find it: The Purple Goose, Patricia Shoppe and Twigs.

Major jewelry
—you don’t need to be an heiress to sport sparkly costume jewelry. It can be found anywhere from the local vintage or thrift store to yes, real jewelry stores. My favorite tip? Gather several necklaces that look similar or have similar elements and wear 'em all at once. I just read a great tip from J. Crew’s fashion director in Glamour: wear a few necklaces and pin on a pretty costume brooch and—insta-style! My point is that adding fun, chunky jewelry can instantly dress up a plain white tank and skirt or jeans—perfect for your favorite fest while still looking chic.
Try any of the shops named above for fab jewelry—they all have great picks.


Bop’s Stock Up on Summer Essentials sale
When: May 21–May 24
Where: Bop, 222 W. Gorham St.
Details: Quick—think beach. Er, I guess in our case, think a cool lake on a hot summer day. And what does one need lakeside? A cute swimsuit, sandals and sunglasses, of course! Look no further than Bop—whose summer essentials sale means thirty percent off sandals, swim and sunglasses from Thursday, May 21 to Sunday, May 24. (Photos: Brett Sandler purple bikini and Vix black bikini both available at the store, images courtesy of Bop.)
More info: Bop, 222 W. Gorham St. 255-2570. (In-store sale only)

Wisconsin Fashion Week Fashion Fridays
When: May 22, 7 p.m.
Where: 345 W. Washington Ave.
Details: View a runway show focusing on streetwear and emerging designers. Students from UW–Madison’s Textile and Apparel Student Association will showcase their designs as well as Internal Construction, N.E.W.D. Clothing and Sconnie Nation.
More info: www.wisconsinfashionweek.com

Wisconsin Fashion Week Fashion Fridays and Style District
When: May 23, 12:30–9:30 p.m.
Where: Overture Center, 201 State St.
Details: This all-day “style district” features a menswear show (male models sporting Jazzman), Stylista competition (makeup artists, hairstylists and fashion stylists style models and battle for who comes out with the best look) and three women’s runway shows at night—trend, premium and a Go Red for Women show with live auction at the end.
More info: wisconsinfashionweek.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New! Madison Mannequin: Global Green

Guest blogger Alexandra Graves is an intern here at Madison Magazine and my eye on the streets for all things chic, eccentric or otherwise inspirational. So check back weekly for the latest “Madison Mannequin,” posted every Tuesday from now on. Lex will be conducting all interviews and providing commentary for this special weekly segment.

I spotted Emily Larsen at the Farmers’ Market on May 2, just as a week of rainy chill gave way to a brilliant spring day. Everything was coming up green, including Emily’s ensemble, assembled with pieces from around the world.

Emily imported her springy green Boden trench from the U.K. Underneath, she wore a Zara blouse from a shop in Miami and finished her weekend look with a bag she picked up in Italy.

“Even though it’s a winter bag, I’m workin’ it in the summertime,” says Larsen, 28, who visited Madison to see Elvis Perkins in concert at Memorial Union. A communications manager at M&I Bank in Milwaukee, Emily loves dressing for the weekend when she can “wear flats and be casual but still sophisticated.”

Emily may technically be a Milwaukee Mannequin, but I’d steal her put-together style for myself any weekend.

Alexandra Graves

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stylemaker Q&A: Kristi Moe on Wisconsin Fashion Week

Let's play a little word association. What do you think of when hear the term "fashion week"? Do you carry a mental image of Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, wearing her signature dark shades, sitting in the front row of Marc Jacobs? Or perhaps leggy fashion editors sporting all- black ensembles (leather leggings, oversize tank and Alexander Wang blazer—don't forget the fierce, teetering, five-inch YSL platforms!) hanging out at cocktail parties? Let's not forget the ravishing models lounging backstage, sipping Champagne...

Kristi Moe (left), executive producer of Wisconsin Fashion Week, nixes these connotations for our own fashion extravaganza, Wisconsin Fashion Week (May 19-23), right here in Madison. "Inclusion" is a word I hear her repeat throughout our interview—and with good reason, because the week is aiming to attract all different audiences who dig fashion—from guys to gals, young and old and those of all different abilities.

Read on for what next week has in store—and rest assured, you can wear last season's pumps. I won't tell.

What was the original impetus behind you starting Madison Fashion Week, Fashion Fridays and, eventually, Wisconsin Fashion Week?
My original concept came out of a freelance client I had. I suggested they do a runway show—but when I started looking into it, I realized there isn’t a consistent, well-run, fashion show here besides ones for nonprofits and whatnot—which are great, too.
But from a PR background that’s what motivated me to get into it. I’m a non-biased player and I can work with all of these people and help all that are involved. It’s a very neat position to be in.

Clearly, Fashion Week has changed—most noticeably with the name change from Madison Fashion Week to this year’s Wisconsin Fashion Week. What other changes will event-goers notice?
This year it’s a lot more collaborative and on a much larger scale. It’s more than just my vision; it’s a community-involved event. It’s much more high profile too—we’re stepping it up by having [the Saturday runway shows] at Overture Center.
We brought in the Fashion Council. My expertise is not in photography or modeling. So the people in the Fashion Council give me recommendations because they have expertise in those areas. For example, Adam Perkins is great with photography. He understands the language and is great with networking with other photographers.

As executive producer, what does your role entail?
Well, the Fashion Council is really good at taking things off of my to-do list. All of them are people with part- or full-time jobs, too, so they help out when they can. But I’m still really involved in pretty much every event that’s going on.
One of my friends joked that my title should be diva, but I don’t want that title! It sounds negative (laughs).

How is Wisconsin Fashion Week different from, say, New York or L.A. Fashion Week?
It’s really for the ordinary Jane who won’t get an invite to New York or L.A. Fashion Week. We’re focused on the “now” and it’s much more about the experience; women can feel like a celebrity in their own town and become their own fashion icon. Fashion is what you make it, and here’s a reason to for you to express yourself.
Also, there will be mini-boutiques at Overture for before and after the runway shows where people can shop. If people like what they see in the show, they could literally buy it and wear it out that night!

How is an event of this scale able to go on in these economic times?
It’s very grassroots—it’s because of the sponsors it’s able to go on. It’s different from last year from a participant standpoint, too. There are a lot more designers this year—they’ve really come out of the woodwork! It’s much more balanced with boutiques and designers.
There are probably over one hundred people involved in Wisconsin Fashion Week. The models and photographers are doing this for free for the experience. It’s just really a good way to get everyone in this industry connected.

Can you describe some of the events going on throughout the week?
The avant-garde show (Tuesday) isn’t necessarily retail-ready collections (Ed’s note: In other words, the show will feature fashions that are more conceptual/artistic).
The Fashion For All Abilities show (Wednesday) is really inclusion from a modeling perspective. It also emphasizes how important it is from a business perspective to cater to those with special needs.
Friday is urban wear/streetwear. It emphasizes the youth culture, and it’s not necessarily mainstream.
The Stylista show is Saturday during the day and has hairstylists, makeup artists and fashion stylists compete and prep models in a live competition.
Saturday’s shows [menswear and women’s wear] are much more mainstream. At 6 p.m. is the [women’s] trend show, which [has fashions with] a better price point and would attract possibly a younger market.
The 8:30 p.m. show [features fashions with] a higher price point.
After that is the Go Red for Women auction, which will feature models of all ages, including older models.
[In total] the shows will have men, women, old, young, plus-size, different body types and different abilities.

What event are you most excited about?
Friday—as long as it doesn’t rain! (laughs) It’s in the courtyard at 345 West Washington. It’s more entertainment-focused. Two groups are coming up here from Chicago: Ivy League, who sing a song called “Pose” that’s all about modeling. Project Mayhem is a hip-hop group that’s into the Ralph Lauren subculture.

Who do you see attending Fashion Week events?
Women ages twenty-five to fifty-five is really what we’re targeting. Last year’s event was much more youth-focused; this year will be more of a mainstream crowd. Mom can come with her daughter or girls can do a girls’ day out.

How did you find your models?
We did a tour in Madison, Chicago and Milwaukee. It really reaffirmed what talent we have. There was one really great model, a fifteen-year-old, who just signed with the Rock Agency two months ago. I was really excited to see her—she’s someone new and hopefully through Fashion Week someone might want to book her for photo shoots with stores or designers.
We received a lot of great applications—it was hard to say no! But it was important they were able to take direction from us, and confidence was another huge thing.

What have been the challenges of putting on this week?
The sheer size—there’s a lot of detail that goes into a high-quality event.
The economic environment being what it is, sponsorships have been a challenge. But we’ve been well received by people. People get excited about this because they know it’s for them.
Despite the economy, though, participation from the designers and retailers has been overwhelming—they realize the value of being able to connect with their customers.

How would you describe the Midwest’s fashion sensibility?
We’re much more about how fashion fits our lives. Internal Construction (Ed’s note: Internal Construction is a line is by Jessica Neumann and Becky Heller and composed of versatile one-piece garments) is a good example. Biking to work and still looking cute—that’s our strength in fashion, and we bring something different.

What’s the next step for Wisconsin Fashion Week?
It would be great to reach outside of Madison, perhaps more to Milwaukee, incorporating more designers and stores in different cities in Wisconsin. There is so much more to be discovered. The events could possibly be more inclusive to different areas, to get more participation and interest. An event needs to have the community involved, and that’s why we’ve been able to grow.

What impression would you like people to leave these events with?
I want them to be entertained. I’d like people to think about shopping locally. I’d like them to know that a dress that’s tailored and designed for them is within their budget—they could get a custom-designed dress for $100!

So planning Fashion Fridays and Wisconsin Fashion Week is your full-time gig, right?
Yes, it is. So it’s really a great opportunity for me at this level—it’s something new and creative. There are risks involved and going into it. I knew what the risks were, but I really wanted to do it. If it doesn’t work out I always have a backup plan for myself, but I wanted to do this.

Wisconsin Fashion Week, May 19-23, various locations. Tickets: $50/week pass, $30/week student pass. For more information on Wisconsin Fashion Week please visit wisconsinfashionweek.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NEW! Madison Mannequin: Fearless Thrift

Guest blogger Alexandra Graves is an intern here at Madison Magazine and my eye on the streets for all things chic, eccentric or otherwise inspirational. So check back weekly for the latest “Madison Mannequin,” posted every Tuesday from now on. Lex will be conducting all interviews and providing commentary for this special weekly segment.

New to the sale rack? It’s a jungle out there, but Virginia Rose, 61, is surviving and styling. Rose, a self-described fashionista and resale shopper, snagged her entire leopard ensemble for $10 at Marshall’s and topped off the look with boots from House of Thrift.

When she’s not working as an employment specialist at Goodwill Industries, Rose offers personal shopping through the Dane County Timebank. The best part? It won’t cost you a penny—Rose will trade you for whatever services or products you can barter.
Alexandra Graves

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Events: Sales, Food, Fashion Shows and More!

Local Microbrew, Wine, and Artisan Cheese Tasting PLUS Weekend Sale at Indocara
Friday, May 8th, 5–9 p.m.
Where: Indocara
, 540 W. Washington Ave.
Ummmmm, who doesn’t like local brews, cheeses and wines? That’s what I thought. Quaff brews from Ale Asylum, Capital Brewery, Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., New Glarus Brewing Company and sip wines from Wollersheim Winery. Plus taste local artisan cheese from Metcalfe’s Sentry. Other participating businesses include: Mosaic, Ellieflower, Bella Designs, Indus Beads, Jessica Catherine Designs, Renaissance and Cha Cha Tea.
The sale runs through Sunday, May 10 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Receive up to seventy percent off.
More info:
RSVP for party to: events@indocara.com (Please include in email names of attendees for entry list. Space is limited to 200). 251-7711. indocara.com

Atticus One-Year Anniversary Sale
Until Saturday, May 9
18 N. Carroll St.
Atticus is all grown up! Come and celebrate the store’s milestone—spend $125, get $25 off; spend $250 and get $50 off; and spend $500 and get $100 off on your purchase.
More info:
204-9001. atticusshop.com

World Fair Trade Day
May 9, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Where: Fair Indigo,
570 N. Midvale Blvd.
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. fairindigo.com

Flux Fashion Show
May 9, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Monona Terrace, 1 John Nolen Dr.
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:
flux2009@mail.sohe.wisc.edu or 262-4897.

HospiceCare Thrift Store Fashion Show
Monday, May 18, 5:30–8 p.m.
Where: HospiceCare Thrift Store
, 122 Junction Rd.
Details: Fo
r those that have attended this event in the past, you know what fabulous outfits are featured—using thrift store fashions! Check out beautiful dresses, accessories, menswear and more. Cost is $15/person.
More info:

Wisconsin Fashion Week
Various locations
May 19–23
A series of fashionable events including: runway shows, workshops, parties and more for the fashionista (is there a male word for fashionista?? Who knows) in all of us. More on this event in an upcoming blog.
More info: wisconsinfashionweek.com

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

NEW Blog Segment: Madison Mannequin

Do you like street style? Do you love to people-watch? I sure do. I'll frequently go up to stylish folks and tell them whatever I like about their outfit that day. It's sort of my way to brighten someone's day a little, as well as garner chic tips on how to wear something. You see, a fashionista is always looking for inspiration—whether she's at Sardine, walking down State Street or (for me), doing an interview.

So with that, I welcome you to the weekly installment of Madison Mannequin.

My guest blogger is Alexandra Graves, an intern here at Madison Magazine and my eye on the streets for all things chic, eccentric or otherwise inspirational. So check back weekly for the latest “Madison Mannequin,” posted every Tuesday from now on. Lex will be conducting all interviews and providing commentary for this special weekly segment.

Read below for what Lex wrote this week!

I Like Your . . . Genes & Boots

Jeans and boots always look great together, but Carleen Wild and Ailee, seven, have more in common than sophisticated Saturday looks—they’re mother and daughter.

“She’s got her own style,” says Carleen (who's anchor at NBC 15), but Ailee says her mom helps her choose outfits like the leopard cardigan and pink cowboy boot combo she was sporting at the Dane County Farmers’ Market last Saturday.

Even if you don’t coordinate as well as these two, don’t forget to spend time with your first fashion icon this Mother’s Day.