Making Waves: Japanese Fashion’s Petite Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum

In Shock Wave, the Denver Art Museum carefully curates Japanese fashion design from the 1980’s-90’s in a magnificent yet humble display.  This was a pivotal time for Japanese fashion designer that features the likes of Issey Miyake, Kenzo Takada, Kansai Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, and Junya Watanabe. The designers reinvented classics from European designers such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior whilst also inspiring contemporary fashion designers including Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, John Galliano, and Dries Van Noten. The exhibit did a fantastic job displaying the Japanese designers next to their counterparts–intermixing in a sensible way by style and form rather than randomly throwing in European designers against the Japanese greats or trying to press a forced chronology.

Shock Wave is also a mixed media exhibition that smartly adds video to fill the small, almost awkward museum. space it absorbs.  The four video installations highlighted different runway shows, bringing the clothes on display to life with simplicity and displaying the theatrical quality and movement of the clothes as was intended be the designers. The most captivating is Miyake’s show that featured models walking a square “runway” reminiscent of a sumo wrestling ring. Another video shows the backstage dressing of models so the viewer can examine the subtle complexities of the flowy, boxy Japanese garments and you would probably want to purchase a copy of the informational video with your couture.

The final highlight of the exhibit are the “invisible” dress forms created by Allison McCloskey, associate textile conservator, especially for Shock Wave. Almost every garment is hung on a hand-shaped dress form that is made from soft materials (either foam core or a  soft polyester felt that is molded than hardened with heat). These completely customized mannequins serve many purposes, including, providing the actual softness of a live model. In many fashion exhibits, clothes are stretched over mannequins and appear lifeless but with this new technique it actually looks like someone is wearing the clothes because the pleats, boning, and other structural elements can fall in the correct place. It was critical that these dress forms were created because there is an entire section of the exhibit devoted to oversized garments that are near impossible to display on a standard mannequin. The museum created a fascinating behind-the-scenes video where you can watch the shaping and dressing of the forms. It is always true that small shifts, have an incredible impact.

Shock Wave is Florence Muller’s first exhibition at the Denver Art Museum after she curated the traveling Yves Saing Laurent Retrospective with mediocre success. Shock Waves closes May 28th so if you are in Denver in the upcoming months and have a passion for fashion and an appreciation for its history make sure to visit this exhibition.

Moving North to South on the West Coast Update x1

Note: this post will be under construction on and off. There is quite a comprehensive list to capture in this California escapade. Check back for future updates.

Leucadia is a small surf town 45 minutes North of San Diego. Leucadia rests along the Pacific Coast Highway and is perfect for a five day surf trip or peaceful getaway. The town is almost an untouched relic of the past. The stores are locally owned and everyone walks or roams around on beach cruisers. The vibe is far removed from San Diego and LA, as it is slightly isolated from the two large cities. My five days there were devoted to exploring, relaxing and, of course, eating. Here are some of the places of notes. If you are in the larger Encinitas area, this strip of the PCH is definitely worth a stop whether you are driving through or pausing to relax. All the spots in this post are concentrated around a 10 mile North/South line along the Pacific Coast Highway. Having a car is necessary if you want to explore other areas and beaches.

Bakeries/Cafes:

 French Corner: The French Corner is a great cafe that serves parisian breakfast and lunch. We begun our stay at Leucadia here and it was a great start. They have baskets of traditional pastries made in house along with crepes and quiches. We started the day with an Almond Bearclaw that was flakey and light. The savory Caprese Quiche and Spinach Frittata were also very good. They both had a perfect darker brown crust on top that added so much flavor.

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Taste and Sea Cakery: This custom cake store and catering has a small storefront as well serving up very unique cakes, cookies and pastries. the shop also has a beautiful espresso machine that just needs the love and attention from a good barista. The owners were so friendly and had a sample of almost every offering, this made it both harder and easier to decide on what to order. The decor was very sea inspired and was extremely comfortable. A great spot to start the day or grab an afternoon snack.

Leucadia Donut Shoppe: The classic donut shop fits the surf vibe of the town perfectly. The old school donut counter has all the classic offerings. We sampled a Long John donut and a blueberry buttermilk. The buttermilk was a nice departure from a typical sugary donut and had a interesting biscuit like quality.

Boutiques: 

You don’t have to be scouting for a new surfboard to find success at the local shops in Leucadia. If you’re a surfer girlfriend like me there are two killer shops to browse for unique goods and wares.

Seaweed and Gravel: This store is rooted in vintage clothes and motorcycles so it’s a little rock and roll mixed with hippy sunshine. On the rock and roll side, check out all Seaweed and Gravel’s fine denim wear from Crawford Denim. The jeans and tops are 100% American made and are of superb quality. When you’re ready to get back to your natural roots check out the Juniper Ridge soaps and perfumes. Each batch of product’s plant oils are pure and  harvested by hand in Mojave Desert or Sierras. No batch is alike and this scents are potent. The aesthetic of the shop is just as unique as the products in it. Smiling pictures of the Partridge Family line the walls along with  brightly upholstered vintage furniture. The garden in the back is a little oasis and a good place to enjoy the free espresso that is offered upon entrance.

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Bing Surfboards: I know this says surfboards and yes Bing is a surfboard shaper by trade but their store is a little bit more. The Bing branded apparel is simple and well made but this goes without saying from a surfboard manufacturer. The real details are in the other store stock. Of which my particular favorite was a brand called Krochet Kids.  The non-profit knitwear is handmade in Uganda and Peru and the company works very hard to give back to those communities. The products sort of celebrate their homeland with rich, deep colors like saffron scarves and oxblood beanies. The chunky knits are warm and cozy so you will literally feel good buying them.

Fish Taco Central, Proper Restaurants, and more, coming up soon!

Adorn Yourself

Posts are long overdue so I shall have a slew of new ones coming up starting now. For a return to fashion, this post will feature a jewelry spotlight. A fellow shop girl at Common Era an incredible boutique (see post) here)  that I used to work at, has recently expanded her jewelry line ADORN and it is critical that you check it out.

ADORN is designed and manufactured by the incredibly talented and stylish Laura Norris out of Boulder, Colorado. Her accessories consist of earrings, rings, necklaces and body chains. What is a body chain you ask? For those too cool for traditional necklaces, body chains are a whole new wearable jewelry concept. You have to embrace what, at first seems like a confounding accessory, to dress yourself with the beautiful pieces.

The allure of ADORN is its wonderful simplicity. The sleek accessories, hand pieced together by Laura, highlight chevrons and other geometric shapes. The pieces gracefully create exquisite negative space and the industrial materials, with slight sheen, are a perfect combination of hard and soft.

While ADORN’s Etsy store is closed for the holiday season make sure to check back after the New year. Norris’ pieces are of course sold at Common Era as well, in both Boulder and Denver. For now I’ll provide you with a teaser with the two pieces I own from the collection.  The second photo, is of the aforementioned body chain that pairs great with both a simple dress or top and also, a loose graphic shift dress to add some figure.


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This is Bowie to Bowie

For those who don’t know the obscure reference to the band The Flight of the Concords and their even more unknown song Bowie a few lines of the poignant pun filled song do a great job of capturing David Bowie’s essence:

“This is Bowie to Bowie
Do you hear me out there, man?
This is Bowie back to Bowie
I read you loud and clear, man, ooh yeah man”

“Do you have one really funky sequined space suit, Bowie
Or do you have several ch-changes?”

Recently, I went to the exhibit David Bowie Is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. This comprehensive exhibit also did a fantastic job of profiling David Bowie’s eccentric and incredible career. David Bowie Is is the vision of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago as the only US venue.

The retrospective spanned six rooms at the MCA and included a diverse range of artifacts including letters, handwritten lyrics, videos, stage costumes, posters, and even original paintings by Bowie. The content of the exhibit painted a rich picture of David Bowie and included not only, the inspirational figures in his life, but also, how he inspired others, leaving his own mark on pop culture.

One of the most phenomenal parts of the exhibit was the audio companion that was motion activated. Your headset would start playing as you approached certain objects or entered rooms then fade out as you drifted from one place to the next. The effect may sound chaotic and a little disorienting but it proved otherwise. The audio system made the exhibit almost envelope you and created a visceral experience.

The pieces included in the retrospective seemed thoughtfully chosen and I didn’t feel inundated with stuff as I sometimes find in larger exhibits. The path and chronology of David Bowie Is was clear and pretty focused. Overall, I think the first retrospective of David Bowie’s life was hugely successful. I strongly encourage a visit to the MCA or wherever the show might be rolling to next. Going through the entire exhibit does take time and I would recommend at least a two hour tour to absorb all the content.

While photography was not allowed in the museum we snapped a few pictures outside the grand entrance banner and side poster. In the photos I am rocking my new-found love of street style with my full flowy skirt paired with a crop top and new  Supra kicks. On another (rare) men’s fashion note, my father is sporting some Cole Haan’s with colorful soles that we are all in love with and he exclusively buys.

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Get Up, Get Up and Jump Around

The jumpsuit has always been a a scary article of clothing for me. The piece has seemed extremely unapproachable with my miniature stature and style aesthetic. I was once walking down the street and a women rocking a red romper passed us, she was fierce and stunning. I turned to my partner who was sharing my similar look of awe and said “man, that’s a tough look to pull off.” We came to the conclusion that a women needed one of two things to rock a romper or jumpsuit–either a curvy, hourglass shape or simply the romper or jumpsuit personality (think quirky and cute like Zooey Deschanel).

I assumed I lacked both of these qualities and resigned to a strictly separates-centric wardrobe. However, on a sunny afternoon my thrifting partner in crime, Joyce, and I took a stroll to 14th Street and journeyed up the stairs to Treasurya vintage store on 14th and S St. NW, In the store something leaped out at the both of us. At first, I thought it was a stunning dress with an amazing printed textile but no, it was a jumpsuit! Joyce said it looked like only myself and a toddler could fit into is so I had to try it on. I was surprised to discover that a. it was comfortable and b. it actually fit me in all the right places. After fit came look and I was startled to find myself head over heals for the jumpsuit.

I snatched it up. imagining what events I could wear it to and how to style it. I eagerly anticipated when I could wear it and the opportunity came soon enough. That Friday was First Friday at the Hillyer Art Space, a favorite gallery of mine, so my roommates and I decided to get all dressed up and go. It was jumpsuits all around and I have t say, I think we looked fabulous. See photos and my four styling suggestions below.

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4 Tips for Jumpsuit/Romper styling:

1. If your jumpsuit or romper has a big, graphic, pattern go with the hair in a messy bun or top knot so you don’t draw anything away from your outfit. A high bun will also elongate your body so if you are a shorty like me rocking a whole lot of material you will still look tall and elegant.

2. Keep hair and makeup simple. Since this single piece of clothing is just something you can literally thrown on, the rest of your styling should reflect this easiness.

3. As Nadia, my jumpsuit partner in crime, has demonstrated you can fully embrace the hippy/boho chic look. Her black jumpsuit from Forever 21 worked perfectly with her wavy hair and John Lennon shades.

4. Accessorize minimally and thoughtfully. I grounded my look with a simple oversized leather clutch but kept the playful spirit with a polka-dot heel. Ideally, choose one item that is solid and another that is patterned.

Brooklyn Baby Part 2

And the Brooklyn outings move on to new locations…

Greenpoint

After spending time in Bushwick it was time to meet back up with Maddy in Greenpoint. Maddy had told me she had a secret surprise that combined two of my favorite things.  We met at McCarren Park, a comprehensive green space that has a track, football field, work out areas and that is opposite the street of the physical park with paths and trees. We ambled along bustling Franklin Street looking at unique boutiques and cafes. We grabbed macaroons at Cookie Road, which we both agreed was a stupid name for a cute bakery. Since the macaroon is my favorite dessert I had to see how it stacked up against the many other samplings I have had. Cookie Road’s macaroons were decent but were a bit too chewy for me. However, a bunch of the other cookies and pastries looked quite good. We stumbled upon Alter, a boutique that mixed vintage and new pieces. The clothes and shoes were very clean and simple, featuring a nice array of niche designers.

After going in and out of a few more stores we arrived at the big surprise, Budin. Budin is a nordic coffee bar and their in lies two of my beloved items-coffee and anything Scandinavian/nordic. I have grand dreams to live in Stockholm or Copenhagen one day, two truly extraordinary cities. Budin was quintessentially nordic with a sleek slate bar and simple Ikea inspired wooden tables and chairs. If you continue to the back, you are greeted by a small offering of accessories and an outdoor patio with delicate wooden folding chairs. The extra special-ness we were trying to be there for was a free cupping of Norwegian coffees that had occurred the previous week. While unfortunately the tasting was not happening this weekend the super kind barista let me sample the cold brew before I purchased it to make sure I approved. All the offerings were light roasts and this one was an Ethiopian rosted by Tim Wendelboe out of Oslo, Norway. The brew was crazy fruity and aromatic, it was almost slightly acidic too-so interesting, different, and good. I absolutely must revisit Budin in the winter so I can sample some more of their imported offerings.

Williamsburg

A short walk from Greenpoint takes you to the allegedly ultra hip Williamsburg but after the neighborhood’s four predecessors it seemed less than impressive. The trying too hard Greenwich Village snobby art students seemed to be reincarnated as adults who are not any more or less cool than when they had started. We did find a lovely bakery, Caprice, that had fresh baked goods and a flakey, buttery croissant as big as your head.  along with delicious pastries. There was also gorgeous backyard to relax in that is walled off from the outside world.

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Park Slope

Sunday, brunch day brought us to Park Slope, a neighborhood very reminiscent of Brooklyn Heights. We spied the Brooklyn Public Library from the subway stop, an impressive building flecked with glimmering gold leaf. We headed down Union Street to Rose Water, which blew us away with an exceptional brunch. The prix fixe menu including a drink and entree was a very reasonable $16. Maddy got the Challah French Toast with fresh fruit, creme fraiche, pistachios and cherry chutney. The sweet dish was a very harmonious melding of all the different sweet, nutty and tart flavors. I decided to go savory and ordered the Roast Chicken sandwich with tomato, swiss, bacon, lettuce and a basil aioli served on ciabatta bread. The dish also came with pimenton herb fries which happened to seal the deal on this choice. While seemingly basic the dish was executed flawlessly and the basil aioli and french fries with homemade ketchup were a huge hit.

Before heading off to the airport I again ventured to Park Slope in hopes of visiting the Botanical Gardens and Brooklyn Museum, both being closed on Monday I had to adjust my plan but I did take time to walk around the “mini-Metropolitan” Brooklyn Museum. I headed to Breukelen Coffeehouse to get one last cappuccino before I left. Technically in Crown Heights, the cool, narrow coffeeshop was again serving up Stumptown so my drink was pleasant but not outstanding. I grabbed a slice of bacon and gruyere quiche that was incredibly smooth and rich due to the use of local duck eggs. Wandering on, back down Union Street. I was craving something refreshing and light after my heavier breakfast so I stopped into Union Market and grabbed a Bruce Coast Ginger Ale. Ginger Ale has become my most recent obsession and the unfiltered pomegranate with hibiscus version  from Bruce Coast is a new favorite of mine. I have tasked myself to try some others and will begin some diligent reporting. Bruce Coast is based in Brooklyn so it was a rather fitting selection. I turned on “the other” 5th Avenue where there are also many clothing stores but ones that are far more economical than their Manhattan counterparts. I stepped into Mavi, a premium denim store, Mavi, which is the word for blue in German was started in Istanbul and has a few stores around the world. At Mavi, I found a denim shift dress that was is going to make the perfect transition piece from summer to fall. The shirt dress is easy to wear now with simple wedges and will be smashing with thick tights and a scarf.

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Pieces of Flair on the LBB

Almost as important as a women’s “little black dress” is her fitted black blazer. The tailored blazer has been a staple of the working wardrobe for a long time but a good blazer can be a transformative piece as well. I acquired an oversized blazer with almost bedazzled lapels that could have been taken for tacky without a few alterations. The blazer was on sale because it was damaged, and the lapels flopped about much to my frustration. A dear friend of my mine, an interior designer with fabulous and outrageous style, absolutely loved wearing blazers but he had a rule that he had to throw on “pieces of flair” before he went out. For anyone who has not seen the movie Office Space this is a fancy word for buttons. In my friend’s case it extended to brooches and various adornments consisting of pin fasteners. I took his advice for the purpose of both function and fashion. A sturdy broach now holds down the loose lapel of my jacket and other buttons acquired from various concerts over time add a little extra something. I have now been wearing this blazer for years and it is an essential piece in my closet. The blazer is perfect with a tee and jeans, blouse and slacks, oversized juxtaposition for a minidress. So take a blazer you already have and try using it as a evening look or find a fun new jacket that you can play with adornments, embellishments and proportion.

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We Stand Behind These Shoes

While ambling back from a delicious brunch at Clinton Street Bakery in Manhattan my mother and I stumbled upon an intriguing store, United Nude on Bond Street. The dark, pop music blasting store turned to be an outrageously amazing shoe store. The shoes were housed in lit squares that pulsed different colors, sending splashes of light over the insane shoes that seemed to defy gravity and any sort of convention.

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Upon inquiry we learned that United Nude, was a collaboration between the Dutch architect, Rem D. Koolhaas, and seventh generation shoemaker Galahad Clark. This design pair explained the technical, dazzling, creative beauty that each heel held.  The colors and textures of the shoes ranged from classic black and white leather to Missoni-like fabric booties. The shoes were surprisingly reasonable and my mother picked up the Sense Hi in mocha mix for $229.

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Shoes are generally one of the most important parts of an outfit and you should always be making a statement with your footwear. United Nude offers up shoes that could be classified as art sculptures and are a must for any fashion lover.

Woke up at noon? New York, No Problem

In New York City you don’t have to be the early bird to get the worm, no really you don’t. Feel free to be lazy when you have the time. The city sleeps in and stays out late, not as late as Rome or Paris but it’s getting there. Here’s a splendid day for the explorer who has a pension for restorative rest and the efficiency to pull it off.

Wake up and grab some coffee and a pastry at your favorite bodega, if you are in SoHo, I recommend Smile To Go. Jump on the subway and head to museum row. As tempting as it is to visit the heavy hitters such as the Met and Guggenheim, take a break from their tired collections and head further up 5th Avenue to The Museum of the City of New York. Yes, the name is not as efficient as you are but this new museum is the perfect size and has a nice mix of revolving exhibits that represent historical and contemporary life in New York. Currently, the museum is featuring two great modern exhibits on graffiti artists, City As Canvas, and a beautifully tragic photo story of Hurricane Sandy, Rising Waters, on the first floor. On the second floor the museum has opened up their newest wing which is hosting Activist New York, exhibiting the story of 14 historic causes taken up by the citizens that like to do anything but keep their opinions to themselves.

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 After you have toured through your museum of choice, hop across the street and into Central Park. A New York day isn’t really complete without a stroll through this iconic oasis and you can find beauty in the landscape at anytime of the year.

You’ve been traveling and walking for awhile so it’s now time to rest your legs. Take the subway to a lovely afternoon movie, I highly recommend an obscure flick at the lovely Angelica. On this lazy day, we headed to Regal Cinemas at Union Square to catch Wes Anderson’s new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Now I don’t tread into the territory of film reviews but The Grand Budapest Hotel is fantastic! I was laughing before the first line of dialogue was uttered and kept highly entertained by the quirky, clever, witty world of Wes Anderson for the duration of the movie.

Back tracking a bit, as odd as the 5:30 movie time is you are certainly going to not last the whole film if you do not properly nourish yourself beforehand. If you are in Union Square grab a bite at The Grey Dog just around the corner on University Place. They serve up delicious foamy cappuccinos, outright slabs of amazing marbled brownies, and on this occasion a robust and extremely flavorful Navy bean and chorizo soup.

After the flick, the day continues on with some late night shopping in SoHo. Boutiques are often open until 9 downtown and the later hours are the quieter, calmer times to visit your favorite stores.

Finally, after the mega successful half day you just accomplished reward yourself with a margarita and tacos at La Esquina. Before your tacos, start with some fresh ceviche and empanadas that are prepared like you have never seen but actually in the most traditional way with corn masa filled with chicken, queso cotija, poblano chile, and mushrooms. Then enjoy the smoky fish taco and spicy pulled pork that both come with great pickled onions and spicy cabbage.

Wrap it Up! A Snowy Fashion Shoot

My lovely, talented friend Joyce decided  that the zero degree snow day would be the perfect time to have a photo shoot and after all my moaning it turned out to be a great contribution to the fashion section of You Are Here. My smartly dressed friends AJ and Andrew sported thick scarves, mittens, sleek yet hefty jackets and more. Here are the results of our sunrise shoot that can provide some winter fashion inspiration.

Some notes on the photographs: 1. Don’t be afraid to rock the slouchy hat, there is no “wrong” way to wear it. 2. We all know circle scarves are in, so that isn’t new but find yourself an extra chunky one for winter warmth. 3. Wear tights over tights! While this may seem crazy and uncomfortable it is actually super warm and gives off a cool effect. I paired a pair of sheer tights with a patterned opaque tight underneath in the photo below. 4. I don’t know when earmuffs were deemed “uncool” and I am not sure why but personally I think Andrew is clearly rocking the look. So don’t be worried about bringing out the fluffy ear covers.

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