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.

Blogs within the Blog

Creating some inception here, I wanted to point out some of my favorite websites that help me research the people. places, things, and all other surrounding nouns that I traverse in YOU are Here. I have three sites to share that all have been killing it in the blogosphere, but not without some helpful criticisms and guidelines from moi.

Refinery 29

I have been consulting this site for about a year now and it is filled with almost an overwhelming amount of information covering a vast amount of topics.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 6.54.02 PMMy favorite feature of Rifener29 is the ‘local’ section that gives in depth dining, shopping and entertainment tips for NYC, LA, SF, London, and Chicago. You can literally search best iced coffee Brooklyn or antiques in West Hollywood and an exact match will come up. Most of the information is formatted in slideshow format, which is very digestible. The graphics on the site are also very cutsey and creative.

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When not consulting for travel tips I usually check out the fashion and living section. Be wary when following Refinery29 on Facebook because they post like the dickens and most if it is pop crap (my word for popular celebrity culture).

Uncrate 

Uncrate is a new site to me that a work colleague made me aware of. He was a technophile and uses the site to stay tech savvy. I checked out the site and found a curated paradise of quite a random amalgamation of goods. The simplicity and clean layout of the site is very attractive and user friendly. I also like how the site routes you right to the wholesaler of the goods when you click ‘buy now’

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 6.51.40 PMThe web design does have a few flaws. Drop-down menus would enable easier navigability of the site so when you enter a subset of a larger category like ‘Knives’ in ‘Gear’ you can not get back to other subsets of the category.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.18.19 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.18.44 PMAlong with curation come exclusion, and the prices of some of the products are certainly for the elite. So be careful getting too excited about anything before you see what the price tag is. Finally, while the site has a vast amount of items, it is designed exclusively for me. I obviously still use the sites but I find myself getting very jealous of the fine men’s outfits laid out under ‘Style’ with no female counterpart.

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Gallivant

Gallivant is a sister (or in this case I should say brother) site of Uncrate. The feel is similar but a little warmer then Uncrate with glossy photographs and some serious sepia overtones. There are many ways to search which is helpful and also a bit overwhelming. The site is also supposedly “For men’s eye’s only” and offers up the slogan “Travel Like a Man.” Honestly, the phrase for this site is completely unnecessary and ridiculous because none of the suggestions are strictly for men. Gallivant encompasses cities from around the world so don’t be fooled by the 25 or so listed because there is many more if you poke around other headings. I checked out Gallivant’s suggestions for Chicago and DC and I do approve of what I see for suggested destinations. I look forward to using it on my travels near and far.

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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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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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Winter Wear: Where and What?

Getting back to fashion for a moment there are two stores in NYC for the stylish, smart shopper that will have you ready for winter. My winter must have clothes are knits, knits, knits, and more knits! Knit sweaters, skirts, dresses, knits galore. Sweater dresses will keep you toasty during the frosty Winter months and knit skirts are perfect with a fitted top or blouse and cardigan. Long sleeve dresses of any fabric are great paired with sweater tights or leggings. Another winter trick that I often employ is recycling my summer dresses and skirts by throwing a simple sweater over them and creating a new look with a fun pattern and mixed textures.

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For Winter footwear make sure you get yourself a good ankle boot and rain boot. My rain boots have turned out to be perfect for light snow and lets face it, in reality snow turns into slushy grey water pretty quickly in the likes of most cities. While Hunter Rain Boots are all the rage, I dislike the style of Hunter’s classic rain boot and find most of their glossy and regular colors off putting. When I was in Europe, Aigle Boots, manufactured in France, adorned everybody’s feet. Aigle Boots seem sleeker to me and are also more fitted along the calf. They also boast a huge range of colors and styles. I have the Chantebelle in the olive color-way and I absolutely love them! They provide enough room for thick socks while still fitting me snug with skinny jeans or tights on. The subtle olive green with a hint of orange provides a nice departure from a brown or black tall boot while still matching with most of my outfits.

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So where to get good quality, cute,and affordable sweaters and knits in NYC? Two stores: Uniqlo and Joe Fresh. Yes, these stores are both technically chains but they are perfect for picking up your basic winter layers. Uniqlo’s clothes are very minimal, sleek, and made with high-quality fabrics. While at Joe Fresh, there is a younger, less utilitarian vibe, and clothes are injected with fun prints and embellishments.  Whenever I am in Soho I always go to these shops because no matter what time of year, they miraculously have some sort of sale going on making their reasonably priced clothes even more desirable. Both these stores also have very strong men’s collections as well and will have your colored corduroy and warm sweater needs covered, two cold-weather staples for men.

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