ready for NYE: isa and kyra

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a couple months ago, i dressed up two of my favorite girls as if they were about to hit the town. these particular frocks don’t get enough action, because my actual life is so much more sedate than the fantasy.

Isa looks badass in the low-backed blue velvet dress with python boots — basically ready for New Year’s Eve 2014. this Elizabeth & James dress was featured in a post two summers ago, co-starring with a cello.

kyra looks equally party-proper in a draped LBD from Wayne. the platform heels actually belong to Isa, but these girls have equally tiny feet!

the only sad part of these outfits is that chicago is way too cold to be wandering around bare-legged. i won’t dare expose any skin ’til april.

looking really cute you guys — can’t wait to ring in the new year!

bowie ball

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next week, the MCA is sponsoring Bowie Ball, in honor of David Bowie, at Berlin. i have already started to put together outfits that i could potentially wear to this promising party. looking the best isn’t the point, and i’m not going to recreate a Bowie costume, but being sparkly and glam should be enough. i might also be tasked with dressing my friends and co-workers, but i think there are enough sequins in my closet for everybody.

omigod — sudden realization that i might have to put eye makeup on mon petit ami. yeahhhh

this get-up is actually kind of demure, but it’s almost entirely sequins. the ankle strap mules are velvet, which has a luster to it, and the vintage python clutch has a dark glitter to its scales. the silver pants are by Twenty Cluny, a design group ¬†that really shines when it comes to the sequined stuff. the oversize tunic is vintage by Royal Feelings, made in India in the 80s.

as if that wasn’t enough glam, i threw on a long rope of mixed pearls, a pearl-and-acrylic cuff, and beaded hoop earrings. based on reading the above paragraph, you’d think i come off like Vanna White or one of the Ab Fab ladies, but it’s actually so chill and slouchy. (the cap of hair and lack of cleavage might be key to making this look minimalist-90s as opposed to maximalist-80s or even decadent-70s…. which means i need to keep experimenting until the party.

Shua sent along a couple angled shots of the silver pants, so you could see how the paint glimmers on the page. i actually love the way the lens focuses with an angled image. i also love the lavender wash in the background, which makes the silver and black pop. it’s more interesting than matte white, and helps balance the pose.

really excited for the dressing up and dancing on NYE and at Berlin. send me any suggestions you might have regarding Bowie-appropriate dressing!

when does Game of Thrones return?

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answer: in about 96 days

emotional answer: not soon enough!

while closing up shop tonight, one of my favorite coworkers asked me when our rather geeky guilty pleasure comes back on air. i answered “some time in march?” and went on to detail the horrible events of the Red Wedding (which of course, he had already seen) and the disappointment of the season finale (platinum-blonde Khaleesi supported on the shoulders of a thousand brown people that she had quasi-pseudo “liberated”).

having not read the books (besides the first, which convinced me that the HBO show is in fact a better production than the books) i do not know what to expect from Season 4, and i’m very curious to see how the show will move on without Catelyn and Robb Stark, and with the other principals wandering ever farther apart. To think that Jon was so close to Bran, just outside the mill, without there being a reconciliation!

the outfit of this post is a medieval costume that got a lot of use while i was interested in SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) reenactments. it’s a dense cotton velvet in alternating panes of burgundy and midnight, with braided gold trim. it is lined, but does not have a label, which leads me to believe that it was a much-beloved home-sewn costume.

i could not find my old torque, so i accessorized with a vintage brass and pearl medallion. the closest thing i had to appropriate shoes were Marc Jacobs driving mocs, which suggest something of a Saracen influence — i’m alluding to the European presence in the Arab world during the various Crusades. (a lot was improved in european culture based on what they learned about during the crusades, e.g. cotton, paper, chess, coffee, and lemons, spices, medicine, and math.)

the other accessories are my sword, which is a Spanish steel Excalibur replica, and my hooded velvet cape. my grandma Helen made the cape for me when i was 12. i was wild to have one, and i still love capes — the longer the better. (she had been a seamstress for the Russian Army during the second world war.) the fur shoulder piece is a vintage, rabbit, and removable. braids, because that is the one thing that every female character of GoT has in common.

Shua’s illustration is great because if you imagine the background is forest green, stone gray, or frigid white, it could easily be a character sketch for the show.

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Shua did a fantastic job with these illustrations, and we did quite a few poses this session. as someone who has never done yoga, let me confide in you that a full lean onto my knees isn’t exactly comfortable, as floppy as it might look. (i was aiming for languid.)

the lead illustration is the best, as it seems that the body –my body, after a fashion– is comprised of mist, hardly corporeal. the bun is a calligraphed suggestion. only by my forearm have we committed to flesh.

in the fourth illustration, a triptych, you get a sense of the scale. usually Shua’s illustrations are about three feet in height, or so. (by contrast, my illustrations are four or five inches.) lots of extended brush strokes that vary in saturation along their length.

j. crew cardigan (borrowed from the boy)

topshop satin maxi dress (it has short sleeves, but my goodness it’s too cold for that)

miu miu suede peep-toes (you can’t see them)

skinny leather belt, perforated with stars

sorry for the sourpuss expression!

the polka dot chop

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sometimes you find a dress with great potential, but something fudd-duddy about it is holding you back. maybe it’s been hanging forlornly in your closet for a couple years, or maybe it’s on the rejects rack at the thriftstore. either way, it’s great material, a good fit, a neat pattern, or has some detail that’s kept you from tossing it out.

in my case, this Albert Nippon vintage silk dress fit perfectly in the waist and bust. it had cute tiers at the hips and ruffles at the hem…. but it also had dorky puffed sleeves. even though i don’t go in for polka dots, i couldn’t let it languish. there was something classic about the cut, and i knew a little sexiness would make it modern.

it was a very easy step. i just cut of the sleeves and made the neckline a little lower. i made the armholes a little longer too, so it would fit more like a breezy tank. i did not even bother to finish the edges, but that wouldn’t be hard to do.

Shua has given us three illustrations. in the first panel, you see the dress styled for winter, with opaque tights and a white belt. after the more casual, summery chop, i just went with bare legs and madewell booties. the third illustration is a side-view… of me reading twitter on my phone.

the last pic is a bonus, wearing the dress last february. good for you if you recognize my friend there, who came with me to the circle opening of Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, at the MCA.

(who knew the exhibit would inspire my own creative effort, Destroy the Garment: Altering the Dress.)

emerald sequins

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just thrifted this sequined dress from Haute Hippie at Buffalo Exchange. what i love about it is the long sleeve feature. most dresses expose your arms, which doesn’t work as well for me because i am almost always cold. long sleeves, as long as they are trim, are super elegant. (i remember marina rust writing about matter this for Vogue a couple years back.)

i also love that this dress isn’t curve-hugging. that sack shape is just fine — it’s already short and sparkly, and a party dress that isn’t overtly sexy is a lot more fun.

lastly, of course it would be great with heels, or a bootie, but i thought patent Docs were the freshest way to style it. a sheer stocking might be more alluring than opaque, if you’re replicating this at home. only the simplest jewelry with this one, to keep from competing with the frock — my gold By Phillipe inverted crown.

the illustration turned out beautiful, so Shua has provided us with two images. the former is a closeup, so you can get a better sense of all the layered greens that go into giving the layers and reflections convincing dimension. blues, silvers, golds, seaweed, forest….

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thakoon X target shibori dress. great dress with pintucks and a hidden placket down the front. i loved the soft black and gray patterns, but i just sold it to buffalo exchange. a very smart international flip on a classic 1950s-american silhouette. i love how Shua’s errant lines mimic the blasted-out graffiti on the brick wall.

from the fitting room

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reporting from the Nordstrom Rack fitting room, i am in love with this Christopher Kane dress. it’s a size 12, and i’m a size 4, but what of it? it looks kind of great sitting away from the body, instead of hugging my frame. it’s made of holographic celadon brocade, with knife pleats and origami folds, and it’s the only one on the rack. it’s also over $600, marked down from about $3000. even at that kind of discount, i cannot afford it. so here we are, being mildly ratchet and going the mirror-selfie route.

thank you Shua for getting back to me with a lovely illustration. and thank goodness for cel phones, which let me keep the memory, if not the dress.

Chicago Looks

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i am so excited to bring you my first post about someone who IS NOT ME! it feel great to present my very beloved friend Isa Giallorenzo, who runs the wonderful streetstyle blog Chicago Looks.

one of my favorite things about Isa is her sweetness and sense of humor. she’s very inclusive, encouraging, and energetic. almost always you can spot her wearing opalescent, violet, or pearly accessories. (in this particular photo, her bracelet is lucite and acrylic from B. Luxo in Sao Paolo, and her acrylic rose ring is from R. Sobral at the Museum of Contemporary Art Store.)

these photos are from the Atelier Azza party back in August, but Shua and i weren’t able to schedule an illustration session with Isa until a while later. we requested her to reprise the outfit, which is a star-strewn dress by Kate Young for Target with an Aldo clutch. you can’t see her shoes, but i remember them to be platforms. it just so happened that the beaded velvet curtains at Ms. Khan’s show create a visual rhyme with Isa’s dress. (another thing i just remembered — on this night i wore black and white too, which we didn’t plan out — so as you can see, we are very simpatico.)

drawing Isa was a delight, because she is so pleasant and conversationally engaging. even though she had to stand still, she was very interested in what Shua and i were doing across the room. i also appreciated the chance to use my markers. having more than one artist on a project also proves out the perspective element of life drawing. Shua’s watercolor has a stateliness and dignity that is sort of lost in my high school style doodle, but both deserve a space in fashion illustration.

i very much encourage you to check out Isa’s blog, which is about Real People style, and not about labels or class signifiers, which makes it very unique in the world of street style. it feels very CHICAGO neighborhood, and very warm.

check back here for more illustrations of Isa — and soon, other friends and muses!