Ok , so today’s post is about Hermes. The title is just a little something I cooked up because that is what I think of when I think of Hermès. There are other things that Hermès should be associated with and that is what we are going to talk about today.

Ok so some history on Hermès. This label has been around for quite sometime. In 1837 it was first established by Thierry Hermès as a harness workshop in Paris dedicated to survey European noblemen. He wanted to make the best harnesses and bridles for carriages. People waited years for his designs the wait list was crazy.

In 1855 the company won its first prize in its class at the Paris Exposition. In 1967 Hermès won the first class medal at the Exposition Universelle.

So in 1880 Theirry’s son(Charles- Emile) took over and moves the shops location where he introduced saddlery and began retail sales. Soon after they served the elite of Europe, North Africa, Russia, Asia, and America.

In 1900 came their first bag made for riders to carry their saddles with them.

After Charles retired his sons ( Adolphe and Emile Maurice) took over the company and renamed it Hermès Frères ( Hermes Brothers). Sometime around 1914 Emile got the rights to the use of the zipper for leather goods and clothing and was the first to introduce the device to France.

The first leather golf jacket with zipper was introduced in 1918.

Emile, as the sole head of the business, bred his three son-in laws to be business partners.

Hermès introduced the first leather garment for the Prince of wales. In 1922 the first leather handbags were made, the JACK POT for Hermes.

In 1929 the first women’s couture apparel collection was previewed in Paris. However it wasn’t until the 30’s that Hermès really got the ball rolling.

In 1935 Hermès made the Kelly Bag ( Sac a depeches, named about Grace Kelly the new Princess of Monaco) and in 1937 scarves were debuted. This was an accessory that was made part of French Culture and still is to this day. During this decade Hermès also tried introducing its products to the USA through Neiman Marcus but later withdrew.

1946 marked the launch for Hermès silk ties and in 1949 the first Hermès perfume was made, Eau d’Hermès.

Hermès’ philosophy by way of Emile was “Leather, Sport and a tradition of refined elegance.”

In the early 50’s the first non-Hermès born successor was leading the company. Robert Dumas was connected to the family through marriage. The 50’s also brought the introduction of the logo with the carriage and horse and signature orange boxes.

In the 1960 Hermès tried again with Neiman Marcus, this time with silk scarves that were offered through a toll free number.

In the 19070 the company began to slacken in comparison to its competitors because it wanted to make products only from natural materials unlike other companies. At this time Jean-Louis Dumb-Hermès, the son of Robert Dumas was the head of the company and in 1978 he revamped the company by adding more product groups.

The new leader brought in designers like Eric Bergere and Bernard Sanz to revamp the clothing making python motorcycle jackets and ostrich skin jeans. during the 70’s a new subsidiary was introduced in Switzerland, La Montre Hermès.

In the 1980’s Hermès grabbed a tighter hold on their suppliers and launched themselves into the table wear market, which became its most promising business subsidiaries for the 90’s.

In June is 1993 Hermès went public on the Stock Exchange. This equity sale helped alleviate family tensions about the business. In 1993 Laurent Mommeja ( a 6th generation Hermes descendant) took over the head of Operation for US business in Hermès.

By about 1995 the family had about 80 percent of the company and the entire family was on the Forbes List of Billionaires. Jean Louis Dumas began to decrease the Hermès franchises from 250 to 200 and increased the company owned stores to control the sales of its products. In 1996 they opened a company operated boutique in Beijing.

In 1999 Hermes brought up 35% of the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion house.

Things were smooth sailing until now financially. Jean Paul Gaultier eventually became the head designer at the house. Jean Louis Dumas retired as the leader and was succeeded by Patrick Thomas, the first Hermès CEO with no family relations.

WHEEWW !! That was a lot. Now with all this success and history you would think that I would hear Hermès mentioned by more people. I wonder what’s that all about? Is our society too much into the flash of labels and not the actual product. I mean I have only ever heard Jay Z and Beyonce mention Hermès briefcases, Birkins, and boat shoes. Is that weird that I look for unique designer label mentions in music? lol

Anyways I can think of one why people may not be spilling their guts about Hermès: Oprah Winfrey.

Supposedly in 2005 Oprah was turned away from the Hermès boutique in Paris because they argued that they were having problems with North Africans. But the store also said they only stopped her from shopping because there was a private shopping event taking place. Oprah says she heard an employee say that she was just “one of those pesky North Africans.” Now Pause… you don’t know Oprah? One of the most influential people on tv? You must be crazy.

Anyways, Oprah felt like it was one of the most humiliating moments of her life. She canceled her $6,500 dollar order for a Birkin bag and called Robert Chavez personally ( the president of Hermès in American) and told him she will never shop from his stores.

Of all the people you could turn away from your store, you choose Oprah? Really. I mean I know high fashion has its race issues but seriously, all money is green and ultimately that’s what these companies are looking to make.

Another problem with Hermès is that they are on PETA’s bad side. So Hermes has an Australian Crocodile farm where it breed crocs for its famous Birkin Bags. So here is a quote from PETA on the matter:

The thought of purposely breeding and killing crocodiles for an outdated, overpriced handbag should make any fashionista’s skin crawl,” the group said in a statement. “If Hermès really wants to be a leader in the fashion industry, it should stop killing animals for cold-blooded vanity and use cruelty-free mock croc and fake snake instead.

So the thing is, if people stop buying it then they may consider stopping this purse farm. However, people continue to shell out the $50, 000 for these purses which are pretty cute. I mean at a time when people can barely afford to eat are in the same city as the people keep Hermès afloat b buying these purses, its both amazing and insane. p.s. faux reptile skin is more expensive.

Despite these little bumps in the road, Hermes is still thriving in this recession. I mean they are expanding in San Diego in Fashion Valley in July of this year. Other places that Hermes is moving to are New York City fifth ave, New York City Soho, and Bellevue.

Honestly, how can Hermès ever fall off. The Birkin bag alone can support the company. People will never stop buying that bag. It’s kind of like a status symbol. I remember seeing my first real life Birkin, it was everything I imaged it would be. Brightly colored, smooth leather with shiny metal, the whole shabang. I know that will be one of my first three big purchases when I get start to get my fat checks. House, Car, Birkin !

Let me give you the quick 411 on the Birkin because surprisingly enough, some people know nothing about it.

It was first made in the 80’s for Jane Birkin. She was next to Jean Louis ( the CEO) on a plane and expressed to him how she needed a perfect weekend bag. He asked her to describe the bag and next thing you know she received her dream purse with a note.

Today the purse is a staple in handbag history. The price ranges from $5,000 to over 6 figures. The waiting list is about 4 years long because the bags are not sold online or in stores. The list is long because A. it takes 48 hours to make the bag, and B. Celebrities come first.

These bags are made of a variety of skins such as salt water crocodile and goat skin.

So now do you see what all the rage is about ?
The most expensive Birkin. 1.63 Million dollars ! See Below!

I appreciate the legacy that Hermès has contributed to fashion. A family owned business that was founded on the hard work and dedication of a person with a dream. the family was persistent in ownership and top notch products and that is what made them so popular. The reasons they are thriving through this economic downturn are fairly obvious. There was no funny business in their company and they stay true to their label and not to trends and phases. their following will love them from the beginning until the end with no question.

We can all learn a thing or to from Hermès, in particular, just knowing the importance at becoming the best at what you do. They perfected their quests before taking on more feats and that contributed to their success.

btw. Hermes also got into a lot of different areas like boats, cars, and other aspects of luxury.

enjoy some pictures of Birkins and clothing from recent lines.

Living it, Loving it, Owning it

Citations: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

The Curvy Woman’s Fall 2009 Must Haves List Continued !

So yesterday we left off at #8, so let’s jump right in at #9! ( PS THE DESCRIPTION OF THE ITEM IS BELOW ITS PICTURE)

9. Deep V Neck

So a lot of us curvy girls have a nice set of breasts that would love to pop out of a too-deep-v-neck shirt, so let’s keep it a little subtle.

Ralph Lauren, $49.99, Size up to 3X

Faith 21, $17.80, Size up to 2X

Faith 21, $19.80, Size up to 2X

Ashley Stewart, $29.00, Size up to 24

10. Lace Blouse
So when I say lace, I don’t mean completely see through to show all your goodies… I mean a tasteful hint of lace here and there.

Faith 21, $19.80, Size up to 2X

Faith 21, $28.00, Size Up to 5X

Lane Bryant, $49.50, size up to 28

Miss Phit, $36.00, size up to 3X

11. White Shirt
There is no way to mess this up, unless your shirt is too big or too small. Make sure you try it on and be very critical.

Ralph Lauren, $19.99, Up to 3X

Lane Bryant, $49.50, Up to 28

Faith 21, $19.80, Up to 2X

Ashley Stewart, $29.00, Up to 24

12. Stripes
Be careful here ladies, this could add some pounds.

Banana Republic, $70.00, Up to XL

Miss Phit, $52, Up to 2X

Faith 21, $19.80, Up to 2X

Ralph Lauren , $34.99, Up to 2X

Torrid, $48.00 , Up to 4 X

13. Menswear Trouser
This trend adds a lot of volume to the bottom half of your body and usually works well on slimmer bottoms. With that being said, steer clear of this trend if you are curvy, it does nothing for the figure but ruin it. Stick to skinny jeans, Wide leg trousers, and tapered pants.

14. Draped Skirt

Ann Taylor , $49.50, Up to 18

Ann Taylor , $29.99, Up to 18

Ann Taylor, $85.00, Up to 2X

15. Leather Shorts
Ok so this would not be too comfortable given that they do not have a lot of give and most of us curvier women love ( and need) some type of spandex. Let’s try some alternatives that will give you the same look.

Gap, $34.50, Up to 20

Faith 21, $15.80, Up to XL

Torrid, $38.00, Up to 28

16. Legging Pant
Let’s be tasteful with our use of leggings. We need a shirt or dress that covers our booties, otherwise we will look a hot mess.

Torrid, $26.00, Up to 4X

Torrid $25.00, Up to 3X

Torrid, $25.00, Up to 3X

Ashley Stewart , $29.00, Up to 3X

17. Embellished Biker
Now I have a strong feeling that leather jackets with all the rhinestones are a phase. So I have chosen some multipurpose, timeless jackets that will do you great justice.

Ashley Stewart, $29.00, Up to 20

Torrid, $68.00, Up to 4X

Ashley Stewart, $39.00, Up to 3X

18. Tuxedo
Every women could use a little dressing up. The hardest part here is finding affordable choices.

Torrid, $58.00, Up to 2X

Anne Taylor, $200, Up to 18

Gap.com, $98.00, up to 14

19. Ruffles

My personal Favorite!!!

Ann Taylor, $90, Up to 2X

Gap.com, $29.50, Up to 2X

Miss Phit, $39.00, Up to 3X

Faith 21, $17.80, Up to 2X

Faith 21, $17.80, Up to 2X

Ashley Stewart, $29.00, up to 24
20. Chalk Stripe
Not a good look for a curvy lady. If you want stripes, make them Pin Stripes.

21. Over the knee Boot

Now there are very few of these boots in bigger sizes, let alone with wide calves. But if you are willing to splurge, here is a boot that will do you very well. From Duo.com you can custom size your boot to fit your leg perfectly.

Duo.com, 155 pounds + 20pounds shipping ($285.6676), up to size 12, and 50 cm calf

Duo.com, 180 pounds + 20 pounds shipping ($326.4773) Up to size 12, and 50 cm calf

22, 23. Clutch and Drawstring purses. Any fashionista can fit a purse! Let’s move on.

24. buckle boot

avenue.com, 94.99, up to 11w

torrid , $42.00, up to size 12

Silhouettes.com $149.00, up to Xwide 12

25. Tread Soles
since this is such a high end trend finding affordable size 11 shoes it insanely hard.

DSW. com, $129.95, Up to size 11

endless.com, $139.95, Up to size 11

macy.com, $110.00, Up to size 11

AHHH we have finally reached the end of our Fall must have pieces. Now choose wisely because remember everything isn’t for everyone, but there is something for everyone. I know it’s discouraging not to be able to find your size in the cute clothes that we see walking down the runway, but this just leaves room for your creative juices to flow. Being unique makes you irreplaceable!

Love ya! ❤

Must Haves: Plus Sized Edition

Since I am technically a ‘plus sized’ girl that can wear clothing from a size 14 ( the national average) to a 16, and between a medium and XL. Needless to say finding stuff that fits is insanely difficult for me. Let’s not even get started on shoes finding an 11 is like finding a needle in a haystack, but finding wide calf boots on top of that, forget about it.

So I’m here to give my larger sized fashionistas some hints on where to get clothing that fits and looks just like what we see in the magazines that we love. So let me start with a magazine that I love, Elle. I love this magazine because it has a lot more clothing than copy (written material), not that I don’t love written material it’s just that I buy the magazine to see the styles. However, the September issue had a MUST READ article on Jennifer Aniston! Anyways, they had a list of around 20-ish must have things, but of course they were all over priced and do not come in our size. So after doing a little research and digging through my own information I have found ways to get you some of those must have items, because regardless of size we should all get the opportunity to wear what we think expresses our style best.

Here we go !

1. Camel Coat

What we can buy:

Gap.com $118.00, sizes up to XXL

Anneklein.com $200.00 sizes up to XL

2. Cape
Now there are not many options for plus sized capes simply because they do nothing for out figure. However there are some options that look like a cape but give our body a more flattering silhouette.

Bow-Tie Cape,$29 Spiegel.com sizes up to XL

swing coat $74, silhouettes.com sizes up to 3X

Swing Jacket $69, silhouettes.com sizes up to 3X

3. Toggle

delias.com, $89.50 sizes up to 3X

onestopplus.com $69.99 sizes up to 26W

4. Robe Tie
Generally I do not like bigger women in coats that are long and cover the buttocks because they give a really rectangular shape to our body. However, the robe tie coat is a very hot look this season and while some body types can get away with out, not all can. Avoid this coat if you have a really large bottom half.

Also dont be fooled by this “trend” you can definitely robe tie any coat that comes with a belt attatchment. Some coats are just made for this type of thing and others aren’t. Be creative !

Miss Sixty $235.00, Size up to 2X

Spiegel.com $99.00 Size up to 18

5. Mini Dress
Let’s be real, many of us need to stay clear of this look. A mini dress can be a heart ache, the constant pulling down the bottom or pulling up the chest. IF you have the figure that suits this look, go for it, otherwise here are some alternatives.

Faith21 Plus size, $22.80 Size up to 2X

Spiegel $59.00 Size up to 14

6. Neon Colors
Again, not too great of a choice for large women, but if we mix up the colors a bit it should come out great.

Faith 21 $24.80 Sizes up to 2X

Faith 21 $22.80 Sizes up to 2X

Faith 21 $22.80 Sizes up to 2X

7. Grecian
There are some gorgeous Grecian like dresses that would be fabulous for our body type.

Anne Klein$147.99, sizes up to 14

Faith 21 $17.80 sizes up to 2X

Spiegel $159.00 sizes up to 18

Spiegel $49.00 sizes up to XL

8. One Sleeve
ehh i am on the fence about this look because I am sure it is a trend. However here are some options that I believe may be timeless.

( this has potential with a belt and a curvy body !)
Alloy.com $19.99 sizes up to XL

Anne Klein $198.00 size up to 16

Ok so there is a little preview of some looks that I think are appropriate for this must have list and fit your body types. Tomorrow’s entry will continue the list and I will show you were to get over the knee boots for wide calves, leggings with slashes, and leather jackets… so check back tomorrow!

omg, did you miss me? I know I know! 🙂 I’m back now, so I have to give you, your blog fix.

So I have been thinking about my ” Million Dollar Question” post on black designers after the huge/great response it received in addition to the release of the Italian Vogue ” Black” issue. I am going to address both topics today.

So I am not retracting my beliefs that there are no black people doing what I believe we are capable of in the fashion industry, making it to the Gucci, Fendi, Prada status, because there aren’t any. I just believe that black designers face a lot of challenges and disadvantages when it comes to the industry. As you have read many of the designers I have featured came from or married into money. Those who didn’t, like Oscar de le Renta, had to work extremely hard to get to where they are. They also had strategic business moves and connections that helped propel them into popularity. A lot of black designers didn’t have those luxuries, but some designers did try.

Aside from the few designers I named in my previous post, there are a few more that deserve mention. I don’t want to forget to at least acknowledge reality TV designers, Mychael Knight and Korto Momolu from project runway. They were good designers and still are. They are both making a name for themselves in niche markets, Mychael in ATL and Korto making accessories.

The problem there is that they didn’t win these shows so they really haven’t had the opportunity to make it big like, say….

Christian did.

There are also the designers that I am not always too proud to mention, those are the entertainers/entertainers family members turned “designers.” Now the reason I feel I need to talk about these people is that they made up the majority of ” BET’s list of Top Black Designers.” Which included people like the Simmon’s sister for Pastry, Beyonce and her mother for House of Dereon, Jay Z for Rocawear, Kimora Lee Simmons for Baby Phat, and the list started to taper off into the real “street fashion” like Apple bottoms, Vocal, and Billionaire Boys Club by Pharrell. While I am proud of all the designers for doing what they love and for what they have accomplished, I never believe in making clothing that I would never, ever wear. I know there is a market for everything, but morally I don’t want to be responsible for young woman exploiting their bodies and some of these lines I think contribute to and profit from that epidemic.

Ok, so the list did include 3 designers that I think are worth mentioning, Sean Combs, Benjamin Bixby, and Tracy Reese. Now Sean Combs, believe it or not, is a member of the CFDA and has won an award in 2004 for menswear designer of the year. In case you don’t understand what that means, no black people have won that yet, sooo. I mean we all love to hate him but the guy is doing his thing ! His fragrance ‘I AM KING’ won the Fragrance Foundation 2009 FiFi Award for Fragrance of the Year for men as well. He must have a great team helping him along. He also has the money to be the best and I’m glad he is taking advantage of that.

Benjamin Bixby, better known as Andre 3000. I just wanted to mention him because his style is so quirky and I love it. He also got into Barney’s and was featured (positively) on The Cut blog. His line never got a lot of hype and is practically dead now, but he had a nice shot. He stuck to what he liked and he designed clothing that I know he would wear which is respectable. Do him a favor and buy his last shirt from Barneys.com, please !! 🙂

Last but not least Tracy Reese. See now , our girl Tracy Reese is really doing her thing. She, too, is a member of the CFDA ( one of literally the handful of black people that are members) like Diddy. Well like many of the other successful designers, she studied in Paris as an apprentice. She attended Parsons School for Design and she also worked as the design director for the Women’s Portfolio at Perry Ellis. She has become known for her flowy, feminine dresses and vintage inspired separates that were and still are picked up by Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and other high end boutiques as well as in Europe and Asia.

One of her dresses was also worn by Michelle Obama on the cover of People Magazine. This is a huge deal because First Lady Obama has come under a lot of heat for not wearing African American designers. She chose to wear one of the best African American designers she could find. In fact her hubby, Mr. President himself, wore a suit by Oswald ( remember, from my previous post) in Ghana. Now all the critics can calm down because they have done their part. It’s not there fault there aren’t many options.

Anyways, Tracy Reese has a profile on NYmag.com and everything. Her Jazz Age inspired style has been a big hit across color lines and I can only hope she continues to grow. Check out some looks from her recent lines.

Another designer that was not mentioned on BET’s list, but should have been, is Edward Wilkerson. From the age of 10 he knew he wanted to design. He went to an Art and Design high school in Manhattan and then on to Parsons School of Design. He worked with top designers like Donna Karen and worked in successful fashion houses like Anne Klein and Calvin Klein. He received the honor from Donna Karan to become a designer for the Donna Karan collection. After working with Donna for 13 years he was fired, but later told he could join her again at anytime.

In 1998 he joined Lafayette 148 New York as Design Director. While at Lafayette he uses his inspiration from Africa and his passion for photography to guide him in the clothing creation process.

What I love about him is that he built up the Lafayette 148 and he also has plus sized clothing which don’t look like crap. However, I do think his price points are EXTREMELY high for a designer that is not that well known. I also am very confused about Lafayette 148’s ownership . No where does it say he started it, but merely he built up the brand. He didn’t join until 1998 and it was started in 1996. With that said, I am strong advocate of ownership, and I hope that he has some in that company because his designs are great and I would hate to see him taken advantage of like so many other designers ( black and other races).

Finally, let me not forget to tell you how I feel about the black Italian Vogue. I think it was a good thought however if they wanted to give black people the chance in the fashion industry that we are so often denied, they could have done it all the way. I think it should have featured black designers, black stylists, black make up artist, black editors, and black writers. I mean, I know the Vogue people are giving us an inch and I am taking a mile, but who says we don’t deserve a mile? Who knows, people might actually like what black people have to offer to the fashion world, wouldn’t that be a shocker? ( sarcasm)

ok loves, until next time. Sorry for the opinion overdose, but hey I’m sure you learned something lol.

Citations: within entry

Emilio Pucci, who hasn’t heard of this man? You know him from his geometric prints and world renowned scarves, but this Italian born designer wasn’t always into fashion.

Born on November 20, 1914 in Naples, Italy, Marchese Emilio Pucci de Barsento was the son of a wealthy and noble family. Given his luxurious surroundings, he became interested in hobbies that only the rich enjoyed; skiing, swimming, fencing, playing tennis, and racing cars. His love for sports led him right into fashion. He took part in the 1932 Winter Olympics as a part of the Italian Skiing Team, but he didn’t compete.

Unlike a lot of other designers, he went to quite a lot of schools. In 1933 he went to the University of Milan and then the University of Georgia. In 1935 he earned a skiing scholarship to attend the Reed College in the United States and got a Masters in Social Science. In 1937 he earned his doctorate in Political Science from the University of Florence.

As if that was not enough, he joined the Italian Air Force and served as a pilot during WWII. He returned home to Italy because of health concerns that kept him from flying.
He did play a big part in the War I mean, he was the confidant of Mussolini’s oldest daughter. He drove her to the Swiss border to ensure her escape as well. Crazy right ?

Well, enough of the history lesson, let’s talk fashion. Though he designed the clothing for the Reed College ski team, he didn’t get noticed until he was skiing on the slopes of St. Moritz. A Harper’s Bazaar reported noticed him and his outfit and found out that he made his own clothing. He was invited to make a few pieced for a photo shoot with the magazine in 1948 and that is when the world got their first look at what Emilio Pucci could do.

Pucci, using stretch fabric in ways that Europe had never seen before, opened his first shop in Capri in 1949. In 1950 he created his first couture line of clothing and showed it in France. He was using his knowledge of stretch fabric and bold prints to set him apart from other designers and people loved it. Having his own fashion house was a big step fro Emilio because he would be the first in his family to hold a job in over a thousand years.

He leveraged his resources in order to get his line started. He used his family’s palace as his ateliers and used the grand ballrooms to show his collections.

As quick as his career began, he got recognition even quicker. By the early 1950’s he was winning awards from Neiman Marcus and his clothing was worn by Jackie O. The popularity of his dresses could be accredited to the lightweight fabric and their ability to remain wrinkle-free.

Fun Fact: Marylin Monroe was buried in one of his dresses.

It was also during the 50’s that Pucci began to develop his signature : Graphic Prints. Known as “the prince of prints” his clothing didn’t need to bear his name as a logo, his prints could be recognized as the work of only one man: Emilio Pucci.

In 1959 he began to make lingerie, in 1965 he began making stewardess uniforms that came complete with helmets that would protect their hair from rain and wind. He also designed the Apollo 15 mission patch even though the crew replaced the original colors of blues and greens with red, whites, and blues. He even designed Cappellini furniture and a 300 foot hand painted sail for the Wally Yachts.

In 1966 he released a perfume called “Vivara.”

Pucci must have been a man who had a list of things he wants to do before he dies because this man has seriously done everything. I am starting to feel like designing was just a side hobby. Did you know he was he was on the Italian Parliament in 1963 and in 1968.

Sadly in 1992, Emilio died at the age of 78. His daughter Laudomia took over as the head designer of his house. Followed by others such as Julio Espada, Christian Lacroix, and Matthew Williamson. Now Peter Dundas will take over as creative director. In 2000, LVMH acquired 67% of Pucci.

Overall, Pucci was driven by the desire to liberate women and granting them the freedom and movement. This has to do with his fabric choices that are undoubtedly his signature. Hailing from a luxurious family bloodline, he was able to capture the essences of beauty and elegance in his designs and every woman wanted that, nick named the “Pucci Look.”

Pucci Quote :

When you put on something with color, suddenly you feel happy and rested. You go out with a man, and he gets joy from how you look. I’m not giving you a dress. I’m giving an element of joy to you, which is much more important than a stupid dress.

I am so feeling this guy let me tell you why ( yes, I am a poet lol). I really love how he pursued other careers than fashion design. It really showed how well rounded he was. I mean I am impressed that he even decided to get such an extensive education and career given that he was royalty. I mean I know I would have been temped to just chill at the palace :-), but not him. He wanted to design, study, change laws, do everything he ever wanted and then some. His clothing, in a way, is reminiscent of that. They are free and unpredictable but yet still have a purpose.

I love his clothing and I love that even without a logo, it is recognizable. I mean who wouldn’t know a Pucci scarf from a mile away.

I know it is hard to learn from him because he was very brief with his fashion career but I think we can take the phrase ” Carpe Diem” from him. He definitely seized the day with all the things he accomplished in his life. His fashion career basically fell in his lap and he took it and ran with it. So when even an opportunity presents itself, take it and milk it for all its worth by using all your resources and abilities to take advantage of it in the best way possible. That’s what Emilio did and look at his legacy!

❤ ( look below for some fashions)

Citations: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,

So to stray away from our typical NY born designer, let’s talk about Venezuelan born Carolina Herrera. Born as Maria Carolina Josefine Pacanins y Nino on January 8, 1939 in Caracas, Venezuela. Her fashion life began at the tender age of 13 when she attended the Cristobal Balenciaga fashion show with her grandmother, her first of many.

Born into the traditional world of Latin American Aristocracy, she was one of four daughters in her family. Her father was the governor of Caracas and served as the country’s foreign affairs minister. Her mother and grandmother gave Carolina her fashion DNA, they traveled regularly to Europe to get their clothing made by prestigious design houses like Balenciaga and Lanvin.

Herrera grew up very privileged with a governess ( like Maria in sound of music 🙂 ) and lavish surroundings. She lived in a disciplined household that she remembers as being very organized. As she grew up she became interested in sewing clothing for dolls, but as she grew older she shifted her interests and became a skilled equestrienne ( horseback rider) and read a lot because her mother believed a woman had to be cultivated. She would become world traveled and socialize with the world’s royalty, but to her that wasn’t enough.

After being married at the tender age of 18 to Guillermo Behrens Tello, a wealthy Venezuelan family she had two daughters. Soon after the marriage because, it ended in divorce, the first in her family. She moved back with her parents and worked in her first fashion gig as a publicist for Emillio Pucci.

In 1968 she fell in love with Reinaldo Herrera( a Vanity Fair editor) and the got married, he too was from a wealthy Venezuelan family. They traveled in the social circles of the world’s elite and lived a romantic, high priced lifestyle. With Reinaldo she had two daughters.

It wasn’t until her 30’s when she began to pop up on the fashion radar. She was on the International Best Dressed lists. Feeling the fashion fever, her, her husband, and her children moved to New York in 1980 from their lavish estate in Carcas.

Almost 40, she decided to dip her toes into a fashion related business venture and began to think about fabric design. With friends in high places she was quickly talked out of designing fabric and talked into making a line. Acquaintance and fashion icon Diana Vreeland was supportive of her decision. However her mother in law and her husband were not so much. Her husband was most notably skeptical. He said “I was supportive because I thought this would last fifteen minutes,” Reinaldo Herrera told Town & Country‘s Tapert. “If she had said it would be fifteen years, I would have asked her, ‘Are you out of your mind?'”

Regardless, Carolina wanted to move forward. In fall of 1980 Herrera brought 20 dresses that she had made in Caracas by dressmakers. For her trunk show, she borrowed a friend’s Park Avenue apartment and invited everyone she knew. In attendance were buyers ready to by her whole line but it would be hard since she didn’t have a company at the time. Luckily she knew a publishing powerhouse, Armando de Armas who backed her business, Carolina Herrera Ltd. She opened a store on Seventh Avenue and her first full collection was shown in NY’s Metropolitan Club in 1981.

Once again her leveraged connections brought her success, her socialite friends got wind of her collection and became her best customers. Jacqueline Kenned Onassis became one of her first renowned clients. Caronline’s success was also because she was one of the first people to use padded shoulders because of the affect that big shoulders have on making a women’s waist look smaller. She used her knowledge of the effects of shapes on a women’s body to further her success.

Herrera’s company got really big after she made the wedding dress for Caroline Kennedy, Jackie O’s daughter, in 1986. This expanded her line from only ready to wear, to bridal and to a lower priced line called CH. In 1988 she launched a fragrance line inspired by the jasmine bush scents from her home in Venezuela, in 1991 she debuted her Men’s fragrance, and in 1994 she released her third scent.

She was then smart enough to get licensing deals for accessories, costume jewelry, and eyewear. In 1990 her wholesale business reached $20 million.

To celebrate, in 2000 she opened her first store, located at Madison Avenue and 75th Street in Manhattan and soon after she opened stores in Europe. Her first store outside of New York was in Madrid’s Salamanca district.

After dressing Jackie O for the last twelve years of her life she was inspired by her impeccable taste and her knowledge of what looked good on her. She also had the honor of dressing Nancy Reagan, Mrs. Bush, and every ones fav MICHELLE OBAMA.

Though she has built an empire on her own, she still maintains a regular lifestyle. She claims that she never works past 5 pm and makes sure that the line is drawn between work and home. She doesn’t want work to be her entire life, but merely a part of her life.

Another important part of her life is her charity work. She is a Goodwill Ambassador and a Facilitator for the Intergovernmental Institution for the Use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition. I am not going to explain that to you because it is a little intense, but all you need to know is she does want to save lives and give back to children and she loves it.

Carolina Herrera has been and remained on international best dressed lists since her 30’s and here clothing has been critically acclaimed almost from day one. Her style is timeless and packed with class and elegance that one can not find in any other line. Her clothing is a direct reflection of Carolina as a woman and I have every reason to believe that she would wear EVERYTHING she makes. That is not something one can say for every designer.

What I like about Carolina Herrera is that she continuously works through any adversity. Her husband, mother-in-law and countless critics were not fans of her work( including Cathy Horyn who she banned from her shows for negative feedback), but she kept on going because she knew she was on to something. I also love how she leveraged her connections in order to succeed. There is nothing wrong with getting your friends, who already like you as a person, to support your dreams. True friends will do that for you.

However she does keep her affiliations to a minimum. She never likes to mention her clients names because she believes that “If you have to sell a dress because an important client is wearing it, then that means that the dress was not good,” and I could not agree more.

(p.s. here is a dress she received some heat for, I see where it was going but there is something that is off, and it may not necessarily be the dress)

As a studio 54 regular and a close friend of Andy Warhol, Carolina has seen it all and everything she has seen she translates into her clothing. Compared to the likes of other fashion greats like Oscar de la Renta, she simply started her path to success with passion, hard work, and dedication.

I am definitely starting to believe that those traits, that cant’ be taught, can take you much further than a degree can take you. Think about it !

Award Center:
The International Center in New York’s Award of Excellence
2004 Women’s Designer of the Year
2008 lifetime achiever award by the Cosmetic Executive Women UK.

Notable quote:
“Today, people want to be free to wear what they like, in any combination they like, to be confined by no rules, and to set their own standards – yet they all end up looking exactly the same.” – C.Herrera

Now, how about we end with some clothing that I think screamed Michelle Obama when I saw it ( oh, and I would wear it too, def):

Citations: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Ralph Lauren is a designer whose clothing and other products that have been embraced by the Hip Hop and Rap communities . Not only do artists wear his signature big ponied Polos, but they also include him into their rap songs. I even heard in 2005 Lauren made a back door offer for Jay Z to lend his name to a line of menswear and home furnishings because Lauren is tired of Tommy Hilfiger and Sean Combs making money off of urban youth.

In urban communities you can see his influence on street fashion, adding a new spin to the preppy look that is sported from corner to corner. He is even really huge in the counterfeit market, unfortunately, but he is still making money. ( The way you can tell a counterfeit is throught the button holes on the shirts. The Fake ones have cheap looking buttons with up and down stitching while the real Polos have marble buttons with cross stitching.) The reason he is still making money is because he knows what he is doing and he does it very well. Enough small talk, let’s get down to business.

Born on October 14, 1939, Ralph Lauren’s original name was Ralph Reuben Lifshitz. He was born in the Bronx to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from Belraus, Fradl and Frank Lifshitz. He was the younger of 4 children. In the 7th grade he became interested in clothing working after school in order to buy clothing and suits. He was the best dressed 12 year old in his neighborhood.

He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York and coincidentally grew up in the same neighborhood as Calvin Klein, but it’s unclear whether or not they knew each other.

In the 1950s he changed his name to Lauren. While in high school he sold ties to classmates and in his yearbook he stated that he wanted to be a millionaire. He graduated from high school in 1957 and worked as a salesman during the day and went to Baruch College at night for business. He quit school shortly after and went into the army ( 1962-1964) before looking for a fashion job, these jobs would give him the experience he needed to become one of the most successful designers and fashion businessmen in America.

While working for Brooks Brothers he was inspired to make his own neckwear, and in 1967 he did just that. He designed a napkin-wide Beau Brummer neckwear. He got a $50,000 loan from Norman Hilton to design wide ties and begins his Company Polo fashions in 1968. He started his men’s line in 68 and offered styles that mixed American and English trends and expressed sophistication.

In 1968 he also married Ricky Low-Beer. They had two sons, Andrew and David, and a daughter Dylan. David is an executive at Polo and Dylan owns an upscale candy store called Dylan’s Candy Bar. She was recently featured on a Fabulous Life Episode.

In 1987 Lauren was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and had it removed that year and luckily made a full recovery.

In 1971 he introduced his first women’s line with four groups: collection, classics, country, and active. It was this same year that he opened his first retail store on Rodeo Drive.

In 1972 he released his famous short sleeved mesh shirt with the Polo logo, which is now a classic. His clothing gained more exposure after he was brought on board to design clothing for the movie The Great Gatsby.

In 1986 he made fashion retail history with a large store in the former Rhinelander Mansion in New York. Today all his stores have the feeling of a regal home upon entering, which makes his stores very unique and maybe one of his keys to success because by 1997 he was selling $5 billion a year worth of merchandise which made him the best selling designer in the world.

In 1995 he tapped into the blue jeans and mass market women’s category which were both offered at a lower price point. His home collection alone made $535 million in sales.

In June of 1997 Polo Ralph Lauren became a public company and traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RL. Lauren’s success was only growing and it was because of his attention to detail and his carefully crafted and consistent brand image. He now have over 25 licensing contracts and sub brands. He also expanded into perfume and skin care

In 2000 his website Polo.com was launched and allowed for immense Internet success.

Today Forbes Magazine claims his wealthy is at $2.8 Billion, which makes him the 224th richest person in the world.

Philanthropic Center:

  • 1998- Donated $13 million to Smithsonian Institution in DC
  • 1998- Raised money for a cure for breast cancer
  • Donated $5 million to establish the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Prevention and Care at North General Hospital in Harlem, NY
  • Created Polo Volunteer Program

Award Center:

  • 1970- City Award for Menswear
  • 1986- Coty Hall of Fame
  • 1992- CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1995- CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award
  • 1996- CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year
  • 7 Coty Awards
  • Tribute from Woolmark Awards

Though Lauren has had his share of praise and success he has had some criticism. For example his uniforms he designed for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics were deemed cheap in addition to making them walking billboards for Laurens brand because of the large pony. I can see where these claims are valid, but come on, do you think that anyone was going to mention that they were made by him? He needed to get his name in so who can blame him. And to the cheap comments, he made these uniforms in a rushed manner and sent them to Chinese ” tailors” at the last minute. Now not to knock China’s craftsmanship, but we all get a little weary when we see ” made in china” on the tags of anything. Either way, people say Lauren embarrassed America making them look like rich snobs, but if I am not mistaken, that is how most of us here act anyways, let’s be real. Personally I liked the uniforms, I like to look like I have class and hey if you think I am a snob, that’s on you. But I never hear any complaining about Nike and their logos, I mean let’s all be fair here.

Ralph Lauren has a lot of things here that we can learn and take with us as the lovers of fashion that we are. For one, he was untrained but his love for nice clothing and his sense of business was impeccable, even if he doesn’t posses a degree. Secondly, he doesn’t believe in fashion he believe in style… the very thing I live for. I believe this is evident in his clothing because no one has ever said ” oh, polo is played out.” That is absurd. Ralph Lauren has made his clothing so that each piece is an investment into the longevity of your wardrobe. I can by a dress today and wear it 20 years from now and still be the best dressed. Finally, he is a man that remains very low key. Through his career his controversies were minimal and he hardly let the fame get to his head. I appreciate that because many designers loose their sense of self to being a celebrity. He has remained very grounded with his family and his career without distractions.

Ralph Lauren is really a designer to emulate. He knows exactly what he is doing and even without a degree he gets his career to further heights then those that possess a formal education. That is inspiring because image the possibilities for the rest of us. They are endless. We just have to work hard, be true to ourselves and be true with others and nothing can stand in our way. I don’t know about you but I am ready to get working !!

Let’s close with two quotes from our guy:

  • “I’m interested in longevity, timelessness, style–not fashion.”
  • “I believe in clothes that last, that are not dated in a season. The people who wear my clothes don’t think of them as fashion.”

Citations: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,

So today’s mini post has to do with the ever so controversial SELF magazine cover with Kelly Clarkson. She was heavily, heavily photo shopped, but that is not the issue. The issue is, this is a health food/ lifestyle magazine thats main objective revolves around the idea of eating right and getting in shape . One of the headlines on the cover was : Slim Down Your Way.
Problem: Kelly did not slim down her way, she slimmed down the way the editors wanted her, which was through air brushing.

To top it off, the editor was justifying her actions, comparing it to vacation photos, some of which you keep and others you choose not to show. Confused? Me too. This woman is insane if she thinks it is justifiable to photoshop Kelly in such a way that takes her back to her American Idol days when we all clearly know she looks like this:

All I am saying is that of all the magazines, the ones that are here to motivate the health conscious to get in shape should go light on the photo shopping. I mean it is one thing to remove a zit or read eye, but it is another to basically cut Kelly in half. Especially if Kelly clearly proclaims her confidence in her body as is. I mean really guys.

I know you are thinking how this relates to fashion. Well, the fashion industry get so much heat for photo shopping and now I want to let you all know there is another player in the sinful act of downsizing a persona via computer, and that is health magazines. I rather not be encouraged to reach unobtainable goals. If the people featured in the magazines don’t even have a six pack what makes you think that I will be able to get one in 10 days doing a 5 minute ab routine . Let’s get real.

See Kim Kardashian’s cover:

Now honestly:

Oh, please read the editor’s blog that justifies why the photoshop was necessary and should be acceptable. More importantly, read the comments. People are really unhappy about this and they are not afraid to curse the editor out. It’s actually quite funny.

I believe that style doesn’t only include your choice of wardrobe but your also your body and your presence in the world. If your style is confident, exude that in every way possible. Your body is unique to you and that is where your style starts. So honestly, live it, love it, and own it because no one else can appreciate you the way you can appreciate yourself.

Fashion to the MAX!

August 10, 2009


After my trip to New York as a personal shopper this past Wednesday- Thursday I came across a bunch of designers collections first hand in their flagship and branch stores. One store that I was particularly impressed with ( as I am always) was BCBG, so it is only appropriate that I dig a little deeper to see what the designer behind these garments is all about. Let’s dig in shall we?

Born in Sfax, Tunisia on January 1, 1949, Max Azria founded BCBGMAXAZARIA. When he was 13 years old he moved to Paris to work as an actor. Eleven years later he moved to to Los Angeles, CA in 1981. In 1989 he launched his line BCBGMAXAZARIA, BCBG meaning “bon chic, bon genre” translated meaning ” good style, good attitude.” I don’t know about you, but I never knew that.

In 1998 our guy, Max, was inducted in the CFDA and that same year he brought Herve Leger fashion house. The next year, in 1999, Max launched a plus size line in the fall. In the Spring he launched a new collection of men’s footwear.

In 2004 he launched Max Azria Atelier for couture gowns. In 2006 Max launched his Max Azria collections which has more practical clothing.

Many years passed and in 2007 he launched a Herve Leger line with his own designs.

In 2008 Azria launched a contemporary collection called BCBGeneration. More recently, in 2009, Max and Miley Cyrus came together and create a juniors line for Wal-Mart. Higher end clothing by Max and Miley can be found in Macy’s. That makes me feel like maybe Macy’s is one step up from Wal-Mart when we all know that Target and Kohl’s are in between the two.

some of the clothing

What we need to appreciate about Max is that he was one of our designer/business people. He redefined designing and fashion by offering his high end collection at contemporary/affordable price points. He also has so many stores around the world it is insane. After opening 3 stores in Europe in 1999 he took off like a rocketship opening stores in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, Venezuela and other countries. Not to mention he has a vast and immense presence in specialty stores.

In his stores you will not only find designs that he dreamt up himself, but designs that have inspiration from fashion giants such as Coco Chanel, Versace, and many others. You will be over whelmed by the gowns that bear a startling resemblance to the gowns you see on the red carpet, because most of his clients come to him for special event garments.

In regards to Max Azria’s personal life, he is married to his second wife, Lubov, who was also once a ballerina. She now is the creative direct of his billion dollar company. Max has 3 daughters from his first marriage names Chloe, Anais, and Agnes.

Award Center!!
1995- California designer of the year
1996- Atlanta designer of the year
1997- fashion performance award
1997- Spirit of life award from the city of hope for his contributions to research on the treatment of life threatening diseases
1998- Women’s Designer of the year b Divine Design
2000- Otis College of Art and Designer’s Fashion Achievement Award
2000- Top 50 Private Companies in Los Angeles
2007- Wells Fargo Century Fashion Achievement Award
2008- Fashion Excellence Award at Dallas Fashion Awards

Max is a pretty clean cut designer, one whose story is not unfamiliar to us by now, but what I think is absolutely strange is that he has never won an award from the CFDA. I wonder really what the criteria are… don’t you? Well here, I looked it up:

The Womenswear, Menswear, and Accessory Designer of the Year Awards:
Awarded to a designer working in America who has made the most outstanding contribution to and has influenced the direction of women’s ready-to-wear fashion, men’s ready-to-wear fashion, and accessory design, respectively, through his or her most recent Spring and Fall collections. The designer selected in each category must have his or her business based primarily in America.

The Swarovski Awards: Awarded to a designer working in America who has made the greatest impact as an emerging new talent for his or her womenswear, menswear or accessory design through his or her most recent Spring and Fall Collections. The Swarovski Award was established to recognize and support the talent and creativity of the next generation of designers. The designer selected in each category must have his or her business based primarily in America.

Eugenia Sheppard Award:
Awarded to a writer, photographer, or editor who has used his or her craft to further the profession of fashion reporting and coverage, or to a creative director, fashion editor, stylist, or artist whose exceptional creativity has shaped fashion visually.

International Award: Awarded to one designer (in womenswear, menswear or accessories) working outside of America who has made an outstanding creative contribution to the world of fashion.

Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Awarded for a “lifetime” of consistent, creative influence and dedication to fashion.

Fashion Icon Award: Awarded to an individual whose signature style has had a profound influence on fashion.

Eleanor Lambert Award:
Awarded for a unique contribution to the world of fashion (and/or deserves the industry’s recognition and does not fall under any existing award categories).

Board of Directors’ Special Tribute:
A special tribute by the Board of Directors of the CFDA, given from time to time to acknowledge significant contributions and commitment to fashion.

Now given his contribution to fashion world, the fact that he did not finish any type of schooling, and that he built his empire from the ground up is reason enough for him to have at least won one award. Not to mention, he dresses every best dressed celebrity to hit a red carpet. I mean goodness people !

Either way we have nothing but respect for Max Azria because of the passion and influence he has given to the fashion industry. With the help of his wife, he was able to build an huge brand that hold fragrances and fashion lines. His pricing strategy has been recession friendly since before the recession and that alone is reason enough to embrace him and where his clothing. Oh and yeah, his clothes are also insanely gorgeous… reason number 2.

BOTTOM LINE: We ❤ MAX AZRIA! pistt… wanna see some pictures of his house?? Look down

citation: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, 9, 10, 11