Reebok Women Brings Out a Full Line of Fitness Lifestyle Picks At The Inaugural AXIS SHOW

A GLIMPSE OF REEBOK WOMEN FW 2015

A few weeks back I attended the inaugural AXIS show at Pier 94, a fashion lifestyle trade event created for a new generation of trend-focused young women. I was happy to know that it shared space with Capsule show, and focused in on fitness lifestyle. As I am now totally on my fitness-game, my purpose for AXIS was seeking out brands that seamlessly blended the realms of fitness + fashion.

I came across a lot of emerging brands, but was happy to see fresh offerings from a fitness staple for decades, Reebok Women.

LEGGINGS OFFERINGS

The brand had a HUGE booth in the show, which looked like its own mini-shop. I was greeted by Laura from Reebok upon entering, who really walked me through the entire line of offerings for Fall/Winter 2015. I told her that I am a runner and new to yoga, so I was really interested in the tech components of the clothing (sweat wicking, reflective components) as well as a beautiful aesthetic.

FAVE RUNNING PIECES

The color palette for the later months has a base in black with accents in a fiery red and neon yellow. Above you can see some of my favorites, specifically the running jacket on the far left, and leggings that have reflective elements at the knees, which are perfect for night running.

Definitely looking to add a few pieces to my fitness wardrobe! Are you digging the new collection?

*All Photos by Andrea K. Castillo for A Life In The Day of Andrea

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Capsule Show Brings “The Independent Mindset” To Their Women’s Show At Pier 94 in NYC

L-R: Moderator Lauren Sherman, Jill Wenger, Jen Mankins, and Steven Alan

In the last week of February amidst less-than-spectacular snowy & slushy weather in NYC, Capsule Women’s opened its doors. Held at Pier 94 for the first time, in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, the space was chosen to fully accommodate the growing women’s show, especially in the accessories realm. To kick off the show on Sunday, February 22nd, an exclusive panel entitled “The Independent Mindset” was held at 9 AM, moderated by Lauren Sherman of Fashionista.com.

The Independent Mindset will be an industry-focused discussion with people making major waves in the business of fashion thanks to an/or while maintaining a fiercely independent point of view.

The panel featured three esteemed guests in Steven Alan (founder of the eponymous retail chain & showroom),  Jill Wenger from Totokaelo, Seattle, and Jen Mankins, owner of Bird, Brooklyn. Throughout the course of the candid conversation, they shared their individual paths to retail success, why they believe individualism is key, and tops for aspiring fashion-retail owners.

Attendees viewing the panel

Here are some of my takeaways:

  • When growing your business:  “you need to make sure that you don’t replace yourself”. – Jennifer Mankins of @birdbrooklyn
  • In regards to staffing and business growth: “You HAVE to find the right people, and be patient”. – @jillwenger
  •  In regards to product for retail: “What don’t you already have, and do you need it?” – Steven Alan

You may view the entire conversation in the video above. For more on Capsule’s international fashion trade shows, please visit their website.

Event Re-Cap: Maison Kitsuné Launches Their SS15 #EFFORTLESSFRENCH Collection + Kitsuné New Faces II Compilation Release

A GLIMPSE OF THE MEN’S COLLECTION + COMPILATION

On the evening of Thursday, February 19th, the folks at French fashion & music label Maison Kitsuné launched their Spring/Summer ’15 #EFFORTLESSFRENCH collection in-store at their NoMAD location on the corner of Broadway and 28th Street. Having attended the presentation back at The Standard in September, I was quite excited to see what the full collection would look like on hangers.

Upon entering the store with two of my girlfriends, I was greeted by a room full of impeccably-dressed, beautiful people.

GUESTS

The women’s collection was the first bit of apparel I was able to scan, containing a pallet of white, black, bubblegum pink, salmon, and navy. I had really enjoyed the lightheartedness of the collection when I saw the presentation, and I was quite happy to see that it translated well to retail.

A GLIMPSE OF THE WOMEN’S COLLECTION

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#NYFW Tales: Backstage at Lupe Gajardo FW15 with Sergio Erasmo of MAC Cosmetics

THE SCENE BACKSTAGE AT LUPE GAJARDO FW15

Fashion Week is all about seizing opportunities, and that I did during my time backstage. In my last post, I documented my experience backstage at the Skingraft show. I was scheduled to attend the 9 PM presentation of Chilean designer Lupe Gajardo, but being in the right place at the right time, I was able to meet the show’s producer and cover backstage as well. SCORE!

MAC SR. ARTIST, SERGIO ERASMO & MODEL

I moved my things over to the backstage area for the show, and immediately got to work. As I was there quite early, I was able to get lots of great behind-the-scenes shots prior to talking make-up. I was greeted by Sergio Erasmo, MAC Cosmetics Senior Artist for Argentina, Peru, Chile, Paraguay & Uruguay who was keying the make-up of the show. I asked him about the beauty inspiration, and how it paired with the designer’s clothing. Says Erasmo:

ARTIST STATION

You will see in the collection that there is clothing that is a post-apocolyptic version of clothing, so we wanted to do that with make-up also; it’s part of the same story. This is a woman in the future, kind of like “Mad Max” kind of woman, that is fighting for survival. What I’m trying to do is work with the tiredness colors in the face, but she’s playing it in a very beautiful way, so the tiredness has some glamour to it. We worked with ochre tones on the eyelids, taupe-y colors to shape the eyes and cheeks, and a beautiful violet lipstick that is coming next season [for MAC].

FINAL LOOK ON MODEL

The final look was clean, yet realistic with darker tones around the eyes. The model looks like she’s had a “long day”, but remains beautiful nonetheless. Do you like the idea of “post-apocolyptic” beauty? Would you consider wearing a similar look come fall? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo for A Life In The Day of Andrea

#NYFW Tales: Backstage at Skingraft with Kelly Hanna Thompson of Kryolan Makeup

A SNAPSHOT OF THE MAKE-UP LOOK FOR SKINGRAFT FW15

Attending fashion shows during New York Fashion Week is a great privilege, but for me, it’s even more of an experience to see the magic behind-the-scenes in the high-energy location of backstage. When I was given the opportunity to cover beauty backstage by Kryolan at the Skingraft show, I jumped for joy [in my head] and was ready to see what was in store.

THE FACE: WILLY CARTIER

Upon arrival the mood was calm with all artists at their stations working on various models. I scanned the room and was greeted by a familiar face, one of my favorite male models of the moment, Willy Cartier, and snapped a photo before things got hectic.

KELLY WORKING ON A MODEL’S FACE

I snapped a few more photos of the room and ambience, and subsequently walked over to the post of the lady behind the beauty look of the show, Kelly Hanna Thompson. Kelly is Kryolan’s Senior Artist, and keyed the beauty look for Skingraft FW’15. Kelly told me that the inspiration behind the look was a woman that was “tired haunted, but beautiful at the same time”. Below is the process used to achieve the look.

We did a mid-tone grey all around the eyelids in a circular motion, so it looks like kind of a grey wash. Absolutely no liner or mascara, and you lose the definition like that. It gives it more of a haunted look. We did no cheeks, no contours, and a really nice shine straight down the middle…so it kind of has this effect of a pearl coming out of the middle [of the face], and a really good highlight.

FINAL MAKE-UP LOOK ON A MODEL

It was nice to see a make-up look so simple on the runway, that complemented and did not compete with the clothing. Do we think simple chic beauty looks is next for Fall? We will have to wait and see! Until then, let me know your thoughts on the look. Would you try out such a simple make-up look in the coming fall/winter season? Let me know in the comments below!

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo for A Life In The Day of Andrea

#NYFW Tales: TechStyle NYC Returns To House of Bumble With Fitness, Primping, and Sipping!

NAMASTAY YOGA TOWEL SET-UP

On Monday, February 16th, TechStyle NYC in collaboration with JJI returned to the House of Bumble in NYC’s coveted Meatpacking District. The event serves as an immersive beauty, fashion, tech, and beverage experience for influencers in the midst of Fashion Week. After attending last season, I was really excited to see what was in tow this time around, and impressed, I was.

THE GROUP OF INFLUENCERS FROM THE MORNING FITNESS SESSION

The event opened to the public at noon, but I was chosen to be a part of a morning fitness session for fifteen influencers. Did this invitation feel cool? Yes, especially as I’ve been getting back to my personal fitness, the timing was perfect. We were provided gear from Lysse Activewear, along with a yoga towel from Namastay, boots (for after) from Love Winter, and sweets from Dosha Pops.

LYSSE SPONSORED GIFT BAGS FOR INFLUENCERS

We began with a yoga session led by Dina Ivas of PRIVan on-demand beauty & wellness service. Dina was great at guiding us through poses and keeping us positive if we didn’t make them all. I’m definitely not the strongest in poses, but it was a great way to start the day.

After a short break, we were joined by celebrity trainer Joel Harper (personal trainer to Dr. Oz),  who guided us through an intense 30-minute fitness session. Not gonna lie, I felt the BURN and had to slow down through some reps that focused mainly on the glutes and legs. Upon surviving the session, I made it my job to change clothes and primp.

GETTING MY HAIR DONE AT THE REDDERA STATION

I zoomed over to the Reddera station to sign up to get beautified. The company is an on-demand beauty app, and at the lounge showcased a manicure station, make-up stations, hair styling, and massage. I made sure to take advantage of all these stations, sans nails, as I had gotten mine done a few days prior.

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#NYFW Tales: Luxe Pairings In Khirma New York Handbags & Chloe Gosselin Shoes For FW15

A GLIMPSE OF KHIRMA NEW YORK FW15

Whenever New York Fashion Week is in tow, my eye is always drawn to those apparel and accessory pieces that are made of high quality, with a strong sensibility that can work for many different types of people. I also love to see what younger brands are doing in this realm, and with that I wanted to share some highlights from the Fall/Winter 2015 collections of handbags from Khirma New York, and shoes from Chloe Gosselin.

Officially launched in 2010 by accessories designer Khirma Eliazov, Khirma New York is a luxury handbag line inspired by the designer’s travels around the world, and the memorable people she has met along the way.

A VIGNETTE OF BAGS

For Fall 2015, the collection includes an array of both neutrals (black, charcoal, ivory) paired with saturated jewel tones (garnet, sapphire, emerald) and metallic silver and gold pops. The sturdy bodies of the bags are made of supple leathers & suedes paired with exotic skins, including python, crocodile and water snake. This juxtaposition of materials and metallic accented hardware give each bag a unique sensibility that can be both a statement piece and a go-to handbag, which I love.

A MODEL IN CHLOE GOSSELIN HEELS

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Finding Your Sexy: Andrea’s Beauty & Fashion Picks To Make You Feel Sexy This Valentine’s Day, and Every Day!

Let me start off by saying this. This is NOT a guide of cute things to do/wear to impress a significant other/potential suitor porsay, but a list of some of my personal favorite things that make me feel that much sexier. Society constantly places all these expectations of what is beautiful/sexy for a woman on us constantly, and I’ve realized, it’s really the simple things that make me feel beautiful. And with that, let’s get into my picks to “Find Your Sexy”.

HAIR: Swangggg it!

Ok, so hair can be a touchy subject right? Too short, too long, too curly, too thick, but whatever happened to really owning your ‘do? My shorter ‘do has recently grown out, and since we are in the dead of winter, I’ve been straightening my curly locks because it’s pretty low maintenance. My hair focus, whether curly or straight, is health and moisture. I am a huge fan of Agadir Argan Oil’s product line for straightening my hair as they are very moisturizing and maintain shine. I prefer to use the volumizing shampoo & conditioner during the cold months as the air usually makes my roots go flat. Below are all the items I use to get sleek strands with shiny, tousled curls.

Picks & Styling Info


LIPS: Pucker Up!

As a woman who has lips of a certain size and shape, I love to focus attention on them when I have the opportunity to, because I’ve realized, a good lip color makes people pay attention to what I’m saying, HA! So what do I suggest, you ask? MOISTURE, again, is key. Drinking lots of water is a necessity, but a lip balm of some sort is essential.

Condition

I really love Carmex’s Moisture Plus line because it is in a slim slick form, covered in cute designs. The hint of vanilla and SPF 15 are a great balance to use on its own, or pre-lip color application. I also use it on my lips at night to wake up to baby-soft lips every morning.

Show Out!

MILANI COLOR STATEMENT MOISTURE MATTE LIPSTICK IN ‘GLAM’

I have a love affair with statement lip colors, and have a plethora of pricey colors in my arsenal. I’m really digging Milani colors right now as they are super-affordable (about $5 at local drugstores), and are offered in a moisture/matte formula.

Picks


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The AW14 Menswear Shows Are Landing in NYC and We Will Be On-Site at AGENDA, Capsule & Liberty Fairs

Hey boy, heyyyy! So you’re into menswear, huh? And you like to be a bit ahead of the curve, yes? Well keep your eyes glued to A Life In The Day of Andrea this week as we will be on-site covering and recapping some of the hottest menswear shows in NYC; AGENDACapsule, and Liberty Fairs.

For Autumn/Winter 2014, we are on the lookout for rugged backpacks and watches, versatile denim and shirting, and jackets. We will be reporting back here and on We Are The Market, the Capsule Show blog. Keep it here!

Event: .Bk Invites You To Experience The “Old Souls Collection”, Mon. 11/17 in Brooklyn

As a supporter of all things cool in Brooklyn, I’m all about .BK (read “Dot BK”) and their heritage themed, small batch, unisex shirting. To kick off the holiday season, they are releasing a new collection, aptly named the “Old Souls Collection”, and will be hosting a pop-up shop in Brooklyn to coincide with the launch. The launch party will be held on the evening of Monday, November 17th, with the shop being open for biz from the 15th through the 22nd. Full details below.

The Old Souls Collection Launch Party

at the Old Souls Lounge

Music, free drinks, and a chance to win a .Bk button-down

Monday, November 17th 7pm-10pm

188 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Store hours: November 15-22 10am-8pm

RSVP for the launch party here ASAP as spots are filling up quickly! For more info, check out the Facebook event page.

*Photo courtesy of .Bk

#MANday Feature: An Ode To The Shawl-Collar Cardigan, & Why You Should Wear It This Season

MANday13

Hey guys! Now that November is upon us and the weather is a bit more brisk, I felt it was time for me come forth with some style ideas for the men. Fall is a wonderful time to mix up your wardrobe as the chilly temperatures allow you more leeway in regards to textures, color, and layering. I’m a huge fan of chunky-knit sweaters on gentleman, and one of my most favorite, that I believe every man should at least own one of, is the shawl collar cardigan.

Photo via Google

When a simple v-neck cardigan doesn’t give that “oomph” to your outfit, and a fitted blazer is too formal, the shawl collar cardigan is the perfect bridge garment. Worn with an oxford shirt and tie underneath, the shawl collar cardigan is perfect for work, and worn with a tee-shirt underneath it is perfect for weekend activities. Hell, you can even wear a solid tank or muscle tee underneath, whilst maintaining a polished, but not-too-prim look.

Below I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite sweaters on the inter-webs from a few of my favorite American designers and brands that appeal to both tame and eccentric personal styles, as well as varied budgets.

CLASSIC

For the man who wants a wardrobe staple that will never go out of style, let me lead you to Billy Reid’s wool/cashmere blend cardigan in navy. The classic color can pair with jeans, slacks, and chinos, and the fiber blend with keep you warm throughout the blustering weather.

 Billy Reid: Shawl Collar Cardigan in Navy, Price: $395

PREPPY

Reminiscent of rugby shirts and overall Ivy-League collegiate style, this colorblock cardigan offering gives a bit of color while staying subdued. The collaboration between Oregon-based knitting company Dehen and J. Crew is one we hope to see more of in coming seasons.

Dehen for J. Crew: Shawl-Collar Cardigan in Black Colorblock Wool, Price: $395

COSMOPOLITAN

For the man about town that is worried that a shawl-collar cardigan would make him look like a “grandpa”, we have a cool, yet sophisticated offering from John Varvatos. The “Black Velvet” color, which has a black/charcoal distressed look has a slim body for the sleekest silhouette on the list. No grandpa comparison here.

John Varvatos: Shawl Collar Cableknit Cardigan, Price $278

FUNKY

So you have a penchant for color, Americana, and a HUGE budget? POLO Ralph Lauren pulls out all the stops in this bold Navajo-print, double-breasted stunner. Definitely for the fashionably-fearless, this conversation piece takes a very specific kind of man to pull off the look. Is it you?

POLO Ralph Lauren: Double-Breasted Shawl Cardigan, $995 

Stay warm this season, and be on the lookout for more on MANday! That’s Monday, for the men 🙂

Caputo & Co. Melds Tropical Hues With Sustainable Materials for Their Spring/Summer 2015 Accessories

A glimpse of the accessory offering for Spring/Summer 2015

As a blogger, it is always fun for me to attend “press days”; the days allotted on the fashion calendar in which members of the press and stylists visit various brand showrooms to view forthcoming collections. Sometimes these meetings serve as an initial introduction to the brand, but whilst on location, you are given a full run-through of said collection. From a press standpoint, you are able to gather materials for future stories, and from a stylist standpoint, you are able to take notes of pieces you may want to pull for shoots.

Just this past week I was invited to the Spring/Summer 2015 press days for Caputo & Co.; a New York-based unisex accessories line with a “Central-American soul”, featuring handwoven elements from local artisans in Guatemala. After perusing the brand’s website, I was introduced to their quality aesthetic, which made me really excited to check out the line in person. These photos give you a small glimpse of the forthcoming collection.

Signature bracelets, in an array of hues

Caputo & Co. is a leather accessories line for both men and women launched in 2011 by designer Alex Caputo. The product mix includes leather & canvas totes, small bags, leather weekenders, travel accessories, wallets, belts, and bracelets. For the  Spring/Summer 2015 season, the line is injected with rich color, reminiscent of a tropical escape. The color range and Batik-esque weave (seen in the top photo) was inspired by the designer’s trip to Bali.

The brand is known best for their bracelet assortment (seen above), that continues the color-saturated inspiration of the larger accessories, along with special pieces using lava stones and rudraksha beads, crafted by local Balinese artisans.

A plethora of leather & hand-woven belts

It is important to note that all leather in the collections is full-grain Vachetta leather which is incredibly rich and untreated, making it quite strong AND eco-friendly. What a treat! As a leather lover, this made me quite happy as I know pieces from the collection will stand the test of time.

Stunner: full-grain leather weekenders

Now what was my favorite piece, you may ask? Definitely the leather weekender, available in a striking cobalt blue, and warm tan. The quality is impeccable and the leather, quite luxurious. Seeing this piece, I cried in my heart a bit because I believed it would cost upwards of $750. Boy was I wrong.

The weekender retails for $450, making it the most expensive piece in the collection, but well worth it. I would say a median price for all the pieces would be around $200, with bracelets in the $65 – $225 range, belts in the $95 – $145 range, and larger bags in the $200 – $450 range.

Gorgeous,sustainable, eco-friendly, affordable luxury? Sign me up! Be sure to check out the brand’s official website, as well as on Instagram & Twitter. Their handle is @caputoandco.

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

WOMANday Exclusive: Atlanta-Based College Friends Embrace Female Duality With Their Online Fashion Boutique, Babs + Mickie Co.

Chatting with Lucy (L) and Monique (M) of Babs + Mickie Co.

The vast mass that is the world wide web opens us up to so many different things; whether it be music, fashion, art, or people. Being one who basically spends their livelihood on the internet via this here blog, freelance projects and more, I find myself connecting with really amazing people via social media. This is how I was introduced to Babs + Mickie Co. The Atlanta-based women’s e-commerce store reached out to me via Twitter about a possible collaboration and I was totally into it. I really appreciated their aesthetic, and here, I am able to share the story of the women behind the brand. Read on.

Tell us the story behind Babs + Mickie Co. and how the idea of this business came about.

Monique: Randomly, it started at mutual friend’s birthday brunch. It was in West Midtown (Atlanta) and we were all just talking about our sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. We were just getting ready to graduate and one of the things about being a student leader on campus and being in AKA is that you have this whole reputation, or this whole responsibility to be prim and proper, just a lady at all times, you know? But both of us are a little rough around the edges with that [laughs]. One of the things with me and Lucy is that we best express ourselves through clothing and style, and being ourselves, so we wanted to create an online store that kind of represented that, and that’s where the birth of the two characters came in, the “Babs” and the “Mickie”. Babs being that typical lady, like the Alpha Kappa Alpha woman, which is really poised and polished, and Mickie is more of the androgynous friend that you like to take out, the rebel, boyish part of the brand. We really wanted to have two styles that we kind of fuse together to make up those characters; to make up what a woman is. We want to make sure girls feel comfortable embracing both sides.

How would you each describe your personal style?

Lucy: I think for me, I definitely find my personal style to be androgynous. I love feminine silhouettes…I think the clothing I like has more shape to it, more geometry and cuts…more futuristic. I do like to play with different textures. I like pops of color, so you will find me in grays or blacks, or nudes; I like to play with nudes a lot, with pops of color. But at the very same time, I like to stay prim and proper, so I do have my nails done, and things like that. I like accessories; hats, sunnies, a pop of lip. I definitely think Monique is more feminine though…

Monique

Monique: I’m more comfortable. I like boyfriend jeans, but I will always throw on a pair of heels with it. I love colors, patterns; you will rarely see me in anything very tight. I like to be flowy, and loose, and comfortable. That effortless chic style, I guess is more that I go for.

What are some common misconceptions you believe the public may have of starting your own e-commerce business?

Monique: That it’s easy. That you can just put it up and people can shop online, as opposed to a brick and mortar stores where you are worried about foot traffic, depending on the city you are located in, high overhead costs of getting a building and so forth. People like to go online because 1) we are in the technology age, and 2) it just seems  easier to put up a shop online, but the amount of work you have to do to make people actually go to your site, because you’re one in millions, you know? So that is the main thing, but thankfully we have so many tools like social media and so many ways to bring traffic to it, but you really have to put a bulk of your time into that, because with brick-and-mortar, you can have that foot traffic and say “Hey I like that!”, and try it on, but how are you going to get people to your website? How are you going to find out about Babs + Mickie? That’s a tough battle. I didn’t realize how tough it was until you actually get into it and you’re like “SEO and all these other things…what?”.

Lucy: It’s so much research. I believe we spent the majority of our time researching. As soon as we graduated from Georgia State in 2012, we looked at a couple of our records, and I think we opened the store six days after. Through all that time in 2012, it was just research, research, research. How to start a company? What is marketing? What is SEO? How do you find your audience? Who is your audience? It’s not just getting products and throwing them online. Our main thing is building a consistency with our brand, and discovering our customer; knowing who our customer is, what she wants, what she likes. Keeping up with trends but still having a starting point, or a point of reference. Starting an online store is NOT easy, and 80% of small businesses fail in the beginning, but you really have to do your research, and have fun with it too.

Lucy

You all are an Atlanta-based business and you mentioned that there are a lot of cool new things on the fashion front for the city. What do you foresee in the future for Atlanta as a burgeoning fashion capital, and what can we expect from you both in the not-too-distant future?

Lucy: Atlanta is great for the new up-and-coming professional, entrepreneurs; so much construction going on, but from Atlanta you can expect new designers, new fun styles, more contemporary-chic, and from us, a plethora of that, going into casual, cocktail-wear, formal, business [attire]. We want to bring color and patterns to the city, and that’s what we want to do through our brand, Babs + Mickie; showing the everyday girl who loves style where she can find that, you know?

Monique: I think what is a good thing about Atlanta is that everything is just sprouting up so quickly, we’re JUST getting our Rodeo Drive with the Buckhead Shops that they’re just building up, we’re just getting our SoHo, so a lot of designers are seeing potential in Atlanta. There’s a growing market and a big media outlet, like a $1 Billion budget, so you’re going to get a lot of opportunities in the entertainment industry, and fashion is really starting to grow because people feel interested  it. With that, we’re definitely going to make sure we capitalize on bringing those patterns and those colors to the city. What I loved about coming to New York is that everyone had their own style, and I feel like Atlanta has their own style, but it’s growing, so we’re really excited to take advantage of that, and provide some cool products for women to be comfortable in.

Fin.

It was such a pleasure chatting with Lucy and Monique about their business. A special thank you to Lindsey Trimble for the lovely photos (website link below). Be sure to follow Babs + Mickie Co. at the following links:

Babs + Mickie Co. E-Boutique

Babs + Mickie Co. Blog

Babs + Mickie Co. Twitter

Babs + Mickie Co. Instagram

 *Photos by Lindsey Trimble/Pristine Finesse

What Oscar de la Renta Meant To Me, A Look Back

Oscar de la Renta with model Karlie Kloss backstage at his Spring 2013 show. Photo: Google

Born in the Dominican Republic, trained in Europe, and coming into his own in the United States, Oscar de la Renta is one of THE modern masters of fashion design. Upon hearing of his passing yesterday evening [October 20th], I was overcome with emotion, and in this time, I gave myself a moment to reflect. I first become familiar with the name “Oscar de la Renta” as a young girl; my grandma wore his namesake perfume, and always had it sitting front and center on her dressing table. At that time, I was unaware of the fact that he was an incredible fashion designer, but I knew from the presentation of his product that he catered toward a certain type of woman, and that that woman embodied grace, and effortless style.

Over the years, my interest in fashion grew, and I always tried my best to make my ideas a reality with the help of my mother, whom aside from being a schoolteacher, was a seamstress. Together, we made all my dresses for special occasions, and for whatever reason, I was perfectly in-tune to what a “timeless” piece was to look like. I wanted to look like all the beautiful women who wore Oscar de la Renta, and my other favorite designer, Carolina Herrera.

I continued to read and research his career as a designer, and was determined to meet him. On one lucky day in April 2011, about a week before I started this blog, I attended the Fashion Talks series at FIAF, where Oscar de la Renta was the distinguished speaker. He discussed his uncommon path in choosing fashion design, leaving his native Dominican Republic to study art in Europe, and the evolution of his career, working as an apprentice for Balenciaga, transitioning to assisting Elizabeth Arden, to Balmain, and eventually, starting his eponymous label. One thing that rang true in hearing him speak, and viewing his collections is that clothing for women should be wearable. At this time, those words were a wake-up call for me, having learned design in college and feeling like an outcast because my peers designed conceptual collections while mine were actually wearable. I was reassured that I was on the right path.

I am not interested in shock tactics. I just want to make beautiful clothes. – Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta & moderator at FIAF Fashion Talks in 2011. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

Upon  the closing of his talk, my two co-workers who attended with me and I were determined to meet the man himself. We nuzzled our way backstage upon his exit and were able to shake hands with de la Renta, and confess our admiration for him as a person and a designer. He was so poised and gracious, treating every person like an old friend, exchanging hugs and kisses and well wishes to emerging designers. He really showed me that it was more important to be gracious, than the cold, bitchy diva we are used to seeing in the fashion world. To be someone relatable that could create beautiful things; that is what he showed me, and that is what I try to uphold in my everyday life.

Like many women, I often create the picture in my mind of what I believe my wedding to be like (yes, quite girly I know) and I always picture myself in one of his gowns, specifically the dress below.

Oscar de la Renta wedding gown. Photo: TheKnot.com

Oscar taught me to not be afraid to use color, and to not be afraid to be simple; to be able to retract to embody luxury. He taught me that consistency is key, and that the goal is to create a piece that will stand the test of time. To create something that is timeless; that is what Oscar has done. May his soul rest in peace, and may his influence live on forever.

Closing looks from his Fall 2013 presentation. Photo: Google

Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself; Andrea, The Fashion Designer

In our everyday lives, we deal with many ups and downs; celebrations and mishaps, opening and closing doors, each moment adding to our own unique story. I cannot say that my experience is more difficult than that of anyone else, because the major things (food, shelter, clothing), I don’t need to worry about. However, when you suffer from being somewhat of a perfectionist (yes, I used “suffer” in this case) and have extremely high expectations of yourself, points that may be less exciting end up being the lowest of lows. This my friends, is not okay.

It’s been nearly a year since I have worked in a proper office setting, and for me, this has been somewhat of a gift and a curse. A gift because in this time I have been able to learn more about myself as a person, and what I believe my strengths and weaknesses to truly be, and a curse because I lack the structure of an office setting, and at times, have too much time with myself to think. As a writer, my thoughts are a commodity, my thoughts become THINGS. Whether it be a simple reflective post like you are currently reading, a location and full conversation set-up in advance for an interview, the idea for another blog or literary project, my thoughts translate quickly into something you can consume, if I of course, write them down. For whatever reason, in these past few weeks, I have had much difficulty in writing anything down. After the fatigue of fashion month, my mind and body became drained, and I really had to take a step back and evaluate my current situation. Covering fashion and music as a single writer on my own site becomes overwhelming as the cycle is so incredibly fast. I was trying and trying to put out content, but all I really wanted to do was sleep because I was so mentally and physically exhausted. I am happy that I did immerse myself in various types of fashion events this past month because it made me realize how much I care about it, and miss it, because I am indeed, a fashion designer.

I started this blog in 2011 because I have a unique perspective on the creative world, but my main reason in giving myself a voice online was to solidify a space for my fashion design. My secondary major in college was fashion, and since 2007 I have created capsule collections, more so for school fashion shows and other small shows in New York City. I abandoned much of this once I put the majority of my energy into this here blog, and I knew that if I wanted to be truly fulfilled, I had to do both. In these past few weeks, I have been sewing again, making skirts and dresses for myself with excess silk fabrics I have had from previous collections. This was quite new for me as I had formerly constructed garments solely for sample size models, and have ended up with a closet-full of garments that do not fit me. In my observations of apparel during fashion month I truly realized that my perspective in regards to women’s special occasion wear was quite special (not to be trite) and that I should put more of it out there. My mother has always been my right-hand in regards to fashion; teaching me how to sew, how things should fit, what fabrics should be used, and what is “appropriate”. Because of her wisdom, I inherently design dresses and skirts with a timeless appeal that is always appropriate in a fresh way.

With that being said, I wanted to show you a photo of my first completed skirt, of many more to come! This skirt was constructed out of two different silk ikat fabrics from Uzbekistan (note the opposing pattern in the waistband), lined in marigold silk. This was the last of this piece of fabric I had, purchased back in 2010, and is truly one of a kind. I will be making skirts like this in three different lengths; knee, mid-calf, and ankle, to satisfy all tastes. If you are interested in a skirt, feel free to send me a message on my contact page. So excited to take you on this journey with me. 🙂

*Photo by Diana K. Castillo