Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LANDMARK LOOKS: Stylish Satire

There's no better way to to poke fun at the hoopla surrounding this year's election than by dressing up as a favorite political personae for Halloween. At last Saturday's Newhouse Master's Halloween party, the taste for sharp satire was evident in the costume choices of several revelers. Here, some favorites:

Sarah Palin was joined by her (very pregnant) daughter, Bristol. Note Palin's sideswept bangs, pageant sash, and bookish glasses:

John McCain. Especially notable - the spot-on facial impression of the presidential candidate:
And - a personal favorite - Joe the Plumber, complete with plumbing apparatus in hand.


With the click of a computer key, a beauty editor in New York identifies a must-have lipstick and thousands of readers follow her lip lead. But if you want advice that reflects a wider range of beauty-savvy humanity, consider, a veritable wikipedia of all things glamorous.
Thousands of women from around the world weigh in on products they consider indispensable and those that should remain on the shelf. A recent Monday-night headcount of Makeupalley (MUA for short) revealed 2,410 active users. On MUA, you’ll find product reviews at every price point — from $2 Wet-n-Wild drugstore lip pencils (they’re great) to $130 Crème de la Mer moisturizer (mixed reviews).
The MUA message boards provide another great resource. Here, conversation runs the gamut from the longest-lasting lip gloss to the state of the nation’s finances and the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars. The chatting sometimes gets snarky, especially when the conversation turns to politics. But, for the most part, the dialogue stays focused on beauty and fashion. Two topics these women never tire of gabbing about.

TRIPLE THREAT: The French Day Dress

The return of cooler weather heralds the end of breezy jersey dresses and silky-sheer tank tops and the arrival of glorious textured fabrics. Boucle, cable knits, herringbone, and wool gabardine: they run the gamut from winter-wonderland whimsical to utterly chic.
Thanks to the influence of 1940s wartime chic, this season's styles show a resurgence of heavy-weight fabrics and the revival of the day dress.
Want proof? Check out
The New York Times. Bill Cunningham created a gorgeous multimedia show depicting a number of Parisian women sporting these fabulous frocks.

Parisian women define the phrase "effortless chic," but the twist here is the structural, menswear-inspired detail of the garb. The genius of the otherwise-somber Dior dress is in the embellishment (lines of buttons, asymmetrical seaming) and in the drape of the knit, which flatters most figures.

Of course, not everyone can flounce around the City of Lights wearing vintage-inspired Dior. Luckily, mainstream stores offer affordable alternatives.

Boutique desig
ner Milly shows a belted wool day dress that creates a serious yet youthful silhouette. It's perfect for the workplace and tough on the wallet($400), but the forgiving A-line structure creates a look that oozes easy sophistication.
For a more lighthearted take,
Juicy Couture shows a sleeveless version ($230). This lovely LBD features military-i
nspired button detail, but the delicate gathering at the bodice keeps the look fresh and feminine.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, ready-to-wear behemoth
Banana Republic features a fall collection filled with military-inspired pieces, but my favorite has to be this BR Monogram color-blocked sweater dress. Here, white color blocking works to highlight the menswear-inspired button detail. What makes this dress truly special, though, are the sleeve length and slight bubble hem:

OBSESSION: Erté by Roland Barthes

My sophomore year at Syracuse University I discovered a magical sanctuary on campus: E.S. Bird Library. Many peruse the primary resources, but few realize the depth of bookish secrets that reside there. One snowy night last February, I uncovered one of these long lost cryptograms, a book entitled Erté.

As a fashion design major, I prefer drawing and sewing to the humanities. An alcove on Bird's fourth floor, known as the Limited Access section, offered an escape to enhance my studying habit. Row upon row of art and design texts, the special editions collection provided me inspiration.

Wedged among vintage Vogues and ancient furniture catalogues, the silk bound cover of Erté captured my attention. I had studied Erté, a Russian born fashion illustrator made famous by his designs for the stage and Conde Nast. I flipped through page after page of stylized fashion figures. Women attenuated into letters. The silhouettes created an alphabet. A mix of high-quality plates with a semiotic study by Roland Barthes and memoires by Erté himself, the book begged `take me home.' I needed it.

On odds with the book's two-hour constraint, I checked it out time and time again. After the sixth occasion, I decided to purchase my own copy of the 1972 Italian publication. New obstacle. A discloser on the last page proved the implausibility of my quest: only 2,000 copies existed. I searched from New York City to California and with the help of the internet, I located my target. A donation of $163 from my aunt secured the book as mine. Front and center on my book shelf, Erté remains the place where I look to for inspiration.

EXPERIENCE: Something Old, Something Blue

Stationed along side me during my ritual Friday manicure, the polished priss gushed over the cheetah ring I slipped on to my index finger. “A conversation piece,” the middle aged woman remarked. I smiled.

“Vintage?” she asked. I smiled again. “Then you must check out the show this weekend. Last year, I picked up the most fabulous silver fox coat—fifff-ty dollllars.” She blew on her new set of acrylics and filled me in on the annual Salt City Antiques Show. On a mission to collect her kids from the bus stop, my new friend slipped directions into my purse.

I pulled up to a deserted lot the following morning and barely recognized the New York State Fairgrounds. With zero vendors or tourists in sight, I ventured into the Century of Progress Building. A sign read:

October 25 & 26
$6.00 day pass
$7.00 VIP weekend pass

I decided on the former.

A steady flow of baby boomers streamed into the doors. I felt outnumbered. Unsure where to begin, row A or row M, I turned my attention: accessories.

I poked through a pile of charms, perusing pieces of Lucite, enamel, and ox bone. An array of deco animal brooches sparkled under a glass surface. In an adjacent booth, a man dressed as if he headed for a horse race (including top hat and bow tie) approached me.

“Some of these clothes are made for you,” he insisted, escorting me over to a red floor-length sequin gown.

“How about the leopard print?” he asked.

I laughed.

And moved on to handbags. I ventured to a particular corner of row C. Chainmail purses with cut steal beads laid across a table, remnants of the Art Nouveau era. The price tag read $28. I petted a perfect python purse circa 1940.

“You want it? I'll give it to you for $20,” the owner offered.

I hit the jackpot. But rather than settle, I continued my way through the venue. I saw a hot-pink flash in the distance caused my heart to skip a beat.

“Elsa Schiaparelli!” I uttered to myself. A trace of the 1950s, the hat box called to me from a mile a way. I pounced.

“Pretty blue hat,” a group of grandmas announced as they doted on me. With the asymmetrical piece in place, I looked in the mirror.

“You have the looks to carry off everything,” the chorus of grannies ooed and awwed.

To test it, I jumped up and down. The toque remained fixed. Unwilling to remove it from my head, I made my purchase, my mission accomplished.

“You gotta sway a little bit more when you walk,” one of the grannies called after me.

I work it through the tide of boomers right back out to the parking lot.

HOW TO: Brazen Beauty

Whether you’ve got the guts to revamp your look or just need something to do on a Saturday afternoon, mimicking the latest bold-color makeup trend adds splashy color and a bit of a shock-factor to your style.

For a fresh take on luscious lips, makeup artists at the Zac Posen runway show combined several lip colors in shades of violet and magenta to create high-impact, metallic purple pouts. To get this traffic-stopping look, start by lining the edges of your lips with MAC Lip Pencil in Magenta, $13. Next, give s
ome punch to your pucker by filling in the lines with MAC 
Lipstick in Cyber, $14. To finish the look, a final coat of MAC Pro Lipstick in Violetta, $14, adds shine to give your lips a futuristic vibe.

Rodarte’s spring line was all about orange-flavored eye candy. To get the angelic winged-eye look, take an orange eyeliner pencil like Sephora’s waterproof liner in Flashy Orange, $8, and lightly line the eyes where the upper and lower lids m
eet the lashes. Reuse the liner to form the wing shape and then fill it in with orange shadow, for a dramatic finish with a bright attitude. Try MAC Eyeshadow in Orange, $14.50, or for a darker hue go for NARS’ Duo Eyeshadow in Mediteranee, $32.

At Diesel Black Gold, makeup artists literally took bold color to new heights with teal and magenta eyebrow shadow. Rock out your brows with bright shades like those in CoverGirl’s Eye Enhancers 4-kit shadow in Tropical Fusion, $5.49. By applying the desired color to your brows from end to end with a thin eyeshadow brush, you’ll demand eye contact. For more tips, check out CoverGirl's tips at: