Tuesday, November 11, 2008

LOOKS FOR LESS: Posh Yourself Up

I tell you what you want, what you really, really want: Victoria Beckham (a.k.a Posh Spice) sense of style (and her husband would be pretty sweet too). Get Mrs. David Beckham’s look and spend less coin. Nabbing a soccer star knock-off is up to you.

1. Start with Jolt Skinny Stretch Jeans in Jet Black from Nordstroms ($42; www.nordstroms.com).

2. Invest in a classic staple. This white collared shirt from The Gap is destined to be an outfit regular ($39.50; www.gap.com).

3. A Black Tuxedo Vest by Forever 21 ($17.80; www.forever21.com) adds some va-va-voom to the ensemble.

4. Bring height and power with high black pumps from Steve Madden, $99.95 (www.stevemadden.com).

5. Finishing touch: a black headband from Aldo ($5; www.aldo.com).

Q & A: Go-To Fashion Guru

Every morning, I rely on meeting retail major AJ Ellis for an unofficial date at 7:35 a.m. in Haven Dining Hall. A recognizable face on campus, people know AJ by his signature bow ties and his rumored relation to Karl Lagerfeld (AJ expresses no comment on the latter). Immersed in our busy schedules, me with my inundation of studio electives and him with the second advertising campaign of the organization in which he founded, www.stitchsociety.blogspot.com , we early-risers find consistency in our egg white omelets and fashion-world updates. With his iPOD touch always on hand and forever connected to the internet, AJ provides visuals from recent runway shows. We eat. We chat. We race to our 8 a.m. classes.

On this Monday morning, I see that my friend, incognito with shades and dressed in all black attire, beat me to our usual spot (third booth from the door). I grin and approach him. On hearing the sound of heels, he looks up. I plop down a garment bag filled with my recycled project for draping, a coat constructed with a vintage wool blanket and wicker upholstery. We pick up right where we left off.

SJA: So what inspired this outfit?

AJE: It's Anna Wintour's birthday. I am not so much inspired by things, as I am by people.
He fails to remove his sunglasses. I order my omelet and return. Before taking my first bite, I unzip the garment bag and display my current creation.

SJA: I'm going to need your criticism. Tell me what it needs.
After a moment of introspection, followed by speed sketching in his marketing notebook, he offers me feedback, using his drawing as a reference.

AJE: Well, you have not sacrificed your design integrity. Stop concerning yourself with the design. Trust your vision. The question is styling. I see some gold pumps, some bangles, maybe a couple of brooches connected by a chain. Oh, light the cigarette, get some smoke burning. A hat. Heyyyyy.

SJA: Would this be considered couture?

AJE (suddenly, very serious): There are less than 20 houses considered couture. Your name would have to be legalized by the French government. And you are required to employ an atelier of at least 25. The entire garment has to be hand sewn. You would have to use all natural fabrics.
SJA (interruptting): These are all natural fabrics.

AJE: Are you in Paris? The only American designer classified as couture is Chado Ralph Rucci and he has not presented a collection in over three years.

I continue to eat my bowl of Puffins®. Enough about me, I direct the attention to him. I'm curious about his internship next semester in London.

SJA: Are you excited about Harrods?

AJE (modestly): Mhhmmm. It is very structured and organized. I will be working with each department for a week. For my last two weeks there, I get to choose my favorite department to conclude the program in.

SJA: Do you think you want to work for a luxury clothing store in your future career? Where do you see yourself in five years?

AJE: Ideally. It would be a dream. My mom says I have to work at one of the three B's: Bergdorf's, Bendel's, or Barneys.

He checks his clock. Time to jet down to Whitman. He plants a kiss on both my cheeks (left then right). Our conversation ends. It resumes tomorrow in Booth Three.