Designer Spotlight: Katie Ermilio

Katie Ermilio is my new favorite up-and-coming designer. Her clothes are incredibly simple, but beautifully made and insanely chic. I love the feminine but still conservative cuts and little details, like unexpected pleating and cut-out backs. The bright bursts of colors don’t hurt much, either, and she works almost exclusively with black, whites, navy, hot pink, red, and bright blue. Indeed a very bold but chic color palette.

Katie Ermilio

My favorite thing about Katie’s designs is that you can see the care and craftsmanship that went into every single piece. They are as simple and bare as can be, yet they still manage to be totally original and fashion-forward. Her clothing is like modern art. It also really speaks to my style — I love sequins and pretty add-ons as much as the next girl, but my favorite pieces are all super simple and versatile. But they still stand out.

I think there’s a quote floating around somewhere about how clothes don’t wear the woman, the woman must wear the clothes. (I might be making this up, but it still works nonetheless…I think.) I feel like this rings especially true for Katie Ermilio’s clothing. The styles are minimal and the attitude of the wearer really shines through. Confidence makes these clothes (or rather, the wearer) beautiful.

Some looks from her fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection:

I have heard some fantastic things and some not-so-fantastic things about Katie’s work, but I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I, for one, am very attracted to her clothing and find it very chic and beautiful. As I briefly mentioned in this post, I rarely wear prints or patterns — much of my wardrobe is full of solid basics that I layer and combine in different ways. So I find her take on ready-to-wear very appealing: a simple color palette (with some fun colors to add a playful touch…can you imagine how boring these clothes would be if they were all black, white, and gray?) and plenty of chic but flirty silhouettes.

Katie Ermilio, only 25 years old and already on the fast track to becoming the next big designer, was originally hoping for a position editing a fashion magazine, with internships at both Teen Vogue and Vogue under her belt. But she began sewing dresses to wear to work and soon was accepting custom orders from colleagues who wanted chic frocks of their own. She also sold many of her dresses in her father’s storefront for extra money. Before she knew it, she had become a self-professed “accidental designer.” You can read the rest of her interview with fashionista.com here!

Who are some of your favorite fashion up-and-comers?

{Sources: Images via katieermilio.com, fashionista.com, and style.com}

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Trendspotting | Sixties Style

Sixties street style | Jak & Jil Blog

I don’t think I’ve done a real fashion post in quite some time! But I did want to discuss one of the bigger trends for Fall this year: sixties fashion.

It seems that each year, some new decade is revived for Fall — and for 2011, it’s the 1960s (with a few elements from the ’50s thrown in). I’m actually pretty excited about this trend, as much of my current wardrobe features classic sixties shapes while still being more modern and current. (The other trends for this year are a different story…I am not a huge fan of bright colors, seeing as I can never quite figure out how to wear them well. They do look fabulous on most people though!)

History

So, a little history first (mostly thanks to Wikipedia, there’s no way I would know all this off the top of my head): the 1960s were a decade of change in fashion, when focus shifted more to the modern, teenaged consumer (and mini dresses and skirts were popularized). The early and mid-sixties saw style inspired by fashion greats such as Audrey Hepburn and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who was responsible for the craze surrounding the iconic pillbox hat. Her personal style reflected fashion trends from the beginning of the decade: shift dresses and boxy, geometric shapes, with big buttons and straight, simple tailoring. The “space look” also came into vogue in 1964, taking Jackie O’s classic style one step further with sleek boots and accents like PVC and sequins.

Later, the Mod look (iconized by Twiggy) surfaced in Britain, and women began opting for clean, slim fits and simple hairstyles. The “Mods” also paved the way for a slightly different approach to the sixties fashion that had defined the beginning of the decade: richer fabrics like velvet, psychedelic prints, and more relaxed silhouettes became more common. By the time the sixties were over, popular fashion had transitioned into the hippie style that marked the 1970s, with loose blouses and bell-bottom jeans.

1960s supermodel Coleen Corby. The hair and makeup = absolute perfection.

Kudos to you if you actually read all that — but hopefully it gives you some basic idea of the incredible amount of fashion that emerged throughout the decade. I also wanted to note how much I love the beauty trends from the 1960s — the flippy Bridgitte Bardot-style hair and smudged smokey eye were also common during the decade, along with more futuristic beauty trends.

Runway

History lesson aside, the Fall 2011 ready-to-wear runways were replete with 1960s-inspired fashion. With so many key styles having emerged from that decade, it was almost difficult to find a show without any clothing or accessories designed in the sixties style. Here are some of my favorites:

I loved how Alberta Ferreti and Carolina Herrera showcased classic sixties cuts in an array of fresh, bright colors. The tailoring was absolutely stunning, and the patterned details and fun boots at Alberta Ferreti also helped bring key elements of 1960s fashion to the runway. Dolce & Gabbana and D&G played with a basic dress silhouette, experimenting with sequins, prints, and bold hues. The low neckline in the center Dolce & Gabbana image is especially sixties-inspired.

The great thing about sixties-inspired fashion is that it is incredibly wearable, not to mention versatile, for fall. You won’t be finding too many outrageous pieces that would be impossible to pull off. Calvin Klein and Balenciaga both featured very simple silhouettes that are perfect basics and all-around wardrobe staples, sixties-inspired or not. Chloé and Banana Republic followed suit, with pieces that were chic and cozy for fall. Miu Miu, however, had to be my favorite show of the bunch. With absolutely gorgeous shapes and simple but luxurious touches, all the pieces on the runway were stunning.

Although all bright colors have been making a comeback this fall, orange seemed especially popular on the runways this year and was used by many designers. The Aquascutum show featured the color in many of its looks, and Burberry Prorsum also played with the hue. Although orange has never been my favorite color (indeed, I do not own a single piece of orange clothing), it looked decidedly chic on the runways, especially when paired with neutrals. I also had to featured J. Crew here because it’s one of my favorite stores on the planet. The fall collection seemed to have a bit more of a vintage feel than the other sixties-inspired ones, but the pieces all featured careful tailoring and rich colors nonetheless.

Editorial

There are some fantastic editorials out this fall that showcase clean silhouettes and bright colors. Just as a little inspiration, here are some of my favorites!

Karlie Kloss by Arthur Elgort for Vogue Nippon | via Fashion Screen | see more >>

Tiiu Kuik by Koray Birand for Harper’s Bazaar Turkey | via Fashion Gone Rogue | see more >>

Fei Fei Sun & Ming Xi by Stockton Johnson for Vogue China | via Fashion Gone Rogue | see more >>

Natalia Vodianova by Mert & Marcus for Vogue | via Fashion Gone Rogue | see more >>

I absolutely LOVE the last editorial with Natalia — she always looks so stunning, and the styling (by Grace Coddington) and beauty could not be more perfect. The mood of the photographs is wonderful, do check out the rest of the editorial if you have the chance!

And the question remains: what do you think of the 1960s fashion trend for fall? Hopefully I’ll get a shopping and styling guide for this trend up soon!

P.S. Who’s been keeping up with this season of Project Runway??

{Sources: Street style photo by Tommy Ton for Jak & Jil; Coleen Corby image via Wikipedia; all runway photos via style.com; Karlie Kloss photographed by Arthurt Elgort via Fashion Screen; Tiiu Kuik photographed by Koray Birand via Fashion Gone Rogue; Natalia Vodianova photographed by Mert & Marcus via Fashion Gone Rogue}

The September Issue: The Blogging Predicament and The Film

I am a sporadic, even capricious, blogger. For that, I apologize. I personally dislike it when bloggers fail to update regularly without due reason. It annoys me more when it’s a blog I’m slightly addicted to, as in the case of Very Mary Kate, whose creator is currently on her second, several-month-long hiatus. What will I do without an abundance of jokes about the Olsens’ diet?

However, I find that this is a phenomenon I cannot avoid, even though there is no true excuse for it. This blog is not my job, nor is it related in anyway — I need to focus on my education for the time being, so much of the work I do here is done over breaks. Hence, a slowdown in blogging whenever I hit September. I’m sure I could curate a blog with pretty pictures I found of editorials (that almost everyone interested in fashion has seen anyway), but that is not what I want to do. I want to write something too (even though pretty pictures are a great bonus), something original, and something with some (albeit disputable) value. But it is, sadly, not a priority, and the fact that I cannot find it in myself to love fashion only exacerbates the issue. I do like fashion, though (a lot), and clothes and books and cooking and travel and photography. And I cannot seem to be capable of confining myself to one topic, either (a great weakness of this blog, in my opinion).

And thus I face “The September Issue” (don’t laugh, let me enjoy my moment of brilliance): the situation which occurs whenever I return to school in September, and lasts through the entirety of May, with the exception of breaks. Education always comes before blogging, and this fact is unavoidable.

But I can try, at least. I really want to be able to stick with this blog, even if I end up as the only person reading it. It is a forum for me to write about or share photos of or reflect on whatever subject I want, and I find that to be pretty rewarding. So I am going to try and keep this blog going, although I can’t promise there won’t be lapses in which I fail to post for a few weeks. I do promise to formally close this blog if I ever truly decide to stop blogging, but I can’t see that day coming anywhere in the near future. I love blogging — I really do — and I love having a little corner of the web that I can make my own.

Now I would like to stop rambling about my personal blogging (and possible time organization or multitasking?) issues and focus on the second part of this post: that being, the actual September Issue, directed by R.J. Cutler.

I’ve had the DVD sitting around for a while, but I never quite got around to watching it (again, possible procrastination issues?) until a few days ago. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it that much — I can never really (as aforementioned) get super excited about fashion, and I’ve always been partial to Elle anyway.

However, I found it to be quite intriguing and very well done. In some respects, it was the real-world equivalent of The Devil Wears Prada, but it did have a very human aspect to it. I never found Anna Wintour to be as much of an ice queen as people have claimed — I really see her as doing her job and trying to put out the best magazine possible. The Devil Wears Prada takes her character to its extreme — painting her as so career-obsessed that the magazine ultimately overshadows friendships and family. Wintour’s life is obviously not as severe or so quickly defined. During the course of the film, we are introduced to her daughter, Bee Shaffer, who is studying to be a lawyer at Columbia and does not share the same view of the fashion industry as her mother:

I really don’t want to work in fashion. It’s just not for me. I respect her, obviously, but it’s just a really weird industry. She wants me to be an editor. I would never put it down, but I just don’t want to take it too seriously. People in there act like fashion is life. It’s really amusing, but if that’s your career — there are other things out there, seriously… I think I want to be a lawyer. [Source]

Conversely, Wintour claims that people don’t take fashion seriously because it intimidates them, because it makes them “nervous” and “frightened.” I am not a fan of this statement — I found it to be a little assuming and slightly infuriating. There are — surprise! — people in the world who simply don’t care about fashion, who don’t hold it in the same revered light as some. There are also people who can’t afford to dress in designer clothes all the time. (And there seems to be something wrong with defining style by labels, anyway.) Wintour said in the film:

Just because you like to put on a beautiful Carolina Herrera dress or a pair of J Brand blue jeans instead of something basic from K-Mart it doesn’t mean that you’re a dumb person. [Source]

I’m not sure this attitude is intentional, but Wintour does appear in the film as a very self-righteous character, always a bit pretentious and aloof. One former reporter for Women’s Wear Daily took his critique of her persona (dated May 2007, before the documentary was made) to the extreme:

She plays up this aristocratic, Marie Antoinette “Let them eat cake” routine, but, excuse me, can I get some proof that she holds a title of nobility that goes back to the 13th century? No. All she does is edit a magazine. That’s it. So what’s with the royalty routine? [Source]

For the most part, I agree. The movie does not overtly rail against Anna Wintour and is pretty unbiased, so much of the interpretation of what she says is left to the viewer. I’m not going to criticize her work ethic — if being direct and harsh works for her and the magazine, then business is business. But I find her affected (or perhaps actual?) haughtiness unnecessary and frustrating. In most of the incidents shown in the movie, I found myself leaning towards the side of Grace Coddington, Vogue‘s creative director. She takes her work seriously, like Wintour, but she comes off as having a very down-to-earth character and is very passionate about what she does. She, like the designers we meet during the film, views fashion (as well as photography) as an art form, and puts together some brilliant editorials for the magazine — many of which Wintour cuts or wants edited. Coddington said in the documentary:

I care very much about what I do, or I still wouldn’t be doing it. But it gets harder and harder to see it just thrown out. And it’s very hard to go on to the next thing. [Source]

I loved her in the film. I didn’t know much about either of these two fashion icons at the start (and still don’t), but Coddington really struck me as sensible, determined, and genius.

This is a must-see, for those who love fashion and for those who just want a good story with interesting characters. It is not your average boring documentary, either — the film is very much about the people in it, not the fashion world itself or the social sphere it occupies.

Quick takes: unbiased, engaging, accurate and nuanced portrayal of characters, good details, the plot sometimes felt unclear in the sense that it wasn’t solely focused on the pressure of the “September issue” itself.

{Image sources: kenyon.edutheseptemberissue.com, movie stills from here, here, and here}