it's a fashion life, itsafashionlife, slow fashion

En Avance celebrates 24 years of timeless elegance

March 24 marked the 24th anniversary of En Avance one of the most long-lived multi brand stores in Miami. Its story, as many other boutiques around the world, started with the vision and impeccable taste of Karen Quinones, an arbiter of taste.

En Avance is an all-encompassing lifestyle boutique, the ones that you enter to be inspired, when you get that shopping itch, you know when you get the 3 pm sugar crave and you don’t want Starbucks, but Laduree. It’s like a moodboard, you enter a world of style, elegance, permeated by chic, Assouline books and Maison Francis Kurdjian fine fragrances included.

The boutique has the Karen imprint allover it from Fornasetti to the Vintner’s daughter couture face oil, from Sacai to Philosophy, from Racil to Donna Karan’s label Urban Zen. The boutique tells a story with each piece hand-picked by Karen who travels extensively during fashion month to the fashion capitals and off season to places and culturally absorbs habits, colors, artisanal techniques and blends everything in a most exquisite high-brow low of taste.

The store is everything I preach in the book: slow fashion, quality, research, chic, elegant, lifestyle, fun, intellectual stimulation, understated luxury, conversation, style. And I am saying this not to flatter myself, but an another way of showing how Italian style can be lived anywhere and it’s not acquired through an hedonistic treadmill of “look at me look at me how perfectly photo-shopped I am, I look like everyone else and you should too”, but by sober normality based on taste, culture, education, curiosity that become habits. Karen is all that, her vitality, profound knowledge and exquisite sense of style perspire in every inch of her boutique.

“Luxury resides in the mind when it revolves around quality not quantity. Time is the only element in your life that is luxurious when it abounds.”
— The Cheat Sheet of Italian Style, page 49

In the occasion of the anniversary celebration, and in true En Avance style, the dynamic duo behind Arje’ was the guest of honor presenting Chapter 1 of their collection. I got to chat with them a bit as it seemed we were drawn to each other from the moment I walked into the store. For Oliver and Bessie it’s all about the origin, the essence of everything, where quality originates. They have taken the engulfed fashion system into pieces and re-elaborated the puzzle into a new formula and reinterpretation of see-now-buy-now

There’s a strong element of fluidity, the collections are chapters, that follow a person’s life and adapt to the experience and the body like rainwater, pure modern luxury. They brought the fashion system back to one single principle relationship. Through the relationship with the manufacturers, built over the years, the have the fabrics produced in the color and nuances they choose for the chapter, and they commit to buy directly the quantity they will be producing and selling, skipping the phase of the sample production, which is at the same time a financial burden that can be avoided and commitment to reduce waste and make the product sustainable.

The cultivate the relationship with the stores and buyers who buy what they see, or “feel” in Arje' language, and sell their clients right away, cutting the wait time, and providing immediate esthetic remuneration. The same way I met Oliver and Bessie during the trunk show, many others have done it during the months of March and April. Instead of selling from a showroom at closed doors, with the trunkshow formula they interact with their ideal clientele, absorb ideas, styles, suggestions, tips, taste the pulse and take notes for the following chapter.

The collections are called chapters, you may have noticed, and not seasons, because it’s not about the weather or the climate, but about the relationship with your body, you change jobs, you move to a new city or country, you change marital status, you have a baby regardless of the seasons, what changes is the essence and with that your body and style evolve.

This idea of the partnership whether is with a vendor or with your own body, is fully reflected in En Avance where you go to build your wardrobe, not to mindlessly purchase to fill in a superficial gap.

The store is that place that shows how sustainability is chic, elegant, unique, sensual, modern. 

it's a fashion life, review, style

North Sails X Saks Fifth Avenue: first row from a 80 ft yacht

March is the month-after in a fashion life, when you recuperate after the overload of hundreds of runway shows and virtually traveling over the four fashion capitals.

Meanwhile back at the villa, Miami is what Miami best does: sun, ocean and wind make Miami the designated sailing capital in March.

North Sails Collections didn’t miss the opportunity and, in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue, took their new spring collection on a National pop-up shop through various Florida locations.

The tour begun in Miami on the occasion of the 52 Super Series Royal Cup (for the non familiar, imagine sleek sailing boats gliding in the bay, forget the race, as team Italia with Azzurra won and I don’t want to sound too pompous!). A handful of us were lucky enough to be invited to the viewing tour of the race, in other words we had an unobstructed first row view of the race floating on a 80 ft Hatteras yacht.

And yes, it was as glamorous and fierce as it sounds.

It only gets better: the collection was available to see, touch and try, a “see now, buy now” type of show, better than a trunk show.

Also, we were graced by David Hughes, the sailor pedigreed with a double Olympic win. I will spare you the knots, the sails, the currents and the tides because it can get technical, but let it be known that sailing is my jam. I grew up in the town known for its yachting and boating industry, in a family of sailors, I used to sail myself, many of our summers were sailing adventures in the Med.

Down to business: the clothes are luxury level high performance athletic wear. See how I am not using “athleisure” because this is not a fashion brand hopping on the athletic look wagon, this is pure high quality and here you know #whomademyclothes.

Tell you in a story.

North Sails is one of the oldest modern sailmakers in the world, “experts in wind and water”: years of research, technical elements, advanced technology. Stop for a second and think of a sail: she needs to be light yet strong, responding yet surviving the weather elements, changes shape and morphs from a roll into a windblown triangle. Translated into wearable terms, intarsio sweatshirts give you flexibility and comfort without giving in style, light jackets are almost imperceptible yet are strong enough to protect you from wind or rain. Each piece is versatile enough to be added to any closet and blend into any outfit creating that overall feel of effortless elegance.

One of the things to never do while dressing the Italian way and adopting Italian style is to overthink or over-match your looks, mix high and low, mix a man blazer with a pair of slouchy pants, add stiletto to the simplest sweatshirt and you present yourself with empowered nonchalance.

Mix high & low 

So here’s a suggestion: pick any of the styles of the North Sails Collection and mix it with anything that you currently own, especially something you haven’t worn in a while. And this is the best sustainable piece of advice I can give you: buy with an intention.  Indulging in mindless consumerism is something of the past and brought us to a collapse, purchase quality and build a closet that will give you the sense of empowerment that every time that you open it you’ll find something to wear. 

Then come back here and tell me what happened. It’s not easy, it took me years and the 46,000 words of the book, but I am here to help if this is challenging.

 

 

fashion, it's a fashion life, review, slow fashion

Paris and its (high) lights

Paris started as boring as it finished with the most glorious fashionable fireworks.

Everything was stiff until we got delightfully surprised by, wait for it:

Dries Van Noten and Alexander McQueen, Miu Miu and Stella McCartney.

Dries’ collection was like one of those gigantic Tashen coffee table books: such a good down the memory lane masterpiece that included the best casting of the season. Elegance and chic of the last 25 years condensed in his 100th runway show, those many good looks and models still relevant demonstrated, at least to me, that the desire of newness, the thirst for more, are only a made up social media reality show.

Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton once again spoke with nature. She is like the St. Francis of Assisi of fashion, from Scotland to Cornwall, she establishes a poetic conversation with nature at its most crude state. Last season she made a shipwreck into one of the most coveted evening gowns

Stella McCartney was happy tailoring, Faith-ful to her own roots.

Miu Miu closes the festivities covering a majestic staircase in purple faux fur making us want to update our foyer and some Prince moves even before the show started. After the show, if you don’t own a sort of headpiece you are a nobody in life. If you haven’t gotten the memo, the only trend you really need to be conscious of is: headpiece is the new black. You are welcome.

A few extra notes.

An element that all these collections have in common: none of the Insta-stars models were booked for the runway. This could be in between petty, I admit it, or a Gen X thing. They were not missed. 

Special mention goes to Chanel that never disappoints and this time catapulted everybody to the Moon and back.

If you haven’t gotten the memo, the only trend you really need to be conscious of is: headpiece is the new black. You are welcome.

It saddens me infinitely that I cannot mention anymore lanvin as one of the highlights of Paris and can't wait to see Alber Elbaz shine again. 

 

chic, fashion, it's a fashion life, review

Milan Fashion Week, it only gets better

The best of Milan fashion week will take me a few posts. 

As a matter of facts: there's a part of this conversation that will land in the newsletter, and you are still on time to catch it for tomorrow. 

There’s a trend I am happy to report I am totally embracing: now more than ever the time is right for fashionto blend with reality, fashion is born from everyday life after all.

Many, many designers have adopted their creativity and skills and used the catwalk as a platform to raise awareness, many have made statements, the peak of them all, so far, being Mrs. Angela Missoni who with her mother, children, nephews has recreated a Women’s March “because the Fashion world stands united and fearless”.

This fashion month is happening while too many events are unfolding that pose a threat to human rights, freedoms granted by our constitution and democracy.

How to be part of it?

Business of Fashion has launched an initiative called #tiedtogether

Post a picture wearing a white bandanna, the symbol in support of solidarity, unity and inclusiveness while raising money for ACLU and UN Refugee Agency.

Anyone can participate, by donating, by posting, by helping spreading the news.

Using fashion as a form of art, in support of the constitutional freedom of speech, supporting diversity, expressing feelings of unity and the deep general discomfort versus the new dictatorial, fascist and cold-hearted establishments rising is something that I had only seen in my books of fashion history. Now I am living it in person with pride, as, finally, that myth and story that fashion is frivolous can go shuttered.

And now: have FUN because you guys, the collections have been bombastic. Tuesday was double trouble Alessandros, the Michele of Gucci and Dell’Acqua of N.21 have d e l i v e r e d as you would expect from a magician. In Italian we love to say: ci hanno fatto sognare.

Gucci was a post-apocalyptic show of 120 looks the Alchemist Garden, everything of everything because saying that fashion doens't repeat itself would be a lie. N.21 went from Neorealism to the American Dream (NOTE by yours truly: there's a lot of Anna Magnani in the collections, feminine, powerful yet sensual and young at heart).

In Miuccia we trust became a truth like few in life. The City of Women was what she sent down, an evolution from last month's man show. Don't we all dream a city designed by Miuccia? I mean, not the despicable Zara knockoffs, but a real, true Prada-clad worlds. Just one note: second collection in a row featuring feathers. Just. Saying. You are welcome.

Max Mara has made classics exquisite again (although this sounds a too creepily familiar tagline) and embraced the diversity theme with the first jihab wearing model, Emilio Pucci hypnotized the world one fringe at a time, la Ferretti got the evening cape plus embellished flats memo like the Bible. 

Bottega Veneta and Jil Sander never disappoint on Saturday morning and have delivered masterfully, sophistication and rigor.

Missoni recreated a Women’s March, full on pink pussy hats delivered to the guests and worn by every model and the complete legendary family. I cried, it brought me back to when I was a kid, seeing Angela and Rosita two fierce women leading the pack of all the children, I saw my mom and grandmother and all of us.

NOTE: will update next week with Armani, Marni. And I am one of the few/many Italians that don't care for Versace, Cavalli and the Dolce & Gabbana. I can discuss this with you. 

fashion, it's a fashion life, review, style

New York Fashion Week: the highlights

You know when you have a premonitory intuition that something will disappoint you, again? Well, that's how I started watching the shows of the NYFW that just ended.

And I must confess, I am happy to report I was totally wrong. I think it all started with Raf Simons, i mean, I am still raving and still will for years to come. He made me proud of loving him so much and I said it all extensively

After him, seems like all these designers, the real designers I mean, not the stylists turned runway momentary prodigious specimen or commercial brands (except one that you'll see why), have followed suit with a lot of awesomeness. 

The parameters I have used for this highlight are simple and clear.

There has to be a story, the show notes are what I go after first. A precious suggestion, the best at sharing show notes is Eva Chen on Instagram.  You are welcome. 

Sartorial elements like coats and blazers, anything interesting borrowed from the boys because that's where skills, talents, intuition, innovation and creativity go unspoken and most of the times unrewarded. That's where Fashion wins and blends with art.

When you follow the details, the story, you understand the inspiration, your eye becomes utterly discerning, the selection of designers that you look forward to seeing will become tinier, and at the same time you start catching on new talents.

This time was also a peculiar one, unique in its genre. We are all taken by the storm, proudly, the fashion world has spoken up. The current political situation is putting any form of free expression at risk, from the arts to the press. What is Fashion if not the primordial language made of unspoken words that form sentences also known as style? There were powerful speeches, statements and encouragement words embroidered in shirts and hats. Time is still not ripe for a true revolution, like ‘70s type of revolt, and also the surreal-ness of the new status quo started so close to T-time, but the reactions all throughout fashion week made me feel part of an avant-garde movement, it created consciousness, unity and an educated discourse.

To promote unity, solidarity and inclusiveness, The Business of Fashion launched an initiative called #tiedtogether represented by a white bandanna that appeared profusely on runways and down the streets.

Exemplary statement of embracing realness have been Marc Jacobs with his 6 minutes on the dot runway with no music, photographers, flashes and the distractions of social media, the J.Crew presentation with some of my style icons, Christiane Barberich, Sandra Bernhard and Taylor Thomas Hills, Lauren Hutton,  and Julianne Moore at Calvin Klein

I let you be the judge. 

this is the look that most represents the collection to me 

this is the look that most represents the collection to me 

I single out Mica, my favorite model, who walked the Ralph Lauren show with a pair of boyfriend jeans and a silk kimono like silk gown. 

divine Mica   

divine Mica 

 

fashion, review, it's a fashion life

Raf Simons raised the bar

A pivotal moment in history.

We are talking about the debut ready-to-wear collection by Raf Simons for Calvin Klein.

Simons’ sensibility, surgical attention to detail, thirst for art and unique skills of designer’s proportions brought to surface all the elements that make Calvin Klein the incarnation of American fashion: Art Deco, the American West, the city, workwear, the denim, the quilt, power dressing, the ‘80s.

Nothing was left unattended or unspoken for, the show opened to David Bowie singing “this is not America” and that was the moment of truth and tears: finally Raf Simons back in action, free of expressing his talent, the true Calvin Klein, the one we grew up with coming down the runway and, last but not least, fashion, the one with the big “F”, the big universal connector.

And we all were in love again.

We are living within the tremors of our democracy, our freedom of expression through the arts, the diversity that immigration has brought into our country are being mined and weakened daily and this Calvin Klein Collection was an “homage to America”

To say it with the words of Christene Barberich of Refinery 29

A lot of people say that fashion and politics have no inherent connection, but they do […] we need a show like this to shake us out of our daily Orwellian despair, to see some beauty and art, but also to see how precious the time we are living now really is.

The harmony of the diversity resulted in a masterpiece of a collection that pleased all the senses.

It even received the seal of approval from The Cut ’s critic-at-large Cathy Horyn

Simons at Calvin Klein makes sense for a couple of reasons: He started his career as a youth-culture designer in Antwerp [...] And he has always worked with fine tailoring, which fits the minimalist image of Calvin Klein. Yet the reality is that the brand has meandered through various types of pastiche for a couple of decades now. That leaves Simons with a blank slate to reinvent with the kind of freedom that would never be available at a couture house.

Thank you for the dream. It's been real. 

it's a fashion life

Couture is the illusion that holds reality

You know Couture is something French, only a few houses are granted the title, Elsa Schiaparelli was the last one to be accepted this year.

There is rigor in the selection, because couture requires the authenticity and the craftsmanship of les petites mains 

It's for a seleted clientele, the wealthiest and most demanding.
Couture is not for everybody although at time the use of the word is misunderstood for made-to-measure or some sort of tailored version of clothing.

No.

If fashion is supposed to make you dream, couture is pure dream, the illusion that lifts you from reality.

REPEAT AFTER ME: #luxuryisastateofmind

I use it to escape, I use it to wipe my eyes with beauty and I suggest you do that too.

Watching and immersing myself in art, any form that pleases me, Puccini, Le Claire de Lune, An American in Paris, Monet's Les Petites Danseuses make me happy beyond everything else.

This past week I woke up earlier than normal just because Schiaparelli and Chanel were showing before the cock sings in Miami and it helped my day.

[...] "Couture is", to say it with Angelo Flaccavento, one of the most respected fashion journalists in the world at the moment, "is too slow, too elitist and too private" since "We live in a time of instant gratification and endless self-broadcasting."

The ultimate of craftsmanships, flights of fancy, enjoy the best of the best, la creme de la creme, the collections of pieces I loved the most. 

chic, fashion, it's a fashion life, review, style guide

THE 'MASCULINE FEMININE' IN THE fall 17 MAN SHOWS

It's not cocotte, it's not gamine, it's not Annie Hall or Marlene Dietrich, it's all together. 

This article on Another Magazine makes the case of Annie Hall self-styling on point. Her eyewear are considered an accessory to show her nerdiness. 

It's that blending of the tailoring elements notoriously belonging to a man's fashion and re-interpreting them with feminine attributes. 

In the book I have dedictaed a whole chapter to the art of "borrow from the boys". When to present the collections, see now buy now and incorporating girls and boys in the show has become a practice. 

I have collected the most inspiring looks. We don't all have the same opinions, but if you are reading we share similar taste and style. Juts remember the word "inspiring" because some of them bay be seemingly outrageous, but dissecting all the elements are there for us to grasp. Style is not copying, it's interpreting as your day unfolds. 

"It's Oscar Wilde, it's military, it's dandy, it's aristocratic, it's romantic" Alexandre McQueen's Sarah Burton pays a tribute to Oscar Wilde, in case you hadn't gotten the hint. 

Thom Browne was a show of sartorial uniform dissected, the glorification of Harrys Tweed in all 1,200 yard, as per WWD. 

Miuccia wants us all to be "more human, more simple, more real". Nerdy is good. 

The future is female ...