Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fashion can be Found in San Francisco

Hi loves, this is me keeping my promise of being a more regular blogger and also fulfilling my class assignment of posting a few articles I've written. This one was a pleasure to write and involved a very cool experience. My class wrote a review after visiting the Balenciaga and Spain exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, and it was simply stunning. But before I get ahead of myself, here's the article:

"Balenciaga and Spain" Brings Life to Historic Fashion
A look at the Balenciaga exhibit in the De Young
In the fashion world, the name "Balenciaga" is one of inspiration, creativity, and genius that radically altered many aspects of what is now couture. From groundbreaking silhouettes to subtle elegance, Balenciaga was a Spanish couturier who is now renowned for his incredible work. 
The de Young Museum in San Francisco, California hosted an exhibit dedicated to the designer, showcasing many of his infamous gowns and creations. Crowds of people attended and experienced the elegance and genius that is Balenciaga. Several rooms filled with awe inspiring works like none other held a simplistic and well put together ambiance, ranging from simple black rooms with dim but vibrant lighting in the background to themed stages representing Balenciaga's inspirations.
The exhibit opened with a beautiful coral gown and then presented a series of all black designs including both evening dresses and more reserved business wear and women's suits. Though all in black, the women were not dull, but instead, striking. The color became bold when put into the creative and skilled hands of Balenciaga, whose artistic and elegant craftsmanship draws your eyes not only to his unique designs but also to the quality of the garment itself. Each article of clothing had an elegance that was both over-the-top and understated.
Themes included a healthy dose of lace and layers as well as skilled draping around the body to create a flow of fabric. Helpful signs explained what the theme of both the room and creations were, as well as details about Balenciaga's childhood that contributed to the theme of his work.
While the mannequins were basic, lacking hair or accessories, the hands were expressive and poised, later tied into Balenciaga's intrigue with Andalusian dance and flamenco.
After the encompassing magnificence of the initial set of dresses, the viewer is fed into another small room housing the couterier's more progressive gowns with revolutionary silhouettes. It was made notable that Balenciaga had no fear of breaking the mold, particularly of setting a dress shape to be heavier on top. These dresses possessed less details, focusing more on the shape, and were cut of fabric of deep and rich hues. The display for these was simplistic as well, to allow the full attention to be directed to the construction of the garments, such as the famous "I" silhouette. 
The audience is then led into a large room filled with multiple different displays, and this room is suddenly extravagant and colorful, with several different themed collections setup with their corresponding inspirations. Rather than dim lighting, minimalist displays and creations, an overwhelming arena of sequins, bows, lace, pleats, music and color greet the general public.
A platform with richly colored garments with creative and original hemlines is accompanied by light flamenco music and a background that has the essence of Spain, Balenciaga's country of origin. Each of these mannequins is posed in positions reminiscent of Andalusian and flamenco dancers. One of the standout gowns was that which appeared to "open up" in the front and reveal layers of ruffles beneath. A special corner of this theme was devoted to bull fighting, with exquisite jackets and a symbolic carnation dress, representing Spain's national flower as well as what is thrown at the bull fight.
Several other collections dominate the floor, such as a display recounting the influence of the Catholic church on Balenciaga, best demonstrated by intriguing hats; a display honoring his invention of the "bubble skirt" still present in modern day fashion and reminding us of his everlasting impression on the fashion world; and a display with a theme of royalty that houses regal gowns, including an odd gown resembling a skunk. certain gowns such as this draw the viewer's attention to the fact that Balenciaga was not afraid of going over-the-top, exemplified by a dress absolutely covered in bows and yet he was also able to pull back for a simple chic look as shown in his creation of an elegant gown with one simple bow on the back. He is a master of statements, understated or extreme. 
Several special pieces are shown in the center of the commotion in glass cases, allowing for a 360 vision. These seem to be reserved for his more extreme and well known pieces, such as a black silk crepe gown with a large and impressional chou chou, or a red and black polka dot creation inspired by flamenco. Each creation was crafted with the great quality and though created many years ago, still can be traced to modern fashion and still emit a desire from viewers to one day wear a garment as classy and creative as them. One could wander the exhibit for hours, and still have many details left to note and take in. 
The exhibit was well put together and a welcome reminder of Balenciaga's genius and influence as well as a reminder of the inspiring effect that couture as on the world. I would highly recommend the exhibit, not just as one of exquisite craftsmanship, creative genius, and simple beauty but also as a historic landmark represented in gorgeous gowns.
With only five days left in this beautiful city, I'm treasuring every moment and excited to see what the last few days hold.
May the Prada be with you

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Designer of the Week

Hello all! I am currently in my journalism class at AAU and our assignment? Blogging. Excited? Duh.
The assignment I am turning in today was to do a feature article on a designer of our choice. Before this program, the designers names I knew to choose from was well under 20. Now I can't even count how many designer's names have been thrown at me, and it has been inspiring to say the least. I thought as an inspiration to you all, you may enjoy a weekly feature on designers that make my heart sing with joy. My feature article, and therefore the first designer that I'll feature, was on Rei Kawakubo, the founder and current creative director of Comme des Garcon, as well as my most recent idol. I love her views on fashion, her legendary style creations, and how she takes the fashion world by storm, not concerned with fitting in with the rest.

Making Headlines and a Statement
An inside look at the influential couture house Comme de Garcon and the designer behind it
Leah Cioth
Comme des Garcon's Spring 2012 collection continued its signature quality tailoring adn brilliant ideas, courtesy of creative director and founder, Rei Kawakubo, with a new twist of a moreromantic mood, which further proved Kawakubo's creative genius at marrying two separate ideas to create an edgy and consumer friendly line.
Rei Kawakubo
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Though now known as the founder of one of the most famous fashion houses in the world, Rei Kawakubo had a humble beginning, not even including proper training at a fashion design school. Kawakubo attended Keio University in Tokyo, graudating with degrees in fine arts and literature. From there she became a freelance stylist adn also worked for a textile company until 1973 when she established her own legendary company, Comme des Garcon, french for "like the boys." In 1975 she opened her first boutique with women's clothes in Tokyo adn three years later she added on her mens line.

Her move to Paris took place in 1981 where she opened another boutique adn started showing in the Parisian fashion shows. Kawakubo made a splash in Paris fashion week, 1981, that was later known as "Hiroshima Chic".

Comme des Garcon challenged the 80's standard of beauty with its disheveled adn rough appearance, becoming a signature fashion of anti fashion with neutral and dark colors, as well as a theme of deconstruction. The deconstruction appears in unfinished edges, deliberate holes in the garment, and fabric draped across the model's body. She made a statement about not only the definition of feminine beauty but also of fashion itself and its role. Though the industry may have underestimated her initial influence, the mainstream fashion scene quickly replied with deconstructed garments of their own.
Comme des Garcon Spring 2012
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Kawakubo is also known for her unique shaped garments that take a life of their own rather than focusing on the human silhouette it is encompassing. As stated by Simon Werle in 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know "in her fashion the human being is more than a mere silhouette."

Comme des Garcon has made its name in an industry that is arguably one of, if not the, most difficult to break into, with artistic and quality construction and revolutionary attitudes. This leads one to question, how does the artistic genius Rei Kawakubo come up with these creations and how does her creative process work? She explains to NY Fashion Magazine, "I start every collection with one word. I can never remember where this one word came from...After I find the word, I do not develop it in any logical way. I deliberately avoid any order to the thought process after finding the word adn instead think about the opposite of the word, or something different to it or behind it." Kawakubo's collections are certainly unique, ranging from her first collection that was referred to by many as "apocalyptic end-of-the-world fashion" to her most recent romantic and edwardian collection.

Recent accomplishments for the couture house include a line for H&M, the swedish store that specializes in getting top couture designers such as Lanvin and Versace to create lines for the general public, which was a total hit and successfuly a more toned down collection but still signature Comme des Garcon. The multi million dollar empire also launched a temporary brand by the name of Black in 2009, with ten stores opening around the world, as the designer herself said, to bring "positive energy" to the difficult times.

Another notable contribution to the fashion world made by Rei Kawakubo was her once intern turned successful and independent designer, Junya Watanabe, her own protege. Watanabe is notable for, similar to his mentor, innovative fashion construction and style, as well as his advanced ideas in fabric. He is also noted as being tight lipped and media shy, though he was quoted in a rare interview to Interview Magazine about his 2009 collection. He stated, "it's important for me to consider where you wear the clothes and what purpose they serve." Watanabe also signed on to Converse All Star and designed a collection of shoes in 2007. He has also joined the ranks of designers to have outfitted the first lady, Michelle Obama, when she was seen wearing his blue patterned cardigan in April of 2009.

As to Kawakubo's morals and beliefs, she has quite pointedly stated that she is not a feminist, told to NY Fashion Magazine but instead stated, "I just decided to make a company built around creation, and with creation as my sword I could fight the battles I wanted to fight." Kawakubo also views fashion as a total package and ambiance rather than individual goods meant for a museum. She has shown she does her job clearly out of passion and with a vigor, creativity and a goal that implies the fiercest of hearts, expressed in a couture line that will be remembered for centuries.

More posts soon, I swear we will be back on schedule.
May the Prada be with you

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Month

Today marks my being in San Francisco for one month. So much has changed for me, and I have grown more in this month than I ever though possible. I know I have not been blogging, like, at all, which is due to a couple reasons, the first being that I cannot for the life of me find the cord that connects my camera with my computer so I can upload all my pictures. The second reason is that I am really busy between three classes at my fashion school, and online course for my high school, violin, summer reading and a heck of a lot of family commitments. I just haven't had the time, and I am exhausted when I finally have a break. I still have work to do before I can sleep, but I just wanted to update you on the past month.

I have been humbled and it has been beautiful. In my humility, I have also been brought to personal responsibility and a new sense of independence, as well as learning how to ask for help. Through it all I have learned so much about who I am, and I have come to see myself as enough. I love the ways I've been shaped by this summer, and am so grateful for the lessons I have learned. This has by far been one of the most life changing summers of my life.

If you've been wondering at all about my day to day, I have classes four days a week, and these classes are far from those at high school. Rather than packing up text books and binders, I usually have my sketchbook, tracing paper, several pens, pencils, watercolors, colored pencils, scissors, pins and needles, fabric, journalism articles, my school ID, and my camera when I have room in my bag. I take the bus each way, and each of my classes is three hours long. Some days I have two classes, others I only have one. In the morning once off the bus I grab some coffee and a bagel, and dash to class. For lunch I have become a regular at a cute cafe with scrumptious paninis. After class I take the bus home, unless of course I have to go to the fabric store, which I frequent in quest of fabric for my sewing class or for samples for my design class. When I'm home I always have homework, whether that be visual research, design development for my collection, writing an article or reading one, finishing some sewing or putting together my final project. And I do more printing than ever. Seriously, I have to print a ridiculous amount of stuff. I've probably demolished half the Amazon. Then my family cooks dinner and eats and often times my cousin and I are responsible for making a delicious and chocolate dessert. Finally a couple more hours of work and facebook and off to bed I go.

I've learned I love designing. And while I love blogging and writing in my free time, I don't think I would ever want to be a journalist. There are far too many limits.

My best friend from New York, Alie, flew in and visited me this past weekend, which was great and I did all the tourist-y things I haven't had time for. I've also spent a couple weekends in San Jose and Santa Cruz. With only two weeks left I'm trying to squeeze in all the things I said I'd do, but haven't, all my final projects for my classes, finishing my summer reading, finishing my online class, seeing all my friends/family here, and preparing to leave (basically moving) and go back to school one week after I'm home. Oh yeah, and I have to take a ton of driving courses so I can get my license on time. Talk about crazy.

I promise that once I find my camera cord, and things slow down a little, I will be better about all this. It's also easier when I have my own computer. However, I will of course be focusing more on living my life rather than documenting it, because especially as of now, I just have so much to live for!

Hope all of you are doing well and keeping it classy:)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mocha Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Just read the title, it sounds scrumptious, I know. My cousin Talia and I are no cooks, that is to be noted, but when motivated enough in our craving for chocolate, we get work done. The recipe we used was from the Hershey's Cook Book, which has a variety of delicious treats in it.
 1. Heating up the cream
 2. Add the first few of many chocolate chips
 3. While waiting thirty seconds for the cream to cool down, do a count down, full incoorporated with dance moves and off key singing.
 4. Mix up the chocolatey goodness and try really, REALLY hard not to eat it right then and there.
 5. Mix up butter, cream and sugar. Then realize  you put in too much butter and fix every single other porportion.
 6. Make a very large mess.

 7. Beat the egg whites, and learn that eggs can be fluffy and bubbly, a fact that still surprises you.
 8. Mmmm yummy, put in two different cake batters, the rich dark chocolate one in the center.

8. Drizzle melted excess chocolate mixture and sprinkle powdered sugar. Then Enjoy!
As you can see, a relatively easy recipe, though many steps are involved and it is not a good choice for those who lack strong will when around large amounts of chocolate.
Hope everyone is having a happy fourth! Pictures to come!