Dress Like Dessert

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Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda 2014, Milan 

Remember that poor accessories editor in the Devil Wears Prada? Miranda Priestly asks her for her thoughts on an upcoming spring issue of Runway and she responds, “Um, well, they’re showing a lot of florals right now, so I was thinking I– (Meryl Streep/Miranda deadpan interjection)– “Florals, for Spring. Groundbreaking.”

That said, flowers seem to be really in right now. Miranda Priestly, thankfully, was wrong– they don’t have to be trite reproductions of Claude Monet paintings or your grandmother’s yard sale pillows. Dolce & Gabbana, in their recent Alta Moda collection in Milan proved that, like Earl Grey with clover honey, flowers are consistently perfect when steeped properly and accessorized. The handmade silk flowers on these couture pieces looked as if they were plucked out of a forest and sewn directly onto the dresses. Forget liberty print; texture, uneven edges, and perfectly imperfect beauty are the new order of the day.

A few of the patterns had art historical references, for example sunflowers reproduced from a Klimt painting. I have to say that I have often found Italian designers to be a little over the top . . . I mean look at photos of Donatella Versace . . . But well done whimsy and craftsmanship will always capture my heart. And I also have a personal bias. My favorite farm activity was dead heading the rose bushes.

If anything, I think flowers are special because they are about memory. I mean why do women go to such lengths to choose the perfect bouquet for their wedding day? Maybe these dresses are a little like skipping straight to dessert on the menu. But like me, maybe you are already maladjusted so it really doesn’t matter (“adj: failing or unable to cope with the demands of a normal social environment.”) Maybe like a Klimt woman. So you can just wear a ball gown in your living room, or if you’re poor, can go down to the corner deli, buy some flowers and tape them to your body and call it a day.

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Real friends skip homework with you to have afternoon tea and go to Zara. My Oxford friend Lara, a Vienna native, fit these requirements (miss you!)

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Viennese plum tart 

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Farm Garden with Sunflowers, Gustav Klimt 

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A rose in its truest form- my painterly friend Anna at her home in Sussex 

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Winter Sugar Rush

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Chanel Haute Couture, SS14 

Sunday afternoons were created to be sacred and lovely. Every good Christian knows that. Since I was raised in a Protestant household in the Midwest, and Alicia and I are devout girls, we naturally spent a perfectly sacred and lovely afternoon at the Morgan Library and Museum on the east side of town.

Our dates usually involve four of five things: 1. Museum 2. Coffee/Tea 3. Wine 4. More coffee/tea/wine 5. Trying to find trees in New York. This afternoon was no exception. After browsing a mixture of medieval bible covers, Dickensian manuscripts, and an etching of Edgar Allan Poe’s head in the museum, we ventured out to a nearby cafe, Piccolo, to get lattes and mulled wine (can you drink on Sundays?? I honestly don’t remember. I’m guessing no.) Afterward, we walked a mile down Madison Avenue and stared at buildings in the snow. Neither one of us had dressed warm enough, so the caffeine/alcohol may have just provided us with the extra rush we needed.

Like a good slice of cake, a good couture collection gives you a sugar rush. In the frozenness of a New York winter, depression lurks around like dirty snow on Madison Avenue, delayed 6 trains and reruns of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” You need pastels. And high art. And couture shows! And more coffee!!!

The latest Chanel couture show was beautiful. A precious mix of pastel pinks, creams, and Black Swan-inspired feathers, the dresses looked like cupcakes walking down the runway. The makeup dusted the models’ eyelids like silvery snowflakes. All the jackets were cropped and the skirts cut low to give the illusion of a hyper-elongated waist.

Like Chanel, I am a secret slut. Yes, Karl Lagerfeld is classy but there are always a few dresses that are see through, and those are the best ones! Coco knows in her grave that a girl’s gotta be free. I’m just going to pretend that the silver fanny packs sprinkled throughout the collection did not exist, because in no earthly world will that ever be acceptable unless you are on crack, and if you’re on crack that’s also not acceptable, you should just have more sugar.

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I will always be a sucker for black, florals, and see through fabrics 

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I spy a snow queen 

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Dickens’s wife, saving paper by cross writing . . . a kind of dress pattern in itself, perhaps? 

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A slice from the latest at Pure Food and Wine! 

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Money on my mind

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I’m not really sure what this photo has to do with money, other than budgeting sucks and Kate looks unhappy 

“Budget” is one of my least favorite words. Not only does it look ugly on the page, but I am also particularly terrible at living up to its meaning, “an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.” I have always been someone who thinks in pastels and flowers instead of numbers, which is great for creative projects and not so great for actually functioning as an adult.

So I’ve recently requested a little help from my friend Benita. She studied architecture, so I figured that she would have the dual advantage of being competent in math while also possessing an appreciation for Anthropologie dish ware and overpriced art books. Alas, she has put me on a budget.

My expenses do not really rack up from going out. As much as I enjoy looking at early 90s photographs of Kate Moss and Johnny Depp, I am not a club girl. My perfect Saturday night would typically involve a $5 slice of vegan carrot cake from the Whole Foods dessert to-go case and some $14 international edition of Vogue. This is my crack. (I did have one experience about a year ago, however, where I woke up with blood on my foot in my friend Alicia’s bed. Apparently I had stepped on a broken champagne glass the night before at The Jane… not sure why I was barefoot, or on a table for that matter… hopefully this doesn’t happen again)

Instead I buy clothes. And organic groceries. And yoga passes. And bottles of red wine for the “table” at home. And these things, unlike my more fleshy Jane expenses, do add up. So I’ve compiled a small list of things for you, but mostly for myself, to stay on track money-wise in the new year. Keep in mind that each person is different, and that this is catered to a 23-year-old who lives in NYC and has a compulsive spending problem with vintage black dresses and almonds.

EAT

1. Buy bulk grains. Really. Buying in bulk allows you to measure out exactly how much you think you’ll need, and is also cheaper than buying something that’s been prepackaged. I use the bulk bins at Whole Foods to pick up pearl barley, rice, etc. I am constantly getting chewed out by my friends for not going to Trader Joe’s, but this is my choice. As someone who has worked on a farm, I have to say that the produce at TJ’s is not fresh. Maybe get snacks like chocolate peanut butter pretzels or stuff like canola oil. But not apples or kale or fish.

2. Buy whiskey sours instead of cocktails with fake Russian-sounding names. Okay, this is kind of a joke, but it’s also not. My local bar, Pine Box Rock Shop (which used to manufacture coffins, get the joke???) sells $5 whiskey sours (the most perfect drink ever). Compare to a $15 cocktail in the West Village made with lychee fruit.

3. Avoid Brooklyn-based pour over coffees or $11 cafe smoothies. I’m sorry but I agree with my friend Harriet that morning green smoothies are a fad diet. Don’t get me wrong, you should eat more vegetables, especially the green kind. But I will always and forever designate breakfast as my most luxurious meal, the one that includes carbs with almond butter and clover honey and a large cup of coffee. Buy a French press, or opt for whatever’s already been brewed for $2 instead of 5 at the local shop.

SHOP

1. Get to know your local/favorite thrift shops. Angel St on W 17th is one of my favorites. They have a sweet mix of designer vintage and super cheap, unlabeled stuff (like under $20). It’s pretty rare in New York to find 70s Oscar de la Renta and a $10 skirt on the same rack.

2. Sell the stuff you no longer want. Or WEAR. If you say you want it but don’t wear it, the math is not adding up. Create an Etsy account for yourself or post on Craigslist.

3. Secondhand at The Strand. Whenever I have an anxiety attack I buy a book. This is a lot of books. The other day, I threw down $15 in a museum gift shop for a book on Sufi mysticism with a gorgeous cover. I rationionaled it as “spiritual grounding.” This coping mechanism may not be avoidable, but the costs can be reduced by buying cheaper, secondhand copies. I honestly don’t end up reading them all, but books are kind of like boyfriends– just nice to have on the shelf at your disposal if you fancy a late night read.

YOGA

1. At one point in my life, I thought I wanted to be a full-time yoga instructor and got my certification. I am still in love, but more with my own practice for balancing out the madness in my head than actually teaching. Some studios in NYC are $20 a class. This is insane. I have opted to join www.myyogaonline.com. For $9.99 a month you get online classes from some of the top studios and teachers in the U.S.

2. Or just practice on your own. You can make your own playlist, and since you’re completely isolated in your apartment, you don’t have to listen to Bhagvan Das! I put everything from Rihanna to The Cranberries on my personal yoga playlists. And I am always much more clear headed by the end.

This was the longest post ever. Have fun. Don’t spend too much money. Bye.

 

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Strawberry Jam

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Cara Delevigne and pony, for Mulberry 

So this post is mostly about cake and knives, also some Mulberry and other winter revelations. For starts, I acknowledge that I have neglected you over the past few months. In that space, however, the “cakes” part of “capes & cakes” is coming into fruition! Because I actually woke up last night with chocolate smeared inside my bed covers (which is really gross, by the way, I know). It is a sign from the goddesses.

To make a long story short: two friends from school hooked me up with the pastry team at Pure Food and Wine. I have always loved baking, especially when I lived on a farm in Worcestershire, England, and helped in the kitchen. I had honestly never considered it as a job, however, until I received a text message asking me to trail (culinary code word for “shadow”) in the kitchen for a few hours at Pure. I went for fun, thinking that they’d send me out immediately for destroying their equipment or chopping off someone’s finger. They ended up hiring me.

How can you say no to a full-time job creating chocolate bars to old school hip hop? I even had a shot of whiskey on my trail. I feel like my father always pictured me as a lawyer or contributing scientist to National Geographic or something, so when I called to tell him the news he was like, “Oh . . . that’s nice.”  Then I asked him to help me out with purchasing a new set of knives, which he agreed to, so I take that as a haphazard seal of approval.

In honor of England, and making jam, and running around the countryside, I’m highlighting the Spring Mulberry collection too. I am such a fan of heritage brands, and the UK has recently done a swell job of reinventing them for a cooler, younger set. I am thinking of the ridiculous youtube channel “Burberry Acoustic,” which I secretly listen to on repeat when my roommates aren’t home.

This Mulberry show was special because it was creative director Emma Hill’s last. With its 60s inspired prints and soft, minimal shapes, it is all in all looking like a really good collection for Zara to rip off. Their last collection looked like it was entirely composed of leftovers from the Jil Sander Navy production room.

A few things of note– Cara Delevigne is once again the face of the campaign. I can’t say that I’ve hopped onto the recent Cara madness, but the photos are beautiful and continue to highlight Mulberry’s ballerina position as classic meets whimsy. The pony is a nice addition. Also, seeing a continuation of the pastel-pajama-trend. This outfit will undoubtedly not be allowed in the kitchen, as the loose fabric could trail into the frosting.

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Pyjama/Pajama

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More Mulberry S/S ’14 

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Owls/eyebrows 

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Mulberry, blackberry and apple jam, courtesy The Hatch Patch

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I brought Fiona a piece of carrot cake at work. Naturally, we went outside and sat on the sidewalk in the rain so that we didn’t have to share

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Dark Hours

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Irina Kravchenko by Julia Hetta 

I did two things for my birthday last weekend. The first was to sit on the couch for the entire afternoon and read A Passage to India. The second was to go to my friend Alex’s place and drink a little too much wine. There was a point when things got out of control and we ended up watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and one housewife deadpanned to another– “Yes, I am a witch.” I literally choked for half an hour.

What do birthday wine and reading E. M. Forster have to do with fashion? A lot, actually. As I write this, the sky has literally gone from pale grey to a deep purple in the span of twenty minutes. Fall still lingers in November, but the days distinctly hold more dark than light. But for all its darkness, this season’s color– scientifically and fashionably– is not just black. Beauty trends and editorials have been particularly inspired by dark art. Think red wine stains, stormy blue river currents, or a mysterious violet plant pinned to a black tuxedo coat, à la Tilda Swinton. Or maybe an extra pair of hands.

It’s all… a little witchy! And I kind of like it. Witches have bad reps, especially the kind from SoCal. But this need not be the case. Chloë Grace Moretz, on the October cover of W, channels the season’s spirit nicely in spooky beauty staples: smudged heather eyeliner; dewy, vampiric-ly pale skin; and wispy hair with no trace of sunshine. She compliments the makeup by wearing simple black and white– a tailored black menswear jacket and white tee underneath.

For a Dazed & Confused editorial called “Reign in Blood” (not joking), Chloë also sported a cropped black wig, looking a bit like Kate Moss in the A/W ’13 Louis Vuitton show in Paris. It also resembled Edie Campbell’s recently chopped black hair, perfectly creature-like against a sheen of metallic rock for Juergen Teller. It’s like she crawled out of a volcano in Marc Jacobs. This is perhaps the look perfected– where the romantic, gothic beauty meets a slightly futuristic, edgy rocker.

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Dark as ever, Tilda 

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Edie Campbell and Lily McMenamy for Marc Jacobs, by Juergen Teller 

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Chloë Grace Moretz for W, October 2013 

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Chloë, also snapped up by Dazed & Confused. In Kenzo sweatshirt 

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Feeling witchy with purple hair, a black babydoll collared coat, and black Docs in Washington Square Park. The sunglasses are likely a bit much 

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Nails to kill, courtesy Fiona’s black gel manicure and vampiric VeraMeat ring. 

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A Passage to India by E. M. Forster 

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Dead rabbits, The Evolution Store, Soho 

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Olsens, chocolate, and some sweet tailoring

I honestly never thought I’d have a photo of the Olsen twins on this blog. But… the air is crisp! 

I am not a fan of 70s boho-chic. My memories of fashion magazines from the early 00s consist of a lot of Giseles, Caroline Trentinis, and photos of walking rugs. See this photo of Mary-Kate Olsen.

I prefer my clothes clean, tailored, and for the most part, unadorned. A little whimsy touch is fine, a bow, an asymmetrical cut, whatever. But no peasant ruffles or an extra pair of layered arms, like a walking Kali deity.

One of my yoga teachers said something recently in class that was quite beautiful: “What if every bone in your body never healed? What if every bruise, cut, and scrape on your skin just accumulated? What would you feel like? What would you look like??” Our bodies heal, which is proof that balance and beauty are our natural states. So if you are ever feeling discouraged about the state of your style life, just remember that fashion has recovered from the boho trend, and therefore you can recover too! You don’t have to be a walking rug of pain!

This is a frequent point of dispute among me and my friends (clearly, our disputes are very real). Two of my best friends are in love with Sienna Miller. Though well dressed and lauded over by the British press, I must admit, I’ve never found anything she wears particularly interesting. I only prefer to see her in a sharply tailored trench, in a Burberry ad.

And then there’s Rachel Zoe, whom my friends Alexis and Stefan have a mild obsession for. My dislike is not to cut down her gift of styling, which is 70s sun-kissed glam without the extra arms. But she caters to a Vanity Fair, celebrity-obsessed fashion crowd whose outfits and interests do not keep me awake at night. I prefer 60s, moon-washed tailoring with no arms at all. It’s like tangy Sweet Tarts versus a smooth dark chocolate bar. Preferences.

Speaking of dark chocolate, today is National Chocolate Day! In the spirit of clean and smooth preferences, and also that transformation is possible (!)– the Olsens have redeemed themselves in my eyes over the past few years with their line The Row. If there is a way to reconcile floaty ideals of the past (long peasant skirts) but grow older and clean it up a little, tailor it a little, and make it more magical– The Row has accomplished this.

I was particularly drawn to their S/S ’13 collection, which was inspired by Ito Jakuchu paintings; the volumized, pale draped sleeves looked like oriental petals. The pale rose shades were perfect, well, like a pale rose. And in an ode with their name, The Row has accomplished their allusion to Seville Row with traditional menswear tailored pieces, softened for women with silks and delicate fabrics. I’m confident that the early 00s was just a bad dream, and that we can call go on our way peacefully. See this fall’s collection, equally dreamy, here.

Going in the right direction… 
The Row, S/S ’13
“What the Olsens did was take the most workaday of coats and imbue it with some lyrical romanticism; softening and sizing up its shape, and adding artist smock sleeves.” –Mark Holgate 

Iko Jakucho painting at the National Gallery, London 

Pretty in pale pink, The Row, S/S ’13. For winter, the long skirt trend will keep your legs moderately warm; for the arms, throw a sandy grey sweater, and mix some textiles. Silk and wool? 

I admit it, I’m pretty into this 

Alexis, as Rachel Zoe on my roof. She drank the large coffee en route to the party. I wouldn’t feel comfortable on the train next to this. 

“The Other Olsen,” by capes & cakes. Afternoon cafe au lait scribbling. 

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My favorite chocolate– rawtella, from One Lucky Duck, Chelsea Markets, NYC 

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