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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Have I got a a heap of eye candy for you today! Knowing how much you love gala and all that goes with it, I'll get right down to the swoon-worthy stuff. Last Friday was opening night at the San Francisco Opera. With a time-honored tradition for 'Puttin' on the Ritz', SF's opening is a bit like Cannes Film Festival meeting New Year's Eve in Old Vienna. Premiering with Pucini's Turandot, the parade of chic was especially inspiring this year and if you're as amped on couture as I am this is your visual fix for awhile. Notice all those bridal designers we know and love simply switch to technicolor when they come out on nights like this. . . .


TREND#1.) Prints and Drapery . . . While we've been seeing prints featured more and more on the Red Carpet they had particular significance Friday night following Turandot's eastern theme. Add all the brightly embossed and embroidered fabrics and there was a real show of color. Gowns with draping have been no strangers on the runways and carpet; now designers are moving into asymmetrical and pleat variations in both bodices and skirts for evening wear. Above: Marissa Mayer (of Google fame) looked fabulous in a gold shot print gown created by none other than The Duchess of Cambridge's own wedding gown designer, Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. Below: Former Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown with Sonya Molodetskaya in a gorg purple and lavender asymmetrically draped and fitted gown by Azadeh Couture . . .

Below: One of my fave style-setters, Deepa Pakianathan wears a Rubin Singer. A rich blue, the cut and lightness of silk organza are all this gown needs to take a walk down the Red Carpet. Check out the asymmetrically pleated bodice and draped skirt--a real must see must see in action on the video as Deepa goes through some serious twirls .

TREND#2.) EMBROIDERY. I haven't seen this kind of handiwork since the 60s when Oscar de la Renta introduced variations of it in the peasant/gypsy look. Well, Oscar is alive and well now reinventing gypsies into Czarinas as you can see in this masterpiece worn by Dede Wilsey. The detail work is exquisite and first glance totally took my breath away. Check out the video to get a close up of the intricate hand work.

In a word, awesome! Lucy Buchanan wears this all over embroidered Naeem Khan so beautifully. The movement in the train is just too stunning and can be seen in the video . . .

TREND#3.) Ruffles Have you noticed they're everywhere in bridal and gala wear with so many variations I could write a whole book about it. Of all the ruffled gowns (and there were stacks) this Christian Siriano worn by Afsaneh Akhatari took the prize and is another video must see.


SF Opera opening night has it's handful of fashion designers local as well as international that show up and look magnificent in their own creations. Above is the ever elegant and beautiful Karen Caldwell in a plum confection I just love with knotted/ruched drapery . . .Her bow at the waist is signature Karen. . . .
Jewelry designer Amber Marie Bentley is always beyond the fashion curve. Her 'Over the Edge' look lies somewhere between underground and the most quintessential couture . . .
Above left is Bay Area designer Rebecca Bruce in a masterpiece of silk and satin patchwork, following the eastern theme of this event. If you love one-of-a-kind couture with an edge keep a watch on this designer .

So . . . which of all these gowns is your favorite? It was hard for me to go through hundreds and pick the few that made it to this post. However, I feel this sampling encapsules just how Red Carpet Fashion is developing, evolving and moving to the next level . . . .

Lastly a note of thanks here. Getting it done professionally with an event of this size and scope is a gargantuan task. Without the top notch coverage Drew Altizer Photography gave to SF's Opening Night, this editorial wouldn't be possible.  Special thanks to SF Gate for use of the video which I'm sure you'll all find enlightening and inspiring.

Monday, September 12, 2011


A floppy hat and stunner red dress perfect for waltzing. Rosie Tupper rocks for Elle Sweden.  Photo by Andreas Sjodin.  Yes, you can see the whole editorial here . . .  

Saturday, September 10, 2011


 Can you believe this is Russian photographer, Ulyana Sergeenko's premiere collection? Wait a minute!  Did I say photographer?  I did.  She shoots, she designs, so much talent in one person just doesn't seem fair now does it?  Oh and did I mention she's also gorgeous?  Check out the last photo and you'll see what I mean . For me, her designs embody that combo of old Russian folk tale mixed with something 1950s and even a bit of edge.  You can see a bunch more photos here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Check out this gorgeous chick perfectly plumed for summer socials.  I found this on Lavendar and Faye, Cypress, California purveyors of some of the most innovative haute couture out there. Once you trip on over to their site you'll find feathers aren't their only specialty.  Tell me, just where would you wear this little number?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Boring Sidney never fails to amp my fashion curiosity for all that's innovative in head chic.  This headpiece as Belle says,  'Is wearable art for your head, this exceedingly unusual, dare I say odd, headpiece is made of an 8" woven ball of grapevines, that has been painted black. It is mounted onto a small round wool base with elastic to hold it on, and in the center is a battery operated candle that glows and flickers.'
Belle is a Seattle based milliner with a background designing costume (Can't you tell?).  I think she's a real fashion pioneer and have been keeping up with new additions to her store regularly since 2008 when I first laid eyes on her magic.  Keep a look out for new goodies on her site listed above.  

Friday, April 29, 2011


The Beckmans and their edgy chic
 Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne
It was like Ascot Gavotte in color as guests poured into Westminster Abbey this morning for the long awaited wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The Oh La La! factor really kicked once the crowd swelled; Cecil Beaton's over the top sets and costumes for My Fair Lady come to mind yet this is all real.  When have we seen such a parade of head sculpture all in one place?  Phillip Treacy was the star hatter with others like Jane Taylor and Noel Stewart wowing us, every creation a 180 turn from the next. I have to admit, when it comes to hats the British have to be the most inventive. Do you perchance get the idea some of these dresses and coat ensembles were designed around the head wear? The UK has a rich history of costume and keeping aspects of it traditional. Their hats have evolved to the art form we saw today and I think they will continue to reinvent new trends.

 Miriam Gonzalez Durantez looking every inch as chic as an Irving Penn photo

 Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.  Stunning

 Who are these gorgeous guests?  The Earl of Spencer's daughters and cousins to Prince William . . .
The duke of York's daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie. 
Zara Phillips
 HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla)
 Always chic and my fav fashion royal, Michael of Kent
Monacco's Prince Albert and his fiance Charlene Wittstock

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Because there are so many different kinds, a whole book could be written in praise of them. As you've probably figured out from the above photo, ruffles can be worn head to toe on bodice, even covering sleeve, skirt or train. And don't forget those accessories. I've seen shoes, purses, gloves, hats and veils layered in ruffles. Below are just a few treatments, mostly skirts, celebrating the ruffle.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


The Look: Black Swan

Those who strutted the red carpet at this year's opening of the San Francisco Ballet sported more than the usual flurry of feathers and plumes.  Were these women going haute couture perchance influenced by the magnificent thriller, Black Swan?   No one knows for sure but the trend is definitely on. If you're as intrigued as I am with ballet's influence on fashion, look for elements of dance style hitting the runways in up and coming seasons.  Designers are bringing out more feathered hats, head pieces and even jewelry evoking ballet characters.  Though tulle skirts are already trendy for bridal and evening, new versions will be paired up with bomber jackets and t-shirts as this ethereal fabric makes it's way into street chic.   As long as we're on the subject of ballet, I hope the practice and rehearsal wear dancers bend and stretch in make some appearance on the runway again.  With a string of popular ballet movies back in the 1970s like The Turning Point and Dancers in the 80s, there was a rush for surplice jersey tops, leg warmers and leggings (still with us).  What women have found is dancers look chic even working their butts off; but they're also going to be comfortable

Top Left: Black Evening Gown by Monique Luhllier
Top Right: Ostrich plume purse by Cady Briar
Middle Bolero by Herbld
Bottom Left: Ballerina Doll Pump by D&G
Bottom Right: My LaValiere Noire black jewel headband victorian silver finish

Special thanks to M Frezza over at SMP Style Circle for putting together this medley of designer chic . . . 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


 These enchanting shoes are the work of UK artist Jennifer Collier. Creating innovative pieces, she uses found materials.  Through weaving, stitching, waxing, she creates rare and one-of-a-kind pieces made into garments and accessories.  Says Collier,  The works have the power to communicate ideas about recycling, as well as themes exploring the body. My work is often inspired by literature.The work is non-functional and aims to encourage people to speculate on the nature of value. I enjoy the idea of working with disposable organic materials that are transient in nature, imbuing them with worth and creating something intriguing and of great beauty." 
Top image: Wall Paper Stilettos
Book Shoes made out of vintage book pages.
 You'll never get lost in these . . .The Map Shoes can be made in the map of your choice
 The Music Shoes.  What better way to commission your favorite work . . .?

 The Letter Shoes.  Imagine old love letters and stamps crafted into these . . .
The best is last!  My favs are The Pattern Corsage Stilettos made out of old dressmaking patterns (of which I collect)

Monday, January 31, 2011


Sparkle and Pearl
While there's still some winter left, check out these incredible finds from SMP Style Circle.  Not everything lame or metallic went out with Liberace!  Okay, the jacket may be a few seasons gone and at first glance remind you of a disco ball but heck, don'tcha just love it?  And take a look at the shoes.  Valentino is proof positive when the right designer gets hold of sequins there's some real magic going on . . . .

Friday, January 28, 2011


The theme was Belle Epoque at the San Francisco Ballet opening Wednesday night.  Rolling out the red carpet for the cavalcade of couture, the most celebrated designer it seemed was Alexander McQueen living on through his art as social sceners paid him the ultimate tribute, by wearing his most dramatic pieces.  Above: Always nailing a grand entrance, Deepa  Pakianathan does it again wearing a cocktail length dress and booties by the late McQueen.   The skirt is extraordinary with gold painted feathers draped with silk screened fabric.  Says Deepa, "The print is very special . . . it looks like a tapestry with angels . . ." 
The ever elegant Yurie Pascarella in Alexander McQueen.  A real tour de force in winter dressing . . .
Suzy Kellems Dominik in a gown by Alexander McQueen.  The intricate gold shot embroidery and consistency of the pattern here  is indeed a work of art.
I've always thought Napa Valley fashion designer Karen Caldwell is the best billboard for her own creations. This piece, like most she designs carries the spirit of the great Edith Head. She is best known for incorporating simple lines in jewel and pastel tones. Her belts and sashes tied into pretty bows are definitely one of her trademarks.   

Everyone knows I'm a believer in exquisite hairstyling.  Thanks to Melissa Barber it looks like we might be moving into an era of grand and gala hair for nights out.  This is one of my fav looks for topping off an elegant gown.