When we started our phone conversation with Jessica Alba last week—she from nearby her Beverly Hills home, Shop Around from our DC office—we felt like we were talking to a girlfriend. She was nice, down-to-earth, disarmingly real, and pretty damn funny, which was refreshing because that’s how we felt about her new book, The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You. Unlike most celebrity lifestyle how-to tomes, Alba’s is surprisingly helpful, well-written, resourceful, and realistic. The 31-year-old mom of two offers tips and insight into creating an eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle for herself and her family—and does it in a way that doesn’t make us roll our eyes at the sheer impossibility of it all (ahem, Gwyneth Paltrow). We meant to talk clothes and trends with Alba, since she’ll be in Bethesda on Friday signing copies of her book at the Front Row fashion extravaganza, but she was so fun to talk to about her writing process and her future in acting that we didn’t get a chance. Plus we already know the girl can dress.
Your new book seems really well-researched and thoughtful—how did you become an expert in this sort of eco-friendly lifestyle realm?
Well, I wouldn’t call myself an expert, necessarily. I gathered the information over five years, and then it took about one year to format it and turn it into a book. And it was so difficult to gather [the information], which I did along the way as things affected me throughout my own life and personal experiences.
But you were able to dissect it and filter it into a book that is really easy to read, even for those of us who aren’t familiar with these sorts of toxic versus non-toxic issues.
The information is pretty dense, and unless you’re a scientist, you’re going to be like, “What the heck are you talking about?” But I knew there were things that weren’t good and that I wanted to avoid that touched parts of my life, from beauty to food to materials for my home. So it was such a daunting process to decipher it all, but I felt it was super-necessary. I mean, I wish I had this handbook and guidebook when I was learning and a new mom.
Alyson Cambridge is, of course, most famous for her spectacular voice: She’s a professional operatic soprano who’s in town for her fourth season with the Washington National Opera, performing as Julie in the Kennedy Center’s Show Boat, which opens Saturday.
Turns out this Arlington native is also a bit of a fashionista. She’s a brand ambassador for contemporary designer Monika Chiang and iconic jeweler Chopard, and girl likes to rock a look. We chatted with the singer recently about her personal style, and—bonus!—scored some of her insider secrets on what to wear for an opening-night performance.
How did you become interested in fashion?
I’ve always been into fashion since I was a little girl. I loved reading fashion magazines. I had to wear a uniform through eighth grade, and then when I got to high school I was so excited to be liberated from the uniform and be able to experiment and try new things. I was always very keen on whatever the new trends were at the time. I remember in high school I would come out for my dad to take me to school, and he would literally step out of the car, point his finger, and say, “Get back in the house!” because my skirt was too short. And I would say, “Dad, that’s what everyone’s wearing!” I would get made fun of because I was always wearing these tall or bright funky shoes and I always liked to experiment. But as much as I liked trends, I always wanted to have something that was a little different and uniquely Alyson. So I’ve tried to carry that through my fashion sense as I’ve evolved as a person and as a performance artist. I try to be conscious of the environment I’m in and wear things that are appropriate, but I also like to show my own personal style.
And what is your personal style?
I tend to be drawn to color; I’m drawn to things that are sophisticated and chic but have an edge to them. I might wear a form-fitting, classic, structured dress, but I’ll add some heels in a bright color or that have some spikes. Something that makes it pop and makes it a little different.
It didn’t take long for Carla Cabrera and Ashley Turchin to start dreaming up a fresh retail project. (If you think their names sound familiar, here’s why: Cabrera’s the fashion blogger behind the President Wears Prada, and Turchin’s past partnerships included a gig selling killer vintage for La Petite Marmoset, which closed in January.)
“It was kind of instant chemistry,” says Cabrera. “We started brainstorming within a year of meeting.”
The fruit of that brainstorm sesh? Anthom, which the stylish pair—along with their Web designer/photographer/creative mastermind, Marshall Johnson—launch this week as a Web-based retail concept specializing in emerging designers, exclusive pieces, and commissioned collaborations.
We recently had the chance to chat with Cabrera about the new venture. Read on to get the scoop on the project and Cabrera’s pet faves from the store’s offerings, then click through the gallery to snag a sneak peek of some of Anthom’s über-stylish wares.
In 2009, Jason Wu was just baby-stepping into the fashion world when Michelle Obama put his designs on global display, wearing his ivory one-shoulder gown with appliqué to President Obama’s first inaugural ball. In January, when Mrs. Obama opted once again for a Wu inaugural dress, this time a red velvet and chiffon number, it was clear the Taiwanese-born, New York-based fashion designer was one of the First Lady’s favorites—and now a bona fide star in the industry. (FLOTUS also wore a red and black Wu dress to February’s State of the Union address.) Wu will be in Chevy Chase on April 11 for a trunk show and appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as to host his fall 2013 ready-to-wear collection on the runway at the third annual Great Ladies’ Luncheon, which will take place in a New York Fashion Week-inspired tent being constructed in the parking area adjacent to the store. Prior to his visit, we had the opportunity to chat with Wu about inspiration for his new collection and why no one ever tells the First Lady what to wear.
For nine seasons, What Not to Wear has been a staple fashion reality show, there for you when nothing else is on. We’ve watched Stacy and Clinton play fairy godparents to countless sweatpants-clad Cinderellas as they diagnose the self-esteem problems beneath the tapered acid-wash denim their subjects just can’t let go of.
While London’s trademark sass may be front and center in every episode, her personal ups and down have, until recently, stayed behind the scenes. In her new book, The Truth About Style, London gives longtime fans a look at her own transformation—from a child plagued by severe psoriasis to a young woman with an eating disorder and, finally, to the empowered fashion guru who isn’t going to let anyone get away with wearing a dickey.
As a founding editor of InStyle—an automatic “fashion guru” qualifier— Hal Rubenstein knows the good stuff when it comes to living well and dressing accordingly. Already the author of 100 Unforgettable Dresses and Paisley Goes With Nothing: A Man’s Guide to Style, Rubenstein has recently put together a new book of rules based on articles from 1950’s “culture bible,” Gentry magazine. The Gentry Man: A Guide for the Civilized Male features Rubenstein’s top picks of Gentry articles bound into an essential handbook of all the things a guy needs to know: what to wear to the beach or on the slopes; how to make a quiche Lorraine or win a game of chess; and which liquors complete your home bar. Rubenstein, who on Thursday will be in Washington for a soiree and book signing at the Dupont Circle showroom of custom clothier Alton Lane, chatted with us about style’s most essential elements, Mitt Romney’s hairstyle, and who could be the modern-day Beau Brummell.
By Kate Bennett
Slideshow: Paper Clothes by Isabelle de Borchgrave
At first glance, the dresses in the “Prêt-à-Papier” exhibition at Hillwood Museum, which opens to the public today, look as though they are made of rich cloth—silks and taffetas, damask and delicately pleated cotton. However, the full-scale replicas inspired by historical fashions—from fanciful 18th-century ballgowns to turn-of-the-century Lanvin, Poiret, and Fortuny creations—aren’t made of fabric at all. Rather, they’re constructed solely (and painstakingly!) from paper. Each “seam” is carefully glued; each sleeve of “lace” has been crumpled, ironed, smoothed, and fluffed into delicate layers; each button and pearl is a tiny roll of paper, worked, reworked, glazed and painted to trompe l’oeil perfection, all under the guidance and expert hands of Isabelle de Borchgrave, the Belgian artist whom Hillwood ingeniously snagged to dream up this exhibition.
You need to see “Prêt-à-Papier” to really understand de Borchgrave’s phenomenal work. Fashion lover or no, the dresses and the Hillwood setting—in and among the insanely luxe art, furnishings, and accoutrements of the late Marjorie Merriweather Post—make this a must-visit exhibition. We had a chance to talk with de Borchgrave to learn a bit more about her process.
Remember Worn Magazine? The big, broad publication with the amazing photography that explored the ins and outs of emerging DC fashion and art, making what was once thought to be an underground scene actually legit? And remember when it ended, somewhat abrubtly, after just three issues? Well, now it’s back, and editor in chief Nicole Aguirre has reentered the DC fashion scene with a bang. “I wanted to leave the door open for whatever felt right—and I think this feels incredibly right,” she says of bringing back her publication, now with a new creative director of men’s fashion, a new international commerce site, and a readiness to embrace our changing fashion scene head on. We chatted with Aguirre, back in the city for just over a month, about where she’s been, what’s new, and what’s next.
By Sarah Zlotnick
Public policy, law, international affairs--the list of academic strengths is long and wonky here in Washington. But students excel in creative areas, too--for proof, look no further than Marymount University's signature fashion design program. On a sleepy campus off Northern Virginia's Glebe Road, aspiring fashion designers learn the ins and outs of sewing a pattern, developing a line, and landing a fashion job post-graduation.
Each year, students compete for the honor of showcasing their designs at the school's annual Portfolio in Motion fashion show (see our favorite looks from this year's show here). After the show, each senior designer's portfolio is critiqued by Marymount's designer of the year. Past honorees have included Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, and Peter Som; this year the title went to Eileen Fisher.
Perhaps most well known for her luxurious, loose-fitting basics, the 28-year industry veteran has stores all over the world and a very loyal following among Washington women. Here, she opens up about the looks she saw, the pros and cons of designing outside New York, and why a work/life balance is important, especially in a field as creative as fashion design.
Washington doesn’t exactly have the best track record with reality shows. DC Cupcakes has a singularly intense following (well, intense enough to get them a second season, anyway), but our versions of Real Housewives and Real World both aired with dismal ratings.
That’s why we’re rooting for the pilot local boutique Sassanova filmed last week at its Georgetown and Bethesda locations. Co-owner Sassy Jacobs tells us she, partner Sarah Cannova, and their employees worked with producer Colby Gaines (co-producer of the History Channel's Pawn Stars) and a crew from Back Roads Entertainment on three days of filming. The initial concept is similar to TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress. Customers come in with “emergency” shoe and accessory situations, and Jacobs, Cannova, and staff solve them. Considering this casting call was posted to Hitched bridal salon’s blog earlier this month, we’ve got a feeling these “emergencies” are about as real as Kim Kardashian’s love for Kris Humphries, but we’re pretty okay with that. After all, what’s a reality show without a little prefabricated drama?