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?
Sola Biu has always known two things: She wants to help kids, and she loves repurposing vintage items. Oynx Feather, the jewelry company she began in 2009 and runs out of her Union Station apartment, combines both of these passions.
“I was chatting with my girlfriends about how we all wanted to be doing something we loved but have it matter,” says the media relations coordinator of the beginnings of her jewelry line. One of Biu’s friends encouraged her to make this dream a reality, and when boutique owners started noticing the handmade necklaces she’d wear, Biu knew she’d found the perfect combination.
Nowadays, 15 percent of every Onyx Feather purchase is donated to the Invisible Children Legacy Scholarship Fund, which Biu picked for its use of creative methods to improve the lives of impoverished children in Uganda.
“They address not only a child’s immediate physical needs, but also his or her long-term needs,” says Biu of the education-based program. “That is how you change a community and help it to rebuild.”
We recently sat down with the bubbly, put-together do-gooder to discuss building a business in DC, local designers she loves, and jewelry essentials for every Washington woman. Read on for her insights.
In October 2009, Sydney Poulton decided on a whim to start a blog with her new husband, Tyson, as a way to document their life together and keep in touch with their families. But what began as a personal daily musing took off nationally when she began to showcase her own outfits.
“I was inspired by the street style photos from the Sartorialist and just figured, why not?” says Poulton. Though the rest of the posts never veered from discussions of her daily life, readership boomed once the blogosphere picked up on her impeccable style.
Two years later, and with 10,000-plus readers to boot, Poulton has created a part-time job for herself. Outside of her work as a photographer and time with her newborn son, Everett, Poulton puts in around 20 hours a week running her blog, the Daybook. Her most popular feature? The humorous Awkward and Awesome Thursday posts, which chronicle the embarrassing, peculiar, and laugh-out-loud-funny moments of her week. Awkward and Awesomes have become something of a phenomenon among bloggers, with upward of a thousand people replicating them on their own sites.
We recently caught up with the new Washington transplant (she moved to Northern Virginia in August) to find out the fashion must-haves that no Washingtonian should be caught without and how she thinks her blog will evolve in her new city. When Poulton waltzed in, looking effortlessly chic in her gingham button-down, faux-leather pants, red lips, and beachy waves, it was easy to see why readers from all over the world turn to this twentysomething for fashion inspiration.
This was a banner year for breaking the mold in DC fashion. Between the founding of the Capital Area Fashion and Beauty Blogger network and the launch of Refinery29’s DC branch, the Internet all of a sudden exploded with the fashionable adventures of women in Washington. After months of checking the blogs obsessively, we’ve rounded up our favorites from the year. Trust us—you’ll want to bookmark these right now. We expect big, stylish things from these women in 2012.
The Chic Artist
Who: Meg Biram, 28
The Blog: MIMI + MEG
Why We’re Fans: Biram brings a chic, polished eye—not to mention a major burst of color—to fashion, interiors, art, and trends. The former Hallmark card designer and current artist (check out her abstract paintings here) moved to Northern Virginia in April 2011, and we’re excited to see how she influences (and is influenced by) the area’s preppy, professionally focused style. New for Biram going into 2012: personal outfit posts (finally!) and entrepreneurial advice.
Where She Shops in Washington: “I can always count on Georgetown to steal money from my wallet. I frequent Wink, AllSaints, Cusp, Zara, Intermix, West Elm, and CB2.”
The Most Treasured Items in Her Wardrobe: “1) A chevron Diane von Furstenberg dress I bought for an important ceremony while my husband was in the Air Force. I cherish that dress. 2) A pair of Kate Spade wedges I received for hosting the launch party for the Kate Spade store in Kansas City. 3) A black leather Marc by Marc Jacobs bag. It was my first major purse purchase, and I don’t regret a dime of it.”
Style Advice She Swears By: “Only buy what you love. Then you’ll never have a hard time getting dressed.”
On Her Wish List: A Dannijo Lucas ring ($180).
Pretty People's Annie Lee organizes a rack of vintage dresses. Photograph by Chris Svetlik.