Friday, December 17, 2010

Ali on the Radio!


I just finished doing a really fun segment on KUOW Presents, a terrific radio program on 94.9-FM, about three December-released films that offer great take-away fashion. All three films were recently featured on On This Day In Fashion: Morocco (1930), starring Marlene Dietrich and her pants; Saturday Night Fever (1977), starring John Travolta and his 19-year-old polyester-clad butt; and Out of Africa (1985), starring Meryl Streep and her amazing hats.

This is the second time KUOW has featured On This Day In Fashion on its program, and I don't think I was quite as relaxed as the first time around, but maybe it was just because I love these three films so much. You be the judge. Writers Katrina Ernst and Kristine Lloyd did a terrific job with the Cinemodes they wrote about the films—The New York Times even picked up and linked to Saturday Night Fever (!!)—so big kudos to those gals.

You can listen to the segment—it's about five minutes long—on

Monday, November 15, 2010

Me on the Tee-Vee!

Exciting news today: I did a short fashion segment on New Day Northwest, a terrific morning news-magazine show in Seattle, to talk about the November anniversary of Marc Jacobs' notorious grunge collection for Perry Ellis in 1992 and the return of grunge style in 2010. I teamed up with the stylistas at Ajentse, which represents fashion photographers, stylists and hair and makeup artists, and Heffner Management, the largest modeling agency on the West Coast, to put together a cool segment and fashion show that illustrated the "new grunge," the rebirth of a Northwest style 18 years after the fact.


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Watch the video above and read all about it On This Day In Fashion!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Q&A with Rebel Without a Cause Screenwriter Stewart Stern

Back in 1999 at the beginning of my magazine career, I interviewed Rebel without a Cause screenwriter Stewart Stern for Seattle magazine, where I was an editor. In the spirit of today's Cinemode, Rebel without a Cause, I thought it would be fun to dig up this lost interview after all these years and post it on On This Day In Fashion. The short Q&A with Stern centers around the fact that I'd recently discovered that the author—the nephew of Paramount Pictures founder Adoph Zukor and actress Mary Pickford, and first cousins to the Loews, who ruled MGM—had traded in the jungles of Hollywood for the wilds of Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, where he was a hiding out as a docent with the gorillas. Stewart was nothing less than a peach, and we talked in his garden and living room for about three hours. I didn't ask him about fashion or anything stylewise, of course, but he told me about James Dean and surprised me with a cool story about Jim Morrison and another about his aunt, the legendary actress and "It" girl, Mary Pickford.

It took me hours to find this little gem—probably the fourth or fifth story I ever published—on an old disk, and now I'm determined to find the mini-cassette tape I recorded the whole thing on. I don't remember exactly what was on that tape (lots of family bits and a conversation about the homosexual undertones of Rebel comes to mind), I only remember that as a young writer I was devastated at all the words I had to cut. When (if) I ever find that tape, I'll maybe transcribe it and post the whole long-lost interview. In the meantime, this conversation is what made the cut for publication:

Cinemode: Rebel Without a Cause

It was supposed to be filmed in black and white. Rebel without a Cause was already in production when the studio made the decision to switch to color Cinemascope, introducing entirely new concepts for the cinematographer and costume designer. Thanks to the inexplicable change of plans, when Rebel was released on this day in 1955, audiences were able to drink in James Dean’s saturated red jacket, bright white shirt and deep indigo blue jeans. These three everyday items of clothing worn together by Dean have become the most iconic jean-and-T-shirt combination in movie history, and literally changed the way teenagers perceived what was cool. For the first time, dressing down was suddenly more favorable than dressing up.

The film about a troubled new heartthrob in town looking for a little love and respect followed the success of Blackboard Jungle and The Wild One, the first films to depict young people as complicated and unhappy rather than obedient and cheerful. Director Nicholas Ray was passionate about wanting to depict the teenagers as realistically as possible, and he obsessed over every minutia of detail, even homing in on the symbolic use of color and how the costumes interacted in a landscape of primary tones.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Skirting the Law

I haven't posted a story in reference to the history of the skirt in a while, but this item is too good to pass up. Yesterday the mayor of Castellammare di Stabia, a southern Italian resort town, "has ordered police officers to fine women who wear short miniskirts or show too much cleavage, as part of a battle to raise what he describes as the level of public decorum," according to an article in the Guardian today.

Banning short skirts and arresting women for the length of their hemlines began long before the miniskirt was introduced in 1964, though Tunisia was the first country to ban the skirt altogether, soon followed by other African and Muslim nations, including Malawi, Madagascar and Swaziland. Twenty-six years later miniskirts were again outlawed in Swaziland in 2000 when it was believed that wearing them encouraged the spread of AIDS. Many men vocally defended the ban, vowing to rape any women they saw wearing miniskirts, saying, "They want to be raped and we're giving them what they want." The classic "they're asking for it" theory often comes up when a skirt ban is on the books. One example is from 2006, when then South African deputy president Jacob Zuma allegedly raped a 31-year-old AIDS activist because she crossed her legs in a knee-length skirt, signaling her desire to be raped, according to Zuma. "In Zulu culture you can't leave a woman when

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Bra That Wasn't There

This post was reblogged from the October 22, 2010, edition of On This Day In Fashion.


They called him an “enemy of the church,” a menace and, my personal favorite, “the Bolivar of the Bosom,” a reference to the 19th-century general who helped lead Spain to independence. But Los Angeles–based designer Rudi Gernreich didn’t have a fixation on breasts, as many critics angrily contended. Nope, Gernreich was quite happily gay, for one thing, and his appreciation for nudity transcended gender and singular body parts. He insisted his interest was not in exploiting women’s bodies, but in freeing them from binding, structured garments. He aimed to create clothing that followed the tides of fashion, though most of his designs—the topless bathing suit, the thong, the see-through blouse and psychedelic color combinations—were more innovative than consequential. Which is how on this day in 1964, Gernreich came to launch the No-Bra Bra, a featherweight pairing of two bias-cut triangles of sheer nylon net molded with only a single small dart. The elasticized shoulder straps, wrote fashion doyenne Eugenia Sheppard, “are as narrow as strings…and invisible as nothing.”

Light and invisible as it may have been, from Gernreich’s perspective, the bra wasn’t small enough. “I kept trying to make it briefer,” he said, “but there’s still too much going on.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cinemode: West Side Story

The film starts with finger snaps, of all things. Snaps as intimidation, snaps as tension, snaps as power and control and, of course, snaps as cool. Somehow, through coordinated snapping, West Side Story sets a tone for a different way of experiencing film: through color, angles, movement and sound. It might be the coolest film ever made and one of the most stylish, too. It’s the musical for people who hate musicals, a love story for people who hate love stories, a play about guys and gang warfare adapted for the screen that guys and, I’m guessing, gang members, like as much as gals typically do. When it premiered in New York City on this day in 1961, it created a new dialogue about teenagers, immigrants and the inner city, all while looking very, very cool. It’s no wonder it won 10 Academy Awards—one of which was for costume design—and reinvented what we think of when we think of musicals.

To critique or discuss just the costumes of West Side Story without folding in all of the other elements—sets, dance, songs, choreography and dialogue—would be like telling just the fourth chapter of a 10 chapter book. Because all of the artists working on the film carefully coordinated to blend their piece of the story with the others, so that one element—costumes, for instance—are never in

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cinemode: All About Eve

This post is reblogged from the October 13, 2010, edition of On This Day In Fashion.

In 1947 Bette Davis already had a dresser, the famed costumer Orry-Kelly, who had worked for Warner Bros. since the early talkies. But the two fought like cats, and Kelly’s ongoing bitchy comments about Davis’s aging looks and expanding figure didn’t help the relationship. Perhaps that’s how Paramount costumer Edith Head came to accompany Davis on a shopping trip to advise her on what to wear for the upcoming film, Winter Meeting, even though it was a Warner Bros. project. Head favored the longer hemlines that were coming into style and told Davis, “Don’t let anybody talk you into wearing a tight skirt. You’re not the type.” Davis was so smitten by Head’s straightforward advice that she bought everything Head told her to, and even copied her trademark schoolmarm haircut for her Winter Meeting role as a New England spinster and submitted a request to Paramount to loan Head out to her for upcoming projects, becoming the first star to do so. This is how Edith Head came to design the costumes for 2oth Century Fox’s All About Eve, which premiered on this day in 1950.

All About Eve is a deliciously sharp and snappy behind-the-scenes look at the cutthroat world of New York theater, and well-known for its biting dialogue, particularly the famous “fasten your seatbelts” line. But another quip, an aside from the comedic actress Thelma Ritter, who plays the maid to Davis’s Margo Channing, could have summed

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ali and On This Day In Fashion on the Radio!

I just wrapped up a great Cinemode segment about fashion in film on KUOW, the local affiliate of NPR, for "KUOW Presents." Host Jeannie Yandel and I talked about three movies that demonstrated the power of personal style, even when the means at hand are entirely limited. Can you guess what the movies were? Okay, I'll save you the suspense: Grey Gardens (the documentary not the Drew Barrymore remake), Times Square and Pretty in Pink. I especially loved how Jeannie spliced in bits from each film: Edie's famous monologue about her revolutionary costume, Nicky's call to arms, and the scene where Andi's dad marvels at his daughter's creative seamstress skills. You can listen to the segment here (it's about five minutes long), and while you're at it, throw a few bucks toward KUOW—it's pledge-drive time! Thanks to Jeannie and KUOW for having On This Day In Fashion on the air!

Photos: Four very different fashionistas from three very different films (left to right): Grey Gardens, Times Square and Pretty in Pink. What do they all have in common? None of them have any money but they've got a lot of sartorial spirit.

Claire McCardell Knew What to Wear

This post was reblogged from the October 8, 2010, edition of On This Day in Fashion.


“Clothes should be useful.” “I like comfort.” “I do not like glitter.” These are just a few edicts from mid-20th century designer Claire McCardell, and if they sound severe, well, she meant them to. This is a woman who earned popularity with the unseemly sounding “Monastic” and “Popover” dresses and tie-over “Diaper” bathing suit, who eschewed embellishments (“I like buttons that button and bows that tie”) and used “common” fabrics like denim and sprigged cotton—even in eveningwear—so that everyone could afford her garments. Given the elitist eye attached to those who tend to green light who and what passes muster in the hallowed halls of fashion, it’s any wonder McCardell’s comparatively plain garments weren’t purposefully tucked away in a museum basement in hopes that Americans would forever forget their yen for comfort and function and develop a never-wavering taste for poorly made and rapidly changing trends. And they could have, had the Parsons Museum not launched a retrospective of McCardell’s work on this day in 1998, and the Museum at FIT hadn’t launched its own retrospective of her designs a month later. Forty years after her death, the fashion community found a newfound appreciation for the one-time Time magazine covergirl, gushingly crediting her as a chief contributor to the “American look,”

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Introduction of the Little Black Dress


Sound the trumpets and hail Chanel! October 1 marks the Officially Recognized Day of the introduction of the designer’s iconic and history-making Little Black Dress. Yep, it was on this day in 1926 that American Vogue magazine ran a small illustration (left) of what it called Chanel’s “Ford” dress, likening the modest garment to the reliable Model-T of the era and hearkening Henry Ford’s line, "any customer can have a car painted in any colour that he wants so long as it's black." This was a time when twice a month, Vogue faithfully offered lengthy reviews of the Paris fashions, page after page of sketches of the latest coats, dresses, hats and gloves from the top French designers. Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Patou, Jeanne Paquin, Madeline Voinnet and Jacques Doucet received pages of descriptions detailing every element of their designs, from cuff to hemlines to buttons, and, occasionally, Mlle. Chanel earned a paragraph or two. But in 1926, Chanel’s casual designs were hardly considered true haute couture to Manhattan society ladies and Vogue editors; her jersey sportswear and unadorned dresses alone didn’t garner the six-day trip across the Atlantic by boat. So when the small sketch appeared in the October 1 issue it barely caused a stir, and it definitely didn’t incite the kind of rapturous praise the LBD, as we now call it, has received in recent decades. No, on this day, Vogue even curbed its usual gushing prose and accompanied the illustration with the following text:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Àli Mode: My Shoe Problem

This post is reblogged from today's On This Day In Fashion.
The Charles James sandals that made the cut.
Don't let the title mislead you: I'm not a shoe addict, or even a "shoe person." A bag person? Sometimes. Jewelry person? Sure. But although I dream of wearing these and these and these, it’s probably not going to happen. Reason being that I wear a size 11-wide heels (size 10½ sneaker) and there is nothing fun about shoe shopping—let alone shoe wearing—when you have big feet. (I’m about one more back spasm away from investing in these.) So when Oprah starts praising Jesus over her fabulous Louboutins and how shoes are a woman’s greatest fashion investment because everyone looks good in them no matter what their weight, I just want to throw my Bjorn clog at the TV screen. (Okay, I lied; I don’t own any Bjorn clogs. But I’m too lazy to go upstairs and read the insides of any of the ugly clunkers I do own, the names of which either of us probably wouldn’t recognize anyway). The point is, finding a really hot pair of shoes that are also made well in my size is a challenge and usually depressing. Most stores stock one—one—pair of size 11s, absolutely no 10 1/2s and maybe two pairs of 10s. Forget about ordering online: Too many “11s” are 10s in disguise. At least there’s a Nordstrom Rack near my house—several, actually—with aisle after aisle of marked-down size 11s through 13s where I, along with a small group of cross-dressers, can usually find a few good scores. From there I’ve unearthed a pretty pair of black Louboutin pumps that fit terribly and four or five pairs of Taryn Rose

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Musician and the Designer: Bjork and Alexander McQueen Create Magic

The following post is reblogged from the September 22 edition of
On This Day In Fashion.

What defines the relationship between artist and muse? And how are those boundaries altered when the roles are interchangeable, when the artist becomes muse and vice versa? Observing the longtime collaboration between musician Björk and designer Alexander McQueen, it’s hard to say who influenced the other more often and at what times. But the conversation began on the subject when Björk released her fourth record, Homogenic, on this day in 1997, and her image on the album cover received nearly as much attention as the songs inside. The elfin chanteuse fans loved was obliterated, replaced by a fierce snow queen styled in a nebulous blend of intergalactic references and historical costuming. With her insect-like contacts, Leia-on-steroids hair and geisha gown of armor, Björk crossed over into a new genre, a league of otherworldly, high-fashion aliens that sanctioned the very few: David Bowie, Grace Jones, Siouxie Sioux, Klaus Nomi, Laurie Anderson, Marilyn Mason and some others. (Comparisons of Bjork to Lady Gaga are moot: Gaga’s outrageous

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fashion Week Here and There

This editor's note post is reblogged from the September 15 edition of On This Day In Fashion.


As we roll into our third month parked here on the www, you may have noticed a few recent changes and updates to On This Day In Fashion. If not, allow me to give you the dime tour: A long overdue project—masthead bios and photos—have been posted on the About Us page so stop on by and pay us a visit. Cinemode, one of the most-read features on the site, got its own page yesterday, so you can skip on over there and more easily read through our fashion-in-film movie reviews. (Coming up soon: Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina!) Also, in honor of New York’s 67th annual fashion week taking place as I write and you read, all this week we have been running a “7th Avenue Special!” series, reruns of New York–centric stories from OTDIF that highlight the history and achievements of the city’s Garment District and Seventh Avenue. I am especially fond of today’s story written by Cody Bay, about how plucky New York girls and women bandied together, stood up to their mob bosses and formed the very first garment worker’s union. I really enjoy all of the 7th Avenue Specials, but today's is a definite must-read.

As far as Fashion Week goes, you’ve probably noticed that we are Twittering things we see and like, and delivering Daily Fashion Alerts on the day’s goings-on. I think when

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thrifty!

This post was reblogged from the September 5 edition of On This Day In Fashion.

Confession: I love shopping at Goodwill. I'm not just talking about the fact that I like how the money I spend there goes to a great cause, or how you can find cheap deals on pretty much anything that goes in a person's home. My love is more serious: I get a goosebump-inducing, pulse-racing thrill from shopping there, and I'll tell you why: When you score at Goodwill, the score can be epic.


For instance, as I write this, there's a mint-condition powder pink vintage Chanel suit up for auction at ShopGoodwill.com, and right now it's going for $601 with 50 minutes left on the clock. That same suit—in that condition, of that style and color, would sell for more than $1,000 on eBay. Now that is the kind of score that gets my pulse racing! (And, yes, I love that the $601 will go toward a great cause. How can you not?)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Seen in Seattle magazine!

This post is reblogged from "Àli Mode," my editor's note from the September 1 edition of On This Day In Fashion.



I’ve been trying to think of better titles for a weekly editor’s note than, um, “Editor’s Note” and I’m toying with the idea of Àli Mode. Get it? It’s me, but “of the style or fashion.” What do you think? Too silly, or kind of cute? Maybe I need to sit on it for a week and see how it looks.

I guess I’m not entirely trusting my own instincts on much of anything this week because I have been feeling a little too silly and cute lately, and I’m not normally an overly silly or cute kind of gal. But as has already been relayed in this space several times, I got married

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Married!

Wow, after 12 years working at a bridal magazine and a lifetime, I suppose, of wondering what my wedding would be like, I made the leap and tied the knot on August 26, 2010. It was a great wedding week, with family and friends flying out from around the country to lend their support and bust a few moves on the dance floor. Soon I'll post lots of pictures but in the meantime, many thanks to all the generous vendors, dear friends and wonderful family members who contributed to the big day. I can't believe it really happened!
Traveling in style on our short honeymoon in Chelan!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Choosing the Dress

This post is reblogged from August 18 edition of On This Day In Fashion.

The Gary Graham dress the started—and ended—the hunt for the perfect dress.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fashion lately, but not the kind you might be thinking about. Visions of wedding clothes are taking up the bulk of sartorial space in my head these days, reason being that I’m getting married next week, thanks very much, at the prettiest little waterfront venue in Seattle. Now let me tell you: This has been a long time coming! You see, I was the editor of a bridal magazine for many years, so I’ve given a lot of thought to weddings and all their trappings. I’ve seen a lot of dresses—well, pretty much all of them over the past 12 years, really—and as far as The Dress goes, I always knew I would wear something very original and different. I admire Vera and Oscar and the rest, but as someone who likes fashion as much as I do, I always

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This week's Editor's note

Here's this week's editor's note from On This Day In Fashion!
After last week’s inaugural editor’s note, I received a few emails from people reaching out with comments and questions—which is great! As the site grows I hope more readers share their thoughts. In fact, one of our shorter term goals is to set up some kind of fashion Q&A center where readers can come and ask any fashion question they like, from style concerns, such as what shoes look best with caftans (not closed-toe black flats, Hilary) to shopping dilemmas, perhapswhere to find vintage YSL, and fashion history questions, such as when the very first Fashion Week happened (July 20, 1943). We’re working toward a few cool ideas and, as always, feel free to let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see or improvements we can make.
One question asked last week is one that’s asked most often: Where do all the stories come from? Publishing a story about something that happened in fashion every day of

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Projects in the News!

I was so pleased to receive two new magazines in the mail last week and discover both featured stories about two of my latest projects! I knew both stories were running, of course, but you kind of forget about these things until they land in your lap—kind of like online shopping from French websites: By the time you receive your goodies you forgot you ordered them.

Anyway! The new, Fall/Winter Seattle Bride magazine is out—the first issue I haven't worked on in 12 years—and it is just sensational. The cover model is a beautiful redhead and my new inspiration

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The launch of On This Day in Fashion

The headline explains my exile from blogging (and life) over the past six months: I finally launched my long-in-the-works project: OnThisDayInFashion.com!

The idea came after the book I wrote a few years back on the history of the skirt was published, and I began blogging little "On this Day in Fashion History" posts that related back to snippets from the book. I don't know if any of my posts inspired book sales (I'm ranked, like, 2 billionth on Amazon and I've since disabled all the old posts so I can hoard them for the new site), but the project did inspire my new website. Once I left the helm at Seattle Bride last December, I knew it was time to tackle this project that had been festering in the back of my brain for three years. So I'm thrilled to say, I did it! 

So what is On This Day in Fashion? It's a daily magazine that delivers snippets of fashion news and trivia, and every Monday through Friday publishes The Stories Behind the Styles: feature articles about something fun, interesting, epic—or even macabre—that happened on that day in fashion history. Today's Story Behind the Styles, for instance, celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Women's Wear Daily, while yesterday's shared the details behind the release of "Too Funky," the Thierry Mugler directed video

Saturday, May 22, 2010

SATC2: Girls Night Out For a Purpose, and a killer fashion-raffle

I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to Sex and the City. For better or worse, I have enough years invested in the TV show that when the movies come out I'm not only first in line at the movie theater (a place I normally avoid) but dressed to the nines on opening night. So I'm really looking forward to seeing the sequel (again, for better or worse) this Thursday night. I even, natch, picked up (another) new dress from Gary Graham for the event. What can I say? In certain areas I'm impossibly predictable.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What We Talk About When We Talk About Food

This Friday at 7 p.m., Lorna Yee and I will be at one of my favorite small venues—Tom Douglas' Palace Ballroom—for a foodie/book event hosted by one of my favorite women, Kim Ricketts of her eponymous book events. Kim hosted amazing food-meets-words nights for many years; I've been to a handful of her events and can attest that they are great fun and truly interesting. We'll be talking about the recipes and stories behind The Newlywed Kitchen, which I can also attest is great fun and truly interesting. I hope to see you all there!

Location: Tom Douglas' Palace Ballroom
2030 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

7–10 p.m.
$25, through Brown Paper Tickets

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This is actually my dream wedding necklace...

I spent a sick day yesterday catching up on fashion blogs (my list of daily "must-reads" has grown to, like, 70), and I nearly fell out of bed when I saw this found-object necklace on W magazine's normally, er, dreary site. The writer spotted it at the SOFA show at the NY Amory, and took the time for a short Q&A with the artist, Jennifer Trask. I'm anti-taxidermy, and don't fawn over mounted antlers and the rest of that hunter's-kill-chic ilk, but this highly polished necklace of deer antlers, cow and ox bones, pigeon skull, nutria teeth, pre-ban ivory, plastic, steel, brass and five tiny hidden diamonds looks like 18th-century porcelain and I'm smitten. My first thought: This is the perfect necklace to wear with my GG wedding dress! (Unconventional, yes, but so is my whole bridal ensemble.) Anyone have an extra $14K and wants to treat me to an early wedding present? :)

From top: Jennifer Trask’s necklace, $14,000, ornamentumgallery.com; jennifertrask.com; Trask’s wall installation for the Museum of Arts and Design’s Dead or Alive exhibit.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"There are so many things to love about a person other than how they cut a carrot."

This year has clearly flown by, as today—the release date for the Newlywed Kitchen—completely snuck up on me. Today, May 1, you can find our cookbook on various online sites as well as in bookstores everywhere!

I'm so pleased with how pretty it is; Sasquatch did a beautiful job of compiling all of Lorna's recipes and the charming food/love stories of so many inspirational couples. I hope everyone who reads it finds the idea of cooking with their partner—something antithetical to far too many home chefs—as joyful and rewarding as Lorna and I do. We have learned that cooking with another person is one of the most giving and loving things you can do for each other. It's also a wonderful way

Friday, April 30, 2010

"We all excuse Robin..."

How can anyone not be crazy for Tim Gunn? This video, part one of a critique of superhero costumes, is classic TG. Carry on!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Meeting the sisters of Rodarte

Today I stopped by the Rodarte trunk show at Nordstrom to meet the Mulleavy sisters and see their fall 2010 collection and the verdict is in: Those two women are as cool and charming and down-to-earth as all other accounts have stated before me. To boot, the collection, which is inspired by a road trip they took from El Paso to Marfa, Texas, is stunning and truly evocative. After seeing the clothes in person, all I can say is that these photographs, simply put, stink. No offense to the photographer, but nothing compares to the opportunity of seeing, feeling and experiencing

Monday, April 26, 2010

I want to go there...

I can't stop looking at these pictures of "The Maison in a Room" that Martin Margiela designed at 10 Corso Como, a must-shop boutique in Milan. I'm a sucker for trompe l'oeil—not to mention Margiela—and these examples are pretty great. The room, which artfully displays all of Margiela's non-fashion lines (home objects, fragrance, sunglasses, jewelry), is up through May 30, so lucky Milanese should scoot on over. I found the story at SlamXHype, but you can read more about it and view detail shots on 10 Corso Como's blog, er, journal.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wedding Talk on Nearlywed Radio


Late Friday night I got one of those "pleasecallmebacknomatterwhattime" messages from my friend Gayle, the owner of All About Weddings & Celebrations and one of the hosts of Nearlywed Radio. It turns out that her co-host was down-and-out with the flu, and she needed a last-minute stand-in for a live radio show the next morning: Would I be up for the gig? Gayle knows me too well; I love to chat! So Saturday a.m. I rolled my bike over to VegFest at the Seattle Center, where KKNW had a booth set up for the show. It was really fun! We interviewed the owner of Upper Crust Catering, who, for health reasons, has become an "extreme vegan," and now creates vegan and veg menus for weddings. I also got to blab about my own wedding plans: What bride-to-be doesn't love that? You can listen to the whole show here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Closet Envy

I love clothes, but the truth is I'm more a fan of clever design than amassing loads of outfits and trends of the moment. Even more limiting on my clothing purchases is my not-so-secret alter ego as a guilt-ridden tree hugger. People are usually surprised when they see how few clothes and shoes my partner (who puts my own style to shame) have in our adjoining walk-in closet. But style, my dears, is all smoke and mirrors! Purchase and hold onto interesting and well-made clothes—I especially love finding great vintage—and do a lot with the art of mix-and-match and your friends will get the impression you're the next Anna Piaggi. And until this afternoon, when I caught one of the newer Closet Confessions on Bluefly, I was quite content with my minimalist style. Then Kelly Cutrone goes and offers a tour of one of her many, many closets and I developed a serious case of…want. Watch it and weep.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Shoes

For years I counseled brides that, if they are wearing a classic wedding gown, they should save on the dress and splurge on the shoes. The thinking being that, unlike the dress, the shoes can be worn over and over, so why not purchase that fabulous pair of Christian Louboutins or Manolos you always dreamed of but could never justify? If something is going to be worn once and then packed away until it sprouts black mold, I'd personally rather wear J. Crew or Anthropologie—or even something off-the-rack from David's—than drop $6K on Vera Wang. Then again, I'm not your typical bride, especially when it comes to The Dress.
   I couldn't help thinking of that advice again when I laid eyes on these ridiculously lavish Louboutin "Marie Antoinette" heels—of which just 36 pairs were made and sold at the designer's Madison Avenue boutique earlier this month, and despite the fact that  my own upcoming wedding colors are neither yellow nor purple nor red. At $6,295 a pair and so extravagant one could hardly imagine wearing them once, let alone on a regular basis (particularly in the muddy Northwest where I live), these heels are the antithesis of my advice. And yet…wouldn't it be fabulous? 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Coolest Engagement Video…


Save the Date - August 26, 2010 from t davis on Vimeo.

is ours! (If I do say so myself :)

The genius hubby-and-wife team of Lance Wagner and Trixie Lane at Seattle's Old School Pinups helped Todd and I recreate our meeting and engagement into the niftiest ever proposal/save-the-date video for the small wedding we're having late this summer and we couldn't be more thrilled. A while back we took some dress clothes to their studio (housed in an old mid-century-modern kindergarten) where Trixie brought out a spread of yummy snacks and cocktails before completely transforming me into a spitting-image version (humor me, please) of my Golden Era screen goddess idol, Myrna Loy, and then styled Todd into a retro-dapper version of himself. As you can see

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Gothic Crow

There are few women I consider greater personal icons than Patti Smith. Her music, style, writing and spirit have provided 20-plus years of inspiration, and so I rarely miss an opportunity to see and hear her when she's in town. She was in town for a reading/performance at the end of January, and as usual she charmed the socks off of every person in the auditorium (Socks sidebar: Once I saw Patti at an outdoor concert and during a guitar solo she peeled off her socks and whirled them over her head like she was going to fling them into the audience, stripper style, before collapsing into giggles. It was so cute).
One of my favorite parts from the January reading was when the interviewer, rock writer Charles Cross, asked about O Magazine naming her as a fashion icon. Patti shrugged her shoulders underneath her Ann Demeulemeester jacket, giggled and said, "It's not my fault!" She paused for the crowd to finish laughing and continued in her thick Jersey accent, "I've always loved fashion. I've just got my own way of dealin' with it."



 I've always loved Patti's timeless

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Ladies of Skirts

A few years back when I was writing The Madcap History of the Skirt, my editor was adamant that I include a section about the fashions of America's First Ladies. I remember her saying: "People will love it, and it will SELL," words every writer wants to hear, but I was still cool on the idea. I wanted the book to be fun and cheeky and the first ladies seemed so…dry. But once I began my research I was quick to warm up to first lady fashion. I was looking at their dresses with an eye homed in on the evolution of their skirts, began reading about the inauguration dresses and was sidetracked for days. 
   So I was delighted to find this new video posted from the Smithsonian about the First Ladies exhibit at the National Museum of American History in D.C. (Best inexplicable, somewhat random cutaway line: "We're going to have to lower Barbara's purse.")

Can I just say that Lisa Kathleen Graddy and Sanae Park Evans have my dream jobs? Nearly 20 years ago I spent a summer interning in the basement of the Asian textiles department of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, cataloging and preserving antique textiles and fabrics and wishing I was riding my bike in the sunshine. Had I known that there were jobs like these—cataloging and preserving dresses like Michelle Obama's little number from Jason Wu—I might have stuck with it!
   I've seen this exhibition several times since I was a child, and I'm looking forward to seeing Obama's dress when I'm visiting in May. I wish they allowed

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Newlywed Kitchen arrived!

Today's mail held a particularly special package: My first copy of The Newlywed Kitchen, the cookbook I coauthored that strives to inspire couples to learn to love cooking together. It's wonderful to see a longtime idea come to fruition: I've often said this book is like a really long feature I always wanted to run in Seattle Bride Magazine, one that came from my dismay at learning that so many couples not only don't cook their own meals, but think of the kitchen as more of a battleground than a place of love. In fact, I remember interviewing one new bride and she said something like, "Oh, he would never let me in the kitchen. He yells at me if I chop onions wrong!"—words that broke my heart. As chef Duskie Estes, one of the many wonderful contributors to the cookbook, said so perfectly: "There are so many things to love about a person than how they chop a carrot."

Soon after I began thinking about couples and their often combative relationship in the kitchen, The New York Times ran an article about "alpha chefs," control-freak cooks who consider the kitchen their sacred ground and

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Hemline Theory is Back!

Two competing skirt lengths from Emilio Pucci FW10 collection test the hemline theory. Photo: Marcio Madeira / FirstView.com






I was delighted to see this article on yesterday's Wallet Pop about the history of economic upturns correlating with rising hemlines. The author, Amy Pyle, even pulled a snippet from my book:







Skirts functioning as a barometer for the economy is not a new theory. And as Seattle author Ali Basye points out in her book on the history of the skirt, it's a theory that had largely fallen from favor in the 21st Century because lengths vary so widely from woman to woman and day to day. In Chapter 4 of her book, The Long (and Short of It): the Madcap History of the Skirt, Basye points out that in the early 1970s, when "hot pants were the rage ... the advice at Dow Jones was 'Don't sell until you see the heights of their thighs!'"

Photo: Marcio Madeira / FirstView.com
Pyle is correct in writing that the idea of skirt lengths predicting economic upturns is more "legend" than fact. (Miniskirts, for instance, were still worn through the 1973–74 recession, and women literally protested in the streets against the coinciding introduction of maxi skirts!) 


Monday, February 15, 2010

The tables have turned

…and someone wrote an article about me for a change! I had forgotten to post this last week, but our local newspaper published a story about our house, which makes for an interesting subject only because the space is small (1,200 sq feet) and green-built. The author did a terrific job and the photographs are just beautiful. Big thanks to Colleen and Ben for making Todd and I seem way cooler than we are :)

BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER/THE SEATTLE TIMES

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A long time coming...

Apparently, it took quitting my job at Seattle Bride to lift the so-called "wedding curse" (not really a curse at all) that had hit so many employees before me. Earlier this week Todd completely surprised me and proposed with a family heirloom ring my mom sneakily sent him a few weeks ago. So it's official: After all these years I am a Seattle Bride!

Todd popped the question in a booth at Tango, our old neighborhood hangout where we met three-and-a-half years ago, also during a Sunday happy-hour. It was very low-key, romantic and sweet. I hadn't even showered that day, had no makeup on, and was wearing jeans, sneakers and a flannel shirt—I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm a keeper :)

So that's the story. I have no idea what kind of wedding we'll have, but it will probably be sometime this summer, small and sincere. Stay tuned for news about this next adventure...

It did not happen on a starry night in Paris with the Eiffel Tower coming out of my head, but it was THIS romantic!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gary Graham on Elle

Image by Kelly Stuart
My favorite designer is back, this time on today's Elle blog (I think it's the best fashion-mag daily-blog right now), where he gives a peek at his Fall 2010 line and chats about his process and inspiration. The new line and the ideas behind it are fascinating, and there's a great video—and loads of gorgeous studio images by photog Kelly Stuart—that gives a little window inside the mind of Gary Graham.

Coincidentally, the peace T-shirt Gary created for the CFDA Fashion Fund contest went on sale at the Google Store today. I got one; will you?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Big changes for 2010

At risk of being redundant, this an excerpt of the letter I sent out to several hundred people late last month:

Some of you have already heard the news that after many years I'm moving on from Seattle Bride Magazine to pursue independent interests. …To answer the burning question: Nope, I'm not leaving for another gig. My goal is to continue editing and writing for the magazines and clients I'm fortunate to have a long history with, while chasing after any interesting leads and opportunities. (I might even take a vacation or two.) The Newlywed Kitchen, the book I co-authored with Lorna Yee, is due out in May 2010, and in the coming month I'll be debuting a new web site that will provide more information about my upcoming plans.

     I've been friends with many of you since long before my days at Seattle Bride, and I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the rest of you during my time there. It's been a wonderful ride, one I'm truly proud of and cherish. I invite you all to keep in touch with your ideas and inspirations—or just to say hello from time to time.

So that is my big news! I have a very interesting and juicy project in the works that I intend to share more of later. And of course, from time to time, I'll post when I have a story published or other news to report or, basically, when I remember to. In the meantime, I'll sign off this post with a picture that sums up what I will miss more than anything about this wonderful job editing Seattle Bride: The thrill of getting my hands on that first, real, tangible copy as it lands on my desk—or, in this case, as it debuted at the annual Best of Bride party. It was an absolutely wonderful journey!


Viewing the issue fresh off the presses. I'll miss it! (Image from Team Photogenic)