Monday, 31 December 2012

Finnish Fashion & Style: Another Look in Scandinavia

After writing about the fashion and style of Stockholm, Sweden, a friend of mine asked me about Finnish fashion and style. I've been here in Finland so often, but realized that I never wrote anything about any of the things that I've seen, especially after spending the summer in Helsinki(love that city!!!!), so this will be the post that will cover that. Helsinki is the capital and the largest city in Finland and is located in the region of Uusimaa in southern Finland, on the arm of the Baltic Sea (the Gulf Of Finland). Helsinki is 50 miles north of Tallinn, Estonia, 250 miles east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 190 miles west of St. Petersburg, Russia (I so wanna check out Moscow and St. Petersburg!!!). Helsinki was chosen as the World Design Capital for 2012, and was voted as the 8th best city to live in. Whenever I am out and about, I'm always checking out what people are wearing and their style. I'm always seeing some interesting things. In Stockholm, you see a lot of minimalist pieces with one piece that takes the attention, but in Helsinki, you can notice a couple of things that take the attention. They could be so opposite, yet they work in an interesting way. The Finnish, like the Swedes combine a touch of the traditional cold weather staples, but they always do it with a bold color. The Swedes may do it with black or blue denim, but the Finns take it there with a red or green jean and a really funky sneaker or shoe. All of the outerwear is very sports oriented, so there is a lot of techno fabrics and everything is worn in a street style. Here are a few examples of funky, Finnish street style. A lot of the pics were taken in warmer weather and I couldn't find much on Finnish street fashion at the moment of this writing.
Getting back to the prints, (Finland is the home of the printed fabric) they are never screaming at you. They are quite wild, but not so much where it's overpoweing. The Finns combine this very well with the basics, but they also include interesting hairstyles and makeup, which take their looks to the next level. Asymetric and colored hair are a couple of the many trends that you will see here. You would believe that you are living in a community of artists here, because everyone does their own individual style. Some rock the heavy metal looks of the 80's with a touch of today. Others are rocking the sharp hipster look that is big everywhere in the world and is also made fun of in the States (skinny jean, boots, glasses). To me the styles between Stockholm and Helsinki are like night and day where Stockholm is like the business day look and Helsinki are the party animals of the night. If you ever get the chance to stroll through Helsinki during the summer or even in the winter, go for it and check out the people. You can show off your great sense of style with not a lot of money here as well. H&M, Kapp Ahl, and Gina Tricot are great places to get great pieces that are not as expensive, but showcase a lot of style. For guys, Dressman and H&M are perfect for sharp looks without spending a ton of cash. Marimekko and Eurokangas is great for printed fabric, if you're creative and willing to make your own pieces. Check them out. I always do!!! Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Stockholm: Fashion and Style Of One Part of Scandinavia

Having never been to Stockholm, I was eager to see the land which gave us ABBA, Ace Of Base, and the acting dynasty of the Skarsgards (Stellan and his 4 sons, Bill, Gustav, Alexander and Valter). I wanted to see how fashionable the Swedes are compared to the practicality fashion of the Germans, the printed and traditional fashion of the Finnish (yet with lots of Nordic and very Scandinavian touches), the eccentric and sometimes avant garde fashions of the British and the flashy designer-y and sometimes experimental, yet sporty fashions of the Americans. I also wanted to see what would inspire me in this beautiful city, full of art and culture. The boat docks in Stockholm and like an overeager child, I'm ready to get off of the boat and tear through the streets to see as much as I can as well as to check out the different ways the Swedes are dressing and how the stores there dictate what we see on the streets. I wanted to see how the Swedish take a trend and make it their own. Once off of the boat, the first thing I realize is that it is quite windy there. Snowy and icy, like Finland (it is winter after all), it is quite a beautiful city. Stockholm is the capital and the largest city in Sweden. It is also the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Founded in c 1250, Stockholm has been one of Sweden's cultural, media, political, and economic centers. I've always found Scandinavian fashion quite interesting, because in some cases the weather can be quite extreme (in winter, it can be very cold and there may be a lot of snow and ice), but the Scandinavians have a way of still having unique looks combined with the traditional styles of the country (traditional woolen sweaters, scarves, hats, socks, legwarmers, etc). One of the things that I can say that I've noticed and loved about the things I've seen fashion wise in Sweden (as well as most other places, even New York) is that you don't need a lot of money to be fashionable and stylish. You can mix designer pieces from the top brands (Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, D Squared, Diesel, etc.) with pieces from H&M, Bik Bok, and Weekday (all stores under the H&M umbrella) as well as with traditional woolen pieces and fur (faux, of course) and come up with a unique style that can be edgy or understated (that depends on the look you wanna go for). Understated is the main look in Sweden, but you can throw in a little edge and make it fun. These photos are from Stockholm Fashion Week. These dictate the current trend of minimalism with a slight edge, or something that I would consider the Stockholm Style.
Going through the fashion magazines in Sweden(my favorite is Bon Magazine), I see an explosion of different things. On one end, I see a lot of science fiction and fantasy inspired pieces, pieces full of drama and have a sense of romanticism to them (they're in the current issue of DVMode-Winter 2012 issue). Here is the cover and one pic that I was able to get to describe the looks.
I couldn't get any looks from my favorite Swedish fashion magazine "Bon", but here is the website to check out not only the current issue, but other articles as well( They are all in Swedish, but I love a lot of the pictures and they are pretty inspirational. I have to figure out a way to get a printed copy of the magazine every now and then. I'll have to shake down one of my favorite magazine stores and see if they will have it. I hope to make a trip back to Stockholm in the spring/summer to see some more fashion and check out some of the fabric stores. I'm also gonna try and get Sweden into the schedule to check out the fashion weeks. We will see. As I close this post, I'd like to take this time out(because I may be too drunk tomorrow to do it) to wish all of those that are following me and those who are just checking me out a Happy and Prosperous New Year!!! Eat heartily, drink merrily, dance crazily and look sexy and fashionable!!! Take me with you in spirit and get my spirit home safely. Take care of yourselves and each other!!!! Stay fashionable and sexy!!!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Disco Inferno

As much as the 70's gets made fun of and derided by many people, it did produce some interesting things, fashion and music wise. The music became more funky, more socially conscious and more sexually aware. Pride in all capacities were shown through and through. Discos were turning up everywhere, turning ordinary people into stars and fashion getting much more daring. Platform shoes, strappy and very high stilettos, glitter, sequins, beads, and colorful polyester that doesn't wrinkle and keeps you looking good, even though the fabric didn't breathe, so you would sweat like a whore in church. These are some of the things that define the disco era. The music would throb and the disco was the place to see and be seen. I get a lot of inspiration from the disco era, because I was child in the midst of it. I loved all of the easy glamour that disco provided. The clothes were sexy and comfortable. You can look good at any price point. It was all about fun!!! Now, it has come back in a big way in the Fall/Winter 2012 collections. Color, sequins, beading and easy, but fun glamour is on the menu, so dust off your Donna Summer records and pump it as the soundtrack when you are checking out these pieces.
Prada is turning it out with the printed trouser suit and tunic, taking a cue from the polyester suits of the day. The patterns are bold, but cut for today's woman. I love all of the tunics and the dresses over pants. Also love the suits. These are pieces that can stand alone with other things in your closet and offer a punch in a look. You can do the suit jackets with jeans or a skirt and you can do the pants with killer stilettos and a tank top. Here are a few of my favorites:
Roberto Cavalli (one of my favorite Italian designers) gave us luxury at his finest here. Wearing any of these pieces to the disco will surely get your picture taken and on your way to stardom. Fur bubble skirts, painted python with huge cat motifs, beaded t shirts. These are pieces for a girl that wants to be seen. Here are some of my favorites:
Meadham Kirchhoff really struck a candy colored chord with me with this collection. Everything was so playful and tapped into the club kid in me. Wild hair and makeup and Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" as the soundtrack pumped this party boy into overdrive and I fell in love with all of the pieces. Here are a few of my favorites:
So put on your dancing shoes and let's dance the "Last Dance"!!! Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Drag Queens: An Inspiration

Recently, I sat down and did some catching up on "RuPaul's Drag Race". Now, like any other designer, I LOVE DRAG QUEENS!!! The reason why? They are fearless and will take a chance on a look. They also can give you amazing ideas in unexpected ways. They exaggerate femininity, so their looks can be quite glamorous, (albeit overly glamorous) or quite humorous. It's all in a matter of taste and the queen executing said taste.
Most everday women would never go that far to achieve a look like these, but a lot of work goes into being a drag queen, or gender illusionist. You have to have a knowledge of fashion, makeup, hair and know how to put it all together all by yourself. You also have to know all of the tricks to create the illusion of female curves on a broad, and straight male surface. Once you've mastered that, you have to have balls (pun intended) to put it all out there for the world to see. This is when the fearless part comes in. As a big fan of drag queens of every type (pageant, bar, club, comic), I always check out their looks from head to toe. Some will buy clothes off of the rack and some will get things made for them, but some of the really good ones will make things for themselves and those are the ones that I am really drawn to. They are willing to create the looks that may be avant garde, but wearable, attention grabbing and show stopping. It's a lot of money to make all of this happen (shoes and wigs alone can eat up the money), but if you can be creative, walk in heels and do an amazing makeup job, you're halfway there.
The reason why drag queens are an inspiration for me is because they always come up with something that I may have never thought of before. It may be over the top, but there is always a way to pare it down and take it to the sellable, commercial level. The more creative ones know how to turn a cheap fabric that no one would touch into a look that would inspire a designer's next catwalk collection. I always manage to find an interesting idea that I want to expand upon in seeing drag queens. I can go through may fashion magazines, many fashion books, even watching all sorts of fashion tv, but I always get some great inspiration from drag queens.
Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Giorgio Armani- A Fan's Tribute

There are so many designers that I love and get inspiration from. Each designer has something that totally inspires me to take things to the next level, and some also teach me how to pull it back. This designer has been my FAVORITE designer for as long as I can remember. His name is Giorgio Armani. My love for Giorgio Armani came from the Richard Gere/Lauren Hutton movie "American Gigilo". Richard's character, Julian (a high paid escort) only wore the finest clothes and Armani was a staple in his closet. In the opening scene, Julian is taking shirts that are neatly folded out of a drawer and tosses them on the bed. The shirts are in pastel and neutral colors and inside of the collar, you see the Giorgio Armani label. I was really young when I saw that movie, but that image stays in my mind whenever I think of Giorgio Armani. This was a feat he did five years after starting his label. He not only made Julian fashion forward and start the trend of Italian dressing in the States, he also got a huge boost of sales from it because wives, and girlfriends wanted to dress their husbands or boyfriends like Julian in the movie, and to look like Julian, you had to get Armani.
Giorgio Armani was born on July 11th, 1934 in Piancenza, Italy, a small city north of Milan. He was the second of three children. He wasn't a very good student in school, but he managed to get through it. He got his first job at La Rinascente, a department store in Milan. After working there for a bit, he got a job at Cerruti for six years becoming a fabric connoisseur in the process. With no formal fashion training and already 37, he set up his own label in 1975, with the help of his personal and professional business partner, Sergio Galeotti. The piece that started it all and is a mainstay in any collection is the deconstructed jacket, a jacket that was stripped of the lining and padding and became looser and more fluid. The early pieces were in neutral colors (brown, grey, beige, cream, greige (a combination of grey and beige)) and they were lighter. Elegance was no longer stuffy and casual, easy Italian style became all the rage in the States. Although there are many Italian brands out there (Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Pucci, Prada), they are all so different from Armani. Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, and Roberto Cavalli are very rock and roll, with studs, chiffon and plunging necklines. Pucci is wildly patterned and looks amazing on the beach or on the yacht. Prada is more arty, yet trendy. Armani is all about the same things when he started: clean lines, sharp tailoring, wearable and luxurious. No Armani piece has ever gone out of style. He doesn't stray too far away fro what works because to him, there's no need to. These pics are from the Spring Summer 2013 collection- womenswear.
While all of the other companies are owned by bigger corporations, Giorgio owns his company 100%. The secret to having longevity: He says that you must have clarity in your vision and he has that in spades. His company has been at the top for 37 years and now at 78, he shows no signs of slowing down. I hope to have my fashion line lasting like his. Here are some pics from his Spring Summer 2013 collection- menswear.
Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Belstaff: A Heritage Brand Steps Into Today

Anyone who rides a motorcycle knows that although Harley Davidson is the preferred motorcycle of choice, Belstaff is the preferred outerwear to ride that bike. I'm loving that this 88 year old company is stepping into the apparel market aggressively. It has always been a luxury leathers company and it still is, but now there will be a fashion side to go with it. With Ewan MacGregor wearing the jackets on his many motorcycle outings and in the advertising, you can bet that this company is making sure it hits all the marks.
Belstaff is an English luxury outerwear brand founded in 1924 in Longton, Staffordshire. Their main claim to fame was creating all weather jackets for motorcyclists and being the first company to use waxed cotton. They also created gloves and goggles for the burgeoning aviation market. In the 1980's, Belstaff branched out to include golf wear. The 1990's were tough on them and they had to close a couple of factories, making the output much smaller and more exclusive. In June 2011, Belstaff was acquired by the Labelux Group and the are working hard and aggressively to transform the brand. Bally is also owned by the Labelux Group. Belstaff had a show during Fashion Week in New York, making sure that New Yorkers know who they are. The inspiration for the womens collection was vintage luggage and the romanticism of travel. Spring 2013 never looked so good. Here are a few shots from the show.
The menswear collections were shown in Italy. They are determined that you know their name. Luxury Personified!!!!
Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!!