The right handbag is like Mr. Right. It’s always by your side when you need it, and it offers the perfect amount of arm candy. This season, structured duffel bags are quite the catch. Their classic, refined form mixes with 2010′s hottest trends (à la bold hues, patterns and embellishments) to create a fresh look that’s on mark with what fashionistas look for in a new bag. While this satchel’s shape may be reminiscent of a your grandpa’s bowling bag, its wide-set shape and top-zip closure translates into a spacious carry-all that’s easy to tote–and impossibly chic.
And the best part? All the bags below can be worn with just about any outfit imaginable.
Clockwise from upper left:
1. Alexander Wang “Rocco” satchel ($875)
2. Chloe “Aurore” leather duffle bag ($1,800; net-a-porter.com)
3. Bric’s micro-suede satchel ($242; forzieri.com)
4. Furla “D Light” bag ($180)
5. Zara oversized bowling bag ($169)
6. Rebecca Minkoff “Navajo Stud Flame” bag ($425)
By Meghan Turner
Images courtesy of Alexander Wang, net-a-porter.com, forzieri.com, Rebecca Minkoff, Zara and Furla
When mixed together, organic and glamor create a dynamic combo that gives jewelry an unpretentious yet ritzy feel. This blue kyanite necklace by Chicago designer jules. nails it.
Photography by Chicago Looks
Photography by Chicago Looks
If you’re an accessory aficionado, Alexis Bittar is on your radar. Each of his designs is a statement piece of individual splendor, and last week, we had the extraordinary honor of chatting with him at an exclusive Saks Fifth Avenue event. We walked in and amongst the runway seats and audience stood two tables–and later models–adorned with lavish bounty: Alexis Bittar’s Spring 2011 collections. We saw ocean-inspired necklaces, colorful leopard prints and bejeweled masterpieces, all designed to wow.
There were three collections for spring, each with their own personality: “Lucite,” “Elements” and “Miss Havisham.” The three all had their own texture, material preference and vibrancy that appeal to three style aesthetics. However, they all hold one thing in common: personality. These pieces are not for the feeble-minded. They’re for the fashionably brave who wish to use the industry for what it’s intended to do: impress and stand out.
Here’s what the jewelry master had to say:
SA: How is the Spring 2011 collection different from your others?
AB: Well, I designed three collections, so its is a medley. Each one of them has a distinct personality. I think in general there’s this kind of [motivation] to try new textures and metals, and overall, there was a fantasy.
SA: Do you have a favorite piece or set within the collections?
AB: Sophie’s choice! There’s a bunch in there. I love the pearl collar necklace. I love the woven turquoise collar, which is all hand-done. There’s a ‘80s graffiti print that’s also really amazing.
SA: Do you have a muse?
AB: It’s tricky because again I have three collections, so each one has a muse. I try to mix it up in terms of personality. I’m good friends with Iris Apfel. She’s more mature…almost 90, and they did a whole exhibit about her at the MET. She’s got such a great personality, and she’s a fashion icon. She has great individual taste. Also…Debbie Harry. I like people who have personality, who aren’t wallflowers. I feel like if you’re going to do fashion, then at least have fun.
SA: Why did you choose Lauren Hutton for the spring ad campaign?
AB: It’s funny because when I first started to design, I was selling jewelry on the streets of New York. I remember Lauren actually coming to my table when I was 19 years old. I feel like today Lauren resembles a mother of where fashion is going this season in terms of what Chloe and Celine are doing: This very clean, very ‘70s aesthetic. When you find a face that’s iconic and of substance, sometimes that comes with age. To have an iconic face, you have to be around for a while. There’s something in the maturity of her face. She’s a strong woman. She’s my date to the MET Ball!
SA: How do you feel like your designs have evolved since setting up a table on the streets of New York? Do you feel your work still holds the same personality it did then?
AB: Definitely! I’m fortunate I’ve got a team of 12 people on the design team, and 300 total. So, I’m able to design more and more frequently. I have the privilege that I can design what I’m inspired by. For example, for fall, I’m designing this pendent that says, “Reality TV Makes Me Sad.” It’s been 20 years, but I’m much more detail oriented now. I understand the consumer better. I feel like with the older I get, the better I understand what women want.
SA: Do you have any jewelry trends you are particularly excited about for spring?
AB: I like the clean metal pieces. Also, the trend toward this multi-ethnic, eclectic feeling. I feel like mixing that up is a strong look.
SA: Can you give us fall sneak peak?
AB: For fall, I worked again with Jason Wu to design his collection. We went into this baroque, Gothic, Tim Burton look, while still being very chic. We just showed it in Paris!
SA: You were really big into the New York party scene. What of that do you see in your work today?
AB: A lot. I was going to clubs when I was 13. I feel like the whole energy of it is to have fun, and a little bit of shock. You want to keep people on their feet. Fashion shouldn’t be boring.
We couldn’t agree more.
By Meghan Turner
Interview conducted by Meghan Turner and Maia McGinley
Images: Gold ring ($325); Turquoise and varasite collar ($495); Leopard bracelet ($375) courtesy of Alexis Bittar
To commemorate daylight savings and the extended rays of spring, we’re looking for our next pair of sunnies. These Alexander Wang x Linda Farrow zipper motif sunglasses ($389; gargyle.com) will be hard to take off.
Photography by Chicago Looks
When charity and fashion merge, they offer the promise of inspiration and entertainment. Every year at the Chicago Fashion Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Benefit, the organization awards local fashion students with scholarship money based on their one-of-a-kind ensembles. This year’s inspiration was Chicago’s music scene, and with the community’s support, CFF was able to give away a whopping $6,500 to three lucky winners.
This was CFF’s fourth benefit to date. It was held last Thursday at The Chicago History Museum and was hosted by “Project Runway” contestant (a Chicago native) Peach Carr. About 200 attendees and CFF members mingled under twinkling chandeliers while the Ravinia Jazz Scholars serenaded its audience of fashionable guests. A cocktail reception with gourmet hors d’oeuvres, from grapes rolled in goat cheese to Crumbs cupcakes, completed the pre-show entertainment.
While the who’s who took their seats, the impressive panel of judges were introduced: Candace Jordan, a Chicago fashion enthusiast and blogger; Catie Keogh, the host of NBC’s 24/7; Amanda Monteiro of Georgio Armani; and Lara Miller, the adored Chicago eco-designer. They watched as nine students showcased their designs on the runway, competing for one of the scholarships: $500, $1,000 and $5,000. Before the final judgment, Peach Carr presented her own spring line of tennis separates inspired by the ’70s.
The third place award went to Rebecca Lopez of Columbia College for her design inspired by the Maxwell Street Blues, consisting of a weaved graphic skirt and white-trimmed blouse. Second was K’Lynn Kennedy from The International Academy of Design and Technology. Her tuxedo-inspired suit with skinny trousers, cummerbund and sharp-lapelled blazer reflected music with a classical edge. The winner was Ana Leon from The School of The Art Institute. Her original design inspired by Chicago’s jazz scene was a silky gray-blue bustier and pencil skirt. The lady-like silhouette could have stepped right out of the ’20s and was impressively constructed.
Although not everyone went home a winner, all the students left knowing they have the support of a growing community of local-fashion lovers. As Chicago’s scene evolves, it’s imperative we cultivate it with fresh ideas, new talent and a double dose of local patronage. Through opportunities and events like this, our city continues on its way to fostering a more habitable place for fashion to thrive and for dreams to become reality.
Well done student designers and CFF!
By Maia McGinley
Photography by Tutto Bene Photography
Spring always gives Chicago a positive, energy-infused attitude adjustment. What better way to commemorate this long-awaited mood swing than with a full spectrum of rainbow brights? This season, add life back into your wardrobe with playful hues, like tangerine, hot pink, electric blue, sunshine yellow and–my favorite–neon green.
There may be many bold colors to choose from, but there’s even more ways to incorporate them into your look. Instead of the predictable graphic prints of seasons past, try one of spring’s biggest trends: colorblocking. Mix high-impact separates in different hues to wow on the street. If that sounds too loud for your taste, just incorporate color with small accents like a skinny belt, cross-body bag and nail polish. Minimal classics and monochromatic whites are an immaculate backdrop for pops of color. Or, for the disco queens out there, embrace the 70’s revival with glittery, silky fabrics paired with gold accessories.
Whichever style resonates with you, don’t be intimated by vibrant hues. They have the innate power to bring excitement, life and playfulness into your look. To do just that, check out some of our favorite fashion pick-me-ups below (clockwise from left):
1. Lavin Summer 2011 satin gown in poppy
2. American Apparel “Manilla” nail polish ($6; American Apparel)
3. Nixon “Marmalade Marble Vega” watch ($60; Nixon)
4. Jil Sander long pleated skirt ($895; Neiman Marcus)
5. Rebecca Minkoff “Grape Studded Rockette” bag ($150; Gavin; 1939 Central Street, Evanston)
6. Issa halter gown ($714; shopbop.com)
7. Rag & Bone cobalt denim legging ($185; Intermix)
8. Logan blue metallic platform sandals ($160; Topshop)
9. Petit Bateau yellow raincoat ($144; Penelope’s, 1913 W Division Street)
10. Asos lime belt ($14, asos.com)
By Maia McGinley
Images courtesy of Lavin, American Apparel, Nixon, Neiman Marcus, Gavin, shopbop.com, Intermix, Topshop, Penelope’s and asos.com
Ever need that extra bit of oomph to take your little black dress from pretty to wow? These Ballin feather and jewel sandals ($928; farfetch.com) will do the trick!