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Monday, February 5, 2018

Why Alexa Chung's New Label is One to Watch

British writer, model, host, and designer Alexa Chung launched her very own fashion label in May of last year. The label's nameALEXACHUNGis particularly fitting not only because...well, it's the designer's name...but because every piece looks like something that could've been pulled right out of Chung's own closet.

Fashion fans have viewed Chung as a style icon for years nowamidst her many career feats, she's always been an "It girl" known for her grungy yet sophisticatedly British style. Because of this, it's safe to say that much of the fashion world knows and understands her aesthetic, and her collection proves that there's a market for those who'd like to dress like her.

These people can try to mix girly and eclectic pieces to recreate her style, but nobody can do it better than Chung, who has evolved and refined her style throughout the years in a way that's allowed her to master it to a tee. She has something unique and uncopyable: a trademark aesthetic and an ability to radiate it in anything she wears. Her consistency in this, even amidst personal style evolution, backed by years and years of curation and experimentation, gives Chung her own tool belt and compass for navigating the industry. And now she's using these tools to bring brand new, self-styled pieces directly to consumers!

In fact, the ALEXACHUNG brand is possibly the most visible connection of personal aesthetic to professional creation the fashion industry has seen in some time. The "girl" the ALEXACHUNG brand seems to design for is very much reflective of Chung herself: eclectic and grungy yet girly and classic, always with a bit of British flare. 

Her debut collection for the brand (Pre-Fall 2017) exhibited a beautifully exciting mix of these accents in a way Chung has mastered better than anyone: she paired knit collared shirts with leather mini skirts, a floral dress with sparkly platform boots, and graphic t-shirts with the words "Screw You" across the front paired with flats and midi-length denim skirts.
Chung is knocking it out of the park. The debut collection was amazing, and the Resort 2018 collection that just dropped is a strong continuation of the established aesthetic. 

It'll be interesting to see where this conceptualization approach leads the brand in the future, though...what's the longevity of a brand based so closely off a designer's personal style?

Although Chung isn't obligated to show during every season of the fashion calendar, could the brand keep up with the demand to constantly pump out new merchandise? Chung has taken on a new role in which she must consciously channel her personal clothing preferences into a collection of new product...how will this affect the expression of her own personal style?

While it's interesting to anticipate the future of ALEXACHUNG, something tells me that Chung is going to provide answers that will make us wonder why we even questioned her in the first place. She has no reason not to show us exactly what she can do, which, with her 18 years of witnessing the industry from the inside, might turn out to be much more than we think. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

If You Could Assemble Your Dream Style Tribe, Who Would You Include?

Last month, Vogue.com published an article detailing streetwear's migration from a trend-focused sphere to a tribe-focused sphere. Writer Emily Farra claimed that 2017 street style became less about any particular piece(s) and more about embracing the "lifestyle" accompanying said pieces. The biggest street style stars picked their favorite trends and pledged allegiance to a tribe, whether it be the print lovers, "the suits,"  or the "less-is-more dressers."

I know this isn't necessarily what Farra meant, but the term "tribe" in relation to fashion made me think about who I would choose if I were to assemble my very own army of style powerhouses. There's something quite intriguing about that concept...it reminds me of my dad trying to collect all the best players for his fantasy golf team. Now I'm thinking about what my team would look like...whose style has influenced me over the years? What would happen if I could round them all up for one day of together-ness? One powerful walk down the street? One iconic photoshoot?

In no particular order:

1) Michael Jackson from the early 80s
Best piece: Red jacket
Skills: Ability to bring clothing to life through dance and performance
The Thriller video was the first video I had ever watched on YouTube and Michael's red jacket (as well as the similar jacket in the Beat It video) was the first fashion item I truly lusted over. I would dream about wearing it to the barber shop with my dad, and it seemed to represent power and confidence.

2) Sara Paxton as Aquamarine
Best piece: Blue highlights
Skills: Innovation, leadership, fearlessness, mystery
Because Aquamarine was my favorite movie growing up, I saw Aquamarine as the ultimate dream girl for a solid chunk of my life. Not only did her dual identity as half mermaid, half human lend an aura of mischief to her character that was palpable in whatever she wore, but she also managed to make anything seem exotic and beautiful. She styled a blue t-shirt as a dress 4 different ways and created her Last Splash #lewk by ripping the sleeves off a vintage costume dress.

3) Every girl who has ever closed a Giambattista Valli couture show
Best piece: TULLE GOWNS!
Skills: Consistency in delivery of jaw-dropping drama

4) Leandra Medine, founder, CEO, and EIC of Man Repeller
Best piece: Endless supply of sunglasses
Skills: Understands fashion as a nuanced concept with no rules
I physically can't talk about fashion or writing or the joys of life in general without referencing Leandra. She's brought a completely new element to the industry by conceptualizing fashion and the human interest in it in such a unique way, and she'll always be my biggest inspiration career-wise. She saw a gap in an industry she loved--a humorous-yet-intelligent-and-honest-writer sized gap--and filled it with grace, innovation, and creativity. I'll join any tribe she's part of. (Photo by Krista Anna Lewis, btw!!)

5) Aurora in the last scene of Sleeping Beauty
Best piece: THE COLOR-CHANGING DRESS! Her dress changed from blue to pink and back again as her fairy friends argued over which color looked best.
Skills: Ability to dance freely despite her dress continually changing color

6) Alexa Chung
Best piece: Grunge haircut and black eyeliner
Skills: Master of eclectic and grungy style with a constant presence of British sophistication, has used this aesthetic to pump out three incredible collections for her own label, ALEXACHUNG

7) TLC from the 90s
Best piece: Baggy pants with crop tops
Skills: Impeccable execution of baggy-cool aesthetic; unwavering commitment to the art of group outfit coordination

8) Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Best piece: Met Gala outfits in 2013 (Ashley in vintage Dior, Mary-Kate in vintage Chanel), 2016, and 2017
Skills: Small yet mighty; masters of messy blonde waves, smoky eyes, long coats, and piercing stares

9) A leopard or two
Honestly, I'd be thrilled if a leopard or two or three or four would be willing to join. They're born with a statement coat that unites them with a built-in tribe all around the world. Humans are out here working tirelessly to recreate leopard print into fabrics and textiles while these cats are stunting every day in a look that's uniquely theirs. It'd be an honor to walk alongside them (can you imagine, I don't know, each member of TLC walking a leopard?).

10) Grace Kelly in her wedding dress from her marriage to Prince Rainer
I believe that each outfit we wear can create a different version of ourselves, for better or for worse. To me, this version of Grace Kelly in her wedding dress radiates grace and elegance.

I guess I'll stop at a nice, even, double-digit number, even though I could go on and on all day. Who would you make sure to include in your own style tribe? I'd love to know! Feel free to comment down below and keep this wonderfully ideal fantasy going. Ever since I've started thinking about it, it's been difficult to stop, and I want to infect someone else.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Love Letter to the Impractical

Here's a question I'd like to throw out into the universe: does my subconscious have nothing better to do than wait, stop sign in hand, for my sartorial excitement to strike, preparing to build a literal wall between the flow of my conceptual outfit dreams and their materialization in reality?

GET A HOBBY, PLEASE. You live in my brain, a habitat complex enough by definition to entertain you for years. Spend at least 72 hours exploring the section that houses my love for One Direction. Recline and relax in my long term memory cabinet, I'm pretty sure my sleep playlist is engraved somewhere in there. Do me a favor and analyze my dreams. Repair the Math Proficiency setting which I'm almost positive is malfunctioning.

I appreciate you keeping me and my bank account in check and anchoring me towards reality, but sometimes I wish you would just let me live in the bliss of imagining an impractical yet ingeniously exciting outfit.

For instance, let me forget the fact that I've never worn cowboy boots in my life because I've fallen in love with them as of late. It's probably because of SS18 collections, but I'd like to believe it's a signal of my calling to go West and live the American dream. Allow me to forget the fact that I don't have the funds to spend over $100 on these white Topshop boots, because they would look SO GREAT with a chunky sweater, those Ganni pants I've been eyeing (I could probably afford one leg), and some fun eyewear.

Click the items below to shop:

I live by wearing whatever the heck you want because life is too short to spend more than three seconds worrying about whether or not you'll be overdressed at the party, but I don't live by purchasing whatever the heck you want. I can't. Especially when I'm unsure if I'd get tired of them or not once cowboy boots exit the hyper-trendsphere.


Cowboy Boots #1

I also have to realize that practical means different things for different people. These boots might be incredibly practical for me if I worked in fashion and could wear them to work, but I'm in high school and wear a uniform to school each day. That means my outfit opportunities are limited to weekends, and I'm not sure how often I would be able to utilize a pair of cowboy boots. I don't know.

One more, though: I WANNA WEAR ZIIISSS ON SUNNY WEEKENDS WALKING THROUGH TOWN (an activity I almost never do):

Cowboy boots #3

The impractical is important, though. Groundbreaking fashion, like all other forms of innovation, oftentimes begins with an idea that may seem crazy yet evolves into a concept that's so crazy it works. And it works beautifully. It's the impractical that makes the world go 'round. If these boots hadn't ignited a fire in my thoughts, what else would I be doing in math class right now? I rest my case that my Math Proficiency switch is most definitely flipped off. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Finding Identity in Purpose: I'm a Writer, But I'm Also...

I've had to thoroughly clean the interior of my computer and phone multiple times due to the seemingly unstoppable build-up of miscellaneous photos or screenshots that I keep for various reasons, none of which are necessarily pressing enough to qualify said photographs to hold a permanent spot in my gallery. I'm a hoarder and often fall victim to the threatening nature of the thought of needing something later only to realize I DELETED IT AND CAN NEVER FIND IT AGAIN, but I have to force myself to take the plunge sometimes. Every once in a while, you have to look inside yourself and really internalize questions like "Will I ever really buy those shoes I took a screenshot of?" and "Is this screenshot of a text message conversation necessarily relevant at this point in my life?" Feel free to admire my bravery and sacrifice. I couldn't do it without my #1 enabler, the "Not Enough Storage" notification, swooping in every now and then. My overthinking notion of feeling like too much clutter somehow reflects badly on my character comes in at a close second.

Most screenshots from Instagram, text message conversations, or Tumblr often get the boot during these clean-ups (because really, it's been 9 months and I haven't bought those shoes from Instagram), but two have endured all exterminations to date. The lucky (I guess? I mean, hanging out in a folder in my desktop isn't that much of an ideal life) two are two different quotes I saw on Tumblr, and I've kept them because they seem completely paradoxical. I saved them both at different times because I agreed with both of them yet knew they somewhat contradicted each other, and I found that confusing. 

Here's #1:

Aaaand #2, by Sally Coulter: 


I acknowledge the fact that people can have different opinions--clearly Roald Dahl's ethos differs from that of Sally Coulter--and also that people are not all-knowing. Neither of these declarations about life have to be fact, necessarily. There doesn't have to be one winner. So, I guess what I'm asking is: how is it possible that people can have such different interpretations of the best way to live life?

This is something I've been struggling with for a while. I didn't just see these photos and then launch into an existential crisis--ever since I've entered "young adulthood," I've had this infatuation with making my life count. Doing something that matters. Making a real difference; finding something I really care about and believe in and pursuing it and embracing it until I start making contributions that I find meaningful. And hopefully, as I'm doing that, I'll be positively impacting others/the common good as well as fueling my own personal bliss. In this sense, Dahl's words strike an obvious chord in me, which is why I saved the photo when I came across it on Tumblr. Holding on to this "dream" of sorts has given me something to be excited about, something to be interested in, something to pursue. And when I do things that I'm proud of, it makes me feel special, like I could actually be a step closer to being that person that I want to be.

But I think where I (and I'm sure others) have gone partially blind at times is that I've become so passionate about becoming so good at one thing that I convince myself that the only path to success, to a meaningful life, is finding something you love and excelling at it.

That's one way to fulfillment, but certainly not the only way. It's an important way--I could write an entire book on the importance of pursuing your passions--but it doesn't need to be the only (or even the main) thing that adds meaning to your life.

The fact of the matter is that life is simply too big, too complicated, too layered, and too multi-faceted to be navigated with tunnel vision. Having a specific passion and dream that you're willing to strive towards and make a huge part of your life is so fun, but that doesn't mean the other things you encounter in life are smaller pieces in the puzzle. In fact, sometimes they may be larger pieces than that goal, even if that goal is your favorite piece.

At this very moment, I want to be a writer heavily involved in creative industries, particularly the fashion industry. I think about it almost every day. It's one of the main things that is driving me to want to learn more, to see more, to experience more, and to keep going in general.

Also at this moment, though, I love to dance, whether formally in a routine or casually by myself in the car or with friends. I'm realizing that I like movies a lot--I just saw Battle of the Sexes and was awestruck by how amazing the cinematography was--and I want to make documentaries and short films to explore human feeling, aesthetics, and atmospheres. I have no idea how to sew, let alone design clothes or sketch, but the idea of creating and materializing my own clothing excites me and I would love to learn.

Dogs bring me SO. MUCH. JOY. There's this chow chow in my neighborhood that I genuinely look forward to seeing and I get so excited when I see him sitting on the top of his house's hill. I also love cats very much and roughly once per week I experience a weird craving for the sensation of holding a fat cat on my stomach/chest.

I love One Direction (certain songs of theirs still give me chills, like their Teenage Dirtbag cover) and am curious about British culture. I have a sister, and my relationship with her shapes me into a girls girl. I have a mom who I love to love and watch Project Runway with and a dad who has always been enthusiastic about my dreams. I have aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, and my experiences with them and my immediate family have shaped the mold of the person I am today. Life is loving them, helping them, and caring for them.

Music colors my life: my two favorite setups are a) blaring it while driving at night and b) listening to it through headphones while falling asleep in planes/cars/hotel rooms. There's something about The Outsiders that I absolutely love and D.C. will always feel like home to me.

I want writing and fashion to give purpose to my life, but all the other people and things I love and experience and all the emotions they have roused in me contribute to the person I am, the life I'm living, and therefore, my ultimate "meaning."

We don't have to strive to make every single puzzle piece of our lives the same size and shape. If we did that, there would be no puzzle--nothing could melt together into a larger picture. We all have puzzle pieces of different sizes and shapes, and as we go through life, we'll only keep collecting more pieces as the sizes/shapes of other pieces fluctuate and vary. The beauty of life's puzzle is that you can place different levels of value on each piece, but they'll still contribute nonetheless.

Just because you aren't zeroing in on one specific goal doesn't mean your life is "lukewarm." Similarly, devoting a huge amount of time and effort to one thing, like a career, doesn't mean you aren't also "marveling many small and large passions" and "enjoying the trees." Life is unequal and disproportionate, like a collection of puzzle pieces, but that doesn't mean it can't all fit/flow together.

I'm a writer and a fashion fan, but I'm also a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a cat lover, a dog enthusiast, a resident of the country's capital, a film watcher, and a love-giver. And that's exciting.
I'm sure the process of addressing life's puzzle pieces is different for everyone, but I think realizing how cool it is that so many diverse factors contribute to our "purpose" and life experience is a pretty awesome way to start.
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