Fashion

New Year, New You!

It’s that time again: a veritable tidal wave of over-spending, over-eating, over-drinking, and pretty much over-anything-ing has inspired us to turn a new leaf with the turn of the calendar. Lookstyle has a way for you to make multiple resolutions you can actually keep!

Spend smarter

One of our primary goals while working with clients is helping them get the most of their current wardrobe (read: things you’ve already spent money on), and make smarter future purchases to further maximize their closet (read: stop wasting money on stuff you don’t need).

Give more to charity

Our stylists will comb your wardrobe with you, pulling out the pieces that don’t work with your lifestyle, body, or personal styling goals. These pieces can be donated to worthy causes like Dress for Success, Avenues to Independence, and ClothingDonations.org.

Lose weight

Ok, so an appointment with Lookstyle isn’t going to put down that croissant for you. But our stylists are silhouette experts and can make it look like you dropped 10 pounds in an instant. We know how to choose the right fabric, cut, color, and construction of garments to best flatter your body. What’s more- if you do end up losing those 10 pounds through diet and exercise (go you!), we can show you tips and tricks for dressing your new body!

Get organized

In addition to styling, personal shopping, and image consulting, our Lookstyle stylists are also geniuses at closet organization. Once we’ve styled, re-purposed, or purged everything, we will re-merchandise your closet in a way that makes sense for your lifestyle and daily routine, so you’ll never waste time looking for that skirt again.

We can also digitally organize your wardrobe with our Virtual Closet service. We photograph everything in your closet, saving and categorizing every photo in a clear, logical way. You’ll be able to access your entire wardrobe at the click of a mouse, and we will be able to style a look for you at a moment’s notice.

Start 2014 in a positive and productive way by contacting Lookstyle. Accomplish any resolutions you may have and get a confidence boost from looking your best.

Lizzy Johnston is a stylist at Lookstyle

FASHION MUST HAVES FOR FALL: Shoe Edition

Fall is a great time layer on your personality!  It is so much fun to layer your turtlenecks under fur or under leather. It is fun to swap denim for skinny corduroys with knee high boots.  Layer on on the accessories to enhance a basic ALL black outfit.

But what is better to pulling an outfit together that the PERFECT PAIR of shoes?  Nothing.

So, I have put my 3 favorite shoes below to help you with the must haves (and how to wear them) and LINKS (click on any product image) to buy them.

Happy Shopping!

BOOTS:

ankleboots style

Boots are my favorite footwear during the fall. There are also so many options available: over the knee, flat, heel, wedge, pointed toe, ankle, etc. There is honestly a boot to go with every outfit style. There are boots for casual outfits, dressing up and office. Here are a few “how to” wear each boot:

Over the knee: Always look for a boot that is shorter BEHIND the knee. This is for 2 reasons.  It is 100% more comfortable when you are sitting.  The height difference allows for the knee to bend.  Also, it is more flattering.. you don’t want the boot to create a “muffin top” around your thigh.   How to wear it in a look:

CASUAL: Skinny jeans and a cape.  Wear boots over skinny jeans.  OR DRESSING UP: boho dress, hat, fur vest. 

overtheknee 1

overthe knee 2

 

Stylist Tip: Having a boot with little or no detail will help elongate the legs, especially when they are the same color as your bottoms (tights / pants or skirt)

Ankle boots: get an ankle boot that comes up to the skinniest part of your ankle., every one has a different place.  If you have a larger calf, get an ankle bootie that angels forward a bit in the front.  How to wear it in a look:  Wear an oversized turtleneck, matching blazer, belt and distressed jeans. CASUAL: Roll the bottom of the jeans slightly or OFFICE: pleated skirt, tucked in blouse, statement necklace.

ankel boots 1

 

LOAFERS:

loafer style

Don’t laugh. Penny loafers may make you nostalgic of your grandfather’s footwear, but been coming up in popularity since 1992. Loafers have danced in the the hottest runways both this season and past, with names like Gucci and Wes Gordon, concentrating on the masculine vibes. Why do I love them so much?  Loafers are easy to walk in. There’s no staggering in stilettos or gasping from pinched toes.  There is a loafer out there waiting to be added to your wardrobe.  Leather, patent, studded, or color, we promise you will love this trend.

Here are a few loafers that will be a great addition to your wardrobe:loafer 1

Loafer 2

 

MAXIMUM INSTEP; Embellished SHOES

crazy shoes, simple outfit

One word used to describe the footwear of the fall runways: inventive. There was definitely no lack of originality displayed through styles such as furry boots, crystal covered heels, pink pom poms  and over the top embellishments.

How to wear it: Pair a statement shoes with a midi skitr for a more understated look, or a mini skirt for a night out on the town.  Keep your outfits simple: Think denim and neutrals and let the shoe really shine.maximun instep 1

maximum instep 2

 

To check out ALL of  the trends for Fall 2015, click here to see the Lookstyle trend video.

With your purchase you will receive an email within 24 hours that contains:

– a PDF of each trend including the RUNWAY and REALITY images with the designers listed.

– the links, login, and password for access to “click through” links to purchase the items featured*

(* please note, store inventory is not guaranteed on any piece*)

Glamorama 2013: Macy’s annual fashion show makes its way to Chicago

By Dana Getz

Featuring a chic collection of models flaunting lustrous red lips, sophisticated updos and luxe jewelry, this year’s rendition of Macy’s Glamorama Fashion Show certainly lived up to its title. Held in downtown Chicago at the Harris Theater, the annual extravaganza melded fashion with entertainment, showcasing nine glam-worthy designers along with performances by The Summer Set, Cirque Du Soleil, and nine-time Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow.

Tommy Hilfiger opened the show with his signature classic style, exhibiting models clad in textured sweaters, crisp oxfords and rich suede jackets. The following designers took a less traditional route, accentuating cool, fall palettes with shimmering patterns and saturated colors. Jean Paul Gaultier topped elegant metallics and delicate prints with Asian-influenced hats, while Rachel Rachel Roy combined sequin-ridden dresses with funky tights and fur-trimmed leather. Opting for a simple yet feminine look, Maison Jules played with flirty dresses, layered denim and oversized cardigans. Tallia Orange demonstrated the glamourous side of menswear, putting a refreshing spin on the suit-and-tie look with bold colors and eclectic prints. Standouts included a Navajo print jacket, black damask blazer and purple velvet ensemble. Diesel concluded the show with 15 barely-there looks, featuring male models wearing nothing but boxer briefs in every color of the rainbow.

After a finale performance by Sheryl Crow, VIP ticketholders headed over to The Rooftop Terrace for an after-party to cap off the night. All proceeds from the evening—themed “Fashion In a New Light”— benefitted the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.

Photos by Adam Bettcher

Fashion rebel: ANTM’s Katie Cleary is paving the way for fur-free trends

By Dana Getz

With a lean, lengthy frame, radiant olive skin and flowing chestnut locks, Katie Cleary was a natural fit for the modeling industry. The Mediterranean beauty got her start as a child model in the Chicago area, eventually debuting her vixen-esque looks on the premiere season of America’s Next Top Model. She went on to land a four-year gig on NBC’s Deal or No Deal, later appearing on shows such as “Tosh.O,” “Rules of Engagement” and “CSI:NY,” as well as the films “The Break Up,” “The Lake House” and “Iron Man 2.”

After several years in the industry, Cleary found herself surrounded by a world where fur means high fashion and leather equals luxury—a challenging realization for a longtime animal lover. She quickly readopted her childhood efforts to rescue and aid animals, volunteering at shelters and joining animal rights protests. Cleary has since founded her own non-profit welfare organization PEACE 4 ANIMALS, launched a radio show entitled WORLDANIMALNEWS via TradioV! and is currently wrapping production on “Give Me Shelter,” an award-winning documentary covering a hodgepodge of animal rights topics. Pausing from her hectic schedule on an early Friday morning, Cleary chatted with us about the truth behind Top Model, her inspiration for “Give Me Shelter” and finding her voice.

What first sparked your interest in modeling and how did you go about pursuing a career?

I started out modeling when I was about 12 years old. Someone approached me at festival in Chicago and they asked if we were interested in doing some kid modeling. My mom said, ‘You know, if that’s something that you want to do then go for it.’ So we started; she would take me to auditions. And then I met Cindy Crawford shortly after that. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is my dream. I’ve always wanted to be a model, and a veterinarian as well.’ So I thought, ‘Maybe I can do both and be in entertainment and aid and rescue animals.’ So that’s kind of how I got started with that, and the first big thing I did was Top Model.

Why did you decide to try out for Top Model?

Well, I really didn’t know what it was all about. Someone sent me an email, and it’s weird—I got the email and all of a sudden I tried to check back to see who it was from and it was gone. It was really weird; it was the day before the deadline. I was in college, and I would always send tapes from college because I was in Wisconsin and I thought, ‘Who knows, maybe they’ll pick up one of these shows or whatever.’ So I would just send in audition tapes to MTV and stuff, and I really didn’t think anything of it, I just sent them the tape. Then Tyra called me back when I was studying for finals and I was shocked. I had no idea that they were even gonna call me, let alone Tyra. I picked up the phone while I was literally studying for finals, and I thought my friends were messing with me so I said, ‘You guys, stop. Why are you messing with me?’ And Tyra said, ‘No, this is really me,’ and I said, ‘No it’s not.’ And then she said ‘Pack your bags, you’re going to L.A.’ I was freaking out.

How was your experience on the show?

You know, it was interesting. It was an experience. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. It was something that really kind of prepared me for entertainment. It was very interesting as far as, you know, having people telling you things you didn’t necessarily want to hear. It’s all for TV, too, so it’s not really about the modeling as much as they try to say that. Obviously they want viewers, so they’re going to try to make drama and have as many people with conflicting personalities in view. I think that’s something that was important, so it’s not really about the modeling as much as it is the drama.

Would you recommend it to other aspiring models?

I would, but I wouldn’t take it seriously. I would just kind of have it as a platform to get you started in the business, because a lot of people do watch the show and it has a tremendous following. So I would say if you want to get a jumpstart on your career it would be a good thing, but definitely don’t take the show seriously because it is about viewers.

How did your life change after the show?

It definitely gave me a bit of a platform to kind of go on to my next career move. I moved out to Los Angeles a couple years after and my first audition out there was Deal or No Deal. I had mentioned I was on Top Model and they loved it, they wanted some girls with a bit of a following. So I think that I got Deal because of Top Model, which was great. I was on that for about four years, and I did a travel show on HDNet in between, as well as a few other shows and campaigns while I was doing Deal. So it was cool. Then Deal gave me a platform to branch out and do the big stuff.

Do you still talk to any of the girls from the show? I know Adrianne Curry is from around the Chicago area.

You know, I haven’t seen her in a long time, but I talk to Shannon [Stewart]. I recently just got in contact with Nicole Panatonni, but that’s pretty much it.

You’ve also been in a couple films. Did you find acting to be a natural progression from modeling?

It’s interesting. Acting is much more of a challenge, but I think it’s good to be able to go back and forth from both because a lot of models don’t want to act. Modeling prepares you for acting I think, because you have to take direction, it’s really important to know your lighting, to know your angles, and I think that really is very helpful for acting.

When and why did you first get involved with animal rescue and aid?

I started rescuing animals when I was really young with my mom in Chicago, and I always knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was in entertainment, so I thought maybe I could try to raise awareness for animals through entertainment. So basically I thought, ‘Okay, well, the entertainment industry gives you a voice so start there.’ So I started working with places such as Shambala and the California Wildlife Center, and started raising money for them in awareness. And then we did the “Diamonds Not Fur” event for spcaLA to pass the “Fur Free” bill in West Hollywood because we found out that most of the fur comes from China, and much of it is dogs and cats because there’s no regulation. These animals are essentially tortured for vanity and fashion, which is ridiculous. So that was my first big campaign, it was with Betty White. I produced it for over a year. The second big event was “Stars 4 Stripes” hosted by Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison to save the last 1,500 tigers left in India. It’s gotten to the point where we’re gonna lose a lot of these species, and our children might just have to read about them in storybooks. That’s what I’m trying to fight right now, and it’s an uphill battle.

It’s interesting that you mention how frequently animal products are used in fashion. Being in the fashion industry, do you find that challenging to deal with?

Yeah, that’s actually how I started the event with Betty White. I was at a photo shoot for a diamond company and the stylist gave me a fur vest. She said, ‘Okay, put this on with the diamonds,” and I said, ‘Absolutely not. I would rather go naked and wear the diamonds than the fur.’ I thought that was a great slogan, so I called my publicist and said, ‘What do you think about this? Do you think we should do something with this?’ And she said, ‘Yes, let’s go for it.’ So I planned the event without even realizing the fur free movement was in full force at that point, so I started going to the fur free protests and then the bill passed, which was great. I think it’s really about using your voice and knowing what’s right and what’s wrong, and not being afraid to speak up. A lot of girls will just go with the flow because they need a paycheck or they don’t wanna ruffle any feathers, but really it’s our job as models because we’re putting our reputation on the line for a product or a company. So you have to use your voice, you have to speak up, because if you’re in their ad or commercial or whatever you’re representing the product and you’re tarnishing your brand. So I encourage people to speak up.

What was your inspiration for the “Give Me Shelter” documentary?

I woke up one day and I thought, ‘There’s all these issues going on right now with the ivory trade, tiger trade, puppy mills, dog fighting, etc. I get hundreds of emails a day about these issues, something needs to be done on a grand scale, and it needs to be done now.’ So I said, ‘Okay, well why don’t I just call a bunch of my friends in entertainment that love animals and see if they want to be a part of a documentary?’ So I called Tippi Hedren, Allison Eastwood and a bunch of other people that are really big animal advocates. We started doing interviews at my house, interviewed over 40 people—we had over 72 hours of footage from all of the big animal organizations together—and talked about all these issues. We’re almost done editing; we’re doing all the sound mixing right now which is awesome. It should be out in October, fingers crossed. So that was really the inspiration, just using all of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to really try to get it out there and tell a story about how we need to change as a species, and to be a voice for all these poor animals that are losing their lives.

What do you hope to accomplish with the film?

I would say number one is definitely raise awareness, and number two is change people’s views on animals. The number one question I get asked is, ‘How does one person make a difference?’ And I say, ‘Well, it’s easy. I’m one person, and I’ve made a tremendous difference.’ But I’m in the entertainment industry, so for people at home it starts in their own backyard. So whether you want to volunteer at a shelter or a sanctuary or a rehabilitation center, or even in your backyard have plants that a lot of animals are attracted to—you could have a little garden for animals to come and actually eat certain vegetables in your yard. So there’s little things you can do. A lot of people just don’t know where to start, and I totally get it, it can be very overwhelming, but you can pretty much Google anything.

How was the experience of producing different from anything you’ve done before?

You don’t have to take direction from anyone, which is great, and you make your own plot line and you make your own time. You have all the creative ability to really kind of run with the project, which is great because I’ve never had that before. So I think that that’s so unique. I’ve had it with charity events I’ve produced, but never on this scale.

You’re involved in so many different projects. How do you handle all the stress?

Oh my God, it’s stressful from the moment I wake up unfortunately. I have a lot of coffee, and I do yoga. I started meditation, which seems to be very helpful, so I’m really hoping to continue to meditate and be able to take control of all the projects that I have so I’m not manic. But it is a lot of work, sometimes I feel as if I’m doing the work of five people—but it’s worth it.

Since your career interests are so varied, what type of work do you ultimately want to be doing?

I would say my goal is to produce and host, so I’m trying to work with a couple networks right now and pitch a couple animal-related shows that I would also be the host for, and possibly doing more documentaries.

If you hadn’t gotten involved in the entertainment industry, what do you think you would be doing?

I would be a veterinarian. I would definitely work with animals; I know that that’s my calling. I can’t explain it; I just knew it when I was as young as five or six-years-old. And then I thought, ‘Well, maybe if I’m a model I can raise awareness for animals that way.’ Which is crazy, I don’t know how I was thinking that at such a young age. Being a veterinarian takes so much school, and school’s not my favorite subject. Although it’s very important to get an education, and I did get a degree in business and marketing,  I think that there’s several other ways besides being a veterinarian or a zoologist to help animals, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

Lastly, since you’re from Chicago, what’s your favorite thing to do while in the city?

I’m actually heading there tomorrow for the first time in a year. I love seeing my family and my friends, I love going downtown to a couple of the cafes on Rush Street, and I love going shopping on Michigan Avenue.

“GIVE ME SHELTER” IS SET TO BE RELEASED THIS FALL. WORLDANIMALNEWS WILL RETURN TO TRADIOV! SEPT. 5 AND CONTINUE EVERY THURSDAY AT 11 A.M. PST.

Sue Wong’s The Great Gatsby Soiree

On Friday, April 19, Sue Wong, fashion’s grand diva designer of Hollywood glamour, launched her “The Great Gatsby”-inspired Fall 2013 Collection with a rollicking Jazz Age soiree at her palatial home The Cedars. The season’s social highlight drew a cavalcade of leading celebrities and artists, as well as entertainment and fashion industry insiders to celebrate Sue’s glittering array of evening dresses designed to reflect the effervescent exuberance of the Roaring Twenties. Photos by Joyce Chow, Robert Kovac, and Adriana Mendiola.

Photos by Joyce Chow & Robert Kovac

Snaps by Adriana Mendiola

Gabby Wild: Meshing Fashion & Conservationism

By Gemma Follari

When Gabby Wild was 20 years old, she traveled to Thailand where she met a baby elephant “who fell madly in love with me.” The elephant, who had been stolen from his mother in the jungle, wouldn’t take milk from anyone and was expected to die until Wild arrived and got him to drink from a bottle.

After Wild left Thailand to continue her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, the baby elephant passed away. “He stopped eating, became very depressed, broke one leg, broke the other, and then died. It was horrific. Absolutely horrific.”

Wild said after this experience and seeing “how horrible the plight for wildlife is today,” she decided to start The Gabby Wild Foundation, which she founded in October of 2011 with a mission to “to raise awareness and funds for various threatened animals,” said Wild.

“One fourth of mammals, half of amphibians and an eight of all bird species are at risk of extinction and that’s a very scary fact.”

Gabby with baby Asian elephant, Khun Chai.

Today Wild, now 23, is the president and face of The Gabby Wild Foundation. As well as a student pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine at Cornell Veterinary College.

The foundation brings together conservation groups that have similar goals. “We’re uniting them all together, so that way we’re stronger in numbers,” said Wild.

Currently, Wild is working with several different amphibian groups on a campaign called Metamorphosis, which is not yet online. National Geographic photographer Robin Moore, who is also a project manager for Conservation International, took photos of Wild transformed through makeup into a variety of amphibians and posing with live amphibians.

“It was an honor being transformed into creatures so physically & intrinsically beautiful & precious,” said Wild about the process.

The makeup and prosthetics were done by Academy Award winner Brian Sipe who has done makeup for movies including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Star Trek, and Emmy Award-winning makeup artist Jennifer Aspinall.

“Together they changed me, metamorphosized me, into a bunch of amphibians to raise awareness for them and also to raise funds which we’re doing at the moment and it’s going very nicely,” said Wild.

Vietnamese Mossy Frog Metamorphosis. Photo by Robin Moore. Makeup by Brian Sipe & Jennifer Aspinall.

Since its inception in 2011, The Gabby Wild Foundation has done a lot of photography campaign work. The foundation’s work has been featured at New York Fashion Week, Art Basel in Miami, and in major publications including the New York Times and the Huffington Post.

The foundation has done multiple campaigns and Wild is now focused on expanding the interactive part of her foundation.

The “Create Your Own Campaign” section of the website, which will not be on the website for a few months, will allow people and companies to design their own wildlife conservation campaigns. The Gabby Wild Foundation will guide them and help promote the campaigns. Wild’s foundation will also provide materials to help companies promote their campaigns on their own networks. Each campaign will set a monetary goal but “there’s no pressure to reach that goal, as whatever is made still gets donated to their animal of choice,” said Wild.

This new component “allows the public to see what any person can do to protect animals,” said Wild who added she is very excited to launch “Create Your Own Campaign.”

Wild said the most rewarding part of the work she has done has been people’s responses.

“I think the most impact has been when people send messages or emails about what they have learned and how that influenced their daily lives.”

People from places as far away as Japan and Taiwan send in small donations with messages telling Wild about what they’ve learned.

“I think that’s the most beautiful part, when someone say ‘I never even knew what the Chinese Giant Salamander’ and you hear them go ‘I’m going to try to help you save it.’”

For more on Gabby and this year’s Campaign, visit GabbyWilde.com.

Chinese Giant Salamander Dress by Luis Valenzuela. Photo by Ken Kawamoto

Chinese Giant Salamander Dress by Luis Valenzuela. Photo by Ken Kawamoto

‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ for fashion designer Althea Harper

By Vanessa Bisetti

Many know Althea Harper as one of the two finalists on Project Runway Season 6, but now the 28-year-old is the creator of her own line and the style ambassador for the world’s finest high-performance iron and garment steamer brand, Rowenta.  Her before-and-after the show story only proves the determination, confidence and optimism of this young designer.

Althea’s love for fashion began at a young age. When it was time for the Ohio-native to go to college, there was no question what she wanted to study.  Althea moved from her hometown of Dayton, Ohio to Cincinnati to attend the University of Cincinnati—more specifically to be a part of the five year program known as DAAP, the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.  “The first two years were like normal college, then after that you go to school for a quarter and then you get work experience for a quarter,” Harper describes of the program’s cycle.  Through DAAP Althea had the opportunity to study abroad in London for a year and took classes at Central Saint Martins. Her experience in London was far from ordinary, as she interned for major names in the industry such as Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. Once she arrived back in the States, she took on the standard three-month long internships, relocating to New York for most. Not falling short of her experiences abroad, she interned for designers like Zac Posen and Victoria’s Secret.

So what led to Project Runway? Well, the eager designer graduated right around the time the market was crashing. She had just moved out of her own apartment in Cincinnati and was staying at home with plans to save up money and eventually relocate back to New York. When the chance came to apply for Project Runway, she figured that it might be the best timing since she was in a transitioning phase—a time where she had few bills to worry about, making the non-paying gig do-able.  “It was actually just really perfect timing, and that’s kind of what made me do it…I went directly after college.” Harper was ecstatic to be part of the cast for the new season, and was not shy about her confidence in her own skills.  “I was really confident. It’s actually funny ’cause you look back now and you’re like, ‘Wow, you really have to go out there and have this confidence because if you don’t do well, it can definitely hurt you.’”  Althea believes that her faith in herself was a key component in landing her a top spot. She continued to say that an aspect to consider about the success of the contestants is that ultimately the judges choose whether or not they like your pieces. “Being naïve [on the show] was actually really helpful…you have that ‘yeah, let’s go for it!’ confidence.” Yet, she made a point to say that even with her aplomb, she felt lucky that the judges liked her work.

SPRING/SUMMER 2013

SPRING/SUMMER 2013

Since Project Runway Harper’s career has been on the fast track in the fashion world. After the show she worked for a year under designer Tory Burch, where she continued to expand her knowledge of the fashion industry.  This was the perfect prologue leading to the creation of her own line, labeled ALTHEA HARPER. The line had its first debut at New York Fashion Week in 2009, introducing the fall/winter collection. However, this wasn’t the first time Harper had put her work down a runway; her last task on Project Runway was to present her final collection through a runway show. When comparing the two runway events, Harper says that the two scenarios were totally different. “It doesn’t feel like your own on Project Runway because it’s ‘now you go here’ and everything is on a timed schedule for you, there are guidelines…but when you do it yourself it’s all you and that’s when you realize that creating the clothes is about 20% of it.” She continued to say that the other 80 percent is comprised of the production of the show, worrying about guests, dealing directly with models, making sure that buyers attend, etc.

Harper’s line has become well established with seven collections in total, and will only continue to grow because of both her values and beliefs in enhancing the beautiful assets of a woman’s body. She aims to reflect the woman’s figure in her clothes instead of just the garment itself.  “I want, when a woman wears [a garment] for everyone to look at her and be like ‘Wow! She looks great!’ I think that’s a better compliment than ‘OMG I love your dress!’” Harper says of her aspirations with her designs. Her intent to draw attention to the fit on the woman’s body as opposed to the physical piece of clothing has been supported by what she has observed through her time living in New York, further proving her focus on finding beauty in the fit. “You see real women, you work and then you have to go out. There’s just not enough time for glamour.”

Though she has already made a name for herself, Harper is continually surprised by the industry. One of the biggest obstacles that she has had to face so far is being compared to leading designers. She speaks of working with the “big boys” in the industry as somewhat frustrating when it comes to comparisons, yet an exciting challenge. “When someone looks at my collection, they see pictures just like they do for Alexander Wang or Louis Vuitton, but those collections have millions of dollars behind them,” she says. “Then you have to produce your [collection] at a much more limited budget.” Yet, Harper’s drive is undeniably inspiring. She’s never quite satisfied with her work. Harper provides the example of when a woman saves up to buy an expensive new dress. She’s excited about it, “but now you don’t have cute wedges to go with it!” Harper laughs. Once one goal is met, another is created, keeping Althea always moving toward that next big thing.

FALL/WINTER 2013

FALL/WINTER 2013.

Such drive has landed Harper on the radar of many celebs, including Eva Longoria, Heidi Klum, the Kardashians and Kerry Washington, whose attention meant a lot to the blossoming designer. “I’m not someone [to] have idols, but as far as respecting someone and looking up to someone, [Kerry Washington]’s definitely of all the actresses [very important].” Harper also voiced her appreciation to the Kardashians and their stylist for their ongoing support of her designs. Though she’s a respected designer by top celebrities, Harper is not wary to talk about the difficulties of inconsistency in the fashion industry. “It’s a lot of making a whole town out of a piece of Play-Doh,” she says of the business. Over time, she has learned to strategize during stressful times, such as when an order can’t be filled.

When she is not crazy busy, Harper—who had a hard time describing her average day because of her frenzied schedule— spends time with her dogs and husband, who is currently doing his medical residency and lives a hectic schedule as well.  Still, the two find time to catch up on episodes through Netflix and enjoy being couch potatoes because of their continuous time away from home. As for the future of ALTHEA HARPER, get ready to see a lot more. The line, which has previously produced two collections a year, fall/winter and spring/summer, will now be releasing four collections a year, one per season. This means more designs, more clothing, and more Althea. Part of the change includes a new athletic line, which Harper is currently in the process of designing. Her most immediate goal is to move from boutiques to department stores, though she’d ultimately like to open her own store. From there, who knows—anything is possible for Harper.

To view all of Althea’s collections from her line, visit AltheaHarper.com.

The Sincere Warmth of Byron Lars

By Vanessa Bisetti

Byron Lars is an American fashion designer who deserves every ounce of spotlight he receives.  Humility and warmth describe the vibe of Byron, as his personality fueled the interview.  This I found to be refreshing as he is someone who is busy preparing for New York Fashion Week 2013 and who has the First Lady, Michelle Obama, continually attending major events in his clothing.  “To be honest, anytime she wears anything of ours, we’re just overwhelmed and so pleased”, he speaks of the First Lady, showing sincere respect.

Byron has been designing under his own label since 1991.  His motivation was spurred at a young twenty-five years old when he realized that he had reached a now-or-never point to put his dream into motion.  “I basically just started from my apartment and made a few samples myself on a domestic machine and took them around to store and to magazines on my back in a garment bag”.  His persistence paid off when he caught the attention of Henri Bendel, who ordered forty units total from the novice designer.  This was amazing news, but what came after he shipped Bendel’s order was even more exciting, “they gave me front windows on Fifth Avenue…I was blown away”.  Through a connection that introduced him to who would become his business partner, Byron’s career became more secure.  From there, he grew into the fashion designer seen today.

The optimism of Byron was obvious when asked about criticism within the industry or just by everyday consumers.  As he describes, a person’s longevity in the fashion world is all about being able to take the good and the bad reviews, if you can take both, “you begin to put that all into its proper perspective”.  He stressed that although the reviews are important, there is more to the business than a review for one particular season.  This season, a negative review does not seem likely for Byron’s debut of his Beauty Mark Fall 2013 Collection on Thursday, February 14, from 1 to 3 pm at Stollway (250 W. 39th St., NY, NY).  The audience can expect to see a lot of textile based pieces, along with a multitude of fabrics, “it was really like a fabric lab this season!”  Of course, who doesn’t love some good girl, bad girl conflict on the runway?  Look out for day dresses cut with pleather and lace.  And, as another subplot, there are many cultural references that can be seen throughout the entire collection.  But most importantly, Byron focuses on the make of the clothes, “I’m really obsessed with cut and fashion…but it’s always going to be about that.  So that doesn’t really distinguish this collection from any other that we do.”

Byron’s use of staple pieces causes the everyday consumer to feel accustomed to the high-fashion styles, giving him an advantage compared to other designers.  “There’s something that’s comforting in [using staples] because you have more leeway to push fashion boundaries when you’re pushing something familiar”.  His grandfather, who just celebrated his 100th birthday, inspired him to work off of the standard American staples.  Devices like his grandfather’s hunting jacket and standard white button down that he wore to work everyday as a computer scientist, were among the inspiration to take on staples.  This instigated The White Collection, a part of Byron Lars Beauty Mark.  “It’s something that I really keep focus on…” he describes of his numerous reinventions of the white t-shirt.  Whether it’s a formed fitting cut blouse or a loose tunic, these “t-shirts” could fit anybody, any style.

A recommendation to all of those out there looking for a beauty tip that is not the patented “be confident in what you’re wearing” schpeel: layer things up.  “A shirt you love in the summer can definitely go in the winter if you just throw a turtleneck under it.”  By winterizing summer favorites and vice versa, Byron believes we will all save some money and makes pieces work a lot longer.

Byron Lars Beauty Mark is seen in stores and boutiques all across the US or online at: byronlarsbeautymark.com.

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Into the Wild Night with the Center for Great Apes

On Friday, December 7, leading artists, designers, and a bevy of cultural enthusiasts flocked to Miami Club Rum Distillery for the Center for Great Apes’ Wild Night. Throughout the evening, guests sipped on cocktails while enjoying modeled fashions—commissioned by the Gabby Wild Foundation—inspired by endangered species. Artist Romero Britto purchased a painting by Bubbles (Michael Jackson’s former chimpanzee) saying that “it was the best and purest art in the whole of Art Basel.” Photos by Jon Norris & Yvette Alvarez.

Photos © 2012 Jonnorrisphotog.com

Snaps by Yvette Alvarez

Ann Taylor’s New Concept of Style

By Allie Duncan

Ann Taylor has always been a shopping destination for classically chic clothing. And now, having evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of working women, Ann Taylor is defined by its unique aesthetic that is able to provide style for women across every generation. “Ann Taylor’s rich heritage has always been synonymous with iconic style for modern working women,” says Andrew Taylor, Ann Taylor’s Style Director (of no relation to Ann). “Under the design leadership of Lisa Axelson, the collections are more fashion forward and are designed to address the needs of today’s working women.”

In 2010, Axelson was recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) for her work on the Ann Taylor brand and her contributions to American fashion. “Our stores are a reflection of our new fashion direction,” says Axelson. “They are light, modern, feminine and designed to showcase the full Ann Taylor collection while making our client feel comfortable and welcome.”

The new Ann Taylor boutiques are inspired by a stylish modern contemporary home with white-washed maple hardwoods floors, luxurious crystal chandeliers, modern tufted furniture and sleek feminine fixtures inspired by every women’s dream closet. The overall feel of the store is warm and inviting, a perfect place to have an intimate shopping experience.

In addition, the new Ann Taylor stores have wardrobing niches that allow for strong fashion stories as well as an assortment of product. “Special attention was also given to the design of the styling rooms, which feature unique floral wall coverings, luxe ottomans, plush carpeting, and a new proprietary lighting system with flattering back lit mirrors,” says Taylor.

The store is an extension of the brand’s new fashion direction and serves as a visual backdrop for the updated collection. Taylor explains that the shopping experience is better on many levels, including curated fashion presentations, expert styling services, and Axelson’s favorite looks of the season at the front of the store to greet the client and provide styling ideas.

“The key fashion message is complemented by shop-in-shop destinations, including the ‘Career Chic’ shop, a ‘Petites’ shop and an ‘Accessories’ shop,” says Taylor. “Dedicated stylists are also on staff and are available for both walk-ins and appointments to help clients put together individualized looks for every occasion.”

And if clients would prefer to spend the day shopping with friends, adjacent to the styling rooms is a private lounge area where customers can relax and try on outfits while shopping. And for Chicago residents, there are plenty of store options for one to choose from. A new concept store was opened at Michigan Avenue in March and one at Deer Park Town Center last August.

Ann Taylor also has stores in Chicago at Water Tower Place, South Lasalle Street, and Oakbrook Center. Other stores in Illinois include Northbrook Court, Orland Park Crossing, Geneva Commons, Wheaton Town Square and Main Place.

Taylor advises, when shopping this fall, to keep an eye out for strong feminine pieces that make an impact – modern, sculptural silhouettes, but always with a soft feminine twist of understated glamour. “The Ann Taylor Fall 2012 collection was inspired by Axelson’s recent trip to Paris and the 1960s’ French couture,” says Taylor. “Women who knew fashion is elusive and who embraced the timeless styles of the 60s but still know how to keep them fresh and updated with unexpected color and texture combinations.”

Taylor goes on to say that there will be plenty of wear-now dresses and form-fitting pencil skirts; modern tops matched with skinny pants in graphic prints; great outerwear in bold colors like sapphire blue and jade green as well as timeless camel coats. Accessories include snow leopard ankle boots, ballet flats in a range of jewel tones and riding boots, which are always great for travel.

“As Style Director, I partner with Axelson to communicate our season design vision to the press, to stylists, to editors and to women across the country,” says Taylor. “It’s really about showing women Lisa’s point of view, listening to them to find out what they love and feel comfortable in, and helping style them to make looks their own.”

If the new Ann Taylor concept stores are any indication, it should be no problem finding a perfectly tailored fall wardrobe this season to fit one’s every need.