Long Live McQueen: A Tribute to Fashion Royalty

February 22, 2010 by

As design after design floats across runways around the globe, the world still reels from the death of British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.  It has been more than 10 days since McQueen’s untimely passing but I felt it would be appropriate to reflect upon his contributions to the fashion world.

McQueen was a pioneer in the fashion industry.  He was able to seamlessly meld tough, Gothic motifs with soft feminine elements. The effect is nothing short of ethereal.  When he exhibited his spring 2010 collection he said,  “I’ve always been fascinated by the Victorian period of death where they used to take pictures of the dead.”  I remember my first encounter with Alexander McQueen’s designs in the pages of Vogue when I was about 15 years old.  The designs conjured up mental images of a trunk forgotten in an attic– the decaying lace of an old wedding gown.  Victorian.  Macabre.  Brilliant.

McQueen’ was outspoken both in his design and in his wit.  My favorite anecdote is that he famously sewed obscenities into a coat he designed for Prince Charles.  His fall 2009 collection was surrealist in nature with latex smears for a mouth and Escher-esque tessellations running across structured conical dresses.

McQueen's love for eccentricity and the bizarre shows in his fall '09 RTW collection

His most recent collection, Spring Ready-to-wear 2010,  entailed structured mini dresses, surreal shoes, snake-skin patterns, and Lady Gaga glitz.

McQueen was able to beautifully and artfully meld  fashion and technology.  Take this hologram of Kate Moss gracing the runway and stunning the audience in 2006:

This show featured an automobile robot spray-painting a model on a rotating platform

With regards to mainstream success, we can thank McQueen for low-rise jeans, skull print scarves, and Lady Gaga’s envelope-pushing fashion.

Lady Gaga in McQueen's design

In an ever-evolving industry, the fashion world will move on in the aftermath of loss.   Alexander McQueen, however, provided designs that transcend the trend.

A Rundown on Gossip Girl Style

September 18, 2009 by

Happy fall everyone!

Is everybody fall-ing into the trap of this uplifting, charming, unforgettable season as much as me?  The leaves starting to change, caramel apples flooding the stores, fantasy football draft madness, and who can forget…the premiere of Gossip Girl!!

So the purpose of this is to tell you a little secret.  In fact it may just be your one and only source into the Gossip Girl’s fashion styles… that you yourself can have!

That’s right, Anna Sui just released a line of Gossip Girl inspired clothing for women, to be purchased at Target.  She’s nailed some of the character’s styles almost perfectly, specifically focusing on the styles of Blair, Serena, Jenny, and Vanessa.  If you’re looking for the perfect look for fall while at the same time wanting to model off of one of television’s most loved and sophisticated shows, this is just for you. I’ll break down each It Girl’s style, referencing quotes from Gossip Girl’s costume designer Eric Daman from his interviews on YouTube.

Blair: You just gotta love her.  Her infamous hats and headbands perfectly match that go-getter New York City attitude that we’re all entertained by.  While she is known to dress conservatively in fitted gowns with fine linen, Daman addresses a question a lot of us are sure to be wondering: Who will Blair Waldorf be when she goes to college? Will she wear the headband? “The headband has sort of become its own thing and kind of become its own character on the show.  I think it’s Blair’s security blanket…and I want to take it to more of an adult level.” A more adult level will, in my opinion, be played with throughout the show.  She’s trying to fit into college and I think instead of wearing the frilly little skirts and plaid headbands, she’ll shift to a more mature, elegant look for better or for worse.  Annu Sui’s Target line features sleek black skinny pieces and bright, bold colors which fits her character perfectly.

Serena: Serena’s look is tragically hip.  Sui features a lot of black and gray “throw on pieces” for a tossled Kate Moss look from her Target line.  Although throw on pieces are Serena’s staple, Sui’s Serena section seems to be almost too uptight for Serena- just not “Serena” enough.  While some of Sui’s pieces capture Serena’s clubbing style, I see Serena’s look as a fitted jeans, slingy tank/vest to accompany those gorgeous locks of hers.  Daman mentions Serena is in an identity crisis in Gossip Girl’s third season, so she’s falling back on the old party girl style with loose tanks and short dresses.  Of course she continues to look good in anything with that carefree attitude of hers.  Keep notice as the episodes tick by as to how Serena’s style will evolve.  Of course, Josh Schwartz has got to pick her off her feet at some point.

Jenny: Sui captures Jenny’s look pretty well- with her eccentric indie style and knit hats Jenny is not afraid to take a risk.  Though I cannot stand her character, I’ve intriguingly watched her style evolve within each season.  Jenny didn’t have much of an identity in the first season, and tried to blend into the mix along idolizing Serena.  As her interest in the fashion industry developed in the show, her style became much more, well, eclectic.  The mix of cotton-knit dresses and funky boots really did grow on me as she became a stronger person.  One thing to learn, style equals confidence.  As Jenny’s self-confidence grew so did her style, which ended up becoming one of the best on the show.

Vanessa: Although a lot of people seem to be bothered by her character, I think Gossip Girl would actually be a terrible loss without her.  For those of us who read the books, we knew Vanessa was supposed to have a shaved head, totally not into fashion and way into film.  It’s no secret Josh Schwartz doctored up her character, but really to what degree?  She’s super-independent, typical New York City artsy, and a good friend.  She doesn’t totally fit in with Blair’s inner crowd, but that does not seem to bother her at all which is why I really like Vanessa.  Her style, as Sui features, consists of a lot of earthy colors like browns, greens, and oranges.  Vanessa’s style can best be described as boho, and is very easy to obtain with the right confidence.  Get a vintage-modern dress, pair it with funky jewelry and add a pair of frilled boots to piece together the whole look.  You’ll never go wrong with the Vanessa look.

So pick your perfect fall look, mix and match styles, and watch trends disappear and evolve this fall.

My advice:  You can’t go wrong mixing and matching.  I don’t care if it’s a Jenny-like floral scarf with a Blair-like modern dress.  Try it, because you never know.


View Anna Sui’s Gossip Girl Target Collection here:


View the interviews with Gossip Girl’s Wardrobe Stylist Eric Daman:

African Textiles

September 18, 2009 by

Today Garance Dore posted this photo on her street style photography blog. I’ve been seeing gorgeous bright patterns like this a lot recently, and I’m really feeling it.

For example, Suno is a clothing line by Max Osterwies made out of vintage Kenyan kangas, which are big rectangular pieces of cloth printed with bright designs and a sometimes cryptic Swahili proverb or phrase. In Kenya and Tanzania they are used as all-purpose sarongs, bundles, headwraps and baby backpacks, but Osterwies turns them into tailored jackets, skirts, dresses, and even bikinis. Kenya used to have an active garments and textiles industry, which has all but disappeared today, so it is especially nice to know that these clothes were made by local tailors and artisans for a good wage.


Similarly, I was at Renegade Handmade in Wicker Park awhile ago and saw some amazing skirts and bags made of vintage African textiles by the Canadian artist Les Enfants Sauvages. I also saw her booth at the Renegade Craft Fair in September. Check out her etsy shop for cool, modern shapes made of colorful African and Indian textiles like old saris.

Can’t login to your Gmail account?

September 1, 2009 by

It’s driving us crazy too.

But consider this your invitation from the Google Powers that Be to take that latte break, power nap, or much needed stroll down procrastination lane. In fact, we’ve rounded up a few great sites to browse that are just perfect for those days when Gmail tells you “enough is enough”, or, well, “could not complete your request”.


Nice pictures of cool things.

2. Newser

My guilty pleasure. It’s a news aggregation service that provides mostly tabloid level stories– but with pictures!

3. Free Rice

Mindless. Free. Rice. And somehow you’re also helping to save the world.


An up to the minute compilation of hard-to-believe-they’re-true news articles from around the world.

5. Apartment Therapy

Inspiration for your home. It’s very DIY yet modern.

If these links just aren’t cutting it for you and you really, actually, do have something you’ve just gotta send out, here’s a way to get around the 502 error. Simply head over to iGoogle, and you can read and send messages via the dashboard’s gmail link. What do you do when your Gmail is down?

Cupcake Crawl

August 26, 2009 by

Red Velvet cucpake from Swirlz

I don’t have the drinking endurance to handle a bar crawl, so when my friends get dolled up for a night of club-hopping, I curl up for a night on the couch. I might not be able to handle my liquor, but I’ve got the sweet tooth of a champion. My taste buds lead me right to the cupcake.

Cupcakes are having a major cultural moment: since super-chic Carrie Bradshaw nibbled on morsels from New York’s swanky Magnolia Bakery on Sex and the City, cupcakes have gone from childhood birthday party fare to a sophisticated culinary trend. Once relegated to grocery stores and cake shops, cupcakes are now staples of any corner bakery, and many bakeries are devoted entirely to the dessert. While my friends slept off their night on the town, I embarked on a cupcake crawl that took me around Chicago in search of the best the city’s got to offer. Here, my two favorites:

My first stop was More (1 E. Delaware Place), a couture cupcake shop in the river north neighborhood. With succulent sweet and savory flavors like lemon meringue and bacon maple, More is a spot for the discerning dessert-eater. The lemon meringue cupcake came with perfectly-formed tufts of fluffy meringue and a lemon-filled center. With its white interior and crisp light installations, this bakery has a chic, boutique feel. The fancy flavors like peach bacon bbq, blueberry acai, and salted caramel classify these cakes as haute cuisine, and the deliciously-sweet cupcakes definitely left me wanting More.

Next, I trekked to Lincoln Park to hit Swirlz (705 W. Belden), where I got a cupcake that totally justified the long CTA trip. Daily options include vanilla, chocolate, and the mouth-wateringly delicious red velvet, made with buttermilk, cocoa, and cream cheese frosting. Swirlz has options for various dietary needs, including those with vegan or gluten-free diets. Every day, there are different gluten-free and vegan options, including vegan chocolate-peanut butter and gluten-free banana cream cheese. In addition to cupcakes to accommodate these diets, the bakery also has fare for patrons’ four-legged friends. If your canine has a carb craving, give him a Pupcake, a bite-sized cupcake made just for Fido.

Embrace the cupcake trend and take a bite out of some of the tastiest deserts in town.

New York, I Love You

August 22, 2009 by

If you’re looking for a different kind of love story to see at the theaters this fall, look no further than New York, I Love You.  The film tells 12 different love stories, featuring an all-star cast. The film was created by the same producers of Paris Je T’aime and some of the directors include Fatih Atkin, Natalie Portman and Brett Ratner.

The film’s stars include Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Blake Lively, Justin Bartha, Orlando Bloom, Robin Wright Penn, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilsen, Ethan Hawke, James Caan, Julie Christie, Natalie Portman, Cloris Leachman and many more.

New York, I Love You is expected to be released in the US on October 16.

If you can’t wait for New York, I Love You, you can watch Paris, Je T’aime until then.  This original film follows 18 stories in the city of love. After falling in love with Paris and New York, you can still look forward new love stories from Shanghai, Jerusalem and Rio in the next few years.

And, if you love the song from New York, I Love You trailer as much as I do, you can check out Phoenix’s performance of “1901” on David Letterman from August 18.

Haute Rock

August 21, 2009 by

Music and fashion have always been close counterparts, filled with quick-change divas like Cher and Lady GaGa, and radical lookers spanning from Bowie to M.I.A. Now, slowly, the showmanship in the rock scene is turning back from the effects to the performer, and the whole scene is changing to fit this radical new attention.

No longer synonymous with spandex and never-ending power chord licks (a mixed blessing at best, if you ask me) rock has become a subjective term, more used to describe the persona behind the music. Songs have been broken down into countless categories and subgenres, but the attitude remains constant across all boundaries and borders.

It is now, as it always has been, about making your own way on your own terms, from the music to the look. On that note, there are a few under-the-radar groups who should definitely get some credit for their progressive sound and style:

First, there is Maystar. Comprised of sound maverick Abe Deleon and front woman May Jacob, this duet is a far departure from the brazen guitar riffs of days past. The icy and sometimes haunting melodies grasp more at a raw heart than rock soul. It is, at best, a unique sound that captivates and resonates to the core. More than a musician, May also designs her unique stage fashions (along with modeling, promoting, and a slew of other activities). She creates her own, characteristic look to accompany her distinctive sound, and the result is nothing if not unique.

photo credit of Maystar Designs and photographer Rob Howard

Photograph courtesy of Maystar Designs and photographer Rob Howard

Next there’s the dirty synth-rock sounds of Dolls House. A London quartet comprised entirely of raw attitude and unrefined energy, Dolls House uses their quick licks and driving rhythms to crash against pop orthodoxy. What’s more, they do it with style. Front woman Camilla Romestrand bleeds panache with her eclectic garb and sonic stare, while the ensemble follows suit in vibrant hues, dark eyeliner and eccentric garnishes. This is a band that’s not afraid of color, cosmetic, or accessory; and certainly not afraid of noise.

Photograph credit of Dolls House

Photograph courtesy of Dolls House

Finally, there’s Ferras. Probably the most prolific name in this post, the LA based singer-songwriter is known for both his melancholy melodies and simple, suave style. After the release of his debut album, Aliens and Rainbows, this songsmith went from unknown to unstoppable, bringing with him his faded jeans, dress shirts, and blazers. His presentation is flawless, both in album and on stage. For Ferras, a degree of sophistication is necessary in everything he does, and he stands out as a man willing to express it.

Photograph courtesy of Ferras

Photograph courtesy of Ferras

So maybe rock is no longer synonymous with roll. Maybe the sound and the life have become two different things. Indie, pop, hip-hop (whatever!) can all embody that unique my way in my time attitude that was once exclusive to the most hardened bands and beats. Certainly these artists have their own sound, and a style to accompany them, but they’re not the only ones. Music is always evolving, and with it goes rock.

Got any favorites? I would love to hear them! Leave their names and let me know.

The Obligatory Little Black Dress Post

August 21, 2009 by

Every fashion blogger is required by law to write a post on the little black dress. Fashionising’s article on LBDs on the runway inspired me to share Avant Gaudy’s own collection with our readers.

Avant Gaudys Third Date dress features a sweetheart neckline and velvet - perfect for fall 09.

Avant Gaudy's "Third Date" dress features a sweetheart neckline and velvet - perfect for fall 09.

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

Make your fall fashion debut wearing our Debutante dress.

Make your fall fashion debut wearing our Debutante dress.

This vintage Betsey Johnson dress is made of a stretch material and is very versatile.

This vintage Betsey Johnson dress is made of a stretch material and is very versatile.

A cheerleader-inspired skirt makes our Match dress perfect for day or night.

A cheerleader-inspired skirt makes our Match dress perfect for day or night.

Pair this LBD with colorful leggings and stay cozy in the fall.

Pair this LBD with colorful leggings and stay cozy in the fall.

My own little black dress is rather unoriginal – but therin lies its potential. It’s a strapless, knee-length number from Charlotte Russe, with eyelet trim and a simple ribbon belt. Not only do I change the ribbon to match every outfit, but black acts as a blank canvas. I add a cardigan most of the time, but sometimes I add a blazer or funky tights. I’d love to see how it looks with a colored crinoline underneath. For now, it looks something like this:


What about your LBD? Where did you find it? How do you accessorize it? Share your story!

Avant Gaudy on The Coveted!

August 21, 2009 by

Jennine from The Coveted visited the Avant Gaudy showroom this week.  Check out an exerpt from her interview with Deborah and see a sneak peek of some of Avant Gaudy’s favorite fall looks:

Avant Gaudy on The Coveted

DeborahOne of the things I missed the most when I was abroad was easy access to vintage clothing. I missed some of my local shops, and online, well many of the ones I love are located stateside (though not all!) When I came to Chicago, honestly, there’s not been much time to visit shops, we’re looking for a place to live, and me, I’m looking for work… but luckily enough, we got in touch with Chicago-based online vintage retailer, Avant Gaudy. Founded by Deb Umunnabuike (pictured on the left) in 2005, Avant Gaudy started out from a love for vintage, for integrating found pieces and wearing them in modern ways. this has translated into her shop philosophy:

“modern vintage” clothing: garments with some history that represent the best of today’s fashion and trends. Our fashion philosophy is all-encompassing: anyone can look good, and looking good does not equate spending a lot of money nor a lot of time in a shopping mall.’

Behind the scenes the shop has grown, with two buyers searching high and low for great pieces, they pool their resources together to create ‘collections’  based on runway trends, magazines, and style blogs like Hel Looks and The Sartorialist and fashion news sites like WWD to find inspiration. One of the advantages of going to Avant Gaudy’s is to see the ways they interpret vintage and relate it to the most recent of today’s trends… and for pretty cheap too, most pieces run about the $25-$50 range which for edited vintage pieces is quite a steal!

Check out the rest of the article on The Coveted to see more photos of our fall looks and even an exclusive photo of our latest editorial photo shoot.

Fashion in My Eyes Interview with Deborah!

August 20, 2009 by

Fashion in My Eyes

Check out this interview with Deborah, co-owner of Avant Gaudy, featured on Fashion in My Eyes.  Be sure to check out the amazing blog, or take a look at the interview reposted here:

Avant Gaudy is a chic online boutique, where you can find “vintage modern,modern vintage” clothes and accessories.
I asked Deb Umunnabuike, one of the Avant Gaudy founders, some questions about herself and about Avant Gaudy.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

You are the co-founder of Avant Gaudy,tell us more about yourself.

I’m also a Political Science major at the University of Chicago, so I’ve often got a recent WWD and also something written by Foucault in my purse. My sister, Jessica, and I started Avant Gaudy in the summer of 2005 in order to keep ourselves busy. Beyond that, I really wanted to connect with and impact the lives of those who were as passionate about fashion as we were, and are. An online store seemed like a perfect way to reach fashionistas all over the world.

Why Avant Gaudy and not another name?

Avant Gaudy
is a play off of the word avant garde, which was a movement that embraced forward thinking, literature, art, and fashion. We select clothing that is fashion forward and yet also has a tinge of gaudiness in the sense that an Avant Gaudy girl or guy is both modern and playful.

How do you pick the items for the store?

All items are sourced from across the United States. We have a full-time team of buyers who dedicate themselves to researching trends and matching these trends up with vintage fashion. Our buyers are intuitive and creative – they know a good find when they see one.

What are your favorite pieces on Avant Gaudy right now?
This silver lame dress was featured on NotCouture,as was this vintage Diane von Furstenberg one.Jumpsuits, meanwhile, are on trend right now, and are edgy yet feminine
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

What do you love most about fashion?

Fashion allows an ordinary day to be extraordinary. Even if a person does enjoy and choose to follow trends, there’s still so much room for individuality. Vintage fashion is the best way to express your individuality – because of its scarcity, every piece is a rare link to the past that fits easily into a modern wardrobe example:

Brocade, $48

How do you see yourself and Avant Gaudy 10 years for now?

I’d like Avant Gaudy to expand and become even more of an international business than it already has. With the social media explosion, we feel like the time is right to connect with as many people as possible who share our interest in modern vintage. Additionally, I’d eventually like for our brand to serve as a platform for up and coming designers from across the world to showcase their takes on vintage through reconstructions and vintage-inspired looks.