Author Archive

Long Live McQueen: A Tribute to Fashion Royalty

February 22, 2010

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.

So what if I think serial killers are good looking?

August 13, 2009

As the sun sets Tuesday nights at Grant Park in downtown Chicago, hundreds gather to relax, converse, AND catch a good old-fashioned movie.

I have been an aficionado of going to these since

A.  I am completely broke and this event is free

B.  The people I go with generally possess some sort of edible goods

Tonight, the featured film was none other than Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho. I had been fortunate enough to see the film with my UChicago dorm buddies earlier in the year, but was grateful to re-watch it.  I remember what struck me originally about the film the first time I watched it was the dashing good looks of none other than the insane-murderer-guy.  When I mentioned this patent fact to my predominately male companions, I was laughed at.  After receiving various jabs throughout the week about my observations, I, discouraged and downtrodden, put my Psycho yearnings on the back shelf.

Oh, Norman

The movie in Grant Park was projected onto a huge white screen.  My heart skipped a beat whilst munching on popcorn when that lovely, dark visage graced the screen.  With this amplified view, I frankly fell back into love with the antagonist: deranged, introverted, mentally disturbed and oh-so-dreamy, Norman Bates.

Have such a crush on Normy.  That black sweater.  That gripping gaze.  That deft movement by which he impinges Marion Crane’s abdomen with a butcher knife.



Some men are just to die for.

Alter Ego

August 3, 2009

In the realm of thrifting, there is some God-awful, ugly stuff. 

Take this dress for instance: A long sleeved, froofy, suffocating monstrosity made all the more ridiculous in an eye-damagingly bright, red.  As my dear mother would say, the number was in fact, “uglier than sin.” 

Not surprisingly, the price tag read ten cents. 

The stop-sign red hue of the “Christmas Day Nightgown” (as my colleagues fondly christened it), serving as a blatant forewarning for naïve bargain hunters, was not enough to hinder this blogger.  My retail salivary glands were working at the rapidity of a rabid canine.  Ten cents, why I can find a dime in the dirt! What a deal!  With a spring in my step, I handed a quarter over to the cashier.  Upon arrival at my apartment, the dress looked even uglier than I had remembered it.  As always, every cloud has a silver (er…in this case, stuffy polyester) lining.  This thing just needed a little TLC. 


Now, most folks are frightened of the term “sewing.”  To them, it may conjure up ghastly recollections from 7th grade Home Ec class projects gone awry.  It signifies that “Vogue Patterns” instruction booklet and a ball of discount fabric from Jo-Anns sitting forlornly in the back of a closet in a heap of frumpy defeat.   Not to fear, though.  If I can do it, you (with utmost certainty) can do it with ease! 

Snip Snip

I simply chopped off the arms, hacked off a foot and a half of  hem length, folded the hem over, ironed it, and stitched it up in order to avoid fraying.   

Extreme Make-Over

Voila–A cute frock for pennies!  Pretty nifty thrifty, huh?

Rewind: Heat Things Up

July 30, 2009

I remember one of my favorite things as a kid to mess with were those vomit hued, but incredibly entertaining, color-changing, heat sensitive pencils, bookmarks etc.  I remember my grandma gave me a flat bookmark shaped like a seahorse that changed to cerulean blue when wedged between two moist and sticky palms.  I think I accidentally cracked its tail off eventually, but the magic of its chameleon-like qualities resonated with me in the profoundest of manners and doubtlessly molded me into the fabulous, beautiful and incredibly intelligent person I am today.    


Yes!  Color Changing Pencils!!

Yes! Color Changing Pencils!!

This long-forgotten trend materialized during a noontide rendezvous with some chums.  When my friends informed me that they possessed color-changing, heat sensitive T-SHIRTS during the early ’90s I was floored.  I never had the privilege of having one of these things.  The magic of my shoddy sea-horse bookmark dissolved in a cloud of envy.  “Yeah,” said a friend whilst munching on a PB & J, “When it was hot outside, my armpits would change colors.”   I honestly felt like a part of my childhood was missing. 

Until now, that is. 

I stumbled across the Thermochromatic top from American Apparel.   For 22 clams, one can bask in the joys of color-changing, polychromatic goodness. 

 Thermochromatic Shirt

Unfortunately, this blogger has to resort to psychological testing for extra dough and cannot, at the moment, afford such luxuries.  So if any loyal Gaudy Gal or Guy would be willing to ship me one (In “Hyper Gold Orange”),  just drop me a line….

For Those Who Adore Cheesy Love Songs…

July 24, 2009

I forgot how much I love the song Do You Want To Know a Secret  by the Beatles.

 Such dandys!  
The Beatles 



 Love their style.  Love this song.  Love the  prospect of the weekend!

Sweat Success

July 20, 2009


Beet-red face. Intense gazes. And sweat—LOTS of sweat. Sound like a scene from high school public speaking class? Close, but not quite. This charged scene comes from a Bikram yoga studio, a form of yoga performed in sweltering105 degree temps. Fellow Avant Gaudy gal, Mariefe, recommended the class to me claiming it toned her up and helped her shed a little weight. Eager to rid myself of my freshmen fifteen (ahem, more like twenty), I decided to give Bikram a whirl.

So just what, exactly, is this Bikram thing? Bikram is a form of yoga founded by Indian yoga guru Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury. The first US School was founded in San Francisco in 1972. The yoga itself involves a series of 26 separate poses performed in a 105-degree room. Claimed benefits of Bikram include the release of toxins, weight loss, cardio-vascular health, un-stiffened joints, flexibility, and a plethora of other health perks.

When Avant Gaudy office-mate Nayla and I arrived at the Lincoln Park Bikram yoga studio we had absolutely no idea what to expect. We filed into a spacious mirrored studio. The instructor, a twenty-something guy with a wrap-around head mic, led the class in a monotonous, continuous stream of yoga commands.

It was INTENSE. With limbs quivering and droplets of perspiration streaming down my face. I must confess the first half of the session made me feel nauseous and faint and I had to sit down for a while. The instructor assured us these sensations are normal. The hour and a half session passed by surprisingly quickly. After picking up my sopping towel and stepping out into the cool outdoors, I felt, well, good.
So go ahead, give it a try. The studios in Chicago offer a $29 month-long beginner rate:

But be forewarned: this stuff ain’t for wimps.

Meet the “Gaudy” Girls: Anna

July 2, 2009

AnnaGet to know Anna, the Avant Gaudy summer Stylist intern.

Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am originally from Henderson, Minnesota (population 910) and now live in Hyde Park.  Don’t make fun of my “MinnesOHtan” accent or my feelings will be hurt and my ego bruised.

What is your major?
I go to school at the University of Chicago and am planning on majoring in Public Policy, Economics or some other stuffy field of study. 

Personal aspirations/hopes?
I aspire to be able to free-style rap, dance the Melbourne shuffle and get rid of my goofy accent. 

Professional goals?
To do something other than sit at a desk all day and get crusty and old.  If this plan fails, then I am becoming a trophy-wife.   

Favorite movies?
Beauty and the Beast and Ong Bak Thai Warrior.

What TV shows are you currently watching/still addicted to?
I don’t watch all that much TV—I have no time!! When I am back home, though, I watch Kitchen Nightmares and a lot of Antiques Road Show.

What kind of music do you like? What bands are you listening to?
My musical tastes are all over the place and my favorite bands are always changing.  I really enjoy electro music and fuzzy garage rock.  Right now, though, I am obsessed with Hank Williams

Favorite/essential book?
I love The Awakening by Kate Chopin.

Things you love?
I purchased a vintage electric-blue Schwinn Cruiser in January.  I named her Sally.  It is easily my favorite possession/best friend right now. 

Anna & her bicycle, Sally

Favorite Designer?
I love Ivan Grundahl and Alexander Wang.  The ethereal and sometimes ghastly aesthetic of Alexander McQueen and Christian Lacroix inspire me as well.

Favorite fashion/beauty magazine?
I love W!!!  I currently don’t have a subscription, but I love how I can tear out the huge editorial pages and post them on my bedroom wall as decoration.  My apartment is sporting a rather lovely collage at the moment…

Favorite clothing item/accessory that you own?
I have this great yellow parrot necklace that my sister picked up at a garage sale for a quarter.  I had to beg her for a week to let me swap ten items of my own jewelry for it.

How would you describe your personal style? 
Eclectic and bright.

One thing you’ll never wear?
Ugg boots.  Never. Ever.  Or Crocs—they are truly the vilest entity on the planet.  In addition, any type of polo shirt that has the small, yet blatantly obvious monogram of any kind of aquatic avian, our national bird, or of a moose. 

Style icon?
Agyness Deyn. 

Agyness Deyn

Do you have any style rules?
Just go for it!!!  I feel as though a lot of people complain that they can’t “pull off” a certain ensemble.  Even the most atrocious thing can be made into a wearable outfit when worn with confidence.  I raid my mom’s clothing from the 80s and even dig through our dress-up box at home. 

Obsessed with/can’t live without?
National Public Radio programming: Car Talk, The Splendid Table, A Prairie Home Companion, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and This American Life—I would surely die without it.  

Guilty pleasure?
Seeing that I was tagged in photos on Facebook.   And eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon!!  Another weird thing that I enjoy is dry Ramen —the crunchiness of it was really comforting during finals week. 

What are you an expert of/random knowledge?
Back in Minnesota I used to work at Toody’s Sweet Treats, a soda fountain, hence I can make the prettiest banana split/sundae/milkshake you ever have seen. That is a promise.  I even tried it in the UChicago cafeteria once….

Favorite Famous/Inspirational Quote:
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift.”
-Steve Prefontaine

What is your favorite item from Avant Gaudy?
There is this great striped blouse that ties into a big bow in the front—I got to wear it at our showroom opening event and I absolutely fell in love with it! 

Lemon AID: Beat the Heat!

June 24, 2009

Summer is officially in full swing…and so is this darned hot weather!  Unfortunately, as my apartment is lacking the luxury of air-conditioning, I am left to swelter.  To me though, something that can give me succur during a blistering day is a tall, cool glass of lemonade.  Beat the heat with cute citrus-inspired niceties ‘n knickknacks!

  1. Lemon Lip Gloss– to perfect your pucker, use this zingy lemon lip cream from C.O. Bigelow.CO Bigelow Lemon Lip Cream
  2. Citrus-Striped Party Dress– Stay cool in this darling vintage frock from Avant GaudyAvant Gaudy Dress
  3. Perfect Lemonade Recipe– Wet your whistle with a refreshing glass of lemonade SuperStock_1612R-16135

Gather:  1 cup sugar, 1 cup water (for simple syrup), 4-6  lemons, 3-4 cups cold water (to dilute).


  1. Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.
  2. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4-6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
  3. Add the juice and sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3-4 cups of cold water to taste.


   4.  Bejeweled Cubes– I was so pumped when I came across these ice-cube trays on  Even your beverages can be glamorous with these ice cubes inspired by precious stones!


Stay posted and stay cool!!

Morning Musings by Anna

June 23, 2009

This weekend while shopping (let me rephrase that: wishing I had money to shop) I stumbled across the work of fashion designer Ivan Grundahl.  This Danish designer is a master at turning darks and neutrals into surprisingly feminine clothing.  Architectural pleating, billowy sleeves, and random rouching all combine to give the clothes an edgy yet delicate sort of feel.    

Ivan Grundahl

It’s amazing sometimes how the simple act of looking can be equated to breathing.   

In spite of the rather steep price tag for Grundahl’s stuff,  I think its easy to replicate the look in vintage-wear for a fraction of the price.  Take Avant Gaudy’s spin on the look:

Avant Gaudy