Clover Canyon top. Etro pants. AZ Collection cuff. Edie Parker clutch. Kotur clutch. Jonathan Adler handbag. Nila Anthony clutch. Clutch from Pixie Market.
Jacket from Wolf & Badger. Balmain skirt. Charlotte Olympia platforms. Artelier by Nicole Miller earrings and cuff. Lanvin necklace. Gold bangle and diamond ring from 1stdibs. Dolce & Gabbana heart ring. Fendi watch. Katrin Langer clutch. Clock from Lamps Plus. Michael Aram candle. Lalique figurine.
The T. Tandon NY AW17 Fashion Week event at 230 FIFTH Rooftop Bar in the Flatiron District was packed with stylish people. Among them, one woman stood out. She was wearing a beautiful floor-length fuchsia gown and a pale pink beaded blazer, and her hair and makeup was impeccable: back-length curls and a thin cat eye. More than that, she radiated confidence, an attitude of embracing the attention she knew she attracted, rather than demurely acting as if it wasn’t happening. I complimented her on her outfit, and she told me that the dress was of her own design.
Tina Tandon, Princess Long Long, and models.
But Princess Long Long is much more than a fashion designer. She is an opera singer first and foremost. Born and raised in China, she moved to the United States and trained as a soprano at The Juilliard School, where 2,138 students applied and only 162 were accepted. She has channeled her otherworldly voice and years of training into countless performance endeavors around the world: China Central Television (CCTV)’s Avenue of Stars competition, winning the North American finals; the International Music Forum in Bo’ao, China; the China Army; the UNESCO World Fashion Parade in the Garment District; Couture Fashion Week in Times Square; New Jersey Fashion Week; and the 70th Cannes Film Festival last May. She has worked with Freedom Williams (C+C Music Factory), songwriter Howard McCrory (see Michael Jackson and Chaka Khan), soca artist KMC, reggaetón artist Valentino, and spoken word performer Andrew Anderson. Her stage presence translates naturally into acting. Her repertoire includes independent films The Right to Live, Good Friday, Be Frank, and What Women Want Chronicles, and the Off-Broadway cabaret comedy Whatever Happened to Beverly Daniels?, and she is slated to star in the TV show Whatta Guys Really Want. Her creativity also extends to writing, particularly mythology. She wrote a fairy tale, Bird, Bees, and the Fruit Fly; co-developed Blue Cat, which went on to become the most popular cartoon in China; and is working on an epic melodrama, Moon Goddess.
Princess Long Long describes her sense of style as “like a fairy” – floral, beaded, ethereal, embellished, often pink, with grand flourishes and minute details, each look designed by her and tailored for her. She has even designed and produced a Broadway-themed fashion show in Times Square! She works extensively with Thai designer Thunyatorn Cheng Ng, who has a boutique in Elmhurst, and Kyrgyz costume designer Natasha Berezhnaya, who is based in Westchester County.
Princess Long Long and friends at the South Street Seaport.
She invited me to some events at the United Nations headquarters in Tudor, as the Ambassador for Humanitarian Affairs in Culture and Arts by the National Council of Women of the US Director of Culture and Arts at Partners for UN Affairs. She subsequently invited me to her induction as an honorary member of the Rotary Club of New York. This was when I really started to learn more about her. She wore a black velvet dress and a belt of golden dragons, to represent her lineage from the Long, or dragon, family of the Silk Road kingdom of Yanqi (ended in 1913). We started talking and she told me all about her background, her accomplishments, and what she is currently working on.
Princess Long Long accepting her Rotary Club honorary membership certificate at the Union League Club in Murray Hill.
Blissful Style: How did you become an honorary member of the Rotary Club?
Princess Long Long: First of all, I work very closely with the United Nations, I have been participating in different kinds of events for world peace for a long time. I recently became the World Peace Ambassador of the World Peace and Diplomacy Organization, then I also became the ambassador of a Culture and Diversity Event at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, the Chinese ambassador for diversity and cultural arts. And I’m contributing as the ambassador for the US Women’s Council for Humanitarian Culture. So with all this work, naturally now I’m becoming an honorary Rotary member. The president, Jasmine, told everyone what I have been contributing, that I have been working so hard and contributing for world peace, that’s why they wanted to give me the honorary membership. I also hope I can devote myself to using more time and opportunities to help people from all over the world. As you know, the Rotary Club has 3500 clubs all over the world and 1.2 million members. So I’m very honored and happy to be becoming an honorary member today, and I really feel that I have a lot of things to do, to fulfill. All I want to do right now is to be focused on cultivating peaceful and friendly relations; our acting as one world, with a cultural diversity that can be shared with and embraced by all nations, is my one focus. As you know, mankind has the mind, which is what made war. If you work on the mind, at the spiritual level, then there will be less war and terrorism, and less manipulation, and things like the 9/11 tragedy will not happen. That’s why I’m working with the UN and supporting the UN record on the creative economy and cultural diplomacy. What the creative economy means is that, on the spiritual and cultural levels, we believe that if you are a creative artist, you can create beautiful things and make the world a lot more beautiful. This will make people understand one another much more, and once this happens, there will be far fewer barriers, much less misunderstanding and much less fighting. That promotes the economy, that’s a Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations. It’s a global goal.
BS: How long have you been involved with the United Nations?
PLL: It’s been, off and on, almost three years. I started as an artist, performing, and then later on I worked with several organizations, as well as some creative press from all over the world. To develop art here today, I’m so happy, it shows that the UN definitely knows what you’re doing. Once you do something, really do it right, and the UN will support you.
Princess Long Long at her Broadway-themed fashion show.
BS: How did you decide to go to Juilliard and pursue a career in music?
PLL: Oh, you know, you either have it or you don’t, so I knew that I had it, for as long as I can remember. So it’s been a long-time dream of mine to become a singer. However, my parents didn’t agree, they just didn’t want me to be a singer. But actually, my father was an opera singer and my mother was a music teacher. That’s what they do, music is their livelihood, but they didn’t want me to be in that, so they sent me to Europe to get a business education. But I didn’t feel happy doing that, and I believe that people should always do things that make them happy. Before I came to the United States, I had this girlfriend of mine, she told me one thing and it really made me make this decision. We went to see a Broadway show in Beijing, Chicago, and we watched that show together. She is a good friend of mine. We used to go to karaoke, which is very popular in China. When we performed, my girlfriends would go crazy for my voice, after they heard my voice, they would say Ohh. So after Chicago, my girlfriend told me, “Long, I’ve got to tell you one thing before you go to the United States”. She said, “After seeing this show, Chicago, you are just one of them, you are absolutely one of them.” She said, “I know you, because I know you from old times, and if I don’t see you on stage singing and performing like them before I die, I’m not gonna close my eyes, because I’m hoping.” That moved my heart. I thought, Wow, my friend really thinks this, and she’s a girl who has been with me for ten years, that means she knows me better than I know myself. She said, “When you go to the United States, you have to pursue your dream.” So I made a decision, in 2006 I came to the United States. I spent about a year traveling to eight cities, to live in each one for a little while and see which I liked best. Then, around 2007, I made my decision and said, Okay, I have to pursue my dream, and go to music school to train my voice. I’m not gonna give it up. I did research and spent a year-and-a-half in junior school training with the professors for the auditions. So that’s it, before I went over there I did a lot of preparation, almost two years, it was a big challenge for me. But I did it, it’s just that simple, I said If she wants me to be on stage like that, then I should start with a professional music school, so I’ll go.
An advertisement for Princess Long Long’s performance at the Cannes Film Festival.
BS: Tell me about your experience at the Cannes Film Festival. What was it like? What did you sing and what did you wear?
PLL: Oh, the Cannes Film Festival, that was a very interesting thing. I had dreamed about the Cannes Film Festival since I was very little, so I never believed that the first time I went to Cannes I would be performing! I thought, I’m gonna go over there, see the red carpet and the stars, but I never thought I myself was going to be a star over there. It was so exciting! They picked me up, a Hollywood production company, they wanted a Chinese singer because they were promoting a diversity and inclusion event. I believe I met with the theme. I did cross-cultural pieces. I revised some famous songs, like “La Vie en Rose”, “Shanghai Night”, and a French opera piece, Roméo et Juliette, but I did them in a cross-cultural way. I didn’t want to do it in the same classic way it has been done before, so I mixed different styles, cultures, and languages. I believe that as artists, we are facing a global citizen, and we have to produce something that the global citizen really wants. They’re not gonna be satisfied with one culture or one language anymore, it has to be cross-cultural and cross-language. That’s what I thought, so I created those pieces for the Cannes Film Festival, and it was good, it was an honor to be the Chinese Cultural Inclusivity Ambassador, the diversity ambassador for the festival.
Some other people who went to the 70th Cannes Film Festival. No big deal…
BS: What languages do you sing in?
PLL: You mean at Cannes?
BS: Just in general.
PLL: Oh, I can sing in many different languages. But that’s standard training for all the voice classes at university. You have to be able to carry at least good dictions of different languages. I wore three different costumes. The first one, for Roméo et Juliette, I created an image of white, so my promotion video in the background was all white, everything was related to that white princess dress. That’s the image that I created, the “Eastern Dragon Princess”. This image won first prize at the Italian Royal Carnival fashion presentation in 2016. I also performed in this one at the World Fashion Parade. It has wings because I’m trying to give a message to the world, that the Eastern Dragon Princess on the Silk Road is the one link from East to West, and I’m fulfilling my ancient mission to bridge the cultural arts and spirituality between the East and the West. This dragon princess is pure, she’s classic, she’s elegant, and she is also hoping for peace, because the wings mean peace and prosperity. That was the first one I wore, and the second one, when I sang “Shanghai Night”, was a blue dress, like a mermaid. That’s why I liked your style the first time I met you, it’s like a fairy tale. When I was a little child I wanted to be a mermaid so badly. So I presented that with a Chinese robe. The wings and the robe were made by Natasha Berezhnaya, and she’s very good. We work together a lot to make these costumes. I would say she is the most talented and the best theater designer, and also dressmaker, that I know. I’m very picky about things, but we work beautifully. I always give her lots of ideas, and she has some ideas too, and then we make beautiful clothes, and she’s very talented. I wear a lot of her designs when I perform, and when I give presentations like this, like a speech, or go to a nightclub or cocktail party. The third look was for “La Vie en Rose”, I was in pure rose. Did you see that one? With the roses all over my head?
BS: Yeah! It’s so pretty!
PLL: That was one I designed. I thought, This song is rose, so let’s make a dramatic rose look! I placed rose hairpieces all over my head and added a pink fan. I can wear all pink because, like you, that is already how I dress. I also wore that one to perform at Couture Fashion Week.
BS: Oh yeah, I saw that, that’s what I saw. Would you ever consider creating apparel for purchase?
PLL: Yes, I want to do that, because now I have a team in Shanghai that would like to do branding for me and fund my projects. You know, Shanghai is a financial center, I have so many fans over there, and they want to do something for me, but at this moment, I don’t think…I’m just a talented designer, but I’m not really a professional designer. I have too many things going on right now — I am a writer, I am a singer — so when I’m young I will focus on performing arts, and then later on, my plan is to do all my branding, the commercial lines. I’ve already got enough fans who want to do it together, some professional people, especially in China. I would love to work with many Western designers and people as well, I would easily help them reach the Chinese market.
A Natasha Berezhnaya fashion show.
Natasha herself on the runway.
BS: Other than Natasha Berezhnaya, who are your favorite designers that you want to work with?
PLL: I have a couple of other people, some other Chinese too. I also like a Thai woman, Thunyatorn Cheng Ng. She’s very talented, so I work with her too. Natasha has a little bit more of a Western style, while Thunyatorn Cheng is very Eastern. So I go with both sides, because I kind of look in between. I have the Asian skin and hair but a Western body, so I can work with both sides, I can wear Western and Eastern.
Thunyatorn Cheng Ng runway looks.
BS: Yeah, now that we have the option to wear both of them, as a more global world, everyone should start wearing things from all over the world.
PLL: Yeah that’s another thing, I was gonna tell you, because you are more like a fashion magazine, I think that the designers nowadays, in the Western countries, should really be aware of the Eastern impact. They can make a hit if they can do some cross-cultural things very well. You may see a lot of big brands, like Louis Vuitton and H&M, starting to sell in all countries, and in China, they are trying to add little things as an Eastern touch, but it’s gotta be more. This is just the beginning. The Eastern impact is going to be big in the next ten, twenty years. So whoever catches this tide will be on the top of the world, whoever does it first is gonna be a pioneer, that’s what I think too. They should consider it, they will make themselves outstanding if they do some Eastern part, but the key is how to achieve the harmony, how to make it organic. You cannot be too Eastern or too Western, you have to do the right combination, mix them together and make it beautiful.
BS: What is Moon Goddess about? When can people see the Broadway show and the film?
PLL: Oh, Moon Goddess? Moon Goddess, which I wrote based on the Chinese fairy tale, is about the first love story in the Chinese mythology. The moon goddess’s name is Chang’e. Chang’e is the most beautiful woman in Chinese history. This is also the story of the Moon Festival. A lot of people know about the Moon Festival, but they don’t know the story behind it. They also know how to eat moon cakes, but they say “Hey, where do the moon cakes come from?” The Chinese moon goddess is the like the one in Greek culture, Seléne; the story is similar, but it’s different. Moon Goddess is about her life story with her husband, the hero Yi. There were supposed to be ten suns before, and the hero shoots nine suns and now there is only one left, so in the Chinese mythology it’s a new miracle, and it’s a new door for Western people to learn about Chinese culture. For any culture, when you bring the culture to an international level, you should always start with mythology: the Greek, the Middle Eastern, the Indian, all the people. If you need to open the door, you have to open the door to the rest of the world with mythology. That is why I wrote mythology. I have written five mythology books already, that I want to release one by one. I am working with several people — music professionals, Broadway and theater producers, movie producers – to fund Moon Goddess, and it will be a joint venture between China and the United States. Hopefully this musical movie is going to be out very soon. Maybe we should make it animation. I’m still working with my professional team to make a decision, we’re doing research and making decisions on the different steps: animation, then the musical movie, and then the Broadway show. But this is a new thing. China has the longest history, five thousand years, and they created a mass of information for the Eastern cultures. So most of the Eastern, Asia-Pacific cultures are based on the Chinese culture. So can you imagine if you guys never even knew about China? There’s a lot of information, a lot of potential.
Princess Long Long at Cannes.
BS: And even now, Han Chinese is the most populous ethnic group in the world, so yeah, we should know! Tell me about your foundation. What does it do, and how can people find out more?
PLL: My family fund organization is working with the UN too. We help and support all of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. We are helping, doing anything we can, to support the global goals. I mainly work on cultural diplomacy, world peace, culture and the arts, and the creative economy, but then we have different partners. My family, my cousins, are working on education, cultural exchange, and exchange students, and we’re working on some technology projects too. My other partner is handling that.
Princess Long Long at New Jersey Fashion Week.
Princess Long Long at the World Fashion Parade.
BS: You are descended from the Yanqi kingdom. What is the legacy of Yanqi today?
PLL: Yes, I am a direct descendant of Yanqi. It was the first country from the East on the Silk Road, but it was conquered twice, during the Tang Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty. The ruler of the country was the Dragon Family, “Long” in Chinese. Yanqi, it’s very interesting, they are people who are very, very famous in culture and the arts, very spiritual people. You know, Yanqi is the same pronunciation as the red, what do you call that, the red powder you put on your cheeks?
BS: Oh, blush?
PLL: Blush! Yes, blush in Chinese is called yanqi, so the Yanqi country name is taking over with yanqi, because we created it. We created blush a long time ago, because all the women in that country liked to make themselves very beautiful. They made blush, and then in turn it became a commodity, going over into China and down the Silk Road to other places, and the Chinese didn’t know what it was, so they called it yanqi, the same pronunciation as the country. These people are also very good in entertainment, they sing, they dance, they are composers, they are very spiritual. We are also the ones who transferred Buddhism from India to China, and we brought the dragon image to India. You know my name Long means dragon, so we created the dragon image. I’m not sure when we created the image, but we are the ones who brought the dragon image to North India. As for the Yanqi legacy of today, Yanqi became Xinjiang Yanqi Economic Zone. It’s beautiful, it’s peaceful, it’s beside the lake, Bosten Lake. We call it a developing zone. But they still kept the name Yanqi.
BS: What advice would you give to people aspiring to a career in a creative profession?
Wow, that’s hard to say. I cannot say I’m at a level to give advice, I mean, lots of people do better than me, but I think for my career, I would like to address one thing: communication skills. It is very important for you, in becoming successful, to have great communication skills. So I trained myself in that way. You see, there are a lot of people who are talented, and I’m sure, of course I’m not the most talented. I might be talented, yes, but what I’ve found is that some people, especially artists, are not very good at talking to people. They’re never good at showing their skills, and they feel shy, they’re very sensitive, the most sensitive people. Artists tend to be more sensitive than other people, because they know what is going on, and they always want to be the best, and what if sometimes they’re not the best? It does make them very shy, it makes them feel very bad. So you need to keep a goal, you need to treat yourself like…It’s a psychology thing, at The Juilliard School I took a peak performance class. They help you to understand, before you perform, to train you. I don’t know if you know about Alexander Technique, but basically, before you go to perform, they train you how to think that other people all — it’s all psychology — that they’re all there supporting you, and they all worship you, and they have no problems at all with you, and think you’re the best. You have to practice that all the time, so you don’t get stage fright. That’s the key. Also, as an artist, you need to go outside your immediate network to develop your opportunities, and then you have to know how to run your business. A lot of artists tend to avoid all these things. They hate to do business.
BS: Yeah, they think creativity and business are two opposite things.
PLL: No, unfortunately, if you really want to become successful, you need to do everything. Especially the business parts, you have to know how to build agreements, even though you have agents, because most agents try to take advantage of you. So you need to know how to protect yourself. The biggest problem for artists is that they don’t know how to protect themselves. And then that’s the next thing I’m going to do, is to create a foundation with my auntie. I want to have a foundation to protect the artists. Because I see all the sadness, I feel bad that they get taken advantage of. I myself have been taken advantage of by people too, so I can’t imagine how many artists get taken advantage of, it’s a sad thing. It’s very sad, however, this is a reality, because most of the people we hear about, and I’m not saying there aren’t good people, but most only care about money. Some of these people are sincere, they take the artist into consideration, but still, 80 percent of people don’t. So you need to know that, you have to be strong, to learn how to protect yourself. You know what I mean? Our society cannot be completely successful the way it is because the artist is not at the top. The ideal society is one where you have beautiful people cultivating the beautiful parts, and they are closest to the gods, they cannot be brutalized. They are not supposed to be brutalized.
Princess Long Long performing at the Kaufman Music Center, New York City
Laura Ciccarello has spent all of her life immersed in art and fashion. Growing up in Virginia with her brother and parents, her creativity was strongly encouraged. As a child she drew and painted constantly, and her family would often sit and draw together. Her obsession with gemstones was also fueled by her upbringing. Some of her favorite earliest memories are of digging through her mother’s jewelry box and wearing the jewelry – and not just for dress-up. “My mother said I could wear whatever I wanted,” she recalls, “and she had a collection of fine jewelry. So when I was in kindergarten, I wore chunky sparkly necklaces to school. I probably looked like a nut job, but I was happy.” She grew up to sell her oil paintings as a young teenager, win an international design competition by The Sak Company, complete pre-college at Pratt and college at FIT, design for multiple brands including Fernando Sanchez, provide fashion consulting services to major retailers, and found the company Red Lipstick Inc., under which she launched her eponymous brand Laura Ciccarello. Her creative origins continue to inspire the “glamorous yet organic” aesthetic of Laura Ciccarello Collection.
Laura Ciccarello Collection started with scarves, then extended to handbags. The product category Laura is most excited about right now is jewelry, which launched at the Accessories Circuit trade show just this fall. Every piece in her Metal Lace and Gemstone Jewelry collections is made of silver or gold, with the latter bearing evidence of her childhood gem fascination. She sees her jewelry as a bridge between costume and fine jewelry, two of her favorite things. Each piece is handmade in Manhattan’s Diamond District. Manufacturing close to home is challenging because the production landscape is dominated by ready-to-wear and it can be hard to find people who identify more with stones than cloth. “It would be cheaper to make the jewelry somewhere else,” Laura says, “but I like to do things the better way. New York is higher quality. Overseas uses ‘flash’ plating that wears off in two months and we use ‘heavy plating.’”.
Laura’s design process is serendipitous but clearly effective. “The process of creating a collection starts with me going out all the time and getting a lot of random ideas from what I see. The idea starts out with a sketch, and then I do more sketches, maybe change a few things, before doing the painting. Then I infuse photos I take with Photoshop and start to digitally print the fabric.” This process caters to our ever more technology-focused world with fabulous and luxurious results. With names like Queen of Everything and Diamonds Are More Than My Best Friends, the five scarf collections are full of motif surprises. These include Marilyn Monroe, Karl Lagerfeld, and even handcuffs, which have a subliminal feel when infused over her colorful abstract paintings.
“My perfect situation would be designing all day and making thousands of SKUs,” Laura says, “but that’s not the reality.” As a business owner, Laura spends much of her time on manufacturing and logistics in addition to design. When designing a collection, she chooses the best thirty or forty ideas to produce. The scarves and bags are manufactured in India and China, but Laura is seeing an industry shift to South American manufacturing, thanks to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a growing workforce that is becoming more educated in patternmaking and manufacturing. Fashion has a reputation as one of the world’s fastest-moving industries, where everyone discusses Fall when it’s spring outside and work on a collection must begin a full year in advance. This is not an issue for Laura. “I am hyper-decisive,” she says, “so I take less time than average to complete a collection. I always like to be ahead of the curve, so I exceed my deadlines.”
In a volatile industry where a large number of brands are selling similar products to similar markets, Laura Ciccarello Collection stands out. “Individuality is the biggest trend that no one’s talking about. The woman wearing my clothes values individuality above all else. She wants something bold, something beautiful, not just trendy,” Laura says. “It’s about standing out, doing something different, and having a quality product. This matters more than artificial marketing and grey-area-press. Press and marketing are making major changes right now. The reality few are talking about is you don’t sell from publications anymore, you sell to people.”
Laura herself wearing the Kryptonite scarf
Laura Ciccarello Collection has received attention from many high-profile sources, like Neiman Marcus and Miss Universe. Laura tells me that her PR success comes from networking. “I like to go out, go to events, go to parties, and I meet so many people,” she says. “You need to be out and present. I have seen people pass up big opportunities because they stayed at home all the time. Home is a very comfortable place, but as a designer you’ve got to put yourself out there.” But she is quick to note that networking comes with a caveat. “My favorite show is VH1’s Behind the Music,” she tells me. “I don’t go crazy like the celebrities in Behind the Music. I have fun but I keep my priorities straight. I always want to be 100 percent on point. If I were swinging from a chandelier, I would be sending a business email from my phone with the other hand.” That might be the best advice I’ve ever heard.
Laura Ciccarello Collection has a website and a presence on Facebook and Instagram, but Laura’s ambitions for the brand center around wholesale. As someone with extensive experience designing for department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and The Home Shopping Network, pitching her own brand to high-end retail is a natural progression. She is excited about expanding into a new product category and “going outside my design comfort zone.” Can’t wait to see the results!
Today is the day my parents and younger sister said farewell to their Christmas tree. My parents work all day and my sister is a full-time student, so naturally the tree was decorated on December 24. That’s why, though Christmas came and went, my family wanted to hold on to this tree for as long as they could. Today I post to commemorate its beauty and spirit.
The Christmas colors are red and green, and between the two I prefer red. Red velvet makes me think of bows, gifts, wreaths, and holiday parties; in deep burgundy, a velvet top errs on the more sophisticated party side. This top, which was my mother’s, can be tricky to wear. At first it comes across as formal, but its dramatic wrap shape exposes the midriff. My solution is to wear it with a high-waisted skirt, short or long. This flouncy floral skirt continues where the shirt’s volume left off, creating a bell shape.
Brette Connolly hat. Tarina Tarantino ring.
My favorite part of the outfit is the hat because I made it myself. When I was 15 I saw a chic selection of newsboy hats for the winter at Nordstrom, and instead of buying one I decided to sew one. Herringbone tends to have a serious look to it, especially on a traditionally masculine shape. To counter this effect, I chose a pink fabric. I have always loved Barbie dolls, but these days I play with Barbie jewelry. I think of Barbie as a renaissance woman who got everything done and bought everything she wanted, and always looked put together doing it.
I don’t think one can ever be too old to wear snowman earrings. I bought these last year for Ugly Sweater Day at Nordstrom. Of course the plan was to buy a Christmas sweater, but I couldn’t seem to find any. Instead, I opted for accessories: snowman earrings, a reindeer antlers headband, a bracelet watch with Christmas charms, festive brooches, and crazy Santa Claus glasses. The headband and glasses are long gone, but these earrings are cute enough to wear annually.
Burgundy shoes tie the outfit together. Ankle boots stay on easier, but the bold cutouts bridge the gap between boot and pump.
MORE VELVET TOPS
MORE FLORAL SKIRTS
MORE BURGUNDY HEELS
MORE NEWSBOY HATS
MORE INFINITY SCARVES
You might think it’s winter (or summer, depending on where you live), but in the fashion world it’s Pre-Fall. Gone are the days when the majority of designers created only two collections per year, and this week the Pre-Fall shows are here to present the new products that will come to stores in May, June, and July. There were many trends to be seen across the runways, but perhaps the most striking was the explosion of purple. From lilac to fuchsia to plum to wine, this vivid color was everywhere.
I love purple. However, I don’t have that many purple clothing items. It’s not because I avoid the color, but because it is generally underrepresented in the fashion world. If you set out to find purple, you’ll find it. But if you just wander into a store or browse a website, it’s likely you won’t end up buying anything purple because the landscape is dominated by other colors. I had always sensed this, but I also confirmed it systematically. After looking through the first 300 clothing items listed on the brand-diverse polyvore.com, I found that only 3 percent of the items were purple. 79 percent of the new clothes listed were either black, blue, white, or grey.
There is a theory that people tend to form opinions about color based on the objects of that color that they see. Because we see so many different things every day, this process feels subconscious. Purple is a beautiful color, but we don’t really see much of it while out and about. Because of this, the color has developed connotations of fantasy, playfulness, and dream states. Unfortunately, it can also be associated with artificiality.
But come on, a purple coat isn’t like a purple Christmas tree! Fashion appeals more to the emotions than practicality, and the task of a great designer is to create a wearable fantasy. After all, a fantasy is a fantasy before it happens, and as it happens.
Neutral brown accents make this lilac coat even more vibrant.
Navy, persimmon, and wine flow smoothly when united by lace.
A short coat and sweeping skirt stand out in violet.
As the backdrop of myriad tiny flowers, the magenta of this skirt is quite delicate.
Lavender panels look sophisticated on this sleek column dress.
The brightness of fuchsia brings attention to every pleat of this sweeping gown.
This dramatic fuchsia dress looks lit from within.
Plum goes folk with dainty ruffles and bird motifs.
An eggplant floral is subdued and romantic.
Three gorgeous purple hues give a conservative look new life.
Fendi photo — Giovanna Pavesi; Painting — fineartamerica.com; All other photos courtesy of respective brands.
Maybe it’s because the place is called a “dorm” and not an “apartment”. Maybe it’s because “dorm” is short for “dormitory”, a word that makes me think of Hogwarts and other boarding schools for people between the ages of 11 and 18. Maybe it’s because the dwelling is used in conjunction with a specific institution (a university), as opposed to being a dwelling amongst the dwellings of people whose activities and occupations have nothing to do with yours. But for whatever reason, outsiders to the college experience, or even those people who graduated more than a decade ago, tend not to think of a college dorm as a home.
Yet besides being where the heart is, a home is a place where you live on a longterm basis. It is the place where you wake up in the morning, keep your possessions, entertain guests, watch TV and update your social media, spend quality time with a loved one, and curl up under the covers after a long day. For me, the place where I do all of these things is an NYU dorm in the East Village. At New York University (NYU) I live 3,000 miles away from all of my family members in California. And because Manhattan is the second most expensive region for housing in the United States, my plan was always to live in a dorm for four years. Now I am on Year Three, and my plan has been going well. Along the way, I learned the three most important ways to make your dorm feel homey:
1) Move as many of your possessions as possible to your dorm
2) Invest in interior design hardware that is compatible with dorm regulations
3) Use empty space in unconventional ways
I moved 90 percent of my California clothing items to New York and have purchased many wonderful things during my college years, and I keep all of it in one dorm room. I got the stuff out here by packing multiple 70-pound suitcases and shipping large boxes, but fitting everything in has been the greatest challenge by far. What changed everything was investing in command hooks and a portable clothing rack.
Besides being easier to use than a heavy hammer that could crush your fingers if you drop it, command hooks are great for college dorms in particular because they can be mounted and removed without leaving a mark on the wall (no paying for damages when you move out!). I have 50 command hooks in my dorm, and they can be used for every clothing item imaginable.
Lineup inspired by Christian Grey’s playroom
Command hooks work for all types of buckles:
Snaps (Forever 21) Hole punch (vintage)
Scarves of all lengths and shapes can fit on a command hook:
Infinity (Apt.9) Short (Ben Berger) Small square (Vintage)
Large square (Grand Bazaar in Istanbul) Silk (vintage Georgiou) Pussy bow (Payless)
Long and thick knit (Gap)
One standard size command hook can hold at least 13 necklaces
PORTABLE CLOTHING RACK
My dorm came with one closet, which is enough space for my jackets and coats. What about everything else? I found a two-rod,wheeled clothing rack for $27 at Kmart, and it is large enough to hold my dresses, jumpsuits, tops, skirts, jeans, leggings, and pants; in other words, everything that won’t fit in the standard closet!
MAKE USE OF EMPTY SPACE — THE TOP OF THE DRESSER
While I am not allowed to remove this dresser, I can use it to display my jewelry.
Bow from American Apparel; Blue watch made by my mother, gold watch, vintage; Dried rose given to me by a boyfriend in 2012; Box of rings hand-decorated by my sister; Purse by Magid (from my grandmother in Istanbul)
Earrings, street vendor in Berkeley, CA; Brooches: vintage, vintage, vintage, vintage, gift from my grandmother in Istanbul, vintage
All of my rings are kept in my ring box; a small purse can store bracelets when it is not being worn
The top of a dresser can also store shoes.
We line up our shoes on closet shelves, so why not desk shelves?
Nine West, vintage Linea Paolo, Rue21 etc!, Sbicca, Xhilaration
YOUR WORK SPACE
As you can see from the books, computer, and printer, this desk/shelving unit is primarily a space for me to do my work. Yet there are actually many ways to make your work space aesthetically pleasing, and even ways to store accessories!
My “fun books” (non school-related)
A vase of fake flowers is a romantic and permanent way to decorate a home. I found my four roses at PANY in Chelsea, a shop stocked entirely with fake flowers in hundreds of varieties. I found two matching vases for the flowers at Pier One. A vase without water also comes in handy for headband storage and display. Speaking of niche boutiques, Anna Belen in the Upper East Side is a cute shop that specializes in affordable headbands and other hair accessories.
The top of a long heater can be used as a shelf for shoes, provided that the vents are not on the top (mine are on the front side).
If your heater takes up this much space, you might as well make use of it!
I have lived in New York for three years, and I still do not have all of the subway routes memorized! A large subway map on the wall acts as a display piece and helps me plan my routes in advance (so I never have to ask for directions).
I can’t speak for every college, but NYU does not allow pets in a dorm, unless they are fish. So I bought a Grumpy Cat with an NYU scarf to keep me company!
Grumpy Cat hates this picture.
Once you are finished with all of your housecleaning, you can sit and relax!
I moved into this particular room at the beginning of the last Fall semester, and am staying here for the Summer term. By the time the Summer term is over, I will have lived in this dorm room for a full calendar year. Seems like as good a reason as any to make a request that I stay in this room as a senior!
No matter what school you go to, how many roommates you have, or how long you plan to stay in a dorm, there is always a way to make your space reflect your taste, and to make your dorm feel like home.
My fantasy is to travel the globe in search of new Alice + Olivia pieces. Here is how I would go about it…
START: ALICE + OLIVIA BOUTIQUE, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Cherry pouf dress, $698
SCOOP, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Lewis drop waist knit skirt, $220
SAKS FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Lang two-tone strapless cut-out waist jumpsuit, $440
NORDSTROM RACK, WESTBURY, NEW YORK
Dakota ankle strap flat, $120
MYTHERESA.COM ON THE PLANE
Verity fur jacket, $1,315
OXYGEN BOUTIQUE, LONDON, ENGLAND
Wynn sleeveless slim fitted dress, $525
SELFRIDGES, LONDON, ENGLAND
Floral ball gown skirt, $900
SMETS, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
Sheer crochet top, $235
LA CASA MODA, SCHORNDORF, GERMANY
Breton sweater, $173
EXCELSIOR MILANO, MILAN, ITALY
Mandy dress, $352
SHOPBOP.COM ON THE PLANE
Vintage box leather car pouch, $225
LANE CRAWFORD, SHANGHAI, CHINA
Perna flower swing coat, $810
THECORNER.COM ON THE PLANE
Knee length skirt, $490
NORDSTROM, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
High waist wide leg pants, $365
DSW, NOVATO, CALIFORNIA
Dina floral pump, $290
CUSP NEIMAN MARCUS, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Eddie floral-print boot-cut pants, $298
BLEU, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Sarita sequin drop shoulder top, $385
ZAPPOS.COM ON THE PLANE
“Only you could know how perfect our trip is XOXO” Stella, $345
TOOTSIES, HOUSTON, TEXAS
Cady patterned shorts, $290
AND BACK HOME TO NEW YORK, WITH A BETTER WARDROBE TO SHOW FOR IT!
I work at Nordstrom in Corte Madera, California, mainly in the TBD and Savvy departments, but also in Point of View, Individualist, Dresses, and Men’s Clothing when needed. Here are the best things I have noticed during my days there…
Kensie, $15 Natasha Couture, $48 ASTR, $49
J.O.A., $92 Sondra Roberts, $98 Kate Spade, $109
Jane Post, $325 Alice + Olivia, $345 St. John, $2,595
Departments (from top left): Hosiery, Trend Accessories, Savvy, Savvy, Trend Accessories, Accessories, Studio 121, Via C, Via C