No Such Agency

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Last week, I ventured into Chinatown to visit the ready-to-wear showroom of No Such Agency, a boutique PR firm. They, along with a handbag brand and a lingerie brand, occupy the Triple A Loft, a cool, airy space filled with natural light. A zebra greeted me when I stepped out of the elevator, and I wandered past the mod yellow sofa and issues of WWD and Electrify in the lobby to the No Such Agency space, a charming area with a minimalist desk and table, an old-fashioned window, a floor-to-ceiling mirror, and six racks of samples. An intern greeted me and showed me around, telling me all about the collections.

I was immediately drawn to the Daniel.Silverstain rack. “I want to focus on this brand because I would wear every item here,” I stammered. I don’t always say this. Liking every item from a clothing brand is rare, in the way that it’s rare to enjoy every song in a music artist’s repertoire. What was it about these few items, hanging on a single steel rod, spaced a few inches apart? There was the recurrent pairing of black and white. There was the dramatic asymmetry, the kind that makes you feel perpetually a step ahead of the here and now.  There was the formality of each piece – being in my early twenties, I often like to dress older so I will be taken more seriously. And even though common prints and materials were used across items, as is typical for a seasonal collection, no two pieces blended together. There was nothing redundant, nothing forgettable. I could envision every item on myself, each one standing out on a crowded block, each one making a distinct impression.

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This is the Fall 2016 collection, shown last September as a see-now, buy-now presentation. Titled WHITE.CITY, it was inspired by the effects of the Bauhaus movement on Tel Aviv in the 1950s.

Me in the layered blouse, black pants, and crocodile-embossed shearling coat with separating panel in orchid. Though I prefer warm weather, I have always gravitated toward the grandeur of a long winter coat. All runway photos by Robert Mitra/WWD.  

Daniel Silverstain founded his luxury apparel brand in 2013. He takes inspiration from industrialism, modernism, and futurism. “I design to inspire women to be bold, to be courageous, to stand out, and to create a story of their own,” he says. Originally from Israel, Silverstain started his fashion career at the Israeli division of KEDS Kids in 2006, advancing quickly to Design Director. In 2009, he moved to New York to pursue a BFA in Fashion/Apparel Design at FIT. While in school, he interned at Marie Claire for a semester (see, even acclaimed designers pay their dues) and worked as an assistant designer at 3.1 Phillip Lim and a designer at Muuse and Elie Tahari.

He launched Daniel.Silverstain soon after graduating. Last year, he co-founded Flying Solo, a designer-owned retail incubator in Little Italy. Flying Solo provides a platform for startup brands to enter the brick-and-mortar market without selling to a retailer, which requires accommodating a retail markup and often supplying high minimum orders, or maintaining their own boutique, especially in New York where rents are high. Flying Solo is owned and operated by twenty-eight fashion brands.

     Daniel Silverstain Janelle Monae

Janelle Monáe, my favorite actress now that she’s an actress, in a Daniel.Silverstain coat for Cosmopolitan. Photo by Max Abadian.

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I recognized KUT from the Kloth from Nordstrom, where I sold their jeans in the Point of View department alongside brands like Caslon and NYDJ. I really enjoyed seeing the brand on its own, in its complete form. I always knew they had great-fitting jeans, but I didn’t know that they also had dresses, tops, jackets, and pants! I loved the profusion of florals, the pinstripes, the sweeping bell sleeves, and the whimsical paper bag waist on a pair of dress pants.

Me in the Luz blouse and Regina pants. Life Stride shoes.

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The effervescent bell sleeve of a pink blouse. 

KUT from the Kloth is based in Los Angeles. Their core focus is “to offer women of all shapes and sizes the perfect-fitting jean”. They started with the denim concept in 1977, but expanded to add sportswear in 2006. The company has a strong commitment to workers’ rights, requiring that all of their suppliers and vendors adhere to their Code of Ethics policy. They make sure to work only with factories that do not employ workers younger than 15, pay a fair wage, properly dispose of all hazardous materials, and have an environmental management system in place that includes disaster and emergency preparedness. After the Rana Plaza collapse, this is welcome to hear.

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The Ruthy dress and Rosie skirt. 

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The off-shoulder flutter sleeve dress and Adyson dress. 

You can find KUT from the Kloth on their website, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Century 21, Zappos, Bluefly, and many boutiques nationwide. As a resident of Bushwick who likes to shop at little shops, my source of choice is Néda in Park Slope.

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No Such Agency’s fashion showroom makes appointments for editors, stylists, celebrities, bloggers, and “micro-influencers” to select samples to borrow for photo shoots and events. The biggest appointment witnessed by the girl I talked to was from Vogue, to select pieces for a Karlie Kloss spread shot in Australia. Karlie Kloss has been my favorite model since this article in 2007, so I was pretty excited. No Such Agency keeps six brands at a time. The founders, “This British power couple”, consistently choose independent ready-to-wear brands “with a cool vibe”. They also have a showroom in Los Angeles.

Besides fashion, No Such Agency represents clients in the media, music, art, and lifestyle industries; in other words, everything creative and glamorous. The founders, Dan and Helena Barton, came from marketing at Diesel. Dan has worked at Maison Margiela and DSquared2. Helena has worked at Rag & Bone and All Saints. On the music side, she has worked for James Brown, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, and Franz Ferdinand.

The Best Models Have Bangs

bangs

I became enamored with the look of full bangs when I was 14. I was reading InStyle March 2007 when I saw this Chloe ad campaign:

chloe-2007

I didn’t have the guts to get bangs myself until I was 17. But six years later, I still haven’t gone back.

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Bangs, as thick as they come. Topshop headband. 

So when another girl has full bangs, I notice right away. And looking through the spring shows, I kept seeing two models with bangs, over and over again.

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Australian model Fernanda Ly and Dutch model Marjan Jonkman were everywhere this past Fashion Month: 20 and 42 shows, to be exact. While Ly sticks with her full pink bang glory, Jonkman shows how versatile this hairstyle can be: sweeping them to the side, parting them in the middle, teasing them up, and slicking them back…much as I’m inclined to do on a hot day.

Courrèges RTW Spring 2017

Courrèges RTW Spring 2017

 

Credits: 

Bangs over eyes = thegloss.com

Chloe ad = heycrazy.wordpress.com

Fernanda Ly headshot = davidwangphoto.tumblr.com

Marjan Jonkman headshot = jamiebakerbackstage.tumblr.com

Fernanda Ly in Dolce & Gabbana = fashiongonerogue.com

All other photos = wwd.com 

 

My Fashion Week Favorites

My favorite look from each and every show at New York Fashion Week! Hover over the images to see the brands.

 

 

My Trip to Tommy Pier

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Two days after the Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Week show, Tommy Pier was open to the public. Located at the South Street Seaport in downtown Manhattan, Tommy Pier was a carnival first and a pop-up shop second. Upon stepping onto the dock and squinting in the bright sunlight, it actually took awhile to find the clothes. But you knew they were there. Having to look for them made it more exciting.

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As a neighborhood carnival, Tommy Pier matched its peers in every way. There were rides, there were games, there were fries, there were donuts, there were temporary tattoos, there were photo booths, and there were long lines of people twisting and overlapping in every direction.

Rides: the Tornado, a Ferris wheel, and another spinning ride (not pictured). 

Gigi’s Boxing Club, est. 2016. 

What are carnivals without prizes? I think I found Nemo…and his extended family.

The quintessential yummy, unhealthy food. 

A temporary tattoo parlor. The line for the nail salon.

The atmosphere was excited and a little surprised. “Do we have to pay to get in?” I heard one girl say. No, we did not. People slowly approached the games and food stands, as if they wanted to first make sure it was okay. After all, it’s rare to see a premium brand present itself in such an irreverent and accessible way. Yet once a few people stepped up to the booths, everyone else followed.

More food! Including lobster rolls, one of my favorites.

Nails by Valley and Hilfiger Records.

I found a little wooden house midway down the pier with a Tommy x Gigi sign and a rope chandelier. Inside the collection was neatly displayed, apparel on hanging rods and accessories, underwear, and perfume on shelves. The cash register was in the center so shoppers could walk in a full circle. This was useful because the little shop was packed. Tommy Pier opened at noon that day, I arrived at around 1:00, and already the displays were sparse. There were three sales associates wearing matching navy blue Tommy Pier t-shirts. Though there was little room to walk, the customers treated the merchandise with more respect than you would see at a typical crowded retail store. Customers picked their things up. Customers re-folded. Customers hung their hangers back on the racks. (I worked in clothing retail for five years. I notice these things.)

Inside the pop-up shop.

A band jacket and sailor’s cap from the collection. 

In addition to this shop, there was an identical little shop on the other side of the pier, as well as a Tommy Vintage Shop. This shop was smaller than the others and offered sweatshirts, jerseys, and other sporty logo apparel.

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At the far right corner of the pier was a little nook with three wooden benches painted like the American flag. People took selfies and pictures of their friends, asked strangers to take their picture, or simply sat down to rest in the heat, which had to be over 90 degrees. It was also the perfect place to look out at the other piers, the East River, Brooklyn, the helicopters in the sky, and the commanding buildings of the Financial District.

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Taking a break from the mayhem. Vintage star and moon earrings. Heart pendant from my mother. Chain from AJ’s Jewelry.

My sweet little purse on the American flag bench. If you look closely, it has anchors on the buttons. Vintage purse. Eton ring watch. 

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The boating lifestyle that inspires the Tommy Hilfiger brand.

At one point a large commercial boat called the Zephyr docked at the pier, its passengers disembarked, and the crowd briefly doubled in size. A little “fashion week” isn’t about to disrupt business as usual!

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In front of an artifact of Pier 16 itself. Forever 21 peplum top. Tyte jeans. Foster Grant sunglasses. 

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Paloma shoes with what could very well be life preservers.

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A statue on a cobblestone street in the Seaport district. 

To give some context, here are the best looks from the actual fashion show:

(Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic)

(Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic)

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Anna Wintour attends the seaport extravaganza. (Getty Images)

Doutzen Kroes, Martha Hunt, and Taylor Swift check out the carnival. (Getty Images)

It was fun, and I was really happy I went. It felt good to see so many people enjoy the new Tommy Hilfiger collection. Premium, contemporary, and luxury brands worry about “overexposure”, when their brand is worn by so many people that it isn’t special anymore. This does happen. This happens with discounts and outlet stores, and certainly with counterfeit merchandise. But I do not think this will happen with public events like Tommy Pier. A brand can always decide its exclusivity with its price points. If anything, I think wider awareness of a brand by all people will confer even more recognition and prestige to those who buy and wear the clothes.

I think it’s important for the fashion industry to cater to consumers and stage fun events like this. There is a misconception out there that clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and accessories are just “things”. The term “experience economy” has been used to describe the shift of consumer spending to experiences over things. Yet spectacles like Tommy Pier prove that not every consumer good falls neatly into one side of the binary. Fashion has always been about more than just things; it is beautiful images, it is icons, it is the spirit of a brand, it is the excitement of shopping, and it determines much of the way we present ourselves when we embark on any other kind of experience. Tommy Pier presents the possibility of finding new fashion, knowing its back story, and living in it — not just putting it in your closet.

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As seen from above! (blog.thestorefront.com) 

At Fashion Week, Hillary Clinton Was the Clear Winner

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Ballet dancers in Diane von Furstenberg. (Corey Tenold/Vogue)

With Election Day looming, Fashion Week was bound to get political. Thanks to Conde Nast art director and staunch Democrat Anna Wintour, the fashion world rallied around Hillary Clinton and only Hillary Clinton.

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Anna Wintour and HIllary Clinton. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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Anna Wintour addresses the group in Jason Wu. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Cohosting with Chelsea Clinton and Huma Abedin, Wintour kicked off NYFW with a fundraiser for the candidate,enlisting fifteen designers to present runway looks in the “Made for History” collection. These were not your ordinary campaign t-shirts — they were the kind of clothes one might want to wear out and about even when the election has long passed.

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Designer Prabal Gurung and three models wear red, white, and blue with matching balloons. (Corey Tenold/Vogue)

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Diane von Furstenberg walks the runway beside two dancers wearing her designs. (Aurora Rose/REX/Shutterstock)

Red, white, and blue reached new frontiers with kilts, abstract prints, cursive scrawl, berets, dressy denim, tie-dye, paisley, ditzy florals, piled-on layering, and even a sequinned evening skirt.

Marc Jacobs (fashionbombdaily.com). Altuzarra (Corey Tenold/Vogue)

Thakoon and Monique Pean. (Corey Tenold/Vogue)

Not that the flag colors were a requirement. Marchesa honored Clinton with sweeping ball gowns and elbow-length gloves.

Marchesa’s feminine grandeur. (Corey Tenold/Vogue; Amber Jamieson/The Guardian)

Demi Lovato strutted down the runway singing her hit “Confident” like a battle cry.

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What’s wrong with being confident? (celebzz.com)

While the runway looks varied greatly from one another, the models did even more. Besides professional models, there were dancers, basketball players, a marching band, and even some children with their parents in tow. The audience was diverse as well, filled with everyday supporters who were neither famous nor employed by the fashion industry. It was truly a fashion show by the people, for the people.

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Basketball players in “Make Herstory” shirts by Public School. (Corey Tenold/Vogue)

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Ballet dancers in Jason Wu. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Bring Fashion Week to Work

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New York Fashion Week kicked off yesterday and the shows are in full swing. Zac Posen has often said that Fashion Week is “fashion-tainment”. He started saying that several years ago. Runway shows these days cater as much to consumers as they do to the press. Brands like Tom Ford and Burberry are transitioning from the traditional fashion calendar (you know, show fall clothes in spring and spring clothes in fall) to a “see now, buy now” schedule in which season-appropriate collections hit stores days after the show. Brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Givenchy have given consumers the opportunity to purchase tickets to their shows. Many shows are live-streamed to internet users worldwide. Yet the most obvious and practical consequence of prioritizing the consumer can be seen in the designs themselves. Fashion Week will always have strange cutouts and counterintuitive layering, but more often than not the runway looks are perfectly wearable in day-to-day life. Even at work.

Yes, designers are  sending office-appropriate outfits down the runway. But these are not your average pantsuits. Here are 10 brands that present professional attire at its very best.

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TSE — This monochrome white outfit is sharp as can be, with an eyecatching button in compliance with every dress code.

Adeam RTW Spring 2017

Adeam

A white button-down always works. The sophisticated color palette and conservative shape make these dress pants desk-ready.

Camilla and Marc RTW Spring 2017

CAMILLA AND MARC — Godet pleats and raised seams set this classic black dress apart.

Escada RTW Spring 2017

Escada

A cowl neck and skinny sash add definition to a conservative white dress.

M Missoni RTW Spring 2017

M Missoni

With geometric pops of color, this coat will make the outfit. Just add pants!

Kendall + Kylie RTW Spring 2017

Kendall + Kylie

It’s hard to go wrong with a matching top and skirt, and the peplum and trumpet flares dress them up. Pull up the shoulders and you have a chic boat neck.

Jeffrey Dodd RTW Spring 2017

Jeffrey Dodd

A white button-down with a black pencil skirt will be welcome at any workplace. Button up the top and you’re good to go.

Kobi Halperin RTW Spring 2017

Kobi Halperin

This might seem like just another black dress at first, but with a closer look, the Swiss dots bring it to life.

Christina Economou RTW Spring 2017

Christina Economou

A high-necked shell and dress pants, with a kick.

Rejina Pyo RTW Spring 2017

Rejina Pyo

A pale blue button-down is a refreshing substitute for white. The paper bag waist takes these black trousers to another level.

Photo credits: wwd.com

If I Could Buy the Entire Collection, I Would

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With so many designers out there, it might seem unfair to pick one favorite. Sometimes the act of selecting a favorite can cast shadow on everything that isn’t the favorite, as if creating a stark contrast between what you like and what you don’t. Yet as anyone who has ever been asked what their favorite food is can attest, playing favorites is simply a part of human nature. So when I say that Kate Spade was my favorite collection from New York Fashion Week, I don’t mean that I disliked the other brands or that their shows had no merit. I just want to celebrate the Kate Spade aesthetic as a look I deeply identify with. The color palette (black, white, red), flowers, girly emphasis on dresses and skirts, and whimsical accessories made me very happy. Every brand has an ideal customer, and let’s just say the Kate Spade Girl and I would get along very well.

Kate Spade Try Again 7    Kate Spade Try Again 6    Kate Spade Try Again 8

Kate Spade Try Again 2   Kate Spade Try Again 5   Kate Spade Try Again 4

Kate Spade Try Again 3  Kate Spade Try Again 10   Kate Spade Try Again 9   Kate Spade Try Again

Of all the fashion categories, the handbag is my favorite because it allows the most freedom to be adventurous. Anything goes with handbags, and the right handbag is all it takes to make a safe outfit cool and interesting. Kate Spade’s focus on accessories is precisely why I have followed the brand for years.

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

Kate Spade RTW Spring 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

WWD Credits: Full look photos by George Chinsee

Top photo: whatshaute.com