Wednesday, January 26, 2011

making the past modern again with Effie's Heart

by frédérik sisa

Peering through the Effie’s Heart catalog, you might be forgiven for thinking that Sherman set the Wayback machine for the first half of the 20th century and left this window behind for us to peer enviously through. But no, it’s real, it’s today. Started by designer Kimo as a way to harmonize a “lust for easy living, an appreciation of eclectic beauty, and a taste for the finer things of fashion’s past,” this brand named after a zesty Aunt is a refined collection bursting with sass and style inspired by the age of jazzy big bands, dance crazes like the charleston and swing, and Hollywood’s Golden Age. Vintage? In a way, but Effie’s Heart is not strictly speaking a nostalgia brand. While the designs are rooted in history, we could say they are inspired by the original modern, when the world was recovering from World War I, suffragettes took to the streets to sweep away outmoded societal impulses, and technology was taking bolder leaps forward. That is, when the line was clearly drawn between the old ways of thought and the modern way of looking at an increasingly global society. So forget hand-me-downs from past generations. These are all-new clothes defined by Kimo’s use of contemporary materials to give clothes the comfort and function that today’s women expect.

I had a chance to see for myself some of Effie’s Heart fashionable delights at Unique LA, but there’s plenty on the website to gawk at. Here are just a few of the pieces that caught my eye.

I love capris, so it comes as no surprise that I’m drawn to this sassy little cotton French terry number. It has the flow of palazzo pants and a stylish ornamental structure – and function too; an adjustable tab lets you cinch the pants to ride a bike.

One of the many things I appreciate about 50s design is its architectural character and playful use of form, like we see in this 50s-inspired dress made of cotton spandex jersey.

And how about this attractive Speakeasy dress made with a pima cotton and spandex blend, with it ruched waist?

Or the lovely Sylvia jacket featuring artwork by Rachel Delgado?

And in case you’re wondering, the prices aren’t exorbitant. That jacket, for example, is now going for $74.00.

Of course, I couldn’t admire all these lovely clothes without having a word with the design talent behind them, so I caught up with Kimo via eMail and asked a few questions.

When you look for inspirations, what tends to catch your eye and say, "this is something for Effie's Heart?"

I feel that I have a classic aesthetic. I try to find inspiration that is not too trendy. I look for ideas that can stand the test of time and won't appear dated the next season. My inspiration comes from everything. I am always open to new ideas.

How do you translate your inspirations - what some might arguably call "vintage" styles - into clothes that are both modern and rooted in a roaring sense of history?

I worked for several years in costume shops for the theatre. This gave me an incredible education in clothing from many era's. I learned how to recreate them accurately for many different body shapes. What I found is that clothing used to be much more complicated to take care of. The modern woman does not have the time or the desire to spend a whole day washing and ironing. My designs are made with modern knits that can be put in the washer and the dryer and they don't need ironing.

In this postmodern fashion era, what might once been a niche interest to, say, the jazz, big band, and pre-60's set, suddenly has the opportunity to appeal to a greater number of people. How has your clientele, and your relationship with your clientele, evolved since you first began Effie's Heart?

I have a wide range of customers. Some of my customers are really into the vintage aspect of the designs. Many don't even notice. I try to create clothing that is flattering, easy to care for, and timeless. I believe this is why my customer base has grown extensively.

You've magnificently taken care of the ladies...any interest/plans in dressing the gents?

I've thought about this. My husband is very stylish. We've come up with some great ideas. He has a really hard time finding clothes for himself. He is very picky. I would love to collaborate with him to come up with a line of men's ware.

What does the future hold for Effie's Heart?

Sales have skyrocket this last year. The possibilities are endless. I'd like to open a flagship boutique somewhere in the Bay Area hopefully in the next year.

And there you have it. Many thanks to Kimo for her time!

Check out the website:

“Helen Gone…she could dance all night until the dawn…”

Vincent Rose and his Café Montmartre Orchestra:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

no post this week - mea culpa

Sorry for this week's no-show. I'm working on a few pieces, but they aren't ready yet. Back in the saddle next week!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

clogging with Troentorp - and advice for men

by frédérik sisa

It’s clog time again, folks, and for those of you who just aren’t into these wooden-soled pleasures, well, you’ll be happy to hear this will be the last post on the topic for a while. However, for those of you who are members of the clognoscenti, you can take heart in knowing that I’ll part with this topic with something of a bang. You see, after my feature on Troentorp Clogs, Sebastian Macliver very kindly gave me a pair of Audubon clogs for me to try out. Here they are:

Of course, I admit I was a bit worried about trying on the real thing. It’s easy to appreciate images and imagine the possibilities…but what if reality doesn’t measure up? Based on my past experience with wooden-soled clogs, I was particularly concerned about chafing from the uppers and an unreasonable amount of clomping – the office I work in has polished concrete floors. Before I share my experience in these areas, let’s start with the unquestionable good:

Nails instead of staples: a seemingly small detail, but a world of difference in terms of look. The nails give the clogs a classy, polished look.

Gorgeous uppers: you can see for yourself in the image above, but the laces and grooves give the Audubons a dressier, more upscale look. Yet the design isn’t overcooked; it’s simple and elegant.

Quality construction: there’s no doubt about it, these clogs are solidly made. Troentorp has a reputation for quality and it shows in the wood, the leather, everything.

So now, the big question: how to they wear? Do they chafe and clomp?

Proving that optimists can never be pleasantly surprised, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. After wearing them for the past few weeks, barefoot more often than not, I’m thrilled to report a lack of chafing. And the polyurethane outer sole dampens the clomping, so I don’t sound like a herd of stampeding horses when I walk around the office. Verdict: they wear as well as they look, and speaking about how they look, the Audubons have received compliments even by people who don’t normally like clogs. That says a lot.

So I’m pleased to say that my Audubons have become a much-loved addition to my shoe closet, and I’m grateful to Sebastian for his generosity in giving me a pair to try. I can definitely see why the clognoscenti have a deep appreciation for wooden soles and why Troentorp has the reputation it has.


On a related note, I’ve been gathering from chats with Lindsey from the wonderful blog Every Clog Has Its Day that there are guys out there who would like to wear clogs but are rather nervous about doing so. Lindsey’s started a new feature – Guy Day Friday – that will offer support and advice. Check out this first post featuring yours truly! (Thanks, Lindsey!)

Also, I did want to offer a few tidbits of advice, though, for you guys out there:
  • While anybody might vote on what you wear, you get to decide which votes count. The key is to surround yourself with people who are supportive and not degrading – good advice for anything, really.
  • It’s okay when something doesn’t work the way you envision it. It’s the trying and the lessons learned that count.
  • Men wearing clogs is really not a big deal. They’ve been doing it in Europe for generations. And unless you live somewhere where people get beaten up for being different, chances are most people won’t notice or care unless they’re fashionistas or fellow clog lovers (in which you’re likely to get compliments). Bottom line: have fun! It’s only fashion, after all.
  • Women who love clogs tend to love men who love clogs too. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the comments to Lindsey’s first Guy Day Friday post.
  • If you’re really self-conscious about wearing clogs, start with a basic design. They won’t draw as much attention, and you’re less likely to feel scrutinized. When your self-confidence has been boosted, you can then move on to designs with stronger personalities.
  • Bare legs will only accentuate the fact you’re wearing clogs; the eyes can only go up or down to the nearest accessory or clothes. Which is great if that’s what you want. If you’re self-conscious about it, though, stick with pants.
  • Wearing something more interesting than a t-shirt will help too by making the clog a part of a whole, interesting ensemble instead of the equivalent of a table centerpiece.
  • Barefoot is best (IMHO), but socks can be fun too when it gets chilly. With websites like, or actual sock stores if you’re lucky, you have access to a veritable cornucopia of colours and patterns – another way to make your clogs fun!
There you go. I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments!

(About the picture: I AM smiling. Like a cat smiles. I just can't vogue worth squeak.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

sandy claws and the design of time

by frédérik sisa

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome back to The Fashionoclast! This week and next, I’ll tie a ribbon around 2010 by visiting with old friends. After that, it’s on with the new with a look of some my discoveries from Unique LA.

We begin with a picture of my sleeve, beneath which is my latest acquisition courtesy of jolly ol’ Sandy Claws; a much-coveted watch from PROJECTS watches. (Thanks, Sandy!)

But which one? I hemmed and hawed over which one to put forth to Sandy; there are so many noteworthy designs that it’s like being a bookworm in a bookstore.

How about this beautiful, simple modern classic designed by Richard Meier, an architect whose work I greatly admire?

Or maybe the dynamic, geometrical, aircraft-inspired Equilibrium designed by computer graphics pioneer Daniel Will-Harris?

Here’s Reveal, also by Will-Harris, whose design emphasizes the present’s clarity alongside the haze of the past and future:

Along similar lines is Will-Harris’ more overtly conceptual Past-Present-Future watch:

The Iridium watch, again by Will-Harris, certainly caught my eye with its lack of hands and use of coloured numbers to indicate the hours and minutes.

Free Time by architect Laurinda Speer, with its use of concentric circles, is an appealing example of design through purposeful simplicity.

Along the same lines (curves?) is architect-designer-artist Alex Garzon’s eye-catching Tyro:

Finally, because I’m a big fan of architect Daniel Liebeskind, I considered his cutesy Dancing Time piece:

So many choices, all exemplifying the beauty of design. Picking one was clearly a difficult task. Since looks alone couldn’t provide a deciding factor, I had to figure out some sort of criteria to narrow the options down to one. These were:
  • Steel mesh band, because I’m trying to restrict leather and animal products in my wardrobe.
  • Easy to read at a glance. My binary watch from 1HE0NE is very cool and chic, but my brain catches when trying to convert from binary to decimal, especially when I haven’t worn it in a while. So I wanted something that I could read on-the-fly without needing to use the neural clutch.
  • Timeless modernism, without gimmicks. And I know that “gimmicks” may come across as a rather dismissive word, but I don’t mean that as a slight to the design. I just mean that some watches have an organizing concept that stands out while others are more subtle. I’m going for subtle. The gimmicky I have covered with my 1HE0NE watch.
From these enticing options I was able to, finally and with great regret, eliminate watches like Dancing Time and Free Time until there was only one. And that one is…here, let me pull back my sleeve…

...Daniel Will-Harris’ Reveal, with a black steel mesh band. I’m surprised by how light-weight it is, but not at all surprised by the quality construction - and the admiration the watch has received. After coveting a PROJECTS watch through images for some time, I’m happy to report that I couldn’t be more pleased with the actual thing.

To find out more about PROJECTS watches, visit the website at