Thursday, March 31, 2011

flowing...with Brochu Walker

by frédérik sisa

General rule of thumb: I find clothes look best when they work with the body instead of against it, that is, when they embody an awareness of a person’s body shape. This doesn’t necessarily mean form-fitting or symmetrical, although both are key qualities that play a role in effective design, but does mean that even when working “against” the body a good design is purposeful. As an example of the opposite, I point you to the mania of wearing low-slung pants with exposed underwear . With all due respect to people who find this an appealing expression of style, I’d say it doesn’t work for me because it creates a mismatch between design and function, with the result that it has no tangible connection to the body. It’s like using a pair of scissors to cut tomatoes; you can do it, but you’ll get better results from using a tomato knife.

By way of exemplifying solid, classical design that plays with shape and form in a way that flatters the body and creates organic silhouettes, I give you Brochu Walker. Named after the tag-team of Lisa Brochu and Lauren Walker, who got their start in New York, this relatively new name in fashion is intriguing in its dedication to “effortless, wearable, chic basics” for women who have “outgrown contemporary designs.” Their collections loosely remind me of the direction J. Jill has taken under Michael Leva – a return to elegant, free-spirited simplicity – albeit with less New England and more West Coast, and a solid alliterative splash of street sensibility. I just love the way Lisa and Lauren’s designs work like kung fu, as a mixture of hard and soft, to create striking looks. There’s nothing avant-garde or neon-lit in the design, but when you want to keep it grounded and relaxed, it’s nice to get whispers instead of shouts.

The only reservation I have – and it’s really hard to judge from online pictures and lookbooks – concerns how versatile the designs are for women’s varying body types. The models tend to be rather straight – how would these designs translate to curvy women? Just asking.

To give you a sample of the lovely things Brochu Walker has to offer, I picked out a few of my favourite ensembles. I can’t tell you how much these particular pieces cost, but I can say that Brochu Walker flirts with boutique prices. At, you’ll find cardigans in cardigans in the range of $365 and dresses going from $185 to $385.

Click on the images to embiggen.

From the Spring/Summer 2011 collection:

From the Summer Sun 2011 collection:

From the Fall/Winter 2011 collection:

There you go. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Note: Images borrowed from the Brochu Walker website, with thanks to the PR sirens at Siren Public Relations, Jasmine Dai and Mandi Meng.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

hoofin' it - literally

by frédérik sisa

All right, so I apologize for the lack of a substantive post this week. As the saying goes, sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. I'm sure the cold, nippy weather in normally nice and sunny Southern California has something to do with it.

I didn't want to leave you with nothing, however, so here's an interesting item for your consideration. And by interesting, I mean interesting: a pair of £1,300 designer shoes shaped like horse's hooves called "Horseshoes for Humans." Why? Apparently to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Hunt in Cheltenham, England...and to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Charity. Who? A team of designers on behalf of betting company Betfair. Materials used include carbon fibre for the "hooves" and up to 5,000 individual horse hairs. I'll give the design credit; it's as far from fetishwear pony boots as you could get with the concept. There's a certain whimsy to it. And you have to admire the fact that they plunked a pair of those shoes on a guy. I don't what to make of it, but I admire it.

So what do you think? Fun? Creepy? Worth shelling out $2,100 the name of charity? Discuss below!

Note: This post brought you to courtesy of the BBC and Small World News Service. Image from SWNS is for illustrative purposes only. If the copyright holder wants me to take it down, I will.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

shoes and structure: United Nude returns

by frédérik sisa

United Nude rates as one my most admired brands for its conceptual precision, formal elegance, and exhilarating spirit of adventure. It’s a brand that has come to be, and certainly not just for me, a defining exponent of footwear as architecture – or is it architecture as footwear? Regardless of how you relate structure and shoes, United Nude’s shoes are sort of like the Museum watch of shoes; as much objets d’art as something to put on your feet. If you want to refresh your memory with my past forays into UN-land, click here. Then have a peep at these pedestal-worthy beauties that show that UN is back - did they ever leave? - and they've brought sexy along.

Mobius Slingback Hi: $265
A stylish variation on their signature design.

Eams X-Back: $285

Abstract :$365

Haiku: $290

But stop the presses! What’s this? Can it be? Has United Nude gone mad? Sure, but it’s a good kind of madness: they have men’s shoes in their collection. Well, technically, two unisex styles and one dedicated men’s style.

Fold: $190
A strip folds around the foot front-to-back-to-front. “Like a scarf,” they say.

Universal: $185 (unisex)

Hollow: $480
How cool is the Hollowd? A hollow carbon-fiber heal supports a traditional last and upper. Suddenly, the conventional men’s dress shoe isn’t so stodgy anymore. Well done, UN. Well done. Now, if only they'd keep up the momentum and give us more...

Alas, the prices, in some cases, make the shoes a wee bit inaccessible. Still, window shopping is a time-honoured tradition, and there’s plenty more to admire at the United Nude website.

Note: Images borrowed from the United Nude website for illustrative purposes only.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

jewelry from that green-haired chick

by frédérik sisa

This week I’d like to introduce you to a green-haired friend of mine, the unstoppable Laura McCutchan. Not only is she editrix of the venerable Gothic eZine Morbid Outlook, an accomplished belly dancer, and an all-around design whiz, she somehow finds the time to make wearable art too. Since few things say style like artisan jewelry – all while rebutting amok capitalism's sweatshops and worker exploitation – take a look at some of these lovely (and highly affordable) hand-made pieces:

Rose and ankh earrings made with real mini-roses lacquered especially for us in jewelry. $15

22" necklace featuring celtic twist findings, fire-polised glass beads, and lacquered mini-roses. $25

3" long, chain drape earrings with fire-polished, iridescent black beads and rhinestones. $15

What made you decide to add jewelry-making to your list of artistic accomplishments?

I was initially inspired by my friend Robyn Rosen who made chainmaille. Once I got the tools in my hands, I discovered I was fairly decent at it and one summer while I was painfully underemployed in New York, I made a load of inventory to sell on the street in Soho on the weekend. Sometimes I made a decent chunk of change, sometimes I just spent a Saturday getting freckled.

What materials and methods to you use?

I love fire-polished glass beads - they're sparkly and easier on the budget than Swarovski crystal. I am also a fan of enameled copper wire in different colours. I love dramatic colour against the skin. I'm branching into more unexpected materials, like knitted things into jewelry or miniature roses that have been lacquered.

My methods have been very trial and error, but I've gained some techniques for twisting wire over the years and various mini-tutorials from magazines and web sites.

What are your inspirations and influences?

I get inspired by various time periods and exotic places. I love jewelry that makes a statement... sometimes that can be one strong, dramatic piece, sometimes that can be overall adornment. Indian bridal jewelery is a good source, and it definitely inspires the jewelry I wear for tribal bellydance. I also am drawn to rosary beads; the Y shape and the number of beads arranged in decades is a strong design.

Do you have any plans to expand your efforts? Take over the world, perhaps?

It's tough to sell jewelery. I initially wanted to produce a lot of fun pieces, but it's hard to compete when people can buy mass produced pieces made abroad for cheap. I'd like to get more into one-offs and make bolder art pieces, but there are only so many hours in the day! I'm posting more on Etsy as I can and going to let things grow organically and slowly on the side of the ten million other things I’ve been doing.
Like what you see? It’s this way to the Craftilicious Home of that Green Haired Chick on Etsy. Many thanks to Laura for her time and use of the images!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Galliano wears a brown shirt, Scott's fashions go pop!

Well, I have a few ships sailing out there that have yet to return to port, so this week I'm just going to offer up for your amusement a few interesting tidbits from the wacky world of fashion.

First up, John Galliano puts on a brown shirt. You may have heard of this...the famous designer for the House of Dior was caught on video professing his love for Hitler. Fall out: Natalie Portman, a Dior spokeswoman, made clear her distaste and refusal to have any association with the man. And the House itself pulled a Trump. Thus ends the career of a prominent high-fashion auteur. Yet, as always, one has to wonder if we truly know the context. Could there be more going on than we know? Or is it enough to know that he spouted vile anti-semitic sentiments? Normally, I'm not too bothered by haute-couture drama. I love the art of those catwalk-in-the-sky fashion collections, but from a distance I'm entirely comfortable with. But given all the celebrity spectacles going on these days - Charlie Sheen, anyone? - I have to wonder to what extent we're in any position to judge, comment, or otherwise opine. Perhaps the moral of the story is that sometimes people need help, and we should strive to be more compassionate even when the subject is so flagrantly offensive.

For more, the New York Times has an eminently more informed piece than I could write.

In happier news, the news service of the SyFy Channel, Blastr, posted a link to a collection by designer Jeremy Scott that features some superhero-themed ensemble in a collection that is already overflowing with pop-culture references. It's worth sharing the discovery, because it's just so exuberant and fun. To wit,




Captain Marvel/Mary Marvel/Black Adam:

But it's not all comic books. The collection features equally outlandish designs barely contained by the runway:

Ay carumba! All the power goes to folk who'd wear these on the streets. See more of Scott's Fall 2011 collection at here.

Note: Images borrowed from for illustration purposes only.