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It’s been a while since I thought about my post-partum body but when Harper’s Bazaar asks, you go ahead and think back 18 years to when I had my son. Summers in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nag’s Head NC—memories that all came rushing back. Below is my portion of the story below. Link to full story Harper’s Bazaar
A big thanks to Barry Samaha for including me in this group of chic moms.
The Best Postpartum Swimsuits According to Style Pros
Fashion Stylist and Producer
I’ve never been a swimsuit type of girl. I love fashion, and I’ve always been quite thin, but the kind of thin that looks good fully clothed—not in a bikini. I’m not very well endowed, and, secretly, I never minded because I looked pretty okay in tops and dresses. Swimsuits were another thing, and I steered clear from them. With swimwear, you need to have legs for days, wide swimmer shoulders, ample breasts, and a short-ish torso. I had the opposite of each of those qualifiers, so I didn’t participate in, say, a beach beauty contest.
So when I got pregnant—after several ectopic pregnancies and five IVF attempts—and then had my blonde-haired baby 18 years ago, I was not too worried about my postpartum body. When you come that close to that enormous failure, the consequence of getting pregnant and fat was a celebration. After so much failure, I didn’t have an ounce of ambivalence about being pregnant. After giving birth, I had no doubt that I would lose weight since I’ve always been slim, and, in reality, I was very focused on my baby. Getting back into a swimsuit was nonnegotiable, because water plus sand equals happiness for me and my family.
Looking back at the few photos I have of my postpartum beach self, I don’t know why I was bent on hiding and covering up. My body seemed to have bounced back quickly to the shape I always had—better in a dress than a swimsuit, but that’s just me.
Post-pregnancy, I went full-on black one-piece, thinking that black was obviously slimming. At that time, cool swimsuit options were limited, but now brands like Hermoza address pregnancy and post-pregnancy bodies without having you look like a dork mom.
Its suits have the interior structure to hold it together, but the shapes and silhouettes are simple yet chic. The colors are sophisticated and more like my everyday palette. The olive-green maillot with hot-pink straps is a fave.
Past story on Rafe and his fashion muses.
It’s certainly going to be a memorable Mother’s Day for most this year but being hunkered down in quarantine doesn’t mean a day absent of gifts. Significant gifts don’t have to cost much to make an impact. It can be as simple as making someone laugh—that’s my favorite, on the receiving end. I love JibJab for the best digital chuckles. You personalize these e-cards with the faces from your photos which are put to music, with lots of options for the vibe you are going for. It’s kind of basic and low tech but that’s the fun of it.
Jibjab site access
Vuitton has an In-box digital treat for investment conscious moms—I mean the resale price of a Vuitton bag is pretty high and the products never die so that’s a sustainable purchase in my book. This is absolutely FREE for Mother’s Day. If you go on their site you can make a digital card with different icons and stickers, writing your own cheeky message to Mom or sister or sister-friend. Send out as many cards as you want for free! #welvmoms
Should you want to buy something sweet and small, their fragrance Rose des Vents is des-vine.
Vuitton’s site access here
Here’s something I would like—hint— hint to my family if they are reading. Asha by Ashley Dodgen McCormack-jewelry has Mother-of-pearl charms with engraved words Mama, or Love You. Sad to say that Mama is sold out right now but Love You is not. They are great to add to charm collections at a reasonable price of $150 less 25% off right now. I love her fresh approach to affordable vermeil jewelry—that’s 14k gold placed over another metal.
See Asha’s jewelry here
Do you know a DIY Mama? That includes many of us since this pandemic hit. We are all learning to slow down and get in touch with our DIY side. “We Are Knitters” gives you everything needed to make a final project including, jumbo wooden needles, chunky wool, and instructions and more. The Nick Blanket is a great beginner project so get your favorite lady started with this kit. $98
Feet can be ugly, as evidenced in the TLC show ” My Feet Are Killing Me” where podiatrists try to make right some nasty foot-wrongs. It goes to show how important foot comfort is and how bad feet can get if they are not treated well. Women’s love of shoes is no secret but Mom likes her feet to also, be comfy. With a gift card from the British brand, Sole Bliss Mom can walk the distance and look pretty chic. The shoes boast a wider toe box, 3 layers of memory foam cushioning, a stretch panel to help with bunions, and anti-pronation padding. Phew! That’s a lot of comfort in one shoe. I can attest, you can pound the pavement in these.
Check out Sole Bliss here
The beauty brand Ilia believes skin should look like skin and radiance should come naturally, and I have to concur. Ilia’s all-natural cosmetics are the antidote to what I call the Instagram look; overly accentuated eyebrows, thick concealers layered under thicker foundations—eek! I love this brand and they have a special “Made for Mama” kit for mother’s day. $48
Check Ilia out here
I didn’t attend the European collections this season but I have in the past, and I don’t pretend to be an expert since I was not there. But reading the reviews I can’t help imagine how it must have felt to be in the close quarters of fashion shows—spindly gold chair to gold chair or thigh to thigh packed into front-row benches. The fashion crowd likely kept anxiety well hidden with polka faces and were torn between their own safety and obligations to their respective media outlets. No one could have imagined what the future would hold.
Italy’s COVID lockdown began on Feb 21 in the northern regions of Italy where 2 Chinese tourists were found to have the disease. The fashion brigade of journalists, buyers, and influencers were already in Milan for show week at that point, which started on Feb 18th and would last until Feb 24. Despite the looming threat, most Italian brands continued with their plans to present their fall shows—except for Emporio Armani. That show went on to an absent audience.
By Feb. 24 the fashion army headed to Charles de Gaulle for Paris Fashion week while the outbreak in Italy continued. Fashion must soldier on, as did the army of attendees. But by March 3, Vuitton ends Paris fashion week with a live simulcast of the show without an audience.
That is the backdrop in which the fall 2020 European collections took place. So it’s no surprise that many of the shows took on an ominous tone even though the concepting was done months before, changes to reflect the new reality were likely made.
The theatrics in Paris brought out the most menacing tone. None evoked the gloomy mood more than Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga who cast a sinister group of fashion walkers— Dracula capes, Monastic robes, oversized graduation gowns, with models in black contact lenses had a chilling effect. Face coverings and masks were seen at Marine Serre (the 2017 LVMH prize winner) and foretold our current facemask reality. The feeling of an apocalypse was strutted before the audience’s wide eyes.
Stuart Emmrich from Vogue.com wrote this about the Elie Saab show on Feb 29th;
“For the past few days, Paris has been cold and gray, with intermittent bouts of rain. And with reports of the coronavirus continuing to spread globally and Parisians wary of its possible arrival here, every sniffle is viewed with suspicion, every cough greeted with horror. There is not a lot of joie de vivre.”
Other earthly fears and issues played into the negative runway vibe. At Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri told Nicole Phelps (Vogue.com) that growing up in the ’70s and the victory for women based on the verdict of the Harvey Weinstein trial were some of her points of inspiration. But through the 70’s headscarves and plaid one could see ominous looks.
Nicole Phelps from Vogue.com wrote:
“Since arriving at Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri has used her runways to amplify feminist discourse, but this show resonated more powerfully than some of the others. Yesterday, Harvey Weinstein’s New York rape trial ended in a guilty verdict. This afternoon, as we sat assembled underneath the flashing neon signs made in collaboration with the anonymous artist collective Claire Fontaine, it was impossible not to feel a twinge of vindication—the righteous fury of the #MeToo movement replaced temporarily by satisfaction. “
Watching a fashion runway show can be the grandest theater where models are actors playing out the designer’s innermost thoughts and creative ideas. I was in the audience for Marc Jacob’s final show for Vuitton before the announcement was made, which in the end was not necessary because it was played out right there in the dark apocalyptic set, the black clothing, the music, the lighting, and the models. Mr. Jacobs was an open book at that point and expressed his ambivalence for his future even though it was also a reprise of his past collections. It was dark.
I watched spellbound at Alexander Mc Queen’s Rain, Fire, and Ice shows, in the late 90’s, and felt the stirrings of his tortured soul as impassioned models played his script. One can’t observe this kind of passion play and not get a glimpse of the designer’s psyche. It’s not just clothing design, it goes way beyond.
Fashion shows at its best, are an intense and impassioned articulation of the designer’s frame of mind. They also serve to bring cultural or environmental issues to light as with #metoo and climate change. A good fashion show is an experience that transfixes and is unforgettable—when it’s less than that, it’s as shallow as it gets.
As the realization that the pandemic’s end is going to be gradual drip instead of a grand finale, we should prepare for its lasting effects on the way we live. No doubt what we wear and how we consume fashion will change. Working from home may become a continuing realness for many of us as brands discover it’s more profitable to see employees on their screens and not in the flesh. Obviously, the need for traditional work gear, which for many of us dwindled to a well-fitted blazer, jeans and designer sneaker in recent years, has crawled to a halt. Are velour leisure sets really the next step in fashion finery? Hopefully not. Fashion’s future is not going to disappear because its followers are an impassioned bunch but the pandemic reflection will cause a structural rethinking. It’s no secret that designers and brands are questioning the continual churning out of collections and the effects on the environment, budgets, and creatives. This may be a watershed moment where wasteful consumerism is no longer acceptable on any level.
See Royl’s collection here
Brands that have already addressed rampant consumerism, have a head start. Luxury loungewear brand, Royl, ticks boxes for both top-of-mind issues—working from home and mindfulness in fashion. Rachel Rodin, a former personal stylist, founded Royl in 2018, for the leisure moments in a woman’s life where she would normally grab the sweats. She began designing one or two pieces for her clients that she couldn’t find anywhere and it grew into a full-fledged brand. Ms. Rodin believes in mindful consumerism and sustainability and imparts that idea in every aspect of the business from producing the collection in the NYC garment district to shipping with the minimum of tissue paper. But at its essence, these luxurious basics are meant for heading out to the supermarket, an overnight flight, lounging on your couch—and yes working from home. Each grouping encapsulates a singular tone; black, navy or grey which she calls, jet, midnight or phantom. The pieces are distilled down into luxurious layering essentials—elevated foundations to a wardrobe. A buttery soft cashmere-blend t-shirt, elongated leggings or double-faced liquid silk caftan are a few of Royl’s offerings. It’s the kind of easy pieces that you want to live in—perfect for the off-duty moments which are now becoming those everything moments. Timeless investments in your wardrobe and the earth’s future.
Ms. Rodin just announced that that Royl will donated 20% of every purchase to Meals on Wheels America https://roylnyc.com/
You may not have heard of Montreal-based Fashion Designer Marie Saint Pierre, a lauded pioneer of Canadian fashion, but if you are an avid devotee of fashion, you really need to. For over 30 years MSP built a loyal following with her fierce creativity and consumer-centric collections. Her hand-draping techniques and the use of scuba fabric are part of her recipe for success. With flagships in Montreal and Miami, she’s keenly aware of her clientele’s needs and makes that a priority. I visited Marie at her Tribeca, NYC pop-up in early November—a lifetime ago considering our current pandemic isolation.
Hello, it’s so nice to meet you and see your pop up shop because although I’m a veteran fashion editor, I somehow didn’t know about your collection so I personally feel like you are a discovery.
I suppose we are “low profile” in a way, but our clients are very faithful to the brand for over 30years. So, we’re lucky to have such an amazing clientele. This is our second “pop-up” in New York. We used to be at the shop Takashimaya, on their main floor until they closed. Since then we were lacking that kind of platform to showcase the clothing in New York. The pop-up is for our loyal following and to introduce our brand to women who don’t know us.
See MSP’s spring collection here
I see you use neoprene/ scuba fabric quite a bit in your designs, can you speak a bit about that?
I’ve been using neoprene for 30 years, way before it became so common—it’s easy to care for— you can wash it yourself and just dry it flat. So you don’t need to use all the chemicals that are used for dry cleaning. The pieces are long-lasting and they weigh nothing so you can easily add them to your carry-on—they are great for travel. Also, the fabric is ultra-functional in terms of temperature— it moderates with your body temperature. My clients love that they feel good wearing the pieces and they work for a very active, 9 to 9 schedule. It’s kind of a four-seasonal fabric.
Where is your collection produced and what is your process?
Everything is produced in Montreal with 60 employees with whom I work on various aspects of the business. Most designers will call a pattern maker to make a pattern from a sketch. I design everything on a live model and make changes and adjust details on her. We have 25,000 square feet of design studio and manufacturing space. We work with the best mills in Italy and are very conscientious about the environment. A lot of our fabrics are made with fewer chemicals and less water than what is traditionally used. We never communicated the sustainable aspect of our business but we are starting to put that on our labels to inform our customers. Sustainability is so embodied in the brand that we forget to talk about it.
Do you show during any of the Canadian fashion weeks?
Not anymore, I just lost the spirit for that part of the process. I used to do fashion shows several times a year in Montreal, Toronto and another major city like Paris or New York. But I started to question why we were doing that, especially because of the big investment. But it was a lot of fun for me. I sometimes thought I would have liked to be a movie director—I had the capacity to do that; I did the soundtracks, the lighting, hair, and makeup direction—I loved all that. I would go on for days and nights without sleeping working on this wonderful story. And now times have changed and it’s hard to compete with houses that have multi-millions of dollars. It’s not about the creative process anymore. It’s about how much money you have and who is in your front row. That’s when I lost my spirit for fashion shows and decided to invest in fabrics and the design of the pieces.
What is your design and business focus now?
To have a strong point of view. Women should feel beautiful in the pieces and the design should be creative but not overwhelming. I take a kind of connoisseur view on things. The details are very important but the clothing needs to be comfortable because, it’s no mystery, they are meant to be worn.
***MSP has masks for sale on her site which may become a staple of our fashion uniform in the near future. She is also in the process of creating PPE for hospitals in Canada
See MSP’s web sitehttps://shop.mariesaintpierre.com/us_en/new-arrivals
When an aeronautic engineer and aerospace engineer decide on creating a luxury suitcase, there is bound to be a design explosion. Charles Simon luggage is the brain-child of Charles G Tremblay and Simon Maltais who met in college in Montreal. The Canadian duo dreamed-up a super sleek and minimalist travel case that looks like a home speaker— one you might find in a minimalist Hollywood Hills mansion.
The interior looks like a drawer to your bedroom bureau. The case may look like living room furniture but it feels light as air. They enlisted wood and leather with the most durable structural aeronautic materials like carbon fiber, polymers and sanodized aluminum to engineer a featherweight case with a high-tech vibe that would make the king of luxury, Hermes, jealous. As with all superior design, simplicity is key and the box-like shape along with the absence of exterior bells or whistles makes it a winner. To be on-trend, they offer customizable options should you feel like you want to dream-up features of your own. The price tag rivals the Globetrotter brand’s luggage and rings up at the cash register close to $1700, depending on the size.
While shopping with my then 12 year old daughter in Soho in 2018, she led me into a store I had not heard of or seen. Its name is familiar to many ( I later found out) and I suppose I had no reason (up until this point) to know this store since it’s an exclusively teen-focused brand— Brandy Melville. I consider myself to be fashion-savvy since it’s part of my job as a stylist, to shop for wardrobe for a variety of projects. In the past I’ve worked in fashion magazines at a time when they mattered— and women actually looked to them to them for trend info, so I thought of myself as a fashion establishment-hipster. But walking into this shop with my daughter I felt the deep divide of the generation gap and it was tectonic. I felt it creeping-up for years but this visit stamped the divide clearly. I was no longer fashion-queen in my family. I was completely unaware of Brandy Melville even though it’s been sitting on Broadway in NYC for years.
The decor of the shop was All-American collegiate, with the stars and stripes hanging on the wall along with Ivy-league college banners. But, here is the thing— one size fits all cropped tops were piled on picnic tables, and others were hung on ribbon wrapped wire hangers. Yes, everything in the shop is one size and at the time it was table after table of cropped tops in a soft t-shirt fabric. The place was buzzing with prepubescent girls— some looked like they were 9 years old but their conversations revealed a very sophisticated knowledge of clothing. The shop girls were stationed at the registers and the fitting rooms with some wearing hippie-style scarves tied around the top and under their hair, flannel-plaid cropped shirts with high waisted basketball shorts, or a plaid mini skirts. Many added Doc Martins to their looks. Somehow, I convinced my 12 year old that this wasn’t for her and I got out of there after a quick whirl around and headed to Forever 21.
A year later I reconsidered my strong “no crop-top” position for my now 13 year old. After all, I recall wearing a red smocked belly shirt when I was 15 —one of the first fashion purchases I made on my own, so I agreed to check out Brandy Melville again. This time my daughter picked out a few things and I managed to hold my tongue and let it ride. We headed for the fitting room and I was happy to find the Mom bench. The fitting room was buzzing with six or so Brandigirls hanging clothing like worker bees talking Billie Eilish’s latest or what they were going to do that weekend. As my daughter tried on her selects, I watched this phenomenon of the one size play out. Turns out, size really doesn’t matter in this age group. The tops are stretchy, the teens are skinny and they do sell some sweatshirts and oversized t-shirts. The girls paraded the looks in,front their parents and then left with one or 2 items —I started to get it. This world was new to me and I had been left out—because I wasn’t 13. I reminded myself to stay in my lane not that that I could ever enter this one as anything but a spectator. “One size fits all teens” seems to work and the long line to pay was proof.
That’s the end of the story, except to say that I found out to my chagrin that Brandy Melville is an Italian company that’s been in the USA since 2009. I sculked to my room knowing that it’s all true —my time of knowing is slipping away. Thank god I have a daughter to help me know what’s cool. https://www.brandymelvilleusa.com
Karl Lagerfeld recognized early on that fashion and travel go hand in hand as evidenced in Chanel’s traveling show called the Metiers d’Art which presents a collection for pre-fall. In prior years this particular traveling circus happened across the globe from Dallas, Shanghai, Hamburg to Edinburgh. The most recent romp was held in New York City—a city where Madame Chanel spent some time in the 1930’s and found commercial accolades. It was staged at the New York’s grandest art forum— the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the Temple of Dendur room where Egypt became front and center while art and history permeated the air.
How can a tweed suit look Egyptian? Just add copious gold accents as in metallic gold boots, and skin-like gold tights, woven and embroidered breastplates, and fabrics interlocked with flaxen threads. Adorne the models with Cleopatra eyes and voila’ you’ve got an Egyptian army of beauties outfitted in Chanel.
The accessories were off-the-charts, and we felt this bejeweled Egyptian scarab bag rose to the height of an object of desire—even more special since Karl Lagerfeld’s death and one of his last creations. It’s lavish beading and whimsical take on a beetle makes it a treasure for both Chanel groupies, lovers of exotic lands, and an artifact of a moment in time when fashion is art—created by a modern-day Da Vinci—Karl Lagerfeld.
See Chanel’s latest evening bags here
Link to Chanel website here
It’s been well over a decade since “Boho Chic” entered the fashion lexicon and although its popularity ebbs and flows, it remains a strong choice for women’s spring wardrobes. Ethnic prints, native embroidery and billowy skirts are a welcome respite from winter and at the heart of this is the travel effect. With designers skipping across the globe on business and pleasure trips, it’s no surprise that their collections are an expression of what they have seen on their travels.
Anna Sui loves a hippie girl, sprinkling her runway with a post-modern buffet of influences. She’s not affected by trends and is unafraid of piling on the accessories. Naming her spring runway collection Wanderlust, Sui incorporates floral prints, brocades, kaftans over pants, turbans, and bucket hats into a patchwork of free-spirited girly looks.
The Missoni family creates distinctive knitwear for 65 years and this anniversary runway gave a message of lightness in color and gossamer cobweb-like layers. Peasant skirts, turbans, kaftans and shawls all conjured up dreams of far-off worlds, created in their very iconic manner. ( below)
Designer Stephanie Von Watzdorf weaves a story of her travels but the pieces from her globally-minded Figue collection are a firm assertion of her deep love of exploration. Did you ever decide to buy a cowboy hat while in Texas, swearing to wear it at home? It just doesn’t work. The Figue collection, however, reimagines traditional ethnic dress into clothing that does work at home, and can easily be worn in women’s everyday lives. (below)
How to accessorize the look? Gaimo espadrilles are the perfect accompaniment for the boho-chic look and they come in platforms, heels, oxfords or the tried n’ true classic ( gaimo.com).
Whether you are headed to discover a new culture or staying in your own backyard, look out for these brands that weave a tale of wanderlust into their collections