Colorado’s Best: Holiday Gifts for Her

Picking out holiday gifts for your wife, sister or mother is never easy (unless, of course, she conveniently left you a list of items to choose from). So on this morning’s edition of Fox 31's Colorado’s Best, I pulled together a few of my favorite items available at some of the best boutiques in town. Skip the big box stores this season, and pick up one of these unique presents that’s sure to deliver some holiday fashion cheer.

For a gift that pampers, give a beauty product that’s non-toxic like Osmia Milk Bath. Founded by Aspen-based physician Dr. Sarah Villafranco, who redirected her career in ER medicine to start Osmia, this 100% organic buttery powder transforms your bath into a luxurious, skin-conditioning soak. The buttermilk and skim milk powders both hydrate and exfoliate the skin (thanks to lactic acid, which is naturally found in milk), while the oats provide soothing and the wild-harvested essential oils - like lavender, rose geranium, and chamomile – provide a gentle, relaxing scent. $36,

Who doesn’t love a beautifully scented candle? But go the non-toxic route with one by Ethics Supply Co. These candles are hand-poured in California from all-natural organic coconut wax and infused with essential oils. Their scents are inspired by outdoor treks and worldwide travels, but their fragrances are definitely not crunchy. And that’s what I like about this company; they fuse an active lifestyle with a chic, sophisticated aesthetic – proving that style and adventure aren’t mutually exclusive. I had the Starry Night candle on TV with me, which was inspired by hiking in the Great Basin National Park, and includes notes of ancient bristlecone pine, rich musk and amber, along with patchouli and sandalwood. $42,

These loungewear box sets by Bella Dahl are another festive fashion gift item. The boy-meets-girl vibe comes from the pajama shirt, which has a feminine bell-cut sleeve, while the overall fit of both the top and the pant are relaxed, giving the set a stole-from-my-boyfriend feel. Add in muted print hues and super soft fabric, and this set makes a great option for cozy nights in. $138,

Animal Handmade is a Denver-based leather company that hand-tools its leather products. Tooled leather has been worked in any way to have a design, initials, pattern or other decorative designs applied to it. It’s definitely part of the Western tradition (think saddles), but designer Ava Goldberg has updated the look by applying her sleek, elegant and intricate motifs of animals, mystical third eyes, and plant life to wallets, pouches and clutches. And because the leather used isn’t coated, it will soften and develop a beautiful patina over time - and that’s definitely part of Animal Handmade's charm. $319 each,

CoFi is another Denver-based leather company that's probably best known for its cowboy boots. But for a holiday gift, I like CoFi’s printed metallic gold leather convertible clutch for it’s glamorous exterior and roomy interior (it even has zip and phone pockets inside). Carry it from the top, folded over (four magnetic snaps keep the bag in perfect shape) or convert it into a crossbody bag with the included separate strap. Bottom line: It’s a stylish, versatile bag for her to own and a perfect addition for her New Year’s Eve outfit. $145,

Sydney Alfonso, who started Etkie – which means “impact” in Turkish - grew up in rural New Mexico, and worked for a while with a women’s artist cooperative in Istanbul. Upon her return to the US, she brought her experience back to her home community. Now, Etkie creates handcrafted jewelry by a cooperative of women living on the Navajo Nation Reservation in New Mexico. The women all earn a living wage, and Alfonso handles the marketing and merchandising of the product. The bracelets are created using a traditional loom on which glass beads are woven together to create various geometric designs. The beads are then secured to a supple leather lining, which then covers a copper bracelet. I love that these pieces are the perfect combination of glamorous, modern jewelry that are made using a traditional process. $215 - $275,

This Turkish cotton robe is a great update on the usual white or pink heavy terrycloth “spa” robe. Made from the same fabric used for Turkish towels, it’s super absorbent even in humid environments (which is a good thing, because I think it also makes a stylish beach cover up). The lightweight, 100% cotton fabric is hand-woven by local artisans in Turkey following a traditional process. $135,

Chamilia has delivered another great collection just in time for the holiday season. They’ve recently released Spoken by Chamilia, which is a collection of ID bangles featuring optimistic messages. Handcrafted in 100% recycled sterling silver and made in the U.S.A, styles are available in silver and some with 14-karat yellow gold or 14-karat rose gold electroplating. The ID panel includes engraved sentiments that focus on Inspiration, Love, Relationship, Passions, Milestones and the Zodiac, with a word or phrase like “Wish” or “Live With All Your Heart”. In addition, each bracelet has one or two charms attached to the side of the ID panel. With their uplifting messages, these bracelets make a statement whether they’re worn as a single, delicate bangle or stacked together for a bigger look. Starting at $39,

On set at Colorado's Best (from left to right): Bella Dahl pajamas, Etkie cuffs, Osmia Milk Bath, Ethics Supply Co. candle, Animal Handmade wallets

On set at Colorado's Best (from left to right): Bella Dahl pajamas, Etkie cuffs, Osmia Milk Bath, Ethics Supply Co. candle, Animal Handmade wallets

On set at Colorado's Best (part 2, from left to right): Chamilia bangles, CoFi leather convertible clutch, Turkish bath robe

On set at Colorado's Best (part 2, from left to right): Chamilia bangles, CoFi leather convertible clutch, Turkish bath robe

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is here, which means it’s the month in which we talk about Breast Cancer. On the one hand, it’s great to remind women the importance of being proactive with their health by getting annual mammograms and breast exams, while also honoring those women who’ve survived this horrible disease (my mother included – congratulations mom on reaching the 20-year mark!). On the other hand, the stark statistic that one in eight women will have breast cancer during their lifetime is still way too high. This morning, I was on Colorado’s Best chatting with hosts Paula Haddock and Joana Canals about how anyone can help raise money to aid further research and also assist survivors in this fight by being a conscientious consumer. Here's my roundup of products that give back a percentage of proceeds to an official breast cancer organization:

Highlands green beauty boutique Vert carries a hand-selected collection of non-toxic skincare, makeup and personal beauty brands. This month, pick up one of Jane Iredale’s hydration sprays ($30 each) – either Smell The Roses or Lemongrass Love – and 100% of the profits will go to the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Foundation. Vert is also donating 100% of VERT beauty Concealer Pencil sales ($20) to the Susan G Koman Foundation. It’s a beauty arsenal must-have (you can read why in my 5280 write-up about it here).

Denver-based designer Dana Schoonover has created her line, Never a Wallflower, as a colorful, upbeat take on current styles. Her functional, comfortable clothing can easily take a woman from daytime to evening. During the month of October, Schoonover is donating 20% of the proceeds from all web sales for her entire collection to Susan G Koman Colorado.   

Chamilia is best known for their interchangeable bead and charm bracelets in a variety of materials, including sterling silver, crystals, stones, Murano glass, and 14 karat gold. Creating unique charms to support special causes, from autism to the Humane Society, is part of this brand’s MO. This month, a percentage of proceeds from their sterling silver “Brave & Strong” charm ($45) will go toward American Cancer Society’s efforts in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

The most personal company in this lineup for me is Geeg by Gina de Givenchy (pronounced Geej). I worked with Gina during my time at Chanel, and recently learned she went through breast cancer about four years ago. Her experience buying headwraps to hide her hair loss during treatment were so dated and sad looking - plus they were made of uncomfortable fabrics - that she was determined to create a line for women to take them from hair loss to regrowth that were soft and looked stylish. Her chic line of turbans and scarves works as follows: The beanie comes in neutral hues to mimic natural hair color, and you can accent it with a turban or scarf. For a really special gift, check out the support sets, which are perfect for mothers and daughters. Geeg gives a percentage of its proceeds all year long to Family Reach, a non-profit organization that assists families dealing with financial difficulties due to cancer treatment costs. 

Originally based in Telluride and now also in Cherry Creek North, local jewelry and fine art boutique Dolce is known for finding small-scale, limited production designers with unique pieces and high quality materials from all over the world. The selection of jewelry I showed on TV were Aida Bergsen pale pink coral ring in 18 karat yellow gold and diamonds, Ray Griffiths pink opal and ruby earrings in 18 karat yellow gold, and Patrick Mohs oval cabochon pink tourmaline ring in 18 karat yellow gold paired with two diamond stacking bands in 18 karat rose gold. Dolce is donating 10% of proceeds in October from all jewelry with pink stones to benefit breast cancer research (In store only, exclusions may apply).

PUR Attitude is all about carcinogen-free skincare. Since new beauty industry laws haven’t been passed since the 1930s, many US-made skincare lines contain ingredients banned in other parts of the world. But PUR’s formulations omit about 1,300 chemicals from their line up. They also don’t formulate their products with water, which frequently can be up to 95% of a formula (it’s why it’s usually listed as the first ingredient for any product). Instead, they pump their moisture content up with hyaluronic acid - a naturally occurring component in the human body with the ability to bind 1,000 times its weight in moisture to the skin. But before you commit to a new regimen, try out their potions in a special trial size kit ($20), which includes their top selling Vitamin-C serum, Moisturizing Gel Cream and Multi-Effects Eye Cream. The brand is donating 25% of profits on each kit to the National Breast Cancer Foundation

Spring 2018 Runway

I’m still in the process of checking out online the Paris Spring 2018 shows (to see my top picks for all four fashion weeks, please click here). Although I miss seeing the shows in person – it’s always helpful to see a designer’s full vision for his or her collection in context – I have to admit that I prefer showroom appointments. They’re more intimate; you can see clothing and accessory details not visible on the runway, plus you usually get an interesting backstory on the collection or even an individual piece.

All that said, I do read some show reviews. One of the best summations on Paris fashion week has come from Angelo Flaccavento at Business of Fashion. His article from yesterday discusses how Paris has become a “supermarket” of product this season, with few designers presenting a strong point of view of what it means to dress a woman now.

And that’s a problem. Historically, the runway shows were a format for designers to propose their vision of how a woman should dress for the upcoming season. However – in our internet age – these shows have increasingly become a marketing tool. It’s one reason why non-household name designers showing a solid presentation on a traditional runway are often overlooked for huge spectacles presented by big brands showing increasingly gimmicky merchandise.

If fashion design is going to continue to be the cornerstone of this industry, then obviously a paradigm shift is needed (it has been for some time). In order for fashion to have a real impact on how women dress today, a collection needs to be more than a photo op of a bright pink bedazzled platform shoe or a logo T-shirt that screams fashion victim. Designers should be able to present tightly developed collections full of meaningful pieces with a sharp point of view. Fashion as spectacle definitely has its place, but it feels increasingly like design teams are expected to be circus masters first and designers second.

Fav Quotes

For me, the Internet is the opposite of memory; the Internet is amnesia, it’s about today and tomorrow is another day. Printed issues are about recording time, leaving a trace and making it relevant. - Olivier Zahm, WWD, September 5th, 2017

North American Hair Awards Video

North American Hair Awards video for The Beauty Underground. Directed by Evan Mann of Otherworldly Productions, hair by Charlie Price, makeup by Liz Wegrzyn and styling by me.

15 Minutes With: Kirsten Kjaer Weis

Kirsten demonstrates how to get a flawless, natural complexion at the Aillea Master Class.

My introduction to NYC-based makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis’s self-named makeup line was back in mid-2015. That’s when Aillea owner Kathryn Murray showed it to me in her newly opened boutique in downtown Denver. I was over the moon about the product: I thought the packaging was gorgeous (more on that below), the pink and apricot blush tones were beautiful, and the foundation felt amazing on your face. Last year, I told Kathryn that if Kirsten ever wanted to do an event in town, I would be happy to host it for her.

So, this past Tuesday, I got my chance when Kirsten visited Aillea to introduce her latest product, The Beautiful Oil – a wonder potion that moisturizes, has anti-aging properties and can be used to prime the skin before applying foundation (it also smells divine). In addition to learning about the oil, Kirsten taught a master class on how to create a flawless complexion and the perfect smoky eye. Before the evening got under way, I sat down with her to chat about her makeup line, the importance of design and what new products she has in the works.

GAB: You have such a beautiful makeup line. I love the packaging.

KKW: Thank you! I’m happy to hear that because I love design. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be pretty.

GAB: What impresses me is that the compacts have such substantial weight –they’re really luxurious – and yet they’re so easy to pack. You can tell that your line has been really well thought through.

KKW: I think it’s important – I think design matters. It has a purpose. I remember doing a small market survey before even starting and asking 200 women, “How important is packaging to you?” Two-thirds came back and said that it’s actually really important, but that they were kind of embarrassed about it. And I was like, “Why? That’s not embarrassing.” I mean, why would you buy flowers? They’re going to die in a week and be a complete waste of cash. But they move you - that’s what it’s about. It makes a difference when you pull something out of your bag and you’re excited about it.

GAB: Even the way the blush or foundation compact open is cool.

KKW: I have always been a fan of the Comme des Garçons perfume bottle – you know, the one with the silver tube? Obsessed. So I thought, “I’m going to try and contact the man who made it and see if he can help me with this.” And he is the one who designed the compacts. He thought this was a really interesting project, because he had never really worked on a color line before. It was a challenge to do something that was sustainable and needed to have a very luxe look. But he took it on and delivered.

GAB: So, what made you want to do your own line in the first place?

KKW: It was literally from working in the field all these years and seeing things first hand. As a makeup artist, you show up on set with your kit and it has your favorite products from each brand. Then the model sits down in the chair; you start to get to work and the model would always pinpoint something and say, “Oh my God, you can’t use that foundation on me – I’ll break out from it.” Or the mascara will irritate their eyes. It was always something. That’s really what made me start, because I didn’t have any natural brands that I could add to my kit. They didn’t perform.

GAB: I never used to associate natural brands with being “makeup lines” because I didn’t know of any that were pigment heavy, say like Nars, but I think your line is totally on par with a brand like that.

KKW: What has served me well in terms of the formulations is that I know what works out in the field. The product has to work - otherwise, nobody is going to care that it’s certified organic.

GAB: Do you ever get involved with the formulating?

KKW: I feel like I have a knowledge and interest about naturals, just because I have such an affinity for it, but when I started on the line I was smart enough to know that I’m not a formulator. So I teamed up with someone in Italy, who had been in the natural world for many years.

GAB: What’s most important to you about a product?

KKW: I’m all about textures – they’re key for me. That was one of the wake up calls in terms of starting to formulate in naturals, because it’s like being in the wine industry: Every harvest is different and that has an impact on the final outcome.

GAB: What happened exactly?

KKW: When I launched in 2010, I launched with three blush colors. When I started formulating the blushes, it took a while to get the texture we really wanted. It’s difficult because conventional brands just put silicon in everything so the product has that perfect slip.

Once I had OK’d the samples, we put them into production. That’s a huge investment! Then when I saw the product, it was much drier than the ones I had approved. I knew something was wrong. What happened in this particular case was that the shea butter we had gotten for the production was a different batch than the one we had for the samples. So the fat content – the oil – was way lower. 

GAB: Big mass brands don’t have this issue, do they?

KKW: When you work in synthetics there’s never any change. You can just call up the factory and say, “Hey, I need another 10,000 pieces.” You don’t have to worry about it. During this episode is when it dawned on me why natural makeup had never really taken off: You need the performance to be consistent. It needs to always be the texture you’re grown to love – the color you’ve grown to love.

GAB: You’re like a chef!

KKW: Yes!  I always say, “I have a Michelin chef in the kitchen,” because the formulators are excellent. But you really have to stay on top of things.

GAB: So, now you have body oil in the works?

KKW: That will come out in 2018.

GAB: Any other upcoming product launches you can tell me about?

KKW: This fall we will launch lip and eye pencils - a first for us. I think they’re really lovely.

GAB: I’ll be excited to try them, because by midday my eyeliner starts smudging underneath my eye and I look like a raccoon. Can you give an eyeliner beauty tip as we wrap up?

KKW: Sometimes a pencil or a liquid can look a little hard, so you can soften the line with powder eyeshadow. Currently, we use our eyeshadows for eyeliner with an angled brush and we just mist the brush with a little water - you don’t want it to be too wet. This way, when you dip the brush into the color, there’s no extra powder dust and the brush really picks up the pigment.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Bad Fragrance Ads

Vice gave me a good laugh the other morning reading Marianne Eloise's article "Why Are Perfume Adverts Always So Terrible?" So true. Most of them are really silly, and it was amusing to read an entire article - complete with comments from advertising pros - dedicated to pointing that out. For the record, my favorite perfume commercial is this one from Chanel, directed by Luc Besson (although I could just be biased, since I worked there at the time).

But it's not only perfume ads that have been terrible in fashion. When was the last time a fine jewelry ad stopped you from flipping the page in a magazine? It's always more or less the same: A naked or semi-naked women, and either a close-up of their face or a body part. 

Even after having (finally!) flipped through my March issues of Vogue and W, I think many fashion RTW and accessory ad campaigns look the same (possibly because almost all of the fashion houses hire the same photographers). In fact, right now I would say what's more notable is the list of designers and companies who either rarely advertise or skip it completely: Dries Van Noten, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Undercover, Goyard, Maison Martin Margiela, Zara, Uniqlo... They may not all have large businesses, but they're all businesses that are respected, regardless of where they sit on the fashion spectrum.

Now what does that say about fashion advertising campaigns? 


And We're Off To The Races: Golden Globes 2017

Yet another best and worst dressed list? Why? Just because everyone seems to chime in on these annual award shows - especially folks with absolutely no sense of taste or style. Here's my lineup:

Best Dressed (in no particular order):

- Natalie Portman (Prada): A total homage to Jackie Kennedy. Super chic and flattering.

- Amy Adams (Tom Ford): A classic black sequin column, slashed with burgundy in the skirt. Beautifully cut and fitted, especially around the bust.

- Viola Davis (Michael Kors Collection): Her gown was a striking shade of yellow and the silhouette looked beautiful on her.

- Ruth Negga (Louis Vuitton): Glam and gorgeous.

- Olivia Culpo (Zuhair Murad Couture): An unusual choice, which is why it worked. 


Worst Dressed (also in no particular order):

Nicole Kidman (Alexander McQueen): This gown was stunning on the runway, but it worked because the hair and makeup were edgy; Kidman's interpretation was overly romantic and too one note. Sickly sweet.

Sarah Jessica Parker (Vera Wang): I love her adventurous sense of fashion, but this didn't work at all. The sleeves were distracting, the dress overwhelming, and her hairstylist needed to find a braid in a color that actually matched her hair.

Carrie Underwood (Iris Serban): This did nothing for her tiny figure, regardless of what you think the insane ruffle top resembles. The Pepto-Bismol pink shade didn't help any.

Sophie Turner (Louis Vuitton): How could LV have gotten it SO right for Ruth Negga, but completely misfired with Turner's gown? One of those fabrics needed an edit (at least). Totally over-designed.

Mandy Moore (Naeem Khan): Was she going to fly away on her broom or practice her Morticia Addams? Funereal and drab.


Fraud Stylists Are Still Popping Up In The Fashion Industry

Late last night, I read the sad headline from Dazed regarding a fraud stylist on the loose. Now, several designers - many of them smaller houses - have lost several thousand dollars worth of samples. The most depressing part of this story? It's nothing new. It comes around every few years, maybe because people become too trusting (a rather disheartening thought) or are too desperate to get into the pages of a major title.

Obviously, the lesson learned is do your homework on any stylist that reaches out to you. And it's not just about checking their Instagram account (can’t anyone sign up for one of these?); do they have a website, portfolio and a client list? The person in question in the Dazed story claimed to be a member of Business Of Fashion's BOF500 list; this isn't the case, but could have easily been checked. I'm not trying to blame the designers or their press offices; Lord knows there are so many stylists calling in samples for photo shoots all over the world at any one time, it's probably difficult to keep track of us all. But for those of us working with smaller titles, the burden still tends to fall on us to prove that we are legitimate and worthy of receiving designer loans for our magazines no matter how long we’ve been in business, rather than on any stylist who comes along professing to work for a major.

By the way, this doesn't just pertain to designers, but to personal clients as well. If you’re considering hiring a stylist for personal styling, get references and find out their work history. Remember: A stylist is not just someone who looks glamorous and likes to shop. They should have an excellent understanding of proportion, as well as fit and materials, how pieces work together and how to build a functional wardrobe. Until it becomes less easy for just anyone to fake it in fashion, check their credentials and know if who you’re hiring is the real deal.

On Air: Sunday Morning Channel 4 Denver

Just finished a short spot on Father's Day gifts for this morning's news program on Channel 4 Denver (super early at 6:45 am!). If you caught the segment - or even if you didn't - here's my short gift roundup for dads:

Aspire Eyewear: Specs and sunglasses are a great way to up your fashion quotient, but active dads need something a bit more functional than an average frame. Enter Aspire - the latest in high-tech eyewear. Designed using 3D printing technology and made from a proprietary nylon-blend material, this eyewear is lighter than traditional acetate frames and also more durable. In addition, they're resistant to heat and UV exposure, which means they'll protect your dad's peepers throughout our hot Mile High City summer. Available at Doctor's Optical and Vista Eyecare

Beckett & Robb Driving Gloves: If your dad is a car guy, pick him up a pair of elegant driving gloves at Beckett & Robb. Made by Italian glove makers Fratelli Orsini (serious fashion cred here; you can currently see their gloves on display in the Oscar de la Renta retrospective on at the de Young Museum in San Francisco), these Italian lambskin gloves even have screen sensitivity woven into the fingertips.

Ratio Clothing Made-to-Measure Shirts: Regardless of whether your dad works in an office or needs a casual wardrobe update, Denver-based Ratio offers men the chance to own shirts that actually fit them. Choose from either a 30-minute fitting in their LoHi store or fill out a short online questionnaire, and then decide on details like fabric, collar, cuff style, etc. On-set, I showed: 2-Ply Thomas Mason cotton twill long-sleeve shirt; cotton twill floral print short-sleeve shirt; linen long-sleeve shirt; and Indian cotton Madras short-sleeve shirt.

Wolfhill Wallets: Beautiful handcrafted leather goods using traditional construction methods by one-man show Alex Ore. These rustic leather wallets are made from cowhides sourced through the Horween Tannery - one of the oldest tanneries in the US - that will develop a rich patina over time. I picked up the passport wallet, bifold and card carrier at Sully & Co in Jefferson Park, but you can also order them through the Wolfhill website; either way make sure you plan ahead, as Sully & Co has only a few on-hand and Wolfhill makes to order.

Beckett & Robb Braces: We didn't actually get a chance to chat about these, but if your dad is a formal dresser pick him up an accessory that says something about his personality like suspenders. B&R's suspenders - or braces, as the Brits say - are made by the oldest brace maker in the world: Albert Thurston in England. They have an adjustable fit and brass hardware. Solid colors are always a safe gift option, but I think the stripes look both smart and stylish.

Quote of the Week

And it's only Monday!

“Everyone is paying attention to the wrong thing in my opinion. There’s this huge debate about ‘Oh my God, should we sell the garments the day after the show or three days after the show or should we tweet it in this way or Instagram it in that way?’… You know, all that is kind of bullshit. Will all that stuff still be relevant 30 years from now? I don’t think so. What we should ask is will we have enough creative people who are strong enough and willing to do what is necessary right now to follow that madhouse. Lots of people are starting to question it. My generation especially is shifting now… like me and Phoebe [Philo], Nicolas [Ghesquière] and Marc [Jacobs]. We’ve been around for 20 or more years. We know what fashion was and where it’s heading to. Now it’s a question of what we are willing to do and how we are going to do it.” -Raf Simons, The Telegraph

NYFW: Fall 2016

Fall 2016 NYFW has come to a close and - although full of new clothes - it feels like the last several seasons: More of the same. In a piece for this week's The Cut, Cathy Horn asks who will lead American fashion:

It sometimes seems, in fact, that the industry has splintered into three completely separate businesses — the celebrity lines, the trendy-casual stuff that consumes most of the space (and slowly kills you with its banality), and the elite brands like Oscar de la Renta. There’s no real leader, though, in American fashion. We have stars, bona fide talent (Narciso Rodriguez) and conceptual playmakers (thank you, Marc Jacobs), but what we desperately need is someone who can challenge and ignite the whole industry. Raise the bar, because it’s pretty low right now. - Cathy Horn, The Cut

How To Fix The Fashion System

This round table chat between editor Tim Blanks, designer Erdem Moralioglu, blogger Susanna Lau, publicist Daniel Marks and editor JJ Martin was first published on Business Of Fashion's site this past Monday. Sure there are many interesting fashion industry insights, but this excerpt regarding advertising and print media has to be one of the best. It just reinforces the reason why many major fashion magazines and designer brands look the same - and echoes the feelings of Tomas Maier in an earlier post (check out that one from December 18):

DM: One of the issues with brands is that advertising content is generic — same model, same photographers — all generic. And you have to be in a lucky position to afford all of that.

JJM: I’m shocked that the brands haven’t jumped ship from these traditional formulas. I think they don’t understand the alternatives.

SL: Or even know the alternatives.

TB: There’s never been a better time to be in fashion, there’s never been more of a need for storytelling in fashion. I call it the digital campfire, which is the ability to tell stories in a more successful and direct way. Who is doing that?

JJM: Right now there aren’t enough people doing that. I’m shocked that big publishing houses aren’t turning their editorial teams towards this. I’m surprised that there’s so much of a focus on print. And that’s going to keep happening as all the big brands keep giving the same-looking ads to those same magazines.

Tomas Maier on Advertising

When I ask why he (Maier) began collaborating with artists and photographers for his advertising campaigns, he simply states: “Because I had the opportunity. I like photography, and there are a lot of different photographers that I like. I've looked at advertising, for 20 years, and everyone uses the same five people in this industry…” - Alexander Fury, Independent, Dec. 14, 2015

The Broken Runway Show Schedule

Vogue UK reported yesterday in an online post that CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg has hired a consulting firm to help "reboot" the NYFW shows. Finally. The system has been broken for a number of seasons now. In fact, the shows have become so out of sync with consumer needs and more and more of a circus for press, I haven't even attended them in years (give me a showroom appointment over a show any day; I want to see the clothing and accessories up close - not seated in the middle of five rows of people, where I can't even see half the outfit coming down the runway).

Although they're considering numerous ideas, the best one - I still think - is the one I discussed with Nicole Miller during an interview several years ago: Transform the FW and SS current show dates into showroom appointments for buyers and press (like me) who need a six-month advance presentation (for editorial planning purposes). Then hold the runway shows right before the collection ships, opening them up to the public, and seat bloggers, celebrities and other VIPs in the front row.

Maybe this strategy will even allow for delivery dates to be pushed back a bit to maximize sales; It's crazy that Fall 2015 sale broke at the beginning of November, when it was just starting to get cold (even in Denver!). It would allow a bigger window of shopping for the buy now-wear now customer, instead of continuing to teach them to just wait until sale to shop for the season.

Fashion & Terrorism

...if we turn away from the luxury and fashion industries at a time like this because they are not “serious,” then we contribute to the goals of those who attacked France. When the terrorists opened fire on restaurants and nightclubs, they were not simply sowing fear. They were assaulting a certain kind of lifestyle, one that values conversation, self-expression, art and beauty, of which fashion is a part. To embrace those values is, now, a political statement. - Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, Nov. 18, 2015

Pitching An Editor (or Why I’m Not Looking At Your Work)

Like many creative people, I’ve struggled throughout my career with the time consuming task of selling clients on my work. And since I’m neither an agent nor a mind reader, trying to second-guess what any client is looking for is pretty futile.

But when I’m sitting on the other side of the desk (so to speak) and put on my editor hat, I’m now critiquing other people’s work. I really believe that as a fashion editor your job is to see the work of as many designers as possible – just like American Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow said:

Go see every designer everywhere. You never know where the next talent is coming from. Open your eyes, have a little humility and let go of ego.  

But sometimes it’s difficult to stay positive when people can’t take constructive criticism or “no” for an answer. So, here are some basic tips to remember when you pitch any editor-especially if you want to form a long-term relationship with them.

#1: Know who you’re pitching. I’m a fashion editor-not a fitness editor or gear editor. If you’re marketing your company as a sport-meets-Ready-To-Wear brand, then feel free to pitch me and also hit up the fitness editor, since your business has a two-pronged approach. But if your brand produces technical ski gear or workout clothes and that’s your sole selling point and market position, then I’m not the editor for you.

# 2: Know why you’re pitching. Contacting an editor and saying, “I would like a feature on my collection…” really comes off as naïve (and possibly arrogant). A lot of people would like a magazine feature, but that doesn’t mean they get one. Nail your pitch, as well as your messaging; have a clear, concise story and understand how your brand fits into a magazine’s content. And always attach a look book – please don’t make me search for your work.

#3: Know the Mag: Be familiar with a publication and it’s content. Pitching exclusive luxury product to a magazine that has a mid-market focus makes it obvious you’ve never read it.

#4: Know when to pitch. Even though website content needs to be current, print still operates several months out. Pitching an editor at the right time is key to being considered for coverage; don’t contact them for winter print stories in October. For young designers, this means your production needs to be in sync with the industry. And feel free to ask for an editorial calendar before sending random emails.

As an editor, I want to see new work and to help introduce talented designers to an audience. But knowing how to focus your pitch efforts will get you closer to developing those media relationships you will depend upon throughout your career. Or, at least until you can hire a publicist to handle media pitches for you.

Catalogues: Still Important For Business

After cleaning out my office recently, I came across copies of Chanel and Hermes magazines that I had stashed away from my NYC days. Once again, I was struck by the beautiful presentation of each publication: Stunning photography, interesting articles about the history of the company, profiles of its craftsmen, and features on art were all enclosed within a captivating cover.

For dedicated customers, receiving one of these publication was like getting a little gift. But the importance for the company was that the magazine visually told the story of the house's vision for the season and served to educate its clients. No expense was spared; from booking famous photographers and stylists to printing on high quality paper, everything emphasized the brand's point-of-view and kept its audience engaged.

In a nutshell: These magazines were original content.

Interestingly, Robin Mellery-Pratt wrote in the Business Of Fashion last week that catalogues - which function like a kind of magazine - are still a business tool for many brands, sighting J Crew and Neiman Marcus as just two retailers who rely on them to drive consumers to purchase online. And that makes sense; at a time when companies can easily have a one-to-one relationship with their audience, if you're not telling your brand story to your clients then you're allowing someone else to do it for you.