Indie Alternatives

1. Secret Garden Vest 2. Tsarina Tee 3. Embellished Cavalry Dress

So by now, I think it’s obvious how much I love All Saints Spitalfields.  I’ve done more than one entry about the fabulous things they carry.  But how about if you love their stuff and just can’t (or won’t) justify a purchase of one of their amazing tees (see above)?  Well, I’ve found some lovely substitutes that I may like even just a wee bit more…

The first tee is a print made up of a collage of Audubon birds with jungle-canopy motifs–I bought this in an all0ver-print silk dress, and I absolutely adore it.

The second is a shirt I’ve been eyeing, and hoping it will get down into my price range (right now, the $45 clearance price tag is still too steep for a tee that’s not fair trade, made in America/indie, or organic–oh yeah, and I’m poor).

The third is a graphic of a horse skeleton, hummingbird, and some flowers.  Very Dia de los Muertos, no?  LOVE.  Remember that scene in Bedknobs and Broomsticks when the armor all comes to life??  Well, this isn’t really like that, but it makes me think of it for some strange reason.  Beautiful print, in any case.

And now for the alternatives:

$20 by Isotope at Etsy.com

Bird medley, anyone?  Check out this tee from Isotope at Etsy.com.  Chock-full of Audubon’s finest avians, and what a buy; only twenty bucks!

And may I suggest just cutting the ribbing off the neckline?  It looks so nice and kind of makes it look less Hanes-y, more girly.  I also like to trim down the sleeves.  I end up doing this to most of my normal-gauge tees.

Etsy has so many wonderful offerings in the way of original tees–they are always my first stop when looking for something unique.

“A Deer Wearing Gym Socks” $22 at Society6.com

Now if t-shirt #2 is more your speed (Ha! Animals in clothing, how droll!), check this tee out from CharmaineOlivia at Society6.com.  A slightly more goofy take on the concept–but it’s so friggin’ cute, how could wearing this not bring a smile to your face?

“Fox Confessor,” $22 at Society6.com

Finally, for my favorite tee alternative, we have Fox Confessor, by Lindsey Carr/Little Robot. It is a morbid montage that makes my black, black heart skip a beat!  $22 can’t buy me happiness, but it can make me want to get dressed in the morning!

This shirt reminds me of a time my boyfriend found a dead fox right along the shore of Red House Lake in Alleghany State Park (Paterson, you mook, KEEP THE PARK OPEN!!).  I was afraid to take it (for the fur, people, not some other dark purpose) because it was a young, healthy-looking male with no visible signs of trauma.  Rabies is not uncommon in WNY.  Instead we reported it to the rangers and let it lie.  ::Sigh:: I think about that fur… a lot.

Anyway, Ms. Carr’s paintings are to die for.  Her allegorical style is most attractive…  in truth, everything this artist has listed is beautiful–buy it all!

Simply stunning. “My Deer Friend Flight Dress” by MeAndOli

For those of us who cannot live on t-shirts and jeans alone… make dressing up for work fun!

Check out this line by MeAndOli at Etsy.com.  Their prints are so lovely, I can hardly contain myself!!  A very friendly seller, and she does absolutely beautiful work, as you can see.  Custom digi-prints (we know how much I love my digi-prints!) make for a gorgeous, unique line of whimsical dresses.  The pretty little number to the right is a silk and cotton blend; lovely and comfortable in all seasons!  And at less than half the price of an All Saints dress, it’s a downright bargain besides!

And finally, for that really custom item you’ve been looking for…

Pelican Briefs by SlipperySlopeBloomer, $311

SlipperySlopeBloomer transforms old underpinnings with nothing more than the humble Sharpy.  Audubon’s prints have n’er looked sae sexy!  What would I do with a pair of control-top briefs bedecked in pelican-y goodness?  Well, duh… I’d wear them with my…  …  um… tutu!  At my trapeze lessons!  Perfection!  Seriously though, I’d find somewhere to wear these babies!!  I hope there will be some more daily-wear options available in the near future! 🙂

Gannet Corset, by SlipperSlopeBloomer, $492

I’m also quite taken with the Gannet corset.  One could wear that over a nice tank with jeans and enjoy a night on the town!

Well, I’m spent.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my (mostly) more cost-effective/righteous-in-the-way-of-supporting-individuals-versus-corporations entry.  I invite any and all comments, and encourage everyone to send praise to and/or purchase from these fine artisans I’ve so proudly touted!   Cheers to all! 🙂

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Madam? Meet Henri…

I went to Henri Bendel for the first time today.  Ladies, this place is like crack.  I saw that stupid movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic or whatever, but for a moment or two in those glittery walls, I understood what her problem was.  I walked outta there with so much dopamine in my system, I didn’t care that lunch was over and I had to go back to my sad, sad life on the outside.

I’m telling you, the lighting, the arrangement of each product, the music… even the smell… all worked in perfect harmony.  It was the Optimus Prime of merchandising.

I work for free.  I have no income to speak of.  Yet I almost lost my will completely and it took all the strength I had not to buy something.  Beautiful pave starfish rings (oh, starfish have been my summer obsession)… enameled songbirds… CEOLACANTH?/MUDSKIPPER? NECKLACES 40% OFF!!!  How did I resist??  Divine intervention, I suppose.  Actually, I convinced myself that since my birthday is in three weeks, there was the off-chance that someone who loved me verrrrrry much might have them waiting for me after the cake (ahem, yellow with real buttercream, please–they’re all on the second floor by the spiral staircase–shhhh!).

Bah.  Humbug.  It only hurts when I think about it…   I could make those things instead of spending an average of $150 for each one (even with the 40% off–ouch!).  But the question is… will I?  Nah…

These boots weren’t made for walkin’…

Arrgh!! And they're even MORE on sale now--WHY can't this boot be comfortable?!

So I broke down last Friday and headed out to All Saints to snag those lovely pony boots if they were still there in my size.  Well, they were (YES!!!!).  So I tried them on.  Um… I haven’t been that let down since  my first (and last) kiss with my good Lieutenant.

Ladies, those boots are horrifically uncomfortable!  Now, I’m the type who can ignore a little discomfort of the feet.  I’m a bloody fashion major, here.  But this was ridiculous.  No padding on the insole, nothing.  Now I would expect that in a $300 pair of boots the manufacturer could spring for a heel pod–hell, how ’bout just a little bit of high-density foam, eh??  Come ON, All Saints!  Those boots were on clearance because they HURT!

Even as I was trying them on, a woman next to me said, “Ooh, where’d you get those?”  And I replied, “They’re on clearance! Over against the far wall!”  She was so into them, she tried a pair on as well.  Both pair remained in the store that day.  Bummer.  I’m highly irresponsible when it comes to a sweet-arsed pair of boots, but even I couldn’t bring myself to take those puppies home.  ::Sigh::  So no pony boots for me.

She's just so cute I can't stand it!!

Instead I came home and ordered a bunch of Princess Choo Choo paraphernalia off Ebay to ease my as-of-then unsatisfied urge to acquire.  I’m not sorry–now I have a sweet appointment book in which to record all of my not-interviews and unimportant tidbits of everyday drivel.  But that drivel looks awfully nice with kitty faces all over it!

…buy yourself somethin’ pretty!

This weekend, my sister and I entertained a guest (Gratis en Vogue‘s R.C.).  We had a great time shopping, exploring, and lazing about for three days straight.  Of course, we took her to Kinokuniya (where I picked up the BEST inspiration book for jewelry), Crumbs (my new favorite red-velvet cupcake spot), and Anthropologie (big sale right now, ladies!).  But we also went down to Soho so that I could show her All Saints (512 Broadway, south of Prince), Topshop and Pearl River Mart.

Well, you already know what happened at All Saints–my ponygirl boots were on sale and I didn’t get them (there’s still time, I hope).  Topshop was chock-full of lovelies, and I was especially taken with their lingerie-inspired dresses–they looked like they jumped right out of those old Bonny and Clyde-type movies.  But the winner of the day was Pearl River Mart.  It’s like no other Asian import store I’ve ever been to.  Right away, I found this bag (LOVE IT!!!):

"First Lady of Fabulous" Tote, $13.50 by Blue Q

I know, you’re SOOOO jealous, right??  Three people asked where I’d gotten it before I even left the store!  This bag is made of recycled materials (grain sacks) by Blue Q, and %1 of sales supports The Nature Conservancy.  Beautiful!  It was all I could do not to snag a Blue Q wallet ($20) as well, though I did control myself.

If you don’t live in NYC, you can snag your own here: Mighty Michelle Shopper.

Pearl River Mart, $6.50 (Score!)

Last week, I suffered through the heat at the Governor’s Island Veuve Cliquot Polo Tourney, and spent nearly the whole time wishing I’d had a parasol.  I had been hoping to find one the next time I came to Pearl River, and was not disappointed.  The lower floor had many beauties to choose from–all under $7!  I came home with this guy:

Cute, huh??

Can’t wait to go back when I have more time to see everything!  This is THE place to go for fun novelty and last-minute or low-priced gifts.

One more store worth noting was called Callalilai, located at 518 Broadway (there are 3 other locations, as well).  They consider themselves a “Japanese-French fusion label,” and it’s easy to see those influences.  Prolly why I like it so darn much.  I found myself attracted to the Central-American-inspired dirndls ($109), each one different from the other, all sporting beautiful woven stripes of traditional and funky patterns.  I lusted after the “geisha” print dress, but eventually found myself driven out by the discordant strains of the Black Eyed Peas, “My Hump.”  Call me a snob, but I can’t stay in a store that plays horrible music.

Pony up!

??!!

…Must be strong… must be… prudent… can’t… resist… good grief, they’ve got horseshoes on the soles, for goodness’ sake!!  Ladies, these boots are on clearance for $175, they are in my size…  they leave little horseshoe prints in the dirt as you walk away, and they. are. daily. wearers, ladies!!  I hesitate to even publish where they are for fear someone else will get there first.  ::Sigh:: I can’t afford these!  And yet… it almost seems I can’t afford NOT to get them!  They are beautiful!!!  You can view these boots, and even buy them (but leave those 41s for ME, ladies), here:

Buy them!

All Saints Spitalfields is a British company that utilizes decidedly Japanese tailoring methods.  They just opened up their first storefront in NYC a couple of weeks ago.  I adore their stuff, so needless to say, I had to stop in last week.  Big mistake.  I now want just about half the inventory.  I found myself obsessing over a silk dress covered in an Audubon bird print–it looks like the ornithology wing of a natural history museum threw up all over it–and I ended up going 4 days before I had to go back and buy it.  Biggest purchase (besides boots) I’ve ever made.  And I’m not sorry, so there.  The first day I wore it, I got lots of compliments.  Plus, it’s so different!  I just love to curate.  Hence… the boots.

Any self-respecting ponygirl NEEDS these things in her wardrobe.  Also, I need these things in my wardrobe.  So Poodle, if you’re reading this,  you know I always ask for boots for Christmas… I don’t mind waiting… 🙂

A Trip to the Furrier

Last Monday, our class went to a furrier to see how coats (and other fur items) are made.  Before I go any further, I want you to know that I will not accept any comments as to the morality of this industry.  This was an educational trip, it was terribly interesting, and this blog entry is meant to share the information that I was fortunate enough for them to share with me.  If this may be disturbing to you, skip this post, okay?

I have always been very interested in fur, from a very young age.  My opinions as to its usage over the years have changed dramatically, and I will not use this particular entry to illustrate the current opinion that I have so carefully decided upon after much consideration and research (although, I cannot promise that there will not be a subsequent rant some other day).

The tour began in the retail area of the shop, with the owner kindly explaining all about the types of furs she sells.  I was proud that I could identify everything without help.  She also showed us some new techniques, such as clever knife cuts into the skins in various ways to create more movement, or simply to produce more volume from one fur. For example, one skin might be expanded to the area of nearly two, simply by cutting a vast array of slits alternating across the hide, thus creating an expandable skin with much more drape and twice the area!  This was probably my favorite technique, not only for the look, but because of its practicality. Because the slits are so small, you cannot see any difference from the right/fur side of the hide, except that the animal looks much bigger.

Next we went down into the workroom to see how a mink coat is made.  First, about 45-54 hides are sorted by color, laid next to each other in order so that any gradation is invisible to the eye.  This number of hides is enough to make a full-length, Cruella DeVille-style coat.  So all that you’ve heard about a couple hundred minks going into a standard mink coat is really untrue.  What surprised me was how large the skins actually are (my guess looking at them would be about 9″x28″).  I mean, I’ve seen mink in the wild, and they don’t seem that big, but once they are skinned, they are cleaned and tanned, and then stretched over a board and dried to maximize the area of each skin.

45-degree strips cut from hide

45-degree strips cut from hide

Once they are laid out, they are numbered to note the order.  These are either all-male, which is cheaper, or all-female, which is more expensive. The males are longer, but the females are more lush, if I’m to understand it correctly.  Going in order of the numbers, each hide is trimmed down to a rectangle (head, feet, and tails removed), slit down the middle/spine and put through a press that cuts it into 45 degree-angled strips that are only about 3/8″ wide.  What happens next is the secret to a fine mink coat: the strips are then sewn back together, only staggered along that angled cut by about 1/2″, so as to make one long stripe of fur for each side of the skin, getting to about 55″ long!  This is why when you see the narrow stripes of fur on a mink coat, that you think they are so little: as a little girl, I had imagined that each of those stripes was about 6 or 8 animals, all sewn together in a vertical row.  Not so!  Each stripe is all one animal–this was very enlightening.  So the pelt is actually made longer and narrower by this process, which is called “letting out.”

Sewing the strips on a furrier sewing machine.

Sewing the strips on a furrier sewing machine.

Then the let-out hides are laid out according to the pattern of the coat that will be made in such a way that they radiate from the top downward.  It is not so much like making a north-south/east-west fabric out of the hides, but putting them together according to the shape of the pattern itself.  Also very interesting.

After the coat’s skins are all sewn together and start looking like a coat (still sans lining), the “coat” is put into a giant tumbler with rubber balls to remove any stray hairs that may have shed in the process, as well as giving it the much-needed breaking of the stiffness that may be left over from the drying process in the beginning.

Finished stripes sewn together forming bottom of coat.

Finished stripes sewn together forming bottom of coat.

Then the coat is lined and put up for sale.  Isn’t that amazing?  I thought it was.

Then we went upstairs to look at the hats and how they are made, though that was quite abbreviated.  Basically, the hats can be sewn, blocked, or a combination of both.  For my millinery-aware buddies, I was surprised that a skin can be blocked just like felt (though you can’t hit it directly with steam, as that would cause the skin to shrink up and be destroyed).

The blocking technique deserves its own entry sometime, perhaps I will get to it one of these days (but probably not anytime soon).  It is quite a fascinating process.

All-in-all, I hope that this entry was interesting–I certainly am glad I went.  Even though I stated at the beginning of this entry that I would not be receiving comments regarding anyone’s opinion on the fur industry itself, I would be interested in hearing any technical comments you may have regarding the process, especially if you are a costumer and have worked with these materials before.  Thanks!

What week is this again?

Okay, I’ve been quite lax in keeping up on this blog this week–and there’s been so much I’ve wanted to share with you!!  I’ve been keeping incredibly busy with schoolwork (and when not doing that, going out on the town).  Last weekend, Sam and Louie took me out to an independent film afterparty (the Blackout Film Festival)–the food was great!  I was kind of disappointed I’d missed the films, as they were all responses to the current economic climate.  I heard many good things about it and look forward to perhaps finding the independent works online.

I can’t even remember much of what I’ve done since then–worked on my first collection for sketching class, done laundry, more schoolwork, school loan and accounts drama, fantasy-shopping for boots on ebay… all of it has been overshadowed by the reminder of a small obsession I acquired at eighteen on my first shopping trip to Toronto…

Cat had taken me to a store just south of TO’s Chinatown that sold mostly small designer goods and custom boots, where, incidentally, she bought me my very first designer piece–a gorgeous Diesel purse screened like an old dutch painting. I still have the purse.  Although this is not the point of my story.  There was along the wall a pair of boots that made my heart stop (this back before I cared ANYTHING AT ALL about footwear). They were a pretty, slim-fit pair of high wedge ankle boots–only they had cloven hooves at the toe box.  Be still, my beating heart!!!

They had been made in a limited edition by a custom bootmaker, and the biggest size left was an 8.5 (I remember that exactly because Cat is a 9 and they were too tight for her, too–I’ll admit, it would’ve broken my selfish heart if they had fit her and not me–I’m mature enough to admit it now).  The price tag was just under $2000, but I didn’t care (thank goodness they didn’t come in my size because I would’ve had them home without batting an eye!), I would’ve bought them anyway.  For weeks after, I obsessed over those boots and vowed that I would someday have my own pair.

Flash forward to about 3 years ago, wanting to be a circus pony for Halloween (think of the feather possibilities!), that I googled “horse costume.”  It was through an innocent google images search that I first stumbled upon “ponygirls.”  Now, if you don’t know what these are, do not, I repeat, do NOT google the term.  For the unsuspecting, it can be quite… er… surprising.  Pony people are part of a small, clandestine group of people who, shall we say, are quite enthralled with dressing up and acting like, well, ponies.  This is no innocent game of make-believe: it is a very adult sexual fetish…

And it… is… fascinating!! Grown men and women, full equine regalia!!  I tell you, those costumes are downright attractive!!  Although I’m really not interested in riding/being ridden by my mate while whinnying like a frisky filly, I love the idea of this fetish, and knew from that moment that I wouldn’t mind at least dressing up like one… for Halloween, of course.  And I also knew I could blow their existing costumes out of the water.  You think you’ve got gear?  HA!!  I’d have the best-dressed bronco in the barn!  Sadly, as so often happens, I ended up having to work a show that Halloween, and my best-laid costume aspirations fell by the wayside.

::Giggles:: Do you know where I’m going with this yet?

Carol put the bee in my bonnet with these...

Carol put the bee in my bonnet with these...

Early this week, Carol sent me a pic of an artist’s work she’d stumbled across while doing some wearable-art research–yup, you guessed it: hoofed shoes!  Now I don’t think these are actually wearable.  They’re really nowhere near as beautiful as the cloven-toed numbers I saw a decade ago. But darnit! I haven’t been able to get them out of my head all week! I’m dreaming about them, for heaven’s sake!  I’ve stayed up nights trying to find them online–I HAVE TO HAVE A PAIR OF THESE BOOTS!!!  I ended up finding teasing taglines–only to find them linked to blogs raving about “hoof” fashion boots.

These are quite lovely, to be sure, and I wouldn’t mind having a pair of them either, but I thought to myself, “Now why can’t I find some bloody HOOVES?!”

Mmm... the shape is just grand!

Mmm... the shape is just grand!

Then, I stumbled upon an enchanting blog entry singing the praises of so-and-so’s hoof boots, and how lovely they are, yada yada yada… same old, same old, but… hel-lo: end of the entry signed Mistress-somebody.  I had stumbled upon a ponygirls blog!  And they were discussing where to find the best hooves!! CRIPES!! Why hadn’t I put two and two together sooner?!!  It was brilliant in its simplicity!!  Find the most hard-core horsey-people in the world and ask them where they buy their feet!

There are no words for the sound I make when I see these boots... I'll take TWO, s'il vous plait!!

There are no words for the sound I make when I see these boots... I'll take TWO, s'il vous plait!!

Good Lord, now we’re cookin’ with gas!  Everyone had their own opinion of how they should be shod.  Among my favs were these hot numbers to the left… as you walk away (tail swishing provocatively, no doubt), you leave little horseshoe prints in the dirt!! HA!! GENIUS!! How do I love these, let me count the ways.  This is a prime example of fetish fashion going mainstream–Nina Ricci sent her models down the runway in these bad-boys a couple years ago.  Insanity.  I must have a pair!

Still, this is not what I’m looking for… what I want is a perfectly lovely, daytime pair of hooved ankle boots.  Enter youtube.com.  Somewhere somebody wanted to dress up as a faun, and abrakadabra, she made this inspiring video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdYCDHK6WJI&feature=PlayList&p=A6FEDC7A2A499DF7&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=27

Watch it and be amazed!  What a great bloody idea!!  From a costumer’s perspective, think of all the possibilities!!  Bondo will be my new best friend!  I will take this woman’s technique and perfect it for my own needs.  In a few months time, I will have the perfect daytime hoofed wedge boot!  And it will fit me!!  The shape of the Antonio Berardi boots above, combined with the calf-hair idea of the artist’s statement shoes, plus a little tibetan lambswool, the perfect wedge base (which I’ve found on ebay), and the materials in this video all add up to one exciting craft week for me!

Would I ever wear these things out in public, you ask?  And I shall answer you…

Yes… oh yes… I will wear them every day it’s not raining…

Last night as I walked home from John H’s loft party, I stumbled across this display window from Macy’s:

Trapeze Night NYC 004

…and I took it as a sign from God.

Email Me at StarsAndGartersWP@gmail.com