Love at First Sight: Liz Saintsing Accessories {Updated!}

Friday, September 29, 2006

I stopped by Singapore bag boutique Quintessential yesterday and fell in love. The object of my affection: San Francisco-based artist Liz Saintsing's amazing retro recreations—she calls it "vintage untamed"—which are fantastic vintage bags and accessories covered with bold, hand-screened graphics.

I've seen some other screen-printed vintages pieces, and I always love the effect of that extra little touch (among the most memorable are ones from Shara Porter, who silkscreens quirky little objects—a tiny screwdriver, a little farm animal—onto small vintage bags. I've lusted after her pieces in Cog & Pearl in Park Slope for quite awhile.) Saintsing's designs offer a different, bolder alternative—and I think the results are really amazing. Quintessential was stocking a fantastic old hatbox suitcase and a baby blue cummerbund, each screen-printed with big, bright crayfish. Both were instantly covetable.

I've got a plain, beige-colored hatbox suitcase myself, found years ago in a Park Slope thrift store (I believe the purchase was inspired by a piece of Carrie's luggage on her cross-country train trip). It's just part of our guest room décor as, sadly, it's highly impractical for actual traveling. Still, I'd love to think of something interesting to do to it to make it stand out a little more.

Liz Saintsing's stockists—unfortunately, there are only a few—are listed here.

{Update} Seth from Cog & Pearl just e-mailed me to say the designer they feature is Shara Porter (not Shana, as I'd mistakenly jotted down). And she has a website! And if you click on the little circle on her website, you can scroll through all her fantastic bags. Warning: May cause extreme coveting.

Okay, Fall, Here I Come

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Nothing has put me more in the mood for fall than the Sartorialist's off-the-runway fashion show snaps on The big fall/winter trends are definitely quickly emerging – most noticeably, a dark, slim base layer topped with a slouchy jacket, cape or coverup. Lots of skinny dark legs and turtlenecks, lots of gray, beige and black. A very high thick heel or a very flat one. And if you must wear something bright and bold, it gets toned it down with a long sweater or neutral trench coat.

At first glance, it looks a little somber, but it also seems so effortless and simple. Gone are the piles of chunky beads, the poufy skirts, the dangling bag charms (thank God – we hated them anyway), the bright accessories, and the bows at the waist or the neck or the toe. The fashion industry actually looks comfortable, and that's kind of refreshing.

I started packing my suitcase yesterday for Tokyo and the U.S., and – besides my joy at finally being able to pull out some sweaters – I found myself gravitating towards some favorite neutrals: chunky gray knits, black leggings (of course), dark denim, plain extra-long-sleeved tees, my gray tuxedo jacket and my beloved trench-style Jamin Puech tote. Maybe it's because I've been wearing my bright vintage sundresses since January, but I've never been so excited to look at a pile of neutral-toned basics.

But don't worry, a few patterns and brights went into the suitcase too. I could never give up vintage prints completely – I think I just need a little vacation from them, is all.

Desperately Coveted, part 62 of 311

Miss Shiny Squirrel has been on quite the roll lately, between churning out terrific runway reports and uncovering great finds like the lovely UK clothing company Saltwater. I immediately loved their easy, pretty pieces (because even after all my chattering about neutrals above, I am, at the end of the day, a girl who lives for color and prints) and feel very, very lucky to not live near a Saltwater-stocked boutique, which would most certainly lead to some sort of personal financial disaster.

{I just saw that one of the U.S. Saltwater stockists is a store on my planning-to-shop list for my trip next month. Uh-oh.}

Things We Might Have Mentioned Yesterday, But Forgot

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

We meant to point out that there were also some runway nods to the graphic black and white look, which we like because we're currently very into our new copy of Qui Etes-Vous Polly Maggoo?, the source of the mod image above.

From left: Erdem, Luella.

And, because I started to get a little tired of all that clicking, I really didn't give too much love to the bottom of the alphabet. Luckily, I went back and took another look through, and finally saw Y & Kei's New York collection, which I really liked. Like everything else, nothing is too new or crazy – but the monochromatic looks and vintage-inspired cuts are very attractive and wearable. And really, at the end of the day, isn't that what you want from your clothes?

Also: I am still really enjoying Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan's no-holds-barred blog commentary on the shows. For example, here's my favorite comment from yesterday: "We finally made it to the Belstaff show. We will discuss the specifics of it later but let's just say that any collection that includes a see-through flight suit deserves our full wrath." I'm not sure if she's speaking in the royal "we" or what (we are guilty of that ourselves quite often, like right now), but: fantastic!

Backwards is the New Forward

In a surprising move that keeps making me think of a very preppy Kriss Kross (jump! jump!), it seems that a backwards cardigan or v-neck sweater is the latest grassroots trend to sweep the fashionable. You can do it yourself, or purchase one that a designer has done for you (which is probably much better for making sure the front neckline is flattering and tag-less, but probably also much more expensive).

I offer as proof: The pic above from The Sartorialist's latest off-the-runway shots on; the cute 525 America striped boyfriend sweater below, $76, spotted by T. Lo at Fashion Binge. Plus, Style Bubble experimented with the look last month so you know it's just a matter of time before it's huge.

Actually, despite the unavoidable Daddy Mac/Mac Daddy association, one of my all-time favorite tops (of which I own two – in red and navy) reminds me of this trend. It's by Shanghai-based designer Zhang Da, whose instantly covetable and slightly quirky pieces make me want to return to Shanghai just to buy more (I found these at a little boutique stocking only local Chinese designers called Younik in the Bund 18 complex). The unexpected back plunge is really striking – I wore it to a party last year, where it got lots of compliments and was also described as the sweater equivalent of a mullet: business in the front, party in the back.

Which is my favorite description of a piece of clothing ever.

Outrageously Expensive eBaying (Sigh.)

We saw the amazing vintage Marimekko dress above on Silk Felt Soil earlier this week, and our first thought was: We wish our mom had old Marimekko dresses to give us! And our second thought was: Better get to eBay quick and see what might be going on in the vintage Marimekko dress department.

Imagine our excitement when we found the three vintage Marimekko dresses below and immediately put them on our "watch this item" list. At that time, they were selling for $20. Today, they are selling for $355. And so, it seems, we will not be getting any vintage Marimekko dresses anytime soon.

Although now we are thinking about getting some current Marimekko fabric and crafting a little 60s-style shift dress ourselves. We're expecting our copy of Sew U: the Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe, any day now and so, why not have a project ready to go for its arrival?

We Know We Are Not the Only Ones Excited About This

The lovely and helpful Holly was e-mailing with James at Bleubird Vintage about a particularly adorable owl skirt, and took a moment to ask what kind of skin care product she uses. And the answer is: Fresh Soy Facial Cleanser, which costs $38 for a tube but definitely seems to be worth it. We're going to try and get our hands on some and give it a test run, though we definitely welcome reviews from any of our wealthier readers.

Thanks, Holly! And thanks, James, for being such a good sport about these things.

S/S 2007 Shows: The Mid-point Assessment

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I've been avoiding spending too much time reviewing the runway collections, for a few reasons: a) my mindset is completely fall/winter (or trying to be – it's tough when it's so hot out); and b) I find it much more interesting to wait and see how the best editors, stylists and stores interpret the looks, rather than clicking through picture after picture of runway shows. Shows are fantastic in person, when you can see the clothes move and the audience react and get caught up in the moment, and looking through photos online just pales in comparison and never does the designs much justice.

(Except for that dress above by Michon Schur. Isn't it gorgeous?)

That said, I still got a little curious and did some clicking around this weekend. After all, while these clothes won't be in stores for months, the most fashion-forward types will immediately take the top trends and start incorporating them into their wardrobes now. And, like we always say, there's nothing wrong with staying ahead of the curve.

The general consensus has been, overwhelmingly, that the shows have been really lackluster and uninspiring – and it's hard to argue with that. There are lots of beautiful clothes on the runways, but the most prevalent looks – voluminous dresses, little cropped jackets, muted colors – feels a lot like what we're already wearing. Then again, at least all my fantastic voluminous dresses aren't going out of style just yet. Silver linings and all.

Here's what's caught my eye from New York and (a tiny bit of) London. Bring on Milan and Paris! We're sure those guys must have something new up their stylish bell sleeves.

Never underestimate the power of a sleek, clean monochromatic outfit, with just a touch of interesting detailing. Looks like the bright, Clorox white from last summer is being replaced by a softer cream:

Clockwise, from top left: Aquascutum, Doo.Ri, 3.1 Philip Lim, Behnaz Sarafpour. (Most photos in this post are from

Though many of the collections focused on beige, black and white, a couple of vibrant hues stood out at a few shows, like a bright royal blue, an eye-popping pink and an edgy chartreuse. (Sigh. No one – and I mean no one – looks good in chartreuse. They really should banish it from all collections, and also from Topshop.)

Above, from left: 3.1 Philip Lim, Chaiken.

From left: Rodarte, DKNY.

From left: Jenni Kayne, Thakoon.
And while we're at it: As a public service announcement, we would like to say that shirts with cut-out shoulders are a style that should be left in the 90s. It is entirely too early to even try and bring them back.

Also: How cute is Jenni Kayne in real life? I often feel that when designers step out for their bow, they are better styled and more put-together than their models were. Plus, it often give you a good glimpse to see how a real woman might wear the pieces:

In case this hasn't been beaten into you already, spring will definitely still be all about volume – but a much more understated, wearable volume than, say, the Balenciaga opera coat or peplum jacket. Actually, I really like the versatility of the voluminous dresses we're seeing – they can be belted or worn loose, and they're still slightly fitted, so you can be comfortable without looking too much like you're pregnant.

(Also: deep pinky reds = striking!)

Clockwise from top left: Malo (which reminds me of that Ashish Soni dress I'm nuts about), Matthew Williamson, Thakoon, Sabyasachi.

There always has to be one daring trendsetter in the group, and this season, it appears to be Marc Jacobs. Many are predicting his crazy harem-style pants are going to be the next big thing among the super-stylish. To which I say: Finally! A pant trend made for people with thighs. I'd be happy to give up depressing, trying-to-squeeze-into-skinny-jeans dressing room episodes once and for all.

Slight alternatives on the ballooning pants were offered by Biba and Threeasfour, which pretty much cements their up-and-coming status:

It does also seem that the skinny pant/leggings trend is going to give way to the skinny knee-length capri pant trend come spring. I remember those being so big when I first moved to New York eight years ago. But I have to admit, they do work well with the voluminous tops and are much more comfortable in warmer temperatures.

Casual, floor-length dresses have been showing up on the radar in recent months, but it seems they're about to have their moment. (Though I'm still trying to figure out how to best wear the toe-sweeping, prairie-style sundress I found at a thrift store last year.)

From left: Jenni Kayne, DKNY.

Of course I have my favorite looks so far. And they are:

Clockwise from top left: 3.1 Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Sabyasachi, Adam + Eve, Luca Luca, Chaiken.

None of these comes as much of a surprise -- they all have elements of things I love and have already worn for the past few seasons: peter pan collars; cropped little jackets; slouchy pants; pretty, simple dresses; textured, vintage-y prints; a hint of detail at the neck or at the hem. Perhaps because the move to this fall's current trends was so huge – volume! skinny legs! Balenciaga-inspired silhouettes sweeping the globe! – the next shift in fashion will be much more quiet and subtle.

Then again, I'm not sure if I'm the one being unimaginative, or if it's the designs.

A Little Fall Inspiration: Orla Kiely

Monday, September 25, 2006

I think I've been subconsciously avoiding looking at the new Orla Kiely fall collection, due to an unfortunate incident that happened a few weeks ago. Which was: I had, after much hemming and hawing, decided that I needed to take advantage of Orla's amazing end-of-summer sales and buy one of her beautiful and very generously reduced bags. You know that moment? You're thinking about something for a while and then you finally decide to do it and you're like, "Yes! yes! yes! I cannot wait!".

And so, I went online to purchase the purse (the car print one), which was something like 50 pounds. And… then I found out the shipping was going to be 40 pounds. Which really made the deal not so great anymore. Really, if the bag had been 80 pounds and the shipping had been 10 pounds, I might have bought it. But I just could not fathom paying the same amount for the bag as for someone to put the bag in a box and mail it to me. I know it's not Orla's fault that I live overseas, but. Still.

So I didn't buy it. Which made me a little sad and which is probably why I haven't stopped by her site to look at all the new stuff. Shiny Squirrel's post this week finally convinced me to click over, and I was not disappointed. So many beautiful things, and so well styled. I hope she puts up more candid shots of the collection like the image of the gorgeous skirt above, even if all I'm able to do is admire from afar.

Someday, I imagine I will go to Orla Kiely's store in London and probably squeal a lot.

Ikea, the Happiest Place on Earth

Mike and I were out and about with nothing much to do on Sunday afternoon, and so of course we thought, "Hey! Let's go to Ikea!" The new catalogue had arrived a while back, and I was surprised I had been able to go this long without checking out the new stuff in person. I am a big Ikea-head; just surround me with funky watering cans or cool-looking whisks and not even the massive Sunday afternoon crowds will bother me.

The best find of the trip was Ikea's new fabrics – they've just launched a few great collections, in particular some whimsical black and white patterns and also some skinny bolts of modern prints in khaki, purple, navy and chartreuse. (My guerilla-style pictures are not great, but I didn't want to risk any sort of Ikea ban just in case they cared. You can see some of them here on their website.)

I ended up taking home two meters of the fantastic hemmed fabric just below, which I'm thinking will make either a great totebag or really cool chair cushions. Or both. (And it was only S$4, about US$2.50, per meter – it's only 18 inches wide, but still a great deal.) Stay tuned for a new project...

Turning Japanese, Part 3

Subtitle: Oh My Goodness, Best Store Ever!

On Friday night, Mike convinced me that even the sickly need fresh air and took me out to dinner at the Plaza Singapura mall. I did my best not to cough all over the mapo doufu while I filled him in on all my Tokyo shopping research, in particular how it was imperative that we check out a bunch of 100 Yen stores, the universally beloved dollar stores in Japan, which apparently have fantastical things like Hello Kitty chopsticks.

And then, on the way out of the mall, we just happened to pass a brand-new branch of Daiso, reportedly the very best of the 100 Yen stores (at least according to Lucky mag, and they are never wrong, except maybe about paperbag-waist skirts. I'm still not convinced about those.)

Anyway! It seems the Japanese 100 Yen store can also be found in Singapore, rebranded as a S$2 store (that's about USS1.25) and full of amazing things. We could have spent the rest of the night there, but they kicked us out when it closed. I am planning an immediate return trip, for more pretty little dishes and unusual home tools and funky desk supplies and all the millions of things they managed to pack into this store. It's a crafty person's dream. You will not be disappointed. (Er, I hope.) Here are a few things I picked up, and a few snaps from around the store.

Even the silliest things look cool when repackaged by the Japanese:

I picked up these little dishes, perfect for serving nuts or candies or just looking nice:

Of course there was a Hello Kitty section:

And… of course I bought myself a little plastic Hello Kitty case.

And here I am, somewhat overwhelmed by the vast incredibleness of it all:

[Insert Your Own Neat/Neet Pun Here]

I really enjoyed the new issue of online fashion magazine Neet, particularly the feature called Style and the City (page 34, and seen above), which highlights the fantastic personal style of the fashion forward around the world. (Natasha, above right, lives in Singapore! I dig the striped tights and teal shoes combination.)

Also particularly unmissable, in our humble opinion: It's a Tough Job (page 110), which features short q&as with people in highly covetable careers. Definitely check it out.

Things That Make You Go Oooooh…

We stopped by the charming Anthropology in Holland Village and immediately got all excited when we saw three brand-new editions of our favorite Luxe City Guides -- Istanbul, Paris and Madrid. (We have no plans of going to any of these places in the immediate future, but I still jumped up and down and wanted them instantly. The salesgirl looked a little alarmed; I don't think she'd ever seen anyone get so excited about a city guide before, but that's just the type of guides these are.)

Anyway, turns out they're hot off the press and so if these spots are on your travel itinerary for the near future, then we heartily recommend. The shopping sections of these guides are singlehandedly responsible for making us very, very poor – but also very, very excited about lots of beautiful new things.

A Weekend, In Highs and Lows

*High: I took about 10 thrifted finds down to the tailor to be altered – mostly cute vintage dresses that need to be taken in (or, ahem, let out) and have been sitting in my closet, just waiting for their Cinderella moment. I can't wait to get them back this weekend – it could be the infusion of fun new stuff my wardrobe has been waiting for.

*Low: I'd really hoped to replicate Guise's much-discussed (and very cute) shirt dress, and went to Mike's tailor armed with a picture and a dream. A dream that ended very quickly when the price for such a project was estimated at a whopping S$140 (that's about US$85). Now, Mike pays S$40 for the dress shirts he has made there, and I was well prepared to pay more than double that price for my dress. But that massive jump-up seemed a little ludicrous (they claimed it was for the extra fabric and the "feminine tailoring") – and so, the project has been sidelined. For now.

*High: In what I'm sure will become a lifelong quest to achieve skin as nice as the pretty Bleubird Vintage girl, I headed down to Mask in Wheelock Plaza for a quick facial. (I opted for the pricier "Vegetarian Facial"; Mike, who is supremely comfortable with his metrosexuality, tagged along for the quickie "Supermodel facial" and also enjoyed it.) I'm not sure we're at Bleubird levels yet, but I *am* feeling rather pretty and glowy now.

*Low: The commitment to beautification took a turn for the worst when I also tried to schedule a pedicure and ended up with a really terrible experience. And so: Thank god I bought two pairs of ballet flats last week and am able to hide my toes for the foreseeable future.

*High: Blissful Claudie has just posted the amazing sounding lemon dhal recipe that we have been intrigued by for some time. We love dhal with an intense passion (it is quite possibly our favorite food, after cheese), and so, we cannot wait to make this. Thank you, Blissful Claudie!

*Low: I will have to wait a little longer for cooking endeavors, at least until my taste buds are back in full working mode. Because, yes, nine days later, the cold still rages and it is ruining my taste for everything besides peanut butter and lemon-honey cough drops. Which are both rather very tasty but not doing anything to help me retain a girlish figure.

*High: There was a Child Star Marathon on E! yesterday. And really, lazy Sunday evenings spent on the couch with Mike watching the ongoing shenanigans of Lindsay Lohan, Kirk Cameron and Punky Brewster and ordering in pizza = *perfect.*

*And another high!: I finally got to debut my new thrifted dress with its cute little plaid tree pattern, which you can see above (the full dress shot will have to wait until next time). There was also the purchasing of a terrific navy blue patent leather-ish belt. Plus, there has to be more highs than lows; we strive for happiness around here, after all.

Turning Japanese, Part 2 (of many, I'm sure)

Friday, September 22, 2006

I am immersing myself in all things Japanese in preparation for my upcoming trip, and I did enjoy this: Ping Mag q&a with the photographers whose job it is to cover Tokyo's crazy street fashion scene. I am so hanging out at Omotesando -- it looks like tons of fun. (Images from Japanese Streets.)

P.S.) I also loved Tyler Brule's short NYTimes slideshow of amazing Tokyo shopping and design spots. If possible, I am definitely bringing home an Arrow bicycle.

Click, Click

It's pretty small, but I did have fun quickly clicking though the selection of pics from Canon Europe's The Other Side of Fashion promotion, in which they had more than 100 designers, artists and other fashion notables snap some photos for their website and an accompanying magazine. (It's done in support of the Red Cross.) I think the one above by London College of Fashion head Dr. Frances Corner is my favorite so far.

Though I also enjoyed this one below by Jodie Kidd. It's always nice to know that sometimes models can't fit into the sample sizes either. Thanks to Style Bubble for the link.

(An aside: I once worked at a fashion mag where they debated briefly about doing a "behind the scenes at our fashion shoots" section every month. It's been about four years since then, so I'm pretty sure they've definitely decided against it, but I always imagined it would be full of fantastic photos like this, which I would absolutely love to see.)

(Another aside: I'm big on asides lately, huh? I think the constant flow of Ny/Dayquil is affecting my ability to be concise and coherent.)

Desperately Coveted, part 56 of 1774

Just added to my Amazon wishlist: Jamie Oliver's new cookbook for beginners, Cook With Jamie, which is out in Singapore but not yet on the U.S. (Mike surmises that they may be taking their sweet time "translating" the metric conversions. I can't believe I'm being punished for thinking in cups, not grams!)

And also, fantastic made-for-TV teen film Dance 'til Dawn, which I went looking for today after having an internal puce vs. chartreuse debate. (Don't ask.) Anyway, if you've seen this movie, you'll know that Christina Applegate wants the prom theme to be "Paris in Puce" to match her dress. Which was a darkish pink color, incidentally, and also a very poufy off-the-shoulder number with a big hair bow to match.

Ah, the 80s. How I love them and all their Jessica McClintock-y goodness.

Tailor Made

I admit I'm feeling slightly disinterested in fashion right now. Some days are just like that, and the fact that I've been confined to the apartment in jammies for most of the week hasn't helped. (Even a heavily medicated trip to Topshop a few days ago didn't cheer me up, though I did finally pick up some cute black ballet flats. Yay!)

What has perked me up is Guise's post today on her much-sought-after boyfriend-style shirtdress (she picked up this image from, and I have to agree that it's instantly covetable. Singapore may not have tons of indie boutiques or fabulous thrift stores, but it does have an abundance of tailors who can custom-make clothes at a reasonable price. I'm taking this picture down to my tailor (Mohan's at Far East Plaza) this weekend to see if he can't whip me up one of these dresses. Er, though perhaps a few inches longer, so I don't scandalize the neighbors.