Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Fashion

Liveacre combines fashion, charity and public fun


Over the last few months residents and workers around downtown and the Silver Lake area have been seeing some colorful, artistic demonstrations courtesy of a new clothing design company called Liveacre.

Founded three months ago by 19-year-old visual artist Jessie Willner, Liveacre prints T-shirts that Willner designs and donates half the earnings to a charity. For the current line of T-shirts that charity is Plantit 20/20, which plants three trees in Kenya for each T-shirt purchased.

The tees, which are sold only online at the moment, come in black or white with an abstract feathery design that looks like a wing, or maybe a wave, that wraps around the side. The shirts, for both men and women, retail for $26.

LiveAcre2To promote Liveacre, Willner and her creative partner, writer Jessica Garrison (not the same Jessica Garrison who is a Los Angeles Times staff writer), created a regular series of events that they call the "Weekly Wild." These happen more like once a month when 100 or so young people between the ages of 18 and 34 (that Wilner calls "the Kids") get together to perform a public stunt.

The first Weekly Wild occurred July 10 on the downtown corner of Traction and Hewitt when the Kids unrolled 10,000-square-feet of bright turquoise fabric, essentially drowning the street in a waving sea of color for a few minutes.

For the second Weekly Wild the Kids painted protest signs with slogans like "Speak Loudly," "Jolt Things" and "Better to Rebel," and marched down Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake.

"We painted a bunch of ironic protest signs because we weren't really protesting anything," explains Willner. "We were just encouraging people to speak up about something."

A similar stunt was performed recently when 50 Kids stood on the roof of a three-story building in Silver Lake and unspooled five, 50-foot-long cloth banners emblazoned with similarly opaque but spirited verbiage.

LiveAcre3Willner is an idealist, although she isn't specific about what. She thinks that not committing to a day job that your heart isn’t in is enough, and that if everybody tried to live that way the world would be a better place. It's a vague message, but one made more vivid by the fun of the Weekly Wild.

Her best friend, Gabbi McPhee, serves as the lead Kid, and says that Willner's energy is infectious.
"You can't help it -- you just want to be a part of Liveacre," says McPhee. "All our friends come to help with the stunts; they bring their wives, husbands and kids. They want to be involved in something new, fresh and creative."

For now Willner and Garrison are barely scraping by. But they've made enough to launch a new line of Liveacre wear on Dec. 2. This one will include tote bags, art prints and jewelry.

That line will be released in conjunction with a big stunt that Willner calls "Catalyst," and although she won't say exactly what the stunt will be she says that it will involve, "a lot of kites."

The next Liveacre stunt will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, in a forest. There will be a secret music show and a barbecue. The exact location is revealed in an online announcement.


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-- Jessica Gelt

Photos: Liveacre

Alexander Wang, the toast of New York Fashion Week

alexander wang

There's been talk of young red-hot designer Alexander Wang taking over for John Galliano at Christian Dior. Far more likely the post would go to the more experienced Marc Jacobs (currently the rumor mill's leading contender), even though Wang has a bevy of notable fans, including Lea Michele, Alicia Keyes and Courtney Love.

But just who is Wang, this 27-year-old San Francisco native who is the toast of New York Fashion Week?

Fashion critic Booth Moore visited his New York headquarters to talk with the designer about his sexy-with-a-wink, youthful aesthetic and to get some insight into what inspires him. Her piece is in Sunday's Image section.

"He gets his time and his contemporaries," Diane von Furstenberg, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, told Moore. And after reading Moore's piece, we get him.

-- Susan Denley 


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New York Fashion Week: Alexander Wang

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Photo: Fashion designer Alexander Wang takes his bow at his September show at Fashion week in New York. Credit: Carolyn Cole /Los Angeles Times

Fall TV season offers some real-world fashion potential

Playboy Club 
If you like the swinging '60s style of "Mad Men," get ready for a fall TV season that promises an array of stylishly clad characters. For nostalgia, start with the stews of "Pan Am," move on to the "Playboy Club" and then check out the new "Charlie's Angels." Or ponder the well-dressed guy versus the slob in "How to Be a Gentlemen." Or the Trustafarian and her buddy in "2 Broke Girls."

Booth Moore takes a spin through some of the small screen's new fall offerings and details the challenges and real-world fashion potential of the new shows.

And speaking of Pan Am, stylistas of a certain age might remember the look of uniforms and accessories carried by the folks who worked at the now-defunct Pan American World Airways. Adam Tschorn takes a look at the company that's now licensing some of the fare associated with folks who flew the friendly skies. (So don't be surprised if you see a few sexy stewardesses at Halloween.)


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-- Alice Short 

From left, Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton and Leah Renee in "The Playboy Club." Photo by Matt Dinerstein/NBC

Fall fashion trends: Indian territory

Fall is just around the corner, and for those of us who live west of the Continental Divide, there's one autumn trend that stands out above the rest: Western wear.

Much of what’s in stores now looks like it could have been ripped from the pages of Cowboys and Indians magazine: arrow print maxi-skirts, blanket-stripe ponchos, suede jackets with swinging fringe, cowboy booties and T-shirts with more Navajo patterns than Ralph Lauren’s RRL ranch.

Proenza calls the trend “neo-native,” Les Nouvelles refers to it as “nouveau Navajo,” and at H&M it’s “bohemian style.”

It brings me back to the 1990s and my first apartment in West Hollywood, with its Kokopelli lamp and IKEA Ektorp sofa in Santa Fe stripe.

The trend’s newest iteration first appeared on the fall runways in New York in February, when Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez showed gorgeous burn-out velvet dresses, macrame skirts, chunky Peruvian sweaters, diamond-patterned T-shirts, blanket-striped pants and clutches in vivid shades of turquoise, orange, green and pink — all inspired by a trip to Santa Fe, N.M.

Read more about the tribal trend and why it's resonating now in the Image section.


Pendleton Woolen Mills goes for the hipster class with Portland Collection

Currently coveting: L.L. Bean boots for fall

Best-dressed in denim: the latest trends and looks 

-- Booth Moore

Top left photo: LoveStrength Riviera stretch belt. Credit: LoveStrength

Top right photo: Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren Navajo jacquard messenger bag. Credit: Ralph Lauren

Bottom photo: A look from the fall 2011 Proenza Schouler collection. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson and Peter Stigter/For the Times

Cirque du Soleil, Desigual team make Magic

Cirque du Soleil models wear pieces from Desigual line
The floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center looked like more of a circus than usual on Tuesday at the Magic apparel trade show. That was due in large part to the acrobatic shenanigans of Cirque du Soleil performers, who bounded down the catwalk to highlight a new collaboration between the circus troupe and the Barcelona-based Spanish sportswear brand Desigual.

Called “Desigual inspired by Cirque du Soleil,” the 60-piece debut collection for men, women and children doesn’t stray far from the distinctive eye-catching Desigual (pronounced “dezzy-GWAL”)  aesthetic, which falls somewhere between a comic book confetti flurry and an explosion at a crayon factory. (After all, the name translates to mean “unequal” as in “different” in English.)

The collection of clothing and accessories includes T-shirts, dresses, short dresses, handbags, totes and jackets. Prices will be mostly in the $59 to $98 range. A few statement pieces — like this season’s heavily embroidered jacket with gold foil detail at the shoulders, oversized enamel buttons and a cadre of clown-folk milling about the hem  — are priced closer to $300.

The collection is divided into three themes: “Troupe,” “Human Expression” and “Costume.” The “Troupe” line has a baroque feel and a palette based in traditional circus colors of white, red and black. Pieces bear hand-painted characters and scenes culled from Cirque du Soleil shows, a different one  each season. The inaugural collection draws heavily on the zebra stripes and chubby-cheeked kewpie clowns of “O” (which makes its home at the nearby Bellagio Las Vegas).

The “Human Expression” line’s pieces are designed to add a smidgen of softness and sexiness — by way of floral embroidery, sequins and flashes of silver and red foil printing. A third grouping, called “Costume,” is intended to emphasize multiculturalism, but appears to mostly riff on the details and patterns in the Cirque du Soleil  costume archives.

But in a very literal way, the circus performers’ costumes are a part of each garment in the collaboration. Sewn onto every one is a postage-stamp-sized piece of clear plastic that contains a tiny square of fabric taken from an actual Cirque du Soleil costume.

The collaboration came about only a year ago — on the very same Las Vegas trade show floor, according to Manuel Jadraque, Desigual’s chief operations officer. “The Cirque du Soleil people were walking through the show and they met us,” Jadraque said. “Our two companies have a lot in common — the way we like to evoke emotion, the use of color and patterns. Both companies were even started in the same year — in 1984. So we ended up meeting several times over the year, and this is the result.”

Jadraque said the five-year, worldwide partnership is not just the pairing of two like-minded companies — it’s a calculated effort to raise brand awareness on each other’s home turf. For Desigual that means the North American market (although founded in 1984, the label has had a U.S. presence only since opening its first stateside store in 2009). For the Montreal-based show business venture, it means exposure in Europe and abroad, where Desigual is already established.

The collection will be available through Desigual’s website in November. Then in December it will roll out to Desigual boutiques worldwide (including in Beverly Center and Santa Monica stores) and Cirque du Soleil’s show boutiques (including the Kodak Theatre location in Hollywood, which is home to the new “Iris” show).

While it might seem unlikely that the clown-car cacophony of color- and character-covered clothes would hold much appeal beyond fans of the two brands, in a way it’s almost beside the point. Desigual is sold through 8,000 retail doors globally — including 200 of its own standalone or shop-in-shop locations — and Cirque du Soleil  has 22 shows — eight in Las Vegas alone — being staged around the world. If even a fraction of those customers wants a fashion-forward tchotchke to take home, the eye-catching collection will do just fine.

Photo: Cirque du Soleil-Desigual collaboration on display. Courtesy of Desigual.


Ready, set, strip in Santa Monica with Desigual

Costumes for Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris' are part of the spectacle

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--Adam Tschorn

Pendleton Woolen Mills goes for the hipster class with new Portland Collection

Pendelton Collection 2011
Can Pendleton conquer the hipster class? For many, the brand is associated with career clothes and mom jeans, with Indian blankets and plaid shirts worn by the Beach Boys.

But Pendleton has been working to attract a new generation of contemporary customers for the last few years, collaborating on co-branded clothing with action-sports giants Vans and Hurley, with fashion labels Levi’s and Comme des Garçons, and in 2009, with avant-garde boutique Opening Ceremony.

Now Pendleton Woolen Mills, Oregon’s 102-year-old, dyed-in-the-wool blanket brand, is continuing its move into the boutique fashion business by tapping into the indie cool of Portland, the city that exported Stumptown Coffee Roasters and director Gus van Sant, and inspired the IFC comedy series “Portlandia.”

The Portland Collection will include men’s and women’s clothing, blankets and accessories designed by three local designers who came up through the Portland fashion scene. The collection will be introduced -- right after Labor Day -- in 200 boutique outlets, including select Anthropologie stores, and websites, with prices ranging from about $68 for a necktie to $650 for a coat.

I've written more about the Portland Collection and fashion's heritage moment. There's also a timeline of Pendleton Woolen Mills history, from its first celebrity customer, Apache leader Geronimo, to its recent collaboration with avant-garde boutique Opening Ceremony.

And speaking of Opening Ceremony, the Soho-based boutique founded in 2002 by Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, here is a sampling of the other heritage brands it has been instrumental in reviving.


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Blanket coverage: Levi's X Pendelton collaboration hits stores Nov. 8

-- Booth Moore

Photos: Looks from the Fall 2011 Portland Collection. Credit: Pendleton Woolen Mills.

2011 Vanity Fair best-dressed list is flush with royalty

Duchess of Cambridge in Los Angeles
The duchess of Cambridge was among the women named to the 2011 Vanity Fair International Best-Dressed List, which the magazine announced Wednesday morning.

The former Kate Middleton wasn't the only royal in the rankings, which included Princess Charlene of Monaco and Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser of Qatar. Also among the top 10 are France's First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy,  actresses Carey Mulligan and Tilda Swinton, and Christine LaGarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

PHOTOS: Vanity Fair International Best-Dressed list photo gallery

The men's side of the 2011 international list is dominated by fashion-savvy money men including financiers Arpad Busson and Alejandro Santo Domingo, shipping heir Stavros Niarchos and Mario D'Urso, the chairman of Mittel Capital. Hollywood's contribution included actors Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake and Colin Firth.

President Obama and the first lady made the grade in the "couples" category, NBC News anchor Brian Williams is elevated to the "Best-Dressed Hall of Fame" (we hope the perks include taking any front row seat at any fashion show he wants), with Lady Gaga and the Dragon King of Bhutan among those singled out as "fashion originals."

The complete listings are featured in the September issue of Vanity Fair, which hits newsstands in Los Angeles and New York City Wednesday and nationwide on Aug. 9.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo:  Catherine, the duchess of Cambridge, shown during a July 9 visit to Los Angeles, is among the royalty named to the 2011 Vanity Fair International Best-Dressed list, announced Wednesday. Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times.  

PHOTOS: Vanity Fair International Best-Dressed list photo gallery


William and Kate in North America: The royal fashion tour begins

Lady Gaga and NBC's Brian Williams among the style icons named to Vaanity Fair's 2010 best-dressed list

Revenge of the 'dad jeans' -- president joins wife on Vanity Fair best-dressed list

Style blogger Q&A: Shauna Miller of shows how to dress cheap and chic at Walmart

Shauna West L.A. native Shauna Miller wants you to rethink Walmart. An NYU grad who worked at a fashion house in Paris, she dreamed of being a stylist, but had trouble finding a great job in fashion. Frustrated with the industry, she decided to test her fashion abilities at the least fashionable place imaginable --  Walmart -- and created, a style blog where she puts together outfits from clothes and accessories pulled 100% from the big box discount store. We're talking shoes, jewelry and everything in between.

She started the blog in December and quickly drew media attention from news outlets as disparate as Perez Hilton and Today the site gets about 60,000 visits per month.

Walmart, of course, is delighted. "We think it's great that through her blog she's helping people combine style with savings by shopping at Walmart," said Tara Raddohl, a spokeswoman for the company. She added that while the marketing department occasionally works with Miller to confirm prices on items featured on her blog, they have no other relationship with her.

"We have no other tie to her financial or otherwise," said Raddhol. "She functions very independently."

Penny Chic is refreshing, not just because of the price point -- $36 for shoes is considered expensive -- but also because of the shapes of the girls who are wearing the clothes. Miller's models (she calls them muses) are real-looking women who range from size 4 to size 14 and beyond. As anyone who has shopped online knows, clothes look different on women who are 8 inches taller than you and 20 pounds thinner. Miller's blog depicts what accessible affordable fashion looks like on real women. 

Miller has a good eye, but she's not working magic. Her muses look cute but they aren't pushing the boundaries of fashion in their floral rompers, baby doll dresses and big plastic necklaces. But pushing fashion boundaries isn't the point here.The real goal is to show that thrifty shopping can be fun, even at the unlikeliest of places.


We asked her to tell us about herself, Walmart and the art of style blogging.

ATR: What inspired you to create

Miller: I graduated college in the wake of the recession (Summer 2008) and applied to maybe 100 jobs in editorial and high fashion, but couldn’t get a gig. Fed up, I decided to funnel my frustration with the (often pretentious) world of luxury fashion to create a venue that made fashion accessible to everyone. I knew that styling was my calling, but I wanted a challenge. I didn’t see what was so epic about styling an outfit with a budget of 10k and a size zero waist (sorry Rachel Zoe). What was more intriguing to me was the challenge of looking chic at a time when the season’s must-haves were no longer an option. I created Penny Chic to show women the simple fact that you can be chic on an extreme budget and there’s no shame involved. What better way to prove that than to use clothing from Walmart, the most notoriously un-chic discount department store in America.  If I could accomplish that, then not only did I prove my talent, but I proved my case. Being chic is not about the price tag; it’s about choosing the right pieces to fit your body type, pairing them with fabulous accessories and most importantly, owning it!

ATR: How long did it take for the blog to get popular? Was there a tipping point?

Miller: Just two weeks after I officially launched Penny Chic, Perez Hilton got hold of my blog and covered it on Coco Perez (his fashion blog). Without any warning whatsoever from his team, I woke up and had about 100 emails on my phone from fans and Twitter followers. Overnight, my traffic went from 50 unique visitors (40 of which were my mom signing on from different computers) to 10,000 on the day of the Perez post. It was such a surreal moment for me. I anticipated it would take about 12 months before Penny Chic took off and then all of a sudden, in one day, Penny Chic went viral. Since then, I have been covered by many news sources, but none have given me more traffic than Perez Hilton. I now understand the power of the blogger as a cultural influencer. Bloggers are the new tastemakers. It’s kind of funny that it took another blogger to put my blog on the map. It definitely says something about the blogosphere. It’s not a competitive community. We are all trying to “pay it forward” in a lot of ways.

ATR: Have you gotten any feedback from Walmart?

Walmart is very supportive of the blog. In fact, I went to their annual shareholders meeting this year as the first blogger to ever attend as press and was shocked when everyone in the corporate headquarters knew who I was and reads the blog. Within six months of blogging I was able to penetrate through the biggest company in the world. It was very surreal.

ATR: When you aren't working on, what are you doing?  Walmart_2

Miller: I decorate, redecorate, organize and clean out my bedroom, aka the Penny Chic headquarters. After six years of living on my own as an adult, I moved back in with my parents to start the blog. My high school bedroom needed a major facelift in order to make it tolerable to live and work in. Now that I come to think of it, even decorating my room is connected to Penny Chic. Once you have a baby (mine is Penny Chic) everything in your world revolves around it!

ATR: Favorite store to shop at besides Walmart?

Miller: I’d be lying if I said Walmart was my favorite store to shop at. If I was given carte blanche, I would go skipping down Madison Avenue buying couture and giggling the whole way through, but let’s be honest, anyone can look chic under those circumstances and it’s not exactly the smartest thing to do given the economy we’re in. Penny Chic is about making the best out of what you’re able to spend and feeling good about it. The decision to showcase Walmart apparel was purely to show women that you can look chic wearing just about anything if you have a discerning eye. Do I have fun shopping at Walmart? Absolutely. Who wouldn’t have fun running with a cart filled to the brim with clothes that in total only add up to $50? If I’m not scoping out the fashions at one of the “big box” discount retailers, then I’m at a consignment store fishing for a unique gem that I can incorporate into my wardrobe. 

ATR: You go into Walmart, you can only buy one item, what would it be?

Miller: I would buy the 7-in-1 dress by George. It can be worn seven different ways, all of which are flattering and elegant. The dress costs $20, but you’re technically getting seven of them, making each dress less than $3. When you’re on a budget, it’s always smart to pick versatile items that can transform into more than one style.

ATR: What item do you not recommend getting at Walmart?

Miller: I would not recommend buying high heels from Walmart. They just don’t have the selection yet, and the ones they do have are very outdated.


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 -- Deborah Netburn

Photos, from top: Shauna Miller wearing the 7-in-1 dress by George from Walmart;  Miller's "muses" modeling Walmart attire for her blog, in the pictures in the middle and at bottom. Credit: Penny Chic.

Memorial Day: It's not too soon to plan your vacation wardrobe

Memorial Day is a good day to think about your summer travel plans -- between feasting on barbecue and playing in the sun, that is.

If you've already decided on a vacation destination, then take some time to think about what to pack. You can streamline the process -- and really lighten the load --- with some lightweight, packable basics. Writer Amanda Jones found some that will do double and even triple duty, while looking chic. She even found comfortable shoes that don't scream "tourist." 

Find out about her picks here

--Susan Denley


Long and pretty dresses to wear this Memorial Day and beyond

Safe in the sun: Non-chemical sunscreens hit the beach

Photo: Morgenthal Frederics sunglasses. Credit: Morgenthal Frederics.

Fashion? There's an app for that

Fashionapp I remember sometime back in the  mid-2000s just loving the modern cellphone technology that allowed my daughter to send me a dressing room photo of herself trying on a leather jacket. "Should I get this one?" she'd text. "Looks cute. Go 4 it," I'd text back.

Oh, how times have changed. Sure we can still swap dressing room photos to get input from friends and family before making an important purchase. But today, there is so much more. Hundreds of fashion related apps are out there, but until recently many didn't amount to more than a designer's "look book," searchable by phone. But with the surging popularity of Apple's iPhone, 2011 has become the year of the actually really useful fashion app -- the kind that helps you compare prices, try on sunglasses in a virtual mirror or locate merchandise.

Writer Erin Weinger explains six of her favorite iPhone fashion apps here.

I'll be sure to take at least one of them shopping next time I hit the mall. 

-- Susan Denley

Photo: Glamour magazine's Ask a Stylist app. Credit: Glamour


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