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Monthly Archives: January 2017

The 8 Best Stylish Sneakers to Buy Now

WHEN CÉLINE DESIGNER Phoebe Philo walked on to the runway for her post-show bow in March of 2011, her outfit—gray turtleneck, dark trousers and Adidas Stan Smith tennis shoes—punctured many women’s preconceptions. Coming from Ms. Philo, then fashion’s most influential designer, the idea that sneakers could be worn with office-appropriate garb suddenly seemed not lazy but inspired. It was also something of an official directive.

The stylish set obliged. Six years later, Stan Smiths are no less acceptable than Manolo Blahnik BB pumps, and sneakers in general anchor a fashionable wardrobe, along with a well-cut blazer or high-waist jeans. As a result, style options abound, from pricey designer models—like Simone Rocha’s black leather high-tops, laser-cut to resemble broderie anglaise, and Common Projects minimalist white sneakers—to old-school kicks like the Nike Cortez and Adidas Gazelle. Even companies that have not normally sold sneakers have snuck into the game. J. Crew-owned label Madewell is collaborating with Vans and Saucony on exclusive styles and will increase its sneaker selection for fall. “I look around and we’re all in sneakers,” said Joyce Lee, Madewell’s head of design.

In short: Sneakers are everywhere, and at every price point. But women are so spoiled for choice that they can easily become overwhelmed by the onslaught of mesh and stripes. Which athletic sneakers have enough style cred to cut it as a fashion statement? Which luxe sneakers are over-designed fashion-victim fare? Which once-beckoning sneakers have crossed the line into sad ubiquity? Women like Joanna Drescher, 40, are asking themselves such niggling questions. “It’s stressing me out. I don’t know what to get,” said Ms. Drescher, a stay-at-home mom who formerly worked in retail and needs a pair to replace her Stan Smiths. “I want something with a certain level of coolness, but not too cool because that’s not me.”

We might steer her toward the streamlined Common Projects Achilles as a fitting replacement. Or a pair of Gavia Biancos from fledgling label Koio, which are utterly minimal save for gold mountaineering-style eyelets that telegraph distinction with extremely modest flash.

An all-white tennis shoe like these remains a great baseline option. “It works with jeans, a skirt, trousers—with everything,” said Claire Distenfeld, owner of Manhattan boutique Fivestory. It can be the sporty punctuation mark on a dark, conservative look or temper a more recklessly vivid outfit. “I don’t like a funky sneaker. I don’t like glitter, I don’t like studs,” said Ms. Distenfeld, who currently stocks Koio.

But increasingly many women are going in for sneakers with more personality. Among the 30-odd pairs of sneakers in the closet of Eva Chen, head of fashion partnerships for Instagram, Gucci’s floral embroidered versions rival Roger Vivier’s crystal-buckled slip-ons for charisma. Both let Ms. Chen attain adequate heights of chic without backaches or bunions. “Comfort is important,” said Ms. Chen. “I feel like I’ve been pregnant for the past three years, so I’ve lived in them.”

Benefits of athletic shoes over designer sneaks include price and the way they offer a grounding foil to potentially precious designer clothes. “When you’re wearing a high-fashion look, it’s cooler to go with a traditional athletic sneaker,” said Veronika Heilbrunner, co-founder of Hey Woman!, an online magazine. Ms. Heilbrunner’s collection includes Converse All-Stars and Vans Old Skools. Some stylish women staunchly oppose designer takes. “The fashion sneaker doesn’t have the same appeal it once did,” said Los Angeles stylist Annina Mislin. One athletic favorite of hers: a pair of custom-made, all-black Nike Flyknits. She pegs retro running shoes from brands like Saucony as the newly minted hot style.

Perplexing though it may be, the plethora of interesting options for women’s sneakers is a step forward. “Until three or four years ago, you couldn’t get a cool sneaker in a women’s size,” said Ms. Mislin. “Before that, they were all pink and pastel.”
1. The Definitely Designer | Tough but sweet shoes whose leather mimics broderie anglaise exemplify Simone Rocha’s buzzy sensibility. Flower High-Top Sneakers, $665, Simone Rocha, 646-810-4785

2. The Avant-Garde Remake | Maison Margiela’s backless riff on the German Army sneaker, a favorite of stylish men. Deconstructed Replica Sneakers, $495, Maison Margiela, 212-989-7612

3. The Fashionable Throwback | Care of Ms. Philo, the ’70s-style plimsole is the ne plus ultra in un-blingy designer-sneaker chic. Plimsole Sneakers, $590, Céline, 212-535-3703

4. The Pleasing Print | An easy-to-wear (and buy) shoe that adds a dash of zhuzh and comfort to your summer look. Madewell and Vans Authentic Sneakers, $60,

5. The Baseline | The universal donor of sneakers. These may be very popular but are sleek enough to fly under the radar. Tournament Sneakers, $388,

6. The Classic Runner | Now that the popularity of the court shoe is winding down, the running shoe is hitting its stride. Stalwart Sneakers, $300, Dover Street Market, 646-837-7750

7. The Retro Chic | Beloved by fashionable women, the Cortez, launched in 1972, comes in a wide array of colors. Cortez 72 SI Sneakers, $130,

8. The Almost Gym Bunny | Performance meets panache. You could go from the gym to dinner in these without missing a beat. Adidas by Stella McCartney Ultra Boost X Sneakers, $200,

4 Ways to Instantly Update Your Wardrobe for Spring

DRIVEN BY both a lack of excessive disposable income and a fear of amassing too much stuff, I’ve always been a strategic and minimal shopper. It’s rarely easy. I agonize over the decisions, revisiting various pieces of designer clothing and accessories to determine whether each is “The One.” This may sound tedious, but what voracious style consumers—women who can indulge in big seasonal hauls—may not realize is that one or two pieces, when properly selected, act like a key that unlocks and updates your entire existing wardrobe. But again, what to buy? To save you from the sort of inhumanely prolonged pondering I impose on myself, we came up with four approved options. A caveat: These are not what you’d consider basics. To look like you’re not stuck in 2010, you need a dose of trendiness. But all will single-handedly do the job.

1. A Mannish Blazer

If you’d don’t own a long, square-shouldered jacket in a menswear fabric, now is the time. Demna Gvasalia introduced the piece into fashion’s biosphere last fall in his debut collection for Balenciaga, and it’s gone viral since. Wear it over a crew neck sweater and straight jeans. Wear it over that old dark jersey dress to make it both office-friendly andcool. Blazer, $4,200,; Jeans, $290,; Bracelet, $51,000, Van Cleef & Arpels, 212-896-9284

2. A Satin Day Shoe

Yes, you own satin shoes, but the teal pumps from your sister’s wedding don’t count. These counterintuitive slingbacks are a clever collaboration between upstart fashion collective Vetements and cobbler-to-the-elegant Manolo Blahnik. Sporting satin casually before cocktail hour is fresh—and fun. Wear these with everything but your evening clothes. Vetements and Manolo Blahnik Pumps, $1,585,; Jeans, $290,; Coat, $2,690,

3. Something Yellow

The fashion world has done a 180 on this previously unloved color. On the spring runways, yellow was second only to pink. A little dab will do but why not have some fun with this tulle confection of a skirt. Pair it with any neutral top you own. Skirt, $3,950,; Sweater, $425,; Michael KorsCo llection Belt, $290,; Shoes, $3,995,

4. A Logoed It Bag

Anonymity is so yesterday. Luxe brands have newly revived the must-have logo. Carry Chanel’s new Gabrielle backpack every day, with everything. Bag, $3,000, Chanel, 212-355-5050; Coat, $2,815, Miu Miu, 212-641-2980; Dress, $2,390, Carolina Herrera, 212-249-6552

Building Beauty from the Inside Out

Solana Beach, located approximately 20 miles north of downtown San Diego, is the epitome of a sleepy beach town.  Alongside the serenity of the surf, sand, and sun lies a high-end, local boutique leading the area’s fashion revolution. Racks of the newest pieces from Ulla Johnson and Derek Lam hug the walls, while unique, vintage Louis Vuitton bags and current season Chanel baseball caps are playfully arranged throughout the space. As I meandered through Pink Lagoon’s newly-expanded location on South Cedros Avenue, one thing really caught my eye: the clientele. Women walked breezily through the pink-framed doorways, addressing the staff by name with a smile and a hug before inquiring about a piece that had just come in stock. This kind of friendly chatter isn’t what one would normally expect from a luxury-loving fashionista’s haven, but it is the norm at Pink Lagoon.

At the tender age of 20, La Jolla native Jenny Livits devised a business plan. After graduating from Loyola Marymount University, Livits knew that she wanted to own a boutique. This space had to be different, however. Pink Lagoon would not just be a clothing store, it would be an enterprise that brought wardrobe design and styling (a term that she has now trademarked) into the mix. “Your brand has to be authentic,” states Livits, “it’s not so much about success as it is about being happy.” Realizing that developing personal style can sometimes be an intimidating arena for women, she sought to develop a business that would make fashion accessible. The most important facet of the store would be the basics; comfy tee shirts, structured jeans, and classic button ups would always be available as a wardrobe foundation. When styling, Livits states that, “it’s about simplifying the process by building infrastructure in a person’s life. I wanted my clients to feel good while going out and spending time with their families or doing good work rather than be worried about shopping.” While the brick-and-mortar shop serves as a home base, it was only the beginning.

In 2007, Pink Lagoon’s doors opened in Solana Beach. To this day, every person working on the sales floor is also a stylist available for hire. Not only are they helping clients find the perfect dress or the right pair of jeans, they are also considering how to best build these pieces into their client’s wardrobe over time. Styling doesn’t stop there, however. When not dressing customers in store, Livits and other team members go into clients’ homes to do “closet edits” where they work together to build the ideal wardrobe for that individual’s lifestyle, piece by piece.

In 2015, Pink Lagoon expanded to include The Studio by Pink Lagoon, a luxury consignment sector that brings unique, one-of-a-kind pieces to the store for clients to mix-and-match with. Everything from cape dresses by The Row to classic Bottega Veneta handbags and signature Isabel Marant boots can be found among its racks. Picking up a beautiful electric blue Y-3 and Adidas collaboration jacket, it became clear that The Studio is the eclectic, spontaneous balance to Pink Lagoon’s focused and curated style. Store manager and lead stylist Melissa Tablante adds that, “I especially love introducing our clients to the luxury consignment department because it’s a great way to explore new designers… We have customers that leave feeling empowered by fashion and ultimately, transformed into a ‘Pink Lagoon girl.’”

To say that Jenny and her team know their clients would be an understatement. In the store, aesthetic concepts are always framed around the question, “Who is the Pink Lagoon girl?” According to Livits, a few of the characteristics of the Pink Lagoon girl include women who are, “natural, free-spirited and in tune with their inner self.” The newly-added apothecary section of the store is particularly indicative of this ethos. “The focus is on natural beauty,” says Livits. The store’s commitment to beauty from the inside out doesn’t stop there. In the future, the company plans to expand their wares to offer clients lifestyle-oriented products, such as books on personal style, and wellness workshops that feature activities like yoga that can “build on a culture.”

San Diego is not a city known for its fashion culture, but that is quickly changing. With over 20,000 attendees at Fashion Week San Diego in the past year, and some of the world’s biggest fashion bloggers taking residence in the area, it is clear that the city’s attitude towards fashion is evolving. San Diego’s proximity to the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, as well as internationally renowned cultural events such as Coachella place it in a uniquely adjacent relationship to fashion. Pink Lagoon seems to be well-primed to capitalize on this new fashion-oriented focus, especially for those in the North County area.

Hijab is Not a Fashion Trend

Ramadan, which begins this week, involves daily fasts that start at sunrise and end at sunset with community dinners at home or on the town. A growing number of fashion lines have been catering to Muslim women — and the social gatherings on their calendars — by offering Ramadan collections. Dolce & Gabbana, H&M, Oscar de la Renta, DKNY, and others are marketing apparel that ranges from “modest wear” to full-body veils.

A model in a Marks & Spencer burkini (Muslim swimwear that covers all of the body, including the hair) was the lead image in a recent New York Times article about Muslim fashion.

Surprisingly, these clothing lines are supported by many who argue that women should have the “freedom” to choose what to wear. In fact, the headline over The Times piece was “What Freedom Looks Like.”

But one cannot read too much into such so-called freedom. After all, hijab, which means “curtain” or “screen” in Arabic, is meant to cover women’s hair in public because according to Islamic laws, it’s considered provocative. Men, on the other hand, do not have to hide their hair.

In other words, women are objectified and controlled because the focus is more about their bodies and their provocativeness than their individuality — at least compared with men! Also, in some Islamic countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, wearing a daily hijab is a requirement that, if not obeyed, carries severe penalties, including torture and death.

Even so, many who live in non-Islamic countries publicly advocate ads with veiled women as being part of the freedom to choose what to wear. These supporters mainly fall into two categories.

First are the intellectuals, such as writers, philosophers, and feminists, who passionately argue that women should have the right to wear whatever they want, including apparel that reflects their religious beliefs. The second are the savvy marketers who use every and any opportunity to sell their products and make profits.

The intellectuals, God bless their souls, do have good intentions. They come up with some amazing and complex analysis and explanations in favor of such fashion trends, all in the name of supporting women and freedom. But they’re not seeing the unequivocal yet malicious reasons behind why Islam requires women to cover their hair.

The thought process and intentions of savvy marketers, on the other hand, are soulless and corporate. They just want to make money. And who in their right business mind could blame them?

The Islamic market is a giant gold mine. Muslim consumers spent $230 billion clothing in 2014 and could be spending $327 billion by 2020, according to a report last year on the global Islamic economy.

Some of the richest countries in the world, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, and United Arab Emirates are part of this market. And it really doesn’t matter what values these countries have or how they treat women. As long as they can spend, these marketers are ready to oblige.

While the intellectuals and the marketers might have very different intentions and reasons for their support of hijab, they’re sending the same message to the world — one that says wearing a hijab is acceptable, it’s beautiful, it’s trendy and, most of all, it’s part of a woman’s personal freedom.

But let’s not be fooled by these ads into thinking that hijab is a means of self-expression or fashion expression. Hijab is a serious issue, not a passing trend. It doesn’t come and go like baggy jeans, short skirts, or pointed-toe shoes.

It dates to 627 C.E. (common era) and has caused women severe punishments and deaths throughout the years (although this is not something you would’ve read in the fine print under DKNY’s first-ever Ramadan collection ads, launched in 2014).