Monday, August 8, 2011

Outfit Post: August 8, 2011

Who: Just me. Met friends for lunch at Dandilion Kitchen.
What: Xhilaration top, Gap Always Skinny jeans, ShoeDazzle shoes
When: Monday, all day.
Where: To write at a coffee shop; to shop downtown.
Why: I was sans baby. I could wear my hair down without getting it pulled by sticky baby fingers. (Ahem, pure bliss.)

Excuse the poor image quality...may-jor camera issues.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hier Apparel is rooted in an appreciation for organic geometry

The point at which unintended sidewalk cracks and overgrown weeds meet is most commonly a nuisance, one that must be remedied. It is not typically thought of as inspiring or beautiful. Unless you’re Laura Good, founder and designer of Minneapolis-based Hier Apparel.
Indeed, Laura finds these things stirring, rousing, moving.
“I love the patterns, stains and cracks created by the wear and tear of life. The plants which squeeze their way through the side of a building are a soothing reminder that we are not in control and the natural environment always wins.”
Laura’s natural environment ranges from Chicago to Minneapolis. These cities—their sidewalk cracks, worn streets, and wavering streetlights—are reflected in Hier Apparel’s designs. Looking retrospectively at her design history, Laura decides her design ethic is “rooted in an appreciation for organic geometry and its ever-present reflection in modern culture and urban infrastructure.” Laura’s outlook on style and its place within the organic world is no less than refreshing.
Hier Apparel's GRAFF Dress
Photo courtesy of Hier Apparel
Hier Apparel’s GRAFF Dress is a permeable manifestation of an urban atmosphere. Like the rusted steel of a freeway’s overpass, the bleach-speckled panel down the middle of the dress creates geometric appeal. The dress stays true to her focus in design culture, Laura says. “I focus on everyday wearable garments with simple shapes and unexpected details.” She creates the print by hand, so it should be expected that each individual piece varies slightly.
Crafted from cotton twill, the dress is comfortable and can be styled for summer or winter. The neutral-yet-spunky attitude of the dress allows seasonable accessories to complement the guise without looking like a crazed trend zombie.
Hier Apparel's GRAFF Dress
Photo courtesy of Hier Apparel
Simply stated, that is what Laura’s personal style is all about.
Ignore trends. Wear what you like,” she vows.
What recent trends have you ignored? Which trends did you follow, but in retrospect probably should have left on the rack?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Beck and El: Style expresses who you are and who you want to be

Growing up on a hobby farm in the middle of Nebraska, sisters Becky and Ellie were unlikely candidates for a career in fashion. Stepping outside the stereotypical bounds of what a Nebraskan farmer may look like or dress like, they got started in their creative interests very early, “Me with making clothes for my Barbies and Ellie taking pictures of flowers and nature around the farm with our mom's camera,” piped Becky.
Becky, now living in Minneapolis, and Ellie, in Texas, are both in Minneapolis in the same time, a rare occasion. “We were on vacation together road tripping across the northern United States: Minneapolis to Seattle and Portland and back.”  
While their time together physically is infrequent, in May of 2010 they launched their line, Beck and El, with a show at The Beat Coffee Shop in Uptown. Now, Ellie plans to make the move to Minneapolis. “We want to be a part of Minneapolis fashion shows, get into a local boutique, and have a website for our brand up and running. With our efforts combined, we are doing what we love and creating something for everyone.”
Beck and El Bohemian Day Dress
In the meantime, though, Becky continues to explore her city for fashion revelations that she can manipulate with her mom’s old sewing machine. “I find a lot of inspiration in the basement of Cheapo Music on Lake Street, at a thrift store, around Cedar Lake. This city has so much to be inspired by.”
Meanwhile, 1,200 miles away, Ellie finds the results of her sister’s elegant exploitations waiting on her doorstep. “I mail her the clothes so she [can] model and take pictures of them.” (Probably, I imagine, much like when they were young children on the farm.)
When Ellie opened the package containing the Bohemian Day Dress (above) Becky designed, she found something that was both versatile and comfortable—and, I would argue, adheres to the trends without being a victim of them. The aztec print is a step outside the norm, while the drawstring harmonizes with the waistline. “This dress is meant to be worn all day and into the night. It can easily be dressed up with statement shoes for an art opening, or out grocery shopping with boots or huarache sandals,” the sisters whistled in agreement.
Likewise, Beck and El’s Ikat Watercolor Deep Plunge Dress (below) is exquisite. Perfect for a summer day in the city, it can be styled with an on-trend, oversized, button-up denim shirt over, tied in a knot. Pairing it with wedges or ankle boots will take you from brunch to the farmers market to a street festival and beyond. Punctuate the ensemble with chunky bangles and mismatched necklaces.
Beck and El's Ikat Watercolor Deep Plunge Dress
No matter what you wear or where (whether on the farm or in the city or even on a cross-country roadtrip with your sister) the secret to personal style, the sisters say, is, “Wear[ing] what you love. Put it on and walk out the door, no apologies. Style should express both who you are and who you want to be.” (After all, your style is perceived as reality.)
That, in my fashion belief system, is exactly what discovering your personal style is all about.

Friday, July 29, 2011

For minnefemme's Jessine, personal style is an art form

Fashion is the industry of extremes: extreme slits, extreme necklines, extreme lengths (in either direction). And don’t forget about extreme weather: Anyone who has ever stepped off a jet plane in Minneapolis probably has a thing or two to say about the climate.
“Winters here could probably make hell freeze over and summers can be scorching,” comments fashion designer Jessine, who sells her creations on Etsy under the name minnefemme. From frostbite to sunburn, your personal style shouldn’t have to suffer. “Comfort is combined with the diverse and unique personalities of its inhabitants. Minneapolis style is different from say, Los Angeles, in the sense that we seem to be less influenced by what everybody else is wearing.”
Not inclined to duplicate the images in fashion magazines, Jessine herself finds inspiration for her style and designs in Uptown. “Take a stroll down one of these sidewalks [on Hennepin and Lagoon] and you’ll get a glimpse of what Minneapolis style is all about.” Indeed, Uptown has a plethora of essential B-Listers: boutiques, bistros, and bars. Some of the Twin Cities’ best thrift finds are discovered through the doors of the neighborhood’s shops. “The people who hang out here are unique and inspiring. I’ll see a cool tattoo or a 60’s style haircut and it feeds the always-hungry right side of my brain,” concludes Jessine.
Photo courtesy of minnefemme's Etsy shop

Visiting Uptown and absorbing this effervescent aura led Jessine’s imagination to a vision of dreamcatchers. A staple in her Etsy shop, the Peek-A-Boo Dreamcatcher top (above, and another variation below)—the result of her Uptown visions—can be dressed up or down (a critical trait of any day-to-night piece of the fashion puzzle—your closet).
To the office, match it with an always-chic tailored blazer, brightly colored trousers (a huge hit this fall), and not-your-grandmother’s platform loafer heels. (Best of all, this look works in sleet, snow, or sunshine.) Lose the blazer and switch to strappy stilettos for happy hour and beyond. On the weekend, pack it in your beach tote for a chic swimsuit cover up. Styling the Peek-A-Boo Dreamcatcher top can be successful in any time zone—from Minneapolis to Prague, where Jessine will be attending school later this year.
Photo courtesy of minnefemme's Etsy shop
Prague, Jessine figures, will further nourish the right side of her brain, which should mean good things for her design future. “People who are truly into fashion seem to be in-tune with their artistic side. This makes sense, because clothing isn’t limited to protection or warmth anymore; it’s an art form.”
If we consider our closets our museums, and the clothing adorning them paintings, it highlights the importance of curating something inspiring, stimulating—that can pique the senses of even the most fastidious critic—and something that will stand the test of time.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blasphemina's Closet brings Luxette to Minneapolis--and closets around the world

The exploration and convocation of one’s individual style is a journey. It fluctuates, never fixed in finality. While some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, others choose to convey their emotions through their clothing. There is a reason people with no definitive or inspired personal style are perceived as a walking identity crisis, or worse, generally and undyingly lazy and apathetic.

According to Samantha Rei, founder and designer of Blasphemina’s Closet, the same could be said for the city of Minneapolis. (Ouch.)

When I first dreamt up this blog, I wanted to highlight the gains that the Minneapolis fashion community has made. What I didn’t want to do was emphasize just how far its denizens have yet to jaunt.

In Rei’s opinion, though, Minneapolis “doesn't exactly have a style yet.” (While my first reaction to this is to act defensively on behalf of my city, I realize she’s right: impersonal style is on display in the city’s skyways and streets just as often as its personal counterparts, and perhaps, in some neighborhoods, even more so.)

But for every Minneapolitan who lacks a curated style of her own, Rei makes up for it tenfold. The designs of Blasphemina’s Closet are indubitably alternative, but equally mixable and wearable. They adhere to and define the Luxette subculture. Rei, who has turned her hobby of fancy fashion into a legitimate career—she is currently moving into a studio for the first time—mirrors this concept; she is Blasphemina’s Closet in human form.

Model: Cristina Peterson
Photography: Fairshadow Photography
Makeup: Holly Luckes
Hair: Kati Hackett
Jewelry: Bionic Unicorn
Hat: Apatico
Glasses: Spectacle Shoppe

Admittedly, Blasphima’s Closet is not mainstream (nor is it meant to be); however, there are many offerings that can fit seamlessly into an otherwise diverse closet. Specifically, consider one of my favorite looks (above): its bold-yet-girly bow is a standout against the impeccably tailored gray suit—appropriate for women who find themselves working in an office though they swore they never would. (I imagine myself pairing the skirt with a flowy, jewel toned top and a belt for bold—albeit ironic—color blocking, also appropriate for professional occasions. This assimilation? “It was exactly what I intended for each look,” says Rei.)

The pieces she designs are “inspired by old British private schools and punk girls,” making them structured, yet unconventional. The Gabrielle (below) defines this; it is Harry Potter meets rebellious-glam punk, and, really, it’s no wonder: “I'm inspired by stories, so at the beginning of each collection I spend a lot of time at Barnes & Noble amidst the books,” admits Rei.

Model: Cristina Peterson
Photography: Fairshadow Photography
Makeup: Holly Luckes
Hair: Kati Hackett
Jewelry: Bionic Unicorn
Hat: Apatico
Glasses: Spectacle Shoppe

While Blasphemina’s Closet’s neo-victorian, gothic fanciness is a bold, niche look—it’s not meant for the common teenager at the common mall in the common city—Rei carries wisdom that anyone in search of her personal style should value: “Don't be lazy and don't adhere strictly to the images you see in magazines. If you are going to be a part of any style from contemporary to hipster to Luxette, find what you like about it, what drew you to it, and make it your own.”

Indeed, personal style is your own. You own it. Do not allow the trends to own you. That is not interesting, nor personal. Individual style, no matter if it is one part contemporary plus two parts hipster with a dash of Luxette, is always perceived as exactly as interesting as the individual donning it.