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Entries in couture (7)


El-Read: Follow The Dress Code



Je suis une frizzy haired disaster area - no thanks to this rain and wind. My umbrella turned inside out three times and my legs are FREEZING. Needless to say, commuter fashion photographs are not happening today. Unless, of course, I take pictures of the my damp and chilly self.

I need a hot chocolate and a hair and makeup team ASAP. 

The only thing that might make this day more palatable is couture fashion. Tonight, at the Chicago History Museum, is Dress Code. This annual student fashion show features the best and the brightest of collegiate Chicago fashion (including one of my former students!). This year, the designers created garments based on the American couture designer Charles James. 

James, an amazingly tortured and talented designer, is being highlighted with an exhibition of his work at the Chicago History Museum. His pieces are an illustration of perfect craftsmanship and a focus on tailoring and couture techniques (Have I mentioned that he is one of my favorites?). 

So, brave the rain and head over to the Chicago History Museum tonight. Your $20 ticket will purchase a night of student fashion and a taste of the exquisite detailing that is Charles James. 

*Pictured above is a Charles James dress, photographed by Cecil Beaton. 


El-Vacation: I'm Off Like A (Designer) Prom Dress

See ya sweaters!

We are squeezing out the last days of flip flop weather with a Southern vacation.

I'm looking forward to a relaxing long weekend, during which I'll be unapologetically reading my fall magazines (poolside). While I'm thumbing through new fashions, I thought you might want to see some wonderful vintage couture. A Louis Vuitton steamer trunk might even be more fab than a wam weather vacay. 

Check out these pictures from the Leslie Hindman Vintage Couture Preview Event.

Picture 1: A collection of vintage Louis Vuitton and Gucci luggage. 

Picture 2: A rack of vintage Emilio Pucci shift dresses. Each one was more stunning than the next. 

Picture 3: Two vintage Gucci handbags. They sort of look like they want to come home with me. Don't they? 

Picture 4: A shot of the room. Now, get over there!



El-Yes: The Devil's In The Details

Don't be too jealous, but I played with couture this morning ... and I'm going back for Round Two in an hour. 

I spent the day investigating the designer pieces that are being sold at auction on Tuesday, September 20th. Before each sale, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers opens up their space for preview days. Fashion lovers can look through racks of treasures and cases of fine jewlery and amazing accessories. The preview days go until Monday, September 19th. 

I have oodles of drool worthy snaps- so you can look forward to those tomorrow and Friday. But I thought I would first post some of my favorite close up shots. 

Picture 1: This is a detail shot of a Nina Ricci Red Pleated Silk Cocktail Dress.

Picture 2: A yummy Oscar de la Renta Black and White Evening Gown. OBSESSED. 

Picture 3: The woven bodice from this Todd Oldham Multicolored Woven Ribbon and Silk Cocktail Dress

Picture 4: Because everyone needs a Silver Joan Vass Sequinned Tank and Bloomers. 


El-Buy: Textured Textiles

Last night, at SAIC, I had the pleasure of examining a Nina Ricci floral confection. The three dimensional botanical surface design was just inspiring.

All of those delicate flowers propelled me to go online shopping.

Behold my trend board. I call it “ Texture, inspired by texture!


Nina Ricci polka dot dress
$4,790 -

Felicity Brown strapless dress
$1,529 -

J Mendel chiffon dress
$1,199 -

Max and Cleo wrap dress
$158 -

Cocktail party dress
$55 -

Giuseppe Zanotti stiletto high heels
$1,095 -

Lanvin pin brooch
$168 -

Flower brooch
£2.40 -



El-Yes: First Lady Fabulous

Michelle, my belle. These are words that go together well, my Michelle. 

The Beatles had it right. Michelle Obama is quite belle and has become an American fashion and health icon. Politics aside, we can all agree that she’s got it going on. Mixing high (Azzedine Alaia) and low (J.Crew), Michelle is effortlessly chic and the personification of American style.

During our recent trip to Washington DC, I dragged my husband to go see the exhibition of the first ladies’ gowns. Looking at historic gowns was totally how he wanted to spend a Friday morning on vacation. The collection, ranging from Martha Washington’s 18th century frock to Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown, was displayed along with personal care items, housewares, and jewelry.

As we walked through the exhibition, it dawned on me that several of our first ladies were quite the fashionistas. Jackie Kennedy’s classic white gown was sweet, youthful, and a perfect embodiment of the early 1960s. She worked with department Bergdorf Goodman to create the popular chiffon and beaded gown. Nancy Regan’s sexy red James Galanos one shoulder gown was groundbreaking and glamorous. While it was deemed too “Hollywood” for Washington, I believe that it foreshadowed the opulent Regan years. Nancy looked seriously foxy.

Obama’s dress was displayed in the middle of the gallery in a large glass case. The beaded, white, one shoulder Jason Wu gown demanded all of the attention in the room. I spent several minutes with my face pressed up against the glass. It’s not often that you see something so stunning in person- I practically hugged the display case.

Jason Wu + Insane First Lady Arms = Fab

Fortunately for us, we can achieve this look by just hanging out in Bucktown. Looking for a crazy arm-toning workout? You should head on over to the Dailey Method on Damen Ave. Yay for biceps! 


El-Yes: Back in Black and White



















During my New York trip, black and white floral graphics popped up all over the place. I saw this trend on the street, used in window displays, and even in a vintage Jean-Phillipe Worth coat at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Imagine my surprise when I checked the Fall 2010 runway show pictures and discovered this same trend! While this color story appeared in several RTW Fall shows, the D&G black and white ski bunny outfits are my favorites. I can totally see myself wearing this look while drinking fruity drinks after a long day snowplowing down the bunny hill.    

Given the recent hot weather, a fab wool bodysuit might not be the best plan for this time of year. Avoid getting swassy by skipping the heavy knits and opting for a sleeveless summer dress. Unlike Jake and Vienna, this classic combination has staying power so indulge in one of these beautiful options.

Left: Marimekko Tamir Dress (price available upon request), Jonathan Adler Victorian Love Pillow ($165)

Right: Kate Spade Woodblock Callie Shiftdress ($445), Kate Spade Queen Bee Studs ($65)


El-Vacation: Empire State of Mind

El-No Chicago is coming at you from NYC!! Naturally, shopping and people watching are high on the agenda so stay tuned for some great pictures this week.

Over the weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting both the Met and the Brooklyn Museum of Art (home of Judy Chicago's Seventies classic "The Dinner Party"). Both museums are currently hosting amazing American fashion exhibitions that showcase womenswear from the turn of the century through the golden age of couture. 

On Saturday, I explored the Met’s exhibit “American Women: Fashioning a National Identity.” This show is expertly curated with beautiful settings, thematic music, and metallic wigs by Julien d’Ys. It was so inspiring that I just wanted to pitch a tent and move into the museum.

Yesterday, I trekked out to Brooklyn. In addition to seeing some crazy outfits, I also visited the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s American High Style exhibition. AHHMAZING! Ignoring the sexual politics of the time, this exhibit made me wish I lived in the Fifties. Can we all just start wearing dress hats and eating jello molds again? 

For all of you fashionista work procrastinators, meet your new best friend. It’s the Polyvore styling tool. You can virtually style mannequins in the historic garments from the collection. Of course this just doesn't do the pieces justice... so hop on a plane and get to New York before the end of the summer. If your bank account is dry and you have a taste for vintage, stop over at the Chicago History Museum to visit the new fashion exhibit " I Do! Chicago Ties the Knot." 

I also bought books. Lots of fashion books. Guess I will be paying the $23 to check my bag on the way home (Sadly, El-No Chicago does not have United status).