For the Northwest Naysayers

For all the Northwest naysayers out there who hate how granola people dress with their Tivas and toe socks, Seattle Magazine is ready to show you the glam side of Gore-Tex. I'm really excited to see how they suggest braving the elements in style. Yesterday, I had the genius idea that if I dressed like summer, it would be summer. Ha! A spontaneous snow flurry swooped up under my fedora, sending it flying down the street as I chased it looking like a sad, sad, Seattle hipster in cropped denim and Sperry top-siders.

The forecast in Seattle might look like this...

but Seattle Magazine's Forecast looks a lot nicer...


The Rite of Spring

Along with Spring comes this notion of new beginnings. This sense of rebirth, renewal, and regrowth. Having been on a year and a half hiatus from my blog, I never thought I'd come back. I mean, I didn't even renew my domain! However, there's something about the student work at the Art Institute of Seattle that makes me feel like fashion isn't finished. Just when I thought no new ideas could come face to face with fabric, I see strokes of genius sashaying down the Showbox SODO runway. Innovative draping techniques, unique cut-outs, and covetable cloth drips off wobbly-heeled models as they strut in the venomous vicissitude of their peers. I never posted pictures from the last show I went to, but here they are.

Photography by Lydia Selk

Trust me when I say you don't want miss what Joan Kelly is calling her, "greatest show yet." It's worth cancelling your OKC date tonight. Buy your tickets here.


Seattle's Fashion First

I just got back from New York, and I'm sure you're expecting to hear about all my fabulous fashion finds. The problem is that I just didn't see anything out of the ordinary. I picked up a few tops from Uniqlo and popped into a few boutiques, but I didn't find anything with wow-factor. I'm not sure if it's because I'm spoiled by having access to almost anything online, but nothing really shocks me anymore. Nothing jumped out from the racks and said, "Hey, I'm one of a kind, and nobody in Seattle will have me."

I'm the kind of person that thrives on attaining pieces I know nobody else will have. I'm not asking for one-of-a-kind garments, but like a rare coin, I wish they'd make only a few. How can I be an individual if everyone is wearing the same thing? That's where Seattle boutiques come into the picture. They only make a limited number of items, each one with custom care and special little details you'll notice 5 months after you purchase the garment. I grew up shopping in Seattle boutiques. While all my friends in Puyallup were obsessed with American Eagle, I was scoping out no-name brands on Broadway. We have an amazing underground fashion scene that's not gracing New York's runways, but that's a good thing. It's our little secret.

The only problem is that "our little secret" continues to face tough times and more boutiques have announced closures this Fall. It's important that Seattle does not lose the individuality and diversity of offerings that these independent retailers bring to the city because they're the reason fashion is fun. It's not fun going into H&M and buying something you know 5 million other girls already have. Where's the special connection?

If you feel as devoted to this notion as I do, you won't want to miss Fashion First. They're not only supporting local boutiques and designers, but a portion of their proceeds are going to help Rise N Shine to support children affected with HIV/AIDS.

This year's line-up includes:

Asher Anson

Chez Chic


DNA 2050

La Ree

Lizzie Parker


Report Footwear

Simply Anne

Sway and Cake

The Finerie

Wyatt Orr

Zovo Lingerie

Art Institute of Seattle

Seamless in Seattle

For a little sneak peak of what's going to be on the runway tonight, check out this video with local designer Lizzie Parker.

Lizzie Parker Fittings for Fashion First from Brett Renville on Vimeo.

Don't miss the pop up shop opening in the Bravern this Friday and Saturday featuring local designers. Shop local and support your community!


Bellevue Fashion Week 2010

Am I the only one that thinks it's sad that Bellevue has a better fashion week than Seattle? I mean come on! Seattle started grunge. Seattle is the city people think of regarding 90's fashion. That's pretty amazing since 90's fashion is dripping from all the magazines right now. However, nobody is taking that claim to fame and saying, "Hey, we started grunge, and now we're about to start a whole lot more!" Instead, the Eastside is owning it and has become the official epicenter for NW fashion. Just think - Where was Nordstrom's Chanel Fall 2010 Runway Fashion Show this year? The Novelty Hill Januik Winery in Woodinville! And who attended? Vogue's contributing editor, Andre Leon Talley. Now, Bellevue Fashion Week is hosting their acclaimed Vogue event that is sure to tear up Seattle Fashion Week once again. After our horrible experience at Seattle Fashion Week this last year, it's not hard to pose the thought that the Eastside might be better. Remember last year?

Seattle Fashion Week 2009

Bellevue Fashion Week 2009

Since the clothes featured at Bellevue Fashion Week aren't made by local designers, we can't really hate on the fact that Seattle Fashion Week is chalk full of student work. However, if we look at the models alone, there's a clear division of ghetto and glam. The models for Seattle Fashion Week were scrounged from the grimy night clubs in Pioneer Square, and the models for Bellevue Fashion Week were sent from some mysterious heaven where everyone knows how to walk in 6 inch stilettos.

I might work downtown Seattle, but I'm and Eastside girl at heart. When the clock strikes 5, I can't wait to cross that glorious 520 bridge into an Eastside oasis of glamor and fashion (even if there's a toll). If' you're interested in a little Eastside action this evening, check out the Vogue Front Row Fashion Show and see it for yourself. It's a spectacular show designed and executed by Vogue, with fashions from The Bellevue Collection. Last year, I caught myself reaching for my credit card like I was actually going to buy things off the runway. Pshhh. Yea right. However, I'm a college grad this year, and I'm looking at things a little differently. Maybe I will attend the VIP Shopping Night. Maybe I will buy a sweater for 30% off. Who knows?

Buy tickets here.

All Access Tickets are $125. That includes complimentary valet parking, access to the private lounge where you'll enjoy drinks and appetizers before the show, early preferred seating in rows one and two, an exclusive All Access swag bag, a $50 gift certificate to the Bellevue Collection and admittance to VIP Shopping Night following the show.

General Admission Tickets are $75. That includes drink and appetizers, entrance to the show, swag bag, a $20 gift certificate to The Bellevue Collection and admittance to the VIP Shopping Night following the show.

The admission prices might be high, but you can be rest assured that your money won't be going to anyone's Prada shoes. 100% of the ticket price benefits The Moyer Foundation. I've also noticed that higher price shows merit you an actual seat (unlike Seattle Fashion Week) and models aren't dropping it like it's hot when it's not... Okay I'm done. Go to the show, see you tonight, and we can discuss the differences between the two fashion weeks over a cocktail or two.


Falling in Love With T-shirts

I don't normally promote t-shirt lines as legitimate clothing lines simply because they don't make the actual t-shirts. They usually only make the print on the t-shirt. However, I stumbled along this Etsy collection at a local festival a few weeks ago and fell in love. The t-shirts are American Apparel (which I love) but the creative copy is all theirs! These one-of-a-kind creations were designed in Portland with care, silliness, and a great love for books and the book lover. Check out more of their products on their website.

Green Eggs and Hamlet

"Green Eggs and Hamlet you will learn
Bout Rosencrantz & Guildenstern
And Sam-I-am up in a Tree
Will quote you famed Soliloquies
Just try some Shakespeare this I plead
The question's "To Read or Not to Read."

"We read to know we are not alone." - CS Lewis

The one I picked up at the festival was pink and spoke to me as an English language lover. It reads, "English does not borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, hits them on the head and goes through their pockets looking for loose grammar." It makes all English majors feel pretty bad ass. That's why I got it!


Everything Ends With a Cupcake...

I give every event an opportunity to receive an amazing review. Unfortunately, I'm frequently disappointed after overindulged hype. After browsing through the racks of overpriced denim and miscellaneous items marked down to the low price of $500 (ouch!), I snagged a steak skewer and made my way out. The music was nice, but I felt more intrigued by the Trophy cupcakes upstairs. I made it to the door just as the man was locking up, but he graciously let me in to buy one more cupcake. No sale. No grand event with drinks and a DJ. Just simple yumminess with frosting on top! Why can't everything be wrapped up in a tiny box for $3.00?


Wild Summer Nights

Tonight I'm headed to the beautiful Bravern where DNA2050 will be hosting their Wild Summer Nights event. Tickets are $5 per person to benefit Hopelink, which includes appetizers and live music by Ty Bailey B3 Trio. Complimentary bites will be provided by Wild Ginger, and a cash bar will be located inside the boutique. The concert will begin on the Fireplace patio at 5:30 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. Afterwards, party-goers are invited to DNA2050 to continue the festivities with DJ Rick Leigh until 10 p.m. If you haven't been to DNA2050, 70% of their store consists of pure denim. They offer more than 30 specialty brands, so I'm sure you'll find something to love.

Tonight they'll be offering limited time deals including:
  • 20 percent off all denim for both men and women, including True Religion, Paige Premium Denim, PRPS and others.
  • 10 percent off collection items for men and women, including jewelry from Nicole Richie's House of Harlow 1960 and much more.
  • The first 50 purchases at DNA2050 will get two drink tickets and waived cover to Wild Nights.
There's no better way to shop than with a cocktail in your hand! You'll make a ton of bad decisions in the most expensive shopping complex in Bellevue. Woo hoo! Hopefully the other shops will be closed so you don't accidentally stumble into Neiman Marcus and mistake a $600 pair of shoes for $60. I've done similar things before. It's quite convenient when the cashier forgets to repeat the total. I've cried over receipts that later scream "Final Sale." This is just a warning to stay somewhat sober when making purchases in trendy boutiques where everything is over $100.


Q&A: Jess Rizzuti

I'm always hearing about new designers through various PR agencies, and this one caught my attention. Her name is Jess Rizzuti. She's an emerging New York handbag designer with an innovative approach to textiles. I really enjoy the unique structure and variance within her collection. This season, she created a sustainable chic cork handbag that is both stylish and feminine. From wine bottle to hand bag -- I love it!

Darrah: Why did you start designing?

Jess: I remember loving fashion and accessories at a very young age, and ever since then it has been a source of inspiration. In college I majored in Textiles, which then led me to pursue a business in fashion.

Darrah: What goes into making a handbag?

Jess: It all starts with the inspiration where I’ll do a series of drawings and then pick one design to go with. From there, I create the technical patterns, source materials, while trying to keep the cost in mind. I like to do as much as I can myself to insure that the whole process is very personal and speaks of me. It’s always great to see an initial come to fruition and turn raw materials into a finished product.

Darrah: What's your favorite material to use for handbags? What's your least favorite?

Jess: Typically my favorite material to use is leather. But lately I’ve found some really innovative eco-friendly materials like Cork which I plan to continually explore. I don’t use fur in any of my designs, for various reasons.

Darrah: I noticed you design a lot of clutches. Do you prefer them over bigger handbags?

Jess: I carry a large bag daily as it holds everything that I could possibly need. But I’ve noticed a real interest in smaller bags, so it was important for me to create something small that could accommodate a women’s essentials.

Darrah: What are 5 essentials every woman must have in her purse?

Jess: Lip gloss, sketchbook/notebook, phone with a camera, hair pins, and a piece of jewelry or accessory that can take a look from day to night.

Darrah: Do you think it's okay for men to have "man purses"?

Jess: It definitely depends on the man, and on the purse. The “murse” should definitely suit the person who carries it. If it’s done well, I think it’s okay.

Darrah: What makes your collection standout from the crowd?

Jess: My work really reflects my textile background in the pairing of materials and textures. I like to have things custom died, embossed, and really personalize my materials. I also like to emphasize the interior where I always use colors and prints that compliment the exterior. To me, it’s important that the inside of the bag be as beautiful as the outside.

Darrah: How many handbags, purses, clutches, etc do you have in your closet right now?

Jess: I can’t really put a number on that. But I will say that since I’ve started my own line, I have brought a lot of bags to consignment stores -- except for a few favorites.

Darrah: How does your collection merge fashion and art?

Jess: My collection really reflects my surroundings. I’m intrigued by architecture, travel, and nature while I also like drawing inspiration for color by the use of it in paintings. It’s a mix of all these things plus the beautiful craftsmanship, which is an art form in itself.

Darrah: Do you think a woman should have a token purse she wears every day or have a new one for each outfit?

Jess: I think it’s great for women to buy versatile bags, so they could in fact go with every outfit. But I like when accessories also change, compliment an outfit, and create an entirely new look.

Darrah: What's your opinion on fanny packs?

Jess: It’s hard to take them seriously. I like them in theory.

Darrah: Where do you see the fashion industry going?

Jess: Well you can see that the industry has been seriously been affected by the appeal of “going green” and I think it’s great. I’m sure it will continue and that we will be amazed by the type of things that can be made by eco-friendly materials.

Darrah: Who is your favorite handbag designer?

Jess: It’s hard to just choose one. I’ve always admired the work at Valentino and Bottega Veneta.

Darrah: What's your next step?

Jess: I will continue to build on what I have established thus far and create new designs. Someday I hope to have my brand expand to include shoes, luggage, men’s leather goods, and apparel. I’m always thinking about new ideas and what to do next. But for now, it’s one thing at a time.

If you'd like to see more, please visit her website at JessRizzuti.com.


Project Red Dress Recap

The Fairmount Olympic Hotel was beautifully nestled in-between skyscrapers downtown Seattle. It had this flare of old school glamor that lingered from the billowy draping within to the doormen outside. I love seeing Seattle women shed their Northface jackets and Tivas, revealing their inner glamor girl. Before I made my way into the show, I had to pick up my press pass at the ticket table. What made me smile was the fact that Project Runway contestant, Blayne Walsh, had to wait in line behind me. I guess reality TV shows don't guarantee red carpet treatment anymore.

Lining the entrance to the venue were life-size sketches of all the dresses entered into the competition. They were beautifully done and I wanted them all! I appreciate sketches because they remind me of the connection between fashion and art. A sketch captures the original idea and it's fun to compare it to the final product.

Twelve designers participated in the show, but only one could win. Here are some of my favorite looks. Can you guess the winner?


Fashion Show Friday

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is go to fashion shows. Sometimes they're great, and sometimes they're not so great. While Seattle is not renowned for having excellent fashion (ie. grunge in the 90's), we're slowly coming back. We've produced designers like Chris Benz, Luly Yang, and last season's Project Runway winner Sethaaron Henderson. If every decent designer didn't move to New York, I think we'd have a lot more. That's why I love student fashion shows. I see the potential, and I just cross my fingers that they'll stay! We need more designers like Francisco Hernandez who remain in Seattle because they see the opportunity for growth. Seattle has a future in the fashion world so long as we support these emerging designers.

If you want to support the industry, there are two fashion shows going on tonight. Oddly enough, I think they're at the same venue. There's the IADT 3rd Annual Project Red Dress Event and the 3rd Annual Forbidden Fashion Show.

Project Red Dress

Established by Monir Zandghoreishi, local designer and International Academy of Design & Technology fashion design program chair, Project Red Dress is a fashion competition for local up-and-coming design students that benefits the American Heart Association. This year’s event will feature national celebrity judges, including Project Runway’s Nick Verreos. I love him...

The competition: Participating fashion design students will have the opportunity to feature one-of-a-kind red gowns to raise awareness of heart disease. Nancy’s Sewing Basket will provide each contestant with $200 worth of fabric. The students will be given 16 hours of sewing time to create their vision in red at IADT-Seattle. The winning red dress will be featured in the window of award-winning designer, Miss Luly Yang's Couture in downtown Seattle. The winner will also receive an internship with Luly, a $3000 scholarship to IADT-Seattle, and be featured in Seattle Met Magazine!

The cocktail reception begins at 6:30 p.m., with the fashion show starting at 7:30 p.m. The show will be held in the Spanish Ballroom at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The event will feature a raffle, with prizes including a Hawaiian getaway. Tickets can be purchased here. Tickets are $35 for students, $50 for general admission and $75 for premier runway seating and a luxury swag bag.

Forbidden Fashion Show

The most anticipated Fashion Show of the year for cougars in the Northwest. Men in underwear. Love it! Oh wait... there's women in underwear too. This show features this season's hottest men's and women's swimwear, lingerie and men's underwear. Taking place at the timeless Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Downtown Seattle, check out designers like CINTLI by Beto Yarce, Under U4 Men, ADICORA, DB Deseo Jewelry, Retail Therapy, and my personal favorite -- Francisco's line, Built For Man. I'm not a big fan of performances at fashion shows, but there will be special performances by the Seattle Men's Chorus and Seattle's Premiere Tango Dancers. If you want a little more Nick Verreos, he will be attending this show as well.

I'm really confused about the two shows being in the same room at the same venue... but this show will also be in the Spanish Ballroom at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle. The cocktail reception will start at 8:30pm, almost right after the IADT show ends. The fashion show will begin at 9:30pm. Ticket prices start at $35 for general admission and cap off at $100 for celebrity circle seating. You can purchase tickets here.

Heart disease and half-naked bodies. Sounds like an excellent evening for fashion in Seattle.