You + Me

When a designer collaborates with a retail giant, good things happen, right? Let’s find out together. It’s a fashion journey. It’s you and me.

Story by Caroline A. Wong, Photos by Breana Powell

Final Ihate Kohl’s. Now, I didn’t always hate Kohl’s. In fact, Kohl’s was pretty decent in my book, thanks to its lines with Vera Wang and Lauren Conrad. But after my experience with its Reed Krakoff designer collaboration, I want to pull my hair out, go hunt down the Kohl’s execs, and pull their hair out too.

I started off quite excited about the announcement that Reed Krakoff would be going the collaboration route. As the former executive creative director of Coach, Krakoff made his name in the business through his attention to detail and his structured styling. He started his eponymous brand in 2010, which boasted distinctive designs like the Boxer and Atlantique models until it shut down last year to revisit investment strategies. With his Kohl’s collaboration, Krakoff reintroduces those iconic styles with nearly identical fashioning, but in faux leather rather than real leather as with its four-figure predecessors.

While some might see it simply as brand suicide to reproduce luxury styles in cheap fabrics, it can also be interpreted as a firm statement by the designer that he will not be returning to the luxury market under his own name. But with the way that Kohl’s is handling his line, Krakoff may want to reconsider working with this particular retail giant for future iterations of his collection, no matter the discount pricing.

caroline1Kohl’s made the REED by Reed Krakoff collection available online a week before it would be available in stores. I purchased a selection and received the shipment shortly afterward, before the collection was set to launch in Kohl’s stores. Kohl’s clothing generally runs large, which I found to be true of REED items. The disappointment, however, came with the pink Boxer style bag. Now, the Boxer bag was my one true love, the one that got away, the bag that still haunts my dreams after its discontinuation. So when I was able to buy the Kohl’s iteration of the style, I thought I would finally get the fashion closure for which I had been longing. Wrong. There was a noticeable black streak on the front of the bag.


Christian Siriano for Payless

For someone barely into his third decade of life, Christian Siriano has quite an impressive list of accomplishments. A celebrated fashion designer and member of the revered Council of Fashion Designers of America, he has far surpassed his flashy start as winner of Project Runway’s fourth season, going on to dress big-name celebrities such as Christina Hendricks, Nicki Minaj, and Emily Blunt. At the red carpet for the 88th Academy Awards, Maria Menounos will join his flock, donning Siriano’s custom creation inspired by Stella Artois’ “Buy a Lady a Drink” charity initiative and its limited-edition chalices.

More importantly, however, Siriano peppers his star-studded clientele list with respected fashion icons like Victoria Beckham and Sarah Jessica Parker, gaining the respect of hard-to-please industry critics and establishing himself as more than just a reality show wonder. With a squad of fashion darlings at his behest and a personal brand that reached an estimated $5 million in revenue in four years, Siriano seems the least likely to pair with a mass market, low-cost retailer such as Payless ShoeSource, yet the designer is still creating collaboration collections seven years after first launching with the chain.

His Payless styles speak true to his aesthetic, though, and still reflect the attention to detail and elevated taste for which he became famous on Project Runway. With strategic cutouts, punchy patterns, and thoughtful finishes, the collection is at once relevant, covetable, and, of course, affordable. A few points of concern to note would be that the collection generally runs a half size too large (ordering down easily fixes this) and the quality is what should be expected of Payless shoe. It’s fast fashion. But the style and fit, aside from sizing down, make the pieces worthwhile.

The Liza Lucite Wedge showcases the designer’s care and appreciation of the female form, with a see-through window across the toe and airy cutouts at the sides for breezy comfort. Its grounded wedge style and shiny black hue makes it a clear (no pun intended) choice for the edgy girl, and it’s a fresh alternative to a chunky ankle bootie.



Roots of Beauty

Have you ever used clay in your beauty regimen? Perhaps pre-teen sleepovers had a group of your girlfriends donning green clay masks and painting toenails. Or in your young adults years you ay have tried the bentonite clay detox of Aztec influence. Regardless, I bet you’ve never used it in makeup.

I’m a small business owner and actress who started “Roots of Beauty” after experiments to make my own makeup when horribly…right! Using some kitchen spices, arrowroot powder, and an assortment of clays I was able to create a loose powder that keeps me shine-free all day long.

Next up? Lipstick. Using Australian red reef clay and some cocoa butter with coconut oil I created an organic, fair-trade lipstick that is free of chemicals, animal parts, and cheap colorings. Using French rose clay I was able to create the same product in a lighter shade that went on to star in a friend’s wedding between herself and the bridesmaids. Okay, she was the star, but the lipstick was a close second.

I’ve made men’s pomade that calls them to the wilderness with it’s cedar scent. Dry shampoo is in the works, as we find packaging to allow the perfect sprinkle across your roots.

Speaking of packaging, Roots of Beauty uses all sustainable, made in the USA packaging materials. Except for the lipstick and chapstick tubes everything is compostable, including the labels and recycles bookpaper inserts. But the tubes are BPA-free and easily recyclable. Instead of plastic shrink-wrapped seals we use old-fashioned ribbon and wax seal, with a custom “RB” seal.

Long story long… you’ve gotta come check us out. If you’re in Los Angeles come to the Glassell Park farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings for a free sample. New customers get 40% the first product with code “newroot.” In the meantime, check us out on facebook, twitter and instagram.

We’ve found the products and their magic from nature, from the outside looking in. Now we invite you to treat your body with confidence.



90s Fashion Icons

Take it from your closet and make it fit. Jessica Locher shows you how to craft 90’s-inspired fashion icon looks for Halloween and beyond.

90’s babies rejoice! The time for overalls, chokers, platform sneakers, and tying sweaters around your waist is once again upon us! The fashion gods have allowed the carefree and spirited style from (eeek!) 20 years ago to resurrect from the grave and I could not be more ecstatic. From the music, to the movies, to the clothes, and even the sometimes questionable hair styles, I have always been a big fan of all things 90s! For the past year, I have been stocking up on anything and everything I thought could fit in with my current style and was reminiscent of that decade. I can’t get enough! With Halloween right around the corner, I thought what better way to showcase my shopping efforts than to show how to recreate looks from three of the biggest style icons of the decade. Not only are these three ladies my personal heroes from the era, they are also women that helped shape pop culture during their time.

Cher Horowitz from Clueless

There was not one girl who lived through the 90s that was not influenced by Cher’s style, grace, class, and Valley Girl attitude. She taught us how to use the word “sporadic” in a sentence, that you should always brake for animals, that dating a high school boy is a decision every woman has to make for themselves, and that apparently it’s not gross to date your stepbrother (I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one). Also, I’d like to throw out to the universe, that we are still eagerly awaiting Cher’s computerized closet to be available widespread! There is not one outfit that is more memorable than her yellow plaid blazer and pleated skirt with white knee highs and perfect Mary-Janes…oh and her furry white backpack that’s TOTALLY faux, duh! I never stopped loving miniature backpacks and jumped for joy when I found this black faux leather piece from Target about six months ago. I’ve never been the person to fret about functionality over fashion but there’s something so freeing about swinging the straps over your shoulders and still having complete control of yours arms (visions of looking like the Wacky Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man come to mind). This look was a combined effort between my roommate’s and my closet. I had the general idea…plaid skirt, white button down, knee highs, and chunky wedges…but when she ran into my room toting the most perfect cropped sweater vest, I knew it was just what this needed! I had to add a string of pearls to finalize the class of Cher’s character. This look is very specific and totally fun! The instant you step into this ensemble, it’s hard not to immediately embody Cher’s persona. Fair warning, you’ll find yourself shoving the ‘Whatever’ sign in the faces of anyone that is unfortunate enough to have RBF (Resting Bitch Face), people that cut you off in traffic, or your best friend just because it feels so good. And to anyone that has anything to say while sitting in your passenger seat, just remind them, “You try driving in platforms!”


Share Your Wear

Though summer is arguably the best season for wanderlust and adventure, fall is when the real fun begins—at least when it comes to dressing up. Here’s your quick guide to some of our favorite trends. From flirty hems to big, bold earrings, the runways were filled with plenty of inspiration.

By Breana Powell

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You, Me, Capri

You Me Capri You. Me. Capri.

A tantalizing isle perched amidst the azure waters of the Gulf of Naples, Capri is amongst the first of the locales that leap to mind when you envision an Italian holiday. Milly taps into the daydreamish quality of this resort island through its designer collaboration for Kohl’s DesigNation.

With bright florals, nautical stripes, and thick scuba-esque fabric, the collection definitely evokes la dolce vita, even for those of us who haven’t sipped limoncello along Italian shores as the sun sinks beneath crystalline waves. The line’s collarbone-baring tops bring to mind a sashaying Italian woman beckoning you through stone-paved streets. The breezy blue prints, of course, recall the gulf.

Milly is actually an American company, founded by designer Michelle Smith and based in New York City. The brand has been around for fifteen years and has been chosen by a few women that may sound a bit familiar to you…Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Middleton…maybe you recognize the names?

Milly is known for its custom fabric and prints, so it’s no surprise to me that the collection’s fabrics are a step above those of a normal designer collaboration and especially one with Kohl’s. I’ve been disappointed by the retailer’s past lines (ahem, Catherine Malandrino), but Milly brought a smile to my face. I mean, it’s Capri—how could it not?

A devilish secret of mine is that I own more from the collection than just the pieces photographed for this column. If we could have, I would have gladly modeled each piece from the line! Yup, love it that much. Much, much more than I care for the recent Lilly Pulitzer collaboration with Target (Sorry, Lilly…you spread yourself too thin with the women’s clothing and the kids’ clothing and the home goods and the accessories…need I list more?). Anyway…back to Milly…the Capri collection is an all-around win. Spot-on quality. Fun, almost quirky prints. Bright and airy summer colors. And truly Caprese style.


Princess Pastels

0nce upon a time, I was born and needed a name. My parents wanted a name taken from royalty, which at the time basically consisted of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Caroline of Monaco (now of Hanover). Brunette and statuesque, Princess Caroline was, in a way, the Kate Middleton of her time and, if my eventual moniker is any indication, she also had obvious international appeal. In that same vein, reality-star-turned-designer Lauren Conrad taps into her own royal leanings with her latest collaboration, Disney’s Cinderella a collection by LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s.

I’ve featured basic denim from Conrad’s line for Kohl’s in the past, but to partner with Disney and Kohl’s is a completely different beast Conrad has attempted to tame. The difference between a pair of jeans shorts and the ethereal fairytale quality inherent to the Cinderella tale is critical for determining the success of this particular collaboration. Denim is basic, utilitarian, and originally designed with the working class in mind. Evoking the storybook romance of a maid-turned-princess requires a more delicate hand. It’s not just about throwing some glass slippers on with your work jeans.

For the purposes of our discussion here, I selected the collection’s fluttery camisole and poufy tulle skirt. Initially upon receiving the sample, I thought the camisole’s 3D appliques were butterflies—until I realized they would then be upside down butterflies. They’re actually bows. But the lack of detail in the design and the movement that occurs when wearing the top understandably lends these bows to a butterfly comparison. To be honest, the top looks really cheap in person. The polyester material almost feels rough against the skin and the flitting bow attachments don’t add much romance. The top is something that I might buy for a younger age set, but not for the older fan base that originally fell in love with Conrad on Laguna Beach and The Hills (although I guess Conrad has done much to separate herself from her reality persona, so maybe this is the direction she was trying to take).


Ines de La Fressange for Uniqlo

French Fashion, Fresh Style

By Caroline A. Wong; Photos by Alexander Herman

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 3.45.58 PM hate to break it to you Audrey Hepburn-loving, “Paris is always a good idea” fan-girls: the City of Lights isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A few years ago, I spent a summer in Paris, and it really wasn’t about finding my je ne sais quoi. It was about stepping around dog shit in the streets and dodging cigarettes thrown from outdoor café-goers. It was about fighting with Sandro boutique workers and getting thrown out of clubs and French men saying they want to take you home—while they’re still on a date with a leggy blonde. For me, that “I don’t know what feeling” was more “I don’t know what I’m doing here when I can be on the next Eurostar to London.”

I will concede, however, that Paris has a certain fashion blueprint. It has a reputation for an inexplicable effortlessness in the same way that Miami has a reputation for maxi dresses and bold prints. Whether you love Paris or not, you’ll agree with me that the French still have a stronghold on the je ne sais quoi idea of style, and designer Inès de La Fressange does not disappoint. Prior to a dramatic falling out, de La Fressange served as muse to Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld. She was also the first model to sign an exclusive contract with a haute couture design house—presumably before her spat with Lagerfeld, although the two may have patched things up since de La Fressange walked Chanel’s spring-summer 2011 runway. Personal drama aside, de La Fressange is still a classic French woman, and her collaboration with Japanese casual wear brand Uniqlo marries Parisian ease with the brand’s utilitarian basics.

As with the majority of Uniqlo’s pieces, the fabric for this collection seems thicker and sturdier than that of many of the brand’s fast fashion competitors, although the quality is not comparable to Target’s high-end collaborations. For de La Fressange’s spring pieces, however, this is not a negative thing. The fabric is fairly sturdy yet still light and seasonally appropriate. The collection includes classic solids and neutral patterns like stripes in addition to more vibrant pieces like her floral skirt. While the basic shirts, trousers, and skirts seem to complement each other well, the outerwear is sporty—almost to the point of being “junior”—and disparate from the rest of the pieces. Examples of this would be the puffy down jacket and the bomber, which is a popular style for the season but entirely uninspired when it comes to design. That said, de La Fressange manages to capture that “I don’t know what” essence with the majority of her spring line for Uniqlo.


The Ultimate 2014 Gift Guide

Share Your Wear: Tastevin’s 2014 Gift Guide!




Altuzarra x Target

T July Issueake away his collaboration with Target, and Joseph Altuzarra is still fashion’s of-the-moment darling. Even before he released his own fifteen-piece collection in 2008, Altuzarra was making a name for himself. Born in Paris to a Chinese-American mother and a French Basque father, he traveled internationally to intern with and serve as assistant to some of the most recognizable names in the industry: Marc Jacobs, Rochas, and Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. Three years after he branched off on his own, Altuzarra was granted the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. This year—and numerous awards later—he followed it up by earning the prestigious CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award.

Critical acclaim aside, Altuzarra has cultivated a loyal following through his collection’s sultry, feminine silhouettes and the worldliness stemming from his multicultural background and education. With silky blouses, fitted pencil skirts, and plunging necklines, his Target collection reflects a strong injection of that same sensual and cultured aesthetic. “We are really focused on a very adult and seductive way of dressing,” Altuzarra says. “The inspiration for this collection was really based on a global traveling narrative.”

The Altuzarra x Target line is a triumph in my book. The quality is impeccable, and the designs are at once versatile, classic, and exquisitely Altuzarra. The blouses and pencil skirts in the collection are essential work-day ensembles, but the dresses are a bit more daring with their deep v-cut fronts. We’ve all been there: what to do with the sexy dress besides date night?

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