Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There's Something About Mary...Review of Mary Katrantzou x Topshop Purchases

Mary Katrantzou x Topshop printed tunic dress (sorry, it came quite wrinkled after traveling almost 2 weeks overseas in the mail, and I didn't have time to iron it)
My eagerly anticipated Mary Katrantzou x Topshop online order finally arrived in the mail today, coinciding with the same day as the first US release of the collaboration at the New York Topshop store this morning, where most everything supposedly sold out in minutes. Vegas will be selling the collection starting March 8th, when the new Las Vegas Topshop opens. I'm really glad that I managed to catch the online launch on the evening of February 16th as New York didn't get many pieces in (1 or 2 per size?!) and even limited shoppers to only one piece each (a good policy to deter eBay hoarders). I wasn't sure if my online order actually went through as I had a typo in my email address and wasn't ever able to see or track my order online; I even called the New York Topshop personal shopper line this morning to see if I could buy anything over the phone (which is how I bought the Mary Katrantzou Newgen Tshirt from the Chicago Topshop), but they wouldn't allow it for this collection. I was pleasantly surprised (and very relieved) when USPS delivered my package today, a little under two weeks later. 
No time to really "put together" this look, but here are the details anyway: Mary Katrantzou x Topshop tunic dress, Forever21 leggings, Christian Louboutin heels and Prada sunglasses
I've seen very few fit / detail reviews of the collection, even the Topshop online description doesn't give dimensions and its hard to judge from pics of a model, so I wanted to post this quickly. I will try and post better pictures later, as I didn't have time to iron the dress plus the sun was going down, but here are some quick shots of the tunic dress. I'm pleasantly surprised to find that the tunic isn't as short as I had expected; it's possible to wear as a dress without tights / leggings / jeans, without being too scandalously short (caveat being that I'm not super tall though). This is a size S, which fits well at five months pregnant, even though it looks big on the hanger. The silk fabric is quite thin and a bit see-through and I wouldn't say that the construction is amazing; it's a fairly straight forwardly cut and finished dress, but I do adore the bird and floral print and bright colors. It's a very easy silhouette to wear and can be dressed up or down. I'm really glad that this is the piece that I got out of the collection (aside from the Newgen T shirt), I'll definitely get the most use out of it. Pics to come of the NewGen T-shirt when it arrives on Friday (here it is!)! PS: looks like the Topshop online website is getting some occasional returns, including the infamous balloon dress, so check back often if you missed out at the launch.
The free Mary Katrantzou print canvas tote bag that came with my online order, I just love the vibrant jeweled print, which is also the same print on the blouse and strapless balloon dress from the collection.

AW 2012 Milan Fashion Week: Jil Sander and the Goths

Jil Sander. So pastel and pretty. Beautiful tailoring per the usual Jil Sander with a little more femininity than usual
Overloaded with fashion yet? Milan Fashion Week has come and gone and Paris is underway now. I found Milan to be surprisingly dark and gothic with very severe hair and makeup, with the few exceptions being the beautiful pastels at Raf Simons' final Jil Sander show, as well a smattering of prints and colorblocking from Prada and Marni, not surprisingly. My favorite (not very winter-like) collection was probably Jil Sander. Not much else stood out to me. All images from
Jil Sander
Prints at Prada. I have to say I prefer the looks of her previous collections. Part of the scary makeup crew.
Colorblocking at Marni. A bit more subdued than her upcoming H&M collection
Dolce & Gabbana. Reminded me a little of Jessica Chastain's Oscar dress. A weird combination of gothic brides and swiss maids
Gucci. A bit scary too
Pucci: continuing the sheer cutout trends of New York and London

Cavalli x 2 and Versace (also a little scary)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscars 2011/2012: Fashion Snooze

My favorite three looks from the Oscars last night: Michelle Williams in orange Louis Vuitton, Emma Stone in fuchsia Giambattista Valli and Gwyneth Paltrow in Tom Ford (though I only like it with the cape and she annoys me in general and I hated her hair)
Images from
Everything else was so boring and predictable (like the show itself); I'm so over sequins and sparkles and bland neutral colors.

Friday, February 24, 2012

More Mary Katrantzou: Topshop NewGen T-Shirt

Image from Topshop
I really can't get enough of Mary Katrantzou these days; of course after it had all sold out online, I decided that I had to have the t shirt that she designed as part of the limited edition 10 Year NewGen collection. The print is a dead ringer for some of the prints from her excellent SS 2012 collection, in stores now. Since it was sold out online, I called up the Chicago Topshop and ordered it directly from the store; should hopefully be here late next week! May even get here quicker than the tunic that I ordered on launch day which is coming from the UK. 
Mary Katrantzou x Topshop NewGen T Shirt

Runway suit from Mary Katrantzou SS 2012 collection
Shift dress in stores now from the same collection. Image from

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

London Fashion Week FW 2012: Mary Katrantzou, Burberry and More

Mary Katrantzou. All images from
With the exception of Mary Katrantzou, most of the standout looks from London Fashion Week are the impeccably constructed separates, as opposed to dressier looks. My favorite collections from this season were from Mary Katrantzou and Burberry. I'm completely obsessed with Mary Katrantzou right now (I can't wait for my Mary Katrantzou x Topshop dress to make its way across the pond) and her AW collection did not disappoint with the very cool juxtaposition of prints and unique futuristic silhouettes. I really like what Christopher Bailey has done with Burberry over the last few years; there are not only a bunch of great jackets, but also some great skirts and I want an owl t-shirt (I love owls!). I also liked Christopher Kane's collection and mix and match use of silkier fabrics with leather, Stella McCartney's presentation and Vivienne Westwood Red Label's cool use of proportion and well-tailored pieces. All images from
Mary Katrantzou. Love the shapes and feeling of movement
Mary Katrantzou
Burberry. Love the variety of jackets. Owl shirts!!
Christopher Kane
Christopher Kane
Stella McCartney
Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mod Podge Craftiness

Quick and thrifty way to make fabric covered letters: take cheap wooden letters from Joann's ($1.49), trace the letter face down onto the back of a scrap of fabric with a pencil, mod podge the fabric and let dry for 20 minutes, cut out the letter with scissors, mod podge the wooden letter, press the fabric onto the letter, mod podge on top and done! Total cost: ~$1.75. First time working with mod podge; it's super easy.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Marni for H&M: Very Cute

Images from H&M
I just went through the lookbook for Marni for H&M, launching March 8, and it's super cute. The lookbook images are shot really well and the looks are styled perfectly; quality looks really nice, and the retro prints, muted colors, and silhouettes are fun and so typically Marni. Lots of great everyday looks and the price points are little lower (most expensive item is a leather top at $149) than the recent Versace and Lanvin collaborations. I like this collection more than the Versace x H&M collection; the green palm print sequin dress was the only piece I ended up keeping from that collaboration, I returned the heart print fringe dress after some debate. Still, I'm not sure if I'm going to go be queuing up for the launch; as cute as it is, Marni's prints and colors aren't my typical style: I have a Marni top that I bought from Barney's several years ago that I still have never worn. Maybe I should pull it out soon! Full lookbook with prices here on Racked. My favorite looks pictured, all images courtesy of H&M.
How cute is everything about this look?! The tshirt, the sunglasses, bathing suit, the sequin collar, love it!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Crafting Fun

From New York Fashion Week pics to crafting... Many thanks to S for her expertise and assistance. We can't take full credit for the design though; we got lots of inspiration online and through etsy. I've got an owl lamp from Target coming in the mail so this mobile will match nicely! More craft projects to come... Excuse the background, the mobile is temporarily residing in our breakfast nook.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

NYFW FW'12 Review Part II: Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and the Rest

Marc Jacobs. All images from
I gotta say, I was a lot more inspired by the first few days of FW 2012 Fashion Week; I just found those younger designers (Prabal Gurung, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu) so much more exciting and fresh. Clothes I would want to buy.  A lot of the more established designers (Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren) were just a little boring, all things we've seen before: suiting, tartan, Stepford wives, retro-equestrian American sportswear, respectively. Calvin Klein was particularly serious and austere; such a contrast to the ethereal looks of the spring collection. Marchesa had a bunch of very pretty red carpet worthy gowns, but as usual, never particularly original, nor particularly "fall" feeling. I liked Proenza Schouler's collection, the origami jackets as well as more tailored looks with a bit of Asian inspired brocades, very wearable. Not surprisingly, I also liked Theysken's Theory for cool everyday wear, though it was quite similar to his past collections. Of course Marc Jacobs' show was a standout, he's always exciting and memorable if anything. I'm not sure his collection, with the tulip shaped oversized silhouettes and funny fuzzy hats, was as wearable as some of his recent collections, but it was certainly interesting. As for themes, sheer chiffon or lacy peekaboo looks and Asian brocades and patterns were some recurring themes.
All images from
Marc Jacobs. You can't help but smile at his collections. These hats are insane. Part Dr. Seuss, part pimp hats that you buy at Ricky's at Halloween
Marc Jacobs
Proenza Schouler. I really like some of these silhouettes
Proenza Schouler: some interesting fabric choices, very cool
Theyskens Theory. Always cool and super wearable
Victoria Beckham. I actually quite liked the body conscious dresses of this collection. Of course you need to be Beckham thin and a billion feet tall to pull it off
Pretty but predictable Marchesa
Marc by Marc Jacobs. More wearable than the Marc Jacobs line
Donna Karan. I like the center dress with the strong shoulder
Vera Wang
Calvin Klein (so austere!), Thakoon and Zac Posen. Sorry for the clashing looks / colors
Oscar de la Renta (styling very literal), Michael Kors (one of the few non-tartan looks), Ralph Lauren. See commentary above

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Flour's Oreo Cookies and Marcella Hazan's Spaghetti Carbonara

These days, when I do cook, I keep things super simple and last night was no exception: I made a Sweet Lady Jane-inspired fig, speck, feta spinach salad with a shallot red wine vinaigrette, Marcella Hazan's Spaghetti Carbonara and Joanne Chang / Flour's Oreo Cookies (K. and his family loves Oreos). The cookies were the most time consuming, but everything else was put together in less than an hour. I've made Marcella Hazan's spaghetti carbonara several times now and it always a quick, yet delicious and creamy dish, with the smooth eggy cheesy sauce and little pops of pancetta and peas (not in the recipe, but a good addition). Like everything else from the Flour Cookbook, the Oreo Cookies were delightful and a much loved, an elevated tasty version of the original. They were crunchy and crumbly (but not dense) with a deep chocolate / fudgy flavor on the outside with the sweet creamy frosting on the inside. Again, very well balanced and not overly sweet.
The cookie dough: 2 sticks of melted butter mixed with 3/4 cups of granulated sugar, then 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 cup of melted chocolate and 1 egg. Then it's mixed with the dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp of baking soda, 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 tsp of kosher salt. Let it rest for 1 hour at room temp
Dough is rolled into a log (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, 10-12 inches long) in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, rerolling every 15 minutes or so to keep the cylindrical shape.
Cut into 1/4 inches slices and place on cookie sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 23 minutes at 325, rotating once, until firm on top
My first batch: did not space them 1 inch apart. Also, came out flat instead of rounded on top. Wonder if it's the silpat, never quite comes out right vs. parchment paper
Assembled cookies! Frosting is 1/2 cup of softened butter, 1 2/3 cups of confectioners' sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 TB milk, pinch of kosher salt. About 1 TB of filling per cookie. I made about 22 cookies total. They are huge, like 3-4x the size of an oreo cookie
Spaghetti Carbonara: super easy. Saute 4 smashed cloves of garlic in a few TB of olive oil until they've infused the olive oil with garlicky flavor and turn golden brown, then discard. Then cook 4 oz of pancetta in the oil until crispy, then add 1/4 cup of white wine and let it boil for a minute or two. Meanwhile, cook 1 lb of spaghetti, tossing in 1/4 lb of peas for the last minute. In a large serving bowl, crack 2 eggs, 3/4 - 1 cup of parmesan or pecorino romano and lots of coarsely cracked black pepper and mix. Toss everything together in the end.
Fig, Speck, Feta, Almond Spinach Salad with shallot red wine vinaigrette (minced shallots, red wine vinegar, agave, dijon, salt, pepper, olive oil)
I made the Sweet Lady Jane version of the salad a few days ago, with pancetta and arugula instead of speck and spinach. Both work!


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