Outfit for an Evening Out

Last weekend my husband, Adam, and I enjoyed a rare baby-free evening out at the Wellesley Country Club for the Northeast Region Porsche Club of America Annual Gala. We caught up with friends over a lovely banquet dinner and danced the night away to the hot Boston band Clockwork. Some time between accepting a first place award in his division of Autocross racing and helping to administer the “pick-up and pay” responsibilities of the night’s silent auction, Adam was able to snap a few pictures with me to help document one of my favorite outfits I’ve worn in a long time.

3 runway looks featuring the Floral Folk tapestry from Matthew Williamson’s Fall 2013 Ready To Wear show

The dress, a dense woolen mini from Matthew Williamson’s Fall 2013 collection, turned out to be a perfect choice for the January occasion. Not only did the “clean silhouette maximize the impact of the Floral Folk rose jacquard” (as the product information on MW’s site aptly describes), but it also coordinated beautifully with the elegantly appointed clubhouse. From there, I gave the look a youthful twist by pairing the dress with some McQ by Alexander McQueen snappy strappy sandals in navy and hot pink and Elizabeth Cole fish bone crystal earrings. This outfit had nearly as many bells and whistles as a new Porsche!

Loving our coordinating neon soles! (Adam in Cole Haan wingtips) To read more about the great event, please visit: http://www.porschenet.com/

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Luck be a Ladybug

When I set out to create the design for a pair of custom shoes, I always start by searching the Information Packet my client has filled out for unique personal details that will make the shoes extra special. In Jodi’s case, it was obvious – she told me she loves ladybugs and as a long time figure skater, has always worn a little ladybug for good luck when skating. She requested that we incorporate one into the design of her bridal shoes and I jumped at this challenge. There was never any doubt that these shoes would be unique and filled with personal sentiment, but the key was designing a tasteful wedding-appropriate solution using such a whimsical and symbolic icon.

Jodi had planned an old hollywood styled wedding with a black and white color scheme, accented with crystals, stripes and polka dots to complete an opulent art deco vibe. It couldn’t be more perfect for the graphic nature of a stylized ladybug – with it’s polka-dotted half-moon wings – to fit right into this aesthetic and so I started sketching designs that featured the beetle quite prominently. One idea was to use a pair of vintage ladybug earrings, but Jodi chose an even more customized approach of integrating the ladybug into the actual heel counter of the shoe. From there, I experimented with various entry configurations and we landed on a very vintage style t-strap with dual Swarovski buckled ankle straps unconventionally facing forwards to represent the ladybug’s antennas.

On the day of her wedding, Jodi’s maid of honor helped her slip on the shoes and they fit to perfection. Moments later, her two flower girls came into the dressing room with cupped hands saying they had a surprise to share. Just then, a ladybug flew out of one of the girls hands and landed on Jodi’s dress! What a truly unbelievable sign of good fortune that will hopefully continue to bless Jodi and Josh throughout the rest of their lives together. Jodi later mentioned to me that her Katie Blauer shoes stayed comfortable all the way through dancing and on until the end of the night so it sounds like this lucky ladybug was off to a good start!

Wedding photos above by Adriano Batti. See more of these ladybug shoes in our Gallery!

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Misc. Six

There was a long span of time this summer when nothing I encountered on the internet seemed worth blogging about. I wish I could say this was the result of a preoccupation with documenting all of my son’s amusing moments and achievements, but I have to admit that I haven’t even written in Hunter’s baby book since before his 1st birthday in early June! I think it’s safe to say we had a very busy summer, but it’s also likely that I have a much stronger attraction to fall/winter seasoned things and just as the temps have dropped from the 70s to the 50s over the last few weeks, all of a sudden there’s been an influx of exciting items to share. As for the baby book, I’m hoping to catch up on that during some invaluable travel hours I’ll be afforded on my upcoming business trip to China.

#1. This amazing architectural wooden clutch recently popped up on my Pinterest feed and I immediately wanted to learn more about the story behind the design. Tesler Mendelovich is an Israeli duo, who has created a process to work with wood as if it were a textile. In a video on their homepage Orli Tesler explains, “I believe that holding wood and wearing wood makes the body feel really good … [Wood] is spicy and it’s warm.” Sydne Summer from the Sydne Style blog accessorized a Tesler Mendelovich clutch a little over a year ago at the NYFW 2013 (photo below). This Rosewood colorway, in particular, is what I was the most drawn to and, like a classic Eames lounge chair, is special because you can sense that the piece is not only innovative, but will surely stand the test of time.

#2. I’m not sure how I missed it back in February when the line debuted at Milan’s fashion week, but the Dolce & Gabbana Fall 14 ready-to-wear collection captured my heart just in time for the leaves to start falling this autumn. According to vogue.com, the whimsical appliquéd designs are “drawn from the illustrations of knights and ladies, and flora and fauna that once adorned medieval illuminated manuscripts.” My favorite pieces in the collection feel like Swiss scherenschnitte meets Brian Jacque’s Redwall series and while some women might think the designs too juvenile, to me, it’s always fun to add a little whimsy in your wardrobe.

#3. At the end of last month, I received an email blast from Matthew Williamson that his newest line of wallpapers and fabrics had just launched for Osborne & Little. I was well aware that MW dabbled in home décor, having previously written about his rug collection, but hadn’t yet discovered that his glamorous prints were being translated into wallpaper! Unfortunately, I realized that most of the Fall 14 line felt very tropical, having been inspired by Matthew’s latest trip to Bali, and not my cup of tea. My favorite print turned out to be his “Tyger Tyger” pattern from the Fall 13 line, which I can imagine working perfectly in an opulent powder room. Although, probably not appropriate for my own home, I loved finding his blog posts that illustrate the connection between each wallpaper design and its corresponding runway inspiration – here and here.

#4. Last month I also signed up with Vestaire Collective after catching up on Style Bubble and reading Susie’s article about the French luxury resale company. I scoured the site and found many pieces I had been coveting, but inevitably decided that for the most part, the high shipping cost from France made these second-hand pieces cost prohibitive. Vestiare Collective does have a New Outlet, however, and some fur handbags caught my eye from a company called FSP (Fashion Sensitive Planet), based in South Africa. The bags are made of Springbok hides, an African antelope-gazelle type animal that features striking color and a mohawk tuft of fur running down its back. Ever since learning about this Springbok fur, I’ve been noticing it more often and have even considered purchasing a hide to craft a unique piece of my own.

Springbok clutch bag by FSP Collection, Brother Vellies Springbok Vellie boot and Mini Vellie boot, Phillip Lim 3.1 Small Ryder fur satchel, Ted Baker Moti envelope leather clutch

Brother Vellies, Nordstrom

Camilla Skovgaard, eBay

#5. Keeping on the theme of fur on shoes, Rachel Comey’s Fall 14 footwear collection, emailed out last week, struck me as being more menswear inspired than any women’s line I’d ever seen. While oxfords aren’t my favorite type of shoe, the Aspen boot caught my eye as being one of the most interesting clash of design elements that could appeal to me with its tortoise heel clip, sawtooth sole, and fur and leather combo. In fact, I think this little math equation, pulling from two of my other bygone favorite shoes, kind of sums up Comey’s fantastic solution.

Camper x Bernhard Willhelm “Himalaya” trainer + Belle by Sigerson Morrison “Eskimo” boot = Rachel Comey “Aspen” boot

#6. I’ve been following the “Warhol of Instagram”, Donald “Drawbertson” Robertson for just a few months now, which I guess puts me in the “late to the game” camp on this one. His seemingly effortless style of art (incorporating plenty of non-conventional media, from gaffer tape to paper bags) is a satirical take on all-things high fashion / pop-culture and is therefore very entertaining. Donald posts tiny doodles, giant paintings, iconic logos on his breakfast plate, and just as amusing – snapshots of his twin infant boys. He’s been blowing up and getting plenty of press lately, but for me, he’s worth noting because it seems that all of this remains a labor of love for him. I was shocked to find out he was a co-founder of MAC Cosmetics and currently a top creative exec at Este Lauder. The creative drive it takes to continue to produce so many clever pieces, participate in a windfall of collaborations, interact with your five children AND keep your day job is an inspiration for sure.

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Gallery Preview: Vintage Michigan

When I found out Melissa and Robert’s wedding was going to be Michigan themed, I could easily relate, as my own wedding was very much Vermont themed, but at the same time I was apprehensive about how I could best translate the state of Michigan into a pair of shoes. Noting that their venue, the charming Stafford’s Bay View Inn, was built in 1886, I started scouring eBay for vintage Michigan items that might speak to this bygone era and give me a tangible state themed element to repurpose.

The best options that I found were a few nice Michigan state map handkerchiefs, mostly produced by a company called Franshaw, probably in the 1940’s and 1950’s, when it was popular to bring such souvenir linens home from vacation. I thought this particular hankie (shown above) was perfect because it’s combination of white, blue and pretty apple blossoms (the Michigan state flower) felt very bridal. The only problem was Melissa’s color scheme for her wedding featured a plum-colored purple, not pink.

MichiganPainting

In keeping with my ethos of ultimate customization, I gathered an arsenal of fabric paints and fabric markers and hand-colored every spot of pink on the handkerchief over in purple to match my Plum reference swatch of David’s Bridal satin, as per the bridesmaid’s dresses. Of course I felt a twinge of guilt as I painted – and then proceeded to cut up – this lovely antique hankie, but it was for the greater good of my artistic endeavors and for Melissa’s one of a kind wedding, so the thought was fleeting.

MelissaDressandShoes

I designed the shoe itself to have an overlapping ruched pattern in the front, mimicking the bodice of Melissa’s wedding gown and incorporated some Swarovski crystals to finish the edges of the map and accent the center of each apple blossom flower, which also tied into the belt detail on her dress. The subtle silver lambskin leather on the rest of the shoe picked up on the groomsmen’s light grey suits. As you can see, the pair really came together to spell out Melissa and Robert’s love for their home state and, of course, for each other. Click here to see more photos on Melissa’s page in our Gallery section.

MelissaShoesinGrass

Wedding photos above by Nolee Photography

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First Day of School

Today was the day after Labor Day and I had just gotten back from some time off for our last vacation of the summer. When I got dressed this morning it felt like I was headed to the first day of school. Although I hadn’t gone “back to school shopping” and nothing I was wearing was new, I had never tried this combination before so it felt like a brand new outfit. Pairing a chambray shirt with a denim skirt surprised me a little but the colors worked and the geometric angles further tied the two pieces together. As wonderful as summer can be, getting back to the routine that September brings always feels refreshing. That being said, starting September off with temps as high as 90° was not exactly what I had in mind after having just said goodbye to summer! Luckily, today was also my son’s first swim lesson, so he got to take advantage of that first-day excitement AND the hot weather!

Candela Elizabeth denim shirt c. 2012 // Sass & Bide high waist denim mini skirt c. 2009 // Latigo Westward Huarache shoes c. 2014

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Not Just Black and White

I’ve been meaning to write a post about these Alexander Wang doodle jeans for a long time – so long now that by some definitions, they might be considered vintage! That’s because they were from Wang’s Spring 2011 collection and received added attention when Michelle Obama wore them mural painting in Africa later that summer. Old news, I know. But I snatched up my pair for a steal at the South Coast Plaza Nordstrom Rack and have only worn them a handful of times so they still feel special. In fact, being of workwear grade 100% no-stretch cotton, the pants were rendered totally out of commission all of last year while I was pregnant. Happily, when I pulled them out from the bottom of the pile a few weeks ago and paired them with an on-trend cropped tank, they felt brand new all over again. (I won’t get into the white zipper-laden Ksubi jean jacket right now, which is even older.)

The “art kid” in me loves these jeans for the fun rubberized doodle print and my more sophisticated side appreciates that, despite the crazy print, they still read as a neutral. In a similar vein, my Converse Platform Plus sneakers act as a versatile Acne-inspired sleek basic, but the marbled rubber sole adds an artistic, more playful element. I have to say, and not because I designed them, these hidden wedges are one of the most comfortable options in my current shoe collection. I have worn them for a full day shopping the streets of Brooklyn without complaint and along with another pair in mono-military green, haven’t found an outfit they don’t enhance. Lots of style mavens run a totally black and white kit, but I like to think that these kinds of little surprises bring some much-needed personality to our often overly serious fashion world. Why not try adding a doodle or a splash of paint onto something in your closet!?

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Little Blue Truck Birthday

On Saturday June 7th our son, Hunter, turned 1 year old. We celebrated under a tent in the backyard with 30 of our closest family and friends, and while nothing about the party had to do with shoes, the level of handmade detail was on par with any custom pair, so I thought it was worth sharing.

The theme of the party was based on Hunter’s favorite book, “The Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle. It’s a story about a friendly truck and his farmyard friends, hanging out in the countryside and lending a hand to anyone in need. This provided the perfect setting for a summer party and I focused on a blue palette with royal picnic check tablecloths and navy bandana napkins, mixed with natural farm colors from straw hay bales and fresh sunflowers to kraft paper accents. Everyone had a wonderful time – especially Hunter, who was showered with fun presents, yummy food, and lots of love all afternoon.

The invitations and thank you cards featured scanned images from the Little Blue Truck book, which I photoshopped, in the case of the invites, to include an illustrated caricature of Hunter in the driver’s seat. My sister-in-law, Ali, expertly created the table signs (complete with on-theme chalkboard labels) and Happy 1st Birthday Hunter letters using her Silhouette cutter.

For the food, we offered traditional farm-fresh favorites including my mom’s divine deviled eggs, a huge batch of delicious corn salsa made by my in-laws and 4 outstanding homemade pies straight from my grandmother’s own farmhouse kitchen in Vermont. I made Hunter’s birthday cake and the Little Blue Truck cookies from scratch as well, which were tied with raffia and offered as party favors.

FoodTables PieTable

Our piece de la resistance was the Little Blue Truck replica my husband modified from a yellow Little Tikes roadside find, which included the addition of headlights, taillights, hubcaps, spray paint and an assortment of barnyard Beanie Babies hitching a ride. We also showcased a framed set of Hunter’s month-by-month photos encircling the drink table and had some twangy country music playing in the background. Happy Birthday, indeed, to our smart, funny, adventurous, little boy!

LittleBlueTruckReplica

Hunter: Baby Gap tshirt and shorts // Katie: Splendid dress, David Yurman bracelets, turquoise earrings from Sedona, AZ

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Baby Battin

Say hello to Logan T Battin, Matt and Amber’s adorable baby boy, who they welcomed into the world today. Amber spent the back half of her pregnancy in custom Katie Blauer maternity flats, which were designed to celebrate the Battin’s first baby, while keeping Mom’s feet cute and happy. With Baby Logan’s arrival, I’m sure the long pregnancy already feels like a distant memory and hope that the shoes will now serve as a memento of that special time filled with anticipation. Having designed the shoes around the Battin’s Muppet-themed nursery as well, it’s nice to think about the bright colors and warm atmosphere that await Logan once he heads home from the hospital. Matt and Amber will go from planning for the future to living in the moment and before long they’ll be saying, “Where did the time go!?” With Hunter turning 11 months tomorrow, I’m currently thinking the same thing!

The colorful characters who inspired each stripe: Fozzy, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and Kermit!

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Toggle Trouble

Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent has been a favorite label of mine for a long time. Over the years I’ve especially loved when the Los Angeles based designer has captured the California boho-chic style through eclectic collections that feature Native American inspired patterns. While living in Southern California I was lucky enough to go to a couple sample sales at their offices in the fashion district of downtown LA, but my favorite Twelfth Street piece is still the “Vintage Dakota” cardigan (below left), which I picked up at Flight Boutique in Park City, UT back in the Spring of 2009 or 2010.

Although the Dane calf-hair bootie has been an indispensable addition to my wardrobe this season, lately I’ve been less captivated by the apparel offering. Nevertheless, my sweet husband surprised me with a very nice Cynthia Vincent shawl collar sweater for Christmas this year. Its a cozy cardigan with a cut that’s unique enough to be both interesting and still versatile. That being said, I was quite disappointed to notice that the appliqués that secure the toggle detail were made in cheap synthetic leather! Some people might see this as a trivial detail and maybe, being a shoe designer, I’m extra sensitive to material decisions, but I knew it would bother me if I let it remain.

I think a classic detail like this deserves a more authentic execution and would have thought that Cynthia Vincent was making clothes to a higher standard (especially on a sweater with a retail price of around $300). But in no time at all, I had chosen a dusty pearlized suede, swapped out the patches and toggle loops, and the cheap faux leather was a distant memory. Of course I won’t hold it against CynVin for cutting corners – I’m sure she is under a lot of pricing pressure from her suppliers and stockists – but I do hope that this isn’t the first sign of the downturn of her line. In the meantime, I was happy to do this little DIY to ensure my sweater makes it into regular rotation during the remaining days of winter.

Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent sweater and velvet skirt, Equipment silk blouse, LL Bean boots

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Misc. Six

It’s been nearly a year since my last Misc. Six post! Although I can’t believe how fast the time has flown, I’m not surprised that with the addition of Baby, my hobby of collecting and chronicling the interesting design/art/fashion related items I come across has fallen a few notches on the priority list. That being said, I don’t think I’ll ever stop noticing these types of special things that catch my eye and if anything, I now feel compelled to expose our child to a similar range of great design, culture, nature, etc. On my recent trip to Copenhagen, I brought him back this very cool photo-real shirt from the always fun and progressive Danish kids brand, Molo (1a). I also couldn’t help but pick up a couple traditional Scandinavian wooden toys for his room – a sparrow and baby elephant, which are original mid-century designs by Gunnar Flørning that have been reissued by Lucie Kaas (1b).

But the design-inspired gifts didn’t stop there! While shopping in Iceland, I bought our 8-month-old baby this Fishbone Model Making Kit, made for 8 years and up (1c). Although he’ll have to wait a while to enjoy it, I couldn’t resist because it was such a unique (read: cool, gross, creepy) toy that you would never find in America. The packaging is equally as appealing, done in a retro style that harkens back to that wholesome era of un-restricted playthings. I can’t wait to watch Hunter’s imagination run wild making scary monsters out of Icelandic fish bones!

In a similar spirit of bringing art into his life, last month we took Hunter for his first visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. We were there to see the John Singer Sargent Watercolors show, which was excellent and the baby did great, but the piece that I remember most from the day was from the current fashion exhibit called “Think Pink” – a small show featuring pieces that illustrate the history of the color from the origins of its name to the evolution of its social significance. While I’ve personally never been a big fan of pink, I’m sure I was drawn to this photograph because of its impressive exercise in color assemblage. As a long-time collector of turquoise things who has more recently jumped on the bandwagon of color-organizing our bookshelves, seeing this image of the bitty girl surrounded by a vast sea of her pink collection warmed my heart. Of course JeongMee Yoon’s piece is speaking more about gender politics and consumerism and I also enjoyed finding the other half of her thesis – a little-boy-blue version of the same concept (2).

SeoWoo and Her Pink Things 2006 by JeongMee Yoon

Jake and His Blue Things 2006 by JeongMee Yoon

3. Back in December, my Aunt Donna sent me an email about an artist named Simon Beck who creates massive drawings in the snowfields of the French Alps. Using cartography skills and a pair of Tubbs snowshoes (which happen to be made in Donna’s hometown of Stowe, Vermont), Beck must battle the elements with painstaking precision to execute each design. While it seems a bit tragic that this meticulous art is so temporary, its harmony with nature is also what makes it so beautiful. “The mountains improve the artwork and the artwork improves the mountains,” Beck explains in this 5-minute video about his process. Another cool video posted on Beck’s Facebook page just a couple weeks ago shows a recent project for Audi where Beck was commissioned to recreate their Quattro logo in the snow at the base of a Swiss ski resort!

Simon Beck in front of one of his designs from this winter at Arc2000 ski resort in France.

The 4th item on this installment of Misc. Six is my requisite ode to Matthew Williamson – this time, specifically his AW13 collection, which was a refreshing departure from the tight mini dresses and flowing chiffon gowns he’s most known for. Although I always admire his prints and color combinations, I loved even more that this line infused these elements on more winterized and casual silhouettes. My favorite piece is this chevron rabbit sweater, in the inky blue, of course. Without even trying it on I can tell that the oversized boxy cut with ¾ length sleeves and strategic hits of rabbit fur would make for the perfect fit. Coupled with these Fair Isle jacquard skinnies from the same collection (as styled by Maison De J) and you’ve got an outfit that’s as chic as it is comfortable and right up my alley.

4MWsweater

5. Another exciting reinvention comes from David Yurman, which I was tipped off about a couple of months ago from a mysterious photo of a striking purple bracelet on Glamour Magazine’s Instagram. Just last week David Yurman sent out an email blast officially launching a multi-tiered collection that honors the 30th anniversary of their classic cable, which includes the reimagining of the Renaissance style in anodized aluminum. Offered in a range of 10 mono-colors, it definitely feels like Yurman is taking a cue from the Apple playbook and at just $350, I don’t think it will be too difficult to add this beauty to my own collection (I’ll take one in black, thanks). While my husband informs me that this price is still outrageous, considering the aluminum part probably costs only a couple of bucks, I think it’s a small price to pay for this modern twist on a timeless classic.

My final Misc. Six topic for this installment (6.) is all about Jeff Soto, an artist from Southern California who recently gave an inspiring presentation about his career to the design team at Converse. It was a rare opportunity to hear the anecdotal stories and influences that has brought him to where he is today – an accomplished and highly sought after fine artist, illustrator and muralist. It was especially interesting to see his artistic progression after he walked away from a life of graffiti and honed his skills at Art Center in Pasadena, but I think the most touching aspect of his story was how the birth of his daughter affected his work. Like many artists, Jeff is a very sensitive guy who has often felt the weight of the world’s problems on his shoulders and he explained how his awareness of that intensified after his first daughter was born – to the point where he lost the motivation to pursue his own work. A couple years later, it took a new found activity of coloring with her for Jeff to find a renewed purity of inspiration and get back into it. I can totally relate to how a baby changes your perception of the world and your priorities in life, although in my case, the only excuse I have for my reduced artistic output is that there aren’t more hours in the day. Better stop all this writing and get back to more making!

One of Jeff’s most recent and largest murals to date (Fall 2013) – a collaboration with his friend Maxx242 in Luxembourg which “explores themes of death and rebirth, the cycle of life and love.” via Jeff’s blog.

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