Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fashion FAIL: Fashion Week of Rochester

This year I was giving it that chance... you know that moment, when you are pretty sure that you need to break up with someone, but you think of all the things you tell yourself that you have in common and say, "Ok, one more chance." The longer you've been together, the harder it is to break up.

It finally happened for me.


I wanted to believe in Fashion Week of Rochester (FWR). Why? Because I believe in the Fashion Industry. I believe in reaching each client, in making fashion both fun as well as functional. I want everyone to experience that spark of excitement that happens when you see yourself from a different point of view. Fashion can be dress-ups for grown ups. But, it's more than that. It is empowering. When your image tells the world who you are, and you will be, you are no longer pretending. You are focused and you are directing your own path, rather than anyone else telling you who you should be. Fashion can be a barometer for the economy and the mood of society; it can be a source for inspiration.

I wanted to believe in Fashion Week Of Rochester because I believe in Fashion. I also like to celebrate small businesses that deserve our business. And, finally, I wanted to part take in the excitement of the fall season, while supporting a good cause.

But, I just couldn't take it anymore. From the very beginning I felt torn by the name "Fashion Week of Rochester" because it implies that it is some sort of parallel to the world re-knowned "Fashion Week." We live in New York State, just hours away from one of the world capitals of Fashion, NYC. It's a bit of an exaggeration to assume the name "Fashion Week of Rochester". I suggest a name change to the likes of "Boutique Fashion Week," "East Side Fashion Showcase," or "Small Business Fashion Week". ANY of the latter would be more accurate, as FWR is showcasing primarily readymade, retail available in stores NOW, rather then forecasting future trends and collections.

But, aside from the name, the experience of Saturday night's Fashion on Franklin show (at the Temple Building) was bewildering...and embarrassing. From the moment we arrived, things seemed less than spectacular. It was raining. We asked for directions to the restrooms, to freshen up. The venue had no restrooms and we were asked to step back outside into the rain to use a dolled up porta-potty. When we finally got to our seats, there was confusion all over the place due to the awful choice to set seating up in columns, rather than rows. ANYONE that bought tickets with a guest was seated in front of or behind their guest. By the time many had finally acquired drinks from the understaffed, over crowded bar, the seating confusion led to a massive amount of $55 ticket holders never actually finding or taking their seats before or after the show began.

ON each seat sat a "swag bag" full or Reed Eye Associates supplies...and nothing more. Really? THIS is a fashion show? There wasn't ANYTHING else even remotely related to fashion that could have gone into that bag... not even a complimentary drink ticket. Completely disorganized, disappointing, and bewildering.

No hate to the dj when I say that the runway music choices felt outdated, like some middle age idea of what is/was "cool". Thankfully, one could tell that any music before/after the pre-determined catwalk tracks was left to the dj's better taste.

The show began without announcement and ended without much closure. The last designer of the night, Artistix, channeled the energy of a Metalcore striptease with 90s throwback denim, which was like getting splashed with cold water after the lack-luster musical choices and bag lady chic of the previous designers. I was not ready for my eyes to be bruised by a portly old rocker, stripping down to his bare, tatto-ed glory. Please, no more....this was when it got really good.

Our venerable East District council woman, Elaine Spaull, had the unfortunate quote of the night, "And now we know that we can help homeless children AND look good while doing it!" Oh, Elaine. Was it worth it to please that drunken east side audience? Is that what gets you the votes?

I had purchased a double glass of wine so that I wouldn't have to go back to the god-awful bar. I left before I was through with the first half. Cool Venue. Neat idea to "bring fashion to the masses." Poorly executed.

When all is said an done, you want to make fashion accessible to people by helping them understand how to utilize it as a tool. The Saturday night showing of FWR just made fashion seem silly and pointless. It was certainly dress-up for grown ups, presented with less than excellent organization or taste. But in that way that makes you wonder, "What was the point of all this again?"  As this event develops, will it become further and further away from what the Fashion Industry really is? Do I keep hoping that next year it will get better?

Should I cut my losses now or keep holding on?

It's that awkward moment when you know a break up is inevitable. Fashion Week of Rochester, we had some good times, but you're not representing the fashion industry well. It's over between us. Better luck next year.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Nitty Gritty on Local Fashion

When something is described as "local," what comes to mind? 

The "shop local" guilt trip? Local farmers. Local musicians. A local fashion show?

Is the "local" label something special, intimate? sub par, amateur? 

Let's talk about local, Rochester fashion. What really irks me about a lot of local fashion events is that, often times, Rochester fashion events depict what is in stores currently, rather than what is being predicted for the the future. This means we are viewing merchandise for purchase, not fresh designs. "Fashion Week of Rochester" is the prime example. I got so pumped when I heard that there was a group of people trying to bring a Fashion Week to Rochester. But...

"Fashion Week of Rochester" cracks me up! Not because I scoff at the effort to increase awareness of the industry. (No, I applaud that!). Rather, it seems unprofessional and, yes, amateur to choose a title that DIRECTLY imitates the world renowned Fashion Week(s) of NYC, London, Paris, and Milan and yet so clearly has the exact opposite mission. 

Fashion Week throughout the world is a show case of designs a year before they hit stores. During fashion week, trends are acknowledged, analyzed and assessed. Designers garner inspiration. Merchandisers plan their purchases. Celebrities make appearances and the financial elite make purchases to have their hands on trends before anyone else does. 

In contrast, Fashion Week of Rochester is a local fashion event that encourages local business by showcasing what is currently in stores and ready to buy. It is an event for advertising, publicity, and a local celebration of garment sales...direct sales to you and I, the consumer. No prediction, no trend analysis, and no Rochester designers are showcased. It's a nice enough event to show off your latest hair style and a sexy pair of heels while enjoying a fancy cocktail. 

Rochester, let's celebrate FASHION by exposing some of the unique designers that are out there making it happen in our city. Do you know that they exist? Did you even know that we have local designers? 

I would like to applaud Tanvi Asher, of Peppermint Boutique for putting together Peppermint Origins: Sewn Seeds, a local showcase of fashion DESIGNS this Saturday, April 27th. Tanvi, designer behind the Peppermint collection, will be showing her designs for this Fall 2013 in collaboration with designers Andrea Geer and Josean Vargis. This collaboration of designers is as much about the educating the consumer as it is about viewing the designs. As described on sewnseeds.com, "The Show will be more than a display of fashion. Origins will show the entire journey of the designers, documenting their processes from inspiration to finished garment."

Brava, Tanvi and the Origins Collaborators! THANK YOU for taking the time to respect the consumer. What to expect?

I expect some glitz. I expect to wear my latest hair stye, a sexy pair of heels, and have a few great cocktail, too. But, this is more than a glamorized shopping bazaar. Beyond that, I expect to be educated and invigorated to support local designers who have professional talent and a long term vision for our city's fashion culture. Let's go get some fashion cred, Rochester.

(for more info and to purchase tickets, go to sewnseeds.com)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wardrobe Emergency: Style Coach to the Rescue

Meet, Katie. 

Katie circa 2010. Katie, pregnant. Katie, happy new mommy. 

Katie is a successful Physician's Assistant with a growing career,  an all American beauty with blonde hair and playful curls.
Katie had a baby about a year ago and is getting re-aquainted with her body, her budget...and her closet.
This is the story of her wardrobe dilemma.

Like many new moms, Katie fears purchasing new clothes, as her size is still shifting and her son ruins everything. She recently took a position in a well maintained Pittsford gynecology office with a fashionable staff of many other women.

Pros and Cons 

Pros: the office culture allows her- nay, ENCOURAGES her- to dress more feminine instead of the traditional, old-fashioned, white lab coat.

Cons: Katie has to think about what she wears everyday and needs to look sharp.

Style coach to the rescue! We gave Katie a Wardrobe and Hair Assessment to help her prepare for stepping into a position with confidence and poise about her.

Step 1. Wardrobe Assessment

DeClutter. Clear your wardrobe of anything you didn't like, want, or have not worn in 3 years (ONE year if you aren't having babies or major operations). For Katie, we kept a few things that she is looking forward to wearing when her body completely returns to pre-baby shape.

Toss Repeats. Sorted through needless repeats of the same items and got rid of redundancies. If you keep buying black cardigans, it's because you don't really love the other 6 you own. OR, you need to start purchasing other colors. Katie definitely had a surplus of denim that she wasn't wearing.

Identify Wardrobe Basics. We went through Andrea's Essentials Wardrobe Basics Checklist and discovered where there were gaps. This is where professional guidance helps you sort through needs V. emotional attachments.

Set Priorities. Make a wardrobe shopping list based on top priority. For Katie, clothes that she could immediately wear to the office were more important than buying her first, perfectly fit designer denim, although both were on the wardrobe basic checklist. She decided to price hunt her denim on Amazon and Ebay until she found a deal.

Balance. A structured, yet feminine, blazer dresses up designer denim. 

Priority. Katie discovers the difference between well fitted denim and decides to search out this pair online for the best price option before purchasing, 

Step 2. Hair Revamp

Katie, Before
Katie, After

Lifestyle. Choose a cut and color that are easy to maintain for your lifestyle. Katie enhances her natural blonde and chooses to embrace her natural waves in order to keep her maintenance as mininmal as possible, while still looking youthful.

Personal Style. Identify your personal style. Do you like to turn heads when you walk into a room? Do you prefer a subtle approach. Is your hair the focal point of your outfit or is your outfit, itself, the focal point?

Time and Financial Investment. Do some research about the rates you expect to pay for cut and color services and use this to create a realistic budget for yourself. Making your maintenance a PART of her monthly or bimonthly budget, keeps Katie from appearing or feeling neglected as a busy young mom. Making time for yourself means planning ahead whether you are planning hair appointments, or exercise time. BUDGET time, budget money.

Katie...young mom, young professional with relaxed, feminine, classic style.
Katie saved herself time, money and headaches by employing a style coach to do a personal image consultation that identifies her style, a wardrobe assessment, and a mini shopping lesson.

With her targeted objectives and shopping check list, she stayed within her budget and knew EXACTLY what she needed to save and shop for in the future.

Katie, on a casual day off...she stopped by to show off her latest shopping finds and fabulous curls.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Things My Mother Never Told Me: CURLS to the Rescue

YES, it is time to have another curly hair chat! Last year, the Curly Hair post had more action than I have ever seen before- why???

Because over 90% of the poplation has curly or wavy hair ... and most of our moms dis not know how to guide us to make it look AMAZING. We were taught to brush our hair, shampoo regularly, and pull it out of the way. 

The KEYS to amazing curls

at home: 

DO NOT over cleanse (cleanse as needed!) = prevention
DO HYDRATE, hydrate, hydrate! = treatment
DO NOT touch constantly. (Decide on the style when the hair is wet, SET, & forget. 
STOP TOUCHING it when it is drying!!!) = daily maintenance

Learn more about at home maintenance with the Purchase of Curly Girl, a guide to all you need to know about hair, by Lorraine Massey (co-owner & stylist at Devachan Salons in NYC). 

This is a GIANT sized CURLY GIRL hand book...in the entrance way to Devachan Salon, Soho. 

at the salon: 

find a stylist that works with a lot of curly hair = experience
find a stylist that cuts curls DRY= knowledge
find a stylist that doesn't ASSUME you expect your curls to be blown out = can educate you 

This wavy hair looked straight and frizzy when she came in...

Camera shy, yet beautiful sleek waves...at any age! Never too late to learn!

added bonus: FIND A STYLIST that is a curl specialist. This means trained by CURL professionals like the DEVACHAN salon training in NYC. = next level excellence 
Requesting a "Curly Hair Styling Lesson" is one the best uses of your time and money...most curl specialists will include a mini lesson with your hair cut, but don't be afraid to ask (or pay for) extra time to take a lesson. This is information you will use for the rest of your life. 

Recently, I finished intense training with Devachan Master Stylist, Denis DiSalva (co-owner and inventor) and Master Colorist Shari Harbinger. As a DEVA inspired stylist, it is my goal to share with you little known truths behind beautiful natural hair care...and SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS for all those lost curly girls out there who have been going at this thing trial-and-error since childhood. 

Annalise & Denis showing off their eager pupil. 
Denis explains the dry cut, the similarities and differences to cutting straight hair. 
Hard at work practicing on freshly highlighted curls, PINTURA style. 

My beautiful cut & color model- a joy!! Her curls were completely gone on her ends (from over chemical processing) before we began her transformation.  

To learn more about my exciting trip to Devachan NYC, read my Fusion Salon blog @ fusionsalon.us !


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