Monday, April 30, 2012

Seeing McQueen: The Man

Cover for the famous Met Exhibit
"Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty"

I'm taking the hint.
I've been wanting to write on Alexander McQueen ever since I first discovered the label.

I even had a few drafts of various posts,
but I just wasn't getting around to it. If you know the House of McQueen, you can understand why the task was a bit... 

But then Time Magazine had to go and make Sarah Burton one of its Top 100 'Most Influential People' of 2012. I mean, Sarah Jessica Parker wrote the darn article.

It was the kick in the pants I needed.
So let's get started.

This is Alexander McQueen.
To be honest, it's hard for me to look at this photo.
He is intense. And I can feel the torture.

I understand torture. I've seen darker days than most.
And perhaps it's because I know this was once my mirror.
It's too close to comfort- to hard a reminder.
Because this torture lent to a short life for McQueen.

"...It was like exorcising my ghosts in the collections.
They were to do with my childhood, the way I think about life
and the way I was brought up to think about life."
-Alexander McQueen

I tear up just typing this quote. It resonates so deeply with me.
And it hurts even more knowing that the effort to "exorcise" his ghosts did not save him.

We lost McQueen by his own hand on February 11, 2011.
At, what some would call, the height of his fame.

And, as I learn and feed and grow upon his designs from the last two brilliant decades
of his remarkably young, yet powerful years...

I see his honesty. And I understand.

McQueen was reborn in his right hand, Sarah Burton.
She took over with grace and honored his name by not only bringing us
collections that lovingly covet his vision, 
but also made his name immortal with 
"the wedding dress"
of the century.

'til tomorrow,

Friday, April 27, 2012

Top 10 Red Carpet Looks of All Time

I'm gathering a lot of fans who don't know who I am. That is awesome! I'm so glad you love my work! But if you are new, then let me catch you up. I used to be a dancer. Well, not "just" a dancer. I competed at the champion level in a dance called West Coast Swing, owned my own ballroom studio by my twenties and have choreographed and coached and traveled the US ever since. But then my community became pretty lost (you'll see what I mean if you watch the so called "west coast swing" videos on YouTube nowadays) and I had two pretty serious car accidents within 8 years that pulled me off the floor. So I started writing. Oh, I still dance and I still teach, but it's safe to say... I'm a writer now. I figured I had missed my true calling when my first article for my dance community had 3,000 hits in the first 48 hrs! I'm blessed with an ever-expanding readership that stretches to over 40 countries around the world. I'm growing. And so is my writing. Which lead me... somehow... to fashion.

So this is the first fashion post I ever wrote, and I originally posted it on March 15th of this year on my WCS blog, WCSKat. But now it's time to share it with you. It's pretty long, but hey- I had a lot I'd wanted to say for a long time.  My readers loved it, even though it wasn't dance related, a lot of them are following me here as well. But now I have you! And I'm so glad. I hope you enjoy my very first start in fashion! Here you go...

The moment I caught a glimpse  of Angelina Jolie in this dress, I was struck with the need to write. It's been a few weeks since the Golden Globes, but I've been slowly gathering my thoughts and researching this post ever since.

"Why?" you may be asking, "What in the world does this have to do with swing?" Touche. I was surprised myself. But when I asked myself the same question, repeatedly, the same words would answer back: 
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Phil 4:8
And with the eye that I've been gifted with, I haven't had a lot to feed on lately in my dear world of WCS. So I've found my eye wandering... wandering to other areas of inspiration... things that are "lovely," "excellent," and "praiseworthy."  In so many ways I'm an artist, and as an artist, we need to be fed, warmed and inspired.

So, if you're up for it, I'm going to share moments on the Red Carpet that have "fed" me and my specific eye. Here are a few things to know before I start...

First, I'm very picky. I just am. I have seen some of the most beautiful gowns on the most beautiful of women, but I am not inspired. Why? Because the dress wears the woman. Because the woman overpowers the dress. Because the woman and the dress clash... and clash badly... in personality, in color, in spirit and in balance. And that just doesn't work for me. It takes every little corner and aspect to be perfect for me, on so many levels, so... I am picky.

Secondly, there are some moments that I remember brilliantly... but they did not photograph well. I hardly watch awards shows anymore, and if I ever do get the chance to watch, I'm only watching the red carpet to see how the gowns move. Photos hardly ever capture the real life effect of these gowns. Sadly, many designers feel pressure to design "photographs-well" fashions, and I admire the ones who say, "sorry, but I design fashions for women to wear."  Awesome. But because of this, some of my very dear favorites are not here... there are no photos that captured the excellence, vibrance and valiant feminine nature of the moments. Too sad, but too true.

And finally, as I assembled all of these moments, I am struck at how the moments don't necessarily line up with "celebs" that I am a fan of. Some of these women are talented, some of them are questionable. I don't really care. This is about my eye, and the beauty I was truly edified by.  I hope you enjoy and endure this little "foray into fashion" with me!

Hilary Swank in Guy Laroche
2005 at The Academy Awards (Oscars)

Holy freakin' Moly! Again, Hilary is not someone I follow religiously, but I would follow her anywhere in this dress. I have a hard time looking away. It just makes me blissful and strong in its perfection.  It's endlessly feminine, yet dramatically strong in its palette of dark blue. Instead of skin tight, which it definitely is, you find it to be sculptured and edgy.

Very few people can pull off this dress and do it justice. In fact, this is one of those times where you think, "someone else in this dress? Unthinkable." And it is. When I try to imagine it, I just see Hilary. 

Oh, and did I mention? The back was the best...

Bam. Who the heck can duplicate this? It's not even sexy. It's not sensual. It's just... perfect. Sharp. Killer. Feminine. Winning. (Oh, and if you didn't notice... she did! Notice how perfectly this color goes with a gold statuette? Touche, again, my lovelies!)

Eva Mendes in Christian Dior & Van Cleef & Arpels Jewels
2009 at the Golden Globes

Let's face it. This moment would never be a moment without the jewels, so they most definitely deserved a mention right up front. But the balance, the va-voom, the luscious yet elegant sway in all the right places... well, it's the first time I ever loved turquoise. Heck, it even made me a fan of Eva. I'll never see her the same way again. But for me, I have to say, it was one of the sweetest most miraculous moments in fashion for me in a long time. I simply don't think I'll ever be so happy with anything she ever dons again. And I'm okay with that. Thank you Eva... thank you Dior, thank you Van Cleef & Arpels... and shucks, I'll have to say it, thank you Zoe. Who knew a bohemian chic (which is the opposite of all that I am) stylist could create such perfection? Loveliness. Loveliness. Loveliness.

Heidi Klum in John Galliano
2008 at The Academy Awards (Oscars)

Heidi loves to wear red. And I don't mind. I love red. And I mean, I LOVE red. She makes me love red even more. But this is my favorite-est red moment for Heidi. (Favorite-est is going to be a word today, my loves!)

See, the thing is, it's hard to do red justice. And this dress (and Heidi) succeeds... with flying and joyous colors. It's fun, it's bright, it's swirling and it's consuming... its passionate. Red is passion. And this moment makes me want to go swimming  in it. But then it doesn't. It's just right. Frame the face, frame the hair, frame the clavicle and attack that carpet in astounding and vibrant... passion. Life. Brilliance. 


Michelle Williams in Vera Wang
2006 at The Academy Awards (Oscars)
Where did you come from, Michelle Williams? You have been making headlines lately for your perfect fashion picks, which I have to agree, are quite on the nose. But this is still the "one" for me. Why? Because it's yellow (sorry, "marigold" for the real fashionistas) and frankly I don't own a single yellow thing. I'm sitting on a red shag carpet with red velvet drapes with a painting of a zebra next to me with... you guessed it... a red background.

So. I don't do yellow (sigh, marigold!). Until this moment. And it has stuck with me ever since. Honestly, the necklace and the lipstick are essential here, as was the sweet moment when the (now late) then husband Heath Ledger turned to her and sweetly swept her hair from her face and gazed adoringly. It was a bit of gold in a few ways, and I doubt anything in this color scheme will ever sweep me away again... truly perfect music and lyrics in harmony. The sweetest of songs. Just so.

Ashley Olsen in vintage Christian Dior
2011 at The Met Gala
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala)
As much as I adore keeping in touch with The Met Gala red carpet, it typically has too many "misses" for me. Why? Well, the looks are much more daring and dazzling there. I love it. I desire entry to this event more than any red carpet in my home Cali. I just want to go! But because of the drama, it is much easier for attendees to "miss the mark." Sometimes I think Daphne Guiness is the only one who could walk this carpet well, but even there I feel she's more show than walk. And again, I'm okay with that. Again... I just want to go! and go now!

But I digress. Back to Ms. Olsen. It's funny that, at the event that has so many "missed marks," it's an Olsen twin that nails it smack straight on the head for me at that very same event. The Olsen twins never hit the sweet spot. The grunge spot, maybe. The distressed spot, perhaps... but this? This is a flurry of oxygen, wind, fire and romance in one fell sweep of the billowed sleeve. Love it. Love, love, love it. And work those 12 inch heels, lovely lady! The perfect match for that perfect slit for that perfect line... 

Charlize Theron in Dior Haute Couture
2012 at The Golden Globes
I'm not a fan of pink. This is not pretty in pink though. This is a soft age-appropriate petal pink. And add that slit, that plunging neckline, the heels and the headband... and I'm sold. She's like a modern day Barbie that I would buy. Tweak even one little thing, even a different shade of lipstick or different eye, and it would fall apart. I personally feel Charlize could have retired after that J'Adore Dior commercial that they still, and very much should, keep playing. But it looks like retirement isn't anywhere on the horizon. And she knows it. Oh.... she knows it!

Halle Berry in Elie Saab
2002 at The Academy Awards (Oscars)
When someone says "famous Oscar dresses," I automatically think of Halle Berry in this dress. I can't believe it's been 10 years. And I still dare anyone else to wear this dress. Nope. It's not gonna happen. Halle was born for it. Or the dress was born for her. I don't know how it happened and I really don't care. I'm just glad that it happened. Period. I remember channel skipping all the way back then to get a glimpse of it, and though I still think Nicole Kidman should have won that year for Moulin Rouge (the Academy knew it and rewarded her the next year, but by then she wore a boring black number- take that Academy!), Halle owned that carpet in a way that won't be forgotten for decades to come. Wrap me up in this heat, smoke and finely blossomed confection of structure anytime... yowzers.

Sofia Vergara in Vera Wang
2012 at The Golden Globes
This bombshell looks amazing in almost anything. She does our curves proud. But with curves comes the ability to go so wrong, and she just doesn't. Every time I work on this article, I find myself conjuring the look in my head, and striking a pose in the grocery line at the market. I want midnight blue feather fins swirling around me topped with a corseted waist that isn't wanton, sloppy or slovenly... just placed, pieced and lovingly alive. It's a brilliant feat, for both Vera and Sofia. And, I should note, a brilliant moment that does not rely upon jewels... natural brilliance. It's very own jewel.

Kate Beckinsale in Gucci Premiere
2010 at The Cannes Film Festival
I've seen a million photos of Kate in Cannes, wowing the French in this dress. Awww, why didn't she wow us in this dress on our shores? Oh, but she does... so very often she does. She is one of the most stunning beauties of our time and her stylists must know it well, or at least she does, because I've been in awe at her constant "en pointe." But this is my favorite. I can't get over it. And it's one of the few moments where closeups do more and more justice to the look.

It's in the details. And she's glowing. Radiance is brimming in the sharpest sparkles and softest edges. Her earrings, her cheekbones, the bow, the drapes, the... everything. It's breathtaking. But it's also celebratory. But it's also French. "Je m'appelle Kate!' "Oui! Oui!"

And that about wraps it up for now... there are others, but it's time for me to wrap it up before I overload you with the moments and lines and fabulousness that make me settle in and sigh with complete happiness. So what if everyone is straddling a pony and calling it technique? I can get my beauty elsewhere for now...

J'adore Dior... and Vera... and Laroche... and Galliano,
the perfect lipstick and clutch to match,
and UStream can stream and scream without me!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shades of Grey: Dior Hits Shanghai

Christian Dior put on quite a show in Shanghai this April.
I'm getting to know Dior, and this straight up statement just might be a staple in my Dior collection. Dior does crisp and clean in a way that really resonates with me sometimes and I'm often surprised at how delighted I am by their creations once in a while. And this is outstanding. I. Sigh.

The angles, the blocking, the shades of gray (I'm sure the book is just a coincidence!) making this the softest gunmetal / sparkling / raining-to-mist creation a classic for me. Every time I feast my eyes on it, I'm caught up in the skirt. Dang. That is one heck of a ball gown, if you could even call it that. And the bow and sheer top... it's all just perfection to me.

There were some other conservative classic cut inspirations I found myself enchanted in a fresh and young way by too...

This kind of cut normally turns me off- it's stiff and constricting- but the skirt changes the entire look. Its energetic and the uneven lines just expand the energy, the spirt, the youth.  I love it. It makes me want to skip, in a very ladylike way of course. And though I'd never call myself a Jackie O kinda girl... well...  I do own nearly every version of oversized dark sunglasses...

Hmmm.... would that be lovely!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Purple Jungle

That's right. 
Mother Nature is a Fashion Designer.

Please welcome the newly discovered and "brightly hued" river crab from the Philippines!
National Geographic announced this little guy, along with three others with him, as the "Freshwater Species of the Week."

I didn't even know there was a "Freshwater Species of the Week" award.
Goes to show how little I know.

But this little guy (I keep calling him that because he only gets to be two inches wide, max! awww...) is just beautiful in his purple royalty. The red claws just set the multi-tones even more brilliantly and so I find him to be as majestic as possible, at two inches.

I love it. I dare any runway to steal his thunder.

Click here to learn more about the discovery of this guy and his mates at National Geographic.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gold Gabbana


Do I really need to say more?

Dolce and Gabbana rocked these hard core. I adore the shine against matte of the suede. I adore the over-abundance of the gold ruffles, and that they are both armor and royal and pretty all at once.

Again, these of from D&G's 2009 collection. I'm discovering that 2009 was a rockin' year in fashion. It's almost like the Fashion Industry, in response to the world economy collapsing around its ears, and people yanking back on the chains of extravagance, said...

Forget. You.

And oh my. Did their fight to remain relevant ever work. Creations of beauty with strength... we needed that. The world needs to be inspired in times of conflict and pain. We need to remember that there is power in the darkness. That pain can result in new birth. It takes tremendous pressure, crushing death to produce a diamond.

And I think 2009 was a diamond year.

Thanks for the demanding presence these fantastic and fabulous boots provide, Dolce & 'G.'


'Sweet Qi' in Armani Prive

Armani Prive strikes again. When I think of Armani Prive, my head immediately fill with Anne Hathaway's 2009 Academy Awards triumph. But Shu Qi at the 2012 Hong Kong Film Awards might have just changed all that.

Could anyone possibly make this gown look more glorious? What a perfect pick. I am so sorry this gem of a moment wasn't state-side, but Hong Kong was lucky. It's a brilliant fashion moment. 

The red lipstick is perfect, the hair highlights the dark details in the bodice and the green could not look more complimentary on her skin. It doesn't happen very often at all, but I think the "red carpet" moment blew the original "runway" moment out of the water.

And may I just say... I swear Armani ripped of one of the most tantalizing pieces of art in nature with this dress. The Kiwi fruit. I'm sure I'm not the only one that has trouble eating a Kiwi because it's just that beautiful.  Every time I slice into one, no matter what angle, no matter where in the delicate fruit, I'm always blown away by its power. There is no such thing as a "bad" Kiwi. The Kiwi, as every Hollywood Diva wishes, never had a bad side.

Thank you Armani. Thank you Shu Qi. Thank you Hong Kong Film Awards!


And much thanks RFCA for guiding me to this true treasure!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

White Night in Shining Armor

Yes please! I stumbled across the new White Nights jewelry collection by Eliza Kozurno for Spring/Summer 2012. I am SO glad I did. I'm definitely falling in love with unusual jewelry and though the collection does have some of the more typical pieces, earrings, necklaces, etc., I love her more unconventional pieces more than anything.

Don't get me wrong, there are some favorites I have those "norm" categories, especially these fantastic beauties:


Aren't they amazing? Okay, so they aren't so "norm." But they are still technically bracelets and as anyone who knows me knows... I don't do bracelets. I don't even do watches for that matter. But these would be hard for me to pass up.

But back to the unconventional pieces. I've found myself loving the snippets of metal on fair fabric lately. I had my first taste with the uber-sensational Alexander McQueen collection. It caught my eye and had my head spinning for quite a while. It's shocking, yet feminine, yet strong and formidable in such a queenly way (no pun intended!). Oh, those belts! I was soooo drawn to them, and as daring and groundbreaking as the dresses are, it was the belts that tortured me the most.  

And then Stephane-Rolland started calling. The divine use of gold upon green really made me love green a bit more than I ever have, and I am a huge sucker for white, especially gold on white. But most of these dresses wouldn't be as stunning without their unconventional jewelry pieces. I want to collect all of them and put them in a museum exhibit.

But Eliza's White Nights are much more useful, in my opinion. They are all statement pieces, but you could wear them during the day in Santa Fe or at the Ritz in NYC at night. A smart stylist could throw them together with jeans and or have them land their client a precious mention on the red carpet. The versatility is endless. And that takes brilliance.

Thank you, Ms. Eliza. 
You make me think of a 2012 Ms. Bennet*, 
and I mean that in a very very good way.

See more of Eliza at

*Ms. Eliza Bennet was the heroine of Pride and Prejudice. She was a sparkling wonder of wit, beauty and observation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lunar Louboutin

I was searching for something completely different when I came across these. 

Yes, they are Louboutin. 
Yes, they are from Fall/Winter 2009.
Yes, I know, decades ago in fashion speak.

And I don't care.

Have you ever seen anything so... 


The beauty is in the balance. The eye travels and the curves trap and wrap you within its shells and the red... the red! 
Its peek just makes the thin white peek of trim pop so perfectly, 
and then you are back in amongst the curves. 
(I swear, that man wasgenius in "seeing the red sole" that one fateful runway... 
I am SO grateful. I never tire of it.)

Back to these lovelies. I looove how each bulb decreases just a little more as we approach the incredibly delicious and unusual toe. Not a peek-a-boo toe. But still a peek-a-boo toe.

"Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli-lollipop!"
Oh, but how they make that wonderful song play in my head.

My eyes could just draw and redraw these all day long.... thank you Louboutin!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Red Dynasty

I must confess, my first realization that I just might have a thing for the actual fashion industry came when I stumbled upon the famed, an amazing blog that consistently speaks my language. She was even the deciding factor on joining Twitter. (So sad, I know, but at least I finally got on twitter, right?)

And now, she's brought me to I. Die. (I swear I was saying that before I ever saw Zoe! Seriously. It was mine first.) 

And within seconds, I stumbled across this: 

A Romanov Russian Faberge Egg. 
In red. 
Red perfection. 

with the exact amount of gold to complement and not control 
and a diamond kiss.

I wanted desperately to reach it and snatch it and keep it under my pillow for the rest of my life. And then...

Awww.... I saw the other photos. How could my darling possibly be this tiny!  I don't do small. I lose small. I don't own a single pendant that isn't ten times the size of this.

But maybe that's a good thing. It'll save me from forsaking my future savings upon this perfect piece of royalty. It leaves me the joy of constantly revisiting it online (they have since moved it to their front page, and rightly so!), in true 'larger-than-life' form.

Sigh. Isn't it just perfect? It's the first Faberge I've ever loved. And I've seen a few in person. But now... perhaps I should give Mr. Fab a bit more of a look-see in the future.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Not Your Everyday Fashion Blog...

Sketch by Donna Karen

I am so excited about this new blog. The more I write for my dance community, the more I find myself wanting to write on everything else. And as I've faced health issues that no young person should have to face, I have found myself in bed for days, bored and glazed with that "Hulu" daze one falls into and increasingly fascinated with fashion sites and writings.

No, not your ordinary fashion. My mother didn't allow me to wear make up and a next door neighbor had to teach me how to shave my legs, so fashion... well, femeninity, to be more honest, was not groomed or grown until my twenties.

By then I had discovered dancing. Ballroom dancing, as most of you would call it. I danced swing, I danced country western, I danced salsa... I danced and danced and danced.

And I still remember that day. That day a dancer at West Coast Swing convention came up to me and said, "I just want you to know, my dance teacher and I think you are the most beautiful woman in this entire room. We just want you to know that."

And then he walked away.

I will never forget that day. It changed my life. Someone said I was beautiful. He didn't give me his name, his teachers' name and he didn't even ask me to dance. Looking back, I think he might have known, somehow, that I didn't know I was beautiful. And he thought I should be told.

Of course, it took me a long time to actually believe I had any beauty in me, but he planted the seed. Dancing helped it grow (rhinestones and high heels can do that to you!), but opening my studio changed everything.

Long story short, I learned that I was beautiful and I learned that women are beautiful. All of them. And I learned that I had an eye for beauty... not just for choreography, but for excellence... period. The more I grew as an individual, the more I trusted my God-given instincts, the more I found that, if you put me in a store, I will only notice the most expensive items on the racks... even from across the room (Nordstrom Rack has taught me this lesson over and over again!)

And just now, when I 'Googled' some kind of fashion term to find an image to top this post... and I snatched one out of a few hundred in two seconds... yeah. It has a Donna Karan signature. I can't help it.  It's that bad.

It's become almost a joke with my husband. When I go to Vegas, I don't play, I don't gamble, I don't eat and I don't go to the spa... I walk. I walk to the shops and take a million pictures of beautiful things.  They have the most incredible and diverse selection of designers and labels and jewelry there. Finds are still few and far between (I am so picky, after all), but they make me feel warm, fuzzy and fabulous from my tip-toppy insides to my toes when I see them in person. Purrrr...

And so, the more I write, and the more I read and the more I gaze upon fashion, the more I realize that I don't just "want" to write about these beautiful things... I HAVE to write about them. Just check out this little piece I wrote on my DANCE blog!  And it is still one of my most popular posts... so it's time to write on fashion that catches my eye in my own little corner of the internet. So I can be happy, my husband can be happy and hopefully, some of my current readers will be happy. I will say though, that I can't wait to hear from new ones!

So if you are a dancer, I highly recommend subscribing to this blog anyhow. If you are going to dance, that means you are investing in excellence, and that means you need to develop an eye. And you can do that by watching more than just dancing.  I love this quote- it puts it so well:

"A dancer should learn from all the arts. Go to museums and look at the paintings. See how they balance things. Everything you do in the arts enriches you."

-Alicia Alonso

And so, let us learn from the art of fashion... fashion that defies the ages and the trends. I once read that Iris Apfel (a famous fashion icon) has been collecting her costume jewelry for 50 years. I no longer shop or browse for "trend" pieces... I browse and shop for timeless pieces. So I've decided...

Good Fashion = Good Taste = Good Art

And now, let's enjoy developing our eye... together!

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