MasstigeWatch: Derek Lam for DesigNation at Kohl's

One of the best parts of being a fashion blogger is getting invited to showrooms to preview new collections—it's not quite as exciting as going to a runway show, but you get a one-on-one walkthrough with a knowledgable representative, and you get to touch and see everything up close. The other day, I got to see the upcoming Derek Lam for DesigNation collection, which hits Kohl's stores April 5, and let me tell you, it looks amazing. Granted, I am a flag-waving Derek Lam fan, but Kohl's is really stepping up the masstige game—like last fall's Narcisco Rodriguez collaboration, this outing is true to the designer's aesthetic, the fabrics are high quality (unlike, ahem, some other retailers), and the prices are incredibly wallet friendly ($36-$88 in this case). Lam's collection was inspired by a trip to Brazil and features his signature '70s-inspired silhouettes in everything from maxi dresses and pencil skirts to bermuda shorts and swimwear. Here are some of my favorite looks:

Hands down, my favorite item is this striped dress ($70). It's the kind of thing I wear to work all summer, and I love the flattering placement of the stripes.

A close second, I am also in love with this maxi-skirt ($54), which manages to be sexy, thanks to the adjustable button-front styling. The open-knit tank ($40) makes a low-key pairing.

There are lots of fun rainforest-inspired prints, like in this button-down shirt ($48), as well as great updated basics like this subtly pleated pencil skirt ($50).

Speaking of which, check out the groovy print on this shirtdress ($70).

I always say shopping for a jumpsuit is like shopping for a wedding dress—you might try on dozens before you find the right one. That said, this style ($88) looks like a winner.

Excited yet? There aren't any Kohl's stores in Manhattan (there are, however, in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Jersey City), but the website will be fully stocked come April 5. Masstige, it's good to have you back!

Lazy shopping: David Yurman sample sale and Beauty Week at Saks and Neiman Marcus

In terms of shopping, I've been a very, very good girl for the last two months, refraining (for the most part) from all the clearances and sales. But my birthday is Saturday, and I'm itching to spend some money, so here are three events that are tempting me.

I've always wanted one of his rings, so it may be time finally to treat myself to one at the David Yurman Friends & Family Sale. No word on discounts (according to Madison Avenue Spy, they're usually around 30-60% below retail), but on the first day of the sale, 10% of proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. You'll find me there right after work, hopefully with a sparkly blue stone on my right-hand ring finger. 2/28-3/3; 3-8 Th, 10-7 F-Sat, 11-5 Sun; the Altman Building, 135 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

I'll admit, I'm a huge sucker for beauty gifts with purchase, so I will also head over to Saks for their  Beauty Week event. Spend $100 and you'll receive a sample-filled tote; if shopping online, use code BEAUTY5C and get free shipping too (through 3/4).

Not to be outdone, Neiman Marcus is also hosting a Beauty Event online and in stores through 3/3; unlike Saks, they're more forthcoming about their tote and samples, free with a $125 purchase:

  • ClĂ© de Peau BeautĂ© Le Coton, 5 sheets 
  • Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, .14fl oz/4mL 
  • Kiehl’s Since 1851 Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream, .25fl oz/7mL 
  • Molton Brown Patchouli & Saffron Body Wash, 1 fl oz/30mL 
  • Oribe Shampoo & Conditioner for Beautiful Color, .3fl oz/9mL each 
  • Robert Piguet Mademoiselle Piguet Eau de Parfum, .034fl oz/1mL 
  • Tom Ford Beauty Black Orchid Eau de Parfum, .05fl oz/1.5mL 
  • Valentino Valentina Assoluto Eau de Parfum Intense, .05fl oz/1.5mL
I haven't yet decided where I'm going to buy it, but I do know I'll be treating myself to the delicious Tom Ford Santal Blush. Happy birthday to me, indeed...

Buy It: Demeter Fragrance Library

I have a theory that if one of your senses is weak, your other senses are stronger, to make up for it. I have horrible hearing, which is partially genetic and partially due to my tiny, tiny ears, but I have good vision (in my mid-thirties, I don't need glasses yet, knock on wood) and, according to MW, a freakishly acute sense of smell. It can be both a blessing and a curse, especially in summer, when one is assaulted by everything from body odor to rotting garbage. But for the most part, I like smelling things, good or bad. So, in a way, I've always felt like a kindred spirit to Mark Crames, the mastermind behind Demeter Fragrance Library, purveyor of scents ranging from Laundromat and Clean Skin to Dirt and Wet Garden. And when I was given a chance to meet him—and have Crames construct a signature fragrance for me—I was there before you could say perfume.

A little background on the brand: Demeter's fragrances are meant to evoke ideas and reconstruct memories, and rather than give you a more typical scent with top, middle, and bottom notes (as most perfumes are constructed), their scents, while composed of many different molecules, typically have just one note, or accord, as they say in the biz. And even while Demeter's range of scents is rather unique, you can create a more layered, complex scent by combining several. To begin, Crames asked me what I liked to smell. I told him the ocean. So first he handed me Ocean, which smells a bit too much like the real thing, to which Crames said that we have similar perceptions of what the ocean should smell like: Salt Air. He asked me what else I liked to smell, and I said wood. Next came Sandalwood, which I know is a prominent ingredient in one of my favorite perfumes and was thus a hands-down winner. He then asked me what flowers I liked; I told him I'm not a huge fan of flowers, unless they're kind of dirty. We went through a few options, and I couldn't decide between Jasmine and Cannabis Flower (yep, it smells just as you'd expect), so we used both. And just like that, I had a custom-designed fragrance!

The great thing about Demeter is how affordable it is; each 1 oz. spray is $20 on Demeter's website ($15 at Duane Reade's Look boutiques, where I met Crames), so a custom combination of three fragrances, at $60, is still less than what you'd pay for a fancy department-store scent that you'll smell on countless other women anyway. (And, side note: Demeter's ingredients are incredibly high quality; big-name fragrances skip on ingredients in favor of spending $$$ on marketing and advertising—that celebrity in the ad doesn't come cheap!) Salt air, sandalwood, jasmine, and cannabis flower are not notes that I'd ever think of putting together for myself, but I love the way they smell, and the experience was just as fun as the result. I'd definitely recommend putting your perfumer hat on and creating your own combination, but warning, it may be addictive—I'm already thinking about my next scent...

New York Fashion Week: Things I Saw That I Liked

Fashion Week just ended last Thursday, but in this always-updating Internet culture in which we live, it seems like ages ago. So let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Here are the things I saw at the Fall 2013 shows that I liked.

The striped-top and peplum-skirt combos at Whit. photo by Mina Kim

The sturdy-looking wedge boots at Kimberly Ovitz, a nice balance to all the drapery and ethereal prints.

The thigh-high leather legwarmer thing happening at BCBG Max Azria. photo by Mina Kim

The hair and makeup at Noon by Noor, easily the prettiest and most wearable I saw all week. photo by Mina Kim

That Mina got this photo of the Project Runway judges. (Side note: WHAT is Heidi wearing?!) photo by Mina Kim

Don't tell anyone, but Mina caught a model smiling at Monika Chiang. photo by Mina Kim

Fantastic-looking toggle coats at Rebecca Minkoff. Seriously, reserve one now.

The rainbow-haired Chloe Norgaard, back in action at Nicole Miller.

The clothes at Mara Hoffman were great, but what I really want is this ear-cuffs-and-chain headdress designed by Pamela Love. photo by Mina Kim

Christian Siriano knows how to stage a dramatic finale (and set—note the red curtain and chandeliers).

I loved Alexandre Herchcovitch's entire show—it was one of my favorites of the week—but particularly the upside-down, semi-undressed dresses that closed it.

The pearl sweater and lace-print skirt at Lela Rose. photo by Mina Kim

Thanks to Vivienne Tam, I'm now a trillionaire! photo by Mina Kim

Watching Bill Cunningham at work while waiting for Chado Ralph Rucci to begin.

The fact that this Chado Ralph Rucci coat exists.

Beyond-fabulous accessories at Alice and Olivia.

That my seat at Reem Acra was close enough to the runway for photos like this.

Just when you're getting sick of looking at Eastern European teenage girls...hello, boys! (at Steven Alan)

And if the future of fashion is hologram leather, beam me up, Milly!

New York Fashion Week: Custo Barcelona, Joanna Mastroianni & Vivienne Tam

Catching up on a few shows from Sunday afternoon that didn't make it into an earlier post...

Custo Barcelona
There comes a point in every Fashion Week where one starts to lose it and, unfortunately for Mina, it happened during Custo Barcelona (mine came a few hours later, but more on that in a bit). Lovely Mina was once again crammed onto the photo riser with a bunch of sweaty, cranky photographers, in a situation one could easily describe as beauty and the beast, which—check out this transition!—was also the theme of Custo Barcelona's fall 2013 collection. There were some cute sweatshirt tops and embellished miniskirts that represented the former, but as the show went own, more and more tended to the latter. Here's what my notes read: "Sir Galahad. Old couch. Cosby sweater. Court jester." You get the point. I realize I'm probably not Custo Barcelona's typical customer, but when it comes to my own wardrobe, I certainly prefer beauty over beast.

Joanna Mastroianni
On a similar note, I attend many fashion shows for designers whose clothes I will likely never wear. This is kind of the point of Fashion Week, I suppose—to go out and see new things and expand one's horizons. I don't know whether my horizons were expanded at Joanna Mastroianni, except maybe for the fact that I learned that there are people who actually wear this stuff. Mastroianni—I'm going to call her JM for now, because that's a humdinger of a last name—is an eveningwear designer of the too-much-detail-is-never-enough vein: Think sequins, textured leather, goat hair, soutache, beading...sometimes all in one outfit! It's a lot of look, but the client-filled audience loved it—JM's final bow received one of the most enthusiastic responses I've seen thus far. As my mom says, there's a peg for every hole.

Vivienne Tam
 It's been awhile since I've covered a Vivienne Tam show, and Mina was very excited to shoot it, however considering the run-in I had with a certain power-tripping usher at this show (I speculated about the size of his manhood on Twitter, in case you missed it), I should be thankful I wasn't kicked out of the venue. (Remember what I said about losing it sometime Sunday afternoon? This was my breaking point.) I'm glad I stayed, because Tam presented a rather thought-provoking fall collection, one that I'm still processing. Known for her strong Asian-inspired designs, Tam turned to punk and pop art, but rendered in black, white, and red (a popular color palette this season), it had a severe look that, at times, seemed to be channeling, or at least commenting on, government propaganda in the face of revolution. Tam decorated dresses with a "Wan Sui" graffiti motif inspired by Chairman Mao's writings; when a black military coat with an arm patch came down the runway, audience members audibly gasped. Perhaps even more thought-provoking were her "pop culture Obama" prints that featured, yes, the President of the United States. Amidst the political commentary, however, were quiet bits of beauty: silk dresses with intricate back cutout details, kilt-like leather skirts, lovely minimal dresses with flattering A-line skirts, and a pretty badass-looking jumpsuit. Sadly, I'm not sure the attendees even registered any of it—in contrast to our previous show, this was the most quiet audience yet.

Photos by Mina Kim

New York Fashion Week Fall 2013: Milly

After a weekend in Fashion-Week Wonderland, real life interceded this week, and I managed to hit only a handful of shows in the last few days. Having missed it last season, I was glad to make it into Milly, which is always one of my favorites. The theme for fall was Illumination, specifically that of urban landscapes at night, and that came across in a somewhat futuristic way, with hologram effects on leathers and sculptural shapes. (Side note: Were Rebecca Minkoff, Nanette Lepore, and Milly's Michelle Smith listening to a lot of Bowie recently? All had distinct spaceman-like undercurrents to their collections.) Many of fall's emerging trends were on display—plaids, boxy outerwear, lots of black—but as you'd expect from Milly, it was all very wearable, in flirty full skirts, nubby-textured knits, great-looking leather-sleeve coats, and sporty-chic sweatshirts. The full midcalf skirts and high-waisted pleated pants might be a harder sell, but there was enough femininity in the collection to keep the Milly customer happy. It was enough to keep me happy too—I figured I might as well end Fashion Week on a high note, and thus decided to skip the rest of my shows this Fashion Week. Until next season, Lincoln Center...

New York Fashion Week Fall 2013: Alice and Olivia, Reem Acra & Steven Alan

After exhausting myself over the weekend* ("What's a weekend?" indeed!), I found myself, gladly, with a much lighter schedule for the final few days of Fashion Week. (I also had to skip quite a few shows due to work, but that's another story.) Here's what I was up to Monday and Tuesday.

Alice and Olivia

While I've rediscovered the joy of avant-garde this season, I certainly haven't lost my ability to shop a show, which is what I found myself doing at Stacey Bendet's Alice and Olivia presentation Monday evening. Granted, I am already an enthusiastic Alice and Olivia fan, but with a theme of Parisian "Fantasy Street Style," the fall collection might as well have been called "Stuff Cheryl Wants to Buy." There were flirty flared skirts, buttery leather motorcycle jackets, patchwork furs (a big trend this season), and lace, lace, lace. And then there were bags and shoes from the label's fairly recent expansion into accessories, and the boots were so fabulous, I found myself mentally clearing room in my closet for them: over-the-knee gray suede, quilted black pointy-toe with gold studs, pointy black haircalf, a black leather spat many boots, so little time. And just when I thought things couldn't get any better, waiters waltzed by with trays of pink champagne and cake pops. Stacey, will you be my best friend?

Reem Acra

It's always interesting to see where I'm seated at a fashion show; usually it's toward the end of the runway with the press, so we have a longer look at each exit, but at Reem Acra, I was seated at the beginning of the runway—so close that I could see the models backstage before they came out onto the glossy black runway. I was also close enough to appreciate the intricate detail and craftsmanship in Acra's work (in fact, close enough that my zoom lens was too long, hence the less-than-stellar quality of my photography here), which for fall 2013 was inspired by travels to Japan and the photography of Daido Moriyama. Acra stuck to a simple palette of black, white, and red, the better to showcase her sexy fishnet-backed cutouts, which curved around the body in a very sensual way. That thought was echoed in her day dresses and coats, which draped low and gracefully across the hips to soft, flattering effect. But Acra's gowns stole the show as always, from embroidered second-skin illusion gowns to embroidered, frothy tulle confections. Look for them on the red carpet; stars would be remiss not to wear one.

Steven Alan

Runway shows are fabulous and exciting, but presentations have their place at Fashion Week, especially for designers like Steven Alan, whose quietly cool clothes would get lost under the lights and drama. Also, presentations are wonderful because you can be in and out in 10 minutes. That said, I wanted to linger over the fall collection, which had a very appealing tomboyish feel. You could say menswear is a trend for fall (although if you ask me, it's too much of a staple to be considered a trend), which puts Alan in the thick of things, but his take is subtle and even a bit androgynous—a boxy windowpane-plaid suit, oversized boyfriend shirts, cropped stovepipe pants, and updates on classics like cable-knit sweaters and chambray shirtdresses. I also found myself shopping this collection, but in a different way than Alice and Olivia above—that one is "I have to have that right now" while Steven Alan is "I will have this forever."

*A post on the rest of Sunday's shows is still forthcoming!