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Archive for May, 2008

Often when we view advertisements we take what the company is saying to be true. Most times, we don’t even really look at the ad long enough to evaluate and decide how credible it really is. The media bombards us with hundreds of ads daily making it impossible to look at many in too much depth. This makes it easy for large companies to disguise their products behind false pretenses.

The other day I was in the store shopping around for new hair products. I have been blessed with beautiful, easy-to-manage locks, so I don’t need to buy any fancy products to control my do. I always try to buy organic, paraben- and sulfate-free products, which is actually not that difficult living in Eugene. (Side note: I am dying to try Stella McCartney’s organic line of products sold at Sephora. This probably won’t happen until I get a real job, in the real world.) As I cruised the isle one new-looking line of products caught my eye. The lettering on the bottle reminded me of Philosophy products, also sold at Sephora, so I took a closer look.

Check out the words written on the advertisement. It sounds totally believable.

The line of shampoos and conditioners is called Organix. At first I thought the products must be organic because of the name, but after examining the ingredients list I found I was misinformed. The products contain some organic ingredients, but they also contain a whole list of chemicals I have never heard of. This is a classic case of green washing. Green washing means a company uses the eco-friendly, organic trend to get people to buy its products when in fact the company is not a green company. The name Organix is misleading in itself, and the company uses a familiar font design to lure costumers in. Green washing is a lousy scheme that capitalizes off of people’s desire for environmental change in corporate America. Organix loses its credibility by creating the image that its products are eco-friendly when in actuality it only uses some green practices (some organic ingredients, no animal testing, sulfate-free). On its Web site in the press section, I saw that the products had even been featured in sections of magazines highlighting organic beauty products. Using green washing as a marketing strategy makes companies less credible. Either create eco-friendly, organic products, or do not. It is not in a company’s best interest to entice consumers by making its products appear different than they actually are.

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Chip and Dan Heath, authors of New York Times bestseller “Made to Stick,” open chapter 3 of their book citing Aesop’s “The Fox and the Grapes” as a brilliant example of using concrete language. Aesop uses concrete imagery (sour grapes) to get his moral to stick in readers’ minds. The authors go on to explain how our cognitive development stimulates memory function making some things more memorable than others. 

Fashion writing uses imagery in almost every way. From describing the clothes that models wear down the seasonal runways to writing about the latest trend in accessories, fashion writers must create vivid pictures in readers’ minds using words. Certain fashion writers use language that is appropriate for any audience. Others choose language that only a small percentage of fashion-obsessed people will understand. Using this type of language can confuse even a fashion enthusiast, such as myself. Case in point: Sarah Mower, fashion writer for Vogue. 

In her most recent article (“Drop Everything,” June 2008), when talking about all the baggy-pant styles seen on the fall 2008 runways, Mower says, “You won’t catch me in any bifurcated mutation of a genie-clown-dhoti this summer, and I don’t plan to be the first to jump into banana-shaped pants circa 1985 this fall.” If I knew the words that played into this imagery this sentence would probably stick in my mind, but by using unfamiliar words most of Mower’s readers are probably left wondering what she meant. 

Spring 2008 ready-to-wear opener     Fall 2008 ready-to-wear

In the same article, Mower used imagery that created vivid pictures in my head of the pants coming down last spring’s runways. She writes, “It first started rearing up at 3.1 Phillip Lim, where a pair of cropped silk pants opened the show. It slouched on in wide-leg, baglike, hippie forms at Nicole Farhi and as a slimmer tailored pant…at Gucci.” With this imagery Mower uses here, I don’t even need to see a picture to imagine the pants that were shown at both 3.1 Phillip Lim’s and Gucci’s shows. I think she describes the styles in a way that even people uninterested in fashion could visualize. 

Fashion writing is difficult, no doubt. When writers can create imagery that appeals to a broader audience without compromising the effectiveness of their descriptions, they have succeeded. 

On a side note, Mower helped in creating one of my favorite books of all time, Stylist: the Interpreters of Fashion. The book highlights some of fashion’s most creative people. I featured the coffee-table sized book in a December book review for the Oregon Daily Emerald.  

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Every day we get dressed to face the world and the sometimes random, sometimes not, people we encounter. The clothes we put on ourselves represent a piece of who we are. Style is personal PR. When someone does not know you, he/she will most likely judge you based on your appearance. Maybe sad, but true. That said, it is important that we dress for success. 

As a lover of fashion and creating my own style, I enjoy getting dressed in the morning. Some mornings more than others especially those when the sun is shining bright and the scent of flowers fills the air. One of my favorite sites on the Internet has to be The Sartorialist

Picture of Scott Schuman from his blog, The Sartorialist

Scott Schuman is the Sartorialist. After working for 15 years in the fashion industry, mostly in sales and marketing, Schuman decided to focus more on photography. He came up with the idea to start a blog chronicling some of the most fashionable people he came across in New York. The Sartorialist was born. Every day Schuman features pictures of some of the most interesting, put-together, quirky, beautiful people in the world. He mostly takes photos on the streets of New York, but regular trips to Paris and Milan make for superb blog content. In addition to his popular blog, he has a monthly page in GQ and frequently guest blogs for Style.com.

Schuman is such an inspiration for me. I love that he recognizes street fashion, and honors the fabulous people all over the world who love and live for fashion. My favorite pictures always come during Fashion Week. Here are a few:

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As I was reading the Stylephile yesterday, I came across this illustration. The caricature was published in the New York Observer spoofing the controversial Vogue cover. Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, filled in for LeBron James and Si Newhouse, chairman of Conde Nast, Vogue‘s publisher, replaced supermodel Gisele Bundchen. The faux cover ran in a string of editorials called, “Mag as Hell.”

The original cover was viewed by many as racist because it mirrored the old “King Kong” movie posters where James was portrayed as the beast himself. Wintour’s reputation as the fierce and sometimes brutal editor-in-chief made her the perfect target for this spoof. She was, after all, the inspiration for the wildly popular film “The Devil Wears Prada.” As a long-time subscriber and eternal-lover of Vogue, I hate to think of Wintour in such a negative way. But the media sure like to target her.

Obviously, Bundchen plays the damsel in distress on the original cover. Needless to say, the New York Observer made a strong statement portraying such a powerful person like Newhouse in this position. It’s as if the Observer is saying that if Vogue depicted anyone as a beast on its cover it should have been its own editor-in-chief, Wintour.

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Picture from New York Times webpage

A couple weeks ago I posted about the annual Costume Institute Gala. With this year’s “Superheroes” theme, attendees had the opportunity to be extra creative with their wardrobe selections for the event on May 5 . In the past, attendees have paired with fashion designers who create some of the most stunning looks of the year. Most attendees opted out of dressing superhero appropriate, but there were a few who exuded superhero brilliantly. I give props to the people who bravely attempted to recreate the superhero look. After all, what’s the point of having a theme if no one dresses to match it? Here are a few of my favorites:


The MET issued a press release that I think illustrates the connection between fashion and superheroes perfectly. It writes,

“Objects are organized thematically around specific superheroes, whose movie costumes and superpowers are catalysts for discussion of key concepts of superheroism and their expression in fashion. Superman and Spider-Man costumes address the subject of The Graphic Body, relating Superman’s ‘S’ chevron to designer logos and branding. Catwoman represents The Paradoxical Body, which explores the character’s vacillating manifestations of good and bad. The stars and stripes of Wonder Woman’s uniform, a composite of the American flag, epitomize The Patriotic Body and designs that appropriate patriotic emotions implicit in the character. The Hulk, a metaphor for male potency, introduces a section on The Virile Body, which includes inflatable clothing that swells to exaggerate the male physique.”

I especially love the connection between Superman’s ‘S’ and the concept of logos and branding.

Check out this video from Style.com that gives an inside look at the event. Notice the superhero-themed pastries in the first video–so cute! The second video features Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Vogue’s Special Events Director, who gives insight into this year’s gala.

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The spring issues of all my favorite magazines–Vogue, W, Bazaar, Nylon–featured fresh, new ad campaigns. Most notably, the Prada advertisements featuring model Sasha Pivovarova photograped by Steven Meisel perfectly captured the season’s whimsical yet geometric look that flooded Miuccia Prada’s runway in March. Others were less inspiring.

Of particular note, the Marc Jacobs ads featuring ex-Posh Spice, Victoria Beckham photographed by Juergen Teller.

I usually adore Marc Jacobs’ ad campaigns especially the ads featuring young, starlet Dakota Fanning and the Marc Jacobs Perfume ads with Sofia Coppola. When I saw the Victoria Beckham ads I did not know what to think. Am I suppose to laugh? What’s on her head? Is she supposed to be a doll?

I suppose this ad was meant to be some sort of joke, but I just don’t really get it. Frankly, Mrs. Beckham just frightens me.

Juergen Teller is such a talented photographer capturing quirky portraits with his own unique style that is quite distinguishable. And obviously, Marc Jacobs is one of the most innovative fashion designers alive right now. I just don’t know why they would chose to cast Mrs. Beckham in such a ridiculous light. Needless to say, Marc has got us talking again!

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Last weekend, Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival held its ninth annual event in Indio, California. The festival brings together members of alternative rock, hip-hop and electronica genres as well as some of the most fashionable, pop-culture following people in the world. Set in the desert, where temperatures soar to 105 degrees Fahrenheit daily, Coachella showcases music and sculpture art on stages and in tents throughout the grounds. This year, headliners included: Prince, Roger Waters, Jack Johnson, Portishead, Death Cab for Cutie, Justice and Aphex Twin.

Coachella is not only the place to hear the best new, and sometimes old, musicians perform, but it is also the place to see some of the most fashionably innovative spectators. Coachella is the only place where fashion insiders and regular people from all over the world mingle, party and dance with the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Style.com put together a fabulous slide show of some of the best dressed people at Coachella. Here are a few:

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