Imaginary Spring

Because it’s imaginary in Chicago right now:

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Love those pretty poppies on a grey day like today.

Can only hope lily of the valley will come out to play longer then she did last year:

The lily of the vale, of flowers the queen, 
Puts on the robe she neither sew’d nor spun; 
The birds on ground, or on the branches green, 
Hop to and fro, and glitter in the sun.

From Michael Bruce’s Elegy—Written in Spring

 

 

 

 

AF | Hyatt Spa Projects

That’s 77 spa concepts developed, 25 spas named and a whole lot of massage copywriting.

G&F’s Cool Kids for a Cause

Huge thanks to the fine team over at glossedandfound.com for including the Dose Cause and I in this great group of people trying to do good things:

Click over to watch the video (spolier alert: there’s tap dancing and a major wardrobe malfunction) + read more about the rest of the super stars.

Many thanks to G&F’s inimitable Graham Kostic, writer Elle Eichinger and photographer Maria Ponce for the super fun shoot and fantastic words.

  • #madebynike

    April Francis

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    i do

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    healthy set

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    mona skeletor

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    #madebynike Tara

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    blue nike shoes

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    hai paint!

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    quest on

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    michelle, stylist

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    shoes for days

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    besties

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    makeup

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    Alec Friedman

#madebynike outtakes

Diamonds, Lit + Intrigue

We had the ultimate pleasure of sitting down with Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels. Herewith, the word on the best jewels in the world from the man himself, an education. Behold:

van cleef & arpels articulated jellyfish

A year in the making by Van Cleef & Arpels — the jelly’s tentacles move ever so nicely.

April Francis: Let’s get right into it, Nicolas. How do you produce this ruby beauty, the Mystery Setting?

Nicolas Bos: The way it’s done is there’s a little architecture on the back, which is made out of red gold, which is rails, and then the stones are actually square stones that I’ve cut to size to match exactly all of the other stones. They are grooved and you slide them over the rail. That’s how you have the juxtaposition of stone. There’s no glue, it’s just the metal.

AF: And tension.

NB: And tension, and you always close the architecture with doors, which are architectural screws. You can unscrew them. You can always stagger other stones out and change one. It’s a very, very special technique.

AF: And it’s unique to you.

NB: It’s the holy grail of jewelers, technically. Particularly when they start and they are apprentice jewelers and wherever they work, setting pieces for, this is the most difficult. It’s crazy what it takes. It’s a combination of jewelry work and lapidary work, which is cutting the stones. We are only able to produce a handful of pieces every year with rubies and…

AF: How much time goes into this piece?

NB: Production on a piece like that would be maybe a year. Because – and this is true for other pieces — although they are all trained the same way, we do find very, very subtle differences in the way the jewelers work. If you want the piece to be really beautiful, you can’t have several jewelers working on the same. There would be slight differences. The difference in working with one stone versus all the stones — you need the feel of the same hand. That’s why it’s so time consuming. There’s no way to scale. You can’t spread the work to different jewelers, different work. You need just one guy to do all the lapidary work and then a jeweler for all the metal work.

AF: I love how everything moves, it’s very nice.

NB: There’s an idea of poetry, which is very, very important. And an idea of whimsy.

A lush cuff by Van Cleef & Arpels.

A lush cuff by Van Cleef & Arpels.

AF: It seems that literary references are very important to all of the collections?

NB: Yes, very much so.

Emerald and diamond shoulder dusters ...

Emerald and diamond shoulder dusters …

AF: I’m a big reader.

NB: I like collections inspired by cities or places or art sometimes, but it’s much more difficult not to be… I love that [literature] and I think that’s kind of interesting in terms of reference. When you start working with paintings, with shapes and definitions, it’s much more difficult to get out of it. Whereas text, it’s very visual and you can get all the designers and everybody really relying on the same vision, but yet they will all have their own interpretations. So I find it a great source of inspiration because…

AF: …it keeps things original.

NB: You can read a page of [an author] and they will not see exactly the same thing. The same designer on your team will have a different interpretation from the exact same description, so it keeps things much more open than if they look the painting, of course there will be an issue in a way of it being in the style of the painting.

... the pièce de résistance. Emerald and diamond earring and necklace set by Van Cleef & Arpels.

… the pièce de résistance. Emerald and diamond earring and necklace set by Van Cleef & Arpels.

AF: Do you think that’s sort of your input on the company or has that been historical? Or is that you?

NB: That’s me.

AF: That’s awesome, that’s really very cool. I appreciate that very much, because then you don’t get derivative work. It’s original.

NB: You have two risks in the industry. One is to kind of disregard the heritage, which I don’t believe in at all. Sometimes it’s kind of tempting, because we’ve been doing the butterflies and flowers for a hundred and something years – so let’s do skulls. You know, we’ve done roses, so let’s do roses with thorns. That’s not at all what we’re expected to do. This is not what we know how to do. Some of the lapiers have tried that, and… There is an issue with that…

No issues here.

No issues here.

NB: There is then, too, to just reproduce what was done in the past. If you have this amazing piece from 1962, this amazing piece from 1930s, let’s keep the tradition alive. Sometimes it’s so much of a preservative craft, making sure that traditional crafts are really maintained. But if you do everything the same as it was a hundred years ago, then you just lose the creativity because all the things aren’t as relevant in exactly the same ways as 80 years. Because the world is changing and different. And you don’t add anything and are just emptying the archive. That’s very much the idea, to find this very iconic inspiration, but then different interpretations.

AF: So, one more thing: the archive. I know all of the pieces are singular, or most of them.  But do you have drawings or illustrations of all of the pieces. You have a substantial archive, I would imagine.

NB: Yes, we have two actually, one in Paris and one in New York, which are different.

AF: And do those pieces get loaned out for things, or do they ever go on display? I know there was an exhibit.

NB: You mean the archive?

AF: Or the pieces, maybe there’s a special moment, maybe one of your spokeswomen needs to wear a piece to an event. Does she get to wear something from the archive or does it sort of stay in the archive?

NB: We have two archives. The drawings and production books, which is one archive. Then we have a private museum, which is not a location but a private collection of about 400 pieces iconic from different periods and different styles. So, a bit like the heritage collection, but this is a collection that we don’t sell. So for instance the exhibit that was organized [at museums] in September. They ask us to select from our collections some pieces that they went to show. Then they go to private museums or private owners for some pieces. From Paris or New York, which is about 450 pieces, from all one collection. They do have some access to jewelry collections, and so those pieces are lent for this exhibition. And then sometimes we do loan museum pieces to some celebrities. There is a diamond tiara in the archives that was actually worn by Princess Grace for the wedding of her daughter. We loaned it to Julia Roberts.

Yes, we love you Van Cleef & Arpels.

It’s love, Van Cleef & Arpels.

Maternalist > Feminist

Read the most enthralling article in Harper’s on a plane back from Miami and hooked into the term maternalist. A quick survey of girlfriends — no one had heard it.

Let’s add to the conversation because being a woman is unlike anything else.

Reminds of the eye-opening, “Rhetoric and the Achievement of Woman’s Rights” by Dr. Alisse Portnoy, a class that changed my life at the University of Michigan.

Presenting The Haute Closet In Your Head Volume 20: Maternalist > Feminist – for the road and for you!

Bodacious, Babelicious, Festival Goddess

Wake up and say hello to Summer in the Chi, lovies!

We’ve been cooking up some extra special treats for you all Spring and we’re happy to announce that one of them launches today — a super fun giveaway from The 900 Shops (our spot for Fogal tights and a Bloomie’s 5th floor fix.)

Here’s what a THC kinda babe wears to stay cool from Big Star to Pitchfork to Lollapalooza:

THCfor900_Look2

The best part about our look? Every single piece is begging to be worn so many ways. Behold, the magnificent six for THC-style Summer rockin’:

  1. Rebecca Minkoff’s bracelet sends the message you’re not to be messed with. Desirable.
  2. The Miu Miu shades? They’re sparkly red. Enough said. [Squelches squeal.]
  3. An AllSaints tee lives like lounge-wear, keeps you covered, easy and breezy.
  4. A Cambridge Satchel goes clean in white, remains streamlined for hands-free jamming.
  5. Fiorentini & Baker Boots equal awesome All. Year. Long.
  6. J Brand lavender jeans? What’s not to love. Game on, gamines.

Cast your vote for your favorite look online (we’ll take a #2 please) or stop by to do so on the second floor of The 900 Shops all month long. Oh, and if you share your favorite on social media (that would be a #2 again, ladies), you’ll earn even more entries.

Hello — go!

PS: We won’t hate you if you go for glossed & found, stay tres awesome or take a note from pink memo — we love it all. XX

Nick Walker / The Vandal via Bristol, England

Had the ultimate pleasure of meeting Nick Walker one perfect Spring evening, c/o Darkroom Demons.

After giving Nick a cookie, he allowed me to observe him at work on the wall outside the Violet Hour.

About to put the finishing touches on the Vandal plane:

Spring-loaded hats exploding out of the Vandal’s heart:

Noon: the sun is hot, I leave to grab sunscreen. Upon my return I spy:

Eyes: it’s all about the observer, he says. And the signature:

Prepping the spot: recall “The work of art is limited to an acting out, not an understanding. If it were understood, the need to do the work would not exist anymore … Art is a guaranty of sanity but not liberation.” — Louise Bourgeois

Tagged: Nick cuts labor-intensive stencils to produce his works, offering incredibly fine detail while minimizing his time painting on the street. Street art is (and especially, used to be) a quick art. His is a lovely method. This piece involved lots of spraying without the aid of stencils to create a small universe of swirling colors, perhaps representing the ultimate power of the Vandal’s open heart.

And I got to take this fine piece home, rewarded for paying attention to the detail.

This was the weekend soundtrack:

Musically-inclined, always, I was to be in Austin this mid-March weekend. Flew down on Tuesday with the intention of staying the entire week for SXSW Music. Got there and felt a very strong pull back to Chicago. Two one-way plane tickets later, I stayed 24 hours, interviewed Wild Belle, bonded with a friend, met a very cool new friend, then came home to the above.

Was recently told scientists are beginning (and used to) consider the gut a second brain. Listening.

wonder at all

picked up this 55-minute set from DJ AM’s pro/personal site the summer of 2004.

think it was for lohan’s 21st birthday.

click the pic to load up memory lane. if you’ve got ADD the cream comes in at 35:26:

The best things …

come from the heart, the garden and Robin Richman.

Yesterday, we picked up some Spring sock porn from the RR store:

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You know how happy that makes us.

While there, we also picked up this:

asraibenefit

Chicago can be/is a pretty scary place. So when we heard about the very scary assault that went down a few weeks ago at the incredible Asrai Garden, our heart sank to the floor. We won’t go into the details, just get down to the Double Door on Monday, 3/5 — it’s going to be a spectacular time and a more than worthy benefit for a beautiful spirit.

Maybe you’ll wear some pretty socks! It’s all about good cheer and a fresh start, so make sure to bring your best vibrations. See ya there (after class, of course)!

XX April

PS: Would be remiss if we didn’t add this – Kristen was very sadly targeted in a very bad way, but always, ALWAYS be aware of what’s going on around you, always, as mama would say.

Lettuce Entertain You + AF

To be asked to give an assist to the Rich Melman empire … much obliged Lettuce asked AF to bring together a group of bridal vendors for their 4th Annual Bridal Event at Paris Club.

Here’s the list of all our bridal friends participating in the event this Sunday:

GOWNS/ACCESSORIES
Lulu’s at the Belle Kay
Silver Moon
Samantha Sleeper
Roslyn
Mignonette
Giselle Couture

Giselle Couture

CAKE
Le Royale Icing
Magnolia Bakery
Bittersweet Bakery

INVITES
Spilled Ink Press
Be U Brides
Sarah Drake

FUN
Traveling Photobooth
Orlando and Garrett from Salon 1800
Katie J from NARS at Barneys
Posey
Gentleman’s Deck
Angry Barber
Shrine
Isabella Fine Lingerie

And there’s definitely more. Not to mention tequila from 12-3 in the Groom’s Room!

Join us at Paris Club this Sunday, 3/4.

 

 

Teaching

Thrilled to announce that I now have 18 hungry students (and a teammate in teaching) at Chicago’s Columbia College — see you Monday nights on Michigan Avenue for 27-3960: The Business of Styling.

Now writing: Adventures in Adjunct Professing. Will keep you updated.

 

Year End 2011

It’s been a wonderful year, 2011. This last week sees some of us on the beach, others furiously wrapping up at the office and many, I would venture to guess, ready to turn a page.

When visiting my family and childhood home this week, I found a cache of data discs containing ready bits of my life from the early ‘aughts. I went deep down a digital wormhole of personal essays (English major at UofM), saved articles, logged AIM conversations, labored-over letters and hundreds of pictures and videos.

Also while at home my mom reminded me we opened our AOL account in 1995.

I haven’t been able to live without my hands on a keyboard or deep in the interwebs since my first Macintosh LC. I do it for Dose, THC and this site, amongst many others, now and years past. In fact, my very first indpendent business venture was creating websites for small businesses.

Here are two selections from this digital archive to see you into 2012: The 7 Vices of Highly Creative People and The Most Dangerous Game.

Happy page turning, however you do it these days. Personally, I heart my iPad. See you on the flip side.

Packing for Paris

We get asked about packing a lot.

Basically, you’re taking a mini version of your Haute Closet on the road. Thus, everything should already be a perfect fit and in great condition.

The evening before leaving for Paris market ss12 we snapped our packing session:

packing1

Allow us to illustrate via the alphabet and caution: you should never get to Z unless you are packing to start a closet in your second home.

OK, so (a) belts. An essential accessory if you’re into belts. And if you’re not into belts ask yourself why not and are you sure about that … right now. Ok. So. One black, one oxblood, both working with all the shoes and bags and both easily transition from day to night and expand from short to long. Tricky … and trusty.

On to the shoes: we’ve brought four, a pair of Nike high tops (f), tough little boots (b), a sleek pair of flats (h), and (d) a Céline oxblood bootie. Notice how there is only one pair of heels, the Célines. Make this your packing ideal. When you’re on a trip you’re walking. A lot. If you plan for it, this one heel can drive a diverse set of evening looks.

Moving along, foundation. You’re going on a trip — take things that are functional, beautiful, ripe for layering AND laying on the seduction a la (c) this corset can work as a bra, a top with a high skirt or pant OR a surprise piece of lingerie. See also: fresh hosiery (g), an essential foundation for every trip unless you’re traveling to the equator, and even then. Basically, stockings serve as insurance against the chills and can also incite another (excellent) kind of chill. Purchase wisely and with abandon (not to mention they’re totally fun and can transform a black tunic in a second.) Undies and bras, you got this.

On to globe-trotting garments. Your selection should be basic, minimal and versatile in the biggest way, a la: your favorite jeans (i), a non-fusty flannel (j), essential sweatshirt (k) and a style-driven piece (l). There’s also a Topshop tank in there sporting Chicago Art Deco — it goes without saying, represent when you’re away. The takeaway: 3:1 tops to bottoms, think strategically, make sure you have solids and a few signature prints and they all play nicely together. This is the KEY.

On to the handbags and the other half of our case:

packing2

With the Jerome Dreyfuss (m) and pink (e) and white bags from above, handbags are covered (although our never-dies, apparently camera-shy LeSportsac serves as our carryon and secure day bag, this bag is black nylon but really it’s gold bullion). We could have edited out the white one, but we didn’t. We love it. Purses are perfect places to store your hair accessories and jewelry, saving space and ensuring the safe passage of all that is precious. (Also, dust off the dust bags — essential to cover all your shoes and bags if traveling commercial.)

Then there’s the dresses: a dressy black for that very special evening or every evening (q), one that goes day to night (r) and a signature piece (white leather, yes.) Again, here is that 3:1 rule: when it comes to packing and eliminating the bulk, soak in the fact that there are three flimsy dresses and one basic black coat (s) here. The dresses are easy to stow. Jackets, not so much. Everything works with the black jacket and the black jacket works with all of the accessories. Can’t wear dresses every moment, though, so we added, in addition to the jeans, two more highly versatile bottoms, a leather A.L.C. skirt (o) and a pair of shocking blue silk shorts (t). Both tightly packable, both interchangeable with all of the tops and the hosiery, which brings us to (p) socks. Socks are so often overlooked but one of our favorite categories. Don’t overlook.

Going back to (n), that’s where we’ve stowed our nonbreakable/nonspillable personal items. It’s a little Baggu ziptop, infinitely useful on trips, this one came in a set of three.

The lesson: when packing, less is more. All things in the case working together = yes. You can indeed take four pairs of shoes and three handbags without feeling badly, you just need to make certain each has its purpose. And always, always leave room for more. What’s a trip if you aren’t shopping to score some flavor from your destination du jour?

Perhaps that won’t be necessary if you’re going to an ashram, but that’s a whole ‘nother packing lesson. As in life, just remember your purpose. And don’t be too fussy when it comes to the clothes — bring out the best of your capsule wardrobe with smart accessories.

X April

PS: We were photographed a few times working a certain outfit concocted of the above.

Lolla Style

We took 2,000 photos at Lolla this year. Here, our favorite style snaps:

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The cuteness of Tennis’ Alaina — she’s from the school of American Apparel. Dov, you must be delighted.

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Taylor Momsen was lots of fun, scowl and all. She “did NOT get fired” from GG, y’all.

From her archive of vintage Heatherette, rockin’ blue is the manager of the Drums. Wish we had re-styled her band …

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Lolla love, Chicago-style, via a molecular biologist and her band beau.

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Tall drink in Forever21, head-to-toe. This is not something we condone but here, bien sur, mais ouis.

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Nathalie is an aspiring actress from LA: excellent look on her.

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We liked him and his Jay style.

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The reigning mamacita of Grouplove, Hannah Hooper, and her four boys:

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the fantastic brooder, Mr. Sean Gadd …

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the awesomerocket of schlub, Ryan Rabin …

the cold quiet dreaminess of Mr.Christian Zucconi …

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 … and …

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Now, for the up close and personal portion of this post:

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grrr … hark

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rock & roil

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bunny maus

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babe

A few more. First …

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our favorite Torontoans, the lady presenters of Much Music

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a little rockin’ bb

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the adoration of Lykke Li

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me

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Lee

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The Kills

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fini.

See also: our Lolla coverage on refinery29.

The Fear

We can smell it, Reed.

There are so many things wrong with the following email that I, and many others, received this AM.

1. Creepy intro, dude

2. Oh, hello, Qwikster. Let this be a lesson in how NOT to announce a name change

3. “I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard.” This is not a famine, dude. Do not pander to us about Netflix

Over it. Folks, it is all about clarity when it comes to messaging. I wish there were a better alternative — media companies, the bell has sounded, get to it, you’ve got customers.

Below, today’s ill-advised Netflix/Qwikster email:

A Grand Opening, THC-Hosted Double Header

We’ll be getting our Nike on and styling their super fresh gear at the Grand Opening of Lady Foot Locker on State St from 11AM-2PM this coming Thursday, September 22nd.

NKE11320_FA11_WT_LFL Grand Opening_State St_email blast

Then we’ll be switching out of our running gear and marathon-readying mode into an all-red ensemble for trend presenting at the Armani Exchange opening that’ll be happening from 6-8PM the same day. Hosted by People StyleWatch, THC and the creative team at Armani Exchange, rsvp to rsvp@armaniexchange.com.

Come on out and see us and score a free gift at Nike and $20 off every $100 at Armani Exchange, not to mention the free personal shopping!

OM-9682_9-20_WATERTOWER

THC does FNO in Chicago at VINCE.

Join me Thursday, September 8th from 5-8PM at Vince on Oak for some bubbly and dedicated personal shopping from THC.

FNOevites_Chicago

It’s FNO – the most fun you can have when it comes to retail. For the past two years, Anna Wintour has been stoking the flames of this fantastic party in NYC and Chicago is finally on board with more than one awesome Fashion’s Night Out event.

But! This one at Vince is the BEST and a can’t miss …

If you don’t already know, Vince is hands-down the best place in Chicagoland to pick up the staples that will make your wardrobe sing, season after season. From their leather and fur to their very best t-shirts, the cuts are divine and my associates who work in the store are even finer. And bring your boyfriend/hubby/lover — Vince stocks the best for gents, too!

I’ll be on hand to help you make decisions about the best pieces to add to your own wardrobe for Fall/Winter.

See you then!

XX April

And … the rest of the best FNO events coming to you in Chicago on September 8th:

900_FAMEFASHIONFLAVOR_VIP FINAL
Yes, Mr. Brad Goreski himself. We’ll be heading over there for a little post-Vince hosting at the 900 shops.

 

UnknownAnd, of course, we recommend this Brian Atwood event at Saks — we’re big fans of this homegrown shoe tsar.

The All-Season Shirtdress

Hello darlings! It’s been a minute.

Have been getting Dosed and loving every second – check it out here. The third installment, Dose Tres, is this Sunday, August 14th, from 10am-4pm at the River East Art Center.

In other happy news, I’ve been asked to contribute more regularly to refinery29 and my first post happened July 27. It was an ode to a fantastic shirtdress specimen from The Row.

The fabric is KILLER lux. You can see how I styled three of my girls — Swathi, Christina and Hilary, at right — in the piece over at refinery29.com.

I kept it and wore it the other day with a simple braided leather belt and a fab pair of SS2011 ankle bracelet Isabel Marant heels. And more of those Etoile bracelets on my wrist. I’m sure I’ll pull this Row piece out at least once a month for the rest of the year and then again in Spring, of course. I simply adore pieces like this — blank canvases made to hang with any accessory in your closet. I go into more styling detail, how-tos and ideas in the refinery post. I snagged this particular dress from chalk but you can also shop The Row direct. But it’s definitely better to go to chalk.

Why? Right now, chief among my endless list of reasons is that they have a full selection of (well, I snagged an AMAZING little gold one) Jerome Dreyfuss bags … and he’s married to Isabel. The bags come with little attached mirrors AND flashlights (I feel guilty I didn’t get one for my mom). Those two must be the coolest couple in Paris. Happily, I’ll be there myself in September and October with C/FAN. Christina is taking me and her line to (capsule) to sell it to the world and we plan on hanging out with jacquemus and the chalk ladies.

X

PS: Are those perforated buck Nike’s AWESOME or what?!

Ikram

She moved!

Ikram has built the most beautiful store in the city and it is a fantastic lacquer red.

It used to be that simply walking by the window would get us inspired; now it’s more like being on the same block.

Who else in Chicago gets stockist detail in Vogue? I didn’t think so.

Ikram is the highest of high-end fashion destinations in Chicago, outmerchandising everyone in town.

Don’t miss the cafe upstairs for a perfect pick-me-up.

 

Gold Coast: 15 E Huron / 312.587.1000

ikram.com

Oliver Peoples Speaks

Oliver Peoples is moving to the Gold Coast.

We first learned about the brand from Bret Easton Ellis in his gnarly 90s work, American Psycho. Bret is a keen observer of trends in fashion, music and culture and if you haven’t seen the film or read the book we recommend it … although both, especially the book, can be pretty grisly. If we never have to see a Habitrail ever again, cool.

OMalley (AP)

Back to the brand. Not only does Oliver Peoples make super cool stuff that we love (see us wearing a special pair here), the uber-cool Paul Smith Spectacles and Mosley Tribes lines also fall under their umbrella. The new Chicago boutique will feature all three and an Oliver Peoples style exclusive to Chicago plus full-service optical care.

Headquartered in West Hollywood, CA, the line was co-founded in 1986 by eyewear visionary and designer Larry Leight. To like Oliver Peoples, as so many do, is to love Larry. Herewith, a few questions for the man about the brand:

The Haute Closet: As both are outsize icons with dramatic hair, what frame would you put on Dita Von Teese? On Gwen Stefani?

Larry Leight: For Gwen, I would style her in the DaddyB frame.

DaddyB-BK_G15

She usually likes frames that are a little bigger and more of a shield like. This style, in the black color, has a bit of a rock star image to me without being over the top and cheesy – it’s a bit more discreet.

For Dita I would go with our new Blondell style.

Blondell-RG_CGIt’s a retro and ultra feminine design which will protect that gorgeous porcelain skin without compromising style.

THC: What is your favorite women’s style in your archive?

LL: I really liked the Harlot.

It’s an older style now but it was one of the first explosive frames when oversized sunglasses turned the corner again around 2004/2005. It got so much attention from fashion magazines, tastemakers, etc. and I was really proud of it. The new version of that oversized look is from our current season called Blondell. Its utilizes titanium so it is super light on the face and looks so glamorous.

THC: What effect did Bret Easton Ellis have on Oliver Peoples?

LL: American Psycho was huge for our company. The book mentions Oliver Peoples by name and Christian Bale wears the O’Malley style in the movie. Oliver Peoples defined the category of intellectual eyewear and the movie illustrated this look in such a visual, real way. The book talks about the established uniform of Wall Street bankers: Hermes tie, Gucci Loafers, and Oliver Peoples glasses…It really drew attention to our brand on a global level and today, the O’Malley, which can be both an optical frame and a sunglass, remains one of the most recognizable and sought after frames in the company’s history.

THC : Do you consider celebrity the most effective marketing tool for luxury apparel and accessories? If not, what is?

LL: Not at all, especially for our brand. We don’t have logos so celebrities wearing our brand does very little for us unless you are already “in the know”…. Of course, we consider it to be a great compliment when celebrities are seen in our frames because it’s likely that any brand in the world is accessible to them and they choose to wear ours. I know too that many celebrities use stylists who have great taste and comb through are the product in the market to find only the best for their client.

I can only speak for us when I say that the most effective marketing has been word of mouth among the essential Oliver Peoples customer – progressive individuals with good style who are influencers and tastemakers. These people have helped build our brand globally with the people who we want in our frames. We also produce short films and in-house music compilation CDs which help clearly define our brand image and lifestyle to the consumer. They bring life to the collection of eyewear and have always had a really positive response.

THC: What is the fuel for the brand, inspiration-wise?

LL: The continued support of our loyal customers. Everyone has an “Oliver Peoples” story and hearing them keeps me going.

Larry, we’re glad to help spread the word. Thanks for playing!

We loved the 2010 campaign that married the awesome Shirley Manson with the supergeek, Elijah Wood. For a little taste of the lifestyle that is Oliver Peoples, watch this.

 

Dose Market | THC at the REAC

UPDATE: Upcoming Dose Market Dates for 2012 include July 29, October 14, November 11 and December 9.

We’ve been uber busy this Spring styling with tons of fresh SS11 designs — HELLO! hopelessly addicted to Isabel Marant — lots of wardrobing with lovely clients both old and new and the absolute labor of love that is — bah ba da bah — Dose Market!

Wait, you haven’t already heard? We’ve been covered by Time Out, DailyCandy, refinery29, Chicago Mag, NBC, and tons of other great  pubs. Here’s what’s going down this Sunday at the DEBUT of this new, once-a-month high/low luxury lifestyle market:

The Dosettes are bringing together the best of the best for your shopping, slurping & socializing pleasure at Dose Market, with the first Market kicking off this Sunday, June 5 at the River East Art Center, 435 E. Illinois St.,  from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Once inside, get Dosed with:

- X-Marx’s boiled dumplings, cold Sichuan noodles, Macao rice crisps and a special Sichuan-spiced version of their addictive Mama’s Nuts nut brittle
- The debut of C/FAN accessories in her blue Caddo Lake-printed chiffon
- The launch of Salted Caramel’s new line of frozen sweets, including Thai mango-curry-yogurt pops, chocolate-molé pudding pops and more
- Suitor’s launch of color-popped stationery, unprecedented in the line’s strictly black-and-white history
- The premier of Jo Snow’s snow cones and Jo Snow lattes with Crop to Cup coffee
- The launch of Truffle Truffle’s new I Heart Chicago collection, a collaboration with chocolatier Nicole Greene,  Metropolis coffee, The Spice House & Half Acre
- Special selections from Sofia vintage + Artfully Disheveled + Apartment No 9 for the dapper gentlemen
- The launch of Shades of Grey’s vintage chain-adorned vintage purses
- Lisa Spagnolo‘s perfect striped Market Tote (enter to win!)

… and much, much more from 37 of the city’s finest vendors.

Eat well, shop cool, be happy. Buy discounted tickets online or for $10 at the door! And get 2 hour parking in the underground Parkview Garage (entry on Illinois) for $6 with a Dose Market validation (ask at check in!)

See you there, THC-ers!

X – April

 

Fashion + Interior Design

One of our most recent THC clients is a well-known, super talented interior designer. We love her and her bold style.

So, we’ve taken notice of the interiors-cum-fashion designers recently noted in both Vogue and W: Kelly Wearstler and Mary Katrantzou.We think their turns are brilliant – both love massive prints and bold colors, infusing their clothing with some power-packed energy and verve. However, you can’t get Kelly’s goodies until August. Mary’s pieces are currently at thecorner and net-a-porter, among others. They’re not cheap, but for the originality and assured quality, the prices on these pieces aren’t that tough to take.

And when we preach the wardrobe ethos of building solid foundations with garments from the likes of The Row, Vince and Alexander Wang in their muted palettes and lux fabrics, it’s nice to get some wattage with bold pieces that stand out when you want to.

So, check out these photos below: bold, brilliant and beautiful.

Both of the above from Mary Katrantzou SS11 via style.com.

Above from Kelly Wearstler Fall11 via style.com. So wearable.

We love successful female entrepreneurs with their hands in more than a few places. Work it.

Chicago Mag or black/francis 2.0

So, black/francis is no more, but it doesn’t mean Heiji and I have parted ways. Below, our first collab post-b/f, with Heiji as new contributing editor to Chicago Magazine. I helped style, capturing Laura Letinsky and friends at a garden lunch at Laura’s fantastic Hyde Park home. Great idea, H! Looking forward to your future pieces in Chicago, far and away our fave Chicago mag!

Laura Laine

Don’t think we’ve said it so explicitly before, but one of the reasons we love fashion is its ability to delight. (See the phenomenon that is: TaviTulle.) Actually, it’s one of the only reasons we like fashion.

Thus, it would follow that we love fashion illustration. Alber Elbaz’s whimsically alive sketches are some of our favorites. Dez’s work is also delightful. Ruben Toledo – what’s not to love.

But Laura Laine – her work is insane. In the very best way.

Check out her portfolio: she’s hooked up with the very best of the best in the fashion world to create some of the most empoweringly feminine images we’ve seen. It’s amazing how a fantastic little drawing can do so much in the way of selling, i.e. her latest work for Vogue Nippon. Who doesn’t want a new nail polish after seeing that?

Love.

Hermes | Festival des Metiers

Treated to a preview of the Hermès | Festival des Métiers, in a setting designed by the exquisitely talented Paola Navone, the experience this week at 25 Oak Street celebrates the art of handcraft.

Hermes

Inside, a group of Hermès’ Parisian artisans showcase their work in all of the house’s categories, celebrating the brand heritage and artistry required to produce such lasting objects. It was particularly meaningful to see the sellier, the saddlemaker, at work.

If you are a connoisseur, don’t miss this opportunity to peek inside this jewelbox.

Here, a few photos of the scene:

And here, a great piece on the process required to produce the ineffable Hermès scarf.


chiyorker

We made a new friend in Lynnette Astaire the day she came to The Haute Closet to play dress up and ask us a few questions … get into it, here.

So Pro

The ponytails on the first two models are pure luxury. Gaga smoking like an enfant terrible … priceless. The one who stumbles, love. This is an incredible mashup of fashion and music. The blue! The black! The white! The nude! The attitude! What a space. The leopard. Alek Wek! “Don’t be a drag/just be a queen.” Truer words! Stam! Salvation. This is like a line in the sand. Thrown down! Thierry’s geometry has always been forward but this is perfection. Sliced and diced. LOOK AT THE CONTROL WITH WHICH GAGA NAVIGATES THOSE PLATFORMS.

BRA-VO. Salivation. It happens.

Thanks, Oprah.

Our universes collide in a piece in, of all places, O Magazine, which we found courtesy of The New Yorker Book Bench, one of our favorite non-fashion blogs.

Behold this little gem here:

For the TL;DR crowd:  In which a poet who can barely afford to eat because she is a poet gets treated to a full on fashion photo shoot.

The pretty much incredulous response from the poet (“I kept skidding around on sand. In fact there was a man nearby who did nothing but keep the sand looking good with a rake. In another corner a fan was blowing. A blowing fan with sand on the ground while you are encouraged to smile is interesting.”) shows us that a fashion job is truly kind of insane.

We think it’s well-documented that in the THC universe fashion and literature are twin stars. We read everything we can get our hands on and everyone knows that the cherry on top of our year, twice a year, thank g-d, is the Document in AnOther Magazine. And we do a lot of work with words.

So, amazing: Oprah, who we usually profess we don’t care for but admire because how can you not – brings together both in this tight little package because she can because she’s Oprah and we get, um, such unadmiring words about it from the poet.

We have no idea what we’re trying to say except: we’re glad we get to live in and enjoy both worlds.

AF for Hyatt Spas

I started working as a consultant for Hyatt at the end of 2007; my first job for Hyatt’s former VP of Spa, Gordon Tareta, was to refine the Izumi spa menu. After two years, this is what I had accomplished for his team:

THC’s Year in Review

We kicked off 2010 with lots of fashion inspiration; were disappointed by the tsunami that didn’t happen while in Maui in February; March was mad, naturally, and even more so with an interview with retail icon Nena Ivon and the untimely passing of Alexander McQueen; in April we were featured in Real Simple and celebrated our birthday with more of our multi-color nails at Blackbird; in May we went to Israel and discovered amazing boutique Sharon Brunsher and also released Volume 10 of The Haute Closet In Your Head; in June we hosted a soiree at GUESS to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago; in July we posed for a photo in a seriously cool outfit with some major bling; in August we went styleseeking for Lucky and Refinery29 backstage at Lollapalooza; in September we redesigned the THC site and hit up (capsule) NYC for N PRPA while discovering the awesome crowns of Lara Vincent; in October we posed for Vavoom Pinups for a Chicago Magazine party, styled at Modern Vintage and started guest-blogging for Lori’s Shoes; in November we got weird with Simon Doonan; and in December we trekked to NYC to hook up Gilt Groupe founder Alexandra with a Haute Closet and re-up our cup of style inspiration with some NYC shopping.

Most importantly, though, it was a year filled with lots of Haute Closets and their happy owners. And us trademarking the term Haute Closet! And then there was the launch of black/francis, the AF team up with Heiji Choy black, owner of the former Hejfina which was our absolute favorite Chicago boutique. And a bunch of modeling gigs for Lori’s, LuLu’s and Toad Lillie.

We love you and will see you in the New Year with lots more on the THC blog!

In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the more memorable shots we took this year:

Inside a Gilt Closet

That’s Alexandra Wilkis Wilson – Harvard Grad, Power Retailer, Gilt Founder.

I recently hung out with her in her closet in NYC to see what’s Haute. And elevated it is. Alexandra has an amazing collection of day dresses, her regular work uniform. Also: jewelry. Having spent considerable time at Louis Vuitton and Bulgari before launching Gilt with her friend Alexis . . . she’s not lacking in the designer department. With a separate closet for evening gowns, Alexandra’s main closet is filled with the day dresses, glitzier pieces for night and great basics, much of it from Gilt: sweaters, jackets, gorgeous silk blouses, and tons of great shoes.

This being NYC, space is tight. I commenced with the Initial Edit and got rid of a few pieces and recommended archiving those that are precious but aren’t essential to her regular wardrobe. And with her being in NYC, she can take advantage of an amazing service called Garde Robe. If you live there – and have lots in your wardrobe – you may want to check them out.

Not that she needed much in the way of style advice, but there was one gaping hole in her wardrobe: a go-to pair of jeans. Admittedly, she’s not much of a denim girl, but before I left I evangelized for the indigo and sent her on a mission to hit Barneys, Bergdorfs and ACNE to seek out and try on until she found the perfect, high-waisted pair because, really: essential.

Also: Alexandra just had a baby, and, like so many women who’ve done the same, she’s switching gears from belly wear to newly svelte. The post-baby metamorphosis can seem wholly daunting but it doesn’t have to be: it’s an opportunity to resurrect what worked best and change directions to reflect what’s happening now. I suggested long, light jackets to go over her dresses (great layering for Winter with the added benefit of providing lots of topper options come Spring) and to throw in some belts to shine  light on her newly rebounded waistline.

I suggested she pick up belts to hit high on her natural waist and scour the vintage shops around town to find them (and perhaps have a cobbler make fab pieces smaller to get the right fit). Also, I pushed for a belt sale on Gilt because one can never have too many of these great accessories. Think of them as jewelry: they can take a look from casual to glam in seconds flat, changing the shape of a dress, amping up jeans and a jacket or transforming the look of a coat.

Going in, I knew Alexandra as a stylish, powerful woman. Now, with more room in her closet, she can see what she’s got and shop for more designer pieces on the fantastic, ever-expanding Gilt. But it’s not like she gets special treatment during sales: Gilt employees – even the founders – have to wait until noon to see what’s for sale.

Get weird.

Our love for Simon Doonan is well documented on THC. His latest article implores one to, basically, get weird with style. Be an eccentric if you want to. And if you think about your favorite outfits, they probably contain some element of je ne sai quois.

Basically, a confirmed eccentric feels a certain freedom, or at the very least a compulsion to be free. Oftentimes, though, one is pushed into eccentricity because of circumstances they can’t control. Perhaps something like jolie laide. It all boils down to looking different, no matter how you frame it.

So, in his latest article on the subject Doonan asks: Why are some women content to wear sweater sets and pearls, while others keep orangutans in their boudoirs and charge through life wearing avant-garde jump suits with pointy bits on the shoulders?

And goes on to lay out some guidelines for being free to do what one wants. Our favorite thing he says is “Forget about high-priced stylists: Mentally unstable people provide an infinitely richer source of directional tips.” Luckily for you, we’re not high-priced and, if you read this blog or have had us in your closet, you know we think outside the box.

What we can’t get behind is this: “[E]ccentricity will have a catastrophically diminishing effect on your perceived shagability. It’s a total hotness destroyer.” NOT TRUE, Doonan. Get weird. And be pretty (or hunky or hot or interesting or hipster or whatever mode of being you want to channel.)

Being your truest self is always in style … and will always be sexy to the right person.

THC + Google = ?

We love the Internet.

We also love building websites (this one, black/francis, aprilfrancis.com).

Anything tech is cool with us.

So when we got the Twitter update this AM about Google rolling out boutiques.com – billed as a Personalized Fashion Shop – we thought ok, let’s check it out.

Here’s our boutique: thehautecloset on boutiques.com

boutiques.com

We like it. Don’t love it. Pretty much par for the course when it comes to Google.

Bottom line: it’s a pretty good way to snag deals and find new online shops but picks can be way off the mark, even after intense customization. Basically, a Silicon Valley server will never be able to parse the most intimate of your style desires. And you’ll probably end up buying things you don’t need because they are constantly being fed to you.

So, back to The Haute Closet: real, live, completely personalize service. In your home. In the shops. It’s awesome. Everything you need, nothing you don’t. We love it. And so do our clients!

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