Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fashion Takes a Bow.…..Or Two

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There’s a new/old dec­o­ra­tive ele­ment of style that has me pos­i­tively obsessed these days–its ori­gin is antique and it con­jures fan­tasies of unwrap­ping a pre­cious gift for its recipient.

Bows date back in fash­ion his­tory longer than any of us have existed, and for bloody good rea­son: they’re fem­i­nine, styl­ish and lovely to look at, and can be worn in infi­nite ways.

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Lately I’ve been going a bit bow-crazy, scour­ing the shops for a bevy of bows. I love the way they can look ele­gant, classy and sweet; or dra­matic, whim­si­cal and coquet­tish. I also love the way they can take cen­ter stage as an enor­mous orna­ment or sim­ply work as an adorn­ment for an acces­sory, or even become the acces­sory itself.

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John Gal­liano ties one on for his Mai­son Margiela fall 2016 col­lec­tion, and this giant bow, in rich gor­geous choco­late, is the fab­u­lous focal point for the entire ensem­ble. I love the pro­por­tions of this thoroughly-modern bow! Amaz­ingly, the exag­ger­ated scale looks appro­pri­ate for chic day drama in an earthy urban palette, as Gal­liano bril­liantly rede­fines the bow.

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For­mally, Zoe Kravitz was fit to be tied at the Met Gala this year in dark and dreamy Valentino. Valentino loves the bow almost as much as I do, and has used bows in many a gar­ment over the years, as seen in the lit­tle red day dress below, worn by the perpetually-chic Alexa Chung. It looks so sweet and cur­rent. What a dif­fer­ence a bow can make!

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This ele­gant sleeve from Chloe in 2009, below, undoubt­edly shows that you can never have too many bows! Just look at the time­less­ness of the detail and tell me what I already know: it’s all in the bow!

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Notice how the bow can dom­i­nate or embell­ish, it’s entirely up to you! I also appre­ci­ate the fact that you can dress the bow up or down, and wear it sexy, school­girl or couture.

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For spring, sum­mer or win­ter, fall for the bow and you won’t go wrong. This grey tweed bow by Chris­t­ian Dior, shot by Paolo Roversi for Vogue Italia, proves that bows smartly travel through all sea­sons and can be worn on any occasion.

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Above is more Dior, a pump­kin gown punc­tu­ated with a beaded bow.

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But the hum­ble bow can also remain mod­ern and min­i­mal­ist, as seen in this Yves Saint Lau­rent sum­mer dress pho­tographed by Mar­tin Lidell for L’Officiel Rus­sia back in 2010. This design looks as cur­rent to me today as it did six years ago, which speaks vol­umes about the bow!

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Chris­t­ian Lacroix used the boun­ti­ful bow for Schi­a­par­elli Haute Cou­ture in the bus­tled beauty above. I love the whimsy of his pow­der pink plaid. Stunning!

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Vic­to­rio & Lucchino embell­ish a model’s assets in a sleek sil­ver sheath adorned with a dra­matic Asian-textile bow.

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Bows are ideal in bridal, as seen in the wide geisha-style wrap above, but they can also sur­face sim­ply as a del­i­cate accent on a gar­ment or worn in the hair for flir­ta­tious effect.

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This shoul­der rib­bon, in an edi­to­r­ial for Harper’s Bazaar shot by Solve Sundsbo, proves that the bow need not look bold to cre­ate a max­i­mum impact.

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Just a bit of rib­bon tied in a loose pony can ele­vate bed­room hair to a cou­ture coif in sec­onds! I love the sweet sim­plic­ity of it. It’s so effort­less look­ing and incred­i­bly sexy!

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And speak­ing of sexy, I’m cur­rently crush­ing on the hair-as-sculpture bows, pio­neered by Valentino in 2006 and worn famously by both Paris Hilton and Lady Gaga.

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They look just as cool with cou­ture as they do with a casual, fresh sum­mer dress, and now you can find clip-on hair­bows at the wig stores and beauty sup­ply and in a vari­ety of col­ors, so you don’t have to have mad skills to look charm­ingly coy if you decide to jump on the bow bandwagon!

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The bow is a glam­orous, chic and fem­i­nine ele­ment which has remained time­less in the his­tory of fash­ion. I now invite you all to take a bow!

Peace. Love. Beauty. xxx

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Meaning of Life and The Purpose of Life and Issie Blow

issie sublime in red

One of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries from child­hood is a cold day at the beach in San Fran­cisco, my sis­ter and I walk­ing with my mother and my father. I don’t remem­ber how old I was, but I must have been very young because my dad was still around, and the ocean was a new expe­ri­ence for me.

As I walked the shore with my father at my side and my mother and sis­ter trail­ing behind us, I col­lected trea­sures from the briny, surf-soaked sands. There was a mul­ti­tude of shells, pieces of glass and drift­wood, and a plen­ti­tude of peb­bles, each a tiny work of art from nature, and each a mas­ter­piece in its own right.

I would gather my sou­venirs from the sea and con­tem­plate their per­fec­tion, or lack thereof, in my tiny hands as we walked. None of the trea­sures were with­out flaw. Per­haps a gnarl in a shell or a blem­ish on a stone ren­dered them, in my mind, inad­e­quate. So upon reflec­tion I would inevitably dis­card each trea­sure that I dis­cov­ered by sim­ply drop­ping it along the walk until we came back to the car to leave, at which point I saw that I had nothing.

My sis­ter, how­ever, had the most intrigu­ing col­lec­tion of beau­ti­ful lit­tle things as we came to the end of our walk. In her find­ings were dar­ling shells and col­or­ful stones with char­ac­ter and won­der­ful, mem­o­rable relics that I exam­ined in awe. I remem­ber telling my mother with incredulity how lovely each item was, and ask­ing how my sis­ter found these beguil­ing memen­tos on our walk when I had seen only imper­fect specimens.

My mother sim­ply smiled for the longest time as I fawned over the glo­ri­ous trea­sures. How could my sis­ter have found such won­drous art, I asked, when I found noth­ing? My mother finally replied, “Shan­non, she picked up the things that you discarded.”

The story reminds me of a quote by Pablo Picasso: “The mean­ing of life is to find your gift. The pur­pose of life is to give it away.”

The story also reminds me that imper­fec­tion is inter­est­ing, flaws equate unique­ness, and noth­ing in life should be taken for granted. Beauty is every­where, and when you seek beauty in all things and all peo­ple, you not only find it, you become it.

This think­ing brings to mind one woman so mes­mer­iz­ingly unique that, despite her flaws, she remains radi­ant, beau­ti­ful and mem­o­rable long after she was dis­carded as an imper­fect spec­i­men in an indus­try obsessed with per­fec­tion. I’m refer­ring to Isabella Blow, the British styl­ist and fash­ion edi­tor whose sui­cide death in 2007 left a bit­ter­sweet legacy, as well as an imper­fect wardrobe–a diary in cloth­ing, if you will–which is now on dis­play until 28 August at the Pow­er­house Museum in Syd­ney, Australia.

issie and philip

Isabella Blow: A Fash­ion­able Life,” pro­vides the oppor­tu­nity to exam­ine more than 45 of Issie’s out­fits, as well as rare pho­tographs of her in her fin­ery. In addi­tion, you can see some of her favorite jew­elry and shoes, and of course the sig­na­ture hats that made both her, and her pro­tégé, milliner friend Philip Treacy, pic­tured above with Isabella, famous.

The remark­able thing about Isabella, to me, was her unwa­ver­ing authen­tic­ity in an inau­then­tic world. Like any artis­tic com­mu­nity, the fash­ion indus­try is filled with super­fi­cial people–talentless clingers scented with insin­cer­ity and insecurity–who really couldn’t give a fuck about any­one else. Issie, on the other hand, she cared. She cared about tal­ent and vision and genius, fos­ter­ing count­less “unknown” artists and pro­mot­ing their growth and flour­ish. She was the real deal, and she had heart.

issie with alexander

Issie dis­cov­ered the mean­ing of life when she sought beauty, and ful­filled her pur­pose in life when she gave it away. She unearthed the curi­ous, the inter­est­ing, the mag­nif­i­cent, when she brought us Philip Treacy, Alexan­der McQueen, pic­tured above with Isabella, and many more. Thank you Issie. You are nei­ther gone nor forgotten.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hats Heard Round the World: Meet Master Milliner, Philip Treacy


The hat is with­out a doubt the bold­est acces­sory that a woman can wear. And I believe it was the arrestingly-beautiful crea­ture Iman, who stated that British milliner Philip Treacy’s hats were glam­orous, sexy and eccen­tric. And that is such an impor­tant state­ment. It can be dif­fi­cult to look all of the above simul­ta­ne­ously, but with a Treacy hat or fas­ci­na­tor propped solidly on your top­per, it is indeed dif­fi­cult to go wrong.

Since the 2010 sui­cide death of Alexan­der McQueen, fash­ion has wit­nessed a fiery land­slide of McQueen’s vision­ary ideas sweep­ing the world of style, melt­ing the mun­dane and burn­ing away the banal like lava spewed from a hot cave.

Philip young

And sit­ting squarely in the cen­ter of this beau­ti­ful demo­li­tion is Philip Treacy, the pale quiet ghost and sole sur­vivor of the genius trin­ity, which includes the afore­men­tioned McQueen and one unusual woman: the remark­able, the unmistakable.….Isabella Blow.

Isabella was the British fash­ion edi­tor who dis­cov­ered both McQueen and Treacy. Unfor­tu­nately, she also com­mit­ted sui­cide three years prior to her pro­tege McQueen, in 2007, by drink­ing a bot­tle of weed killer.

I have spo­ken to Philip Treacy sev­eral times, and there is a long­ing in his voice when he speaks of her. She remains his muse, even from the grave.

Isabella Blow had some­thing com­mon to all of us, but unusual in fash­ion,” Philip told me. “She had a big heart. Her dilemma was that she worked in the fash­ion busi­ness, but was more inter­ested in the fash­ion, than the busi­ness. She lived for the art and drama of fashion.”

Philip recounted a story for me of the way Blow would attend the shows, “with 600 peo­ple all sit­ting there, dressed in black. They were all seri­ous, and there she’d be with a lob­ster hat on her head and a Nell Gwyn-inspired gown,” Philip recounted.


She would be the only one to woo-hoo and clap. She didn’t care. I was so inspired by how she wore my hats. She wore them like she was not wear­ing them,” Philip con­tin­ued, “like they just hap­pened to be there. She was never a snob. She believed in talent–no mat­ter where you came from.”

Issie and lee

I’m a baker’s son. Alexan­der McQueen is a cab driver’s son. Issie gave me my first com­mis­sion while still a stu­dent at the Royal Col­lege of Art (in Lon­don),” Philip said. “I remem­ber some­one said to her, ‘Why is this stu­dent mak­ing your wed­ding hat when you could have any­one in the world make it?’ She didn’t give a fuck what they thought. Her focus was cre­ativ­ity, and I fell in love with her at that moment. When you were in her focus–and this includes Alexan­der McQueen, (pic­tured with Isabella, above), Stella Ten­nant and Sophie Dahl, whom she also discovered–it was like being in the mid­dle of a love affair,” Phillip explained.


Every­body loved Issie, but she didn’t always love her­self. She did have ovar­ian can­cer and she suf­fered with depression…it was all too much for her. Isabella Blow was the first extra­or­di­nary, inter­est­ing per­son I met in Lon­don when I moved here from Ire­land. In 20 years I have met all my heroes and nobody in my hon­est true esti­ma­tion sur­passed her. She was incred­i­ble. I thought there must be oth­ers like her, but there wasn’t. Every­one was bor­ing in com­par­i­son to her,” he added.

Although Blow was Treacy’s ideal client, this mas­ter milliner now counts many, many famous faces among his fans. Grace Jones, Boy George, Madonna, Lady Gaga.…and not just the celebri­ties, either. Treacy tops off the roy­als and prac­ti­cally every seri­ous high-end fash­ion­ista in the world today, and his career has spanned an incred­i­ble 30 years of not just rel­e­vancy, but reigning.

His cre­ations are exquis­ite perfection–with unpar­al­leled cre­ativ­ity and the kind of del­i­cate details and nuances that one would expect in fine art. Each and every piece is painstak­ingly crafted in his bright Lon­don stu­dio, with an expert staff that he over­sees. Take a look at some of these Treacy masterpieces.


Above is a 17th-century Dalian or sail­ing ship hat. It is Philip’s favorite cre­ation out of all his lit­er­ally thou­sands of hats. “I’d seen old ren­der­ings of ships in women’s hair,” Philip told me. “It was a cos­tume designer’s dream.”

The idea for this hat was inspired and cre­ated from a chap­ter in Olivier Bernier’s book, “Plea­sure and Priv­i­lege,” Philip said.

The chap­ter, called “Rule of Fash­ion,” was about life in France in the 1750s. “It described a British fleet admi­ral, D’Estaing, los­ing a famous bat­tle to the French fleet,” Philip told me. “In cel­e­bra­tion, women in Paris wore ships in their hair to go to the opera, and I loved the emo­tion attached to this,” he con­tin­ued. “It’s made from satin and the bone of the feather. The sails are par­adise feath­ers. And the rig­ging is made from the feather bones,” Philip said, which, he told me, is what remains when you strip away the feather from its spine.

Bird s nest

I first used feath­ers, shed by my mother’s goose, as a child to dec­o­rate hats where I grew up in Gal­way, (Ire­land). It took a year for Antony’s Yoko­hama cock­erels to grow their tail feath­ers long enough for me to pain­lessly clip them to cre­ate hats that were worn by Honor Fraser and Jodie Kidd on the cat­walk,” Philip told me. Above and below are two results of Treacy and McQueen’s col­lab­o­ra­tion from 2007.

Feathered hat 1

Birds are exquis­ite per­fec­tion. Their feath­ers are weight­less, and they give move­ment and vol­ume. Women love them and they are very sexy,” he stated.

Issy in pheasant hat

I like to invent new ways of using farm­yard fowl; feath­ers feel like liv­ing, breath­ing mate­r­ial. You are draw­ing with them rather than just dec­o­rat­ing a hat,” he added. Above, Issie Blow wears a pheas­ant hat designed by Treacy.

She loved this pheas­ant. She said, ‘I want to be buried in it.’ So we buried her in it,” Philip stated.

Philip on his youth: “As a child I always liked mak­ing things like pup­pets, toys, Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, stuff like that. And when I was six Mrs. McDo­nough, a neigh­bor, taught me how to sew. I stud­ied fash­ion first. I didn’t have any heroes in the way of design­ers and I didn’t really care too much about them. When I came to col­lege in Lon­don I found that many of the stu­dents were a lit­tle jaded but not me, because the city was all new to me. At that time I had no idea I would become a milliner, I just liked fash­ion and style.”

I was always influ­enced by beauty,” Phillip con­tin­ued. “At home in Ire­land we were taught about the beauty of nature. We had lots of chick­ens, pheas­ants and geese so the prime ingre­di­ent of the hats I make are feath­ers because I know them very well. I now appre­ci­ate the pro­found effect my child­hood had on me.”

Naomi campbell 2

Philip described his process to me: “I sketch the hat, and then begin to make the shape in a nat­ural fab­ric called spar­trie. When the shape is com­pleted it is sent off to La Forme in Paris who then cre­ates a wooden block. With this block hun­dreds of hats can be cre­ated.” Above, Philip fits a hat on model Naomi Campbell.

Twisted birdcage

Philip on the begin­ning of his career: “I was sum­moned to Paris to meet Karl Lager­feld, chief designer at Chanel. I was 23 and I’d just left school. I didn’t know whether to call him Mr. Lager­feld or what­ever. I was totally intim­i­dated but Issie was exactly her­self. She just walked into the house of Chanel and said, ‘We’d like some tea, please.’ I went on to design hats for Lager­feld at Chanel for 10 years. The first hat I designed was the twisted bird­cage, pho­tographed by Patrick Demarche­lier and worn on the cover of British Vogue by Linda Evangelista.”


Philip on hats: “Hats are very sexy. When I started at the Royal Col­lege of Art, they thought hats were for old ladies and I thought that was com­pletely insane. Why would you think that? I love the idea of the unknown and the future; you don’t know what is going to hap­pen next week, and that’s a fash­ion attitude.”

Grace and iman

It’s all very well accus­ing some­one of being a ‘fash­ion animal’–I’m one too! Fash­ion ani­mals are obsessed with some­thing for a moment, and then they move on to some­thing else. That’s the nature of fash­ion. It’s all about change.”

Pink bow

A hat can com­pletely change the per­son­al­ity of the wearer, make them stand dif­fer­ently and walk dif­fer­ently. A hat can make that per­son feel inter­est­ing. Peo­ple think some­times that peo­ple who wear hats want to show off. But human beings, since the begin­ning of time, have always wanted to embell­ish them­selves. So hats have been around since the year dot. It’s a human thing to want to dress every part.”


Philip on his clien­tele: “My assis­tant who looks after my shop tells me she sells a dream. She sells peo­ple things they do not really need, but they have to have. We all need beau­ti­ful things that make us feel good and give us plea­sure. Whether it’s a flower, a sun­rise, or a hat! These things are the spice of life and remind us of the essence of plea­sure and beauty. I have had the great­est plea­sure of hav­ing the oppor­tu­nity to chal­lenge people’s per­cep­tion of what a hat should look like in the 21st century.”

Daphne 2

Our cus­tomers are every­one from a young girl who’s saved up for a £150 rain­wear trilby to this very dis­tin­guished gen­tle­man of about 70. He comes in every sum­mer to order 20 cou­ture hats to enter­tain the ladies who will be stay­ing on his yacht. It doesn’t mat­ter how much peo­ple pay for them…everyone wants to look like a mil­lion dol­lars in a hat.”

Philip 2

I went to my stu­dio today and Isabella is every­where,” he said. “In every hat I made, every cor­ner I turn, she is there. I will miss her laugh, her pas­sion and her humanity.”

Issie with dog

I will always miss her.“

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tales of Snails and the Trail of Success: Alex Soldier’s Snail Ring

We all have cer­tain unique ‘things’–different objects or possessions–which sym­bol­ize suc­cess to each and every one of us. For some, a lux­ury sports­car is the mile­stone of that suc­cess. You know you’ve made it in life when there’s that one ‘thing.’

Suc­cess, for me, how­ever, is being rich in those things that money can­not buy. In the words of Coco Chanel, “The best things in life are free.” And she was right. True love, loyal friends, and your own good health, for exam­ple, can­not be bought, even if you fool­ishly think that they can. But, the witty Chanel was quick to add, “The sec­ond best [things in life] are very expen­sive.” And right she was yet again.

As a trib­ute to the sec­ond best things in life, I would like to show you my idea of one of those things that rep­re­sents suc­cess to me. I must admit I have a weak­ness for sta­tus jew­elry, and I guess I will know in my heart that I have finally “made it,” as it were, when I own an Alex Sol­dier snail ring.

Have you seen these? From his Snail Col­lec­tion, they pos­i­tively hyp­no­tize me and leave me fas­ci­nated. There are three snails to choose from. First, the Dia­mond Snail, made of 18 karat white and yel­low gold and stud­ded with bril­liant diamonds.….

Diamond snail

.….Sec­ond, the Cognac Snail, below, made of 18 karat yel­low gold and plat­inum, stud­ded with yel­low sap­phires, cit­rines, gar­nets and diamonds.….

Cognac snail

.….And third, my per­sonal favorite, the Sea Snail, made of 18 karat white and yel­low gold and stud­ded with sap­phires, aqua­marines, dia­monds, peri­dots, and tourmalines.

Sea snail

I can­not think of any lux­ury pur­chase that I more long to own than this cou­ture jeweler’s Sea Snail. I love the idea of Alex’s ren­der­ing of a happy-go-lucky snail, occu­py­ing quite a bit of real estate on the back of my hand.

The nature of the slow-moving slug seems almost dim-witted, as he car­ries the weight of the world on his very own back.….…until you real­ize the quiet delib­er­ate­ness, the intent, the pur­pose. Until you remem­ber of course the con­sis­tency of the slow-and-steady, which now trails glis­ten­ing fire­works of the finest gem­stones exe­cuted by one of the great­est in cou­ture gems, Alex Sol­dier. Behold the shim­mer­ing shell, ablaze in all its mag­nif­i­cent splendor.

And all the while it reminds me of Alex Soldier’s mes­sage: Slow down and enjoy life…and look closely, because the beau­ti­ful may be small, or it may come from an unex­pected place.

So much sim­ple wis­dom, served bril­liantly from an ordi­nary gar­den pest that’s been spec­tac­u­larly punc­tu­ated with a gen­er­ous gem-studded dis­play. The dichotomy? GENIUS.

Each and every snail has its own unique expres­sion. You are met with a friendly recog­ni­tion and a kind of play­ful inno­cence that Sol­dier cap­tures, as if through the eyes of a child he is see­ing that snail for the very first time. The new­ness of the shell’s geo­met­ric retic­u­la­tions, with Soldier’s char­ac­ter­is­tic etch­ings, and the peb­bly nature of the flesh of that snail, are all Sol­dier trade­marks and part of what makes this piece so spe­cial to me. It’s like you’re get­ting a lit­tle piece of Alex Sol­dier, the man him­self, from a secret space in the recesses of his mind.

Alex Soldier’s Snail Col­lec­tion is avail­able at, Saks stores and Neiman Mar­cus online.

Monday, July 13, 2015

My New Find: Amina Marie Millinery

Lede shot

There’s no ques­tion that the head­wear trend is in full swing, and fash­ion is lov­ing this very cou­ture moment in his­tory. Tal­ented design­ers are pop­ping up every­where, mak­ing millinery slightly more mainstream.

I will be fea­tur­ing sev­eral tal­ented milliners here on Beauty Shall Save the World, and for all my hat enthu­si­asts I have a very spe­cial treat: it is my arti­cle on a millinery leg­end, the great Philip Treacy, who has granted an exclu­sive inter­view to Beauty Shall Save the World. You will love what this tal­ented man has to say about cre­ativ­ity and genius, as well as his late dear friends, fash­ion designer Alexan­der McQueen and style icon, Isabella Blow. I can­not wait to share it with you.

By now you all know that I love unearthing a new find, or reveal­ing a tal­ented but unrec­og­nized designer or artist. Well today I am very excited to share with you my new dis­cov­ery, a little-known milliner who has been prac­tic­ing the craft of hat-making for only one year. She took just three classes in millinery, yet she cre­ates some of the most beau­ti­ful, fem­i­nine cou­ture hats. Her name is Amina Marie Hood, and her hats are trea­sures. Many of them are decep­tive; they don’t look like much until you place them on the head, where they trans­form both the wearer and them­selves. In short, each one is a lit­tle work of art. Just look at some of Amina’s fab­u­lous cre­ations, shown here in an exclu­sive pho­to­shoot for Beauty Shall Save the World, styled by yours truly, Shan­non McGovern.

White rabbit

First up we have “Rock­e­feller,” this fuzzy, pure white freeform sculpted hat that makes our model, Chris­tine, look like the pearl in the cen­ter of an oys­ter shell. I had to have this hat, it is such a stun­ner. Love the tex­ture, the pure white was a big sell­ing point for me, and the scal­loped edges, which really are so unique and mem­o­rable. This hat is made from white long-haired rab­bit fur felt, and I thought the price point, $350, was rea­son­able for a cou­ture hat such as this. Luck­ily, I didn’t have to pay it, how­ever; Amina gifted me this hat as thanks after we wrapped the shoot. Thanks, Home­girl. You rock. 😉

Camel cloche wiht hardware

Next up is “Espresso,” $300, this lit­tle camel sliver of fur felt with chain detailing.

The thing about Amina’s hats is that they look styl­ish with all kinds of attire, whether it be fancy or casual. They can be dressed up or down, while remain­ing per­pet­u­ally chic.

Here, I part­nered Amina’s hat with a cop­per dis­tressed leather jacket, but make no mis­take, this diminu­tive lit­tle punc­tu­a­tion mark for your head could go haute in, lit­er­ally, the drop of a hat! I absolutely adore the seem­ingly small touches that make her works look infi­nitely sophis­ti­cated, like the bronze hard­ware trim pip­ing here along the edge.

Olive military hat

I love “Let­ters from The Gen­eral,” above, an army green fur felt hat, $300, con­structed sim­i­larly to “Espresso,” with a freeform sculpted sil­hou­ette. This hat is ideal for the mil­i­tary trend. So cur­rent. Looks great with the Chris­t­ian Lacroix olive blazer shown and tor­toise cat-eye shades.

Ivory mod hat

The cream para­sisal straw saucer hat with black rib­bon edge, “Out of This World,” $425, looks right in a nod to mod. Chris­tine is wear­ing a vin­tage mod shift dress by Dominique, circa 1960s. But, this ver­sa­tile hat would look very appro­pri­ate with a fem­i­nine Easter dress or even dra­matic couture.

Red and black

I love the idea of this hat. It’s Amina’s “Con­vert­ible Derby” in cherry red fur felt, $400, with black “Pop.” This is the hat that caught my eye when I dis­cov­ered Amina. She had earned her place amongst eight other final­ists in Lock Hat­ters first annual Millinery Com­pe­ti­tion. Lock & Co., by the way, have designed hats for Kate Mid­dle­ton and other royals.

This con­vert­ible hat can be worn as shown, or the black top can “pop” off, allow­ing the hat to be worn in solid red.…..or, you can wear it with other pops, which Amina sells for $50 each. This hat offers up so much ver­sa­til­ity at a very friendly price-point. I would love to have this hat with sev­eral pops, includ­ing a funky fur felt leop­ard print! Meow!

Rose portrait shot

Smells Like a Rose” is a nat­ural ivory, extra-fine sina­may straw, freeform draped fas­ci­na­tor, $400, which knots beau­ti­fully into a rose-like shape. The diaphanous fab­ri­ca­tion is so stun­ning in per­son, yield­ing a gauze-y kind of fil­ter over the face. The tex­ture is fine and mal­leable, with a volu­mi­nous body to it, like starched linen. But make no mis­take, this is actu­ally that beau­ti­ful, high-end sina­may straw that is one of Amina’s trade­mark materials.

Black sheer hat

Amina uses the same extra-fine sina­may straw in black to cre­ate “Jackie’s Funeral,” a freeform draped hat, $600, which looks gor­geous on Chris­tine in a fit­ted vin­tage dress above. This hat trav­els effort­lessly to the beach as well, with swimwear and a sheer sarong, for exam­ple. The ver­sa­til­ity of Amina’s hats truly amazes.

Kimono hat

There is some­thing very organic about “In Carolyne’s Gar­dens,” Amina’s trib­ute to Car­olyne Roehm. It’s a nat­ural sina­may straw freeform sculpted hat with hand-dyed sina­may edg­ing, $400. A gen­tle drap­ing is so flat­ter­ing around the face, and this hat’s ease of wear is syn­ony­mous with sim­ple ele­gance, just like Car­olyne Roehm herself.

Blue fox

Foxxxy” is the slate, hand-dyed para­sisal straw hat with seafoam blue fox fur trim and crin peek­a­boo, $400. This is quite the head-turning hat! I love the nuance of col­ors that Amina works with. Her palette is always sophis­ti­cated, never garish.

Each hat is pure couture–both fem­i­nine and stylish–without any trendy gim­micks, and the ver­sa­til­ity of each piece, remark­able. These are the hats that I could see as eas­ily on the run­way at Vivi­enne West­wood as I could with Issey Miyake. That really says some­thing about the time­less ver­sa­til­ity that Amina cap­tures in her work. They would be equally at home with Balen­ci­aga, Bal­main and Donna Karan, and her price point is awe­some for this type of cou­ture, hand-finished hat. In addi­tion, Amina uses only the finest mate­ri­als, includ­ing fur felt, sina­may, para­sisal straw, fish leather, leather and silk.

So what’s next for this bur­geon­ing milliner?

I still have a lot to learn,” Amina said. “I would love to study under some of the greats. I think Philip Treacy is amaz­ing and I really respect and love the works of Noel Stew­art, Jane Tay­lor, Anya Caliendo. I hope to col­lab­o­rate with some tal­ented pho­tog­ra­phers and styl­ists, and for my designs to be on the run­ways and in the magazines…but most impor­tantly, on the streets, on the heads of fash­ion­able women, because I want my work to be acces­si­ble, wear­able and rel­e­vant to many women, for many years.”

Crew at photoshoot for amina

A quick shout-out and a hearty thank you to the rest of the team that made this gor­geous shoot pos­si­ble: from left, that’s Sui, who was respon­si­ble for coiffing our model’s hair to per­fec­tion; the breath­tak­ing Chris­tine Alward was said model; pho­tog­ra­phy by Topher Adam, edi­tor of Dark Beauty Mag­a­zine; fab­u­lous makeup by Jas­mine Car­de­nas; that’s me, Shan, in the I “HEART” Paris t-shirt; and last but def­i­nitely not least, stand­ing by my side, is Amina, of Amina Marie Millinery. The very tal­ented Tim Engle was in charge of light­ing in this project. We could not have done it with­out him, yet here he is invis­i­ble because, like most good pho­togs, he’s busy tak­ing the pic­ture of the rest of us! Jaja­jaja. Thanks, Tim, and thanks every­body. This shoot was a true triumph.

For infor­ma­tion visit Amina Marie Millinery. You can fol­low Amina on both Face­book and Insta­gram. Cus­tom orders call 816.830.9793.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Beauty Binge: A Sweet Surrender to Sisley

Many peo­ple know me as a fash­ion ana­lyst, but are not aware that I also have my aesthetician’s license, after com­plet­ing intense study here in Cal­i­for­nia. This knowl­edge broad­ens my capa­bil­i­ties as a writer–on many levels–and the expe­ri­ence, knowl­edge and train­ing that I have accu­mu­lated enables me to very accu­rately and poignantly dis­close to you my best in beauty prod­ucts and cosmetics.

It goes with­out say­ing that I have a com­pli­cated, and some­times dan­ger­ous affair with makeup. Nowa­days, I get so much free prod­uct that I nearly never have to buy a sin­gle stitch of it myself.….until I pass the Sis­ley Paris cos­met­ics counter. Few things can make my heart race as fast as when approach­ing that counter, which for me is nes­tled inside the bright Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco’s Union Square. And my lovely long-term liai­son with Sis­ley artist Richard Winser is a rela­tion­ship that I have trea­sured for around 20 years now.

Me and richard at sisley

Above, Richard applies a new Sis­ley pen­cil to my eyes. I will tell you all about this great prod­uct, but first I just want to say that every change of sea­son I pop in to say hi to Richard and see what Sis­ley is up to. I have Richard assess my face and we dis­cuss any con­cerns that I may have with regard to skin con­di­tion or any­thing like that. But most impor­tantly, I love it when Richard quickly applies a lit­tle makeup on top of what I’m already wear­ing, to give me a few ideas about the newest emerg­ing trends and how my face has changed, or, remark­ably, not. Time is a lux­ury for me, and Richard under­stand this. He is so deft with the pow­der brush that he can do his thing stat-quick, while mak­ing me feel spe­cial and pretty, and also giv­ing me some ideas about appli­ca­tion and fresh col­ors. Richard makes stay­ing cur­rent a snap. I don’t know what I’d do with­out him. I think that every­one should have a Richard. So, the moral of the story is: Try to develop your own local rela­tion­ship with a ‘Richard’ because it really is so invalu­able! It’s great to have a skilled set of objec­tive eyes that you can trust when eval­u­at­ing your appearance.

And now I’m really happy to report to you on a few of my new Sis­ley finds dur­ing last weekend’s beauty binge. You will love them.

First up is this great chunky pen­cil for eyes. It’s the Phyto-Eye Twist, $50, a giant water­proof crayon that glides on silky smooth and deposits a nice opaque line, thick or thin, you choose. Buff it, smudge it, or leave the line crisp. I love this pen­cil, espe­cially in col­ors Havana, a sparkling bur­gundy great for dark eyes, below.…

Phyto pencil

.…or Lagoon, below, a tan­ta­liz­ing turquoise, which is great used as your spring 2015 state­ment eyeliner.


Richard shaded my upper lash line and the crease of my eye, cre­at­ing a V-shape on the lid, with this jumbo stick, in the photo. It adds depth for a sul­try yet sim­ple sum­mer eye. I loved the result. These pen­cils are great—I want to col­lect them all—and the per­for­mance is stel­lar, truly impres­sive and water­proof. It’s almost all you need in a sin­gle pen­cil! The cov­er­age is build­able, so you can eas­ily give more depth to a tone, more opac­ity, with every swipe. The color twists up, so you need not sharpen. Just throw it in your beach bag or purse, and you’re set for a week­end away, no messy eye­shadow required. And did I men­tion that the bril­liant peo­ple over at Sis­ley have incor­po­rated yummy skin-care ingre­di­ents into this über stick?!?! They think of every­thing! I love their ‘treat­ment cos­met­ics,’ which nur­ture your skin while act­ing as a smart cos­metic! This pow­er­house of a pen­cil is packed with Green Tea, White Lily and Camel­lia, all of which are potent anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants that are going to treat your skin–actually pro­tect­ing and repairing–while you’re mak­ing up. Brilliant.

White eyeliner

Next up, for the white eye­liner trend that’s got me and count­less other beauty afi­ciona­dos all crazy this sum­mer, you must, must, MUST try Sisley’s Phyto-Khol Per­fect liner in Snow, $57. Wow. And it is so per­fect! Per­fectly firm, yet soft, so it buffs a pearly white pig­ment onto the lid, or the water­line, with an effort­less­ness that is both com­fort­able and wel­come. No tug­ging, no tear­ing. And the lumi­nous white is very flat­ter­ing. I adore this pen­cil, and I love the way Richard applied it. Use the liner on the top lid only, and cre­ate a sub­tle cat eye with the white kohl. This will lift the cor­ners and cre­ate an inno­cent yet sexy, provoca­tive doe-eyed look! This is the ideal pearly white crayon liner for the white eye­liner trend. (Remem­ber to fur­ther invest in a white liq­uid for a dif­fer­ent and more haute look. See my story all about white eye­liner, fea­tur­ing our favorite reader, the gor­geous model Cara Delev­ingne, here!)


Last up, you are going to need mas­cara, and Sisley’s is the best.….Specifically, their So Intense Mas­cara, $67, and this time you have to get it in black. I love Deep Blue, which is a rich, com­plex indigo that flat­ters all eye shades, from brown to cool-toned and kalei­do­scope eyes. But with a white lid or line, you want to wear black mas­cara. It makes the con­trast pop.


The brush in this mas­cara is bomb–perfect for alter­nately build­ing and separating.….But the for­mula is also pretty dope, because it’s enriched with pep­tides and rice phyto-ceramides that are going to give you more beau­ti­ful lashes as a result of using it! Gotta love that! Thanks, Sisley.…I adore you! xxx

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The 2015 Met Gala.….One Word.….RIHANNA

Rihanna 10

The stars shone so beau­ti­fully bright last evening at the 2015 annual Met Gala. This year’s theme cel­e­brated the museum’s Cos­tume Insti­tute exhi­bi­tion, “China: Through the Look­ing Glass.” And the stars did indeed twin­kle, all with glis­ten­ing lips and even shinier hair, sparkling jew­els and bril­liantly beaded gowns…but the North star of the night was indis­putable. One word.….RIHANNA.

Actu­ally, make that three words: Rihanna & Guo Pei.

Guo Pei is the bril­liant Bejing-based female fash­ion designer, age 45, behind the opu­lent sun­flower yel­low con­fec­tion worn by Rihanna, which eas­ily ren­ders one speech­less when behold­ing its hon­eyed grandeur.

Rihanna 14

Yards upon yards of heavy golden silk satin, deca­dently embroi­dered and edged in match­ing fur, the gown is, quite eas­ily, one of the most stun­ning visions we have seen on the Red Car­pet in years, and I stand behind that state­ment. But such a breath­tak­ing cre­ation is really nei­ther rare nor remark­able in the world of Guo Pei, whose art via cou­ture rou­tinely astonishes.

Rihanna 7

With this gown, worn with a gilded stiletto man­i­cure and a lamé head­piece, Rihanna has rede­fined ele­gance and set a new stan­dard for drama in the enter­tain­ment industry.

Rihanna 15

Now, for more fab­u­lous designs by Chi­nese cou­ture sen­sa­tion, Guo Pei.….

Cerise gown with train

Guo Pei’s dis­tinc­tive, char­ac­ter­is­tic opu­lence almost always includes heavy embroi­dery, gems and bead­ing, and of course the most luxe fab­rics in bril­liant jewel tones. Elab­o­rate head­dresses, haute cou­ture hair and dra­matic makeup are a fore­gone conclusion.

Asian marie antoinette

This beau­ti­ful gilded dis­play is Guo Pei’s inter­pre­ta­tion of a modern-day Marie Antoinette, mar­ried with the pre­co­cious designer’s Asian sen­si­bil­i­ties, yield­ing an ensem­ble reserved for royalty.

Face jewelry

Facial jew­elry is one of my favorite emerg­ing trends.….but Guo Pei has been embell­ish­ing the vis­age with jew­elry for many years, as seen in this strik­ing exam­ple from Hong Kong Fash­ion Week in 2010.

Facial jewelry

Here, the jew­elry encom­passes a large ter­ri­tory, and extends up into an exotic head­dress which intrigues.

Funnel dressing

These designs, from the Hong Kong Fash­ion Week Fall/Winter 2010 Show, remind us of the vision­ary that is Guo Pei.

Greeen and purple cone gown

Rich, play­ful color com­bi­na­tions, breath­tak­ingly unique sil­hou­ettes and lav­ish details are three Guo Pei trade­marks. I adore the rose gold fil­i­gree hair fix­ture and del­i­cate hand jew­elry. This strik­ing dis­play is fur­ther enhanced with deca­dent bead­ing, and painstak­ingly embroi­dered for a most regal yet avant garde end product.

Mint and gold cone gown

Just look at the ornate, gold-encrusted pis­ta­chio pantsuit above, with cone-shaped pleating.

Mint and gold side view

I’ve never seen any­thing remotely like this. Absolutely riveting.

Mint and gold back shot

The back is a study in tex­ture, shape and color.

Red fringed gown

Weighted with long, thick fringed tas­sels, the bil­low­ing arms of this red-hot Chi­nese gown are fur­ther embell­ished with heavy golden embroi­dery. A geisha-esque head­dress with red and gold bead­ing height­ens the drama.

Silver and white empress

This empress gown and match­ing cape must weigh a ton! Just look at the beau­ti­ful heavy work­man­ship, all of which is painstak­ingly hand-applied on a Guo Pei cou­ture gown.

Tangerine gilded dress

An abbre­vi­ated tan­ger­ine hem­line is awash in gold jewelry.

Tangerine gilded gown

The model is drenched in ornate gems and facial jew­elry is, once again, of pri­mary focus.

Wheat gown

This wheat-colored gown defies description.

White gown

I sim­ply love Guo Pei’s use of mixed mate­ri­als in this pure white won­der, com­plete with fur-lined, floor-length kimono sleeves and bead­ing galore. Stunning!

Black cherry gown

Drama runs high in a black cherry gown with a huge, elab­o­rate head­dress that is absolutely undefinable.

Turquoise and white gown

Guo Pei plays with pro­por­tions in this epic gown, which is crimped at the waistline.…

Princess gown

.….for an unusual aes­thetic result.

Very long train

A mas­sive train leaves spec­ta­tors in awe of its regal splendor.

Pink and gold gown

I adore the con­cept of this ensem­ble, and its exe­cu­tion is flaw­less. Satin rosettes in cerise, hot pink and red com­pose the shell of this arrest­ing gown. A coor­di­nat­ing robe is worn on top. The gilded head­dress is the final, exalted cou­ture ele­ment. Ravishing!

And now we have seen China, through the eyes of Miss Guo Pei.