Friday, May 25, 2012

Fashion in Bucharest: an interview with Ada from Classiq

Romania is one of those countries everybody knows, all the while not really knowing anything about it. When  I was young, my family used to vacation in Transylvania. Yes, that was exactly as picturesque as it sounds (if your idea of picturesque includes travelling with 4 kids in a hot car for 24 hours straight). No, the people did not have fangs. It's been a while since I've last been there and I feel a travelling itch coming up. I'd especially love to see the parts of Romania still unfamiliar to me. Bucharest for example: I saw it once and mostly remember long avenues, hot markets and a neighbourhood in decay. I have a feeling there's a lot going on in Eastern-Europe, though: cities in the process of reinventing themselves are often a cradle for creativity. In order to find out, I rang the bell of the refined Ada from Classiq, one of my favorite blogs. Classiq is a great melange of style, design, movies and photography and occasionally guides us to hot spots in Bucharest. When in need of an instant inspiration boost, I'd definitely recommend it.

You've been living in Bucharest for a while now. What exactly draws you to it?

Although Bucharest is not my native city, I've been living here for almost 12 years and I've come to love it. It has so many beautiful parts I'm still discovering, amazing architecture, its cultural involvement, the possibilities of development in so many areas, the young people who decide to stay here and try to make a difference, their creativity and aesthetic sense.

What's the fashion scene like in your city? Do you have a lot of young designers? Is there something like a specific Romanian sense of style?

There are a few young designers that have been very well received at various fashion weeks in Europe. But I truly believe that talent, hard work and perseverance are equally important. I hate to see a young designer who shows great promise at his/her first or second collection and then gets lost on his/her way. The most difficult part is not reaching the top, but succeeding in staying there. And there is one other thing: I like seeing creativity in fashion, but I also like to see wearability. I often get the impression that the Romanian fashion designers focus more on the first part. I would like to see more collections of wearable pieces, classics regularly reinvented. This is something the Romanian fashion scene lacks.

I can't say that there is a specific Romanian sense of style. Romanians' style is very eclectic. There are women with impeccable style, simple, elegant, effortless, and every time I see one I regret I don't have more time to spare and take photos to publish on my blog. And there are the others, too fashion conscious, the ones who let themselves be driven by trends and not by what suits their personality and figure. Diversity is good, it helps you refine your taste, and everyone's style evolves in time, so it should, but I would like to see Romanians more confident in their own judgment and not be afraid to embrace simplicity more often.

Do you have any favourite shopping streets in Bucharest?

Unfortunately a thing Bucharest terribly lacks is a proper shopping street, the kind of street I would like to include a selection of my favourite brands, from local to international ones. Some of the fashion shops I love, along with my favourite bookstores (because there is no round of shopping without a visit to a bookshop), are scattered on different streets downtown Bucharest, from Unirii Square (Piaţa Unirii) to Romană Square (Piaţa Romană). The stores are usually centered in shopping malls, a concept I'm not very fond of, it deprives you of one of the pleasures of shopping, roaming the streets in search of that special something to add to your wardrobe or home.

What are your favourite Romanian stores or brands?

A few of my favourite Romanian brands for a complete look, from lingerie to accessories:

Sepala by Mihaela Glavan, one of the most appreciated Romanian designers. She creates fabulous, unique shoes, in beautiful colours and with architectural design, and bags.

Cristhelen B. by Musette: another one of my favourite Romanian (and not only) leather accessory brand. The design, quality and attention to detail are the elements that define the brand and which have won me over over the years. Shoes, bags, belts and gloves, their products are objects of desire.

Portobello: a charming atelier-boutique. Basic pieces, simple design, t-shirts, dresses, jackets, skirts, all made of natural fabrics like cotton, silk and wool. The essentials I always have trouble finding in good quality and at affordable prices. A fascinating fact about Portobello is that all the clothes are made in-store by a modiste, in the same space where they are merchandised. The products can also be adjusted to fit you perfectly. A unique experience, which makes you feel very special.

I.D. Sarrieri: the most beautiful lingerie. A constant presence in the fashion capitals and fashion magazines worldwide, the brand creates luxurious and sophisticated lingerie, made of the finest fabrics and with exquisite finishing touches.

A huge thanks to Ada - I haven't got a clue when I'll get to see Bucharest again, but I'll make sure to bear this list in mind!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Shopping Itch

I haven't bought any clothes since january and boy am I dying to scratch a hard-core shopping itch. Ever since my mother uttered the magic formula 'clothing budget', I have been buying clothes on a monthly basis. Actually, shopping has become quite the habit, and - unfortunately - not always a healthy one. After recently reading an article on habit formation (scary stuff, by the way), I decided to try out one something the author mentioned: curbing a habit by identifying routines, cues and rewards. Because when I look at my wardrobe, I see plenty of clothes, and yet I feel like I really REALLY need some new ones. Why? So in an attempt to save some money, I made a list of five cues that made me want to go out and shop over the past weeks:

Ah, such a classic. I can't speak for you guys, but I found that when I feel this way, it usually means that I'm just not inspired enough to wear my old clothes in a new way. Salvation lies in searching the internet for inspiration considering remixing, searching the back of my closet for clothes I forgot even existed, getting in front of a big mirror and trying to come up with something new. A grown up version of playing dress-up with Barbie. Only I find it quite easy to stand without toppling over and my dream house isn't made of pink plastic.

When I want a new dress for some or other special occasion, all I secretly want is to spend a lot of money on something absolutely impractical never to be worn again afterwards. Preferably with dry-cleaning instructions. Because obviously a new dress means a new, magnificent me! When really, it would be a lot more resourceful to just wear an old dress and simply accessorize it in a cool, new way. Wouldn't it be cool if our heads could split open, Zeus/Athena-style, and have Anna dello Russo pop out of them, here to cater to our every accessorizing need?

Now this is when clothes literally start speaking directly to me. As in: "You should totally buy me right now without regards to budget or actual needs because tomorrow I'll be gone with the wind. Or, you know, another woman. Gone I tell you!" The best counter-attack to this illusion is making a mental list of all the items you bought on sale and never really wore afterwards. It's a lot easier to say no once you realise that there's still plenty of fish in the sea, even when this one gets away. Albeit not as effective as taking a good, hard look at your bank statements.

Chances are that when I'm thinking this, I a) forgot to take a good look in the mirror this morning or b) neglected the weather report and am consequently freezing/melting. I was feeling pretty good about an outfit recently, until I got to the bus station and realised my hemline was MUCH too high to be worn with flesh coloured hosiery and heels. You see, the mirror I used that morning doesn't even show my knees, which led me to drastically underestimate the effect of my bare legs. My uncomfortable feeling only increased when I had to walk by a construction crew on a break. By the time I realised I would have to spend a big chunk of my day in a neighbourhood with a lot of working girls on street corners (I'm not talking your regular nine-to-fivers here), I was seriously considering hopping into the nearest mall during my lunch break and buying a new dress altogether. Luckely, my genius friend Sarah suggested simply buying a pair of coloured stockings. Less costly, but I could have saved myself the effort just by looking in a full-length mirror before leaving the house. (And if you're wondering, yes, the whistles were downright deafening. First day of spring and all.)

Confession: I have plenty of clothes that fit me perfectly well. It's just that most of them are lying on the floor, waiting to be handwashed or taken to the dry cleaner's. The solution here is really nothing more than me getting off my lethargic ass. No more laundry slacking!

To conclude: I am definitely a victim of the 'new' mirage. When I want something new, I'm secretly hoping that this new item will suddenly uplift my closet or sense of style. Things will get even better, if only I had that dress / those shoes / that top. When all I really need is a head-to-toe mirror, time, inspiration and creativity. And a decent washing machine. So if you'll excuse me now - I've got some laundry to do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cliché Tuesday: Nude is not a bloody colour

I never thought about this before I read through the comments of an article considering skin colours in The Hunger Games, but I wonder: in Africa, does the term 'nude', when used for clothes, refer to darker skin shades?

Isn't it strange that the fashion world uses the word 'nude' for a colour? Nude isn't a colour. It's a characteristic in itself completely unrelated to skin colour. (Although I do admit, I look totally nekkid when dressed in light beiges and creams and whatnot.) Not only is using nude as an adjective for clothes a paradox (it means 'no clothes', you fashion scallywags!), it is also - dare I say it? - kind of racist.
Nude in fashion

I'm not saying all fashion editors writing about nude being the new black or whatever are racists. But they are projecting a certain ideal by doing so. Let's turn it into mathematics.

Nude = white skin
Nude = fashionable
The aspirational skin colour of fashionable girls = ?

Nude worldwide

Just sayin'. I'm always the last one to find things out and I'm probably way behind on this, judging by the date of this excellent piece on the whole matter, but I still wanted to share my thoughts.