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November 18, 2001    

Celebrity Style

Pretty in Pink

By Linda LaRoche

In 1990, In Style magazine hit the newsstands and became an instant success.  It gave new meaning to newly hatched and self-doubting fashion aspirants.

Sharing the secrets of the publication success was Martha Nelson, founding editor of In Style, at high tea at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Costume Council on November 15.

“We think about what women want and what they need” said Nelson. Expressing her insights on fashion and style.  “We’re smart without being cynical, knowing without being exclusionary.  Fashion fades, but true style endures forever”.

Nelson’s evasive chic showed in her own fashion choice, a navy blue pantsuit.  Its slouchy drape skimmed her body in a free flow, without flaunting or constraining her.  The cut, slightly over sized, flattered her size 12.  As a working uniform it was functional, neutral, dignified enough for travel, and would please a boss, or an audience.  You could read into what you wanted- powerful, competent, and cool.

Many of the guests were stylish woman of substance; generals from the highest ranks of couture.  Others colonels, were in ready to wear attire. And I spotted a few fashion civilians.  Standing out on the front line vetting classic cut suits, the Pasadena four stars paid homage to Escada and Oscar de la Renta, refusing to deviate from the principles of sportswear maxim- preserve thy image and never allow trends to dictate mode.

Sensible, practical with simplicity of line. You won’t find a deserter in this crowd!

Nelson explained the three influences to shape In Style magazine.  Foremost, the universal appeal of celebrity, they have bodies unlike those of models, with flaws close to our own.  Secondly, the power of electronic media.  Remember the 1950’s film “Designing Women” in which the character playing fashion editor Diana Vreeland says, “blow the black, burn the blue, bury the beige, we’re doing pink”. From that point on the film had oodles and oodles of pink.  And so did the public!

Last, women’s attitude toward fashion.  We’ve gotten smarter, and demand more.  This may be why knock-offs are so popular and are even worn by those who can afford the originals.  Nelson made fashion contrasts from American women to our sisters across the Atlantic, stating, “We don’t wear a designer from head to toe.  We are mix and match-that generates style".

I pointed out that the average American consumer is inundated with department store drab uniformity and accessories are therefore crucial to creating individuality.  As Nelson made her exit, her tan ostrich tote bag was being admired.  Fashion 101. How did she get the look?  Was it Yves St. Laurent, XOXO or a faux version of Jones New York?  During the tea one woman complained of being frustrated by fashion.  A swelling of voices clamored, including mine, “That’s never been my problem!” My biggest dilemma has been how to be the recipient of free clothes or loaners.

I usually work LACMA from the ground up, but this time I went directly to the “Made in California” exhibition on the third floor presented by the Costume Council. 

The installation seemed to give a whiff so suntan lotion with a collection of 1940’s sun and swimsuits.  One suit in particular caught my eye, a sooty red velvet with a sweetheart décolleté, elastic back and long sarong skirt- obviously not made for the water, but luxurious and ideal for being seeing in.  Made for a diva, the late Joan Crawford perhaps.


April 4, 2002    

Wedding Bell Clues

Elegant Bridal Silhouettes

By Linda LaRoche

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. If these eight words are your mantra, read on. I'm going to tell you how you can get swept off your feet in more ways than one.

White Rose Bridal Salon is hosting trunk shows from now until the end of the month.

A trunk show is where a designer visits a store to display their collection. It allows the bride to view a designer's collection in their presence. And while you won't get a custom-made gown, you'll be properly fitted, and given choices and attention. 

With wedding bells ringing in my head and possessing a fondness for the nontraditional, I chose to attend the show by German designer Wearkstatt.

A New York based company, Wearkstatt consists of fashion designers Jonas Hegewisch and wife, Ursula. Both German born, they began their business seven years ago. With a vision leaning toward European simplicity and sophistication, fabrics are high quality imports with adornments making the gown. Fit is crucial, and each gown is cut individually.

The cut is unique. Many of their gowns feature a built in petticoat along with boning for a slim basque and seams of precision that make the gown fit well from the inside out. Construction is paramount, since the workmanship becomes obvious when the design is simple and clean. Their gowns resemble elegant evening dresses with slim skirted trains, and are slightly more expensive than those of yesteryear dripping with sequins.

Carefully crafted in imported silk fabrics, exclusive beading, trims, embroidery and laces make their gowns special. With limited production and distribution, the Hegewisches select the stores to carry their gowns and ensure exclusivity.

Fabrics are not limited solely to Italian silks and French lace, but also include embroidered organza's, silk mikados, piques, soft flowing crepes and diamante. A triumph of styles includes strapless and spaghetti straps, young and pretty crepe empires, princess line, satin cummerbunds, jeweled necklines, dramatic plunge backs, and detachable trains with sleek lines for an epic wedding.


March 5, 1999    

Whatcha Gonna Do in Those Shoes?

Love of the gams and feet are here to stay

By Linda LaRoche

Women's shoe designers are making bold moves this season, creating far ­out sandals and heels in clear vinyl.


Partly inspired by advancing technology, this wave of ultramodern once was worn in the 1950s. Today, clear vinyl shoes have made a comeback, with a guarantee to shine opti­mism in either clear or light palettes and also available in garden citrus colors. The range is more diverse than the shoes of yesteryear, arrayed between summery, urban-­inspired flats to pointy slinky stilettos.


There's no doubt that vinyl is sexy.  Purity has always been an old‑fashioned turn on, but what gives it sex appeal is the illusion that transparency lengthens a woman's leg. A bare leg on a dan­gerously high stiletto can look like classic sculpture, and will make a man look twice.


Stuart Weitzman makes a beautiful Cinderella vinyl pump that's hot and tempting.  It is designed with air holes at the bot­tom of the toe for comfort, allow­ing the foot to breathe; this lovely pump can be worn day or night and looks great with tanned legs. A slim slip of silver adorns the back of the rim of the heel, which is elongated Lucite, making this a beautiful dance shoe, and a versatile one.


Lucite is what goes into the construction of this shoe. A durable, resistant acrylic resin that has longevity and can hold up in rain or shine, it is used pri­marily by artists in designing art objects with a hefty price to match. Fortunately, for either the socialite or the ingénue this shoe is not cheap, but is afford­able. Best of all, its style does not impose age con­straints.  Anyone can wear this fun and fresh shoe.


You’ll find them available at my personal favorites Saks Fifth Avenue and for the dollar unchallenged, the Shoe Salon at Neiman Marcus.

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