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February 27, 2015 - Comments Off on Shopping Guide: Where To Shop in NYC

Shopping Guide: Where To Shop in NYC

Shopping
Pro Tip: Avoid this scene at all costs // Photo by Joey Lax-Salinas on Flickr

Shopping in New York City can be a lot of things, but the first word that comes to mind is "overwhelming." If dodging camera-toting tourists, waiting in fitting room lines long enough to make it through your entire Instagram feed, and battling techno music-induced headaches (down with the trendy department store DJs), this round-up is for you.

It can be tough to pull out the gems among the "quantity over quality" global retailers that seem to be on every corner of the city. Nicole Lenzen (who confesses to not really enjoy shopping in most cases) has a few go-to spots for low-key browsing of timeless wardrobe essentials and quality designs that will last for years to come—if you give them the care they need. Give our NYC shopping guide a read and start planning that buying spree.

Clothes: Eva Gentry Consignment

If you couldn't tell, we're really into the idea of clothes having a story behind them. Eva Gentry does consignment like no one else. All of the pieces comes from tried-and-true names (think McQueen, Margiela, Band of Outsiders, Helmut Lang, Proenza Schouler) guaranteeing that you're going home with a piece that's sure to impress.

Nicole's recommendation: Eva Gentry definitely has a knack for retail buying. I came across her stores in Boerum Hill by first wandering into her high-fashion boutique (killer avant-garde aesthetic leaning very Antwerp-Six). Then I discovered her consignment shop down the street (which now appears to be her sole business focus), with an amazing collection of designer pieces in impeccable condition, across a wider style spectrum.

Location:
371 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Clothes: Kaight
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Photo: Kaight's Facebook page

Stop into Kaight for a taste of Brooklyn designers, and stories behind the brands. All of the pieces in the store (womenswear, accessories, and gifts) are made sustainability and/or are locally produced. The shop was recently named Best NYC Sustainable Fashion Boutique by Ecocult.

Nicole's Recommendation:  Kate (founder and owner of Kaight) has a nice eye for curation and I always enjoy browsing her shop. Plus she has always only carried lines with an ethical and sustainable focus. If I'm going to buy something new, I always try to shop from someone I respect. (Plus it's fun catching up with her if she's in the store, always a rewarding experience!)

Location:
382 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Read more

October 29, 2014 - Comments Off on A Brief History of Halloween and Where the Costume Came From

A Brief History of Halloween and Where the Costume Came From

Photo cred: Emily Hildebrand/Flickr

Photo cred: Emily Hildebrand/Flickr

If there's one thing that pops to mind at the first mention of Halloween, it's got to be the costumes. While getting dressed up when you were young and planning out your candy route might have been exciting for a an entirely different set of reasons (hint: copious amounts of free candy), celebrating Halloween as an adult can be just as fun. But along with those years of costume experience comes an interest in why we spend so much time and money planning our get-ups. That's where we come in. Read on and see why you're really going all out with the wardrobe on October 31st.

Photo cred: Allison Marchant/Flickr

Photo cred: Allison Marchant/Flickr

It turns out that the Halloween costumes of years (read: centuries) past are much more terrifying than any fake-blood-spurting plastic mask situation. The costume tradition dates all the way back to a mention in Shakespeare's 1593 play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (and even earlier). The house-to-house begging came into the picture around the 16th century, where friendly neighbors would hand out cakes and other sweets to those who came for a visit. In their defense, it seems that the threat of "trick or treat" was taken much more literally than it is today.

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August 4, 2014 - Comments Off on What to Wear to the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island

What to Wear to the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island

voon_michelleVintage style mavens Michelle Coursey & Voon Chew on the dance floor - photo by Paul Stein

When it comes to themed summer happenings, the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island is one of my favorites. It takes place over two glorious weekends, with the final 2014 dates coming up August 16-17th. Conceived by the dapper bandleader Michael Arenella, the event is a dreamy escape back in time: 1920's garb, antique gramophones, a vintage motorcar exhibition, pie contests, properly themed cocktail, and—of course—lots of dancing. (You can see the complete "Run of Show" here.) Once you get past the excitement of what the Lawn Party actually is, don’t let the anxiety of coming up with an outfit weigh you down. There is no specific dress code, but everyone is encouraged to channel elegant vintage-inspired attire to contribute to the overall spirit. Here are a few tips for dressing for the occasion, but make sure to buy your tickets first.

miu_miuMiuccia Prada + Catherine Martin costumes for Baz Luhrman's Gatsby

The Dress
The 1920s style brings about visions of fringed shifts and beaded extravagancies. This is the event to pull out your finest and wear it well. For inspiration, the gorgeous costumes created by Miuccia Prada and Catherine Martin for Bahz Luhrman's Gatsby take the cake, and we absolutely love the campaign for Campari starring the lovely actress Eva Green. Try scouring vintage and thrift shops for aged beauties from the era. Or if you're feeling more daytime summery, lightweight feminine cotton dresses can also fit the bill. For previous lawn parties we've worked with clients to revamp their vintage finds: dresses in silk + cotton gingham as well as a pretty floral print.

nicole_lenzen_jazz-ageNicole Lenzen handmade lace & silk headband paired with a vintage dress - photo by Sarah Joj Tester

Mind Your Head
The headpiece played a role as an extension of a hairstyle in the '20s. What that means: Feel free to keep your 'do simple—a few waves and finger curls should do the trick—and compliment it with a flapper-style headband that was popular towards the end of the decade. If you are one of those DIY-inclined ladies, try using a plain headband or scarf and adding your own adornments to match your outfit. Or if you prefer a hat or fascinator, NYC milliner Gretchen Fenston has gorgeous jazz age-inspired creations. Otherwise a floppy woven hat is perfect for a hot summer's day full of drinking and dancing.

jazz_age_feetDancing in Air - photo by istolethetv

Dancing Shoes
This is a given. Whether you decide to go for a more modern look and pair your favorite pair of lace-ups with your get-up or an era-appropriate pair of crescent-tipped heels, make sure you won't end up nursing blisters halfway through the festivities. If it's a pair of '20s inspired shoes you're hunting for, look for a pair that features an ankle or t-strap (great for dancing!); low, chunky heels; or an oxford for a menswear inspired look. Finding a local pair might be the quickest, but Modcloth has a great selection of era-inspired shoes, as well as Remix and American Duchess for quality vintage repro.

gretchen_fenston_Milliner Gretchen Fenston in her own creation - photo by Voon Chew

Feminine Accessories, Bold Lips
A string of pearls can go a long way. Toss a few around your neck or on your wrists for a feminine touch that won't take away from the rest of your outfit. Bonus: Playing up the nude colors of your accessories allows for a bold, red lip—which is always the best way to cap the perfect outfit. Read more

December 23, 2013 - Comments Off on The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Bubble Dress

The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Bubble Dress

by Lisa Viet

The recently launched Nicole Lenzen New York collection takes us through an amazing story of elegant, contemporary, feminine silhouettes conveyed by dresses inspired by vintage fashion and swing dancing.

After the Elena dress and the Mariposa dress, we now introduce the original design that inspired the entire Candy Collection: the Bubble Dress. Drawing from the playful airiness of bubble gum, the dress silhouette is feminine, flattering and fun.

Nicole-Lenzen_Swing-Dress_Evita-Arce_09 Nicole-Lenzen_Swing-Dress_Evita-Arce_10

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The quintessential Candy dress

As the first dress design that led to the entire Candy Collection, the Bubble dress draws inspiration from bubble gum and candy that will transport you into a whimsical world of fun and play. From the candy ribbon folds of the belt to the lightness of the skirt, the sweet Bubble Dress is perfectly delicious.

This playful hourglass silhouette has a sleeveless bodice and flattering boat neckline. The bubble hem provides just the right amount of fullness while the sheen of the silk accentuates the natural movement of the skirt. Read more

December 4, 2013 - Comments Off on The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Elena Dress

The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Elena Dress

by Lisa Viet

The recently launched Nicole Lenzen New York collection tells an amazing story of elegant, contemporary, feminine silhouettes inspired by vintage fashion and swing dancing. Nicole Lenzen’s designs flatter the female body whilst providing comfort and modern style. Each dress features unique details, which we will share with you in the coming weeks based on the designer’s creative input.

We start with the Elena dress. Inspired by a real-life vintage dress transported and transformed into a twenty-first century fashion silhouette, it truly represents the reconstruction of an era.

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Photographs by Ned & Aya

The true story of a vintage dress

Well-known dancer Evita Arce who specializes in the Lindy Hop style and is famous for her high-flying aerials and dynamic movement reached out to Nicole Lenzen to design costumes for her dance company’s performances in New York City and abroad. Lenzen was strongly inspired by vintage dresses that Evita wore at shows and competitions, many originally worn by NYC swing dance icon Elena Iannucci, co-owner of Dance Manhattan. “Elena had a beautiful collection of vintage dresses and accessories that she handed over to Evita when she retired from dancing professionally” said Nicole Lenzen. But unfortunately the dresses were not tailored for dancing. “One of Evita’s favorite dresses – a 1940’s navy floral print which had been torn and patched up on multiple occasions – did not survive a New Year’s crowd-surfing performance!” she added with a laugh. So although the vintage dress was no longer functional, it provided great inspiration for the Elena dress. Read more

January 5, 2010 - Comments Off on Jill – Reclaimed Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Jill – Reclaimed Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Jill was able to obtain both of her husband's grandmother's wedding dresses to use in new creations for herself. The dress from her husband's grandmother's first marriage at the turn of the 20th century we used in Jill's wedding dress; the dress from the second marriage circa 1940s we decided to use for Jill's rehearsal dinner dress.

I cleaned and restored the lace, and we did a serious of dyeing experiments before deciding on a pretty mauve shade that complemented Jill's complexion.

Very few alterations were necessary on the dress (which goes to show how tiny Jill is!) She had a black slip dress that worked perfectly under the lace dress, and we added a black velvet ribbon as a contrast at the empire waist. In addition to the beautiful dress, Jill had also obtained a bolero jacket, which we dyed the same colour.

January 4, 2010 - Comments Off on Jill – Reclaimed Wedding Dress

Jill – Reclaimed Wedding Dress

As founder and editor-in-chief of green design blog Inhabitat, Jill was only willing to go the sustainable route with her wedding attire. In addition to sourcing minimal impact materials, we wanted to design a dress indicative of Jill's sophisticated style, in a silhouette that was fun and fresh, and also re-wearable. We first started by exploring fabric options such as organic cotton tulles and silks, such as the below.

Jill was then offered her fiance's grandmother's Victorian wedding dress from circa 1900, which was a beautiful lace gown, completely deteriorated in most sections, but intact in others. Jill had already decided that she did not want a full-length gown, but I had to make sure that we had enough material from the vintage gown to create even a knee-length dress! Through careful cutting and efficient patternmaking, I was just able to make it work, utilizing the lace's scallop edges at the neckline and asymmetrical hemline of the dress.

The lace needed to be carefully cleaned and restored back to its original colour, as pictured below.

We both love the colour green, and decided on a hand-dyed ombre (green with a gradation from light to dark) silk charmeuse for the underlayer of the dress. From my collection of vintage lace trims, we selected one to use for the straps, which I dyed using green tea to   match the ivory of the dress lace.

The wedding and reception were held in San Francisco's beautiful Presidio Park, which tends to become cool at night, so we made a custom bolero jacket in a matching green to cover Jill's arms.

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