The Real Reason You Like Shopping For Vacation

Blame global warming, Instagram or the spring runways: Resortwear has never been hotter. The category is exploding, say analysts, and vacation-minded shoppers are more likely to pay full price. How the art of lusting for a beachy holiday is powering retail

by: Rebecca Malinsky

Originally published on WSJ.com June 5, 2019

Photo Originally published on WSJ.com. Courtesy Everett Collection PHOTO: FOX SEARCHLIGHT / EVERETT COLLECTION

Photo Originally published on WSJ.com. Courtesy Everett Collection PHOTO: FOX SEARCHLIGHT / EVERETT COLLECTION

How many swimsuits make for the perfect summer vacation? What about floral dresses and straw hats? A scroll through Net-A-Porter or Instagram this time of year might make you feel lacking—despite the 15 maillots you own that have yet to see sand. 

Shopping for a vacation is part anti-cubicle fantasia...and part personality disorder. Marketing director Elizabeth Fuller, 31, bought a pile of bright linen dresses last year before a trip to Ibiza to celebrate her wedding anniversary—outfits she said she would never wear at home. “There is a very specific series of habits that I don’t apply to any other aspects of my wardrobe except when I’m shopping for a trip,” she says. “It’s like I’m this completely brand-new person who spends reckless amounts of money to become someone else on vacation.” 

After recently booking a summer trip to Tremezzo, Italy, I found myself spending an inappropriate amount of time researching swimsuits, flowy dresses and flat, cobblestone-friendly sandals. Never mind that I have a closet full of these items. Something about a new trip on the horizon made me want new everything. Friends and colleagues have assured me they do the same. Vacation is partially about decompression, but it’s also about living out a fantasy life; fashion helps us get into character.

According to retail analytics firm Edited, the high summer (May to August) luxury category increased in volume on U.S. e-commerce sites 10% from 2017 to 2018 with a 40% increase in luxury caftans and swim cover-ups on offer. Surfing the resort wave into this year, the spring 2019 runways were a parade of in-your-face destination-wear, like tie-dye tees and sarong-like silks at Chloe, or the actual sandy beach and barefoot models at Chanel. Etro is producing and selling the surfboards their models carried during their Milan show; Tory Burch’s layered caftans were a New York Fashion Week standout.

Off the runway, luxury brands are reaching their clientele wherever they may be summering. Loewe continues its collaboration with the local boutique Paula’s Ibiza, meant to “evoke the cathartic abandon” of a summer getaway, and Christian Dior is expanding its beachwear pop-up program Dioriviera from one location to five—now including Mykonos and Porto Cervo, Sardinia. Net-a-Porter even has a program in which a personal shopper will pick and pack a full vacation wardrobe (sunscreen included) and have it shipped to your final destination.

Valentino Spring 2019, Tory Burch Spring 2019, Hermes Spring 2019

Valentino Spring 2019, Tory Burch Spring 2019, Hermes Spring 2019

Elizabeth von der Goltz, the company’s global buying director says it is aggressively invested in the resortwear category. It’s annual Jet-a-Porter program, which this year will offer 59 exclusive capsule collections by brands like Eres and Zimmermann, was created in response to their customer, who they say travels an average of 11 times per year. The program has beaten sales estimates annually since it’s launch in 2017. “For us, it’s truly a full-price business because we don’t mark down the product at the times you would expect us to,” says Ms. von der Goltz, of the resilience of resortwear. Edited’s market research echoes this trend: markdowns decreased in the category from 2017 to 2018, but wares on offer went up.

“Seasonality is becoming a bit more blurred in fashion,” says firm analyst Kayla Marci, describing resortwear’s increased influence among retailers. “Flights are getting cheaper—and of course people want to look their best on holiday when they share on Instagram what they’re wearing and what they’re doing.”

San Francisco–based marketing manager Sarah Carnabuci says her packing lists are heavily Instagram-influenced. “Obviously we all go on vacation to relax,” the 32-year-old says, “but we take these photos in amazing places and you want to look and feel a certain way. You don’t want to be in a ratty old beach cover-up on your beautiful vacation.”

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2019, Chloe Spring 2019, Chanel Spring 2019

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2019, Chloe Spring 2019, Chanel Spring 2019

Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle and e-commerce site, has created an entire retail concept around an effortlessly casual wardrobe that can go (and ‘gram) from Beverly Hills to Waikiki. Swim accounts for nearly a fifth of Goop’s total fashion business during its summer season, says the company’s SVP of fashion, Shaun Kearney. It can also be built-in marketing for Goop: “Who doesn’t want to look good while they’re travelling?” Mr. Kearney says. “On destination vacations you’re more likely to be in photographs and sharing your best pictures on social platforms. People are really willing to splurge a bit, and I think that’s the reason we can expect more regular-price [purchases] in this category.” (Ms. Paltrow Instagrammed herself in a white bikini in the Maldives late last year.)

Net-a-Porter’s Ms. von der Goltz agrees. “Now with social media, everything is out there,” she says. “If you like taking pictures, and you are in a beautiful location you want to look the part...with different swimwear and different dresses for different holidays.”

All those varied outfits still need to fit in your luggage. Designer Tory Burch’s collections, almost always inspired by a romantic notion of travel, are intended to pack down and transport with ease, she says. “When you think about travelling, you think about clothing that will travel well,” Ms. Burch says (though she herself still hasn’t figured out how to be carry-on only.) Her brand launched a #destinationanywhere campaign this spring meant to encourage exploration in the clothes; using the tag, brand loyalists can search and compile the posts on their feeds. But of the fantasy of resortwear shopping, she says, is all “about dreaming and getting into the mindset. Vacations are so short—and it extends that euphoria.”

Why Interior Designers Prefer Bar Soap Over Liquid

Hard-milled cakes are making a comeback, and many decorators cheer the choice. Plus: five stylish little trays to set them in

by: Rebecca Malinsky

Originally published April 2, 2019 in The Wall Street Journal

CAKE PLATES Clockwise from top-left: Horn Soap Dish, $15, cb2.com; Kitchen Soap Bar, $8, thelaundress.com; Terrazzo Bath Soap Dish, $28, anthropologie.com; Swedish Dream Sea Aster Soap, $7.50, kalastyle.com; Gold Plate Soap Dish, $90, smnovella.com; Nomad Soap Dish, $17, kassatex.com; Swedish Dream Sea Aster Soap, $7.50, kalaystyle.com; Rebekah Miles Small Nopal Soap Dish, $110, Nickey Kehoe, 323-954-9300. PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANNE CARDENAS

CAKE PLATES Clockwise from top-left: Horn Soap Dish, $15, cb2.com; Kitchen Soap Bar, $8, thelaundress.com; Terrazzo Bath Soap Dish, $28, anthropologie.com; Swedish Dream Sea Aster Soap, $7.50, kalastyle.com; Gold Plate Soap Dish, $90, smnovella.com; Nomad Soap Dish, $17, kassatex.com; Swedish Dream Sea Aster Soap, $7.50, kalaystyle.com; Rebekah Miles Small Nopal Soap Dish, $110, Nickey Kehoe, 323-954-9300. PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANNE CARDENAS

NOT VERY LONG AGO, many of us gave up solid soap for the liquid version, happy to bid adieu to the gelatinous mess that inevitably accrued underneath a bar of soap and to the anxiety (fallacious, it turns out) that it could pass along germs. 

Recently, however, some consumers horrified by the trillions of tons of plastic making its way to the oceans are feeling obliged to return to paper-wrapped milled soap, not least because it’s an excuse to buy a handsome holder for it. 

“I’ve always hated pump soaps,” said Todd Nickey, interior designer and co-owner of home goods store Nickey Kehoe in Los Angeles. “Bar soap in a dish adds a layer of decoration and personality to a powder room.” The kitchen sink, too, can be made less utilitarian with a cake of soap in a thoughtfully selected tray. Gwen Whiting, who co-founded The Laundress, a producer of home-cleaning products that includes a Kitchen Soap Bar for hands and wooden utensils, elevates bricks of soap with silver and porcelain pieces that once held different jobs. “I think it’s nice to use a saucer or small dish from a special hotel or restaurant—not stolen, of course,” said Ms. Whiting, who also looks for simple white chemistry ceramics and small silver hotel trays in vintage shops.

Kate Smith, who produces Swedish Dream skin care in Cranston, R.I., employs simple dishes from Crate & Barrel and Anthropologie to cradle the many soaps she and her business partners test. To battle the pools of goo they form, she stands flat-edged bars on their side. “It’s a trick I learned while sourcing soaps in Genoa, Italy, in the 1990s,” she said. “It will dry much faster this way.” 

As for the germaphobes: A study underwritten by Dial actually inoculated bars of soap with E. coli, and the germs were not transmitted to subjects who washed their hands with them. As “Friends” character Chandler Bing announced in a 1996 episode, “Soap is soap. It’s self cleaning!”

While there’s no way around the wiping down your beautiful soap dish will regularly require, your guests will thank you. “It might require a little more maintenance,” said Mr. Nickey, “but often pretty things do.”

The Old and the Beautiful

How four contemporary jewelry brands are resurfacing forgotten styles including carriage covers for earrings and miniature tile mosaics

by: Rebecca Malinsky

Originally published April 19, 2019 in The Wall Street Journal

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Teensy Mosaics

Wealthy young people in the 17th and 18th centuries often embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe, weaving through Paris and Rome by boat and horse-drawn carriage to study architecture and art history. Kind of like your junior year abroad, minus the Limoncello shots. A souvenir of choice for these travelers was a coin-size tile recreation of a notable site they’d seen, such as the Coliseum or the Pantheon. Meticulously assembled by artisans such as those from the Vatican Mosaic Workshop (which is still active today), these micromosaics were easily portable and made from small glass tiles that wouldn’t fade and dull the way paint does. Virginia-based jewelry designer Elizabeth Locke has been collecting vintage micromosaics and resetting them in her signature hand-hammered gold as part of her eponymous line for the past 30 years. But some were too precious to part with, so she recently donated 92 of these mini-masterpieces to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, on display beginning April 27. Link Necklace, $13,075, Waterfall Pendant, $6,200, Elizabeth Locke, 212-744-7878

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Wooden Hues

A conversation with a woodworker piqued Brazilian jewelry designer Silvia Furmanovich’s interest in marquetry. The technique of laying thin slices of wood in a pattern has traditionally been mostly reserved for furniture (it was popular during Louis XIV’s time), but Ms. Furmanovich found a team of artisans who still practice it and convinced them to shrink their efforts to jewelry scale. The biggest challenge? Getting the colors and proportions just right. “It’s like a puzzle,” she said of the process. One big plus: Wood makes it possible to create lightweight statement-sized jewelry. “If you did this with gold and stones, it would be too heavy,” Ms. Furmanovich explained. What’s more, the grains’ soft natural hues intriguingly undercut the large pieces’ grandeur. Silvia Furmanovich Ring, $4,400, Bergdorf Goodman, 212-872-8744

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Lollipop Gild

Jean Prounis spent her childhood absorbed in her grandfather’s books about Greek history, and in 2012 she began studying ancient goldsmithing techniques like chainmaking and granulation. The latter is the process of heating gold alloy until it forms small spheres—or granules—that then bond together in the cooling process, acting as their own setting. Pieces made with the technique date to at least 3000 B.C. “I love the connection to this other time, and bringing this Greco-Roman motif into present day,” the designer said of the granulated gold balls she uses to ornaments her creations, including the Nona bracelet pictured. The full collection of recycled 22-karat matte gold jewelry is handmade in New York but could as easily have been discovered on an archaeological dig. Unlike, say, 14-karat gold which includes more strengthening metals, 22-karat picks up nicks, scratches and oils from wear. As Ms. Prounis explained, “It’s like a record of time as you wear it.” Prounis Bracelet, $6,220, Earrings, $5,900, Bergdorf Goodman, 212-753-7300

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Undercover Angels

Emily Satloff’s former gig as a curatorial consultant for the Metropolitan Museum of Art introduced her to the Georgian-style foil jewelry for which her line Larkspur & Hawk is known. The cut-glass stones backed with vibrantly colored foil made jewelry more accessible in the 1700s and look just as novel today in Ms. Satloff’s traditional-with-a-twist designs, which use quartz or faceted semi-precious stones. Now the jeweler is embracing another historical bauble look known as “carriage covers.” First patented in Providence, R.I., in 1878, these metal enclosures clasp over precious gems like a locket. Developed around the same time as the expansion of mining in South Africa, they were used by women eager to conceal their diamonds during risky carriage rides that thieves might interrupt. Of her new take on the look, Ms. Satloff said, “It’s not about hiding your diamonds but adding that sphere that makes something you already own or a piece of Larkspur & Hawk jewelry look entirely different.” Transformation? Thoroughly modern. Larkspur & Hawk Carriage Covers and Earrings, $1,550, net-a-porter.com

Fall Into Favor

At Runway shows in New York and Europe, the strongest designers moved fashion forward

by: Rebecca Malinsky and Rory Satran

Originally Published March 8, 2019 in The Wall Street Journal

ONE MINUTE CAN feel incredibly long. The 60 seconds of silence commemorating the recently deceased designer Karl Lagerfeld at his final Chanel show in Paris this week vibrated with an acute awareness of his legacy: 36 years at the French brand (and 54 years at Fendi, plus an eponymous line, photographs, furniture, books). For that minute, editors, buyers, photographers and celebrities muted the collegial chatter that fills in-between moments during the month of fashion shows. Then, after the sound system broadcast a snippet of Mr. Lagerfeld’s voice, his beloved efficiency prevailed. Chimes sounded and the show began: 72 elegant après-ski looks marched across a wintry set of snowy chalets. As the couturier is widely reputed to have said, “Fashion is about going ahead, not about memory.”

Leading that charge for the fashion collection at Chanel will be Mr. Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman Virginie Viard, who was appointed co-artistic director, alongside Eric Pfrunder, who will focus on fashion image. Designers at other labels pushed forward, too. At Celine, the only show that could rival Lagerfeld’s swan song for buzz, Hedi Slimane spun the past into the future. Mr. Slimane has the knack of using updated tailoring to reinvigorate dusty things—in this case, ’70s pleated wool skirts and bourgeois blouses. Two other youngish designers similarly reanimated legacy French houses: At Paco Rabanne, Julien Dossena mixed inventive materials such as metallic knits and chain mail crafted from plastic stars, while at Chloé, Natacha Ramsay-Levi updated looks with imaginative accessories (Velcro sock boots, in particular).

In Milan, stalwart Italian brand Max Mara revamped its typically camel-colored cashmere coats in bright hues like teal and cobalt, while Prada added lace and rosettes to otherwise tough looks. In London, Riccardo Tisci continued his reinvigoration of Burberry, cleverly merging capes and trenches, for instance. In New York, without Raf Simons to innovate (after his departure from Calvin Klein), the task fell to brands like Proenza Schouler, which delivered with convertible knits, and fledgling talents like Eckhaus Latta. When asked how they plan to wind down from their runway shows next week, many designers said that they would be getting to work on spring 2020 collections. Mr. Lagerfeld would be proud.

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Bad Romance

This season’s dark florals were tempered by gothic details like combat boots. Clockwise from top left: tough horticulture vibes at Giorgio Armani; a twisted ladylike number at Erdem; blooms on a blazer by Paco Rabanne; Alexander McQueen’s punk princess; a thorned rose adorns a Valentino jacket; a Wednesday Addams-inflected look at Prada; the night garden is planted at Dries Van Noten.

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Paging Mary Tyler Moore

The ’70s working woman, who actually made an effort, is back. From left, un-mellow yellow at BalenciagaBurberry’s beige babe; a throwback moment at CelineChloé proposes a total look; Victoria Beckham does dressed-up.

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Plaid Gets the Green Light

Suits appeared in verdant tones and checks, sometimes Venn-diagram-ishly within one look. From left, green sets at Erdem, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Lacoste; the full monty at Givenchy; plaid at Dolce & GabbanaGucci and Proenza Schouler.

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The Notorious-RBG Effect

Pop a white lace collar judiciously. From left, a voluminous ruffle at ChanelHermès evokes origami; Loewe’s perforated detailing; white tops a neutral column by the RowLouis Vuitton somehow makes lace punk.

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Cream Rises to the Top

A big, fuzzy light-colored coat is about to become crazily covetable. From left, a cozy camel-hair coat at Akris; fluff happens at Michael Kors; just belt it at Salvatore Ferragamo ; a luxe version at the RowAgnona’s elegant ankle-length one.

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I Wear More Than One Hat

When is the last time you donned a chapeau just for fun? If you shrugged, that may change come fall

A Luxury Women's Watch That's - Gasp! - Not Diamond Encrusted

Luxury women’s watches are often miniaturized and predictably covered in diamonds, but this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak sparkles more simply

by: Rebecca Malinsky

Originally published December 27, 2018 in The Wall Street Journal

FOR TOO MANY YEARS, marketers have taken the simplistic “shrink it and pink it” approach when creating products for women, with everything from razors to computers becoming diminutive and rosy. The luxury watch world’s similarly reductive way of designing for women? Winnow a timepiece into a delicate bracelet-ish style and bathe the bezels in diamonds. 

“It’s a bit of a lazy approach,” said the Italian jewelry designer and watch collector Carolina Bucci. “Everything is just made smaller, with diamonds or a pink strap and labeled for ladies and everybody should be happy.” Everybody, that is, except Ms. Bucci, who recently collaborated with Swiss brand Audemars Piguet on a women’s watch that rejects that boring trope. 

The designer—who was given a vintage men’s Royal Oak watch from Audemars Piguet for her 35th birthday—caught the attention of the brand’s CEO François-Henry Bennahmias when a mutual friend introduced the two in 2014. “He wanted to know why the hell I was wearing an old man’s watch,” she said. When she explained to him why she didn’t care for his brand’s diamond-encrusted women’s watches, he challenged her to create something better. The result: a 37-millimeter Royal Oak in a yellow-gold Florentine finish, Ms. Bucci’s signature. Though intended for women, it has the heft of a traditional men’s watch.

To achieve the glittery Florentine texture, the gold is hand-hammered with a diamond to create facets in the metal and a surface that sparkles, especially when the watch is in motion. “It’s not meant to sit in a box and look pretty,” Ms. Bucci explained. “It needs to be used and loved, and it needs to interact. That’s how it really comes to life.” First conceived as a watch for active people, the Royal Oak is as suitable for swimming as it is for running to the office and happy hour-ing, a lifestyle most modern women can relate to. Perhaps other watch brands will soon realize that small and diamond-y is not one-size-fits-all.

ROUGH MAGIC Audemars Piguet & Carolina Bucci Watch, $53,600, 212-688-6644 PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANITA SALERNO

ROUGH MAGIC Audemars Piguet & Carolina Bucci Watch, $53,600, 212-688-6644 PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANITA SALERNO

Thank You, Text

A new trend—shopping via text—takes off as frequent shoppers bemoan the complexity of ‘traditional’ e-commerce

by: Rebecca Malinsky

Originally published December 17, 2018

CHAT AND YE SHALL RECEIVE Text an image of a Gucci brocade blazer (as worn by singer Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, top) and a concierge service like Jetblack will text back shoppable options. ILLUSTRATION: MATT JOHNSTONE

CHAT AND YE SHALL RECEIVE Text an image of a Gucci brocade blazer (as worn by singer Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, top) and a concierge service like Jetblack will text back shoppable options. ILLUSTRATION: MATT JOHNSTONE

“I’LL TEXT YOU,” said the salesman at the Celine store in the Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall in Central Valley, N.Y., this September after I inquired about incoming merchandise. And text he did, whenever he had insider information about new arrivals or markdowns. In addition to my phone number, he had my credit card info, so if he sent a photo of something I liked—such as a pair of blue plaid pants he pinged me recently—I could buy it simply by typing “Yes!” on my phone.

I suspected that the shopping-via-text thing was bigger than just one overeager salesperson, and my mother-in-law soon confirmed it, whipping out her phone at dinner to show me a particularly unfindable Louis Vuitton bag she’d coveted. A saleswoman she’d befriended in Paris had just texted her a photo to announce its arrival.

The more I’ve talked to retail industry people, the more it seems that every salesperson, brand and tech disrupter in fashion is getting into the texting game. Smart, considering that 2018 U.S. mobile shopping sales are projected to reach $210 billion by the end of the year, a 21% increase over 2017, according to Worldpay, an international payments-processing company. 

Some impatient shoppers, however, are frustrated by the arguably simple process of logging in to a website or app from their phone. Enter: the notably simpler text transaction, whether via a personal relationship with a salesclerk or one of the new text-shopping services. Here’s a rundown.

The Text Concierge

Jetblack, a members-only, $50-a-month concierge service launched by Walmart ’s tech incubator Store No. 8 in June, will deliver anything from Advil to Chanel ballet flats the same or next day following a text request from users (it is currently limited to the New York metro area but has plans to expand). 

Members keep their payment information on file with Jetblack, so there’s no pesky password or credit card info to type. You just text a description or photo of what you want (barring perishables, alcohol and prescriptions), and their wizards source it from nearly any vendor. 

“Texting forces simplification, it accommodates this ability for you to mind-dump something,” said Jetblack co-founder and CEO Jenny Fleiss, who started the service after finding that traditional online shopping had become a chore, the endless options a mental drain.

Shirin Green, 35, a Manhattan stay-at-home mom, uses the service for everything from drugstore staples to birthday gifts. It works for her because she’s often on the go and dislikes a phone’s browser tabs. She recently turned to it to find a dress that Barneys New York had sold out in her size, texting a screenshot of it to Jetblack. The service found one at a California Barneys and rush-shipped it to her. 

The Instagram Hookup

If you’ve ever clicked on a sponsored Instagram link and found yourself perusing earrings on an e-comm site, you know the app is a prime source of shopping inspiration. Clever companies are now fusing Instagram’s eye candy with the immediacy of text shopping.

WhatsApp, the global texting service, has been a boon for London-based jewelry designer Jessica McCormack, who’s found that adding her WhatsApp number to Instagram posts moves product, including a pair of earrings worth over a million pounds. “It’s amazing how many people prefer that mode of communication,” she said. Clients can text or call with their credit card information. 

Threads Styling, launched in 2009, features appealingly styled designer fashion in its Instagram Stories and Snapchat channels that can be shopped via WeChat , WhatsApp, iMessage or Facebook Messenger. You text with a personal shopper who can answer questions on size and fit, and help you buy the item through a secure form, bypassing the hassle of logging into a site and entering your email multiple times.

The Personal Text

To compete in our digital-shopping world, associates at bricks-and-mortar stores are now sharing their cell numbers with clients for easy texting about promotions and other individualized customer service. You can hand over your credit card in person to avoid texting your personal information wantonly. While Jetblack and Threads have methods of securing data similar to an e-comm site, texting your personal details directly is ill-advised. “Text messaging is not the safest way to do anything,” said Matthew Green, associate professor of computer science at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute. “It’s encrypted from you to the tower, but I really don’t think text messaging networks themselves are very secure.”

New York entrepreneur Josh Udashkin, 35, texts with salespeople at a few stores including Prada. The staff there know his taste and body type, and send him regular updates. “I do appreciate the relationship, that they will probably show me things that were not on every website and everywhere else,” he said.

Others, however, find all this texting invasive. New Jerseyite Terri Rosen, 60, recently gave her phone number to an associate at Bloomingdale’s. “He is still texting me all the time. And I’m not texting him at all. He texts me ‘Happy Thanksgiving. Is there anything you need for your holidays?’” she recounted. “The interesting part is, when I go back, he has no idea who I am.”

It's Back: The Shoe That Made Sex and the City Famous

The buckled heel that Mr. Big used to propose returns in new designs—along with another cinematic footwear icon

by: Rebecca Malinsky

Originally published November 2, 2018 in The Wall Street Journal

From left: Manolo Blahnik Pumps, $1,025, Saksfifthavenue.com; Pumps, $925, Roger Vivier, 212-861-5371 PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

From left: Manolo Blahnik Pumps, $1,025, Saksfifthavenue.com; Pumps, $925, Roger Vivier, 212-861-5371 PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

THOUGH BUCKLES began to replace ties on shoes in the mid-17th century, the purely ornamental buckle is a newer breed. In 1967, it played a key supporting role on the Roger Vivier pump that Catherine Deneuve slipped on in the steamy Luis Buñuel movie “Belle de Jour.” That prepossessing shoe—reworked as the “Très Vivier” with an even bigger buckle, chunkier heel and a more comfortable footbed—returns this fall. As the French brand’s new creative director, Gherardo Felloni, explained, “It’s really rare that you can have [a design] live for 50 years...That’s why this buckle is beautiful.”

Perhaps no woman has appreciated a decorative buckle more than the fictional Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City.” When the ever-elusive Mr. Big finally proposes to her in the 2008 “Sex and the City” movie, he forgoes a ring, presenting Carrie instead with a blue satin rhinestone-buckled Manolo Blahnik Hangisi pump.

PHOTO: NEW LINE CINEMA/EVERETT COLLECTION

PHOTO: NEW LINE CINEMA/EVERETT COLLECTION

That shoe’s engagement cameo propelled it to icon status, encouraging a generation of young women to associate marital bliss with footwear. And now, 10 years later, Mr. Blahnik has designed a mini-Hangisi collection inspired by the movie and New York City itself. Four patterns pay homage to the film, including an illustrated grid of Manhattan streets and a graphic print in pink, blue and “cosmopolitan” gray (shown). 

They’re guaranteed to be part of a beautiful relationship between you and your accessories. Who needs Mr. Big?

Spring Theories

At runway shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, designers posted bold style ideas

by: Rebecca Malinsky and Rory Satran

Originally published October 5, 2018 in The Wall Street Journal

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“WHAT IS REAL is what lasts,” said Oprah Winfrey in her toast to Ralph Lauren at his recent anniversary event in Central Park. After 50 years as a pivotal fashion figure with an unwavering American aesthetic, Mr. Lauren has outlasted his contemporaries like Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, both of whom no longer design for their namesake companies. At the close of a season marked by change, Mr. Lauren’s consistency stands out in a mutable fashion landscape. While some brands are still defined by their core DNA, others have been reinvented by a revolving-door procession of creative directors.

At the label Mr. Klein launched in 1968, originally known for its beige-y minimalism, Belgian designer Raf Simons proposed inventive, postmodern clothing for spring with references from prom to “Jaws.” It was heart-poundingly fun, and relevant, but bore little resemblance to Mr. Klein’s blueprint. At Celine, which former creative head Phoebe Philo turned into a brand beloved by women for its professional yet comforting shapes, Hedi Slimane divisively pulled the accent off the first “e” and sent sharp, very-Slimane tailoring and abbreviated dresses down the runway. The renegade designer Demna Gvasalia continued his sleight of hand at Balenciaga, combining elements from the brand’s past (like architectural waistlines) with technical fabrics. More faithfully, Pierpaolo Piccioli drew gasps for his gowns at Valentino, many in the brand’s signature scarlet color. And as one of the few designers who rivals Ralph Lauren’s longevity, Miuccia Prada unveiled delightfully (and characteristically) eccentric efforts at both Prada and Miu Miu. A variation on Ms. Winfrey’s sentiment seems likely to be chewed over in seasons to come: Do women want consistency or evolution?

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Seeing Spots

That Betty Boop-ish vintage standby, polka dots, was given new life. From left: a sweet minidress at Carolina Herrera (care of a new designer, Wes Gordon); a sheer frock (slip required) at Prada; volume play at Celine; va-va-voom mega-dots at Dolce & Gabbana; a baby-doll at Burberry (newly designed by Riccardo Tisci).

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To Dye For

This season proved that tie-dye, against all odds, can be refined. From left: An acid-washed interpretation on the cool girls at Proenza Schouler; a ladylike, deconstructed, shibori-style skirt at Prada; hints of a Bali summer gone absolutely right by Paco Rabanne; a silken slip dress at Christian Dior ; a showstopping, full-tie-dye jumpsuit (on Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford’s daughter) at Stella McCartney.

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Noir Hour

Inky, gathered, voluminous dresses were a novel idea for evening. From left: The Row’s sheer layers of chicness; Thick navy knots show Rei Kawakubo’s mastery at Comme des GarçonsSimone Rocha’s silk taffeta garment, topped off with a lacy veil; an off-the-shoulder gown at Valentino.

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Shore Things

Retro beach vibes harked back to more glamorous summer travel. From left: patterned splendor at Etro; the ultimate embroidered caftan at Tory Burch; a fringed ensemble at Valentino for SPF-50 types; that Goa lifestyle at Chloé; a yé-yé-girl shift at Chanel, where the models walked barefoot on a ‘beach.’

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Practical Magic

Refined utility looks will make phone storage a cinch in spring. From left: Sheer pocket play at FendiGivenchy’s luxe cargo pants are wish list-worthy; Hermès nailed the pocket-y jumpsuit; at Loewe the pockets were almost as big as the garment; Louis Vuitton’sfuturistic woman uses old-school utility tricks.

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Entrenched

From left: Croc coat at Burberry; a pearly gradient at Gabriela Hearst; ruffled sleeves at Max Mara; stripped-down stripes at Tod’s.

Entrepreneur Tyler Haney on her Best Beauty Hacks

The founder of booming athletic-wear company outdoor voices describes her easy, sporty self-care rituals

by: Rebecca Malinsky

Originally published October 5, 2018 in The Wall Street Journal

SPORTY SPICE Tyler Haney photographed at the Outdoor Voices HQ in Austin, Texas. Photo courtesy of WSJ

SPORTY SPICE Tyler Haney photographed at the Outdoor Voices HQ in Austin, Texas. Photo courtesy of WSJ

OUTDOOR VOICES’S founder Tyler Haney calls Barton Springs, a natural pool in Austin, a “fountain of youth.” When she first visited the Texas capital, she went for a dip and had a presentiment that the hippie-haven city would be the ideal home for her budding fitness-apparel company. Two years later, Ms. Haney, 30, has moved all operations to Austin. “Time moves slower here,” she said. “It drives creativity.” Given the city’s outdoorsy nature, it’s also an ideal place for this sporty entrepreneur to test new gear. (Ms. Haney runs 3 miles every day at a “recreational pace.”) 

Her brand of fitness is inclusive. “Not everyone is trying to be Serena Williams,” said Ms. Haney. “We are breaking down the barrier to entry to an active lifestyle.” So rather than overly intense black and neon active wear, the company offers casual pieces in color-blocked combinations like dark blue and green. Just like the clothes, the brand’s motto “doing things” (which can be spotted on its trendy totes and hats from Venice Beach to Vero Beach) spurs its acolytes to get out and enjoy even low-key activities like walking the dog. That accessible approach to fitness carries over to Ms. Haney’s beauty routine.

Clockwise from left: Glossier Boy Brow; Thayers Witch Hazel; Miso soup; Dr. Hauschka Bronzing Tint; Davines shampoo; Davids Toothpaste; ’El Cosmico’ by D.S. & Durga; Four Sigmatic 10 Mushroom Blend. Photos courtesy of WSJ

Clockwise from left: Glossier Boy Brow; Thayers Witch Hazel; Miso soup; Dr. Hauschka Bronzing Tint; Davines shampoo; Davids Toothpaste; ’El Cosmico’ by D.S. & Durga; Four Sigmatic 10 Mushroom Blend. Photos courtesy of WSJ


The first thing I do when I wake up is: take 30 grateful breaths; it sets the tone for the day.

Post-workout I take: a 3-minute cold shower. It’s a challenge, but you’ll feel more alert.

My morning beauty-potion ingredients include: bentonite clay. And I started taking Four Sigmatic’s 10-mushroom blend four months ago for clarity.

My mom says: to consciously smile. It helps lift everything up.

My low-maintenance beauty hack is: Dr. Hauschka’s bronzing tint. I mix it with Embryolisse moisturizer. It adds color in a natural way and just brings me to life in one step.

I’m secretly high-maintenance about: exfoliation. I exfoliate in the shower and then use Nuxe hair, face and body oil which I get in Paris.

My ultimate essential product is: Vintner’s Daughter [face oil]. It smells fantastic and it absorbs into the skin nicely. 

I combat oily skin with: witch hazel. Just the regular stuff from the drugstore. 

My theory on brows is: the more natural the better. Mine are a bit ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’ I use Glossier Boy Brow in clear to keep them in place.

My favorite supposedly beautifying food is: miso soup. I went to Esalen, a spiritual retreat in Big Sur, Calif., and they served it for breakfast which seemed weird at first, but now I love it.

I always carry: D.S. & Durga ‘El Cosmico’ perfume. And CBD oil.

On the plane, I must: brush my teeth with Davids natural toothpaste and put on eye patches by Equal Beauty as soon as I’m allowed to recline the seat.

I wash my hair: every other day with Davines shampoo. But the most important thing you can do for your hair is take Biotin [capsules], something I learned from riding horses growing up. I take BioSil. At Outdoor Voices, when we are casting models we talk about “Biotin girls” meaning girls with vibrant and abundant hair.

—Edited from an interview by Rebecca Malinsky

This Exuberant Cardigan Is the Ideal Antidote to Office Air Conditioning

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN, C/O THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN, C/O THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

AH, THE CURSE of corporate-office air-conditioning. As I sit here grumpily at my desk in Midtown Manhattan, I’m wearing my favorite gauzy, white, short-sleeved summer blouse, but you’d never know it because the Arctic air calls for a heavy wool cardigan. Anyone who wants to express a seasonally carefree style message come August and into steamy September tends to resent such artificially chilly conditions. The way out of that bitterness? An insulating layer that’s more interesting-looking than the drab sweater you keep tucked in a file cabinet at work. 

Miu Miu, designed by Miuccia Prada, is known for playful sweaters. By splattering on pattern, or adding details like rhinestones or ribbons, the brand injects wit into the world of fuddy-duddy knitwear. This particularly charismatic cotton cardigan is striped in Day-Glo shades of neon pink and green, toned down with mustard-colored hand-knit trim—an exuberant, maximalist palette that gives the wearer permission to combine it with just about anything. Once fall arrives in earnest, its collar and heavy-duty resin buttons make it substantial enough to wear as a lightweight jacket. 

Miu Miu Prefall 2018 C/O Vogue.com

Miu Miu Prefall 2018 C/O Vogue.com

Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director at MatchesFashion, advocates for fashion-forward cardigans as a way to boost rather than drag down the delightful summer outfit beneath it. “They can be popped over a summer dress without disguising the fact that [your outfit] is summery,” she said. “By the end of September, beginning of October, it feels too early to wear a coat but certainly not too early to wear a shirt over your dress or something heavier like a cardigan.” After that, if you’re lucky, any shivering will be complemented not by Xerox machines but, as nature intended, by picturesque snow.

 

Original story here