Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Zatchels Satchel, I'm in love!

Last semester, while doing a seminar paper on fashion blogs I found this great fashion blog run by two women living in Glasgow, Scotland, called Kingdom of Style. Check them out here. While reading through there blog I stumbled upon this great site to order custom made satchels. Well, actually two sites, each of the blog mistresses had their favorite. Queen Michelle posted about the Cambridge Satchel Company (see here) and Queen Marie favored Zatchels (see here).

After looking at both sites I decided to go with Zatchels and ordered my very own, beautiful red leather satchel, like this one.

What's so great about a Zatchels satchel you may ask? Well, let me tell you!

Each bag is handmade, per order, in the UK. You decide what color you want, what size, whether you want to add a handle or not, and within about 30 days (mine took only about 10) a pretty, shiny leather bag arrives at your door. Well, unless you order one of the distressed leather bags, then it probably won't be that shiny, but nice and crackly instead. :) They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and every color, finish, and print you can imagine. The combinations are endless!

These are not bags to order on a whim, the 16" size satchel like I ordered will set you back about $150 USD (including the extra for the handle, plus shipping). I waited months to order mine since discovering them back in October. But for a custom made leather bag, shipped from the UK, that will last me practically forever, this is just the thing to make me feel a little happier about going to school each week.

Each satchel is shipped in a custom sized box and has it's own dust cover to store it in when you're not using it. I ordered mine in red and just looking at it makes me happy. :)

You also get a certificate of authenticity detailing when it was made and by whom and a bag number. I'm so giddy over my satchel I might just frame this! Ok, not really, but still, I'm in love.

I used it on my teaching days and it fits my class files and 13" MacBook Pro nicely, with enough room on the side to fit my charger. On ASU days it fits my iPad and text books just fine with room for a water bottle.

As Queen Marie said, this bag will, "make going anywhere, feel more fun, even school!!!!!" I agree. :)


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Book Review: The Sartorialist

I'm reading so many books right now for school, but every now and then something completely fun creeps in. Last semester I had the chance to read Retail Hell for a class (I still can't believe that book was homework!). If you missed my review for that, read it here.

There've been a few others than have managed to sneak into my reading pile and I thought I'd share some with you. Well, the ones that don't have long and complicated titles and aren't about rhetorical theory. :)

Today I'd like to share with you The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman. Published by Penguin Books in 2009 you can find it in paperback form on Amazon for $16.50 or wherever you like to get your books. This book magically found it's way into my Amazon order at the start of the spring semester with a bunch of text books (I don't know how that happened :) How strange!).

The book is a collection of images that first appeared on Scott's blog of the same name, check that out here (seriously, check it out, it's amazing). I first found Scott's blog when I was researching fashion blogs for my seminar paper last semester. I ended up going with a different blog for the paper but bookmarked The Sartorialist on my computer and return to it frequently. His images are amazing.

The book is just as brilliant as his blog, featuring images of fashion on the street. Random people he crosses paths with in New York, Paris, Milan, and more. These aren't all models and celebrities (though they do make the occasional appearance) but mostly are just everyday people.

What I love about this book, and the blog, is seeing all the different ways that fashion and style is interpreted by people around the world. What you will find in the pages of this book are not bland copies of what you see within the pages of the top fashion magazines. Instead, you will find interesting, unique, quirky, beautiful people, dressing for themselves and expressing themselves through their clothing. As Scott says in the opening pages of his book, "I have been sharing photos with my audience on a daily basis for the past four years, and over the course of that time I have begun to see my images more as a social document celebrating self-expression than as a catalogue for skirt lengths or heel heights" (5).

Part of my research at school is examining the rhetoric of fashion, what we wear, why we wear it, and what our choices say about ourselves and our personalities. This book is a perfect case study for that research. Most of the outfits I see I wouldn't wear on my own, because they don't speak to my personality. But the outfits I see make me think a little differently, and a little more outside the box, about how I might combine items in my own closet. Scott goes on to say in his introduction, "I hope that, while looking at the images in this book, you will begin to see fashion and style in a different light: that you make it yours, let yourself get inspired and experience a deeper enjoyment of your own sartorial expression" (7). That is exactly how I feel as I go through this book.

Another great thing about this book? It's mostly pictures. So for my poor burnt out brain, at the end of a long day of studying, or even as a mid-study brain vacation, flipping through the pages is pure visual heaven! I really don't have any time to read books that aren't part of my class reading list, but with The Sartorialist, whether I have 5 mins or 50, I can enjoy the book and not feel like I have to take a ton of time to get back into it.

This book is a must read/look for anyone with a love of fashion and art. You won't regret the purchase. And when you're done, just visit the original blog for more! (In case you missed that link above, I'll give it to you again, you have not excuses now! Check it out here.)


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Book Review - Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store, Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate

This hilarious book is a must read for anyone who has ever worked in retail as well as anyone who just loves to shop. Freeman Hall calls on past experiences from twenty-plus years of working as a “retail slave” and tells his story as a handbag salesperson at a high end department store in the Los Angeles area in California. Throughout the book the store is referred to as “The Big Fancy” but Hall explains in the “Author’s Note” many of the details have been changed and that the stories and people depicted within come from different stores and points in time. As the back cover states, “The stories are all true -- only the names have been changed to protect the damned.”

Hall writes the book in the first person and from start to finish takes the reader on a journey into the crazy world of retail, it reads more like a novel than autobiographer. The book is broken up into three Acts with a special bonus section as a “Free Gift with Purchase.” Rather than using numbered chapters the book is, instead further divided into several titled essays relating to the general themes of the three Acts. The use of the term “Act” as a divisional tactic, instead of the typical “Part,” seems deliberate, and throughout the three Acts of the book, you begin to feel like you’re watching three Acts of a play. Along the way Hall introduces us to a zany cast of characters. We meet Suzy Satan (the store manager), Judy “The General” (manager of the handbag department), a group of crazy co-workers divided into the Demon Squad and the Handbag Angels, and finally the revolving door cast of customers that Hall had to battle on a daily basis. Hall breaks the customers down into general categories or nick names for specific customers, and devotes one or two essays to each. Examples include, Shoposaurus Carnotaurus, Nasty-Ass Thieves, Little Piggies, Picky Bitches, and Devil Spawns.

Throughout the book Hall evolves from a regular guy who can’t remember to use the term “handbag” instead of “purse” (heaven forbid) and can’t tell a clutch from a tote or a Ferragamo from a Gucci, to a handbag connoisseur and model employee. His stories are all told in vivid detail and (sometimes explicit) language, to a point where you can really visualize the people and events he is describing. To anyone who’s never worked retail, many of the stories might seem over-the-top or unbelievable, but for those of us who have ever been retail slaves ourselves some of these stores hit close to home. From dealing with corporate drones who try to push a team player objective to crazy customers trying to get away with the retail equivalent of murder, many of these essays are so relatable they might just cause post-traumatic retail stress in the reader, so be warned.

The sequel to this fabulous book will be released later this year.  For more information on Freeman, the books, or other stories of retail hellaciousness, check out Freeman's blog, Retail Hell Underground here.  


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Friday, March 30, 2012

Take a trip to the "Sea"

On the evening of March 2nd some of us here in land-locked Phoenix were fortunate enough to take a refreshing trip to the sea.  We walked along the boardwalk and saw ladies in fine dresses, some dashing sailors, more than a few interesting swimsuits, and even a couple of mermaids.

And no, we were not hallucinating as a result of heat stroke from the oncoming Phoenix summer.  We were attending the opening reception of The Sea in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery at the Phoenix Art Museum.  This spectacular exhibit, curated by Dennita Sewell is a refreshing and beautiful escape from the heat and brownness of the desert as our temperatures start to rise.  The exhibition, "explores the far-reaching influence of the romance, colors and forms of the sea on fashion design.  Drawn from the Museum's extensive permanent collection and private collections, The Sea features work by Prada, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Christian Lacroix for Patou, Zandra Rhodes, and Pauline Trigere among others."

As someone who has been attending exhibitions in the fashion gallery at the Museum since 1999, I am always amazed by the work of Dennita and her team.  The Sea is no exception.

What follows are some pictures from the opening but trust me when I say, the pictures don't do the exhibition justice.  Make sure to take some time to go down and see it for yourself before it closes.  It's on view now through July 15th.

For more information on visiting the museum click here.

Sea side dresses from the 1860s
At left, lounge pajamas from the 1930s.  Right, Rita Jo dress from the 1930s.
A selection of swimsuits showing how styles have changed over the years.
Left and right, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.  Left, swimsuit and dress from early 2000s.  Right, jacket, swimsuit and shoes from the Cruise 2011-12 collection, gift of Saks Fifth Avenue.
We had a full house that night with First Friday going on at the same time.  It's always great to see so many people enjoying the exhibition.
Clair McCardall

The fabulous accessories case.
More of the accessories

Christian Lacroix for Patou "Chaldee" Dress and Overskirt, Spring 1986.


Dress from the early 1860s, "water mark" moire silk.

The dashing sailors!

Left and behind, Chado Ralph Rucci, Spring 2002 Couture.  Right and front, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Spring 2012, gift from Neiman Marcus.

Synthetic brocade and monofilimant lace with paillette and bead embroidery.  This Chanel dress was simply stunning, front and back.

Again, this is just a small taste, you have to see it to believe it so make sure you head down the the Phoenix Art Museum to check it out in person.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Willkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome. Come on in!

Greetings blogosphere,

I’m Deborah, your second co-author in this frightfully fashionable venture.

I am a life long lover of fashion: the little girl with the six wardrobe changes a day, the aspiring designer until she realizes she can’t sew, the religious visitor of…you get the idea.

As an Art History major at ASU I parlayed my love of fashion into an internship in the Fashion Design Department at Phoenix Art Museum where I suddenly found people who felt the same way about fashion as me.

I am a firm believer that fashion is a right not a privilege. I think anyone can be a beauty on a budget as long as you keep your eyes open, mind rolling, and wallet tight. I look forward to bringing my views of accessible, local style to all you lovely readers out there!


Welcome from Andrea

Hello Nouveau Members and Guests!

Welcome to the new ACI Nouveau blog, I'm Andrea, co-author of this new adventure.

To tell you a little bit about myself, I'm a full time graduate student at ASU in the English program where my research revolves around fashion and costume design, theory, and history.  I also teach theatre and work as a freelance costume designer around the Valley.  I'm a bit of a Jane-of-all-trades these days.

I love fashion, both historical and contemporary, and I love exploring locally and around the world to see what new amazing thing will catch my eye.

I'm excited to be working on this project and look forward to seeing what goodies I can find to share with all of you on this blog.

More to come soon!