28/02/2012

Fashion Week: Long Live the Eccentric

Darlings,
How are you? Hope you're having a good week so far.
I got the idea for this post from one of my favorite bloggers, Myriam at Mode-Moi-Selle, who talked about eccentric personalities at Fashion Week.

Since street style photographers took over the crowded sidewalks outside Fashion Week entrances, let's be honest: we're more curious about what's worn off the catwalk than on. The ever-present Nikons and Canons of Tommy Ton, The Sartorialist, Vanessa Jackman, Yvan Rodic and Garance Dorè, to name a few, have captured some truly unque personalities over the past seasons.

And that's the key word to this post: "unique". And "personality", while we're at it.

Here in Italy, fashion has always been universally synonymous with Good Taste (that is, unless you watch Italian TV. But then again, TV is not fashion). Being "dressed well" is all about the materials: silk, silk, silk. Cashmere, cashmere, cashmere. Leather, leather, leather (no, I'm not just naming all the things I don't wear. But incidentally, animal materials unfortunately happen to be huge here). Everything 100% geniuine and classically cut, the Armani way. Match it with some "tasteful" colors, like black, brown or gray, and you're Well Dressed. Voilà.

While I definitely agree with the great and only Leonardo Da Vinci that "simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication", Fashion Week is different from...well, real life. At Fashion Week,  there's nothing I love more than seeing larger-than-life personalities that have thrown both simplicity and sophistication out the window before leaving the house. I adore worst dressed lists (they're so much more fun than best dressed!) and have a soft spot for those who dare to go freaking bananas with their look. The Anna Piaggis and Lady Gagas of this world, those who stomp around in Alexander McQueen Armadillos and layer the most unthinkable materials on top of one another...finishing off the masterpiece with a hat that even Kate Middleton's cousins would find weird.

What would a fashion show even be without wondering what on Earth Anna Dello Russo is going to wear and if she's bringing her dog to front row this time too? The Vogue Japan editor's sparkly, out-there ensembles are the whole essence of Fashion Week: tasteful is boring. More is more. Just one thing: Anna, DITCH THE FUR!

And can you think of a blogger who's more creative and original than Tavi? At 28, I only wish I wrote like she writes at 15. She has this amazing way of talking about fashion that can only come from being madly in love with heels, skirt lengths and that magic rush of opening a show invitation, a passion that's way beyond the other eighty million fashion bloggers' infatuation with Louboutin and Gucci. This, of course, shines through in her personal style, with looks that always reference a time period, a music genre, a movie, or that communicate something except for "this outfit was given to me for free by a fashion company".

I love eccentricity. I think "bad taste" is eccentric, creative, and so full of personality it's about to burst. For me,  the real meaning of dressing "badly" is not caring. Not caring about what suits you, not caring about what makes you feel good, not believing in the magic of clothes. If you dress like you care, if you dress for yourself and know that you look darn awesome, then you know what? You're already stylish. As opposed to those who insecurely pull on a white shirt and a black pair of pants just because that's what someone told them to do.

I hope that more Tavis and Annas will come to inhabit the world of fashion. I hope there will be no more "It" bags or shoes, because people stop stubbornly dressing the same and start believing in diversity. And I hope that Fashion Week always, always will be eccentric and daring. Because while we all love the classics, let's not forget fashion's meant to be fun.

26/02/2012

Hidden Treasures: A Day at the Vintage Market

Darlings,

hope you've had a great weekend.
Today's the last Sunday of the month, which means it's time for the monthly vintage market in Milan's Navigli, where I live. Spring is in the air as it's really warm and sunny, so walking around is a joy! After spending the morning volunteering and indulging in another delicious lunch at my in-laws', me and David took a stroll around the reign of the treasures of the past.

I don't really wear vintage: I never find my size and most vintage shoes and bags are real leather (which I don't wear, and don't get me started on the fur coats!). But I love the opulent, luxe jewelry and evening bags in velvet or satin. And I adore the lacy dresses, the 20s sparkly headbands and cocktail rings.


24/02/2012

Snapshots: Fragments of Milan

Darlings,

you know I'm not a photography wiz. I'm not an expert on "catching the light" and I recently almost ruined my camera by aiming it directly at the sun (how was I supposed to know you can't do that?)

Nevertheless, since getting my precious iPhone and discovering the wonders of Instagram, I have realized that I love taking pictures! I love capturing little details of my life, things that other people may find insignificant, and making them immortal in a photo. And I am addicted to the Instagram filters!


So, to show off my recent passion for photography, here's my week in pics:






My studded oversize vegan bag by Swedish brand KappAhl and the new Marie Claire UK (one of my favorite glossies)





Sunset view from my office terrace





One of my favorite cocktails - the Cosmo, of course!





"Sognare" means "to dream" and it was spelled out on the bottles of the Osteria del Sognatore, a wonderful restaurant where me and my lovely colleagues go to lunch a lot







My Chanel pins - the one with the lipstick comes from Vogue Fashion's Night Out 2010 and the other one was a little present from my amazing boss, who left her job this week (she is truly missed).







A typical Italian breakfast - cappuccino and croissant





I'm quite bad at playing pool. But I think it's really fun!






Veggie pizza with rucola, mushrooms and tomatoes!





This is where I live - in Milan's gorgeous Navigli area.






This is by far the best magazine marketing trick I've ever seen - for their 25th anniversary, ELLE Italia had this beautiful little box with the magazine divided into four parts. And you also got a free Dior mascara!



All pictures come from my Instagram



Have a lovely weekend!

20/02/2012

Happy Birthday Kurt: My Love Affair With Rock n'Roll

Today's the birthday of one of my greatest music icons, Kurt Cobain. He would have been 45 today



This made me think of how much music inspires style...and just about everything else.

Coco Chanel used to say that fashion isn't just in clothes but in everything around us. I think she was right: fashion reflects on society in all its colors and music is a huge influence on what we wear.

Before meeting my fiancè, I didn't have much of a taste in music. In my teens I was into hip hop: I adored the flashiness of it, the "outcast-gone-cool-kid" mentality, the rags-to-riches stories. I dreamed of being one of the super-slick, honey-voiced R&B singers in the overstyled rap videos (so not me today!), but as I got older, I kind of got bored of hip hop (except Eminem. Eminem will always have a place in my heart and my playlist) as I realized that lyrics that mainly touched on the topics of drugs, cars and money, and referred to women exclusively as "hos" very quickly got trite.


When I met David, a musician, a whole new world of music was opened up to me. Having recently gone solo as a freelance guitarist after spending years in a metal band, David was passionate about guitar-hero rock, punk and metal. He loved Queen, Yngwie Malmsteen and of course Nirvana, and he introduced me to music I've heard before, but never quite appreciated.


...and that's how I fell in love with rock n'roll.


I've always found David similar to Kurt Cobain - was it the blonde hair or the rocker spirit? - and maybe that's how my initial curiosity was awakened. The more I found out about Kurt's life and music, the more I was fascinated by him. I find his voice to be one of a kind and irreplaceable, no matter how many other singers have tried to match up to his uniqueness. And by "voice" I mean not only his amazing vocals, but also the rebellious, vibrant tone that makes each one of his songs stand out. Each and every one of Nirvana's songs is its own angsty little masterpiece: one of my first favorites was Come As You Are, which was also used in the Dsquared2 SS11 men's fashion show. I found Lithium on a particularly "wish-I-never-got-out-of-bed-day" and I was thrilled to discovered that there was music that struck a chord with my depression, but without dragging me down even more. The more I listened, the more I fell in love: songs like the desperate, pitch-black My Girl, Heart-Shaped Box and another favorite, The Man Who Sold the World, became part of my everyday soundtrack. in some weird way, I am uplifted by them. The only thing that makes me sad is that Kurt's not around anymore.


I've nearly gone crazy choosing a favorite among Nirvana's songs and I've come to the conclusion that I don't have one. They're all my favorites.

One that I love passionately is Dumb, for its exquisite lyrics:


"I'm not like them/but I can pretend
The sun is gone/but I have a light
The day is done/but I'm having fun
I think I'm dumb/or maybe just happy"








...and About a Girl for its, well, tenderness. I think it's a really vulnerable, and somewhat romantic song.






There are countless other Nirvana songs that I'm hopelessly mad about, and I'm a little saddened by the fact that I didn't live through his era, the 90s. I mean, of course I was alive during the 90s: I was just way too young to appreciate what this era was really about, in music and in fashion. While researching grunge as a style, I've built up an amazing inspiration file: what about Marc Jacobs' fantastic "grunge" collection from 1992? Or, fast-forwarding to SS11, Charlotte Ronson's grunge-meets-girly looks (oh Charlotte, where was your rock touch at NYFW? Anyway, if you're reading this and happen to have some SS11 left, I'll take it all, thank you!)






I love the refined-rebel atmosphere of a sheer floral summer dress paired with tough biker boots, a beanie hat thrown carelessly over perfectly straight blonde hair, smoky eyes that have gone a little smudged, heaps of studded bracelets and long chain necklaces. I love checked shirt-dresses. I love layers. I love style that references something, and that's not afraid to look daring and a little messy.


What's in your iPod definitely influences what's in your wardrobe. This summer, I'm getting my first pair of Converse since high school, as a tribute to Kurt. If I can only find a pair without any leather in them.





16/02/2012

High in Style, Low in Luxury: Michelle Williams

 Michelle Williams was never my favorite actress. 

In Dawson's Creek,  I hated Jen for stealing Dawson away from his true love, Joey (or I just loved Katie Holmes because everyone said I looked like her). Here was this blonde, sultry NY chick turning up and meddling in Dawson and Joey's budding love story. Wasn't she the girl we just all hated?

Post-Dawson and pre-Marilyn (I've yet to see the movie but so far I'm sticking to my guns: Scarlett Johansson should have been the obvious choice! Nevertheless, after this post, I'm ready to give Michelle a chance), I must say I haven't loved her hair. I'm not a fan of pixie crops, I think Emma Watson, Pixie Lott, Carey Mulligan, and Michelle would all look better in long hair (if you're going to go short, go Lanphear) and I don't get that reddish-blonde shade. But then again, I've never dyed my hair and never worn it short, so who am I to pass judgement.

Coiffure aside, seeing Michelle in a H&M custom organic gown at the red carpet for the BAFTAs changed my mind about her. I bet many girls felt some sort of kinship with her: haven't we all felt like the H&M-clad "ugly duckling" in a sea of Oscar de la Rentas? I know I have. Working in fashion plus being poor equals every day is my budget-fashion-on-the-red-carpet moment. All my respect to Michelle's stylist Kate Young for pulling this major "keep it real" move.

And let's face it, with this black-and white gown, dark lipstick and quirky Olympia Le-Tan book-shaped clutch, Michelle oozed Hollywood glamour and was hands-down the best dressed at the BAFTAs. 










High in fashion, low in luxury - that's the future!



pics from Huffington Post

15/02/2012

Things I Love Books: Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell

Even though I'm a Sex and the City fanatic (what girl isn't?), I've never been crazy about Candace Bushnell's writing. I've always preferred other chick-lit writers (needless to say it's my favorite genre) and found Bushnell's New York sophisticated and chic, but also cold and aloof. Not very Carrie.

When reading The Carrie Diaries, the prequel novel, I have to say, I didn't feel I was reading about Carrie. It was a good book, sure, the writing was high-quality and I found it hard to put down. But it felt like any other teenage girl novel. "Carrie Bradshaw" could have been called Jane Smith or Mary White or anything else. I felt like Carrie's voice was lost.

But with Summer and the City, the follow-up (to the prequel...are you following me?) it was like reading a different book. This refreshing, inspiring novel follows Carrie during her first summer in New York while taking a writing class at the New School and living with a certain Samantha Jones. She runs into some very eccentric characters (one of which becomes her love interest) and wears some really interesting clothes (I had no idea scrubs were all the rage in the 80s!) while finding her voice as a writer and a budding NY icon.

What I loved about the book was its spot-on way of describing that intoxicating feeling of falling in love with a city, of walking along new streets, seeing new things and new faces, and feeling like this, this is the place where you belong, and you'd do anything to stay there (I've felt that way a few times).
It also felt like Carrie, the Carrie we all know and love, was herself here. That quirky way of over-thinking everything, the out-there outfits, the natural-born curiosity and the head-over-heels passion for New York. It's all there. It's her.


Coffee and Heels gives this book top marks and warmly recommends it to anyone who has a long flight (to the Big Apple, perhaps), a train ride or a vacation (lucky you) ahead of them, or anyone who just wants to escape from reality and find some familiar faces.








...and the ending. The ending is spectacular.

12/02/2012

RIP Whitney Houston

I remember when, as a kid, I wanted to be a singer. I didn't have a great voice (the truth is, I was pretty tone-deaf) but I did have big dreams. I sang in school musicals and went on auditions. Me and my peers were inspired by the great singers of the 80s and 90s and there was one that stood out. One star that shone the brightest. One voice that seemed to rise beyond the terrestrial.

There are great voices in every generation, but a mesmerizing few transcend time and become legends.

Today we mourn the loss of a timeless legend, an artist whose voice will live forever.

RIP Whitney.










11/02/2012

Why I Love Lana Del Rey

When I discover new (or old) music that I love, I tend to obsess. I listen to the same songs over and over again until I get sick of them. New music that makes me feel this way is quite rare, so when I discovered Lana Del Rey's mellow, beautiful Video Games, I was swept away.







I think this girl has one of the most amazing voices of this decade. Her music creates an atmosphere that's so far away from the artificial teenybopper singers of today. I think her voice is truly one of a kind and I adore this video because it makes me miss California so much that it hurts.








I don't understand why this girl's been getting so much negativity in the press. Her voice is amazing, her music is unique and beautiful and she's topping all the charts. Still, people feel the need to comment on her lips, her face, her wealthy parents, her real name (FYI it's Lizzie Grant) and on how much she "sucked" on SNL.

I thought she was awesome on SNL. As always.


This is something that really, really annoys me in women. Why can't we just focus on another woman's talents instead of ALWAYS bringing appearances into it? Lana isn't a model, she's a singer, so who cares what she looks like and and if she's had plastic surgery? If her lips are fake, why is this important? No one ever talks about whether male actors and singers get Botox and facelifts (they do, just as much as the women!), but for some reason, with female celebrities, appearance comes first and whatever they actually do comes second, if not third. It's no wonder that girls feel they have to be skinny, plastic and blonde to be successful: not because celebrities are, but because it has to matter. If a curvy girl gets famous because of her talent (like Adele), then she has to be the curvy singer, instead of just a good singer. It really makes me angry.

Concluding: I think Lana is amazing. I think her Vogue UK editorial was beautiful and her music is fantastic. Controversial or not.



Bee-stung? So what.




I am fascinated.


pics from Pinterest.

07/02/2012

Stella McCartney Talks About Leather

As you may know, one of my inspirations is Stella McCartney. She's my modern-day heroine because she's not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, even when faced with the endless prejudice and superficiality of the fashion industry. Since the launch of her fantastic brand, Stella's managed to do the impossible: bring cruelty-free thinking into the haute salons of Fashion Week by never using fur or leather in her collections. Despite her firm decision to shun cruel materials, Stella has continued to rise to the top of the fashion game: her super-coveted collections are adored by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Liv Tyler, and oh yeah, Madonna's a close personal friend of hers. And, well, we all dream of a Falabella bag, don't we?


In this video produced by the fabulous cruelty-free warriors at PETA, Stella talks about the cruelty of the leather industry. I love her passion and enthusiasm.


WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT AND IS NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED.







I'm not here to tell you guys what to do, but I just wanted to let you know that there ARE options if you want to avoid contributing to animal cruelty while looking stylish. If you read Coffee and Heels, then you know that the days when vegetarian fashion meant shapeless hemp dresses, Birkenstocks and dreary handbags are over! These days, compassionate fashionistas have a wide range of alternatives to choose from. And if you argue that the quality of leather is superior, well, in some cases you're right! But I dare you to buy a Stella bag and see how long it lasts. And even if your budget, like mine, isn't quite Falabella-ready, I've got a few H&M bags at home that have lasted me ages. One of them I bought for ONE EURO in the sale. Sure, they require some upkeep, but I find it's worth it to save animals' lives.


Some awesome brands that offer kick-ass cruelty-free styles:




and of course the one & only Stella McCartney!

05/02/2012

Bloggers, Why So Mean?

Blogging is wonderful and a huge passion of mine. I was one of Italy's first fashion bloggers (before the term took a complete detour to become synonymous with only outfit photos) in 2006 and I can't imagine life without my own little online space

While I find some bloggers to be shallow and lacking in taste as well as writing skills, I must admit others are very talented and stylish. And lately I've been feeling bad for some girls who put lots of time and energy into choosing their look and photographing it, or sharing little pieces of their lives with readers, only to be subjected to useless, petty and plain rude comments. 


This week, 21-year-old Swedish entrepreneur Isabella Löwengrip, who runs one of Sweden's most visited personal lifestyle blogs, published some pics of herself enjoying a luxurious tropical vacation:




pic from Blondinbella


...right away, her comment section was flooded (1000 comments, no less!) with "opinions" on the way she looked in her bikini. I usually find Sweden to be very ahead of times when it comes to empowering women and self-image, but here's a message from Coffee and Heels to everyone who called this wonderfully curvaceous lady "fat": you need help. If you think this looks like an "overweight" body, you've got serious body-image issues. And even if you do, spitting it out in other people's blogs is, at least in my opinion, not only unnecessary, but also plain mean. I think that what we're dealing with here is simply that while most Swedes are stuck in the snow these days, Bella is busy living it up in the Caribbean, so how could the green monster of envy not rear its ugly head?




pic from Pinterest



I'll tell you a little story. When I first started blogging, there weren't any outfit posts, but mainly blogging was an online personal diary of likes, dislikes and general musings. So, one day I decided to share with my readers my plans to go on a little trip to London with my best friend. I listed all the things I wanted to see in this amazing city, and naturally, as mine was a blog about fashion (I think the name might even have been something as pathetic as Confessions of a Fashion Victim...) I also listed all the shops I intended to visit that didn't exist in Italy. I asked the readers if they had any suggestions for things I might want to see and visit.

The next day, an anonymous reader (obviously - have you noticed the nastiest ones are always anonymous?), left me a comment saying, "I suggest you throw yourself off a bridge, as to spare us the mindless s**t you write. At least be ashamed of yourself."


This ugly stain of a comment was followed by tons of angry reactions from my nicer readers, telling the offender to leap off of the bridge themselves. I have to say, even if I didn't know who this person was, I felt hurt, offended, and angry. For like, five minutes, then I moved on with my life. But I still don't get why I should have to feel hurt, offended and angry when I read my blog comments. I contemplated deleting the comment, but then I thought that publishing it would show that it didn't bother me that much, so I replied something like: "thank you girls for all of your support! Envy sure can be nasty!" and just left it at that.


In the years that followed, I've almost only had nice comments waiting for me when I logged onto Blogger (not one mean comment for Coffee and Heels so far!). But just before launching Coffee and Heels, I got a comment on my old blog (anonymous, obviously) telling me I "dressed like an old lady". I didn't reply because a) there weren't any pictures of me on the blog and b) I wear studs with everything, so old lady...well, that would be an old punk lady, then. So this was clearly the blog equivalent of a wrong number. But it made me think about how bloggers (especially women!) put each other down in the comments sections, in posts, on Facebook (I do find some famous Italian bloggers quite vapid and contentless, but one thing that I think is pathetic are the Facebook groups that make "fun" of them, showing just how much time some girls are willing to waste fault-finding on another person's work) and all over the web.




pic from Pinterest


 Recently, I stopped following a blogger I liked because of the way she targeted some of her peers in mean-spirited posts that were supposed to be "fun". She re-posted their outfit pictures with comments on how terrible their outfits were. And people found it hilarious! Girls would comment on how "fabulous" she was for criticizing other bloggers and how "heinous" they looked. Now, if  this blogger and her readers were experts on personal style, I'd still find them mean, but at least I'd understand where they were coming from. But these girls ain't no gurus! They wear clashing colors, too-tight skirts, muffin-top jeans - they mess up, as we all do sometimes. And even though they might claim that they "wouldn't care" if someone commented that way on their own outfits, I'm afraid the truth is, they would.


I've been accused of not being "democratic" when I admit to deleting mean comments from my blog. First of all: I didn't say "negative" comments, I said "mean". 
Negative and mean are very different.
Negative is someone who doesn't agree with me and says so without being disrespectful - and you know you can speak your mind here on my blog. Mean, on the other hand, is someone who just wants to use my blog to get traffic to their own by being rude. Respectful criticism is okay and very welcome, but mean has no place on Coffee and Heels, which is a positive space. And second of all: Coffee and Heels is not a democracy. If you want to be nasty, go be nasty on your own blog. Here, only well-behaved and respectful people get to have their say (even if - especially if! they don't agree with me). Mean, offensive, and -dare I say it- jealous comments will be mercilessly deleted.





Last but not least: can someone just explain the point of it all to me? What do you gain from being obnoxious to people you don't know on the internet? Yes, I know sometimes people are complete nutcases. When I see a post of someone's new fur coat and how "luxuriously soft" is is, I want to SCREAM. But calling them "cruel and disgusting" in their comment section is not likely to change their mind, is it? So I just calmly voice my opinion with an extra dose of respect and a smile. Unless I turn off my PC and do something else with my time.



Here's an awesome quote from Copyblogger on "internet idiots annihilating your productivity":



All the time you spend chasing down things you hate and ranting about them?
That’s time you’re not building something epic.



...so why don't you just concentrate on your own blog? Make sure your blog is the best, most amazing, most welcoming space there is on the web. Pour your heart, soul and brand-new Zara dress into it. Learn to take some really fabulous photos (mine still aren't up to pro standard, but I'm making progress!) and perfect your writing. Do everything you can to make sure yours isn't just another blog. You'd probably be amazed at how much creative energy you're wasting on criticizing other people instead of making yourself better.