Monday, February 28, 2011

Ladies Who Lunch: THEIA Fall 2011

Knowledge transforms perception.  Growing up studying ballet and then performing it professionally transformed the way that I look at dance performances.  Previous to that training, I would watch a dance performance and enjoy the music, the costumes, and the movement of the dancers.  But once I crossed the line and become part of that world, I could never look at it so naively again.  Now, when I go to a performance, I can’t help but analyze the technique of the dancers, the artistry of the choreography, the staging and costumes.  And while sometimes a performance is so mesmerizing as to pull me in and make me abandon that knowledge for brief moments, it is never the same.  The curtain has been pulled back and I, like Dorothy, can see the Wizard of Oz for what he is.
Similarly, as a fashion designer who spent a good part of my career working in high end companies, that knowledge colors the way I look at fashion.  I analyze the cut, the drape, the construction, the price point and the wearability of a garment.  Sometimes, like with dance, I can get totally lost in the artistry and fantasy of a piece.  More often than not, I can’t.  

Which brings me to THEIA.  Launched in Fall 2009, THEIA is an evening collection that straddles that fine line of being sexy, glamorous, and finely constructed, while still being wearable and affordable.  Creative Director Don O’Neill brings his considerable talent and experience to the label, creating a collection that is stunningly beautiful, garnering the attention of such stars as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.  As you examine the collection, it is obvious that Mr. O’Neill understands a woman’s body and designs to make each woman look and feel like a star.

While we would all love to be Blair Waldorf and dash over to Madison Avenue whenever we felt like it to purchase gorgeous creations with no concern for price or the longevity of the garment, the reality is that few have that option.  However, dressing glamorously should and can still be an option for the less elite and THEIA answers that need.

Named for THEIA, the Greek Goddess of light who was mother to the sun, moon and the dawn, the line is designed to “bring out every woman’s inner goddess”.  Under Mr. O’Neill’s tutelage, the line is living up to that goal.  Utilizing luxurious silks, European brocades, laces, prints, intricate embroidery and beading, THEIA creates a sophisticated and elegant line of cocktail dresses and gowns.  Each piece has the look of a couture creation at a fraction of the price, making it accessible to women from all walks of life.

Going back to his Irish roots, Mr. O’Neill found his inspiration for the Fall 2011 collection in The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks in 800 AD.  Drawing on the swirling motifs, Celtic Knots, interlacing patterns and vibrant colors of the manuscript, he has utilized them in prints and embellishments that capture the essence of the artwork and transform the collection into a brilliant interpretation of light, sparkle and color. The collection captures the artistry of the ancient in a form that speaks to the modernity of today.

Don O’Neill’s THEIA Fall 2011 collection combines all of the elements of artistry and fantasy that make an evening collection desirable with an eye towards perfect fit and wearability.  Having only become aware of the THEIA collection this season, I am suitably impressed as to want to follow this collection in future seasons and await what magic Mr. O’Neill will spin next.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ladies Who Lunch: There Once Was A Woman Who Lived In A Shoe..

As you well know from previous posts, I love shoes.  I  REALLY love shoes.  Women’s shoes, men’s shoes...I love them all.  Always on the search for beautiful shoes, I have very high standards that they must live up to.  First, they need to be esthetically pleasing.  Needless to say, it is the appearance that draws me to them in the first place, but beauty is skin deep as they say.  So, that brings us to the second standard: quality craftsmanship and superior materials.  This second standard is of course more difficult to satisfy, putting those shoes that meet both standards in a very elite class.
I have discovered a company that belongs in that class, Fratelli Rossetti.  Founded in 1953 in Parabiago, Italy by Renzo Rossetti, the company has moved into the second generation of the family with his sons Diego, Dario and Luca upholding the standards of excellence that they are known for.  Fratelli Rossetti’s shoes are crafted out of the finest pebbled calf, box calf and suede leathers, that are tanned and dyed to create deep colors and lustrous finishes.  The visual design is equal to the craftsmanship put into the making of their shoes.
I had the honor of being invited to a preview of Fratelli Rossetti’s Fall 2011 collection and I can report that what is coming for Fall will not be a disappointment to the gals or guys.

For their women’s collection, Fratelli Rossetti has employed the design expertise of one of my favorite designers, Rebecca Moses. She has proven herself yet again, with a shoe collection that is elegant, glamorous and wearable.  I have always been a fan of Ms. Moses’ whimsical illustrations and she has put them to perfect use for this collection.  I spoke with Ms. Moses, who told me that her inspiration was “the woman who lived in a shoe” and this woman lives in her shoes across the globe.

The starting point of the collection is the “Hobo” shoe with a sensible heel suitable for globe trekking, stylish patterned detailing on the toe and as Ms. Moses points out, without laces for travels with “no strings attached.

The collection continues on to New York with a chunky heeled modern shoe, in fringed front and lace-up versions.  This shoe most certainly captures the fashion forward and edgy feel that is New York.

Next stop London, with a modern take on riding boots.  Straps and buckles wrap around the ankles and in one version, the wearer can wear it as a full length boot or remove the upper half to wear it as a bootie.

Jumping across the Channel to Paris, we discover ultra feminine booties and pumps with sexy cutouts, slit openings and self bows. These shoes are a perfect example of Paris luxe.

On to Milan for crafted leather loafers and to Venice for ballerinas and low heeled shoes with caviar stones decorating the toes for that touch of Venetian elegance.

Finally, out journey takes us to Beijing. Here we find a slim heeled sexy boot with a fur upper portion cinched with a self leather belt to brave those cold Beijing winters.

The men’s collection is equally beautiful!  Luxurious leathers in wonderful colors and interesting details, left me drooling.  I was particularly drawn to some wing tips in burnished tooled leather and a pair of boots with double side buckles.  They are definitely going on my wish list.  Though you wouldn’t have to twist my arm to get me to wear any of these shoes.
And why wouldn’t you want these shoes? Fratelli Rossetti shoes are stylishly today while still being classic enough to be part of your wardrobe for years to come.  And with the craftsmanship in these shoes, they WILL last for years and years.  Hmmmm, have I found my new obsession?
Photos by Ritika Wahal & Courtesy of Fratelli Rossetti