Filed under: Clothes Encounters

Fashionable Frocks

imageA degree in industrial engineering isn’t exactly the kind of background you’d expect to find in an emerging fashion designer. But for Indonesian-born Ardistia Dwiasri, it was her knack for numbers and interest in architectural design that prompted her to launch a namesake clothing collection. Now in its second season, Ardistia New York’s haute high-collar coats and cutting-edge, multi-functional separates have been flying off the racks at some of the hottest names in retail like Searle and Luxe Label.

A structured, Princess Warrior-inspired collection comprised of monochromatic fabrics of black and grey, Ardistia New York is favored by confident femmes who aren’t afraid to stand out. Touted for technical details such as exaggerated collars, tiered pleats and puff sleeves, Ardistia distinguishes herself from other designers by her uncanny ability to create hidden functionality in each of her frocks. For example, her stunning black capelet is constructed with secret arm slits so you can effortlessly slip your arm through to carry a shoulder bag (how brilliant!). Other crafty gadgets include zippers and buttons that enable you to instantly elongate or shorten sleeves. There’s even a jet-black jacket that can magically morph into a cape. Among the many items on my radar screen include a gorgeous gabardine capelet with quilted shoulders, a silk chiffon baby doll dress, a slinky jersey blouse with satin trim (perfect with patent booties and opaque tights) and a striking dove gray swing coat with ¾ length puff sleeves. With styles this sexy and streamlined, I wasn’t surprised to hear that most of Ardistia’s inventory is already on back order this season. If you happen to miss out, have no fear – they’ll be an equally impressive and expanded lineup of 007-like silhouettes this Spring.

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Filed: Clothes Encounters

Seasonal Staples

Aside from dark chocolate and a double shot of espresso, nothing gets my adrenaline pumping more than fall fashion. In fact, I got so wrapped up with this season’s alluring assortment of fabrics (tartans to tweeds) and colors (cobalt blue to charcoal gray), that I couldn’t help but purchase 90% of my wardrobe when pre-fall shipments hit stores in July. But, since I still need a few more staples, here’s a short list of what I’m eyeing next. And it just so happens that everything can be worn separately or paired together for a perfect day-to-night look.

imageWhy risk throwing your back out with a bulky, over-sized bag?  Instead, play-up your wardrobe with a petite frame purse that works with your proportions, like this lightweight Charlott Vasberg ($800) find. The shimmery black leather and matte gold hardware add that extra touch of glam. Buy it at • 888.222.7639

imageHere’s the skinny on denim for fall: stovepipes are out and baggy, wide-legged styles like these Seven’s ($209) are in. Finally, a pair of blues that doesn’t require plastic Baggie’s to slide ‘em over your feet. Buy it at • 877-746-7267

imageIf there’s one must-have piece you splurge on this season, make it this mustard blazer from Smythe ($698). It’s a well-priced alternative to the ones I’ve seen from Marc Jacobs and in my opinion, a much better fit. Buy it at • 212-924-4330

imageSimply put, Cobalt blue is the “it color” of the season. It works wonders for almost any complexion and will instantly brighten up your mood. This billowy Madison Marcus blouse ($225) is my personal fave because it pairs beautifully with black, wide-legged trousers. The feminine neck-tie, pleats and puffy sleeves make it that much more irresistible. Buy it at • 204-292-1524

imageUnleash your inner Victor Victoria with this smokin’ pinstriped fedora ($38) – a guaranteed head-turner. Finally, there’s no excuse for bad hair days, period. Buy it at • 800-862-0100

imageStep into the season with confidence with a shoe bootie – a stiletto that thinks and behaves like a boot. An edgier alternative to a pump, Christian Louboutin’s patent leather zippered pair ($770) glams up your gams, even when worn with nothing else.
Buy it at • 877.551.SAKS

For a sneak preview of my top picks for Spring ’08, stay tuned for next Monday’s special New York Fashion Week runway report.


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Filed: Clothes Encounters

Girls Will Be Boys

imageAs a tomboy growing up in Vermont, I was obsessed with climbing trees, collecting daddy long legs and donning my older brother’s pants and oversized polos. Fortunately for my parents, I grew out of that awkward phase and have since gravitated towards more girly things like manicures and mini skirts. Ironically, with menswear-inspired frocks like Sally Tseng’s suddenly in fashion, I again find myself yearning for those borrowed-from-the-boys looks I shed so many years ago.

A Taiwanese-born fashion designer whose “man-spiration” comes from the button-down shirts she once raided from her brother’s closet, Sally Tseng meticulously tailors her androgynous garments to suit a woman’s frame. With sewing in her genes (her grandmother was a seamstress), it was a given that Sally would one day follow in her footsteps. Now in her third season, Tseng continues to make her mark with sexy day-to-night silhouettes that are topped off with a modicum of mannish sophistication. Expect signature details such as exaggerated cuffs, elongated sleeves and tuxedo pleats, all of which are coveted by style-savvy women who exude confidence. “Boy oh boy,” just wait ‘til you get a hold of her luxe, ‘20’s-inspired lineup for fall, which comes in a host of eye-catching hues like cobalt blue, mustard, burgundy and charcoal gray.

Some standouts I’m considering from the 24-piece collection include a short-sleeved silk tuxedo chemise, wide-legged pin-striped trousers, a billowy blouse with faint polka dots and a slit back, a belted shirt dress, a silver thigh-grazing tunic (a must for the holidays), a midnight black bubble dress with a racer back and a swingy A-line coat with puffy sleeves. Now if only I can convince my hubby to lend me his silk tie, fedora and antique pocket watch, I’ll have the Diane Keaton look down pat. 

Support Sally! Sally Tseng is one of 6 fashion semi-finalists competing for a chance to win a $20,000 grant from Bioré® Skincare. Help Sally bring her business to the next level by casting your vote at But don’t dilly-dally…. the contest closes this Friday, August 31st! Every click counts!

  • Sally Tseng
  • 866-811-3466
  • $190-$500
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Filed: Clothes Encounters

Haute Coats

imageIn L.A., it’s not who you are, it’s what you drive. In New York, it’s what you wear. And since the Big Apple was blessed (or cursed) with four seasons, we need to make our style statements with our coats. With fall/winter on the way, it’s crucial that I’m covered in outerwear that’s not only stylish, but also warm enough to fend off those frigid temps. That’s why my closet is crammed with Mackage (13 at last count) – a luxe Canadian coat label with an insane international following.

Touted for its ultra-flattering fit and unusual mix of fabrics, Mackage actually makes blustery weather fun and bearable. Created by design duo Elisa Dahan and Eran Elfassy during their elementary school days, Mackage has since been churning out dozens of cutting-edge leather and wool collections. Designed for fashion conscious femmes who want to look and feel fabulous no matter how low the mercury level dips, Mackage is more geared toward an attitude than an age. No wonder these haute coats are even coveted by leading Hollywood babes from the likes of Jessica Biel and Halle Berry. Known for its signature details such as waist-cinching belts, textured wools, leather piping, asymmetrical zippers, exaggerated collars and moody color combos (black, midnight blue and fog grey), Mackage is easily spotted from a block away. 

The latest styles to swoon over this season include a mod, thigh-grazing get-up with a built-in scarf and bell sleeves (the Demie, pictured above), an A-line beauty with a belted leather back and extra wide pleats, a chic wool cape adorned with a matte gold belt buckle and patch pockets and a jaw-dropping 3/4 length flared design with princess sleeves, which I snagged for myself. As if that’s not reason enough to raise your heart rate, there’s even a series of sleek, down-filled puffy coats (not to be confused with those bulky sausage styles) and a knockout knitwear line featuring sexy, oversized cardigans, turtlenecks and tube dresses. And since each classy cover-up seamlessly translates from year-to-year, you won’t feel pressured to constantly stock up to stay in style. But then again, throw on a Mackage and I’ll bet you can’t buy just one.

  • Mackage
  • 212-391-5287 (USA) & 514-388-5287 (CANADA)
  • $280-$785
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Dynamic Duo

imageOne of the things I love about living in New York City is that it allows me to freely express my individuality. So when cruising the shops for clothes, I thrive on finding versatile pieces that complement all the diverse aspects of my split personality, particularly like the ones I found from Hunter Dixon. A Hitchcock heroine-inspired clothing line worshiped for its ultra-flattering fit and wearability, Hunter Dixon is quickly becoming one of the hottest new names in retail.

The offspring of two close friends, Hunter Lingle (who designed for Nanette Lepore and Rebecca Taylor) and Jennifer Dixon (an ex-model and entrepreneur), Hunter Dixon was born on a whim last winter after the two noticed a void of haute-couture styles with attainable price tags in the marketplace. These twenty-something Southern belles, who somehow manage to keep separate day jobs (Hunter at a hedge fund and Jen at an ad agency), had always yearned for high-end garments with a flirty, ’40s-inspired flair, but couldn’t find frocks that suited their style (and bank account). The rest, shall we say, is herstory. The girls recently debuted their second smash collection, which includes a mix of modern silhouettes such as blousy leaf-print silk shirts to sophisticated charcoal grey tunics, all of which are meant to work seamlessly with everything in your wardrobe. Other standouts you won’t want to be without: a brilliant metallic brocade dress, a knee-grazing camel-haired coat, a pale pink high-collar tank with pretty ruffles, menswear-inspired wide-legged trousers, a puffy-sleeve herringbone sports jacket and a swing coat with pleats and antique buttons. Neither cutesy nor conservative, Hunter Dixon is a luxe line of day-to-night separates with price tags that won’t send you into sticker shock. Judging from the duo’s skyrocketing success, it won’t be long ‘‘til Lingle and Dixon bid adieu to their day jobs.

  • Hunter Dixon
  • 917-421-9712
  • $160-$525
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Filed: Clothes Encounters