Do you Athleisure?

What are you wearing right now?  

If you're an American woman between the ages of 25-50, there is a good chance it's something that falls into the newest fashion category: athleisure.  Whether it's a pair of technical yoga leggings from cult brand Lululemon or a styled nylon jacket from APC + Outdoor Voices, wearing clothing that references outdoor adventures has become an everyday option for anyone who's work doesn't demand strict professional attire or a uniform.  In fact, it has been argued that yoga pants are the uniform of the millennial.

Wikipedia defines athleisure as a trend in fashion in which clothing designed for workouts and other athletic activities is worn in other settings, such as during work, trips to school, or other casual or social occasions. Athleisure outfits "look like athletic wear" and are characterized as "fashionable, dressed up sweats and exercise clothing" The idea is that gym clothes are supposedly making their way out of the gym and becoming a larger part of people's everyday wardrobes.

Much of the trend has been attributed to culture's growing interest in health and well-being.  According to an article published by Morgan Stanley, sports participation is growing among high school age athletes, and an overall interest in "athletic lifestyles" amongst all ages is a huge draw for sportswear that can "go both ways."

Lululemon's signature look, featuring a $58.00 wrap scarf, $98 yoga pants, with coordinating  bag and shirt.

Lululemon's signature look, featuring a $58.00 wrap scarf, $98 yoga pants, with coordinating  bag and shirt.

Cara Delivigne modeling Chanel's luxe take on the athleisure trend -- I found no pricing information, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Cara Delivigne modeling Chanel's luxe take on the athleisure trend -- I found no pricing information, so you'll have to use your imagination.

A set from Stella McCartney's popular Adidas collaboration.  Technical skirt and top, approximately $70 apiece.

A set from Stella McCartney's popular Adidas collaboration.  Technical skirt and top, approximately $70 apiece.

A simple look form Target, available both in-store and online for less than $100, total.

A simple look form Target, available both in-store and online for less than $100, total.

Part of the appeal of this apparel trend is that it is accessible at a variety of prices, ranging from the reasonable pieces you'll find at places like Target, Old Navy,  and H & M to indulgently upscale designs from historic fashion houses like Chanel.  Additionally, if you are in need of athleisure that can pass the boardroom test...well, we've got that, too.

A personal favorite of mine is Kit and Ace, a concept store born from the industry giant Lululemon's success.  They specialize in "technical cashmere" pieces that can be thrown in the washing machine for easy care, but have high-style silhouettes that can work in a professional environment.  Here is a link to a great piece on the brand by the New Yorker .

Kit and Ace's technical cashmere pieces combine fashion and comfort in a wearable way.

Kit and Ace's technical cashmere pieces combine fashion and comfort in a wearable way.

Other brands that fall into the more-formal-than-yoga-pants-but-oh-so-comfortable category include Anne Fontaine , Carbon 38 , and Lisa Marie Fernandez .  Read more about how to integrate performance technology into your 9 - 5 in articles from The Fashion Law and Vogue .

Ann Fontaine's immaculate white separates are amazing with leggings or a tailored skirt.

Ann Fontaine's immaculate white separates are amazing with leggings or a tailored skirt.

For local readers here in New Orleans, check out the new TASC location on Magazine Street --not coincidentally located in the spot formerly occupied by Kit and Ace.  My personal favorite for impulsive purchases is Azby's , owned by Kerry Bruno, who is my hero as a business woman + mother + athlete, and has a great eye for current trends and classic staples.  Every year I treat myself to one Azby's total impulse purchase.  Last year's was made literally on the way to Jazzfest, and was a fun Rebecca Taylor top that I have worn with equal success at the fairgrounds and also at a very fancy baby shower -- granted, I changed bottoms.  (I don't think any trend will ever meld Jazzfest shorts and luncheon-appropriate skirts.)  

Tunic styling by TASC Performance -- simple and chic and LOCAL

Tunic styling by TASC Performance -- simple and chic and LOCAL

My versatile Rebecca Taylor top from Azby's -- a chameleon that goes casual or semi-dressy with a quick change of pants.

My versatile Rebecca Taylor top from Azby's -- a chameleon that goes casual or semi-dressy with a quick change of pants.

Our personal tie in here at Studio Amanda Talley is our burgeoning collection of tennis and golf-wear.  Our tailors have diligently been deconstructing our own favorite pieces and rebuilding them to our fabric specifications.  Although we can't provide you with a work-appropriate lycra blazer (yet), we do have some cute options to sport after a match. (Pardon my iPhone photography.  Professional images coming soon! -- in the meantime you can read up on Azby's, TASC, AND Studio Amanda Talley and enjoy professional shots at The Scout Guide New Orleans blog!)

Little Lucy skirt, $165

Little Lucy skirt, $165

Game, Set, Match dress, $185

Game, Set, Match dress, $185

Emily skirt, $165

Emily skirt, $165

If you're still not onboard, check out these articles from Forbes and  Business Insider -- both provide an in-depth look at the movement and why it's here to stay.  

Still skeptical?  Visit your local Lululemon, plunk down your Am/Ex and try it out on your next casual Friday.  If the experience of having your entire body snugly held in place by incredibly soft and durable synthetics whilst looking au courant doesn't sway you, nothing will.

Treat yourself -- BUY THE FABRIC!

I've been carrying around a crumpled magazine page featuring Fortuny Caravaggio fabric in avio & red for at least two years.  The minute I saw it, I knew I had to have it.   I have two framed drawings that I love, and they need an echo in my home space. 

Fortuny Caravaggio fabric

Fortuny Caravaggio fabric

One framed drawing, and one child.

One framed drawing, and one child.

About a year ago I asked my friend Patricia, who owns a designer fabric shop, if she could order the fabric for me.  "Sure," she replied "It's $496 a yard, with a minimum two yard order."

Well.

Y'all, I work in fabric.  I was practically raised in a linen store.  I had been considering curtains, and if not curtains, at least curtain trim.  At that price, trimming out curtains would run me upwards of $4000.00.   For just the trim.  I was sad.  Then I was determined to find something that would make me equally happy, but within my budget.  So I've spent twelve months looking at trim, at ribbons, at fabric, at curtains, and oftentimes at my crumpled magazine page.

When you're choosing fabrics for your home, the most important factor is obviously going to be whether or not you like the look of the fabric.  After that,  there are still a lot of things that need to be considered.  If it's fabric for seating or any area that will see a lot of wear and tear, you'll need a fabric that can withstand a lot of friction.  If it's going to be exposed to sunlight, you need something colorfast.  (Nowadays you can find beautiful outdoor fabric from Sunbrella, which is perfect for porch life or outdoor entertaining.)  If you choose a light weight fabric for curtains, you'll need to line and interline them.  If you want to pleat your fabric, you'll need to choose something that isn't too stiff.  I could go on and on, but the easiest way to make sure you're buying something that will work for what you have in mind is to ask either an expert at a fabric store or an interior designer.  They will have consulted on many projects and have a wealth of practical experience that can save you time and money, and are well worth the splurge.

My local favorites are Fairfax Fabric Company for interiors, and Promenade Fine Fabrics for clothing and accessories.  If you don't have a design professional assisting you, Spruce  is a great resource, as owner Nomita Joshi-Gupta is accredited in architecture and interior design.  All three of these shops are a treasure trove of pattern, color and texture.  

Of course, I also include our own Amanda Talley fabrics in my decor, and I'm always pushing to see what our fabric printer can come up with to help with creative interiors. Currently, the linen/cotton blend is the most popular fabric we sell, but our Eco canvas is starting to challenge, as it is a more weatherproof and colorfast fabric due to some polyester content.  (Polyester is your friend.  Not in your bedding and sleep wear, but on a hall bench or porch chair, a synthetic will last longer and stay brighter than a full cotton or linen.)  I'm hopeful that soon we will be able to offer fully weatherproof fabric, too.

For the record, I haven't given up on my Fortuny fabric.  I  bought flax linen curtains and left them untrimmed for now.  In the meantime I'm planning to have a bench cushion cover made in the Caravaggio, which suits my budget.  For now...

 

I like your aura...

So, aura photography is a thing.  If you haven't read about it, you've probably seen cloudy prismatic images on social media, followed by unicorns and spiritual hashtags (#mystical). 

As a child, I was fascinated by my grandmother's mood ring.  Forget her beautiful emerald cut diamond engagement ring, I wanted the mood ring. I imagined myself equipped to deal with the many problems elementary children face (uniforms, carpool, broccoli) armed with evidence of my mood.  Later in life my best friend and I bought mood rings on a trip to New Orleans (remember Bongo? Ugh) and I was disappointed to figure out that my mood was largely dictated by my temperature or how clammy my hands were. 

Still, I don't NOT believe in mood rings. I also don't not believe in auras.  I believe in spiritual energy for sure, and certainly that energy must be expressed somehow -- why not in rainbow clouds above people's heads?

Here are links to a few articles that I found online that give some background and some information on aura photography, some citing Guy Coggins as the man who started it all in the early 1970s when he created a camera he claimed could capture a person’s aura, or the electromagnetic field that surrounds our bodies.

WIRED Magazine on the science of aura photography

New York Times article on aura photography

Designer Auras from Bazaar Magazine

When I saw that Raw Republic had booked an aura photographer for this weekend I was immediately obsessed.  I wanted to have my photo taken in a yurt.  I talked Amanda to death over this, and as she is infinitely cooler than me, she understood my yen.  We entered an Instagram contest to win a photo sitting... and Amanda actually won.  Initially, we thought it was because her emojis were so well done, but later found out from Sheena that it was a random drawing.  The universe wanted Amanda to have her aura photographed.  Obviously, I was jealous, but I was also eager to see what her experience was like.

This morning Amanda texted me her aura.   In addition to sending me her picture, she also she booked me an appointment for my way into work.  It was a generous move, and one I appreciate.  Here's how it went:

It was a very simple process during which I felt excited and kind of odd, sitting in a yurt with my hands on metal plate sensors.  It was over and done in less than five minutes.

Soon enough, my photo developed and Carrie Moss. read my aura, and it was awesome.  I had a bit of self consciousness where I wondered if I was like someone reading a fortune cookies yelling "THIS IS SO ME!", but the reading really did touch on some interesting ideas.  The concentration of indigo and violets suggest someone who prioritizes family and friends and nurturing, which is my most marketable skill besides ironing.  Amidst a sea of blue and purple hues, there is also a little halo of tan in my photo.  Carrie explained that tan oftentimes indicates someone who works within in a framework of logic and organization and is rational and sometimes detached.  I must have had a look on my face, because she quickly pointed out that it was more of a shadow developing into the stronger hues above, and that it was suggestive of an influence.  My.  That accurately describes both my mother and my ex-husband.  And considering my mother raised me, and the next home I moved into was completely structured by said ex-husband, my aura may be onto something.  Or maybe it was just a cloud. 

I'm going to post our photos, along with a guide I found on GOOP as part of a larger article on the subject.

Whether you believe in the science behind aura photography or not, it was a fun experience.  I recommend it, and also recommend grabbing a fresh juice from Sheena at Raw Republic.  And you can find my social media post floating around the internets...with a unicorn emoji and the hashtag #energy.

ART:FASHION

When I first sat down to write this blog, I planned on a quick google search or two about the art-referenced fashion collections of Spring 2017 alongside some pictures of our own attempts to meld art and fashion through our experimentation with combining Amanda's beautiful fabric patterns with our workroom's tailoring expertise.  And I found several ... but kept clicking, and wound up with a much bigger "post" than I started with.

Is fashion art?  I think so.  I've always been taken with the beautiful couture creations in magazines.  There is no question that the level of craftsmanship it takes to create couture is elevated to an art form, and the technique needed to create patterns that both fit and perform as the designer imagines also dovetails with art.  My opinion aside, I did some research on the subject in an effort to get some expert perspective.

While zipping around the inter webs, I found this short "documentary" via the New York Times, which I absolutely loved.  It quotes a bunch of industry heavy-hitters like Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley, but also follows a walking tour through the fashion archives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I highly recommend watching -- it's a treat for the fashion-savvy, and also those who are fans of art.

Using cultural references through the ages, like John Singer Sargent's "Portrait of Madame X" and Rihanna's 2015 custom couture for the Met Ball, the documentary shows how closely fashion choices are interwoven into culture, and how art both records and influences fashion. Here is a link to an article about Madame X in relation to both art and fashion (and scandal!)  I also found some detailed information about Rihanna's ensemble in a Vanity Fair article. (Photos below)

John Singer Sargent's "Madame X"

John Singer Sargent's "Madame X"

Rihanna's 2015 Met Gala ensemble, created by Guo Pei

Rihanna's 2015 Met Gala ensemble, created by Guo Pei

The Wall Street Journal does a good job defining art and fashion independently, and then as a collaborative medium.  The more I read, the further down the rabbit hole I've gone, and in the interest of brevity, I'm going to save my thoughts on the art-influenced Spring 2017 collections for another day (though I'm not alone in these thoughts -- check out this article in Vogue )

Before I wrap this up, I do want to honor my original intention, which is to touch on the intersection of art and fashion here at Amanda Talley.  We spent several months this past fall picking apart and reconstructing the bomber jacket craze.  Everyone here at the studio has their own ideas about why the bomber jacket was back, and so does Vogue.  Admittedly, my interest is based in my childhood Grease obsession.  I've always wanted a Pink Lady jacket, and never really knew what context it would have in an adult's wardrobe.  I am not a hipster, and I also don't have $3600.00 for a Givenchy bomber jacket; and I wanted to find a way to keep the custom and individual artistry aspect alive in what we were offering at the studio.  So we sat down with our tailors and pictures and fabric and zippers in our workroom.  We pulled apart an inexpensive, trendy bomber jacket and rebuilt it to include a 100% silk lining in Amanda Talley fabric, a satin charmeuse one-of-a-kind artwork whipstitched onto the back of the jacket, and several antique custom patches we found in the vault at Promenade Fine Fabrics.  I'm not sure if the Wall Street Journal or Vogue would agree, but I am pretty sure this project sewed art and fashion together in undeniable synchronicity.

Out with the old, and in with the new...

Like it or not, 2017 is here to stay.  Amid wild weather fluctuations and our frantic modern world,  we're holding tight to the promise of a stylish and savvy year of interior design.  After all, if the world outside sometimes seems like it's upside down, one of the nicest things you can do for yourself and your family is to make your home a warm and welcoming refuge.

I've pored over dozens of magazines and websites, all promising to elevate my interior style as long as I pay attention to the latest trend in decor.  Rather than throwing away everything I own in favor of the latest "it list"  I've picked a few of the "trends" that best suit what we do here at Amanda Talley.  I've enjoyed applying our aesthetic to these recommendations, and I hope you do, too!

Pattern on Pattern

We love an opportunity to mix patterns and colors here at Studio Amanda Talley, and are thrilled that Elle Decor has named one of our favorite past times an actual #trend for 2017!  The above photo is a perfect example of how using rugs, pillows and upholstery can add depth and color to a "traditionally" furnished sitting room.  Below is a shot of Amanda's New Orleans bedroom, which plays host to a myriad of colors, patterns and textures -- and even patterned pooches!  Last, there is a link to some great patterned pieces at a friendly price point for fashion enthusiasts with budgeting in mind.

Wallpaper

In the words of Domino magazine, "wallpaper is having a moment", and we couldn't be happier.  Wallpaper is one of my favorite Amanda Talley products.  Pick your room, pick your pattern, and boom -- INSTANT MAKEOVER.  We've had such fun watching people use our wallpaper in every room in the house.  Check out Melissa Rufty's amazing front hall install in last Spring's Southern Style Now, along with a shot of our own paper used in a local project, and a link to Design Sponges list for Wallpaper under $100.

Upholstered Headboards

Who doesn't love an upholstered headboard?  According to Domain UK, wrapped headboards are definitely a "thing" this year.  Upholstered headboards offer limitless potential for fashion savvy interiors -- a well-tailored slipcover can provide a whole new look in a matter of minutes, and custom upholstery provides a layer of luxury with details like nailhead trim and tufting and whatever else you can dream up in your mind's eye.  Melissa Rufty's antique headboard has us swooning -- and provides inspiration for our own custom headboard kitted out in one of our favorite fabrics.  Last, Ballard Designs is a great resource for well-priced reproduction furniture, and offer a lot of custom features at a very reasonable cost.

We can't wait to see what other trends we can tweak to suit our style here at the studio, and look forward to sharing our projects with you.