Archive for September, 2009

Sequins of events

September 30th, 2009

blacl sequins
Nadine Kam photos
Among things I brought home from New York were a cropped sequin top from a flea market, a black sequin skirt from Loehmann’s and black sequin vest from H&M. I plan to wear them all together. Just kidding.

Packing for New York was easy. Figuring it would be good to represent Hawaii I brought along six Fighting Eel dresses, a Maggie Coulombe black wrap dress and cocoon wrap from Maggie Coulombe, a wool wrap from Jeanie Chun, Allisonizu denim pencil skirt and shorts, and hand-painted purple fish scale tote/clutch by Hazel Lee, keeping company with other items by Phillip Lim, DVF, Missoni, Rebecca Taylor and jewelry by Marni.

The trip was going to be pricey so I didn’t want to go there and feel like I needed a bunch of clothes, so my aim was to bring things so beautiful I wouldn’t be tempted to go overboard shopping.

Just before I left, though, I was struck by this nagging notion that I should have sequins and pulled from my closet the silver shrug, colorful bolero jacket and black tube top, below, that could be worn with casual basics. It was crazy because I only travel with one small carry-on suitcase and didn’t want to bring anything extraneous. In the end, I just brought the bolero jacket that I had cut down from a thrift-store dress, figuring I could wear it with jeans and a tank top.


I don’t usually wear these things at home because Hawaii sunlight being what it is, you’d end up looking like a disco ball walking down the street. To my delight, sequins were everywhere during Fashion Week, worn on jackets and vests of attendees, as well as on the runways, where touches of silver sparkle were everywhere. On the streets, the black sequins added a touch of gloss to matte black, just the antidote to breathe life into a city palette of neutral gray concrete and cement, as well as cloudy skies. It rained early during the events, and though temperatures averaged about 70 degrees, it did dip to 49 degrees a couple of days.

During Fashion Week, there was little time to shop, or eat, and when it was over, it had been seven days since I’d shopped. The first stop was Century 21, where I didn’t see much. I bought a dress and sweater top that I immediately wanted to return, but never had a chance to go back. After that, it was H&M where I saw fall’s green mini skirt that I absolutely had to have. Only problem was they were out of small sizes. I tried two other H&Ms in SoHo, and finally asked a sales person if there would be anymore. He said the display had already been out two weeks, so they were probably all gone. Two weeks! If there’s a retailer doing well, it’s H&M due to their combination of low prices (mostly $34.95 and under) and more-than-decent quality for the cost.


This is the green skirt that almost got away at H&M. You can dress the model with the Fashion Studio feature at I just used it to also show one of the faux fur vests that were flying out the door; a bit impractical for us in Hawaii.

I also checked out Zara, which was showing heavier winter garb, so that was easy to resist when remembering that I would be coming home to 80- or 90-degree weather.

top shop

Sequin layering in a TopShop image.

After that, I tried two more H&Ms on the Upper East Side, thinking there’s probably less traffic there. But no, there were none there either. I was growing desperate because time was running out, so I had a salesperson try calling another store. Just then, a girl was returning a green skirt, which she said fit too tight at a size 10 and there was no way she was going to go up to a size 12. (The sizing of the Euro brand is unforgiving when it comes to American vanity sizing; their 6 is equivalent to our size 0 or 2, and 8 is a 4.) That was too big for me, but I tried it on anyway. I had to hold out for a 6 or 8 and eventually found an 8 in one of three busy Midtown branches, where I also found the small version of the black oversize top with animal pattern in gold sequins, below.

gold sequin

I also came home with this gold sequin top from H&M.

I ended up buying a whole lot of sequins and not much else, though I did find the one thing I wanted to get, a black jacket ($59.95 at H&M.) The two other things I bought were a black dress shirt and purple skirt from Uniqlo. And the last thing I was looking for before leaving was a sequined beret, but I figure I can find that anywhere.

The one piece that got away was a lightweight matte silver retro jacket from Topshop. Where other pieces I found were all less than $40, the jacket was $270. I had to think about it. I’m still thinking about it now that I’m home, and don’t see it online. Bummer. I really like it, but I’m still non-commital. I can’t imagine getting that much wear out of it. I have a partial picture of it below, on the left hanging in the TopShop dressing room while I also tried on a gold scalloped beaded jacket I don’t need. It’s always fun to try on, though.

TopShop sequin

In the dressing room at Topshop.

It was kind of sad to be going straight from Fashion Week to H&M, but it’s a problem designers and retailers face in the current economic climate. To even it up a bit, I did pay $300 for an Alexander Wang top at Aloha Rag, of all places, and that was due to seeing all the whites and cut-out designs on the runways, and the fact there is nothing similar available this fall, but for the new frugalistas, H&M has the prized combination of style and practicality that makes them hard to beat. Especially when you’re not quite sure you need one more sequined top.

Front-row view at Gottex

September 30th, 2009

Gottex runway
Nadine Kam photos
At the Gottex show, a model steps out in an assymetric ruched swimsuit in Desert beige degradé print with Desert grosgrain gold accent belt.

At some point, I’ll finish all my NY Fashion Week stories, though by now the London and Milan shows have ended. Sorry, I guess that’s the difference between keeping up with two or three events spread out over a week, and four to five a day.

Of course there’s a sizable market for swimwear in Hawaii, so shows by Rosa Chá and Gottex were a must. At Rosa Chá, new creative director Alexandre Herchcovitch showed a sunny array of yellows and vibrant oranges, exuding the heat of the Brazilian brand.

Meanwhile, at the Gottex swimwear show — full of rich creams, golds and ocean blues in retro-glam styles geared more toward poolside soirées than rough-and-tumble waves — I slipped from second row to an empty seat in the first row where, for once, my view was unobstructed.

There is a sweet spot when it comes to timing your seat move, after all the seated guests are in, but just before the standing-room-only crowd enters. The show planners always overbook because just as with televised sports, the designers don’t want to play to a batch of empty seats. Move too soon, and the person whose seat you’re grabbing may show up and roust you. Move to slow and available seats will be filled by quick-moving SROs. Worst case scenario, the seat holder shows up, an SRO has already filled your seat and is not likely to give it back.

Gottex goldGottex blue

Ochre brush print swimsuit with gold disk and precious stone embellishment worn with silk chiffon top with embroidered grosgrain gold accent belt. At right is the cobalt blue sea print lycra swimsuit with cobalt blue grosgrain gold accent belt.

The seat holder doesn’t show. Score! Problem is, I’m not front-row material. I’m too busy and fidgety, turning this way and that for photos, when the videographers in back of the house expect the front row to be motionless, save for turns of the head. Any other movement distracts from the show.

Nadine Kam video

It didn’t help when I reached for my video camera and my bag spilled over toward the runway. Luckily, the contents didn’t fall out, but then I couldn’t reach the handles, and rather than have my head bobbing toward the floor and right arm reaching out for the cameras to capture the struggle, I let it lay there for the show’s duration. In the photos you can see how close it is from the chairs to the runway.

I also take it personally when someone in the show’s control booth shouts, “Uncross your legs!” The leg stabbing out toward the runway also interferes with the video and camera shots. But then, there’s a lot of stirring in the audience and it turns out I’m not the only one uncrossing.

Gottex yellowGottex red

At left is Gottex’s Ochre degradé lycra swimsuit with Fade-out desert print silk kimono and Ochre embroidered gold accent belt. On the right is a Coral red abstract print side-ruched swimsuit worn with a Coral red abstract print silk caftan and red grosgrain gold accent belt.

The show opened with strong showing of sand and cream colors — for the most confident or fittest women — maillots and bikinis, including one-shoulder designs, then moved into sparkling sequined blacks which isn’t very practical, unless one plans to wear them as part of an evening ensemble.

There was also a segment featuring a beautiful cobalt blue sea print, and another showing a touch of red via faux coral necklace embellishment, print and faux coral charms.