Kindly move over Mr. Blahnik…There’s a fab footwear designer that everyone NEEDS to know about! LA-based Jerome C. Rousseau is the latest “IT” designer to hit the mainstream with his impeccable taste of unique silhouettes. Jerome is like ‘the guy next door’ and quite delightful. So, I was honored when he invited me over to his new studio in Hollywood one afternoon to catch up (from our first introduction at MAGIC back in August). The studio space was still being renovated at the time, but the majority of the work was done. All the shoes had their respective places on the shelves, so it was easy to pour over them. Jerome was kind enough for show me some of the other shoes that weren’t at MAGIC and showed me some sketches for his Spring 2012 collection. All I can say is: Bellisimo!!! Seductive femininity at its finest! We also had a more in-depth discussion about his line, which launched in Fall 2008. His fascination of shoes and design started back in the 90s, when he saw the band, Deee-Lite on MTV and noticed their platform shoes. It was during an art class in high school, when he found himself drawing the shoes from the video and realized that he wanted to design shoes. He studied at Cordwainers College and worked for several shoe designers in London before moving out to Los Angeles. It turned out to be a great move for him, because things took off- from a feature in British Vogue to Charlize Theron wearing a pair of his shoes. Inspiration for his collections vary from season to season. He doesn’t do any research, he credits whatever he’s loving a few months beforehand (whether it be a painting, a musician, a sculpture, artist- Kazimir Malevich, muse- Siobhan Fahey and being in California…) and uses that for some inspiration. He loves designing peep-toe booties and loves simplicity and simple peep-toe pumps (especially the ones that show just the right amount of toe cleavage). Fans of the peep-toe staple include: Charlize Theron, Cameron Diaz and Katie Holmes. What makes the Jerome C. Rousseau brand stand out among other high-end shoe brands is that inspiration is very important to him. Also, the cut and silhouette of the shoe makes it very distinctive, like where it’s cut and where it hits the foot. Prices for the line range from $495-1,200…depending on material. The Spring 2012 collection is inspired by British artist, who is based in New York- James Nares. Jerome loves the simplicity of the large paintings and the richness in the colors and shapes. He mentioned that the collection will be minimal and feminine, but also a little flirty (with some references to Marilyn Monroe as well). Boutiques in LA that carry Jerome C. Rousseau include: Arcade on Melrose, Madison in Beverly Hills, Fred Segal in Santa Monica and Saks 5th Ave in Beverly Hills. For more information on the brand, go to his website. To schedule an appointment, etc., email Ali at: Ali@jeromerousseau.com. Thanks again for having me stop by, Jerome, Ali and Renee!
THE OVERALL EXPERIENCE…
I was beyond ecstatic when Ms. Macala Wright of Fashionably Marketing. Me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would like to cover MAGIC (August 2011 edition). I was among the seventeen bloggers who were attending and covering the massive tradeshow as part of the Fashion Influencer Project. The Fashion Influencer Project was created by Style Republic Magazine, Fashionably Marketing. Me and DesignerSocial.com and features new influencers and tastemakers in the industry and brings them together during MAGIC and allows them to add their unique perspective during the course of the show via a variety of social media apps like POSE, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. In preparation for the show, I made a few accessories and coordinated each outfit for the three days I was there. Every outfit had mostly vintage pieces, but mixed with modern basics and I made sure to wear heels…because let’s face it, heels just “make” the outfit (even though my feet were dying by the end of the three days).
So, fast-forward to being at the convention center. As I’m sure ya’ll know, MAGIC is comprised of multiple shows: there’s the main event, held at Las Vegas Convention Center; along with FN Platform (shoes), SWIM and Sourcing (for the designers). Then across the way is PROJECT, S.L.A.T.E, Menswear and Pool Tradeshow which are held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Luckily, the folks at MAGIC offered FREE shuttle service between venues via bus or limo (I am fortunate to say that I had my FIRST limo ride at MAGIC, such a huge blessing). While there, it was the most amazing and wonderfully overwhelming experience. I met my other fellow MAGIC bloggers: Brittany Law & Clio de la Llave – Style Republic Magazine, Laura Kudia – LauraKudia.tumblr.com, Sara Zucker – SaraZucker.com, Nicole Giordano – NicoleGiordano.com & StartupFashion.com, Alicia DiRago – DismountCreative.com, Marie Denee – TheCurvyFashionista.MarieDenee.com, Wendy Bendoni – WendyBendoni.com, Sade Strehike – TheIconConcierge.com, Diana Kang – DDianaKangg.blogspot.com, Karen Chien – ObjectMythology.com, Renee Ogaki and Rebecca Lay – Styluste.com, Jennifer Margolin – Redsolesiary.com, Elim Chu –Thestyleseen.com, Taisa Veras – Amahzing.co and Natalie Alcala – NatalieAlcala.tumblr.com. We had the opportunity to take a tour of FN Platform with Footwear News editors, as well as participate in a blogger discussion panel, with two well-known shoe designers: Miss Trish and Jerome Rousseau. It was fun to hear their stories about their background and breaking into the industry. I had the chance to stop by the eBay Fashion booth to take part in eBay’s “Style Stories” series and having my photo shot by photographer-Michael Waring. To check out my style story, along with other industry colleagues, go HERE. I also had the opportunity to head over to PROJECT and POOL Tradeshows. PROJECT is known for having more contemporary brands and also…the coveted PROJECT bags. They had hundreds of brands showcasing the latest in contemporary fashions and accessories, as well as several lounges. POOL prides itself as being the original independent show and showcasing emerging and established talent. Throughout the MAGIC/PROJECT marketplace, I visited the several lounges and interactive installations including: the Stylecaster/Cotton media lounge, which boasted several iMacs for Internet use; a DIY craft lounge hosted by the fabulous Alicia DiRago and BurdaStyle. I checked out the TabJuice lounge at POOL and learned about the latest app for opening up an online store…for FREE! The Popchips X Merlin Castell Installation, which had gigantic Popchips bag bean bags for plopping down and taking a break on and avant-garde dresses made by Merlin Castell. The Falling Whistles installation was part of Project LOVE. I am so proud of its founder-Sean. He’s come such a long way with FW since I first interviewed him awhile back. Famed menswear consultant-Nick Wooster did an installation (think huge tee-pee and key menswear staples) called, Project Wooster, which was located at PROJECT. For more information on Project Wooster, go here. Desigual was the talk of the show as well. They had a variety of events going on surrounding their ‘Cirque du Soleil’ theme. The paint party was a blast! I got to go up on stage while the designers painted on me. Did I mention that another amazing part of attending MAGIC was getting the stylish totes from the brands?! Anyway, I could go on and on….
*Photo Credits: Tommy B, Run Digital, eBay’s Michael Waring, Brasil Fashion photo booth*
ISAM Fashion Splash Swim Show at Rumor Las Vegas
Ah yes, the parties during MAGIC are just out-of-this-world. I, along with my fellow bloggers, attended the exclusive ISAM (International Swimwear/Activewear Market) Fashion Splash party and fashion show at the hip boutique hotel- Rumor. Since the fashion show consisted of all swimwear, it was appropriate to say that the event had a beachy poolside theme. We were treated to a private cabana and a cute tote, customized with our initials and filled with goodies; graciously provided by Ms. Yuan Zhang of ShopNear.me. ShopNear.me is a new iPhone app and website that allows people to search for clothing and accessories in their area (however, the app is only currently available in San Francisco, but is planning on expanding to LA and NYC during fashion week). “We wanted to give consumers a new way of discovering local boutiques by providing not only the directories, but also items and designers they carry on the go. Consumers can also quickly filter through clothing categories on our app to find what they are searching for,” Yuan explained. For more information, go to ShopNear.me or check out the app. Throughout the evening, we all enjoyed each others company, sipped Coronas, Neuro and champagne and munched on small bites. Around 9pm, with the lights around the pool aglow, Ms. Mikey Koffman of Gallery LA (and producer of the show) first presented American Idol finalist-Ashley Rodriguez, who sang a few songs to get the audience pumped for the fashion show. The swimwear fashion show then followed, models strutted down the white runway, wearing Miami Beach meets Palm Springs -inspired swimwear and accessories by brands such as: Gottex, Trina Turk, Bettie Page, Luxe Sauvage, Nanette Lepore and more. The fabulous footwear was provided by Carlos by Carlos Santana. The show was also sponsored by American Express and INVISTA, the maker of Xtra Life LYCRA® fiber.
**This photo story contains some of the many brands I saw during MAGIC. **
I would like to give you a brief rundown of the brands from the above photo story. It was great running into Natasha Tomek of Tash Folds. LOVING the new neon dancer flats and wedding collection! I loved the signature colors and styles from Hobo International. You all MUST familiarize yourselves with NYC-based handbag brand, MZ Wallace. Classic, functional, lightweight and the go-to purse that every woman should have in their closet! I thought that the Miilla collection was simple, but still makes a strong statement. I adored and wanted to buy a lot of the tribal-inspired separates from the LA-based brand- See You Monday. They also had a massive touchscreen tablet that served as their lookbook for a more interactive feature for their clients. It was very cool! I had the chance to preview Abbey Dawn, a new edgy, rock ‘n roll inspired line by singer- Avril Lavigne. Another celebrity designer on hand at MAGIC was Gordana Gehlhausen (from Project Runway season 6). She was showcasing her two collections: GOGA To Go and GOGA Couture. Can we say, ‘hello gorgeous hand-dyed silk organza gowns! Nila Anthony is THE handbag brand to watch in regards to being affordable and VEGAN! There’s a fun jewelry collection called Scarlett Garnet that I saw at the ‘cash and carry’ section at POOL. The collection is designed by two friends- Garnet and Katie. My favorite pieces that I saw were the neon geometric, Egyptian and Southwest/Desert collections. The Southwest line reminded me of traveling through the desert and seeing the sunsets, as well as driving through Arizona and New Mexico on the way back from Texas. While at PROJECT, I stopped by the Buffalo David Bitton booth and checked out their latest collection. I died over their new David Bitton Los Angeles jeans, available in every color of the rainbow. Their new dresses, tops and floral kimono pull-over were simply dreamy! The shoes found at FN Platform were just as drool-worthy… color-blocked platforms and wedges at Rough Justice; high-top sneaks with high heels painted on the sides at BE&D; the sparkly uber-high platform heels of Bettie Page; edgy bondage and Victorian-inspired platform boots by U.K. brand- Miista; fun and whimsical footwear by Irregular Choice (not to mention handbags that are coming soon)! Lastly, I ventured outside the FN Platform doors to see Miss Trish’s line in her showroom on wheels! I LOVED Miss Trish’s and her assistant’s hospitality and felt very welcome in the showroom. The Spring 2012 line was very fun and beachy, with a lot of neons, stonework, cute prints and tribal embellishments.
Ok, so there are a few more brands that I would like to briefly spotlight:
*Designs by Alicia P.*
I was browsing the ‘Cash and Carry’ area at POOL and walked past this one booth. I stopped and made a 360 degree turn back to the booth…my mouth literally dropping in awe at the AMAZING jewelry pieces. The talented designer behind the stunning sculpted jewelry was Alicia P. She has always been creative and has been crafty since she was five. She loves to experiment and “has a REAL passion for adorning the body with beautiful ‘sculptures.'” Two years ago, she took a leap of faith and quit her day job and pursued her dream and has continued to grow her business to this day. Her current collection “3º South (Mountain Terrain)” is inspired by her favorite pastimes that she likes to do with her Dad- hiking. The collection specifically reflects on the first legs of hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro (one of her physically and mentally challenging hikes). She has received numerous amounts of press and her ‘Winter Tropic’ necklace (which is her best-seller) has been worn on The Bachelor’s Michelle Money. Her prices range from $35-500. Definitely check out her new site to see her portfolios and shop the line!
*United Nude Shoes*
Another jaw-dropping moment took place at the United Nude booth at FN Platform. These shoes…or sculpted works of art made to walk in… were just amazing! Upon hearing that one of its designers- Rem D. Koolhaas has a background in architecture, it was no wonder that these shoes were so unique. Along with his colleague, Galahad Clark (who is a seventh generation shoemaker from England), Rem launched United Nude in 2003 is prides itself on clear concepts, elegance and innovation. For more information, check out United Nude here.
**Photos courtesy of United Nude**
*Old Gringo Boots*
Boots are not just for cowboys anymore! I stopped by the Old Gringo booth at FN Platform and was very impressed at the variety of styles of boots, as well as the different designs on them. My fav was the ankle bootie in pink and lavender lace. So feminine and can be worn with jeans or a dress (which can be done with all of their boots). Old Gringo was founded in 2000 by Ernie Tarut and Yan Ferry and combined Ernie’s thirty years of leather manufacturing and Yan’s thirty years of European design and boot making. All of the boots are handcrafted in their own factory in Leon, Mexico, which employs over 250 people. Check out Old Gringo here!
I was walking around when I noticed one of the exhibitor’s wearing a fun fascinator. Now, being a headpiece designer myself, I can appreciate quality craftsmanship when I see it. I immediately struck up a conversation with the sales rep and she introduced me to the brand- Bowlus. Their booth was decked out in the 1930’s road trip theme, complete with an Airstream trailer. Bowlus was founded by Geneva Long and launched this past August. Their recent collection “Reminiscent Revival” was inspired by the Streamline Moderne era (1930’s/post-Art Deco) and so they pursued the “looking great and feeling free” silhouettes of that era, which includes: body-hugging dresses and easy-to-wear fabrics. As for headpieces, inspired by the headwear at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, they created four styles of their own for their S/S 2012 lookbook. For more information and to check out their line full of laces, chiffons, poplins, silk floral patterns here.
During our tour through FN Platform, we were introduced to Adam Sirak, who debuted his collection inspired by 1930 Parisian interior designer, Jean-Michel Frank and his use of minimalist spaces and confectionary palette. His classic and timeless footwear exudes confidence in the modern woman. I loved how his heels were reminiscent of the heels from the 1930s, 1940s, etc..and how he brought back the styles to the 21st century and added a modern, contemporary twist. Perfect for transitioning from the office to a red carpet event, the Sirak brand is bound to please! Check out Sirak here.
Multeepurpose is an LA-based eco-friendly line that caters to both men and women. Each top is designed for a specific cause, whether it be humanity, liberty, eco, animal or urgent. Their shirts are made from the finest quality fabrics that are custom treated and hand dyed. They also use pvc-free and digital water-based prints. Multeepurpose is also conducting Project 1000 Wishes, which they jumpstarted during MAGIC, where they had clients (including myself) write down our wish on a piece of paper and then placed one of the many small origami cranes on a tree. To find out more on Project 1000 Wishes, go here and to shop the Multeepurpose line, go here.
*Alejandra G. Shoes*
I’ve heard about Alejandra G. shoes through the circuit in LA and when I found her booth at FN Platform, I had to stop by to see the line in person. Her line was all about sky-high heels with spikes, fun wedges, slingbacks and flats. I loved her use of mixing different prints and colors. The designer-Alejandra, explained to me that she never has any particular themes for her shoes, just whatever she’s inspired by at the moment, that could also be whatever mood she’s in that day or people, things and emotions. Usually, more inspiration comes from colors that she loves (like colors from a purse, jewelry or dress) and the idea of a shoe will pop into her head. “I’m never inspired by other shoes. I don’t want to be like anyone else. I’m in my own lane,” she said. For her S/S 2012 line, there’s a lot of colorblocking and mismatched materials. She uses mostly colors that will be on trend, such as: pastels, florescents, nude earthy colors and animal prints. Prices range from $350-600, as well as $900-1,500 for more exclusive shoes. Go here to shop the line and for more information on Alejandra G.
I know this is a rarity for me to spotlight a menswear brand, but these guys were so unique, that I just had to. So, let me introduce- Wood Thumb ties. This is basically a unisex line, as I could totally see women rocking these wooden ties as well. This company is based in San Francisco and is fairly new, having recently been launched in 2011 by Christopher and David Steinrueck. These ties are flexible, lightweight and made from reclaimed wood, manufactured at a local tech shop and finished in a local warehouse. Check out Wood Thumb here!
I met the lovely Tessa Poppe, who is the owner of the eco-friendly Wikkitz jewelry line, at the ‘Cash and Carry’ section of POOL. She launched her line seven years back and focused on pieces made from enamel on copper and imagery/resin pieces. As her following grew, she was growing weary from her fourteen hour days in her studio and was starting to lose focus in her designing. So, while on a trip to Thailand, she fell in love with the waxed cotton fiber on the jewelry Thai vendors were selling and entrusted the help of a Thai family who worked with the waxed cotton fiber, to help carry out her designs. Now, Wikkitz employes women and stay-at-home mothers who have no other means of income and allows them to stay home with their children, work when it’s convenient for them, all while earning a fair wage. I think that it’s great seeing companies like this sprouting up throughout the industry. The fact that Tessa loves what she does, while supporting that community of women (who make beautiful water-resistant and durable jewelry) is amazing and I definitely want to help spread the word for her in total support. Go here to check out Wikkitz!
*Corso Como/Ballasox/Ciao Bella*
Before my arrival at MAGIC, I was introduced to Ballasox, a sister brand to Corso Como and Ciao Bella. Ballasox is another brand of foldable flats that go easily into your purse and come with a cute carrying pouch. The Corso Como brand’s philosophy is to provide you with beautifully crafted shoes that exhibit fresh innovations in style, impeccable detail and luxurious comfort. They believe in the utmost comfort when making the shoes, whether it be in the soles and lining of the shoes. For example, the soft leather linings are designed for the feet to breathe while reducing humidity and you also don’t have to worry about the color transferring to your feet. While I was at the booth, I saw the latest in all three brands. Ballasox offered cute ballet flats in a variety of styles. My favorite was the floral dancer flat. Corso Como and Ciao Bella had cute boots that were ready for Fall and Winter, as well as sandals and wedges with the braided rope that embellished the heel. I thought the designs were impeccable and would look great at the office and for a night out. To learn more about the Corso Como brands, go here.
I, along with a group of my fellow bloggers went to the Kensie booth for their “Party Pretty” preview that included cupcakes and champagne. Their PR girl- Hayley, was the gracious hostess that showed us the feminine Spring 2012 collection that included pretty knits, flowy maxi skirts and dresses. Let’s just say, as soon as the collection hits stores, I will be stocking up! We were all oooohhhing and ahhhhing over the collection. I noticed that you can play around, layer and mix n’ match with a majority of the separates. Soooooo pretty! And did I mention we also had the chance to preview their new line of edgy statement jewelry!? To shop and check out their lookbook, kindly go here.
The perks to being an official MAGIC blogger?? The gifting! Upon arrival to the WWDMagic blogger lounge, we were presented with an exclusive MZ Wallace large, neon green quilted ‘Metro’ tote, filled with goodies. Here is a breakdown of what we received…. A pretty handmade headband with an oversize fabric flower by Melissa Lopez of Mila Rose Designs. The Fashion Influencer Project partnered with DKNY and gifted some bloggers a cozy. I love its femininity and the fact that you can wear it in many ways. It looks amazing with heels and skinny jeans! For more info on the cozy, go here. Miilla gifted a sheer dress with a drawstring belt. The fabric is soft and amazing! I layered mine with a white dress one day and received so many compliments. I want to thank Ms. Patti Watson from Hobo International for gifting the bloggers a “Lauren” clutch. The clutch comes with a chain strap if you want to wear it on the shoulder or cross-body. Kensie gifted a loose crocheted knit sweater that looks and feels incredible, as well as a pair of oversize sunnies, a compact and a piece from their lingerie line. One of the bloggers, Ms. Karen Chien of Object Mythology, gifted each of us a pair of the “I-Heart” gloves that are made from baby Alpaca. The gloves have been their best-sellers since the collection was started last year. They work with single mothers in Peru by endorsing them to make an income, thus providing for their families. For more information and to purchase the gloves for $45, please go here. Many thanks to Ms. Yuan Zhang of ShopNear.me for gifting us another tote full of goodies. I love that the linen ShopNear.me logo totes also had our initials embroidered on them as well. Thank you Ballasox and Chipkos for saving my feet after all those hours in heels! Thank you Sarah Healy Designs and Ela Rae Designs for the lovely jewelry! Many thanks to Jacqueline from Tara Ink PR for gifting a Rumba Time slap watch and Carlos by Carlos Santana wedges. Thank you Ms. Shana for the adorable Multeepurpose tee! It’s so comfy! Lastly, thank you Diane for the Buffalo David Bitton skinny jeans! They fit perfectly (and my butt looks great in them too!)
And so concludes my first experience at MAGIC. Until next year…. Many thanks to Macala, Stephanie, Krista, Taisa, my fellow bloggers, MAGIC, Footwear News, Britt and Gretchen from Nubry, Wendy Bendoni and videographer hubby, Karen and the rest of the eBay Fashion crew, the lovely Alicia and Alisa at POSE and BurdaStyle, the many brands and everyone else who made this an experience that I’ll never forget!
**DISCLOSURE: I was sponsored by MAGIC to attend and cover the trade show for August 2011.**