Spring Forward

     Before moving to New York for college, I grew up in Santa Monica where it was sunny year-round. Seasons never felt very relevant since the weather was constantly on the warmer side, so seasonal fashion wasn't really an issue. Sure, people wore their Patagonia jackets in December, but they were about a quarter of an inch thick and usually styled with flip flops. Not to say that I was ever that seasonally confused, but experiencing my first bone-chilling winter in NYC certainly opened my eyes not only to dressing appropriately for the seasons but also to appreciating the arrival of spring. 
     The onset of spring inevitably evokes joy, and such cheerfulness served as the inspiration for an editorial I styled for Barnard's Hoot MagazineThe looks modeled by the bubbly Coco McDermott consisted of a lot of denim and white - a nod to the effortless spring fashions of Jane Birkin. Photographer Esther Jung's vibrant aesthetic meshed seamlessly with the jovial theme of the shoot, as she captured Coco at the Union Square Farmer's Market budding with blooms, on a colorful street called Washington Mews and at  the beautiful Washington Square Park. I couldn't think of a better way to spring forward!


Mature in Manhattan

     The draped cardigan over the shoulders look is perhaps best known for its utilitarian quality - if it gets a bit chilly, a warm rescue is right there, hanging around your neck. The style is one that I instantly associate with old men, because for as long as I can remember my grandfather has been sporting button down shirts with a cardigans draped over them. 
     Often in high school I'd dress in this look, joking that I felt like an old man because I hadn't seen any other women wear the style themselves. I always felt like it aged me a bit, which I personally enjoyed because I felt just a teensy bit more maturely dressed than my teenage peers.
     After watching Woody Allen's Manhattan for the first time, I became infatuated with Mariel Hemingway's character Tracy. She's a high school student who dates Isaac (played by Allen) - quite the cougar considering he's 42 years old. It's easy to fall for Tracy's charm through her soft-spoken voice and naïveté  but she also has a sophistication for her young age that may be entirely due to her clothing. In a scene where Tracy joins Isaac and his friends for a walk, she dons the draped cardigan over the shoulders look. As Bill Cunningham once said, "fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life," so perhaps by outfitting herself in a more mature style, Tracy feels more comfortable with her unusual reality of dating such an older man. Whether or not intentions for maturity went into the styling of this costume, it sure does work because Tracy impeccably blends in with Isaac's crowd of adult friends. 


Esther Jung, Photographer

     The word 'sweet' immediately comes to mind when I think of Esther Jung. It comes as no surprise that the girl behind such magical photography, with its dazzling lighting and color palette, has an absolutely endearing personality. To discover more about the charming camerawoman, I interviewed Esther about her NYFW memories, mastering Instagram, and more...

When did you begin to develop a passion for photography?
     About 7 years ago after taking an intro photo class in high school. Surprisingly before this, I actually had very little interest in photography (I was more into drawing/painting). I somehow ended up in the photo class because of scheduling conflicts, but a few months in, I discovered how much I actually enjoyed taking photos. It challenged me to seek out beauty in my everyday surroundings and was unlike anything I'd ever done. 

From editorial to street style to portraiture, your photography takes many forms. Do you have a favorite style of shooting?
     Definitely fashion editorials! I love working with a team (models, stylists, make up artists, etc.) and turning a creative idea into reality. But for all of my shoots, what I really enjoy is that they involve a certain degree of spontaneity. I usually go into a shoot with a preconceived idea, but I don't plan out all of my shots. I rely somewhat on luck - for example, for Neptune's Daughter, we found an amazing sand castle that happened to fit our theme. I love unplanned moments like these and how things somehow always fall into place.

What's your most memorable moment from photographing New York Fashion Week?
     Probably when I realized that I was shooting street style right next to Bill Cunningham (my hero)!

Who or what is your dream subject to photograph?
     Definitely the aurora borealis! Oh, someday...

Your Instagram feed is fantastic; do you have any tips and tricks for iPhone photo editing?
     Thank you! I think the key to good Instagram photos is good lighting. Try to avoid using flash and use natural light as much as possible. The best light is soft - not direct sunlight, but less intense light that won't create harsh shadows or overexpose photos.

Any et cetera?
     I think no matter what a person's career or academic interests are, they should still maintain creativity through some sort of outlet, whether it's photography, dancing, singing, etc. During my first year of college, a few classmates discouraged me from doing photography, telling me that it would distract me from my studies. Four years later, I'm about to graduate with a neuroscience degree and I now have a larger portfolio filled with photos from these past few years. Art and science aren't mutually exclusive and I'm really glad that I ended up doing both.


She's a Jeanius

     While everyone's spent the past year obsessing over Frozen's snow queen, Elsa, I've been ogling over a different blonde beauty by the same name. Swedish model Elsa Hosk is - pun intended - a jeanius. After double-tapping one too many of her personal style Instagram photos, I've fallen in love with the way Elsa simply styles denim but still manages to look super put together. Whether she's sporting a Canadian tuxedo or a fur coat with vintage Levi's, this girl has her pants on point. 


James and the Giant Tee

     In 1955, James Dean not only played a major role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause but also in the popularization of the white t-shirt. Dean's character Jim made the blue jeans and white shirt look iconic (cue Lana Del Rey). Teens all over America could relate to Jim for his angst and daring demeanor, and tried to emulate the rebel by wearing white t-shirts too. 
     At first glance, a colorless tee doesn't appear to evoke rebelliousness. However, in the 1950s it did exactly that. Simply donning a plain white tee as outerwear was an act of rebellion in and of itself because typically the shirt was worn as men's underwear. Plus, colorless clothing allowed one's true personality to shine through, which in the case of Jim Stark and even James Dean himself, screamed rebel.


Drawing the Line at NYFW

Bill Cunningham at the Jeremy Scott Fashion Show, Milk Studios

Press at the Jeremy Scott Fashion Show, Milk Studios

Anna Wintour and Alexa Chung at Edun Fashion Show, Skylight Modern

     While I could rave about the crocodile kimonos at The Row and the bouclé culottes at Tibi for days, the thing I treasure most about this past New York Fashion Week doesn't even involve clothing. Throughout the fashion frenzied week, artist Jason Polan illustrated fantastic line drawings of characters at the collections for his blog Every Person in New York. From sweet old Bill to queen Anna and it-girl Alexa, Polan's illustrations capture quite a marvelous crowd.


Straighten Up

Anna Selezneva backstage at Balmain Fall 2010

Young Vanessa Paradis in 1991

     For years I've been on the search for the perfect straightening product to help tame my naturally frizzy locks - sprays, oils, creams, you name it. Finally, I've found my hair's holy grail, and owe it all to Kiehl's. Their (concisely named) Stylist Series Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream is the ultimate game-changer. This sounds way too much like an infomercial, but I truly feel like I have salon smooth hair when I use the cream to blow out or flat iron my strands. You've seriously got to try this stuff out for yourself... And call me a maneiac if your hair doesn't look as sleek as the cheveux of the beauties above. 


All Tied Up

Catherine Deneuve

Françoise Dorléac

     Baby pink grosgrain bows immediately come to mind when I first think of bow hair accessories. As a young girl, my mother loved to style my hair with bows in a rainbow of colors. This surely explains my association with hair bows as youthful, rather than something more avant-garde (I'm talking about you, Lady Gaga).
     Sporting hair bows hasn't appealed to me since my elementary school years, but now thanks to a couple of femmes françaises I'm inspired to put a bow on it. In the 60s, sisters and fellow starlets Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac could often be seen with bow-tied locks. Eager to emulate the looks of the two, I'm adding black velvet ribbon to my shopping list to get my tresses all tied up.


Breakfast of Champions

Deliciously Ella's Almond Milk

Green Kitchen Stories' Banana Granola

     This may sound like the label on a gluten-free cereal box, but it's true: there's no better way to start off your day than with a healthy breakfast. As a college student, the dining hall taunts me with its sugary breakfast options from Lucky Charms to waffles dunked in "maple syrup." Delicious to indulge in on occasion, yes, but they're not smart choices on a daily basis. Above are a couple of my go-to breakfast recipes from my favorite healthy lifestyle bloggers. Try them separately or even together, I guarantee they'll bring your morning glory!


Sparks Fly

Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel

     Bella Freud was right; Gainsbourg is God. Okay, maybe he's not exactly God, but by comparing a photograph of Serge and Jane Birkin to Michelangelo's legendary fresco The Creation of Adam, he gets pretty damn close. 
     Michelangelo's painting, housed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, captures precisely the moment before God creates humankind. God reaches out towards Adam to pass on the spark of life, with their fingertips just barely touching. This makes for such a theatrical image, as there's so much anticipation for their hands to meet and for Adam to become activated.
     Hundreds of years after this 16th Century masterpiece was created, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg were photographed in a pose with uncanny resemblance to Adam and God. In this image, however, their fingers touch. This seems absolutely symbolic to the spark that emerged between the two and led to a both a flourishing romance and a fruitful collaboration in music and cinema. 


A Fine Line

     As a lover of simple things, I have always been attracted to minimal line drawings. There is something so beautiful about the focus on shape and form of line. It's especially interesting to see how different illustrators create line drawings in their own styles, and above are some of my favorites. From the fanciful, perfectly outlined creatures by Shantell Martin to the sketchy, sultry femmes by Blair Breitenstein of The Blonde Lasagna, these fine-lined illustrations come in all shapes and sizes.


Valentina Cytrynowicz, Photographer

     Valentina Cytrynowicz is a 16 year old budding photographer based in Los Angeles. She's no stranger to the world of photography, and under the nickname Tuna Boon she shoots for major clients like Alfred Coffee and Ford ModelsHer images are spectacular and have a clean, airy feel plus a hint of edge. Curious to learn more about the girl behind the camera, I flipped around the lens to interview Valentina about her work. 

For starters, where does your nickname Tuna Boon come from?
     In third grade I had a teacher who had this strong Long Island accent, and instead of calling me Valentina he called me Valentuna (it might have been on purpose but he did have a very strong accent so I'm not sure!). As for the boon, my first Instagram was tunaboona, but then I forgot my password so I shortened the boona to boon!

When did you begin to develop a passion for photography?
     Approximately two and a half years ago-I just scrolled down to my first post on Insta :). I got into Instagram and began taking a lot of iPhone pictures. I became truly passionate about photography around a year ago when I did my first test shoot for an agency.

With over 17,000 Instagram followers, has social media made a large impact on your career?
     Yes, definitely. It acts as my main portfolio, even though I have a website. I probably get more than half of my jobs from people who have found me on Instagram.

What's one of your favorite photo shoots you've done?
     I have never thought about that... It would have to be the first model from TWO Management that I shot. Her name is Brittany Avina. She has a beautiful, unique look and is 6-foot-something. I shot her in a perfectly all-white studio and wrapped her in pink tulle. I was very happy with the pictures!

What inspires you?
    When I wake up to a perfect day I feel inspired to take pictures and capture every good angle of everything lovely. I am a junior in high school, so whenever I have an insane amount of work it inspires me to keep working at my passion and taking photos so that I can have a better chance of doing what I love for the rest of my life (and escaping the busywork ASAP)!

Who or what is your dream subject to photograph?
     My dream would be to shoot Lindsey Wixson. She has the most amazing face! I would spend hours just taking closeups. 


Belle De Jour

     After a recent viewing of L'amour Fou, a documentary on the ingenious Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé, I was reminded that Catherine Deneuve (one of my favorite French starlets) was a tremendous muse to Yves. The two worked together during the late 1960s on the film Belle De Jour, a starring role of Deneuve's in which all of her costumes were designed by Saint Laurent.
     The film, a surreal French masterpiece, is about Séverine, a woman who is dissatisfied with her love life with her husband and decides to become a prostitute during the daytime. Saint Laurent did such a tremendous job with the costumes, which should even be considered a supporting role seeing as they provide such deeper meaning to Deneuve's character. 
     While traveling to and from work Séverine, nicknamed 'Belle De Jour,' dons very concealing outfits. The looks often consist of a dark color palette, oversized sunglasses, long sleeves and a coat of some sort. Clearly Séverine is disguising herself, not wanting to be recognized for her scandalous profession. But what Séverine wears at work is the most fascinating costume of all. The Belle's lingerie is stunning. It consists of a demi-bra, high waisted panties and garters all made in a delicate lace fabric. The most striking aspect of the undergarments, however, is their color: white. White evokes an essence of innocence, which is certainly true to the character in the beginning. However when she begins to work and removes the lingerie, she loses her sense of naiveté. Oh, the genius of Yves!


Fantastic Four

Angel Olsen, Peter Sagar of Homeshake, Brooks Nielsen of The Growlers, Lou Doillon

     With the start of the New Year I've been trying to freshen my ears and listen to some new music. Coming from a melting pot of genres, from beach goth to folk, here are four artists that are music to my ears...

Angel Olsen: Thanks to the power of Shazam, I discovered the truly angelic voice of Angel Olsen in a coffee shop. The folk rock singing beauty makes songs that not only have exquisite titles, like Some Things Cosmic and Safe in the Womb, but in and of themselves are magnificent. My all-time fave of Olsen's tunes is Lights Out, which Mac Demarco did a great cover of. Speaking of... 

Homeshake: As a massive Mac Demarco fan, it only seems natural that I'd love his guitarist Peter Sagar's solo album. Putting words together to describe the sound of Homeshake is by no means easy, but Vogue hit the nail on the head by calling it "delightfully off-kilter." His debut album In The Shower has such a cool, mellow yet funky vibe, however my favorite song of Sagar's, Moon Woman, isn't on the album (but is thankfully on YouTube!). 

The Growlers: There's no better way to categorize The Growler's music than by calling it beach goth; it's a term they coined themselves and now use as a title for their own psychedelic music festival. Now that I'm living in freezing NYC, listening to their songs like Pet Shop Eyes and Someday makes me feel like I have a little piece of sunny LA in my back pocket. 

Lou Doillon: It's no surprise that Lou Doillon is a glorious singer, considering her mother is the iconic songstress Jane Birkin. If I'm not obsessing over her illustrations on Instagram, I listen to her album Places constantly. I think I've been playing Devil or Angel on repeat a little too often lately...


The Sweet Spot: Refined Sugar-Free Treats

     Most nights my sweet tooth is in full-throttle and you can call me a bit of a cookie monster. Indulging in sugary treats makes my tastebuds undeniably happy, however it isn't a healthy daily dessert routine. Lately I've been trying to cut back on the refined sugars by replacing them with natural fruit sugars. I have come up with some yummy recipes to boot! With only 3 ingredients each, these desserts are quite simple and truly hit the sweet spot.

Banana Honey Almond Ice Cream
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon pure honey
2 teaspoons unsweetened almond milk

Slice the banana into coins and freeze for 2-3 hours. Remove the coins from the freezer and pulse them in a food processor until they have a thick soft serve-like consistency. Add the honey and almond milk and pulse until combined. Place mixture in a freezer-safe container and freeze until solid, then serve.

Warm Maple Cinnamon Strawberries 
6 ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 pinch cinnamon

Preheat toaster oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Wash the strawberries and remove their leaves. Cut strawberries into quarters, and in a small bowl mix them with the maple syrup and cinnamon. Place the bowl in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes, or until the strawberries warm up and soften. Serve immediately. 


Ladies Who Lounge

Free People Losin It Romper, RH Baby & Child Luxe Faux Fur Pillow, UGG Fluff Clog, Zinke Quinn Cami & Fiona Panty, Morgan Lane Lanie Sleeping Mask, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen by Bruce Weber, Kate Moss by Frederique Veysset

     When I find myself hanging around the house dressed in baggy sweatpants and an old hoodie that once lived in a Bat Mitzvah giveaway bag, I dream about lounging in more luxurious attire. The idea of staying at home for a day becomes so much less lazy and more romantic when you bring silky rompers and lacy camisoles into the picture. Baby pink fluffy slippers to wear and a cute bunny pillow to cuddle wouldn't hurt either!


Seeing Double: Men in White

     Yes, James Dean and Nicholas Hoult are both undeniably handsome, but the two also have some style similarities. In each of their films, Dean in East of Eden and Hoult in A Single Man, both men can be seen wearing head-to-toe white. The colorless costumes are a sure nod to the angelic qualities of each character. Holt, who plays Kenny in A Single Man, acts as a guardian angel to George (Colin Firth) who's in a downward spiral after the loss of lover. Dean, who plays Cal in East of Eden, may not first appear angelic due to his moodiness and angst, although he has pure intentions at heart while he tries to regain money for his father who lost a large sum from a failed business venture. Metaphorical meanings aside, these all white looks are exceptional regardless. It may be after labor day, but I'm all for sporting this white-collared look during winter.