Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fashion illustrators to follow

Freehand artists, particularly those who use ink or pencil as their preferred tools, will always command my undying respect and adulation. The process of taking a blank page from a clean slate to an immeasurably well-rendered portrait/scene/picture leaves me in awe. I'm that person that has no problem watching an artist complete a piece from start to finish (I mean, the artist probably doesn't like it...) but such is my curiosity for the craft of these talented folk.
This is not to say that I haven't tried my hand at this creative outlet. As a matter of fact, I was the undisputed horse and people sketch artist at my school from kindergarten to third grade. Seriously. If my friends or classmates wanted an equine drawn, they stood in line to request one of my sketches (and I even partook in the more fantastical horsey realms with Pegasus' and unicorn renderings). I even won a district-wide poster drawing competition for third graders. It wasn't until sixth grade that I got a wake-up from a fellow classmate who not so nicely pointed out my shortcomings in drawing realistic things.

"Uh, what's that supposed to be?" the classmate asked me with a sneer prominent on his face as he looked at the circus drawing I was finishing.

"It's a clown. See the face makeup and balloons?" I replied.

"His arm is squiggly...it has no shape. Humans have bones that make our arms not look like jelly. Get lessons." He replied with a smirk.

And I huffed and puffed, nostrils flared, in a fury that someone would speak a harsh word about my abilities. But that art bully was, in fact, a very good artist, and I slowly weaned myself from sketching.

Back to present day. Despite that tragic day, I can still appreciate lovely sketches when I see them, particularly if they are fashion or beauty-centered. So here are some of my favorite illustrators and their art.

Jordi Labanda - This Spanish-born artist has mastered the cartoonish, whimsical sketches that enthrall both girls and women. His pieces show glamorous men and women with perfect features having fun and living a dream life. What's not to love? His designs have been plastered on backpacks, office supplies and clothing. In fact, I used to have a trash bin and pen set with his artwork featured prominently on them, and I recently bought one of his notebooks at Target on a whim.

Amy Smilovic - As founder and head designer of the clothing brand Tibi, Smilovic is used to sketching outfit ideas. The telltale features of Smilovic's sketches include leggy models with featureless faces that have been painted in semi-sheer watercolor tints. And the designer has been known to send custom sketches to a few well-dressed editors and bloggers, capturing them in various outfits. (See: Catherine at Red Carpet Fashion Awards and Style.com editor Nicole Phelps).

David Downton - This English artist - whose work is eponymous with fashion illustration - has seen his designs grace art book covers as well as editorials for magazines, various ads and custom portraits of famous women such as Linda Evangelista, Cate Blanchett, and Paloma Picasso.

Jessica Durant - Durant's work has been featured in various magazines such as Glamour and Country Living, and she also sells many of her prints via her etsy shop so that everyone can have a pretty piece of the action.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Amazing brand Pinterest pages

Is there anyone in the wide world that hasn't spent a few days hours ahem, minutes on Pinterest, the online "inspiration board" that now serves as a way for people to share their likes, loves, wants, and needs with a slew of other viewers? Pinterest's claim to fame isn't just acting as a website to host users likes, but instead serves as a hybrid of sorts; one part magazine, one part forum, one part instruction manual. Pinterest's function is simply to inspire, which is does by connecting users who urge each other to expand their creative horizons. It is, after all, much easier to get started on a project - be it a clothing DIY or a recipe - when you see (via her pictures posted to her Pinterest board, of course) the success your best friend had with it, as opposed to seeing the project in the pages of Martha Stewart Living, where impossibly perfect projects scare away all but the most experienced crafters.

Brands have caught on to the amazing opportunities Pinterest presents for engaging with consumers. Some have expanded onto the site by pinning pictures of their upcoming releases (example: LOFT) while other brands prefer to pin photos that represent the way that they want their consumers to view them (example: Neiman Marcus) using their brand USP.

Pinterest, like Instagram, is about whetting the customer's whistle to buy or do. Whether it's by taking LOFT's approach and showcasing upcoming designs so as to increase excitement for a launch, or by surrounding consumers with images of what the brand "represents" so that said consumer will buy the product/service in an attempt to gain the same connotations associated with the brand.

Let's break Pinterest down by interests.
Are you a foodie? Why not check out Kraft, Rachael Ray Mag, America's Test Kitchen,
or Nestle?


Rachael Ray Mag

America's Test Kitchen

Nestle Kitchens

Interested in magazines? Hop on over to Glamour, Harper's Bazaar, New Beauty, Details, or Womens Wear Daily.


Harper's Bazaar

New Beauty



Some stellar clothing brand pages: Topshop, Marc Jacobs, Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Todd Snyder.


Marc Jacobs

Urban Outfitters

Free People

Todd Snyder

How about some beauty brands? Julep, Too Faced, Tarte, and Sephora make the goings-on within this industry very fun to watch.


Too Faced



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Brands with amazing Instagram accounts

It seems the cat's out of the bag. This is my third post about Instagram, so it is safe to say that I'm a fan of the app. This particular social media platform is great for some brands, but can be near useless for others. Instagram is the photogenic hub for inspiration that comes from the frequently updated pictures that individual users can upload whenever. It's like the mobile, real-time version of Pinterest. And brands that have strong identities and that are able to communicate their brand valus to customers with a simple flash of the camera have done quite well for themselves. For a brand to do well on Instagram, it has to post pictures that inform or, more importantly, inspire its viewers. So even though Home Depot is an incredibly successful store, people aren't dying to scroll through filtered pictures of tractors and two-by-fours, knowwhatI'msaying? Not the ideal type of brand to utilize Instagram. On the other hand, bakeries, cosmetics companies, clothing companies, department stores and generally any entitity whose livelihood is based on the pleasure and "feel-goodness" that its customers gain when they use buy said brand's/store's products - these are the ones that Instagram is perfect for.

Some of the brands that are keeping their presences alive and well on the platform include:

@alice_olivia = alice + olivia by Stacy Bendet - Pretty, colorful pictures showcase the brand's "lovely and whimsical" USP always make me feel happy when I stumble upon the latest Instagram pics. Seriously, see below umbrella picture. Smiled, didn't you?

@rebeccaminkoff = Rebecca Minkoff - Minkoff's line of accessories would be alluring even without an Instagram account to showcase them every day, but the team behind this brand's social media presence cranks out great stuff that makes Minkoff stand our in the forefront of my mind. From the pithy, consistently updated Twitter account to the cheeky Instagram photos, viewers get the idea that those at the helm of this brand are both talented and genuine. And funny. See below photo.

@bcbgeneration = BCBGeneration - Provides an easy mix of down-to-earth, fun-having photos as well as pics that exude glamour and attitude. 

@marcjacobsintl = Marc Jacobs - I've always had the feeling that Marc Jacobs loves to push the envelope just to see how far people will go in their pursuit of fashion. I think that he has a tongue-in-cheek approach to life, taking nothing too seriously, but having fun all the same. The brand's Instagram serves as a perfect way to display images that support my theory.

@targetstyle = Target - Target secures it's place as the country's the foremost purveyor of chic-yet-inexpensive goods with these pics.

@henribendel = Henri Bendel - A store dedicated to providing its customers with decadent, gilt-edged, glitzy odds n' ends (purses, key fobs, jewelry) gives the same e-treatment via Instagram with photos of its in-store offerings and of pictures of NYC. (Side note: The holiday windows of its New York shop are beautiful, as is the holiday catalogue).

@topshop = Topshop - This British import has captured American hearts with its adorable, on-trend outfits and accessories that seem to be a fusion of the H&M, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and Target aesthetics.

@anthropologiecom = Anthropologie - Anthropologie, like J Crew, has mastered the art of "disinterested chic" AKA "I'm going to plan out my outfits so that they look crisp, tailored and on-trend, but by accident. Not like I meant to." And yet I'm hooked line and sinker by these pictures that always make me want to immediately be transported to wherever said pics are taken.

@narsissist = Nars - Using the same username for both the Twitter and Instagram accounts, @narssisist is one to follow as the short statements always leave me intrigued and the pictures never leave me wanting. The fact that Nars products are luxurious and last forever is wonderful in and of itself, but the behind-the-scenes pictures of the brand's artists, events and goodies are always a pleasant treat.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

At the Vanity - ABCs of great beauty products, part two

I stands for D&G L'Imperatrice perfume. I have difficulty describing this perfume, because every time I try to explain its scent, it comes out as, "It smells and feels like a fresh breeze." Because it really does. It's so unique and refreshing that it feels like a breeze grazing the skin. But saying that aloud generally raises some eyebrows from peers, so I'm just going to suggest that each person takes a quick sniff and comes to his or her own conclusion.

J stands for Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes. Simply put, these wipes smell heavenly. When I use these wipes in Sephora to take makeup off of a client's face, said client almost always remarks about how great these smell. I wouldn't mind having this airy, fruity scent hovering around my face for the day.

K stands for Kat Von D Painted Love lipstick in Adora. I've become disillusioned by the lack of novel colors and formulas for different lip products that have recently appeared on store shelves. Adora is a glaring exception to that lack. The color, which is like toned-down red aluminum foil, is lovely and adds a glistening sheen that other reds lack. The shade isn't too crazy as to be over-the-top or unwearable for every day, but it does stand out from the crowd. Christine from makeup blog Temptalia has a lovely swatch of the shade.

L stands for Living Proof's No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream. Living Proof, the company which has patented its innovative anti-frizz formulas as created by the MIT scientists that founded it, recently repackaged its styling cream - a balm that isn't too heavy, doesn't have a cloying scent and which leaves curls nicely primped without the dreaded frizz factor. The price point is a bit high, but this product does work.

M stands for Make Up For Ever's 12 Flash Color Case. This case consists of 12 different uber-pigmented cream colors that supply a generous supply of each hue with just a pinpoint of product. The colors can be easily mixed to create an even more expansive array of pigments, and these can be used anywhere on the body. I've been lusting after this kit for months. Gah, if only it wasn't a c-note.

N stands for Nars' blush in Orgasm. Behold the top-selling blush in the nation. This lovely shimmery peachy pink literally looks great on every skin tone. I've applied this blush to the cheeks of fair, fair girls all the way through to dark, dark girls...and every.single.person.wore.it.well. Though it has a cheeky name (no pun intended), this blush deserves its position in the number one spot. Though I love the original Orgasm for the powder blush, the Nars Illuminator in Super Orgasm, which is an even more shimmery pinker version of the original, is beautiful when layered atop Orgasm along the top of the cheekbone.

O stands for Oribe's Gold Pomade. Pomade that gives hair a metallic, otherworldly glisten and shine. If that doesn't sound enticing, then I'm at a loss as to what does.

P stands for Philosophy's Take a Deep Breath moisturizer. This lightweight gel moisturizer is perfect for normal, combination or oily skin, especially in the warm summer months, as it's not a thick cream that will clog pores or make the face shiny, but it is still very hydrating. It's like a cool breeze on the skin.

Q stands for Queen Helen's Mint Julep Masque. This drugstore mask has been a cult favorite for many, many years, as it's known as an overnight clear skin maker, proven to dry up any problem areas while delivering a minty tingle as it dries. This masque goes to show that wonder products aren't only found in department and specialty stores.

R stands for Stella McCartney's Rose Absolute perfume. I distinctly remember the first time I caught a whiff of this scent - I was flipping through a Sephora catalog and the rosy notes just struck a chord with me. I ripped out that sample scent strip and inhaled as if my life depended on it. Which is odd, because I usually do not like rose fragrances...at all. Alas, this perfume was discontinued a while ago, so I hold on to every last drop and only wear it on special occasions.

S stands for Smashbox's Studio Skin 15 Hour Wear Hydrating foundation. Though this is a full coverage foundation, it looks fresh and natural on the skin, leaving no powdery cast or mask-like doll face effect. For this reason, the captain of the Beauty Studio at my Sephora loves to use this on brides, plus it photographs beautifully. It's great for combination and oily skin, as there is never a sheen left on the skin. Love, love, love.