Saturday, May 30, 2009

Summer Vacation

I am a Romantic. This blog documents my Romanticism. But Romantics don't like computers. I have, in fact, hated using computers - especially during the summer - for as long as I can remember. Generally, my need for expression would override my dislike of computers, but during summertime, the reverse is true.
Also, this blog encompasses all that I find beautiful and stylish - except bright, happy pastel colors, which I love most of all in the late spring and the summertime. For these reasons, it is best that I gently leave À la Mode in its current beautiful condition for the season.
Thank you all for being loyal readers so far; check back in September in case I have revived À la Mode for the next school year. I love you all!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A(nother) Word from Sara Crewe

"Well, not just me, all girls are princesses. Even snotty, two-faced bullies like you, Lavinia!"
-Sara Crewe, A Little Princess

Monday, May 11, 2009

Emma Watson College Watch

It occurred to me today, after waking up from a strange dream in which I was hanging out with Daniel Radcliffe in the Columbia Quad (right across from Barnard!), that Emma Watson has yet to announce her college plans.
As any high school senior should know, the college deposit deadline this year (and every year) - at least for American schools - is May 1st. It is now May 11th, meaning that at least ten days have passed since Emma sent in her college deposit. Either she's still sitting on waitlists or she has, for some other reason, chosen to withhold her college choice.
Then again, she's already told us she's into Yale. Rumor had it she was also checking out Harvard, Brown, and Trinity College, Cambridge. Maybe she's on one of those waitlists? Too bad she's not joining co-thespian James Franco at Columbia (and too bad Daniel Radcliffe never even applied to Columbia) - I'm always on the lookout for stylish peers who have made friends with Karl Lagerfeld. (Joke. Sort of.)
Anyway, I'll be on the lookout for any announcements about the big news. If you hear anything, please tell me so that I can alert my Ivygoing fashion spies.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Samantha Who?

As we well know from the Bendel's clothing department, all good things must come to an end. Sad, but true. Even Samantha the American Girl doll has said her last farewells, as I was recently reminded. Samantha, the arguably most stylish of the bunch, with her infinite Victorian/Edwardian wardrobe, was discontinued cerca December 2008 due to... well, I'm not exactly sure what. More unimaginative children? Children with poorer senses of style?
Alas, it is time to say our own sweet goodbyes to the delicate doll, as I did in a yet-unsent letter to The Learning Company, P.O. Box 620497, Middleton, WI 53362-0497:
Dear American Girl,
I am seventeen years old. Ever since my parents bought me Miss Samantha Parkington twelve years ago, long before American Girl Place appeared in either of the two cities in which it is currently present, I have been receiving your catalogues. Even know, I love looking at all the beautiful dolls you sell, and for the brief period that you sold American Girl Minis, I loved looking at those too (and regret never buying any!). A week or so ago, I received this year's, and with it, the news that my favorite American Girl is to be discontinued. So I am writing to tell you how heartbroken I am that you are removing Samantha from your permanent historical doll collection.
I received Samantha for my birthday when I was five. I distinctly remember that my parents had sent me on a search around the house to find her package, but it was hidden far above my three-foot-six eye level, high up in a bookshelf, and they had to point out out and dig it out for me.
With Samantha the doll came Samantha the wardrobe, the next-best part. I got her basics - her default "Meet" tailored dress and velvet hat and locket and sweet nightie and robe and knit slippers - but even better, I got her beautiful birthday pinafore, with its deep pink and cream stripes and lace apron. I have been searching for a life-size dress like it ever since, though it was only recently that I made this connection. In fact, I had even since bought a hair garland much like the one that had come with her party dress.
The wicker furniture, too, was wonderful, and I remember tying the dainty floral pillows to the seats and covering the table with a lace tablecloth before spreading out the treats, those fragile birthday miniatures. There was the pitcher of lemonade and its corresponding glasses, but the petit fours, ice cream bombes, bouquets, and fans were even lovelier. I also got Miss Samantha's doll pram, which I used to cart her around, although it was meant for her own little doll.
I loved Samantha more than I can say, primarily because I could so identify with her. She and I both had pale skin, brown hair, and brown eyes. As I mentioned, her wardrobe epitomized the very wardrobe I wished - and still wish - I were to possess. Though I now know some disenchanting facts regarding the misogyny of the Victorian era, I remain enamored with and quite envious of Samantha's lifestyle, and, well, sort of pine for those other pieces I never got for her: the school uniform, the sailor dress, and every last hair ribbon. I did eventually get a metal bunk bed for she and Lindsay (my customized American Girl doll) to share, I still wish I had purchased (or received) Samantha's golden four-poster bed.
Samantha was the only historical American Girl doll I ever had. I read all of the books in her series - about five times apiece - and Samantha made frequent appearances in the computer-animated skits I created using my American Girl Premiere software. Even now I am still emulating Samantha: last year, for our school production of The Pirates of Penzance, I complemented my rag-curled ringlets, lace fan, and late-nineteenth-century costume, with a bit of typical Samantha sass. As I type this letter, I am dressed as a doll for Halloween, wearing a cream frock with latte-colored lining and a bow in my hair, hair that has been curled, once again, into ringlets.
I am so beyond devastated that Samantha is, as you put it, "moving into the American Girl archives." Out of all the historical dolls (except maybe Kirsten), Samantha puts a face on a time period and struggle that the average girl under ten knows the least about. Therefore, I see her as having the most substance in that her story is accented with references to the burdens of socioeconomic class tensions (as in her relationship with Nelly) and even male chauvinism, neither of which you address through your other characters' stories.
I would love to one day work as some sort of conceptual director at American Girl because of the magic your dolls create. But I wanted to let you know how disheartened I am that the next generation of girls will never know of our little ingénue, who has now been overshadowed by a number of dolls attached to more recent eras. Were it not for Samantha, I would have felt much more alienated as a Caucasian brunette in terms of nationalistic (American) identity, and Samantha instilled in me a Romanticism that is manifest even in my choice of colleges.
Though I have already subconsciously grown up to embody Samantha, it saddens me that she will never change another girl's life the way she did mine.
With love and squalor,
Hannah Serena

Blitz at Bendel's

Revamping, firing, and downsizing: coming to a world-famous shopping destination near you! Perhaps if you, like myself, have the Times style section online set as your home page, you might know what I'm talking about, and this post would therefore be several days overdue. And even if you don't, you probably heard through the proverbial grapevine that Henri Bendel the corporation is eliminating all clothing from its inventory, and that Henri Bendel the flagship store and New York institution is deleting a floor and laying off over 8% of employees. Now, being that I live a half-hour train ride from New York City, I've spent a fair amount of time at Bendel's, though the most I've ever gotten from the store is a box of toffee, a set of earrings, a jar of fig body butter (since discontinued), a shower cap in the signature brown and white stripes, and momentary impressions of how I might look donning those accoutrements that are far beyond my clothing budget: jeweled hairbands (I happen to have discovered a certain jeweled ribbon hairband way before Blair Waldorf debuted it for a primetime audience of millions), cashmere berets, and fabulous - real (duh!) - Ray-Bans.
But Hannah Serena, you say, none of those things are going! Bendel's accessories and beauty products will be sticking around indefinitely. It's only the clothes that are going.
Only?! What the Hell else do you go window shopping for? I mean, I guess I forgot to mention those extraordinary, life-changing holiday windows? What are they going to put the mannequins in now? Or are they just going to pull a Cartier and ditch window displays entirely?
You see, regardless of the amount of zeroes in your disposable income, shopping in Bendel's clothing department is one of those things that should be pretty high on the bucket list. It's a truly magical experience, especially given that no one expects you to buy anything unless you're clearly loaded with cash; all the clothes are just so beautiful. I have spent many a day wandering through the petite, wallpapered clothing rooms, filling my head with the names of colorful new boutique designers to watch. I am like a fashionable cow, grazing on the pasture that is the Bendel's clothing floor. And I'm guessing this is the floor that's going to be dropped - because it's pretty unlikely that Bendel's will drop the basement sale room.
Of course, if Bendel's had enacted such a policy even thirty years ago, our world would be absent of Todd Oldham and Anna Sui, those rising stars who got their starts in that famous Bendel's go-see. Who knows what amazing designers-to-come will miss their big breaks and spend the rest of their lives wallowing in society's oblivion? It's just a huge slap in the face to those for whom Bendel's is a fashiony playground that some of its happiest parts are to be removed, all in the name of strengthening the Bendel's brand.
I don't want the impersonality of "brand." I want creativity, authenticity, and class. I want Bendel's to remember who loves it the most, and why, and rethink this whole strategy accordingly. And I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hearts & Kisses

This lovely picture is from Knight Cat, and I think it captures the general feel I'm going for with this blog. You see, I have this other blog that documents my unbridled girliness, but as I college looms in the distance (Barnard '13, bitches!), I've subconsciously started gravitating towards things that are still girly but girly in older and more mature ways. My love for colors will never really fade completely (I hope), but I pride myself on my ability to be a color chameleon, and I feel that New York City calls for creams and ivories, espressos and golds, hunters and emeralds, and - of course - black(s).
I'll be keeping the ruffles, bows, and heart sunglasses, but I could never give pale candy pinks and lavenders and mint greens the love they deserve in such a studious and academic setting. So though I'll always love Luisa Beccaria, Peter Jensen, and Luella Bartley, I'm moving onto Sonia Rykiel, Charles Anastase, and Zac Posen.

A Word from Sara Crewe

"I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics, even if they dress in rags, even if they aren't pretty, or smart, or young. Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he?"
-Sara Crewe, A Little Princess

*P.S. That's a young Camilla Belle in the center, behind the doll.

Spotlight: Flying Saucer

So I just discovered the blog Flying Saucer, and I swear, I want this girl's wardrobe. I don't say that very often; most fashion bloggers, I find, have tastes that are way too dark, mod, or obscure for me. But this girl has style - my kind of style (read: vintage Moschino polka-dotted crop top; the Miu Miu teacup shoes I've ached for since their S/S '08 Fashion Week debut). Visit the blog at

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Meet Ula, Ned, Ida, Tom, Eva, and Don

I must be imagining this. I mean - this can't be real. Paperdoll children? In WWII uniforms? With NAMES?!?! This is too good to be true.

I am in love with forties uniforms. Head-over-heels in love. I even wrote a love post to the them, which you can check out here.

Okay, so this is a reproduction. Fine. but what it lacks in authenticity it makes up in condition, right? Crumbling paperdolls lose their charm pretty quickly.

And the bonus? According to the website (, 50% of the proceeds go to the Vets. Like I didn't already think that $12.95 would be money well spent!

Let's see... we've got the captain, the officer, the marine, the nurse, the soldier, and the lieutenant? I don't know which names correspond to which dolls (given that Ula is probably not the first one), but Ida's got to be the one in the brown uniform. I just know it.

Anyway, I hope you love them as much as I do.

Wait, no. I don't. Because there's only one copy, and I want it for myself!

What Wood Natalie Wear? Part 3

"I had no conception about money whatsoever. I just knew that whenever I got a part I got a present."
-Natalie Wood

(Louis Vuitton F/W '09)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Hollywood Pinups Tim White Mary Kate Ashley Olsen
I've begun to question my loyalties to the anorexic twin. Despite being more attention-grabbing, Mary-Kate and her (in)famous style are really much less interesting. It's all sequins and prints and layers. It's empty. Ashley, meanwhile, understands taste. Class.

In fact, bestowed upon Ashley, but not her twinly counterpart, the honor of being one of four Featured Photo Searches, along with Tinsley, Kanye, and Karl ("not that we're picking sides," they said. Sure...). Granted, I'm not one to agree with everything says or does. But it made me think for a moment...

And then... BOOM.

Look at that picture. Look at it! That's Ashley. Fucking. Olsen. Ashley! At last night's Costume Institute Gala! Looking like a girl!

Perhaps it's the presence of a long-overdue boyfriend, but Ashley is glowing - sparkling, even. With her convenient placement next to a tall person and not her own tiny sister (fraternal, not identical!), Ashley looks quite petite herself. And her hair looks fantastic.

My formerly-preferred Olsen, meanwhile, was having a romp around the red carpet dressed as a granny-boho pirate wench. No surprise there...


Hollywood Pinups Tim White Ashley Mary Kate Olsen
I've always loved the Olsens. I watched their movies; I read their books (my favorite was You're Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley's Hawaiian Luau! - I still have the free pink dolphin necklace). Mind you, this was far before Influence was conceived - my obsession with them as they made their transformation into "fashion icons" (I hesitate to throw those words around too casually) was entirely incidental. I just thought they would make fun friends for playdates and such things.

In fall 2007, I indulged a lifelong dream of mine: dressing up as the Olsen twins for Halloween. Yes, that's right - I was both twins. The original plan was for one of my friends to be my complementary Olsen, but she had to go away the weekend of Halloween, and I was forced to spend most of my day as Ashley ("Mary-Kate was in rehab"), only switching to Mary-Kate mode when it came time to take pictures. Because, well, let's be honest: I always liked Mary-Kate much better. She was cuter and more petite, and she pulled off the pouty face better, and she got the more aesthetically-pleasing nose job. Plus, Ashley's androgynous The Row line had nothing on the sequined girliness of Elizabeth and James. 

Until now.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What Wood Natalie Wear? Part 2

"I was so overprotected, I used to think I was as delicate as people said I was."
-Natalie Wood

(Luella Bartley F/W '05)

Spotlight: Veruschka

With the Costume Institute Gala only hours away - this year, entitled "The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion" - I feel it only fitting that I share with you this photo of one particular fashion legend who will surely be getting her fair share of acknowledgment tonight from general fashiony types: part-contortionist, part-blow up doll Veruschka von Lehndorff, supermodel extraordinaire.

The Fabulous Forties

I love uniforms.

By no means do I love the idea of uniformity, but I simply love uniforms. And if you dig through fashion history for that decade which prized the uniform above all else, you'll come up empty-handed but for the swingin' 1940's, the age of dashing Marines and army nurses, the time when the salute became a veritable dance step. That entire epoch was dominated by feminine yet minimalist Utility Clothing, and what was left behind when the war was over was a nationwide obsession with clean tailoring and structure. (Symbolic much?)

Now, I dig absolutely all of it: pleats, pompadours, starflower hairpieces, hourglass silhouettes. Perhaps I was a USO girl in my last life, one who married the handsomest soldier in a B. Altman and Co. rayon gown with a basque waist and broad shoulders.

If you are as fascinated by Christian Dior and his New Look designs as I am, I suggest you check out the Costume Institute's extensive collection of his iconic late-forties pieces.

What Wood Natalie Wear?

"At night, when the sky is full of stars and the sea is still, you get the wonderful sensation that you are floating in space."
-Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood was the classiest act around. Fuck Marni Nixon for slandering her name; fuck all the West Side Story haters who think she and Richard Beymer were too "flat." Her beauty was her talent, and she knew how to make the most of it - namely, but not forcing some nonexistent dynamism upon Maria, the quintessential naïf, or by romancing co-star Dennis Hopper, father to Wood's Judy, in between takes of Rebel Without a Cause. (Joke.) But she knew how to play up her sex appeal outside the studio, too, being the style diva that she was: paper doll book manufacturers have seized upon her penchant for jewel-necked, full-skirted tank dresses and yoked buttondown smocks. Of course, she looked fantastic with virtually nothing on at all (see above)!

The reason I so love Natalie is that she was fundamentally a very dark person. Audrey Hepburn may have been spritely and all, but Natalie's life was filled with so much sorrow, and her beauty was thus imbued with that much more sultriness and maturity.

So I'm starting this blog with a feature that will come back periodically: What Wood Natalie Wear? (Pun intended; duh. I know how to spell.) It will be as simple as a lovely Natalie picture and quote coupled with a few recent runway shots that bring her classic style up to the present.

(Nina Ricci S/S '09)