Thursday, March 26, 2009

The New Anti-Bride

Whoever said there’s a standard wedding dress was wrong!...At least that’s what, Destination I Do Magazine, W Hotel,, and believe.  And they proved it on March 19th 2009 in a groundbreaking fashion show where the styles of young edgy graduate design students, a Project Runway alum, and a multitude of wedding gowns went beyond your imagination. 

Code-named “Operation Aisle Style”, the W Hotel San Francisco event not only showcased the brazen ideas of these up-and-coming designers, but also the innovative styling’s of Kenneth Pool designer, Austin Scarlett.  

Welcome to the Anti-Bride Show:  your atypical fashion show.  Whether gazing at the crowd or the models on the runway, every walk of life was present:  Goth, Hippie, Modern/Classic, Rockabilly, 60’s Mod, Punk Rock, Retro, Futuristic, even Voodoo! 

Graduating students of The Art Institute in San Francisco 

were challenged to design the alterna-wedding gown for their fantasy bride.  

Each student’s gown was judged upon style, prowess, creativity, and innovation.  The contestants dresses and gowns included

 capes with embroidered flowers, tiger print trains, leather skirts with matching bodice and hat, tons of lace, and a bone headdress.  

Although all were cutting edge, there can only be one winner:  Chaz Schaad won with this Galliano type black silk gown, worn by a Stella McCartney model look-a-like.  To sum it up:  Goth-couture reincarnated with a modern twist.  

Later, Kenneth Pool's latest collection by designer Austin Scarlett graced the runway.  Gorgeous silk gowns, classic ruffles, and sparkling crystal-embroidered trains were amongst a few of these elegant masterpieces.

Maintaining the designs of a classic wedding gown, Scarlett proved that his style would never be outdated.  It's no wonder Scarlett is in high design demand by celebrities and socialites around the world!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shopping as Event with Appel & Frank

Jody Frank and Karen Appel, the duo behind the increasingly popular Appel & Frank shopping events first met in their hometown of San Diego when they were 9 years old and have been close friends ever since. As Appel & Frank, they put on a series of seasonal fashion and shopping events throughout the year in San Francisco, Marin County, and now San Diego. A portion of the proceeds for all events is donated to a local charity, and at their Eco-Chic shopping event last fall the IFCSF was the lucky organization. I was intrigued by how they went from full-time careers in marketing and advertising to being able to start their own business around one of my favorite activities – shopping!

DP: So the first thing I want to know is, how did you come up with the idea for Appel and Frank?
KA: We started in 2003 on Valentine’s Day. And we had a couple of friends who were designers and they had a couple of friends who were designers, and we held an event at my apartment in Noe Valley. It was a 2-bedroom apartment and we had about 8 designers, a couple in each room, and we just invited all of our friends and the fee for the designers was 2 bottles of wine. So all of our friends came and shopped, we had a great time, and the designers did really well, and we saw this opportunity to tap into this incredible community of designers and bring them to the shoppers of San Francisco who are always looking for unique pieces and accessories for their wardrobe.

DP: It’s amazing that even with all the boutiques and specialty stores we have here, you can still find a market for this outside of the stores.
JF: And what’s nice is that the designers come and we also invite a lot of little boutiques. If they’re lucky some of them have even had their lines picked up by the boutiques, so it’s great exposure for them to be able to get in front of consumers and directly in front of retailers in an area that otherwise they might not have been able to.

DP: What kinds of boutiques usually come to the event?
JF: A lot of local boutiques, Rag, Mingle, Azalea, independent boutiques on Hayes and Union and Chestnut Street, Fillmore.

DP: Can any designer do the event if they pay the fee, or do they have to be chosen by you?
KA: They definitely have to be chosen by us, and how it works is they have to fill out an application on our website and we’ll look at their web site or they’ll email us and if we think it’s a good fit for our event we’ll let them participate. There are also quite a few designers we find ourselves, like if we see something in a store or on a friend I’ll do a little research and find out who the designer is. But we are very particular about who we invite to the event and we only have a certain amount of space per category so it’s not going to be 40 jewelry designers or 40 handbag designers.
JF: And we’re also careful when doing our floor plans to give everyone a fair opportunity to be in front of the shoppers.
KA: And they do pay – we have 2 table options, a 6-foot table or an 8-foot table or the equivalent space and it’s just a flat fee, we don’t take any part of their sales, everything they earn is theirs to keep.

DP: Are you now able to make this your own business?
KA: We’ve both been doing this full time for a couple of years now.
JF: And we recently expanded to San Diego and do events down there as well.

DP: For a designer just starting out, what are some good ways for them to get their work shown?
JF: Besides our events, there are other great events around town and sometimes if a designer isn’t the right fit for our event, there might be some other events they’re a better fit for.
KA: Or bringing it to a boutique, and that’s where I think we have unique niche because it’s hard for a designer just starting out to shop their lines to different boutiques. Our events are relatively low-priced and allow them to test it in front of the shoppers and get in front of the boutiques.
JF: We can never guarantee boutique owners, it’s just something that we do. We invite them all and give them complimentary admission but the event is primarily a shopping event for the consumers and it’s more of an added bonus that there are boutique owners there and buyers, but it’s not something we guarantee or advertise to the designers.

DP: Do you receive photos or press kits on an ongoing basis from designers?
KA: Definitely – we get about 10-15 applications a week.
JF: And there are especially more when it’s closer to the events we’re hosting.
KA: And the word seems to spread a lot that we’re out there so we definitely see more activity closer to the event, but it’s consistent throughout the year.

DP: What would you advise a designer do to make them stand out, such as press kits?
JF: We actually don’t receive any press kits since we have an application they need to fill out.
KA: But as far as what we’re looking for, it’s quality and then also current style or either jewelry or handbags that we think would be a good fit for our clientele, meaning we know our shoppers pretty well and what they’re going to like. I think our top thing is quality.

DP: What do each of you like most about putting on these events?
KA: My favorite part, and I always say this to Jody, is the day of the event when we walk into the room (the Sutter Room) and it’s kind of a clean slate, and then by about 4:00 it’s buzzing with designers who are arriving and setting up. And just seeing the transformation from that empty room into a room with 55 talented, excited designers who are putting together their tables, that’s one of my favorite moments of every event.
JF: It’s also really fun to see the mix of designers and what we’ve been able to put together because each of them is so unique from the ones before. We have a lot of our regular designer but we get so many new ones each time, and there’s something so cool about seeing their work and feeling that we’re bringing it to the public and putting together this stunning event for them to be able to show their lines.

DP: Do you find that more of the designers you work with are becoming more conscious of sustainable or eco design?
JF: Absolutely. For the past couple years we’ve done an event dedicated exclusively to that called Eco-Chic. We’ve seen a lot more designers going into that direction.

DP: I’ve spoken to people about it and especially with the economy I wonder, do you ever think it’s something that can be part of the fashion mainstream because you have to pay a higher price point?
KA: That was one of the reasons we started doing the Eco-Chic event was to really call attention and allow these designers who made the conscious effort to become more green and eco-conscious with their business practices and give them the proper attention we thought they deserved.

DP: Are you adding anything new for this year?
JF: We’re not adding anything new this year but we did expand down to San Diego and we did expand our Babes & Babies event up to Marin. We’re hoping to expand it to the South Bay as well.

DP: What do you think are the differences between the designers in San Diego and the ones up here?
JF: There’s definitely a lot more designers in the Bay Area than in San Diego, so it’s been a little bit easier having a larger selection up here and the designers are a little more experienced in shopping events because more are offered here. There are a lot of really talented designers in San Diego and we’ve had designers coming down from Los Angeles and Orange County as well so we’ve been happy with the designers we’ve been working with.

DP: Do you have any plans to expand into more cities?
KA: We always talk about the different cities we’d like to go to. I think up north would be a great area, Portland or Seattle and then we’ve had people contact us from different cities who want to start Appel and Frank events so it’s something we want to do in the relatively near future.

DP: I was recently in Portland and it seems like there are so many designers and crafty types up there doing their own thing.
JF: I think what’s really great about places like Portland and the Bay Area is that people have a creative passion and they have their day jobs and they always do their passion on the side and I think the Bay Area attracts those kind of creative people.

DP: If you weren’t doing this, what else do you think you might like to do? Or is this the dream job?
JF: We pretty much love what we do. Karen used to work in PR and I worked in advertising and since we started this, I really love doing events. If we didn’t have our own company to work on I’d really love to be involved in event planning.
KA: I did that in marketing and so it’s great to do it for myself and also be able to plan events that I love.

Appel & Frank’s Spring Into Style Shopping Event will be on Thursday March 26th at the Regency Center Sutter Room from 5-9PM. Admission is 2 for $10 purchased online or 2 for $15 purchased at the door. Each guest will receive a complimentary glass of Barefoot Wine, and the first 300 guests to arrive at the event will receive reusable gift bags filled with products and offers. For tickets, click here.

Featured designers include Birdy Botanicals (bath & body products) , Charming Sam Studio (jewelry) , organice-it (travel/organization products), Rebecca Ciccio (handbags) and Verrieres & Sako (women’s clothing).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Compostmodern and Ideas for a New World

Compostmodern 09, held on February 21st at The Herbst Theatre couldn’t have come at a better time – amidst the gloom and doom that has become the daily news, here was a day filled with innovative minds trying to do amazing things so that when the tide is ready to turn we’re in the right place to start over.

Presented by the SF chapter of AIGA, the day was broken into a series of 30-minute lectures from a wide variety of experts including climate strategist Michel Gelobter, John Bielenberg and Pam Dorr of Project M and the HERO Resource, Eames Demetrios of Eames Office, Allan Chochinov of CORE 77, Saul Griffith of Makani Power, Emily Pilloton of Project H Design, Autodesk Sustainable Design Program Manager Dawn Danby, and California College of the Arts Design MBA Chair Nathan Shedroff. Greenbiz editor and sustainability author Joel Makower was the day’s emcee.

After learning from Gelobter and Griffith that the rate we are consuming and using doesn’t leave much breathing room, it was nice to see two artists and thinkers like John Bielenberg and Pam Dorr talk about creating sustainable and design-intuitive housing in rural Hale City, Alabama. Dorr’s team, under the project Rural Studio, not only created beautiful new homes for residents who had never been homeowners, they also found a way to do it for $20,000 a house (the cost of the allowance low-income residents received for housing).

By far, the most extraordinary story was given by 27-year old Emily Pilloton, founder of Project H. Trained as a product designer and architect, she wanted to do something that mattered so she started her own non-profit and ended up figuring out how to get the people of Africa water. What she initially planned was to simply donate a large amount of “hippo rollers” through fundraising. These large blue barrels let people in Third World countries efficiently gather large amounts of water for their villages. In doing this, she discovered how inefficient and expensive they were to ship – so she set out to figure out a new design that could be shipped more efficiently while keeping the cult factor of the object’s original design intact. In doing so, she was able to double the amount of rollers that could fit into an overseas shipping container.

CCA’s new MBA in Design Strategy is a fairly new program that has already received much interest from the global design and business community. The program’s Chair Nathan Shedroff closed the day with advice to designer in speaking the language of business. He advised designers to first stop using green, both in color scheme and terminology. Blue, the color of business, is a better choice and a better way to reach the audience needed to get sustainability projects off the ground. Designers also need to understand the framework they are operating in and most importantly, design things for use and durability. Most importantly, as designers we need to understand the concept of storytelling in design and sustainability – because it’s about us, and who we are.

For more information on Compostmodern past and future, click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Coming Up - Anti-Bride Fashion Show and More

Here are some notable events coming up in the next few weeks:

Operation Aisle Style - An "Alterna-Bridal" Fashion Event
W San Francisco will host a fashion show featuring Project Runway Season 1 finalist Austin Scarlett (for Kenneth Pool) and a second show featuring rising fashion stars from the Art Institute of California. Celebrity judges will jury twenty fashion design students as they show their interpretation of an alterna-wedding dress. SXSW band The Hooks will also perform. The W San Francisco is hosting this in partnership with and Destination I Do magazine. W San Francisco, Thursday March 12th, 6-11PM. After Party at XYZ Lounge 11PM. RSVP to:

Sustainable Fine Jewelry Event
Top sustainable jewelry designers will show their work at the W San Francisco on Thursday, March 19th. The event benefits Under the Baobab Tree, a nonprofit providing education and economic opportunities to communities in Africa. W San Francisco, March 19th, 5-8PM; Drinks, Hors D'oeuvres, Discounts, Promotions, Giveaways, Raffles and more!

Appel and Frank Spring into Style Shopping Event
San Francisco's Appel and Frank put on another one of their popular shopping events featuring a wide array of local designers. Each guest will receive a complimentary glass of Barefoot Wine, and the first 300 guests to arrive at the event will receive reusable gift bags filled with products and offers. Tickets can be purchased here or at the door. Thursday, March 26th, 5-9PM at the Regency Center, Sutter Room. And coming soon we'll have an interview with founders Jody Frank and Karen Appel.