Tag Archives #womensfashion

Q&A with Alexa Leigh: The Story Behind Her Jewelry Line

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Alexa Leigh, founder of eponymous line

Born in California and raised in Colorado, Alexa Leigh Meyer founded her jewelry line in 2010 with the notion of creating sentimental value behind every piece. Alexa’s vision was to cultivate a jewelry line that could be worn everyday and look good at any occasion. The collection started with double pendant necklaces that are worn with one pendant in front and one at the nape of your neck and has expanded to cuffs, rings, bracelets, and anklets, all of which manifest Alexa Leigh’s vision. The line expanded into ball bracelets and necklaces that could be customized with unique charms to create something one of a kind. Each piece can be worn separately or layered together and add the perfect touch to any outfit.

Alexa Leigh “Snake Necklace” and “Huggie Hoops.” Modeled by Livia Caligor. Photographed by Erica Skylar.

How did you get into jewelry design? What motivated you to found your eponymous line?

I had lost an old necklace, and my father casually suggested I make it. I was naive enough to try, and that set me down a path of creating an entire jewelry line of delicate necklaces and bracelets. I’ve never looked back. While it was first started as a creative outlet, it quickly became my passion.

What are the differentiating characteristics of your jewelry?

It can be worn day to night and withstand the wear and tear of your everyday life. It’s the perfect compliment to an outfit whether you’re wearing a sweat set or a nice dress.

How did your home state of California impact your design aesthetic?I was born in California and raised in Aspen Colorado but I don’t think either place really impacted my design aesthetic. I created the line while I was living in New York but regardless of where I am living, I’ve always dressed for comfort first. I wanted to create a jewelry line that could be worn day to night and would last through the wear and tear of life, while also being comfortable enough to sleep in. That second skin jewelry line that you forget is on but looks effortlessly cool with everything!

Alexa Leigh “Star Huggie Hoop” and “Gold Ear Cuff.” Photo credits: Alexa Leigh

What are 3 words you’d use to describe the Alexa Leigh woman? 

Chic, timeless, effortless.

What was the hardest part of founding your own line? The most rewarding part?

I think the hardest part is to have the perseverance to keep going. Most brands aren’t an overnight success. You have to be willing to to keep your head down and never give up. There are really no days off. It’s so rewarding to have something that’s your own though and you’re able to do things in your own way. It’s an expression of my spirit and incredibly gratifying.

Alexa Leigh “Snake Necklace” and “Huggie Hoops.” Modeled by Livia Caligor. Photographed by Erica Skylar.

How do you think the jewelry industry has changed over the course of your career?

Social media has changed our industry just like it has any other. Having access to a platform that you can display your brand and help tell your story is priceless.

What is your design process like? Where are your products produced?

I make the majority of the first samples myself. There’s a headspace that I occasionally get into where the ideas just flow. I don’t know where they come from but they can pour out. In some cases I’ll sketch my ideas and other times I’ll get right to trying to make a sample. Some pieces we leave as limited edition to keep the site fresh and ever evolving but others we love too much to let go of and we make them part of the core line. Styles are made overseas, in Miami or New York. 

Alexa Leigh “Huggie Hoops” and “Gold Ball Necklace.” Photo credits: Alexa Leigh

What is your favorite piece of jewelry, or which piece do you think best embodies the ethos of the Alexa Leigh vision

Hard to pick a favorite child but I never take off my comfort rings and love the way a snake necklace catches the light. I also love a 2mm or 3mm ball necklace, bracelet or anklet because it can be layered or worn alone. They are all the perfect touches to any outfit. 

Alexa Leigh “Ball Bracelets.” Photo credits: Alexa Leigh

Where do you find inspiration as a designer?

I envy the people that can point to one place of inspiration. If I had that, I’d make sure to use it all the time. For me, the ideas often come right before I fall asleep or when I am in the right zone mentally during the day. I can totally tell the difference between when I am being right or left brained. I make items I would want to wear myself and hope other people feel the same.

What’s next for you?

I don’t pretend to know that! I am constantly thrown curveballs and surprises that I would have never predicted. Whatever comes I let come, and whatever goes I let go. I’m just gonna continue to ride the wave! 

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo Credits: Erica Skylar Photography, TBD PR, Alexa Leigh

From Le Smoking to Pantsuit Nation: The Legacy of the Power Suit

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Gabriela Hearst Spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear Pantsuit at NYFW. Photo credits: https://www.tag-walk.com/en/look/124918

In September, 2018, Grabriela Hearst’s lux pantsuit was greeted with an uproar of applause during her Spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear NYFW presentation. Sleek, architectural, and minimal, yet elevated, the silk ensemble pays homage to the notion of the “feminine mode” in everyday reality. It pairs a single-breasted blazer with tailored trousers, straddling the line between everyday workwear and high-end luxury. In fact, just one out of many that took the runway by storm these past two years, the pantsuit has become one of the most powerful trends of the decade.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement and a cultural shift towards greater female representation in the political realm, a resurgence in feminist tropes have become ubiquitous in the fashion industry. The “power suit,”in particular, heralded by Harper’s BAZAAR as a staple trend of the year, has become a pervasive motif for women’s empowerment in both the workplace and popular culture. It has trickled across various consumer demographics and price points, a staple on both the red carpet and in the millennial closet. 

While the pantsuit might seem like an established garment category today, it was practically perceived as a crime just one century ago. Mere pants did not emerge as a trend for women until the early 1900s, when French designer Paul Poiret designed womenswear pants that were inspired by a harem costume. Few women in Europe and the US wore them, however, as they were viewed as outrageous and inappropriate. In Puerto Rico in 1919, social labor organizer Luisa Capetillo was even sent to jail for being the first woman to wear pants in public. As Marjorie Jolles, a women’s studies professor at Roosevelt University, articulated, “It was just top-to-bottom sex. And that, I think, can be traced to the fact that for at least some of our recent Western history, a divided crotch—so pants as opposed separately encased in fabric—was thought to be the height of immodesty.”

Following the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, women began to harness new agency in not just the political realm but also the social sphere. As able-bodied men left for World War I, women took their places in the workforce, which offered new opportunities in terms of dress. In 1918, for instance, Levi Strauss introduced the “Freedom-Alls,” a women’s trouser-style cotton tunic over balloon pants. Similarly, in the luxury sector, French couturier Coco Chanel launched her 1923 “signature suit,” a two-piece set inspired by menswear and designed for post-war women to enter the workforce. A symbol for women’s growing agency in the workplace, the bottoms consisted of a knee-length skirt instead of pants but laid the groundwork for the modern pantsuit.

As the film scene skyrocketed in the 1940s, many Hollywood stars — most notably, Audrey Hepburn — began to adopt fitted tuxedo-esque jackets with wide-leg trousers. Menswear-inspired apparel did not become ubiquitous in the womenswear market until World War II, however, when the percentage of women in the workplace rose from 27% to 37%. Levi’s womenswear finally gained consumer appeal, and women’s workwear began to emerge as a segment of the industry.

Le Smoking, 1967. Photo credits: https://www.wmagazine.com/gallery/yves-saint-laurent-le-smoking-couture/

In the 1960s, a decade of great political upheaval and particularly huge strides in women’s rights, French designer Yves Saint Laurent pioneered the modern day pantsuit in 1966. Known as Le Smoking, this first tuxedo-suit for women consisted of a dinner jacket, trousers, a white shirt, a black bowtie, and a cummerbund. It received mixed responses, as YSL was the first couturier to present pants as a form of women’s evening wear. Many women who ventured wearing this bold look were denied entrance at restaurants and conferences. When New York socialite Nan Kempner was refused entry at restaurant Le Côte Basque in New York, she removed her pants, donning her blazer as a mini dress. Heralded as the epitome of the YSL woman, she received widespread praise, helping to popularize Le Smoking and challenging regulations against antiquated gendered dress codes. 

Throughout the 1970s, Le Smoking became an increasingly ubiquitous evening-wear staple, especially when actress Bianca Jagger adopted the look on her wedding day in 1971. Four years later, the look was shot by photographer Helmut Newton, personifying the power and modernity of the YSL image in a captivating editorial for Vogue Magazine. As Saint Laurent himself articulated, “For a woman, Le Smoking is an indispensable garment with which she finds herself continually in fashion, because it is about style, not fashion. Fashions come and go, but style is forever.”

While in the 1930s, actress Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrick dismissed the pantsuit as “mannish” and inappropriate, its widespread appeal in Hollywood trickled down into contemporary culture in the 1970s. It became a workwear staple in upper-middle class America. Many Italian and French ateliers, in particular, became renowned for their sophisticated, form-fitting, and professional attire. It was really in the 80s that the pantsuit became a lucrative garment category in the fashion industry; between 1980 and 1987, annual sales of women’s pantsuits rose by 60 million units. The 80s also catalyzed a wave of women pursuing higher education, and the pantsuit became a symbolic uniform for the movement. Designers such as Giorgio Armani popularized pantsuits with oversized lapels, sharp cuts, and broad shoulder pads, which blurred traditional gender roles and emulated power and authority. 

Hillary Clinton at North Carolina State University for the last campaign stop before election day on November 7, 2016. Photo credits: https://www.bustle.com/articles/194023-hillary-clinton-wrote-pantsuit-nation-a-heartfelt-thank-you-note-it-sets-the-tone-for-her

In 1993, Senators Babara Mikulski wore pants in the Senate in defiance of the rule forbidding women from wearing pants. Later that year, Sergeant-at-Arms Martha Pope amended the rule, allowing women to wear pants on the floor as long it was paired with a jacket; thus, the tradition of pantsuits in the political realm was born. In the 2016 Presidential election cycle, Hillary Clinton’s well-known pantsuit became a battle cry among her supporters, many of whom wore pantsuits to the polls in her support. After referring to her campaign team as “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits” at the Democratic National Convention, “Pantsuit Nation,” a Facebook group that was eventually composed of 2.9 million Clinton supporters, was formed. 

In the wake of the election, the pantsuit became a feminist rally cry, infiltrating both the runway and the mass market. It has come a long way since the groundbreaking invention of Le Smoking, when an androgynous uniform symbolizing power and authority was perceived as outrageous for women to wear. Reigning as one of the top trends these past three years, the pantsuit has become a powerful motif for women’s empowerment in both the workplace and on the runway.

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo credits: Tagwalk, InsiderW Magazine, Bustle

Messenger Bag, the Unisex Fashion Accessory

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The messenger bag has developed over time from only being a working man’s necessity. To now being, the accessory for men. Mailmen used this style bag in order to carry loads of assorted mail door to door. Businessmen used this bag to carry all their papers and pens. Young men in a University studying to become a working man used this style bag to carry their school books. Now, the messenger bag is more than just a life necessity for men. It has evolved into a lifetime desire for both men and women.

Why has the purpose of a messenger bag changed?

Although the messenger bag is still dominant in the workplace for its work use. It has migrated into street style fashion and has become the main accessory piece for the fashion-forward. Since the bag has become so popular in street style, the original smooth leather bags are not the only styles out there anymore. They now come in multiple fabrics, colors, and sizes. Men want to be fashion-forward too, men want options for their accessories, men want to be fashionable. Men found a new way to style the messenger bag and because of the popularity the look created, this bag became more than just a work bag. It is now a fashion statement.

How should you style the messenger bag?

Styling the messenger bag is all up to the individual wearing the accessory. For a white-collar business style, the bag in dark brown with a tailored navy colored suit can easily create that work-ready outfit. If you want a relaxed business style, a white button-up with grey slacks and a black bag will give you a casual workday outfit. For street style, you could be mono-toned. A black T-shirt with ripped black jeans and a black bag. Or you could use the bag as your accent color, like pairing a red bag with red sneakers. You could even pair a small bag with a big over-sized sweater, a pair of skinny jeans, and skater shoes.

Weixier messenger bag

The future of the messenger bag.

This accessory is not going anywhere anytime soon. The overall function of the bag is what makes it essential in life. The size and how it sits on the body makes it comfortable for the customer to use. The never-ending style choices are what makes this bag universal to all genders and styles. This bag has grown into more than another work bag, it has become a fashion trend and will continue to grow and evolve accordingly.