Designer Gwendolyn Davis was inspired by nature and deco-era Art Nouveau to create her gorgeous Astrantia necklace, constructed out of mother of pearl petals from pre-war Japan. "As with everything I do creatively, my best teacher was nature. She teaches you the value of economy, proportion and exuberance all at once. The flower name ”Astrantia” comes from the Greek for Star, but I was thinking of a Gardenia when I made it."
Gwendolyn recommends pairing the delicate necklace with a Grecian-inspired top or dress with a plunging neckline and an empire waist. She would also pair the necklace with her bamboo bangles set with Swarovski crystals and some simple dangly vintage chain earrings.
Fun fact about Gwendolyn? She has a phobia for people in big, goofy costumes, likely stemming from a previous job as a costumer at Universal Studios.
$340 at Gwendolyn Davis.
August 11th, 2006
Michael Wesetly’s story reads much like a modern day version of the Tortoise and the Hare. While other designers scurry to crowd the catwalks of New York Fashion Week and push their clothes towards as many retailers as possible, Michael is deliberately taking it slow.
And one step at a time, Michael is gracefully opening doors, fine tuning his product, and building his brand. With an international fan base and pent-up demand in the US, Michael Wesetly will be launching in the US this spring—you’ll be hearing more about the deliciously brilliant designer in the coming months. Goes to show that slow and steady wins the race.
Omiru: Describe, in a nutshell, the Michael Wesetly brand.
Michael: We’re a tailored suit company with a contemporary edge. We’re not for the younger generation, and we’re not for the older gentleman, but we’re a high quality designer suit company with athletic, European style fit.
O: How does the suit market differ from the sportswear market?
M: It’s so hard to gain access to the market, especially at the high-end level. With sportswear, you get a nod in. But with suits, it’s hard to be recognized. A suit is like a steak; you can make it taste good, but you need to know what you’re doing.
O: Why did you focus on high-end, luxury men’s clothing?
M: There aren’t too many new designers out there in this market, since it’s hard for a new guy to break in. By new, I mean designers like John Varvatos—not established designers like Gucci or Zegna. Because of this, I didn’t launch my brand at home. I went overseas to Russia and sold the brand there for Russian Fashion Week.
O: Why overseas?
M: Within this game, there’s no blueprint. It’s not like all designers need to start in Texas, move to Chicago, and then go to New York. With the company we had, I felt it was a strategic move to not start at home. I wouldn’t face judgment based on styling or income. If you look at high-end designers, or African American designers, you don’t see many in the high-end market. You see them in the sportswear section. But not in high class, high quality clothing. Also, Moscow is one of the top fashion cities in the world.
O: Thoughts on Project Runway? Do you watch?
M: Oh my gosh no. I don’t have time. God bless those guys though, if that’s the way they want to start their career. I don’t pay too much attention to it. It’s interesting to see the judges really discriminating and judging the contestants, since the contestants are their future competition.
O: Do you think that the show is an accurate reflection of the industry?
M: Yes and no. Yes in what they pick. Sometimes people think designers set the trends. But it’s buyers who select what’s in stores. However, there are so many other aspects than just design. Many people can make good clothing, but it’s also about how you run your business. It’s so much more than great clothes. I would say that only 40% of the game is the actual clothes.
O: Biggest challenge?
M: We’ve conquered most of them. It’s about making sure infrastructure is where it has to be. What do we need to work on? We’re about to launch into the US market. Everything that we’ve done up to this point is promotion and marketing. Wanted to make sure that people knew who we were before we got here.
O: What’s your game plan?
M: We’re working hard and playing slow. We don’t want to burn out. Everything is calculated so that we can serve the end user and make sure they get the best products from us. If you give the customer an authentic, awesome product, customers are going to come. We’re a global designer company. We look at it from a global, not a US standpoint. For Fashion Week, we’re going to Tokyo [Fashion Week] then Rio de Janeiro [Fashion Week], then Olympus [Fashion Week] in New York. In my eyes, Olympus is the best fashion week in the world. And instead of being a niche designer label, we’ll be at the footsteps of Ralph Lauren and Gucci.
O: What’s a typical day like for you?
M: Currently, I live in Pennsylvania and work in New York. I drive from Pennsylvania to New York, where I speak with my team. Mornings are spent doing PR and getting the word out about Michael Wesetly. But most of my work is actually done in Pennsylvania. It’s not like New York—it’s where I can come home, relax, and hit the sewing board. It’s the best part of my job.
O: Little known fact about you?
M: There are a lot of secret things about my brand. I’m 6’6”, and when fans come to see me after my shows, it catches them off guard to see that (1) I’m a black guy, and (2) I’m 6’6”. Also, I lived abroad for seven years. And I was a law major at Penn State.
O: How about some Michael Wesetly company trivia?
M: We test our clothing. If people like it, then we can sell. The fashion industry is backward. In other industries, and especially pharmaceuticals, they test and then they sell. With fashion, the testing stage is nonexistent and designers have to cross their fingers hoping that the customer likes their work, hoping it sells. In part because of this, making millions as a designer is rare. It’s almost like going to the NBA right out of high school.
O: Best fashion tip for men?
yourself. Many people want to change this and change that. That’s
fashion. But if you feel comfortable, it’s fashionable. Great clothing
makes you feel like you’re wearing nothing. Less is best. Keep it
simple. The simplest design is always your best seller, but it’s also
what makes people comfortable.
O: What can we expect from your Spring 07 collection?
M: Luxury from both markets—high-end suits and funky sportcoats. I don’t have stuff for everbody, but I’m damn close. It’s a good mix of products. Look out, it’s coming!
O: Where can we purchase Michael Wesetly clothes?
M: We’ll be in 42 exclusive locations across the country for our US launch. We’re not going for the big bucks, but the big bucks are going to come.
O: Last words?
M: I don’t have a design team. It’s just Michael Wesetly. I personally design everything, down to the fiber content of the suit. I’m also a relentless editor. I’m not going to give you 99 garments. I’ll give you the 15-20 garments that I know will sell.
August 10th, 2006
In honor of Search Engine Strategies this week, Omiru is offering up the ultimate in Silicon Valley tech conference chic (read: comfortable professional). Be the best dressed man in the room with a crisp dress shirt, valley-style jeans, comfy dress shoes, and a brightly colored messenger bag that screams chic.
"Tech Conference" Fashion Formula = Dress Shirt + Jeans + Comfortable Dress Shoes + Messenger Bag.
Fitted Ticking-Stripe Barrel Cuff Shirt | $78 at Banana Republic
Kasil Whitman Jean in Atlantic | $165 at Revolve Clothing
T-Tech Flow Flap Body Bag | $95 at Tumi
August 9th, 2006
Fans of irony will appreciate a crisp white collared dress shirt boldly emblazoned with the words "Less is More."
But for those who wish to follow the minimalist philosophy, we would recommend applying the "Less is More "Golden Rule: wear one spotlight item, and keep the rest of your outfit simple.
"Less is More" Fashion Formula = Tank + Wide Belt + Shorts + Flats.
Women’s Classic Bold Tank | $42 at C&C California
Roma Accessories Leather Sash Belt | $98 at Nordstrom
BCBG Max Azria "Daryl" Tuxedo Shorts | $138 at Nordstrom
Desciata Shoes | $49.95 (sale) at Aldo
August 8th, 2006
Designer Sharla Samuelson was inspired by the unique shape of the shell to create her Hollow Mother of Pearl Necklace. "The shell is delicate yet funky, and I wanted a necklace that would have the same feel."
Sharla recommends pairing the unique necklace with simple silhouettes: a wrap dress, a low v-neck top, or even a white button-down shirt and jeans.
Fun fact about Sharla? She has a serious love for pistachio pudding.
$39 at Sharma Designs.
August 8th, 2006
We asked: Is the Color Purple In or Out?
You said: Purple rules! 76% are all over the royal color. Only 14% think that Purple is Out, and a small minority (10%) believe Purple is On the Way Out.
Omiru’s take: We love Purple as much as you do. Some tips on how to wear the color? While bright purple complements sunny summer days, we’d recommend choosing a more muted shade of purple come Autumn. Try a greyed-out lilac or a purple-brown hue to evoke the elegance of the royal color.
Next Question: You told us that Shorts are In. But what do you think about Short Shorts? Tell us, are Short Shorts In, or are they Out? Cast your
August 7th, 2006
When designer Terri Barshay makes something, she lets the process take her where it wants to go. We’re glad she did, and we’re loving her Black Onyx and Swarovski Crystal necklace, which feels chunkier and bolder than her usual designs.
Terri alludes to the versatility of this necklace in her garment pairing recommendations: a crisp tailored white shirt, a dressy tank, a suit, or even a fitted tee.
Little known fact about Terri? She’s a magnet for the pit bulls in her neighborhood who try to follow her home. "The last one sat in front of our house for two hours and finally dug under the fence and showed up on our back porch, staring through the sliding glass doors with an ingratiating look and a wagging tail." Guess the pit bulls love Terri as much as we do.
$45 at Earthen Vessel Designs.
August 7th, 2006
Issue No. 52 of the Friday Fashion Hotlist: a weekly compilation of the
cutest and coolest stuff Omiru’s Style Intelligence Report saw out there this
This week, we’re going back to basics to find you the most luxuriously elegant wardrobe staples for Fall: a voluminous draped cardigan for women and a fitted henley for men.
Vince Drape Cardigan | $275 at Shopbop
Elegantly oversized details elevate this sweater from staple to stunning.
John Varvatos Henley Knit Top | $165 at ScoopNYCWith men’s clothing, the devil is in the details. What makes this henley special is the ever-so-subtle extension of the placket closure.
August 4th, 2006