August Musings On September Issues

I’ll be honest- August is one of my least favorite months. I don’t know why but weird, not-so-awesome things always seem to happen in August, or the month has routinely carried the weight of transition for me. I moved during August (two years to the date!), school frequently starts up again in August, the calendar starts to get too busy in August, and summer movies are never quite as good in August. It could be the looming start of a new school year and the existential reminder that all good Rosé seasons must come to an end, or it could just be me.

So over the years I’ve tried to find little ways to take back this month and be intentional about enjoying it, and for nearly ten years now one of those ways has involved getting really, really, reeeeeeeeally excited for September issues. If you know me, you know this. The annual crowning achievement of every fashion magazine editor is their September issue, and while the magazine industry seems to be in upheaval now right alongside retail, we can bet that no matter what happens there will forever and always be excitement surrounding the inaugural weeks of fall fashion. I’m not sure why people don’t get this excited for spring fashion in February. It must be the pumpkin-spice-loving, Ugg-boots-wearing, Bath-and-Body-Works-obsessing white girl in all of us.

So let’s look at a couple September covers, though we’ll be sans Vogue today because they have to be all queenie and make a grand entrance after everyone else. However, we WILL make some speculative guesses!

Blake Lively for Glamour

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I like this cover. It’s cheerful. It reads a little more March than September to me, but it’s still very beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the large flower on Blake’s neck, but the soft focus on her face is easily the first thing you notice anyhow. Glamour has really been playing with its cover design the past couple years and the playful font lends a decidedly millennial feel to this one, clearly reaching out to younger readers. Lively apparently spends a great deal of her interview discussing the Child Rescue Coalition, an organization that “provides law enforcement with technology to track and prosecute child predators.” It might be heavy subject matter for a September issue, but I have to say it’s great to hear a celebrity pushing the focus outward instead of talking about their latest reinvention of themselves.

Alicia Vikander for Elle

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This, in stark contrast to Glamour‘s, is actually the kind of cover I prefer. It may be a little boring to some but I like that it makes a plain, straightforward statement. The bold fonts combined with Vikander’s dress and shoulder-y stance give off a kind of eighties vibe. Speaking of Alicia Vikander, it isn’t as interesting to see who is chosen for a September cover as much as it is to discover why. I like trying to predict September covers based on who has projects coming up that month. Alicia probably snagged the cover in anticipation of her late-August movie Tulip Fever, and to ramp up buzz for her Tomb Raider remake in March.

For Vogue, rumor has it that a certain actress in an upcoming Darren Aronofsky film will be taking their September cover. If this proves true I’ll be a little disappointed beings that she had this coveted cover just four years ago AND she was on Vogue‘s cover this past December, less than a year ago! Give it a rest, Ms. Wintour. And a second prediction- Rihanna will almost certainly grab a September cover somewhere, be it with Allure or Marie Claire, due to the launch of Fenty Beauty on September 8. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this launch. You know there’s bound to be some top-of-the-line lipstick in any beauty launch that Rihanna’s responsible for.

Selena Gomez for InStyle

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Ah, and now for the one that I subscribe to and don’t just pick up on occasion. This magazine has been undergoing a nonstop overhaul since Laura Brown replaced Ariel Foxman as editor-in-chief last November. Some of the changes I’ve loved, others not as much. The covers that Brown has overseen have been consistently fresh and eye-catching nonetheless. She really has done a bang-up job.

It’s seemed the entire print mag industry has been trying to get its sea legs as it adjusts to constant change these years. Some have shuttered completely (RIP Lucky, Self, and probably People StyleWatch, or whatever it’s called now, very soon). Waning relevance thanks to social media and online content, a struggling retail industry (affecting fashion in general), and a political climate in upheaval have made it a challenge for fashion magazines to keep up readership and relatability. It’s been good to see InStyle as one of the few print periodicals that has taken the bull by the horns and leaned in to the maelstrom of change these days. And Selena, the woman with the most Instagram followers in the world at 124 million, is having her moment with a Coach partnership and a new album out probably sooner than later.

Adriana Lima, The Weeknd, and Irina Shayk for Harper’s Bazaar

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And now for the wildcard. Selena and her boyfriend must be high-fiving each other over both claiming September covers this year- not something you’d expect to find on any male celebrity’s resume (save for the obvious i.e. GQ). I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I first saw this. The expressions on their faces somehow read super Zoolander to me. I’m pleased, however, that Adriana and Irina are the only models on the September cover lineup so far. The rest are musicians or actors. I have to say that I’m pretty burned out with the resurgence of the supermodel. I know for a while we all complained that the world of fashion had been given over to the celebrity and there was not enough respect being given to the model, the original and true muse of the industry. However, we’ve turned on the supermodel firehose these days with an endless barrage of Gigi, Kendall, Joan, Bella, Hailey, Kaia, Emily, Cara, and Karlie. Their omnipresence on our social media feeds has had a numbing effect on me personally, and I’ve struggled to relate one little bit to today’s supermodels. But I guess the point of a supermodel isn’t exactly relatability, is it?  And the day I do relate to one, well, that probably means I’ve somehow become one in some alternate universe.

Any covers you especially love? Or any predictions for those yet seen? Do tell, and first and foremost, try to enjoy your August! xo, MR

Photo credits by order of appearance: Nathaniel Goldberg/Glamour magazine, David Bellemere/ELLE, Phil Poynter/InStyle, Brigitte LaCombe

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Best Of The Met Gala 2016

And once again, Anna Wintour has thrown me an early birthday party and forgotten to invite me.  It’s really just getting obnoxious at this point.  I guess I’ll have to return her hostess gift- a bottle of two-buck Chuck and a Target candle.  Your loss, Anna.

And in case you, dear reader, need a brief review on what exactly the Met Gala is, here is the quickest definition I can give you- the Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala hosted by Anna Wintour (editor in chief of Vogue, in case that was needed) for my birthday the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City.  It celebrates the opening of that year’s Costume Institute exhibit too, which remains open for a couple months, but the main purpose of the Gala is to fund that exhibit.  So, yes, what this whole thing boils down to at the most fundamental level is, more or less, a fundraiser.

But of course, we all know that’s not really what it is in its essence.  The Met Gala is not just a fundraiser.  I don’t think any of us can picture Beyonce showing up to a country club for a dinner of chicken, rice pilaf, and veggie medley, and then merrily writing a check for $100 after a PowerPoint presentation and a bit of pinot noir in a disposable wine glass. No, to call the Met Gala a fundraiser really does not do it justice, even if that’s what it is by definition.  With the highly exclusive invite list overseen by Anna herself, the press coverage second to none, and the accompaniment of some highfalutin theme each year, the Met Gala is sort of what the fashion world recognizes as THEE event.  If you’ve been invited to the Met Gala, that’s one of the most influential authorities in fashion telling you you’ve made it and you’re welcome to now use emojis when texting her.  Or something like that.

Of course, I have become rather cynical toward Vogue over the years as I believe it’s started to warp into a mere celebrity platform with a bit of tabloid flavor.  A bit of that came out in tonight’s red carpet, as well.  Vogue now seems more about staying pop culturally relevant as opposed to remaining the revered fashion authority it has been; more about pimping the names of models with six million or more Instagram followers than celebrating the creativity and innovation of designers and artists around the world.  First came the Kim and Kanye cover of April 2014, then the single special edition devoted entirely to Kendall Jenner, and most recently, a perfectly timed May 2016 Taylor Swift cover that has gone hand in hand with her new “edgy” makeover.  It’s all just in time for the Gala as Swift co-chaired this year, yet I can’t help but feel that the Wintour influence has been unbearably obvious and heavy-handed in her case.  I’m never a fan of a makeover feeling manufactured or manipulated for press or publicity, and I have to say that Taylor Swift’s choice of outfit this year was … well … let’s just say that it looked like a stylist from Charlotte Russe got hold of her as opposed to Nicolas Ghesquiere himself.  I was, admittedly, very disappointed.  I find my feelings toward the Met Gala overall sort of turning in the same direction as my feelings for Vogue- it’s starting to be difficult to take seriously.  However, I don’t want to stop enjoying things I love such as fashion, so I’ll attempt to overlook the Hunger Games Capitol flavor its taken on and just take it for what it is- a fashion show.

So anyhow, the theme of this year’s ball was “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology”.  Your eyes may have rolled into the back of your head after reading that, but I have to say that very few attendees of this year’s event seemed to stick with the theme or even try to dress to the theme because, after all, how exactly can you dress for a “tech” theme?  Dress like an iPhone?  Accessorize with a fax machine to be ironic?  You could wear a light-up dress as one celebrity did, but even that’s already been done by Katy Perry at a previous year’s Gala.  What we did see were a TON of metallics, a massive trend toward dark and vampy lips, a whole lotta model chicks in Balmain (which I’m super over btw), and just a whole lotta WEIRD in general.  It was perhaps the strangest red carpet I’ve seen in a while.

So here are the looks that I enjoyed the most when considering every element including hair, makeup, and accessories.

Zoe Saldana in Dolce & Gabbana

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Ah yes, there’s my girl Zoe bringing it once again in an insane dress that looks like she’s carrying a jungle with her, complete with birds and palm trees and flowers.  But really, I love this.  This is the kind of statement that I’m looking for.  And I cannot wait for an up-close shot of the skirt so I can see it in full detail.  How it goes with the tech theme I do not know, but like I said earlier, the theme got kind of thrown out this window this year from what I can tell.  With minimal makeup and low-maintenance, Zoe’s look was a win for me.

Kate Bosworth in Dolce & Gabbana

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This was the first dress that I really squealed over.  I love just how much detail is in involved in this gown.  How do you even begin to envision something like this?!  That bodice is exquisite!  And I love the jeweled “floral” headpiece.  It’s a modern rendering of an ancient Etruscan goddess, complete with glowing, angelic skin.  And can someone PLEASE find of what lip color that is?!  I’ll be scrolling through Insta all night trying to find out.

Lupita Nyong’o on Calvin Klein Collection

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Might it be the most ambitious hairdo we’ve ever seen on a red carpet?  Perhaps.  But Lupita has taken an avant-garde turn in fashion that sort of allows her to try whatever and pull it off, even if it’s basically haute couture Cindy Lou-Hoo.  And please take a look at this gown.  It is mesmerizing.  Such a lovely, refreshing color with texture that makes her some kind of beautiful cross between a mermaid and the Empire State building!

Jennifer Connelly in Louis Vuitton

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I chose this look because A) it’s representative of the very casual vibe that many folks went for on this year’s Met Gala red carpet but B) this particular casual look seemed to work out better than others.  And C) because it’s Jennifer Connelly and I’m obsessed with her and I all-too-frequently give her a free pass.  This was one of many, many Louis Vuitton outfits seen tonight too, but I much preferred this look as opposed to say, Selena Gomez’s.  Jennifer’s look feels edgy and elegant until you get to the boots (which are freakin’ tight if you ask me), whereas Selena’s just felt much, much too casual from top to bottom.

Beyonce in Givenchy

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Bey’s eyes are only half open.  I’m thinking she’s just a little tired from waterboarding everyone with lemonade these days, and the fact that she’s currently on tour.  Yeah, she has a show in Raleigh, North Carolina in less than 24 hours.  Bey better take a nap or she’s gonna fall asleep on stage!  But her latex Givenchy dress is pretty rad, I must say.  I like a weird texture on a dress, and I miss all the exaggerated shoulders from five years ago.  I also really love Beyonce’s hair when it’s straight with a center part for some reason.  It is just so pretty.  And I never met a smokey eye I didn’t like, or black manicure I didn’t like.

Emma Stone in Prada

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Is this woman starting to look more and more like Margot Robbie by the minute?  They’re morphing into one person and it’s scaring me.  But I digress.  I liked the overall effect of this, especially with Emma’s new, rich hair color.  I’m not sure why I like it so much; it has the feel of a Roman gladiator which, again, is nowhere near the tech vibe that we were supposed to be going for, but oh well.  It flatters Emma beautifully and I cannot wait for makeup closeups.  Rachel Goodwin is forever and always a makeup genius.

Brie Larson in Proenza Schouler

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I love any dress that looks like it may have taken a billion hours to make, and this is no exception.  I would choose to wear something like this if I were attending the Met Gala, though I’d typically prefer something floor length because when do we normal humans ever get to wear anything floor length besides pants?!  I like that this dress is very feminine and sweet in its silhouette, but the severe hair and makeup keep the look from going in a direction too cloying.  Just the right amount of girly-girl married with futurism.

And there you have it.  I almost wish I had done a “roast post” on all of the other absolutely ridiculous looks we saw this evening, but I feel that’s not my brand.  I’ll mention just a couple stray observations:

  • The Kardashians always look like the Kardashians, and always wear Balmain, all the time.  I feel that I’m completely numb to their effects now.  I always seem to know exactly what they’re going to look like these days.  Even Kanye wearing blue contacts feels blasé.  And will someone please convince him to wear something other than denim?!
  • Madonna’s face looks so painfully stretched that my teeth hurt just looking at her.  I’m making a dental appointment.
  •   “Naked” dresses feel so last year, and yet we still saw way too many of them.
  • Katy Perry is Katy Perry.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker has never looked worse!  That broke my heart.  I have no idea what she was thinking.  I get that she’s SJP, mais quelle horreur!
  • Too much white, too many metallics.
  • Where have all the eyebrows gone?
  • I feel like we have seen Amber Heard in the exact same look before, from head to toe.
  • Naomi Watts looked lovely, but I feel like I’ve also seen her in that same exact look before.
  • Olivia Wilde is really into metallic chokers.
  • Blake Lively always looks like Blake Lively.
  • Idris Elba showed up looking like the living, breathing definition of James Bond, but oh yes, he’s too “street” to take over the role apparently. Smh.

Share with me your thoughts, criticisms, and wailings of lament.  And in the words of Miranda Priestley, “That’s all”.  xo, MR

On Not Getting Bored With My Long Hair: Braids and Blowouts

For as long as I’ve lived, I’ve never, ever been able to produce an adequate French braid on myself or anyone else.  Standard braids are easy enough, and I’ve been able to turn out a single standard one on myself with fair results.  However, anything beyond this has been literally impossible.  I’ve practiced on my own hair and on others dozens of times, and I always end up feeling like I need three hands.  And of course, braids are so the thing these days that I’m all the more envious of those that can turn out those delicate little plaits just across the top of the head, or those gorgeous, messy fishtail looks a’la Blake Lively .

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So anyhow, last night I found myself in a, um, creative mood, and I happened to have a friend over at that moment with lots and lots of beautiful red hair.  I broke out my curling rod and got to waving her hair into medium-sized ringlets with beachy texture, but apparently I wasn’t quite satisfied with that, because I suddenly found myself grabbing pieces of her hair on both sides of her hair and almost haphazardly weaving them in and out of each other.  I know with French braids you’re supposed to grab a new strand to weave into the braid as you continue it, but I honestly had very little grid for what I was doing.  There was nearly no method.  I kept pulling out and weaving in new pieces, but sometimes I’d use the same strands over again.  I’d created two fishtail-like braids on each side of Stephanie’s head, and then I got to work trying to weave together everything into one.  The end result was something I never thought I’d be able to do without instruction:

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Not terribly shabby, eh??  I love how it seemed to take on a magical Elsa quality with almost no effort!  I couldn’t believe it.  It actually looked like a braid.

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I’ll work on neatening it later, but for now I’d love to keep practicing this on nearly anyone I can get my hands on.  I like the messier, more pulled apart look so I’m not too worried about attaining perfection.  I used Oribe’s Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray for extra texture, but Stephanie’s hair really didn’t need it that much.  I need almost no excuse to use it, though.  That stuff is the best, and it smells amazing.  I sometimes skip perfume when wearing it.

Finding some ways to mix up my own look lately has been a real necessity for me, because I’ve been dealing with a slight itch to chop it all off after finally growing it out to the length that I’ve wanted for years.  If I can start reaping the benefits of long hair with things like fishtail braids, I figure that’ll keep me from making the idiot move of getting rid of all my hard work in one moment of insanity and dissatisfaction.  In addition to adding things like braids and long, unkempt ponytails to my repertoire, I’ve been going for all kinds of texture when I wear it down: straight and smooth, round-brushed with volume, or waved and matted.

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I’ve made so little use of hairbrushes in the past few years, but the look on the left was a result of using a boar-bristled flat brush to smooth out and lengthen the bottom layers, and a ceramic round brush for volume and bend on the top layers.  My own blowout lasted a good four days, and a bit of dry shampoo on the crown added some extra mileage.  I covered my hair in Frederic Fekkai’s Coiff Controle Ironless Straightening Balm, and that stuff gives hair such good stretch and elasticity; I’ve long touted it as the best straightening product I’ve ever used.

The look on the right is my most frequent style.  I wrap random sections around a one-and-a-quarter inch iron (without using the clamp, ever) and I leave the ends free, sometimes finishing things off by straightening them just a bit.  I tend to spray a look like this all over with the Apres Beach, or these days I’ll use Bumble and Bumble’s CitySwept Finish for extra “chunk”, as Kristen Stewart calls it.  And of course, mussing it up as much as you can with your own hands before stepping out the door is a must.

Once I manage to get my own hair into some sort of dignified French braid, I’ll have to do a post on it.  But for now, a braid on a friend and a really good blowout on myself is about all we can ask for.  xo, MR

 

Holy Blake Lively Batman! Or, my gorgeous friend Katie!

Katie is a friend that I seriously admire.  She works with my husband as a high school ministry director, and I have to say that if there’s one word to describe her it’s energy.  Katie’s got an unparelled talent for being able to speak in public on a moment’s notice, get a crowd going under any circumstances, and put a positive spin on nearly anything.  Katie is a classic extrovert, and she’s the first to organize game nights, community dinners, New Year’s Eve champagne parties, and she’s always the first one to raise a glass for a toast.  She loves to have a good time.

So when Katie let me know that she’d be going to a fancy Christmas soiree (that may or may not have been hosted by a vocal trainer on a certain little show called Glee), and that she wanted me to do her makeup for said soiree, I admittedly got a bit nervous.  I mean, what kind of makeup do you go with to reflect such a great personality?  And seeings that it was a pretty swank party Katie was headed to, how do I take things up a notch without going overboard?  And on top of that, Katie sticks to a consistent routine of bronzer and mascara (and she doesn’t need more, anyhow).  What’s a little more without being a bit too much?

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Let me tell you this: If you have good teeth (which Katie has in spades), and if you’re not typically seen with bright makeup on, the absolute easiest and most high-impact answer to the above questions is a red lip.  Or pink or orange or plum, quite honestly.  A statement lip– we’ll just call it that.  Katie was a tad worried about going with this at first because her teeth and lips are such stand-out features of hers; she didn’t want to feel like she was all lip!  The best solution for this is not found in adding heavy eyeshadow or eyeliner (which can look overdone on top of a bright lip), but rather by adding some great false eyelashes.  Don’t overspend on these; Ardell’s from the drugstore are amazing! I used the Glamour Demi Wispies in Black on Katie, as this is my go-to pair for myself and for brides.  I dusted a champagne shadow on Katie’s lids (I believe I used Dior’s 5-Couleurs palette in Earth Reflection, or it could’ve been MAC’s eyeshadow in All That Glitters) and then lined just the outer corners of her eyes in deep brown shade for extra definition.  Lining the lids in powder shadow helps soften any harsh false lash lines, too.  I used the shimmery ivory shade in my Dior palette to highlight the inner corners of Katie’s eyes as a tribute to Blake Lively (whom I think Katie looks like!).  I dotted the same shadow on a blush brush and tapped a bit onto Katie’s cheeks, and used her MAC bronzer for some light contouring.  With a red lip, I don’t typically add blush because it competes too much with the lipcolor, so we left it at just highlighting and contouring.

I had Katie moisturize her lips while I worked on her face and eyes.  A good way to prep your lips for lipstick is by exfoliating them is gently with a toothbrush, but we skipped that and just had her saturate them in balm.  I used MakeUpForEver’s lipliner in Red 8C, and filled in her lips first with MAC’s Russian Red by using a lip brush (from SkinMarket … DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THAT PLACE?!).  I then had Katie blot, and filled her lips in again by using NARS’ Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl (a real fire engine red).  I then placed just a touch of Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer on the cupid’s bow and on the inner corners of the lips.  Creating the perfectly-shaped statement lip is still something I’m working on; it’s harder for me than the most complicated eyeshadow.  Many professional makeup artists like to use a primer under lipstick (yes, an eyeshadow primer) and additionally like to dust translucent powder on top for extra staying powder.  However, in Katie’s case, I didn’t want things to get unbearably dry.  It was her first time doing a red lip, and matte lipstick can feel like cement if you aren’t used to it.  I’ll save the primer and powder for when I do Lupita Nyong’O’s makeup for the Academy Awards.  Right.

So, the final product: How amazeballs does Katie look?!  I was so, so pleased with the whole package.  With just a few curls in her hair (at her own hand), Katie was pure holiday magic.  I know I’ve been slow to crank out a post yet this year, but I sort of like that this first post of 2014 is a throwback to party season.  Everyone likes a fresh start with a new year, but at the same time I’m convinced that we still wish party season could continue well past January (minus the party planning).  And, I mean, party season sort of does continue past January with AWAAAAAAAAAAAAARDS SEASON.  Consider this makeup I’ve done for Katie my own teeny tiny contribution to the 2014 Awards Season, and just a little something to hold you over while I work on my Golden Globes post!  Thanks, Katie!  You look phenomenal!  xo, MR