Each season, I am energized by the excitement of New York Fashion Week - models running from casting to casting, street style photographers at every turn and the anticipation of Thom Browne's next spectacle. Although NYFW is near and dear to my heart, I count down the days until designers debut their collections in Paris where wonders never cease and I am inspired to drape better, design better - dream better. In the meantime, I have noticed some rather amazing men's wear nods in Milan - an oversized cuff, exaggerated trouser pleats, an extended blazer - even a textile resembling horsehair used to build the foundation of a suit jacket. Can you match the men's wear detailing above to the designers who recently showed in Milan? Click looks above for answers. All photographs compliments of www.style.com.
So last night - at the last minute - I discovered that someone I truly admire in the fashion industry, Mary Ping of Slow and Steady Wins the Race, would be part of a discussion at MOCA - Museum of Chinese in America. In terms of fashion, I share the philosophy behind Ping's brand Slow and Steady Wins the Race:
"Slow and Steady Wins the Race breaks the rule that fashion must constantly change. The work is seasonless and proves that good design elicits both an intellectual and emotional response that is ageless, cross-cultural — boundless."
Although the discussion was geared toward the impact of being Asian American on the creative process, I couldn't help but relate to Ping's upbringing which though filled with love and encouragement, was also filled with expectation. I grew up with a self-proclaimed "Steady Eddie" for a mother, who I have mentioned countless times encouraged me to take a very "safe" route in terms of a career and whose voice always rings in the back of my head...
"Honey, slow and steady wins the race."
Worlds, or words in this case, collided when I discovered Slow and Steady Wins the Race was looking for an intern back in 2009, a year after I had moved to NYC to pursue my career in fashion. I applied for the position with the following dramatic, yet very heartfelt at the time, email dated September 23, 2009 - which I was able to find this morning:
To Whom It May Concern:
I live by the words, "Slow and Steady Wins the Race," and have repeated them countless times during my past career as a fourth grade teacher and in my present endeavor as a fashion designer. I taught for 10 years, all the while knowing I wanted to design. And so, in true "slow and steady wins the race" style, I step by step planned my exodus from teaching and into the world of fashion.
In the "fashion world" that is, and I am finding all of the drama (and then some) that I expected - but what I did not expect is to find is a label that shared my slow and steady roots. As I read your manifesto, I thought to myself, "Now, this is something I can really relate to." I, too, love the idea of developing piece by perfect piece and giving people simple, well-thought out pieces that will last a very long time and always be go-to items in a closet. That's how I dress - I have my very favorite basics that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Anyway, this note is turning into "long and lengthy," as opposed to slow and steady. I am attaching my resume - unsolicited, I know, but I want you to have it in case I fit anywhere within your label. My experience appears "cookie-cutter," but my ideas, passion and designs are not. Thank you for taking the time to read, and have a great day.
Mary did get back to me, but fortunately/unfortunately, I had already found a job as an assistant designer. Last night, as I listened to Mary speak in such an honest and lovely way about our industry, I was so impressed by her appreciation for the craft of making clothes, her advice to "never fight with fabric" and her reminder to find the fun and pleasure in fashion as it is a tough industry full of hard work. When asked if she could name a defining moment in her career, Mary referenced emails she has received throughout her career from those who love her pieces - I am hoping she has the same email she did back in 2009, so I can send her this link. Mary, not only do I have a savings plan in place for the only bag I will ever need, but I really look up to you as a thinker, problem solver, designer and woman.
On F/W 2013 Inspiration
I have always loved Patti Smith's aura. Her cool, quiet confidence. Her fearless, androgynous style. Her poetic rock. Recently, I read Smith's memoir "Just Kids." I had the pure joy of discovering Patti Smith as a deeply creative, passionate and surprisingly feminine woman and artist. As I designed for F/W 2013, I couldn't help but be inspired by her strength which plays the perfect contrast to her softness.
Once in a rare while, I find a special treat that contains everything I love all neatly wrapped up in a single inspirational package. This short film is one of those treats. Tilda, Bowie, androgynous models Andrej Pejíc and Saskia de Brauw - styling, color and commentary for days...oh my.
My Holiday Card to YOU
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through my house
Not a creature was stirring, not Melissa nor mouse (we do live in NYC after all).
Our suitcases were packed by the door with care
As we knew within hours we would be in the air.
The hood + scarves were nestled, all snug in their boxes
Ready to travel and adorn a slew of Kansas City foxes.
With Melissa in her button down and I in my collar + tie
We knew in a matter of hours to our family we'd fly.
When out on the fire escape there arose such a clatter
I sprang from our third floor walk-up to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Unlocked the bars and looked past the street trash.
The moon on the breast of the New York streets below
Reminded me of something in 2012 I have come to know.
When you wish and you work and hold those who support you so dear
Your wildest dreams will start to appear.
With a little old cab driver so lively and quick
I knew in a moment his meter would tick.
More rapid than eagles, his horn started beeping
So I called to Melissa, "We are late, grab the *bleeping…*"
Down three flights we rushed - hats and coats in a flurry
Knowing our cab would be gone if we didn't hurry.
Then it dawned on me - I knew what I had forgotten to do
Thank those who have supported me - in short - thank YOU.
Now Annie! Now Linda! Now Oiram and Donna!
On Michelle! On Andrea! On Trish and Anna!
To the top of Facebook! To the top of Twitter!
How I wish I could sprinkle you all with glitter!
Now Rafael! Now Joao! Now Jo-Anne and Amy!
On Wayne! On Monique! On Nancy and Jamie!
Your comments on Instagram! Your endless sweet posts!
Your incredible support has meant the most!
Then I said to Melissa, "But there are thousands more…"
And she smiled as she politely scooted me out the door.
"Honey," she said, "Your fans…they will know…"
Now gather those packages, it's time to GO!"
We sprang in the cab and to the cabbie said "JFK!"
And waved at our apartment as we drove away.
And as Melissa and I finally settled into the backseat -
We looked at each other exclaiming, "Can 2012 be beat?"
Happiest Holidays to You and Yours and may 2013 be full of surprises for us all!
Kara (and Melissa, too)
You know I love a good giveaway. I happen to have either a navy/ecru striped or a black/brown check hood + scarf up for grabs. Winner's choice!
Today your mission is to recognize, compliment and document style. Seek out someone with a foxy haircut, an incredible accessory - even a unique stride. Pay him or her a compliment and document that compliment in the comments section of the Facebook post that led you to my blog. You will be entered to win the hood + scarf of your choice. One entry per person, but you are welcome to give as many compliments as you would like. I will select one lucky winner to be announced on Tuesday.
Hoping to see style of all kinds documented today. Also hoping to brighten a few Mondays - now go forth and compliment. And feel free to "Like" others compliments you see posted - can't wait to select one stylie winner...
Back to Facebook HERE.
On Unexpected Opportunity
I recently had the opportunity to serve as the inspiration for a student contest in visual design. The event was PAVE's (Planning and Visual Education Partnership) annual fundraiser where the money raised goes to students in design related programs across the world. When asked to design a tote as a giveaway "swag bag" at the end of the evening, I was thrilled. Never one to pass on a play on words, I adopted the "PAVE YOUR OWN WAY" message to honor the organization as well as my own philosophy on design.
At the end of an incredible evening spent meeting students from all over the world and being inspired by their designs (not to mention the incredible food and drink at Cipriani's on Wall Street), I found myself in a cab looking at this bag I had designed over Melissa's shoulder. It was at that moment that I realized a few things...I never dreamed I would be on a reality competition show and I certainly never thought I would win one. I did, however, dream that I would show at New York Fashion Week and I certainly dreamed that I would sell my collection at a retailer like Saks Fifth Avenue. Those dreams have come true.
During the past few months, I have been up to my eyeballs in production and many of my days are spent learning how to develop bar codes for the tickets that will hang on my garments and making sure that hangers, garment bags and shipping boxes all meet regulation. I am in the thick of the business side of fashion and it's tough. The greatest challenge is saving a bit of energy to design for the fall of 2013. However, in the back of the cab the other night, I took my own message to heart. I am paving my own way - one step at a time. And I am grateful. Grateful to be in a position to celebrate the designers of tomorrow, grateful for the opportunity to learn and face the challenges ahead of me and grateful to have the platform to design - in my own way.
I love anyone/anything that makes me think or look twice to figure out what I am seeing. At the risk of sounding too cerebral in regards to fashion, I like clothing and style to be served with a side of wit, thought or underlying message. My eye likes to be challenged and maybe this is why I am so drawn to ad campaigns, designers' collections and certainly people that are deemed androgynous. Recently, friends have shared links too good not to share...enjoy.
First, meet Casey Legler, recently featured in TIME Style.
Next, click on the shot below to see a recent Saint Laurent campaign...
And finally - my first photoshoot for Collar, Stand + Tie - these shots will always represent my core as a designer.
On Being Inspired
Just today, I was asked in an interview, "What inspires you?" There are many sources that inspire me visually, but it's a rare find when someone's essence pushes me to tap into the passion that drives me artistically. On those rare occasions I am reminded that there is only one me (and there is only one you) and to honor and nurture my unique point of view. The one and only Paul Richard is one of those inspirations for me. Click on his drip painting below and read a recently published article on Paul in the Huffington Post. Then watch for yourself.
No Time Like the 'Present'
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I have decided it's high time to take care of a few things that have been on my To Do List (in addition to showing at NYFW and launching my line ;) for some time now.
Kara's To Do List:
1. Get my website up and running.
2. Start blogging as a way to stay in contact with YOU.
3. Document my last year's journey all in one place.
4. Make a little piece of Kara Laricks available to you post Fashion Star and before Spring of 2013.
5. Do what I can to help with Hurricane Sandy relief.
And so...starting Monday, November 12, I will be able to check off my list. If you are reading this, you know I have accomplished #1 and #2. I am looking forward to #3 as I so often think, "What's next? What's next?" without taking the time to reflect on all that has happened in the last year in particular.
I am most excited about #4 and #5. The number one biggest frustration since the end of Fashion Star has been not being able to produce and sell Kara Laricks pieces quick enough for my incredibly stylish supporters to purchase! But that is about to change... The first piece I am making available on my website is a Kara Laricks throwback. New to you, but vintage to me, the hood + scarf was one of the very first items I designed, produced and sold myself at markets throughout NYC under my accessory label Collar, Stand + Tie (if you are a Fashion Star fan - you know where this name comes from). And now I am making a limited run of my hood + scarves (complete with original Collar, Stand + Tie labels!) available to you through my website in three of my very favorite color combinations. The best part? My hood + scarves (see below) are unisex, make great presents, are seasonless and 10% of the proceeds with go straight to the American Red Cross in an effort to do my part in helping Hurricane Sandy victims get back in their houses and on their feet. I guess that was more than one best part... Anyway - as a 'present' for the holidays, to yourself and/or those affected by Hurricane Sandy, shop Here!
With love and warmth,