Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Flying Colors

When I was six years old, I wanted to be a flight attendant. I couldn’t think of anything more exciting or glamorous—the open air as your office, meeting people from all walks of life, traveling between time zones and exotic cultures on a daily basis, and picking up trinkets and beautiful-sounding foreign languages along the way. Though I ended up pursuing a career on the ground rather than in the sky, my love for world travel has never subsided. In fact, I often say that as a stylist and editor, I clock enough hours in the air—whether during the biannual fashion months, to shoot ELLE covers, or to attend international conferences or events—to be made an honorary, if not official, American Airlines flight attendant. (While we’re on the subject, I’ve got a few ideas for spiffing up those white blouses and navy polyester vest-and-skirt or vest-and-trouser uniforms.)

I also get some of my best fashion brainstorming done while traveling, and not simply because flying is the only time I’m required—by law—to power down my BlackBerry and iPhone. There’s something about cruising altitude—and then of course exploring foreign cities (or even L.A.!)—that helps me make sense of the runway shows I’ve just seen and inspires me to think big, synthesize trends, and devise new ways to depict celebs and show off the season’s best clothes.

All of this is to say, I am completely addicted to travel—and fashion,

well…it’s always provided me with my fix. Airplanes aren’t always necessary—I’ll be sitting at a show, watching a parade of reddish-orange and blush-tone evening gowns or restrained white suiting, and immediately be transported to a far-off place—say, Buenos Aires or Berlin. It could be a graphic mix of black and blue, which reminds me of the stark lines of Tokyo’s architecture, or a mocha-colored wrap skirt, which evokes the pungent spices you can score at an Istanbul bazaar. Or even the golden sheen of a slinky lamé dress, which recalls a certain coveted Angeleno named Oscar. Forget my actual body—my mind is always jetting from city to city, and more often than not, it’s color that is fueling this aircraft.

We Recommend Top 10: The Spring 2011 Trend Report (ELLE.​com - Fashion) Resort Shoes to Buy Now & Save for Later (ELLE Fashion News) Fashion Week: Fall 2011 Trend Report (ELLE.​com - Fashion) Kate Winslet Jumps on the Pixie Train (ELLE Fashion News) [?]Lucky for me (and my style psyche’s frequent-flier account), spring’s

runways were awash in superhot hues (Pepto pink and neon tangerine—Marc Jacobs and Christopher Kane, I’m looking at you) and sophisticated pairings (layered neutrals at Celine and Dries Van Noten; the dark dance of inky blue and onyx at YSL and Jil Sander), not to mention the freshest whites in ages (since the ’90s, at least), some versions of which could be found just about everywhere you looked. As the models stomped, I couldn’t help but imagine the clothes they were wearing in different cities around the globe. Here’s a chance to see just how quickly my mind travels—no Dramamine needed.

Those supersaturated warm tones—shades of bubble gum and cantaloupe, fluoro pink and acid orange? They scream Buenos Aires : vibrant, playful, seductive. From the sun-faded walls of Casa Rosada (literally, the Pink House!) to the fiery outfits worn by tango dancers and the pulsating lights of after-hours clubs, the Argentine capital’s got a seriously sexy allure to match the season’s new hot-hued girl. Turn down the heat just a smidge and you’ve got spring’s supremely rich earth tones, such as caramel and camel, cumin and allspice, coriander and clove, which conjure up the mystery and old-world glamour of Istanbul . I’m obsessed with bazaars and the secrets and gems you can unearth in a city teeming with markets.

I was just in Tokyo in August, and I was so drawn to the city’s subdued yet frantic energy, the balance between stark colors and classic lines and computerized life and outré, convention-flouting street style. It’s an unexpected pairing similar to that of black and blue—at first glance, the colors don’t seem to go together, and yet a dark contrast can feel so modern. Ask Raf Simons or Stefano Pilati, as both designers showed pitch-perfect examples of the navy-black mix this season.

White is obviously a major trend for spring, but the key to keeping things interesting in a colorless ensemble lies in adding hints of cream and beige. Yes, it’s a high-concept, artsy look (Alexander Wang went the extra mile in this sense, by adding Basquiat-esque scribbles to his ultra-pale pieces), which is why it would fit perfectly in a city such as Berlin . Not only do Wang’s scribbles remind me of the graffiti-covered Berlin Wall, but the layering of off-white and white (masterfully rendered at Celine and Dries Van Noten) also echoes the city’s reputation for modernist, utilitarian design.

And finally, I’m really feeling the mix of red and gold, if only because

both colors remind me of my home away from home, Los Angeles —a city seemingly lined with red carpets and bookended by shiny gold statuettes. I spend half my year in the City of Angels, and I can’t get enough of its eternal glamour or the fact that it's always buzzing with the anticipation of awards season! Plus, the hotels are practically history books, filled with the stories of old Hollywood and the sordid tales of the new Tinseltown (if the Chateau Marmont’s walls could talk). Glitz, gold, glamour, sexy, showstoppin’, head-turnin’. It’s what big, bold fashion’s all about.

Check out some of my favorite pieces in the season's most

inspiring color combos!

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