Fall’s here – What’s in and what’s out

A mustard yellow top

Does anyone still care about the prohibition of white shoes after Labor Day? I’ve read online chatter claiming it’s nonsense. Some say you can wear white shoes all year long.

Well, I say there’s a reason that people like to change their attire seasonally and wear autumn tone colors in the fall.

Enjoying the change of seasons is a good thing. Even when temperature shifts aren’t dramatic, the sequence of seasons puts an order to a year, relieves the sameness of the months and makes for enjoyable change.

Throughout the ages, poets and romantics have eloquently spoken to the beauty of changing seasons. Seasons tie us to the world of nature, even for the most die-hard, indoor-living urban dwellers. Seasons carry us through our celebrations, traditions and even our moods.

So, yes, you certainly can wear white shoes any time you want. I’m all for eliminating rules. But if you want to be in sync with the natural order of things – children back to school, sunny vacations ending, football season starting – then you definitely want to transition your closet this week and change what you are wearing.

I don’t know why there’s such a dither over white shoes. I, for one, don’t own a pair. In my book, solid white shoes are for brides and nurses – and maybe the beach. While nude shoes are today’s neutral du jour, who can predict down the road?

White shoes may become a fashion must-have in years to come. Heaven only knows stranger things have happened in fashion.

I may not have white shoes to put away, but I do have some white garments and accessories that need to take a back seat until next Memorial Day. Here’s a rundown of what you can put away and what you should wear at this time of year. If you don’t have some of this season’s must-haves, start shopping, my friends!

Put in back of closet

• White shoes, if you own any

• White pants, white skirts, white dresses, white accessories

• Tropical prints, summery florals, beach motif fabrics

• Spaghetti-strap or halter-style maxi dresses

• Accessories and tops in pastels and summery brights

• All light-colored linen outfits

• Straw handbags

• Flip flops, except for gardening

For the front of closet

• White cotton shirts. The exception to the rule, along with your tennis whites, of course!

• Twinsets. A sweater and layering shell underneath is practical, polished and looks good whether paired with jeans or business attire.

• Jewel-toned scarf to transition sleeveless dresses in black or fall colors

• Maxi dresses in grey heather, dark plum or deep cobalt blue

• Gem-colored jeans – ruby, amethyst, sapphire

• Luxe, sophisticated, print silk blouses

• Accessories and tops in sapphire, wine, deep emerald, mustard yellow, inky blue, grape, deep teal and russet

While you are sorting through your closet and clearing out clothes to make room for this season’s top trends, you are sure to find things you no longer plan to wear.

Clothing in good condition can be donated to women who would love a nice outfit to wear to work or to job interviews.

Tres Mariposas continues to be a drop-off site for clothing, shoes and accessories to be delivered to the YWCA Women’s Transitional Living Center.

Nan Napier: Think global, party local at big fashion event

A mega-shopping bag promotes Fashion’s Night Out.

Join the celebration this Thursday, Sept. 6, at fashion boutiques on the Westside.

Or jump on a plane and celebrate in New York, Paris, Tokyo or Milan.

That’s the night that stars, models, fashionistas and designers will be hopping and shopping around the world, and you can, too, right here in El Paso.

The fashion world’s most iconic extravaganza, Fashion’s Night Out, is only in its fourth year. Created in 2009 by Vogue editor Anna Wintour and other industry leaders to celebrate fashion and boost consumer confidence in New York City during the recession, this business-friendly event has become an annual red carpet night of special retail initiatives.

In New York, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger will host a fashion trivia game at Macy’s flagship store. Kim Kardashian will be at Lord & Taylor to meet fans and promote her True Reflection fragrance.

In London, more than 400 London fashion retailers will join the celebration. Paris is taking Fashion’s Night Out to the streets this year, specifically Rue Satin-Honore, home to many, many boutiques including Collette, Gucci, Hermes, Lanvin and Longchamp.

In El Paso, Fashion’s Night Out promises to be even bigger and better than before. At press time, these stores are planning to participate, and there may be more: Ella Blu, j. luxe, Nono’s, Tres Mariposas, Ruby Lola, Versailles and tentative at press time, Luka 7.

At Tres Mariposas, the excitement has been building for weeks. We’ve got a countdown on our website and a traffic-stopping Fashion’s Night Out shopping bag outside our doors. This 12-foot structure is generating some interesting looks from drivers on North Mesa!

I’m most excited about our special showing of vintage Chanel pieces that will be for sale that night. They are a rare treat. Other Tres Mariposas events will include demonstrations from 360 The Colour Bar Salon, and demos of the Lipsense18-hour lipstick. We’ll also have a trunk show of clothing from the hip What Goes Around Comes Around line and over-the-top hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

What Goes Around is a line founded by college friends Gerard Maione and Seth Weisser. After more than a decade spent traveling the globe in search of the finest vintage clothing and antiquities, Maione and Weisser launched their new WGACA Collection, a vintage-inspired line.

Taking it one step further, they also collect vintage Chanel pieces and they’re bringing a wonderful selection to Tres Mariposas for our special event. All their pieces are handpicked from around the globe and authenticated by their team of experts.

Take a cue from shoppers around the globe and come out and support your local fashion retailers. We can’t wait to see you Thursday night!

10 Reasons to start your fall shopping


I was at market in New York last week, already shopping for resort season and spring 2013. It’s energizing and invigorating to mingle with designers and industry veterans who are full of life and are making things happen. Their optimism was absolutely contagious and we’re bringing that feeling back to El Paso.

I came home excited about what I saw and especially excited about the fall clothes just coming into stores. Here are my 10 favorite trends for this season. Keep them in mind as you shop and you will be right in style!

• Relaxed elegance. This fall, don’t push yourself to be structured, buttoned-up or stultifyingly precise. Fall fashion is about richly colored luxe fabrics in silhouettes that are easy and relaxed – beautiful flowing cardigans, interesting asymmetrical hem tunic sweaters, and easy jersey dresses.

• Rich deep jewel tones. When fashion trends stay with vibrant colors, El Paso wins. When the industry goes for beige and tan, our Tres Mariposas buyers weep. Fortunately, the colors of the season are ruby, emerald, sapphire, amethyst and topaz. Add richness, depth and vibrancy to your wardrobe with these great colors.

• Illusion. A little netting, a sheer inset, lace paneling: designers are getting creative in combining sexy and modest details. It’s coquettish to be covered yet teasing. Look for illusion detailing in both sporty and dressed-up garments.

• Panels and color blocking. Side panels on a dress can be quite flattering; they trick your eye into making you look taller and thinner. For instance, black vertical panels on either side and a bright color in the middle of a dress can be fashionable and slimming at the same time – definitely a win-win.

• Luscious flowy silk tops. Here’s where the jewel tones have a chance to shine. You’ll find interesting, wonderful opulent prints in mixes of ruby, amethyst, navy and topaz. An easy blouse over slim pants with a pair of dynamite heels or boots, and you can go anywhere.

• Python prints. Fashion can’t live without something from the world of the wild. Python prints are the reptilian design of choice this season. Look for python print blouses, sweaters and jeans.

• Bracelet mania. I’ve never been a bracelet person, but even I’ve caught the fever. Many are flexible and roll on your wrist. Piling on multiples creates interesting and unique combinations to reflect the wearer’s individuality.

• Handbags that rock. Studs are the embellishment of the year in accessories. They give any look a new edge. Cross-body and clutch styles continue.

• Tech accessories. Our cell phones, iPads and other indispensible gadgets deserve the addition of personality and color with great tech accessories. Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch are the must-have designers of cell phone covers, incredible iPad covers, and other such cases. Don’t be caught with an undressed gadget.

• Don’t forget the boots. My favorites are the low-heeled ones that come slightly above the knee. So chic. Not to mention you can wear flats and exude style at the same time!


Joys of owning a small business in El Paso

The exhibit

As many of you may know, Tres Mariposas is sponsoring “Designing Woman: Edith Head at Paramount,” now at the El Paso Museum of Art in conjunction with the Plaza Classic Film Festival.

We were happy to sponsor this colorful and educational exhibit of great movie costumes created by the award-winning designer because it was an opportunity to do something fun and fashion related.

The El Paso community has been so appreciative and quite a few people have told us how much they enjoyed the exhibit. Their appreciation has been extremely gratifying to us.

Besides having the chance to contribute to our community in this way, another fabulous benefit of owning a small business in El Paso is the opportunity to develop wonderful long-term relationships with customers.

One of those customers is Jan Foster, who is married to developer John Foster. I have joked with John many times that he is pretty doggone lucky to be married to Jan – someone so gracious and giving, so full of laughter. He agrees.

This week I learned something new about Jan. Not only does she have a big heart and a good sense of humor, she can also write poetry! I absolutely love this darling poem that I received from her.

If you also own or work at a small business, you know that having delightful customers like Jan Foster makes all the work worthwhile. This poem is getting the gold-frame treatment in my office soon!

Edith and Nan – both with a wise HEAD

One going strong – the other dead.

They share the interest of couture design.

One via costume, the other in “ready-to-wear” so fine!

Thank you, Nan, for bringing to our city to view

The decades of creations Edith drew.

Surely the attendance will deem a large count

Rewarding your efforts to the level of PARAMOUNT!


Fashion secret: it’s all about the fit

Elvira Eckermann

The fascinating exhibit of garments designed by costume legend Edith Head at the El Paso Museum of Art underscores not only the value of rich fabrics and innovative design, but also the fundamental, critical importance of fit in fashion.

It’s all about fit. When you see “Designing Woman: Edith Head at Paramount,” you notice that garments are fitted to perfection. Not pretty good, but to perfection.

Whether you are looking at a tailored suit or a finely draped evening gown, the lines of the fabrics and the seams are precise. Superb fit is a key secret of couturiers and the difference between looking good and looking amazing.

The first time I saw the exhibit, I went with my sister from Florida. All the gowns and garments hung perfectly on the dress forms that were selected and sometimes modified to mimic a particular actress’s exact body measurements.

The exhibit gave us a whole new appreciation for fit. My sister said she was going home and tossing anything that didn’t fit her perfectly.

Exhibit curator Charles Horak, founder and director of the Plaza Classic Film Festival, has said that finding the proper dress forms was much more difficult than even locating the movies shown in the festival. The process took weeks and weeks of research.

Women in the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s were much smaller than today’s typical figure. For instance, the smallest dress in the exhibit – a red and white sundress worn by Elsa Cardenas in the 1963 movie “Fun in Acapulco” – features a 19-inch waist, virtually unheard of in an adult today.

The search for available small dress forms finally led to a firm in France, where women are more petite than the average American women, for whom American dress forms are designed.

The exacting work done by the costume designer who repaired each of the exhibit’s garments and matched them to dress forms reminds me of the incredibly detailed and expert work that our own alterations professionals do here at Tres Mariposas.

Alterations professionals, costume designers and restoration experts know things the rest of us wouldn’t dream of. They are true craftswomen in the sense that each task they undertake is one of a kind and requires ingenuity and creativity.

The lead alterations professional at Tres Mariposas is Elvira Eckermann. We often call her our in-store magician. Her world is about exacting fit, detailed work, and making women look much, much better.

Proper alterations will show a gorgeous woman off to her best. Similarly, good alterations can camouflage the less-than-perfect body.

For instance, Elvira says that a woman with a small waistline should not be wearing a so-so fitting garment that hides her beautiful waist.

Often a waistline needs to be shortened or shaped to better fit a client, she said. But how many people know that they can look significantly better in a dress with the right tailoring?

It’s amazing how much difference a simple alteration can make, like shortening sleeves or adjusting a side seam.

But not all alterations are simple by any stretch. Elvira says one of the most challenging alterations is narrowing the shoulders of a garment, which requires absolute precision for the best fit.

First the seamstress takes off the sleeves and carefully recuts the shoulder line. Then the sleeves are carefully sewn back into the modified armhole, a task requiring considerable skill, says Elvira. Truly it is the work of an experienced expert.

Whether one of Elvira’s alterations customers buys a garment from our store or brings in something she’s bought elsewhere, the goal is to make her – and her outfit – look great.

Any woman interested in looking her best would do well to focus on fit while shopping. You are likely to find that higher-end clothing tends to be designed for proper fit, rather than just what is the most economical use of fabric.

Yet even the most expensive garment can sometimes be improved for better fit with expert alterations, the kind of tailoring that Hollywood actresses had in their movie studios’ costume departments.


Exhibit of Edith Head’s fashion a big hit

Charles Horak with ‘Edith Head,’ as portrayed by Susan Claassen

This summer’s big buzz is the glamorous new fashion exhibit at the El Paso Museum of Art.

Women who haven’t been to the museum in ages are thoroughly enjoying “Designing Woman: Edith Head at Paramount,” the largest-ever showing of work by the most award-winning costume designer Hollywood has ever known.

As you know from last week’s column on what local women wore to the exhibit opening, the show features 40 outfits worn by movie stars in films dating back to the 1920s.

This unprecedented exhibit is certainly in keeping with the current trend of fashion exhibits in museums around the world, and is a real coup for El Paso.

This exhibit is so fabulous that visitors from other cities would like to see the landmark show in their own locales. One of our customers visiting from Lubbock is going to bring back some folks to see the exhibit and work on getting it installed there.

This El Paso show of Edith Head’s work may signal the beginning of a change of tune for the studio industry. It’s interesting that El Paso’s exhibit is nudging Paramount and other studios to value their precious costume collections and the work of costume designers.

As people walk through the free exhibit of sparkling and pristine outfits, it’s hard to imagine what these garments looked like just last winter.

As we learned from Betsey Potter, the costume designer and conservator who repaired and cleaned all the items for the exhibit, movie studios used to be very frugal.

No matter how valuable a garment might be or how famous the actress who wore it, studios would lend out and rent out costumes again and again for whatever show or event happened along.

Naturally, over the decades, many garments were severely damaged. Many were filthy and torn, and some of the delicate fabrics were shredded and deteriorating.

Thousands of carefully constructed costumes were crammed on hangers in a nearly forgotten warehouse, without heat, air conditioning or humidity control.

When Charles Horak, “Designing Woman” curator and director of the Plaza Classic Film Festival, was going through Paramount’s racks, the garments were so packed that he could only see an edge of a dress at a time.

After his selection, based on which movies that would be shown in this year’s festival and which pieces best represented the four decades Edith Head worked at Paramount, the restoration work began.

Six months of work

To do the restoration, Paramount hired Potter, a member of the board of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and an Emmy-nominated costume designer for more than a dozen TV series.

While Potter was here for the exhibit opening, she described how she worked in a tiny cubicle only big enough for one garment. For six months, she worked to clean and repair the 40 outfits, sometimes teaching herself the art of costume restoration through countless experiments.

Because some garments were terribly damaged, she tried some risky processes, knowing that failure was a possibility. However, she thought, the garments were already pretty much ruined, so why not take a chance?

My favorite story was how she tried washing a stained and yellowed white wool gown in her bathtub. She tried soaps, stain removers and other solutions, but simple shampoo and conditioner did the trick.

“After all, hair is a natural fiber, and so is wool, so let’s try it,” she recalled saying. I loved her dedication and passion!

Edith the El Pasoan

Did you know that Edith Head is believed to have once lived in El Paso? She was born in 1897 in California, but her stepfather was a mining engineer and apparently the family spent a year in El Paso, probably 1900 to 1901.

Interestingly, although her parents were Jewish, the stepfather was Catholic and young Edith Posener apparently converted to Catholicism, partly under pressure to assimilate.

She married Charles Head, the brother of an art school classmate, in 1923, the year before she began working at Paramount.

I hope you get a chance to see this exhibit before it closes Sept. 11. It’s a real bonus for our museum to be the first to show these fashion masterpieces, none of which have been outside Hollywood before.

Whether you are drawn to the idea that someone famous wore these costumes or you are interested in film, you can’t help but appreciate how showing these items at the art museum transforms them.

As Charles Horak said, “The exhibit’s not about kitsch or nostalgia – it’s about the art of movies and the art of the garments.”


Stripes, sneakers and other summer moments

The past month brought a series of market trips – to Dallas, Las Vegas and New York – which means that I’ve had some great fashion- watching opportunities.

I always enjoy seeing what common fashion threads turn up at airports, on the streets and in the New York showrooms. And I always study what the young fashionistas are wearing while they go about their work in this busy industry.

Speaking of trips, as you travel around this summer, you may notice that suitcases have gotten on the color trend bandwagon.

Not so long ago, it seemed like someone must have mandated that all luggage had to be either black or black. Today, you will see lots of cheery print suitcases pulled along in airport concourses and tumbling onto luggage carousels.

Some of these suitcase styles are indeed fun and cheerful, but it looks like the trend also can go too far into carnival garishness. Nevertheless, variety is a good thing.

The second color trend I noticed was in tennis shoes. Americans love to buy tennis shoes before a trip. For years neon striping and dayglo trims have been common. Now, look for a riot of all-over multi-brights.

The wearers seem so thrilled with all that color on their feet. Heaven only knows, any little mood uplift during travel is needed.

I wish I had been wearing riotously colorful sneakers to cheer me up when we struggled with weather, delays and other such fun to make it home late at night.

Going horizontal

The third trend I noticed: horizontal stripes. At the beginning of our trip, during our layover in Dallas, I began noticing how many chic travelers were wearing stripes going around their bodies.

After centuries of succumbing to the rule that “vertical stripes are slimming; horizontal stripes are not,” women are now willing to go round and round.

It’s a fun, sporty trend. In New York showrooms, many of the cute young women were also wearing black and white stripes: narrow or wide, horizontally or in a chevron pattern. Even our buyer Bobbie Baldridge showed up at market in black and white horizontal stripes!

What are you seeing in your travels this summer? I’m curious what fashion trends are percolating in different parts of the country and the world. Stop by Tres Mariposas sometime and let me know – or email me a picture or a description!


New York Moments – Shopping for the future

Marchesa Notte cocktail dress

Last week I dashed around New York City with Tres Mariposas buyers Bobbie Baldridge and Monica Armendariz. We shopped the fur market, the shoe market and a bunch of exciting new ready-to-wear lines.

We had a very productive trip and now we can hardly contain our enthusiasm for what’s coming your way. I hesitate to say too much about our excitement, because we were shopping for winter resort and pre-spring 2013!

The merchandise we ordered won’t be manufactured and delivered until January. However, I think it will be worth the wait.

Here are a few highlights from our whirlwind shopping tours:

• We were madly in love with the Stella McCartney for Adidas active wear line. I think El Paso women will really like their wonderful “lifestyle jackets” for after workout, coffee stops or grocery shopping.

• It was a relief that the shoe market is doing new and interesting styles in flats, platforms and wedges. We have been deathly scared that the trend would move away from these comfortable styles to which El Paso women have become addicted.

• The fur market was interesting this year – and oh, so colorful! Who would have thought that fur could be so fun in bright, fresh hues and primary colors?

• If you pay attention to Oscar fashions, you have often seen Marchesa’s exquisite evening wear. Red-carpet stunners and paparazzi-friendly cocktail attire are Marchesa’s stock in trade, with intricate craftsmanship and whimsical flourishes. Spurred by its remarkably quick success, the designers created a more casual and less expensive line, Marchesa Notte. We liked what we saw here and we think you will, too.

October show

Speaking of Marchesa, while we were in New York, we were discussing the blockbuster, over-the-top fashion show that Tres Mariposas will be presenting in October.

Some 2,000 women are expected at the event, which benefits the University Breast Care Center, and we want to make sure that the clothing we present is absolutely superb.

When the Marchesa staff heard about the show, they immediately volunteered to participate as the featured designer. Fabulous!

In another show of support for the El Paso community, the people we work with at Marc Jacobs handbags offered to donate exquisite leather iPad cases to auction at the UBCC fashion show. It is heartwarming to see people working in the New York fashion industry to be so eager to support our El Paso community.

What’s Happening in fine jewelry

Actress Krysten Ritter wears earrings by Ippolita

One of the most fun events in the whole fashion industry is the annual jewelry market each June in Las Vegas.

For a week each summer, the capital of the jewelry world is indisputably located in Nevada – and everything at the two big jewelry shows is over the top.

Touring the enormous and comprehensive JCK trade show at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center is a workout in itself.

It’s hard to convey how big this really is: Imagine how much jewelry you can see at a show with more than 2,500 exhibitors from some 22 countries.

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Designer Edith Head’s costumes coming to El Paso

Edith Head design

I continue to be amazed and delighted with fabulous things happening in El Paso.

Even though summer starts unofficially this Memorial Day weekend, we still have exciting events coming our way.

I am especially thrilled with the coup pulled off by the El Paso Museum of Art and the Plaza Classic Film Festival to bring an incredible exhibit of designs by one of the country’s finest fashion designers ever: Edith Head.

An eight-time Academy Award winner for costume design, Edith Head influenced not only fashion on screen, but also fashion everywhere.

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