October 19, 2011
By Jessica Flint | Fashion

Courtesy Chicago History Museum

Sandwiched between the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s blockbuster “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibition last summer and the Denver Art Museum’s forthcoming Yves Saint Laurent retrospective, which opens in March, is the Chicago History Museum’s ode to the iconic yet somewhat little-known fashion designer Charles James. It’s a gem of an exhibition not to be missed. Considered the first American couturier—and one of the only to have worked in the pure tradition of haute couture—James’s creations from 1928 to 1958 proved that the French weren’t the only craftsmen who could design lavish sculptural eveningwear. More than a dozen of James’s masterpieces are on display as part of “Charles James: Genius Deconstructed,” as are reproductions of his famous Tree, Clover and Butterfly dresses, with cutting and stitching so precise that the construction is almost scientific. The exhibition opening kicks off with a costume ball tomorrow night, where the dresses are expected to be as fabulous as the ones James created to outfit such enduring style icons as Babe Paley, Millicent Rogers and Gypsy Rose Lee. October 22, 2011–April 16, 2012; $14; 1601 N. Clark St.; 312-642-4600;

October 04, 2011
By Tasha Green | Fashion

Courtesy of Prada.

With women's Fashion Weeks wrapping up around the globe, these cocktail conversation talking points will take you all the way to Spring 2012.

New York: Jason Wu showed a collection that perfectly exemplifies his place as a designer who understands the romantic silhouettes women want to wear— à la Oscar or Carolina—but amps them up with a youthful kick. Case in point: floor-sweeping gowns in highlighter hues.

Milan: Prada thrilled us again with what are sure to be the season's most coveted accessories. Shoes and bags are embellished with one of Miuccia's inspirations for the collection—vintage muscle cars—such that clutches display fenders and stiletto heels are bursting into flames.

Paris: Alber Elbaz created the sultriest collection for Lanvin to date, focusing on silky separates and strong shoulders. Dresses coiled with sequined snakes provoke a question: Had Eve slipped on Lanvin after the Fall, would it all have been worth it?

Don't miss: Men's Fall 2011 Fashion Trends

September 28, 2011
By Candice Chan | Fashion

Courtesy of Tod's

Italian leather purveyor Tod's is making a foray into a decidedly sassier market with its new Signature collection of jewel-toned bags, which pay homage to the brand's pebble-bottomed driving shoes. To create the gommino pattern on the bags, the leather is imprinted using a high-pressure iron; it's then mapped, stitched and quilted to create a textured feel along the surface. From the oversized electric blue carryall tote to the pocket-sized fuchsia zip-up wallet, the utilitarian Signature pieces are designed to dance toe-to-toe with Tod's bold colored dresses and mod cinched-waist coats this fall. From $595; available in Tod's boutiques worldwide;

Don't miss: More fashion trends

September 14, 2011
By Marnie Hanel | Fashion

Beverage scion, fashion plate. Photograph by René Habermacher.

With her towering skunk-striped hair, high cheekbones and avian figure, there's no mistaking the singular Daphne Guinness. Where the brewery heiress goes, the eye follows. And oh, the places she goes! She's dressed in the window of Barneys before the Met Ball, splashed in the Raleigh Hotel pool with the artist David LaChapelle during Art Basel Miami and dashed through the Place Vendôme in showstopping jewels. In an era of borrowed gowns and gems, everything Guinness wears is her own. This week the couture collector, who says fashion is her "armor," arrives at the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The special exhibition, titled "Daphne Guinness," will show off 100 garments and accessories from her personal collection, including those by Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Ala?a, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel and John Galliano for Christian Dior. A perennial muse to others, Guinness is also a designer in her own right, and several of her creations are also on display. One turn about the gallery is all one needs to see why Tom Ford calls her "one of—if not the—most stylish women living." September 16, 2011 - January 07, 2012. Seventh Avenue at 27th St., New York;

A Departures Exclusive: Daphne Guinness reveals her highly personal inventory of essential items.

August 31, 2011
By Candice Chan | Fashion

Shirts Shoes and skins. Photo courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo.

Leatherheads, start salivating: This month, Salvatore Ferragamo is releasing its special-edition Tramezza footwear collection, made from stained leathers such as alligator and calfskin. What really sets this line apart, though, are the precise 320 steps it takes to handmake these shoes, and the innovative insoles that mold to the imprint of the wearer's foot once exposed to heat. If you want a belt to go with your shoes, the fashion house is also debuting four hand-wrought metal Double Gancino belt buckles that can be mixed and matched with a selection of leathers. But once these special pieces enter your collection, how can you ensure that they'll last a lifetime? Second-generation expert David Mesquita, of the New York fashion flock's go-to accessories care and repair outlet Leather Spa (212-262-4823;, weighs in:

Protecting. Spray your gear every two to three months with nanotechnology stain protectants. Inclement weather in the forecast? Coat the shoes before stepping out.

Moisturizing. At the first signs of fading or drying, treat your accessories with a leather conditioner to bring them back to life.

Storing. Opt for cedar shoe trees: Cedar helps kill bacteria, which helps stop odors.

Cleaning. Brushing your shoes and wiping them with a cloth after every use removes dust and buildup, and can prevent stains from setting in. Special-edition Tramezza shoes from $1,700; Double Gancini belts from $440. Available at Salvatore Ferragamo stores nationwide starting today. 866-337-7242;

Did you know: The Ferragamo family restored an entire Tuscan town—including the family villa—to its medieval splendor

August 24, 2011
By Jordan Kisner | Fashion

Blue crush. Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren

Luxe grunge is having a moment, and designer Ralph Lauren is on the pulse with his haute interpretation of the trend: Ralph Lauren Black Label Denim, which debuts in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Las Vegas this week. The line has an ultramodern, industrial sensibility, featuring 11 styles of denim pants in deep, monochromatic tones, finished with a variety of complex (if playfully named) treatments such as nicking, waxycoating and authentic whiskering. In addition to the pants, the line includes leather shirts and jackets, cashmere sweaters and denim incarnations of classic pieces such as sports jackets and trench coats. With quality fabrics, innovative techniques and sleek cuts, the fashion house's offerings might just be the reset button the oversaturated blue-jean market needs: a high-end but masculine return to true high-quality denim. Pants from $225, shirts from $80, outerwear from $395;

Plus! Shopping Ralph Lauren's Madision Avenue Mansion

July 27, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Fashion


Devotees of Céline creative director Phoebe Philo's modernist designs now have a new place to shop: a 2,500-square foot boutique on Paris's Left Bank, housing the fashion label's ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes and leather goods for women. The gallery-like space is pure Céline, with brushed stainless steel walls, black-trimmed glass display cases and an oversized sheepskin-covered ottoman. It joins the neighborhood's ranks of such fashionable destinations as Maison Martin Margiela, Yves Saint Laurent and Sonia Rykiel. At 16 Rue de Grenelle; 33-1/5580-1499;

Photo © Céline

July 20, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Fashion


Balenciaga creative director Nicolas Ghesquière's creations are so forward-thinking, it was always a surprise that his fashion house's website was stuck in the Dark Ages. That changed this week with the unveiling of Balenciaga's new online portal, which now sells the brand's ready-to-wear collections (as long as you live in the U.S., the UK or France), along with men's and women's accessories and fragrances, which were previously the only Balenciaga items available online. In addition to showcasing recent runway shows, the new site has more than 3,000 images and 200 videos devoted to the Balenciaga archives and the work of its founder, Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Photo Courtesy of Balenciaga

July 13, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Fashion


Roger Vivier's creative director, Bruno Frisoni, has taken his limited-edition capsule collection for the fashion house, called Rendez-Vous, in a different direction for spring/summer 2012. Whereas the last lineup of shoes and clutches was very rock 'n' roll, the new collection is softer, elegant and Mediterranean-inspired. Frisoni aimed to capture the mystique of Vivier's iconic creations by using materials like blond wood, pearls, bamboo and tinted transparent acetate. Equally feminine is the color palette: powdery rose, aquamarine, pale gold and bright yellow. Our favorites are the No Secret magenta acetate clutch, the pink, gold and tan high-heeled Barbapapa sandal, and the Flower Bouquet clutch. The pieces are truly limited-edition, meaning only 10 to 20 of each has been created, and will tour Roger Vivier boutiques in Paris, New York, Miami, Shanghai, Milan and London in January before going to permanent homes. Prices upon request; 212-861-5371;

Photo Courtesy Roger Vivier

June 22, 2011
By Sarah Smith | Fashion


Red leather soles have arrived in Brasilia, where Christian Louboutin opened his second boutique in Brasil on June 21. Inside the Shopping Iguatemi complex and designed by New York architect Eric Clough, the structure is an ode to Oscar Niemeyer and Frank Lloyd Wright; the entire corner façade is covered in tiny, uncoated copper tiles that have been hand-etched with images inspired by the two legendary architects' designs. Though presently sparkling and brilliant red, the tiles will eventually oxidize and turn a deep emerald green, evolving with the goods in the store. Inside the boutique, the décor is pure Louboutin with acrylic displays, niche walls, reclaimed tin panels and hand-blown glass chandeliers that will highlight the men's and women's new winter shoe and handbag collections. At Shin Cuadra, Calle 4, Lago Norte;

Photo Christian Louboutin