Designer to Know: Diane Freis

Investment Piece: Diane Freis

My first memory of a Diane Freis dress involves my mother. I knew nothing of Diane Freis, and though I loved dresses you couldn’t yet call me a fashionista; I was little and knew that there was this patterned dress that my mommy looked pretty in- that was it. Somewhere I hope there’s a picture of my mom in that dress, as I can see her clearly in my mind, but I haven’t found one.

Now that I’m older I have a different appreciation of Diane Freis. As these dresses began popping up for me, I couldn’t help but be charmed by the pattern mixing, the smocked waists, the chic modernity. There are so many that I’ve fallen in love with researching this piece. And yes, now that I am a fashionista, when I see a pretty dress, I also see a story. I want to know where a piece comes from, what it says, who wears them, and if we should know about the designer. And loves, Diane Freis is a designer to know!

Investment Piece: Vintage and Pops

Begin looking and there are fascinating stories to tell about Freis, an LA girl. Who made it in Hong Kong. From FashionDesignerEncyclopedia:

Diane Freis is one of the few Hong Kong-based designers to have gained an international reputation. Hers is a typical Hong Kong success story, based on hard work and determination. Since arriving in the territory in 1973, she built a commercially successful brand name that became a role model for Hong Kong manufacturing.

The Freis signature is represented by multicolored prints applied to one-size, easy-care dresses, primarily designed in polyester georgette. Noncrushable and easy-to-pack, they have presented a travel solution for higher income, more mature women in search of a glamorous and feminine look. The fashion philosophy is pragmatic: Freis stresses the importance “of making a one-size dress that allows the freedom of fit in our daily schedules of health programmes one day and over-indulgence the next.” With their hallmark elasticated waists and shirring, the dresses covered imperfections but would never be called dowdy. The prints were usually exotic, the designs included pretty florals, dramatic geometrics, bold stripes, and plaids, with embroidery and beading as particular features of the look. Besides her traditional georgette, Freis has used silk, cotton, and wool coordinates, hand-knits for casual daywear, and chiffon and taffeta for grand evening ensembles.

Freis’ eye for color and design can be attributed to her fine arts education at the University of California in her native Los Angeles. While a student, her sideline was to create elaborately beaded jackets, which she sold to celebrities such as Diana Ross. It was a search for new, exotic materials and skilled embroiderers that first attracted her to the Far East. In Hong Kong she found the fabrics and workmanship that contributed to her distinctive fashion identity.

Investment Piece: Diane Freis

In 1978 Freis opened her first fashion boutique in Hong Kong; by 1986 she had six more. But her influence did not remain in the local market. International buyers from Europe and the United States soon took her work overseas. In the U.S., her dresses came to adorn the bodies of society women who shopped at the likes of Neiman Marcus in Dallas or Bergdorf Goodman in New York. Suited more to the European figure than to the Asian, today the label can be found in over 20 countries. Her success has been based on locating a market niche, not by following international fashion trends. Falling somewhere between haute couture and prêt-á-porter, the designs have been produced in limited editions: no more than 10 of any one design are distributed around the world. Basic shapes remain consistent; the variety is provided by new fabric designs and combinations. To retain exclusivity, the company set up its own print design studio and manufacturing base in 1982. In recognition of her commercial achievement for Hong Kong, Freis was awarded the Governor’s award for Industry for Export in 1993.

Despite its established success, the company continued to develop new ranges and to target new markets. Freis’ easy-flowing garments have gradually gained some structure via shoulder pads, more tucking, and fitted pleat detail. In recognition of changing lifestyles, Freis Spirit was launched in spring 1994 as a diffusion line aimed mainly in the Southeast Asian market. Featuring a pared-down silhouette and more subdued designs, the collection offered mix-and-match coordinates in quality fabrics to a younger market.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Freis continues to focus on her trademark polyester georgette dresses in bright patterns and solids. She has expanded from a focus on dresses and skirts to a broader line comprising suits and eveningwear. She is now able to clothe a woman during her workday career, at night in formal attire, or in casual situations, although she remains best known for her flexible, easy-fit, all-over-printed dresses. The designer’s daywear business is divided into knitwear, classic polyester silk dresses and blouses, basic coordinates, and printed stretch tops, and her eveningwear line consists of beaded gowns, special occasion wear, beaded and embroidered jackets, camisoles, and scarves.

Investment Piece: Diane Freis

Freis has traditionally appealed to a more mature consumer but has extended her market into more youthful customers with her “young classics” line, consisting of tanks, chemise-and-jacket combinations and coverups, which Women’s Wear Daily described as “sleek” in August 1999. A line of all-black polyester and silk tanks, dresses, and pants coordinate with all the products in her daywear and eveningwear lines, from beaded jackets to printed skirts.

Freis has also expanded geographically from her roots in the Asian market. She maintains a distribution network not only in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Australia, but in the U.S., South Africa, and the Middle East. In 1999 Freis signed a licensing agreement with Guryich International, a Canadian company, for distribution in North America of a broad collection imported from Hong Kong. The line incorporates the one-size-fits-all polyester print dresses for which she is still best known but also includes 50 items from all facets of her line.

—HazelClark;

updated by KarenRaugust.

There are so many more articles out there, are you as fascinated as I am? All of a sudden I want to know what it was like to move to Hong Kong, and what drew her there. I’d even love to know how they mixed patterns. What kind of stories can we tell in these dresses? (Which by the way are easy to find on eBay, Etsy, etc. I’ve linked some of my faves for you below!)

Me, I’m off in my Diane Freis
XO RA

Note: this post does contain affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support!

Investment Piece: Vintage and Pops

Summer Fashion

I’m still under the weather but am dreaming about swim, summer, and how we can all beat the heat. In
the meantime enjoy this video of swim styles

Hopefully, I’ll be back to myself asap, and will break down some current swim styles.

XO RA

Sunday Chronicles: Sick

Investment Piece: Day Off

I had big plans for this weekend – from posts to IRL plans. And yet, they’ve all been put on hold as I’ve been under the weather. Because of the pandemic, of course I’m worried about it being Covid (I’m currently just achy and have a sore throat so I’m hoping not!). I did have the Omicron variant in January- and I didn’t talk about it. Partly as I wanted to see how it played out (I was lucky and had a mild case but did deal with lingering symptoms, one of my fears of getting another variant); and partly as talking about being sick isn’t something I’m skilled at.

Also, partly as I was hoping if I didn’t address ha I bc Covid it wouldn’t affect us here.

I spent yesterday laying low, doing the bare minimum, taking care of myself. At the end of the day I was feeling better than I did when I woke up. There is a chance this is something – but I’m crossing my fingers it’s a little bit of being run down and I get over asap. But. This time I want to talk about it- my fears about being sick, how it might affect me, and include us in the process. We (all of us) have been dealing with the pandemic and it just seems silly not to be honest about our personal experiences.

There is a new outfit post tomorrow, and as of now it doesn’t seem as if any of our shoot plans or posts will be affected. If I do end up having Covid I will let you know (again, let’s hope I’m not!) and if the schedule changes here I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, let’s take care of each other out there. If you have any tips to get over any illness quickly I’m all ears!

Wishing us all a week of health and amazing shoes!
Xo RA

Backless

image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image

Yes, I love this dress so much we shot it twice! I love the simplicity of it. From the fron it’s simply a t-shirt dress, but from the back–oh from the back! It’s backless! And it’s both sexy and yet still simple. It goes great with heels, as well as with sandals. I’ve worn this to dinner, and out running errands. It’s just perfect!

The surprising thing about this dress? At first glance, it’s not my color. If you know me you know that orange and I usually don’t mix. Usually I’m more of a purple person, or classic black, or red. But there’s something about this shade of orange, just bright enough to feel like summer but not SO orange. (We’re sticking with that).

Perhaps, much like a basic that is really a statement, there’s something to be said about things that aren’t what they seem on the surface.  In all honesty, everything about this dress was a bit shocking for me-from the out-of-my-comfort-zone color, to the length (I do still worry about being a bit too old for mini dresses), and while I love a bit of back showing, this one felt a bit risqué. But all together, it’s perfect and somehow me.

Shouldn’t our choices give us room to shock (even us) a bit? Give us a bit of room to grow? I like to think so. And choosing dresses that sometimes aren’t what we would think we would choose for ourselves can expand how we think about ourselves. OR just look amazing at a weekend brunch 🙂

This dress was custom, but I’ve linked similar dresses that are new and fantastic for you below. I hope that your weekend is full of the best kind of surprising plans!
XO RA

 

note: This post does contain affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support!

Designer to Know: Rudy Gernreich

Investment Piece: Rudy Gernreich

A few weeks ago, I posted a knit dress that I couldn’t help but feel was perfect for the end of summer/beginning of fall:

Investment Piece: End of summer

See the full post here

This dress was a Rudy Gernreich. He was one of the first designers to use cutouts, vinyl, and plastic in clothing. He’s infamous for his monokini.

Investment Piece: Rudy Gernreich

I fell in love with these knit dresses (once loved by Goldie Hawn!) through a vintage friend who loved the recent museum showing she saw of his work. Rudy was considered unconventional and trendsetting in his day, and while he may not be the name you think of when you think of 1960s fashion, Gernreich was a driving force in many ways and a designer you should know.

Investment Piece: Rudy Gernreich

Rudy Gernreich (originally spelled Rudi) was born in Vienna, Austria to a manufacturing family (an only child, his father died by suicide when Rudy was 8); but Rudy “stayed” in the family business and learned high end fashion and fabrics at his aunt’s dress shop. He did all the sketches for her clients, and was even offered a fashion apprenticeship in London at 12, which he turned down as his mom thought he was too young to leave home.

In 1938, Hilter and the Nazis took over Austria and Rudy and his mother fled for the safety of America. They settled in Los Angeles, where Rudy sold his mother’s pastries door to door, worked at the morgue, and after attending both Los Angeles City College and Los Angeles Art Center School returned to his first love, clothes.

Investment Piece: Rudy Gernreich

Even though Gernreich loved clothes, he took a round about way to designing his own looks. He started as a dancer and costume designer, when his dreams of becoming a choreographer was dashed he was a fabric salesman for a while, then finally began designing clothes. In the 1940s and 50s fashion was dominated by Paris and the looks that Dior, Balenciaga, etc were producing-Gernreich hated these looks and felt very pressured to stay close to these styles. (Fun Fact! Gernreich refused to show in Paris throughout his long career!) Gernreich began designing his own clothes (avant-garde) and signed a deal with William Bass, INc and JAX boutiques. (He also began designing swimwear for Genesco Corp).

Rudy founded his own firm in 1960. Some things Rudi Gernreich, INC is known for? The first fashion video (Basic Black in 1966), knit wear (from dresses to more experimental garments to unisex clothes), one of the first brands to sell directly to chain stores (a contract with Montgomery Ward), seasonless fashion, the first swimsuits with built in bras (and the removing of boning and a more clinging fabric), the non-sexualization of clothes (as an old dancer, Rudy believed in function and movement, not the sexulization of the body), the first thong bathing suit, and innovative design.

From topless swimsuits to knit dresses that stand the test of time, you may not know Gernreich or own one of his pieces, but his work has influenced everything you put on.

Investment Piece: Rudy Gernreich

During his life, Rudy was inducted into the Coty American Fashion Hall of Fame, won multiple design awards from Sports Illustrated, Coty American Fashion Critics, Council of Fashion Designers of America, and more. He was admired by his peers as being innovative, avant-garde, and putting the clothes first. Since his death, his works have been featured in exhibits in multiple museums and books.

Gernreich died in 1985 of lung cancer, surrounded by his life partner, Oreste Puccinani. (Gernreich never made his religion or his sexuality a focus point as he felt that both were obvious)

You can read more about Rudy Gernriech (and I hope you come to admire him like I do!)
here
here
here

And you can search his works at museums from the Met to the Skirball.
You can also visit his website here

Xo RA

Investment Piece: End of Summer

Sparkle Swim

a woman in a green sparkle green one shoulder one piece swimsuit with a green sparkle sarong over it in nude heels in front of a pool and green hedges
a woman lounging on a bench in front of a lake in a pair of white shorts, a green one shoulder body suit and green mules
a woman in green one piece one shoulder sparkle swim and matching sarong with nude heels with a pool and green hedges and pool

I’ve never been one to NOT wear swim with EVERYTHING (see here, here, here, and more if you search swim in our side bar!) but this sparkle swim is a bit special. Because sparkle elevates everything. From pool side to outside outfits (I didn’t know what else to call the outfits I make with swimsuits), a little bit of glitz always makes what would usually be a pool day be a day of glamour.

And if there is anything I LOVE it’s a bit of glamour.

Especially when it’s incredibly hot and feels as if everything is a bit more difficult than it should be- you may be a bit of glamour.

I’ll be honest- I’ve never been one to like glitter (it always felt a bit of a LOT) but in this set- the one piece and the sarong, it feels just the right bit of sparkle. Together as a set, and wearing the one piece as a body suit with shorts (or pants or skirts!), this sparkle swim feels like a breath of fresh air- and all that we might need right now.

a woman in white shorts and a green sparkle one piece one shoulder swim in front of a bench and a lake
a woman in e one shoulder one piece green sparkle swimsuit with a matching sarong in front of a pool and a hedge

And then , this set got me to thinking- what’s the difference between sparkle and glamour? Why am I so open to one while being resistant to another? Is it the wording? The association I have with the terms? Why is one better (or different) than the other?

And ya know, I don’t know that I have great answers for you. I’ve always associated glamour with old Hollywood, old money, high end things and sparkle with fads, trends, and for lack of a better word-cheap.Yet, this sparkle swim set left me feeling glamorous. So, perhaps my associations were lacking, or misguided. Or maybe sparkle and glamour can mean the same things.

the back of a woman in white shorts and a green sparkle one piece swim suit in font of  a bench and a lake

Maybe, in my rush to judge, and think of myself in a certain light (don’t lie, we all do it), I’ve overlooked sparkle in the chase of glamour. When all along, they may have been the same thing (at least some of the time). All I know is that this sparkle swim, and all the sparkle swim I’ve seen this season, has been glamorous. And perhaps my strive for glamour has always had a bit of sparkle (from sequins or these sparkles or any of the other sequins and sparkles found in the search bar). Maybe sparkle has always been my thing?

My thing has always been swim so it wouldn’t be that far off. As for the difference between sparkle and glamour, as of now, I’m leaning towards sparkle as glamour- based on my experience with this swim set. What do you think?

I’ve linked the exact swim and similar shorts for your shopping pleasure below! I would love to know your thoughts on the difference between sparkle and glamour- please let me know in the comments!
XO RA

Note: This post does contain affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support!

Snd love the heels? They’re my beloved Sarah Flint’s and you can use code SARAHFLINT-BAINVESTMENTPIECE for $50 off your own pair!

a woman sits on a bench in front of a lake in white shorts and a one shoulder green sparkle swim suit and green heels

Sunday Chronicles: Burnout

A woman in white pants, a red and white striped shirt holds a big hat over her face as she stands in front of a pool

Everyone I know is burned out right now. The toll of the last few years seems to be taking its tool, and my loved ones (and me) are over tired, over sensitive, and overwhelmed. If you google burnout what turns up is: Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It’s a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. In many cases, burnout is related to one’s job. Burnout happens when you’re overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with life’s incessant demands. Which is a great definition. And may accurately describe our collective state during this time due to the incessant nature of everything.

What’s not super clear when you google burnout is how to cure it.

It’s not just my loved ones, I have to admit that I’m a bit burned out too. I’m wiped, at times finding it difficult to be passionate about the things I care about, and in general I have little to no energy. My burnout is not an all day everything issue, but I am beginning to notice it. Remember on Wednesday when I was all excited to revamp everything? While that’s still my plan, I haven’t found the energy to start on anything, and even the things I feel excited about I’m still kinda “meh” about.

I’ve spent some time this week chatting with more than one friend, and they are all feeling the same way. So, my question is: if we know that we’re burned out what do we do about it?

Google has advice like “rest, journal, exercise, get help”- which are all great suggestions. But what if you’re doing all those things and still dealing with burnout?

The answers for that seem to be a bit more vague, especially as so much of the collective burnout isn’t work related, but related to the Pandemic, the state of the world, and all of the things we don’t have control over. So, what am I doing about my own burnout? I am resting more, and at the same time trying to get into a routine that serves me (aka not staying up super late watching old reruns!). I’m bringing back a sense of play, aka letting myself move (swim, dance) just for fun, and getting in my closet and exploring. I’m also making it a point to spend time with friends and people I love.

Is it a quick cure? Not at all. But my desire for the revamp (and all good things) also keeps me going a bit. Are you dealing with some burnout right now? How are you “curing” it? What helps? I’m open to any and all tips- and if I find something that works great, I will pass it along!

Wishing us all a week of rest and amazing shoes! XO RA

(Mini) Skirting It

Investment Piece: (MIni) Skirting It
Investment Piece: Mini Skirting it
Investment Piece: Mini Skirting It

Know what I hate? The idea that something is too “young” (or too “old”) for a certain age group. Yes- there’s dressing appropriately, but if you feel great in something, why shouldn’t you wear it? Yet. While I would tell you that you can wear all the things that make you happy, I sometimes also worry that my choices are too “young”. Or that I shouldn’t wear something because of my age.

For example, mini skirts. Part of my issue is that I worry my height is too much (my solution to that is to make sure that any mini skirt I buy isn’t too loose, for example this number I sized up so it wouldn’t be short and tight!), but I also worry that I’m too old for mini skirts.

And loves, I would like to think that I’m not too old for anything. Following your own advise it tough, but, I decided to mini skirt the issue and wear what makes me happy. And this skirt, these colors- how could you not be happy in it?

Investment Piece: Mini Skirting It
Investment Piece: Mini Skirting It

Maybe skirting the issue (mini or otherwise) comes down to a little bit of bravery. Or confidence. It may seem silly, but wearing a mini skirt seemed like a big deal to me. However, wearing it was so fun. I didn’t feel old, I felt empowered. Mainly by the fact that I was wearing something that brought me joy!

Some styling notes:
– as mentioned above, I did size up so that the skirt wasn’t too tight. Although this skirt is so stretchy! It’s incredibly comfy (and there’s room enough for shorts underneath if that makes you comfortable!)

-I paired it with a blouse to balance the look. Although from bikini tops to tank tops to sweatshirts, this skirt would go with so many things

-I wore flats as again I was worried about my height. But. I might get even more daring and wear it with wedges or heels!

Investment Piece: Mini SKirting It

What time are you avoiding wearing because of something you “should” wear? How would it feel to wear it instead? I would love to hear about it!

I’ve linked this skirt a few others like it below so you can mini skirt it with me!
Xo RA

Note: this post does contain affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support!

Revamp

a blonde woman in a red jacket and a sequined striped maxi skirt sits on the edge of a white bathtub

It’s July. And hot. We’re officially in the throes of summer, and while it’s normally the time for vacations and taking off, this year I’m planning to spend the height of summer in a slightly different way. For me, it’s time to do a little revamp. Of my closet-cleaning it out, really editing it, and then adding pieces that I need. Of my house- it’s in need of a deep clean and some editing too! And of my schedule- I want to make sure that I’m spending time where I want to! I am also thinking of revamping this site. From series that I have sorta let slide over the pandemic to new series and systems I want to try, I’m looking to make this space even better. Why am I bringing this up?

You’re such an important of this site! Are there things that you would like to see here? Anything you’re missing? What would you like to see revamped? Let me know in the comments or email me! I will start working on making everything a bit better– while still attempting to get in summer!

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
XO RA