Author Agnes Smedley once wrote "I see no reason why a woman should not grow and develop in all those outlets which are suited to her nature, it matters not at all what they may be". Though perhaps not her intention, her words echo the sentiments of satisfied Designer outlet mall shoppers.
Though outlet malls exist globally, the US, with its already stellar conversion rates and monopoly on the "bigger is better" shopping centers, seemingly has the most wonderful of these outlets. The deals are so good they are worth salivating over and often the merchandise is so seasonal it is practically right off the catwalk!
My favorite outlet malls are along the east coast of America from the north (in the mountains right outside of New York City) to the south (Orlando, Florida). Outlet malls tend to be conveniently located near vacation hotspots so they are often scenic and accessible! The Premium Outlets in Orlando, the Wrentham Premium Outlets in Massachusetts, and Woodbury Commons in New York are each filled with brilliant shops and fabulous atmospheres that are completely unique to the locale!
However, similar to other great shopping experiences (vintage shopping, market shopping, etc) there is always the problem of scouring through the numerous options to find the places worth going to.
Generally with outlet malls, shoppers spend much of their time looking for a bargain on their visit. Some people may have an idea of what they want; other will have brands they want to purchase. However, the most successful of shoppers approach these malls without anything specific in mind. There are so many great sales on gorgeous items, but when shopping for something specific you may find that you cannot find exactly what it is you are looking for.
Orlando Premium Outlet Mall is an excellent outlet but requires some hunting effort. The mall is filled with luxurious brands including La Perla, Locaste, Donald J. Plinar, Diesel, Kenneth Cole, Burberry, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, and Dior. These stores often deeply discount but tend to require time, as you will have to search for the items worth the bargain. However, one can often strike gold! Early this summer I found a gorgeous Burberry Lawson bag for just $700 down from its originally price of $1500! Located just minutes away from Disney World, these outlets are a great stop during holidays with the family (8200 Vineland Avenue, Orlando, FL 32821, (407) 238-7787)!
Wrentham Village Premium Outlets are located in the Berkshires, Massachusetts about 45 minutes from Boston. Like the Orlando Outlets Wrentham has a large and wonderful selection of brands. This popular mall is perfect for someone on a slightly lower budget then the Orlando Premium Outlets. There are over 200 different shops including Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Saks, Juicy, Uggs, Coach, Theory, Barney’s, and BCBG. Whilst the discounts and finds are excellent at this mall one should take heed that this is a very crowded shopping center (think Notting Hill Carnival crowds). However, it is totally worth it, the merchandise is very seasonal and I always a great price. One example is my recent find of a lovely Armani leather coat at Barneys for nearly ½ price at $350! The outlet is located at: One Premium Outlets Boulevard, Wrentham, MA 02093, (508) 384-0600.
The crème de la crème of outlet shopping is hands down Woodbury Commons in New York (about an hour outside the city). Fashionista across the globe will travel far and wide for this buried treasure! Woodbury is the type of shoppers’ mecca where to go there you must love to clothes, bargains and shopping. It is very crowded and very big but is equally brimming with luxury brands and has equally luxurious deals! Some of the many, many shops include, Balenciaga, Burberry, Betsey Johnson, Coach, Chloé, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Lacoste, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Prada, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Tod’s, Tory Burch and much, much more! Whether you are looking for something specific or are just wanting to see what’s out there you will find it here! Every time I am in the States (no matter how inconvenient it may be) I make sure to hit up this shopping paradise. I bring back all my gorgeous finds to London and happily strut around in my seasonal must-haves (that I got for ½ the price)! I have gone once already this summer (but am actually going again at the end of the month) and got some fabulous Rock and Republic jeans for under $100, Prada loafers for $200 and a fabulous more then 30% off on a Chanel Cruise Collection ‘09 handbag! Woodbury is easily my top favorite place to shop retail in the world! Located at: 498 Red Apple Court, Central Valley, NY 10917, (845) 928-4000.
The process of assembling your autumnal wardrobe can be a daunting experience. Often the desire for multiple new pieces combined with a tight budget can make a girl feel overwhelmed! These outlet shops allow a girl to have a bit of luxury without the guilt! So, the next time you are travelling my fellow fashionistas (and feeling that you want to be recession savvy) it is worth investing your time and money in these marvelous Outlets!
I recently went to visit Camille Roman of La Tour de Force in her studio as I needed some hats for a shoot. Of course I fell in love with her oversized bows! I had a chance to ask her some questions about her work:
What inspired you to become a hat maker?
CR – I love that creating hats allows you to form a landscape for a concentrated area of the body. I have been designing hugely elaborate couture looks since I was small, though back then they were costumes for a troupe of figure-skating dancers with gymnastic capabilities. I started making hats as it allowed me to realise some of these idea of a smaller scale, in a way that I could afford to produce them.
How would you describe your style?
CR – I like drama and extremes, so extremely minimal or extremely complicated in a visible way. I am really interested in how people form visual association, so there are always a lot of literal references in the collections. Always the aim is to create something dramatic or humorous while covetable at the same time. If I was going to verbal mash-it though, I would say;
Parisian glamour + Japanese abstraction.
You’ve recently moved to designing garments has that been a natural progression for you?
CR – Totally, I have always designed clothing alongside the Headpieces, and a lot of the time the details easily translate well in either form. At the moment I am still focusing on creating garments that work as components in the way that accessories do. The next season’s collection is called ‘The Peripheral Ingredient’ because there will be a mixture of Headpiece and Clothing which essentially have the same role in an outfit.
Did your experiences at Lanvin, Zac Posen and Johnny Loves Rosie influence you?
CR – Definitely, I think your experiences in other design houses always help you work out how you want to run your own business. I have always gone away from these places having more respect for the designers because of the way they operate with alot of integrity. I think it is really important to get things done perfectly, but always make sure that the people you work with are having a good experience. Working such long hours in fashion- you really have to enjoy it or what’s the point!
Do you wear your headpieces?
CR – As strange as it sounds, I only wear them in the creative process. I am pretty minimal in terms of my personal style, i could just wear a tapered pillowcase every day, therefore I am not interested in designing for myself as I find that pretty limiting. I love to design pieces that I want to see on other people, and that I think they will want. It is so satisfying to see other people wearing something you have made, and for me it’s about the realistation of an idea that can be used.
What advice do you have for students wanting to study fashion?
CR – I think it is really important to see your limitations as opportunity to be more creative. I think fashion is a pretty difficult subject psychologically because there is often so much pressure and a lot of competition within institutions. I think it is really important only to make sure judge yourself by your own standards and be objective, so that you can enjoy it as much as possible and always be sure of your purpose…. When people leave education, I believe it is the confidence in being able to achieve what you want and like that will keep you going, and is probably the most important thing to gain before you graduate.
I’m not really a festival kind of gal, I’m a little bit scared of the mud, the rain and the gross gross toilets but I decided to brave it this year, put on my dancing shoes (lace-up brogues) and head to Chelmsford for the V Festival.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t camp (don’t be silly!) I went along for one day and for one day only. It was brilliant though and I had such an amazing time.
The overwhelming decision about what to wear to a festival is ridiculously hard though wouldn’t you agree? You don’t want to look like you tried too hard but you really don’t want to fade into the background either. You want to look stylish and chic yet still be comfortable.
In my head I had the perfect outfit, I wanted a little studded leather mini, a black t-shirt and a pair of black plimsolls (I wanted to look a bit Debbie Harry esque) but then the sun came out to play and scuppered my plan.
So I chose a playsuit in the end. I’ve not worn one before but boy do I love my lil Topshop number. It has a gorgeous ditzy floral print on it and it was so comfy I could have done cartwheels if I could remember how to do them.
The weather was gorgeous, the atmosphere sensational and the style on show was fab. Having seen the celeb pictures from the entire festival I think my top three looks from those that went were Rosie Huntington Whitely, purely for her fab hat, Lily Allen for her sheer cami and her toned figure, and Peaches Geldof for her long flowing Woodstock esque hair but I felt fab in my lil playsuit and that’s all that matters.
In any professional field there is always someone that is an inspiration. A muse of sorts who is top of the ladder… In football there maybe David Beckham, in fashion you may think of Coco Chanel and in the world of Hollywood makeup there is Mr. Marvin Westmore! I’ve recently spent an hour on the phone chatting with Marv’. He graciously has invited me out to Los Angeles to come and run a catwalk fashion class at his world renown makeup college-The Westmore Academy. His academy started in 1981 and they have a real "artists" approach to makeup. In some of their courses they teach drawing, colour theory, and psychology of colour.
Marvin is a six time Emmy nominated, third generation professional Hollywood Makeup Artist, with a history of over 35 years in consumer makeup and in the Motion Picture & Television industry. His family are a makeup artist dynasty and they have the star on the Hollywood walk of fame to prove it! You may recognise his work in such cult classics as Blade Runner. I had to ask him "You were the makeup artist for ultra cool movie- Blade Runner- what was it like working on that? Creating the looks? Did you realise at the time when working on it, that it would be such an iconic cult film?" and he so humbly replied "I did what was asked of me for the job, I just do what is required of me to best of my ability as with any film, you never really know how it will turn out until it all comes together."
I also ask him the question I always love to ask other makeup artists "What products do you think are essential in a makeup artists kit?" I was pleasantly surprised to hear such a simple and sensible response which was "Lipsticks, cream colours for shadows and RMK foundations; all easily mixed. Keep the kit light and small for trave.l"
And would you believe even with his stellar career, he managed to father 5 children! I’m looking forward to meeting Mr. Westmore in person at the end of the year. We haven’t worked out the exact dates of the upcoming course but we are hoping to plan a course for January 2010 – so watch this space. I’d also suggest checking out Marvin Westmore’s personal blog.