Get the Leipzig Look

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about studying abroad this summer in Leipzig, Germany. The preparation involved in leaving home is just as extensive as I’d imagined, and unfortunately, my wardrobe will always remain at the top of my packing concerns.

Here I am last year, decked out in America gear. Talk about looking like a tourist! Hey, it happens.

Here I am last year, decked out in America gear. Talk about looking like a tourist! Hey, it happens.

While I can’t wait to explore outside the United States, I’ve been warned about being an American sticking out like a sore thumb.

I don’t want to lose my identity when I travel overseas, but as suggested, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to attempt blending in with the Germans. And for a college girl traveling – I can’t lie – the luggage I bring is vital.

Professors and others with international experience advised against wearing bright colors, white tennis shoes or very showy clothing. I trust their judgment, but I  thought I’d investigate further myself.

Various packing list websites proved to be quite useful, but I needed more visuals.

LOOKBOOK is an online platform for everyday fashionistas to share, inspire and discover new shoppable styles and photography. While I’m not sure if I’ll ever contribute to the site, it provided me with the best look at the German glam!

To view LOOKBOOK’s full #berlin collection or promote some of its looks, click here.

Models roll out on the Runway


Fashion Without Borders

The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (MBFW) Russia made heads turn as some fashion designers decided to break barriers by introducing disabled models onto the catwalk.  The models walked down the runway with a wide range of disabilities; young people who are blind, have Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Others were in wheel chairs and even gold medal winners from the Russian Paralympic Team.

“This season Week opens new names in the Russian fashion scene and shows a collection for people with disabilities. This will help make the world a wider and brighter for people with special needs and to reconsider the traditional stereotypes about fashion” – said Jan C. Madeo, General Director of “Mercedes-Benz Russia.” Fashion United


“Undoubtedly, seeing happy faces of people you’ve done work with is always a pleasure! But a much more positive charge given communication itself with guys who do not have some physical abilities, but not devoid of the desire to live, enjoy, and wonder.”said Dima Neu.

"Мода без границ" в рамках недели моды "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia"

“Apparel for women who use a wheelchair, has its own characteristics: for example, the skirt should be inflated rear waist, be of more dense material to be tailored so as not to fall into the wheel.” –Daria Razumikhina


Dmitriy Neu presents a sporty collection that can be worn by anyone.



Designer Sabina Gorelik makes a fashion statement with her edgy collection.

All of these compelling and powerful photos were taken by Getty Images.

A Brief History of Russian Folk Dress


Snegurochka clashes with a modern look

It can be argued that the Russian traditional costume dress is well recognized around the world. It appears that the country is still holding on to those looks; reminding the world that they still keep their traditional appearance at heart. The most recent example is when beautiful Russian girls accompanied athletes from different nations in the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.  The girls were wearing an interesting headgear, which immediately made everyone turn their attention to them. The headgear was exuding a very traditional Russian look. The ladies were specifically representing Snegurochka, also known as a “snow girl.”

“According to the legend the old man and woman who made her from snow used two deep blue beads for eyes, made two dimples in her cheeks, and used a piece of red ribbon for her mouth. Snegurochka was very beautiful, but when she came to life, she was even better. Snegurochka is often depicted with snow white skin, deep sky-blue eyes, cherry lips and curly fair hair. Originally Snegurochka wore only white garments and a crown, decorated with silver and pearls. Her present day costume is blue, red, white or silver and her crown is sometimes replaced by an embroidered cap with fur edging. She is probably one of the most attractive female characters in Russian culture.” (Russiapedia) 

This look highly resembles the traditional Russian costume the “sarafan” which became popular in the 18th century. This was not always considered to be Russian, in fact the look and the word itself came from Persia. The folk dress was mostly worn by peasant women who wanted to still be fashionable like the nobility class.


Peasant women wearing sarafan

The sarafan was brought to Russia byPeter the Great, who had a great impact on Russian everyday life. The ruler is considered by many the first fashion icon in Russia. Peter I created strict regulations on dress code because he had a strong desire to be more Western European. The nobility were obligated to follow the Western European fashion and eventually the fashion trends became the norm for the Russian society. Today you will still see these fashion trends in Russia because it is part of their culture, which cannot be forgotten.

Russian fashion history is extremely fascinating and it is important to see the gradual changes throughout centuries. I hope this post gives you some insight into Russian folk costumes because my next post will focus on how Russia is developing in the Fashion world.

Italy Celebrates Curves

Real men like curves; only dogs go for bones

When Americans think of models, we imagine a tall, slender woman.  Their long, skinny cigarette legs have long been popular in both Europe and America; however, now Italian Vogue is seeking to change that with their new magazine “Vogue Curvy.”

Italy has not seen the beautiful hourglass shape since the Renaissance and now it’s back, and in full force.  With nearly 20% of Italy’s lady population overweight and size 14 as the biggest seller in Italian stores, the timing for Vogue’s new curvy magazine seems quite fitting. After all, just because you’re curvy does not mean that you are overweight.

As Italians continue to embrace the voluptuous new style, they are loving beauties like Kim Kardashian, who is known for her large posterior, short stature and obvious curves.  Kim is even pictured on the Vogue Curvy website.  This fashion icon and her sisters are adding to the newfound acceptance of shapely women by starting an American clothing line.  In Italy this trend is going on too with nearly twenty new brands of curvy women’s clothing popping up.

Some say this trend was spurred by the death of famous Italian model Isabelle Caro. While the cause of Caro’s death has not been officially confirmed, it would seem quite obvious when you see her that she died from a terribly tragic case of anorexia.  This put the skinny girl problem out into the public for discussion and led to the new curvy trend.

When it came time for the Miss Italy pageant, the contest sought out curvy women to try to reflect the real image of Italian women. “Miss Italy should reflect the beauty of Italian women and in Italy that is made up with a majority of women who are size 14 or above, so it is a reality of the country’s social make up,” said the pageant’s representatives. Miss Italy called for curvy women to represent Italy to the world. And why shouldn’t curvy women stand out, as they are starting to become the majority.

Paris, all dressed up

John Galliano showed his Fall/Winter collection at Paris Fashion Week in March, photo from

Oscar Wilde once said, “A fashion is merely a form of ugliness so unbearable that we are compelled to alter it every six months.” Well, many would agree to disagree with Mr. Wilde about the attractiveness of high fashion (it’s art, okay?). But, he’s correct in the second part of his thesis. Every six months, without fail, the fashion world rears its pampered little head and announces the next season’s looks and trends. Let me put it this way: FASHION WEEK.

Let’s backtrack for a second. New York Fashion Week already happened (8-15 September). It was glamorous. It was exciting. Marc Jacobs is still a genius. London Fashion Week (16-21 September) is, as usual, sprinkled with some big names – Preen, Vivienne Westwood – but is a bit tamer, acting as a sort of half-time break for all the editors and stylists still trying to recover from all the Soho after-parties. Milan Fashion Week comes next (21-27 September), picking back up the pace, but in a much more regal, traditional style. And then comes la mère of them all: Paris Fashion Week, Mode A Paris. Lanvin and Chanel and Hermès, oh my!

Paris Fashion Week – perhaps the most anticipated week in the fashion world – showcases many of the world’s top designers and longest-standing fashion houses. It is known for mixing all of the young creativity and party hopping of New York Fashion Week with the established elegance of Milan’s. The settings are magnificent – Valentino in le jardin des Tuileries, Dior in the Musée Rodin – and the clothes are notorious for matching the scenery in their splendor.

Keep in mind that the collections shown are for Spring/Summer 2012. Sounds a bit early, non? But by the time the hot-off-the-runway clothes make their way into ads into magazines onto newsstands and into stores, the April flowers will be a-bloomin’. It’s just like film previews that are shown months in advance; they get you all excited and then make you wait half a year for the film to come to a theater near you.

But nonetheless, it will be a week of wonders, as always. Les rues de Paris will be flooded with even more models, editors, photographers and fashionistas (some of whom will cover the event via their rad fashion blogs), and the City of Lights will be brighter than ever with around-the-clock events. Last Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld (designer for Chanel) turned the Grand Palais into a nighttime street-scene, complete with a glistening-sidewalk runway and stars twinkling up above. Think planetarium of couture. So start resting up now, mes chères, because this week is known for its grand surprises and you won’t want to miss any of it. Even if their are hindrances to your jetset abilities, you can always livestream the shows online. Brace yourself – it’s the grand finale of the Spring/Summer fashion weeks, and it will undoubtedly the most spectacular of them all.

Chanel’s show in the Grand Palais

Color choices of outfits, College Students in America and Germany

“Anni, do you have more than 3 colors on you?”, “Do I?”

A friend of mine who has spent several years in Austria told me that Americans dress differently than Germans or Austrians. They pay extreme attention to color match. If they wear red, the accessories such as a bracelet or errings would also be the same color or at least match the color. It’s hardly possible to imagine that a German wears more than 3 colors on him or her. I was wondering if this is true, so I asked my German friend Anni. She was so nervous and checked her clothes to make sure she is OK.

The most common look of our Mizzou students is Mizzou T-shirt+ shorts or jeans. It’s easy and they don’t need to spend too much time on picking clothes.

© Laurie Skrivan

When I was doing research on the German students’ outfit, I felt everyone has a different style and they do spend some time on picking clothes.

© digital cat ’s @ Flicker

A big difference I found between American and German students on color matching is, if a German student chooses a bold color such as red as the main color for his or her outfit, he or she would not wear another bold color such as orange. They won’t have two main colors at the same time. However, the color choices of American students seems to be more free. They can have a yellow T-Shirt + jeans + pink socks or whatever they like. They don’t care about color matching, or in other words they have a totally different philosophy on color matching.

Only Time Will Tell

While there are nearly hundreds of watch blogs and a huge community of international watch lovers, the cultural significance of watches has slowly begun to decline in America. Here the youth culture is taught early on to rely on technology and instant gratification, specifically with the attachment to smart phones and computers. Yet, nearly 3000 miles away, in Europe, watches are recognized as a symbol of status and class.

photo courtesy of

In Europe, not only are watches appreciated but they are held to represent so much more than simply a time piece. In most cases, especially in the 21st century, owning a watch denounces wealth–the ability to own something even though in our society it is no longer a necessity with growing reliance on smart phones, computers and other technological devices.

Every spring, for 8 days, the Baselworld Fair is held in Basel, Switzerland where hundreds of watch and jewelry companies from all over the world (some historically recognized as some of the world’s most premiere watch makers) come out to evaluate the industry and more important, to get a feel for the market.

This past year, the most interesting trend was that of women of high culture who have over time developed an affinity for timepieces.

What I’ve observed in America is that aside from special occasions, watches are not standard accessories for the American (man or woman). And while there is a small market of watches being produced in or for the US, the big sales take place overseas in countries like Switzerland and Germany where being punctual and on time are apart of  mass culture.

I’ve also noticed that aside from high culture, Americans don’t tend to see the need for a watch; the high class Americans wear them for that exact reason–I can, therefore I will. And with hip hop culture and reality TV taking Americans on a wild ride through loose morals and tacky dresses, the actual symbolism seems to be worth more than the function of the device. With diamonds dripping from top to bottom, who needs the time anyway?

This birth control doesn’t work in France!

What is repulsive in one country can be high-fashion in another.


The last time I traveled through France, I was repeatedly stopped by strangers on the street (and if strangers talk to you in France, they must REALLY want to know whatever they are asking) inquiring where I got what has to be the most repulsive element of my entire wardrobe.

What was this oh horrible of most horrible of things you ask?

U.S. Army issue glasses… affectionately known as BCGs.

B.C.G. stands for Birth Control Glasses, because no woman would ever sleep with you while you were wearing them. They are issued to soldiers who need corrective lenses during their basic training. Soldiers that have passed basic training have the option to get a more human looking pair.

I'm to sexy for my specs!

I'm to sexy for my specs!

These things are virtually indestructible, we played hockey with a pair at my old unit for over a year.

I was wearing this monstrosity around Paris because I had lost every other pair of glasses I had and I’m almost blind without them. To my surprise, I was suddenly a god of high-fashion.

I was asked over and over where these glasses could be bought, however no one was particularly pleased at the prospect of enrolling in the U.S. Army to get a pair of their own.

Fashion varies all over the world, who knows, maybe you don’t need to buy new clothes to stay in fashion, it might be easier to just move.

Check out more French high-fashion at the 2009 Paris Fashion Week.

Controversial Couture

Victoria Andreyanova, a fashion designer, has caused quite a stir because of her new line of clothing that is based on attire that a nun might wear. Russia Today tells the story of why Andreyanova chose this particular clothing line for her new design.

It is interesting to see where the fashion world is heading. Who knows, maybe in a year or so this line will become popular in the United States. Instead of sporting jeans and a t-shirt, women might switch to long robes and skirts. Is it controversy that makes it so much more appealing to wear?

The video below also taken from Russia Today, is about fashion in Chechnya. They are trying to reach a compromise between European and Islamic fashions. Clothing stores are even at risk of getting shut down, if the clothing they sell is too revealing.
explains that the fashion world has been butting heads with religion for a long time.

Some years ago, Versace was forced to retire a t-shirt in Italy that bared the sentence “the devil made me do it.”

They also have galleries filled with controversial fashion that has made the Catholic Church upset. This ad for Equinox gym has made a few heads turn, and has lead Catholics to be critical of the fashion industry.

This is what the Catholic Church had to say about it.

“It says a great deal about this perverse obsession in both the fashion industry and the advertising industry of exploiting and mocking and sexualizing Catholic religious imagery,” — C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.

This blog talks about religious accessories hitting up mainstream clothing stores such as Urban Outfitters. It also explains the controversy behind certain items and why they are being pulled from store shelves.

Personally, I believe “more is less” and the Russian fashion world is heading in that direction with clothing that are meant to be more conservative.  Adding a hint of religion in fashion is not a bad idea, in fact controversy sells. So what do you think about the new clothing line? Is it okay to incorporate tradition with every day attire?

The End of Size Zero

If you think you’re fashion forward, you may have heard or seen the war brewing about Size Zero culture.


The term Size Zero culture has been wreaking havoc within the international media since 2007. Despite these public fashion debates, and possible legal action, France hasn’t completely hopped on the bandwagon against the idea of beauty in a smaller package.

The argument turned up a notch after designer Karl Langerfeld’s response to the issue in October.

These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly.

Another nudge in the rounder direction is the expansion of the French waistline:

Even if we are nowhere near as overweight as the Americans, more French children are obese, more French men and women are dieting, and more are falling for fad diets that don’t work.”

Despite the reluctance of French fashion, “des mode grandes tailles” may be opening doors for themselves.

Plus-sized fashion has made a mark in the media with the help of photo blogger and plus-sized model Stephanie Zwicky. A Swiss native, Zwicky, is breaking down the size barriers and myths about French women with her site Le Blog de Big Beauty.

Though full-figured women have always been around, the recent spotlight in the fashion industry, for better or worse, is a noticeable change from commonly held beliefs of what is French fashion.

But the entire situation raises a few questions: How big of a divide is there between actual French ideas of size and beauty and what the rest of the world thinks they hold as the ideal or model size? Are we in other cultures part of the problem?

Ooh-la-la: The French Woman’s Secret

Soon to have its stateside release on September 25, Coco Avant Chanel (a.k.a Coco Before Chanel) seems to be a film that will continue to perpetuate the French female mystique throughout the minds of American women.

Why aren’t French women fat? How did they come to possess this intuitive fashion sense? What’s their secret?

These are the questions that have been posed by a vast majority of American women for decades.

In an article in the Orange Country Register, Debra Ollivier, the author of What French Women Know, said, “I got kind of annoyed by the sort of ‘Ooh-la-la’ stereotypes that we’ve had (in America) for so long. It’s really not about what they’re wearing, it’s about what’s in their head.”

And judging from several other recent articles on French women, it seems what’s in their head is confidence: a daring attitude to make an impressionable, unapologetic statement regardless of popular opinion.

What’s in their head can, however, be reflected through what they’re wearing. Renowned French fashion designer Coco Chanel is the perfect example.

“She really wanted to have freedom from a man, and at first the only way she could find that freedom was through the clothes,” French actress Audrey Tatou, who plays Chanel in the film, told the Huffington Post.

“She was not impressed by anything or anybody, and I think this is a real way to feel powerful, to feel that you have the key to your life,” Tatou said.

It seems some of this empowerment has continued to mold the mindset of the French woman whose American counterparts tend to put on a pedestal.

Ollivier takes the concept of the French woman’s innate confidence a step further to explain why the book He’s Just Not That Into You – a hit in most Western countries, including the States – found little success in France. The French woman wouldn’t dwell on the man, according to Ollivier. “Because if he’s just not that into them, they just don’t care: ‘OK! Ciao!'”

So, is this attitude one of confidence or arrogance? Do you think American women lack the daring mystique of the French female, or is it just exhibited in a different way on the Western shores of the Atlantic?