Tuesday, 28 September 2010

...like a blogger scorned

EDIT Please read the comments below to see Ty McBride from Jeffrey Campbell's response, followed by my own. Thanks to the power of social media, friends, and fellow bloggers, I was able to get my message across. I was really impressed that Ty took the time to respond and I think JC did a great job rectifying and addressing the situation in such a timely manner; it is nice to know that they do listen to their customers. A thank you to Ty again, and to all my readers who helped get Jeffrey Campbell's attention!

About a month ago, I entered a Jeffrey Campbell shoe design contest via Chictopia. I was thrilled when they also blogged about my Edie Sedgwick collage. (Yay! They were reading my blog, they must've looked at my design too!)

This was my entry:

A few days ago, I saw this shoe posted on the Jeffrey Campbell blog, which was also pointed out to me by a friend of mine.

My initial feelings were mixed. A bit of excitement (Did I win? Did I win???) and a bit of disappointment (Probably not).

I know the JC blog had been filled with vicious comments about the competition for a while now - with other people also miffed about some new Jeffrey Campbell designs seeming a little too inspired.

Anyway, further research led me to find the shoe being stocked at Modcloth - but since then, it has disappeared off the website. The lovely Modcloth employee I spoke to on live support was just as baffled as I was, and said this particular shoe's information was a bit strange, there were no order dates or reasons as to why it was removed.

After a little bit of thinking, I decided to write Jeffrey Campbell, Chictopia and Shop Akira an email to maybe help shed some light on the situation.

At this point, I was feeling quite perplexed - and let's face it, a little upset - at why a near identical shoe to one which I submitted to a contest for that same company, was now being sold/promoted on their website.

This is the email I wrote:

Hi there,

Firstly, I wanted to let you know how much I'm a fan of Jeffrey Campbell shoes. Denmark and Lita are currently on the top of my wish-list at the moment. I was really thrilled when the JC blog linked my to my blog post featuring the Lita shoe!

What I am also writing to you about is regarding the Jeffrey Campbell My Way contest, as featured on Chictopia.

I entered this competition, and my friend pointed out these shoes she saw on the Jeffrey Campbell blog today: http://www.modcloth.com/store/ModCloth/Womens/Shoes/Wedges/Hot+Buttered+Rum+Wedge

They look identical to my entry, except for the wedge, and bow instead of the tassels.

What I was wondering was, did win the competition somehow without being informed? I know the winners have yet to be announced, so I do hope this is the case, as the similarities are quite evident!

I don't mean to sound pedantic, but I also didn't see anywhere in the terms and conditions of the contest where it says that a submission means that the design can be freely used even if it isn't the winning entry.

Anyway, thank you for reading and I do hope this is just a mix up! Hopefully you can shed some light on the situation.

Kindest regards,
Mari Santos

Hoping for at least a little recognition that the design was similar, this is what I received in return:

Hello Mari!
The style featured on Mod Cloth is our ALISON, we have been showing that sample since March of this year.  Mod Cloth placed their order for the style back in June.
Thank you,
Sharon B
Jeffrey Campbell Shoes
Los Angeles, CA

Fair enough. Lots of ideas in fashion are similar - so I fully accept that the sample could have been created in March. To the dismay of much more zealous and supportive friends, I am giving Jeffrey Campbell the benefit of the doubt - but here's my issue.

I would have appreciated if they at least addressed my feelings, or empathized with my situation. A simple, "Yes! We can definitely see why you were concerned, the shoe is totally similar!"

Because. This. Has. Happened. Before.

Spot the Jeffrey Campbells!

What really irks me is that a company who is clearly unabashed about their inspiration and influences, fails to even acknowledge that someone who entered their own contest (because they enjoy the brand, and believe that Jeffrey Campbell original designs are absolutely gorgeous), has previously submitted a design pretty much identical to a shoe that has just been released.

Something completely simple like 'Yeah, totally, they do look similar! Great minds think alike' would have been at least appreciative - maybe some token saccharine words towards a supportive customer who has gone so far as to enter a contest for the brand. Anything that would've been even mildly indicative of the similarities, would have sufficed.

I guess in this blogosphere/internet world, it's easy for designers to feel cheated and vulnerable - especially for small-time business owners who attempt to earn a living from their creativity.

I appreciate that Jeffrey Campbell tries to bring a high-end shoe style to a price range that is a little more in tune with the masses (although, I wouldn't really call them 'cheap'), but when I felt as though (prior to the email) this had been encroaching my territory - I felt really manipulated. This "Robin Hood" style of stealing no longer applied - I'm not a million dollar company - just a girl with loads of student debt who decided to enter a contest to possibly win a pair of shoes she probably wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

This brings us to a whole other topic of fashion democracy - can or should designs be copyrighted? It's such controversial territory. Fashion, for many, is their art, a craft honed and painstakingly worked on. To see something of theirs completely taken away by a larger, high profit making company (not to say that is what happened in this case, but the events that transpired did motivate me to write this post) without receiving any benefit from this 'transaction' seems ludicrous.

I am, however, not above picking up the latest designer knock-off from H&M, when I know very well I can't afford the real-deal - so that's where it gets a bit muddled. Maybe a happy solution would be that those that make under a certain amount a year should be allowed to copyright their work - so big companies won't be able to reap the benefits off a designer that can barely afford to pay their rent!

To bloggers, artists, creators - I think caution is definitely key when it comes to entering competitions like these.

On the plus side, anyone that did like my design - you can now find something very similar at your local Jeffrey Campbell stockist. Maybe you can ask them if they'll make it in a stacked heel instead of a wedge next time.

Cute right? I'm still keen to add a pair of woolly socks.

Mari x

Please reblog/comment/link/tweet as you see fit.

EDIT Please read the comments below to see Ty McBride from Jeffrey Campbell's response, followed by my own. Thanks to the power of social media, friends, and fellow bloggers, I was able to get my message across. I was really impressed that Ty took the time to respond and I think JC did a great job rectifying and addressing the situation in such a timely manner; it is nice to know that they do listen to their customers. A thank you to Ty again, and to all my readers who helped get Jeffrey Campbell's attention!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Fall wardrobe transition

Fall is when I just want to curl up in bed in some woolly socks and read a big ol' book of poetry by Keats. Just kidding about the last part - or am I?

Here's a fall outfit I put together, featuring this Little Fille Cher headband.

See by Chloe long mohair cardigan
Jeffrey Campbell's Denmark shoe. Buy me these and I will love you forever.
Topshop cable knit socks
Awear tea dress
Marni leather cross body bag

Mari x

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Edie Sedgwick

Think mini shift sequin dresses, leopard print jackets, gamine 'coquettishness' and heavily kohl rimmed eyes.

Topshop's petite leopard print coat
Jeffrey Campbell's Lita
Steve Sasco's original butterfly earring
Awear's black all over petal shift dress
Little Fille "Edie" headband - coming soon!

Here are some of my Edie inspired outfits of the past. No, this did not just involve sifting through Facebook photos to see what looked "Edie-ish" (yes it did).

As part of my MA fashion journalism application, I did a little project where I recreated some looks of style icons. Here's the one I did of Edie. Gotta love bad photoshop and my uncanny interpretation of the guy on the far right.

If you're interested in seeing the rest, you can find them here. Click on "Couture Pour Pas Cher."

Mari xx

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Krabby Patties

My wonderful cousin Janina came to visit me in the big smoke, and of course, what better way for cousins to spend their spare time in London than to make French macaroons??

The recipe is fairly straightforward - if not heart attack/artery clog inducing - so we thought we would give it a try.

I have to tell you though, I know this is not an original concept because everyone and their mother is - but I am OBSESSED with macaroons. I am pretty much known to my closest friends as the 'macaroon girl' (good thing? bad thing?) Anyway. But I have never ventured into actually making these wonderful, wonderful treats of heaven in your mouth desserts - until now.

Too bad they ended up looking like brown mini-hamburgers.

I probably should've not started this post out with those photos because my end results will now seem anticlimactic. But should you want to make delicious sweet krabby patties at home, minus the lettuce, read on.

(This is from David Lebovitz, by the way)
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Dutch process Coco powder( unsweetened)
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup powdered almonds
2 large egg whites

For the Chocolate Filling:

4 ounces finely chopped chocolates (bittersweet or semisweet)
1 tablespoon butter ( small pieces)
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

So, preheat the oven to 180. Then mix all the powdered sugar, coco powder and almonds together like so:

Apparently, it helps to grind everything up if you use an actual grinder - or whatever this thing is (I ended up having this, and an electric beater in my flat, that I totally forgot about. I think this is because I went through a baking phase that I blocked out of my mind when I ended up making cupcakes that tasted like cornbread muffins). Anyway, mix mix mix until everything is brown, basically.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form a stiff peak. Stiff peak means they should look like this:

While you're doing that, add the granulated sugar too.

Here's Nani working away.

I don't know how eggs can expand to 918023 times their size, but they do.

When that's done, you slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Just until everything is mixed together - but only just. Because apparently you're not supposed to overdo it.

This is when we decided to use a flimsy sandwich bag as a piping bag. No.

This is what it looked like out of the oven. Fail.

Eventually, we decided a spoon would be a good substitute. So go ahead and spoon that batter onto the baking tray.

Here is where we went wrong. Crucial point. The recipe said to "Rap the baking tray, then place it in the oven for 15 minutes." We both looked at each other and said, "So what does 'rap' mean?'" We didn't know, so we just put it in the oven.

Basically 'rapping' means, bang the tray against the counter. This supposedly gives the macaroon its little 'foot' - thus avoiding the whole krabby patty aesthetic - unless you're going for that, then hey.

Also, you can leave the batter out for 15-30 minutes before putting it in the oven. This apparently gives the macaroon its hard shell and little foot as well.

I say APPARENTLY and SUPPOSEDLY because I tried this all again including this step, and NOTHING. Not one difference, but there could be other factors. I used 'fruisana' instead of regular sugar in an attempt to cut some sugar out of the recipe. Never attempt to make a macaroon 'healthier' - you'll fail.

Anyway, after 15 minutes, your macaroons should look like this. Or if you waited 15 minutes before putting it in the oven or understood what rapping a tray meant, you should have some feet on those things.

Leave them aside.

Next step, the ganache.

To make the chocolate filling, start by heating the cream and the corn syrup combined in a sauce pan. When the mixture begins to boil at the edges remove from the flame and add the chocolate. Let it stay for one minute before stirring it into a smooth mixture. Finally mix in the butter and let the mixture cool completely before using it.
(Sorry, no pictures)

Anyway, when that's done, spread the filling onto the macaroons and complete your mini-burger!

Told you it was anti-climactic. Yes, they are pretty ugly, but they taste absolutely delicious. If you are patient, leave them in the fridge overnight to let all the flavours blend together. It's so worth it, even if it is really hard to do.

Mari x

Friday, 3 September 2010

Little Fille A/W 2010 teaser shots

Little Fille A/W2010-11
Models: Sonya Cullingford, Keeley Sheppard, Olivia Dunn
Photography: Natasha Marshall
Makeup: Wai Fung
Styling: Iwona Knapinska, Edyta Knapinska, Mari Santos