Sunday, November 30, 2008

Daul Kim Editorial for Korea Vogue, October 2008

Model: Daul Kim
Editorial: Unknown
Magazine: Korea Vogue, October 2008
Photographer: Oh Joong Seok

Source: Leigh H @ tFs

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 11/29

Hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving weekend and got some great bargains yesterday! With the official start of the holiday season, the markets are also looking a bit brighter. Kind of.

On Monday, Citigroup was bailed out from its recent troubles, with a $20 billion capital injection from TARP in exchange for preferred shares and a government agreement to guarantee over $300 billion of their troubled assets. The shares went from $3.77 last Friday (as I remember, but could be a bit off) to $8.29 yesterday. It would've been an easy way to double your money quick! Citi was simply too big and international to be allowed to fail.

On Tuesday, the latest economic data were released, citing a 0.5% decline in GDP from July-September, more than the 0.3% announced a month ago. Home prices also dropped a whooping 17.4% from a year ago, a record decline. Along with this bad economic data however, the Fed also announced a new $800 billion program to support asset-backed securities including consumer loans and mortgage-backed securities:
  • $100 billion to buy up debt issued by government-sponsored mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks
  • $500 billion to buy up mortgage securities backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae
  • $200 billion facil ity to support consumer finance, including student, auto, and credit card loans and loans backed by the federal Small Business Administration
Designed as a life line for consumers, it is supposed to help consumers get home, car and credit card loans easier. I haven't figured out all the implications of this program is. I am still astounded by the sudden $800 billion splurge. Last time they announced a splurged $700 billion, there were long congress hearings and deliberations for at least a week. Where was the hearing and deliberation here (or have I just been unaware of the politics?)? Regardless, this has run the financial crisis tab to $7.36 trillion- double what was spent on WW2 adjusted for inflation!

Overseas, the latest headline to up the pirate fiasco last week (not that it has gone away), is the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. I thought that Mumbai and Delhi were pretty civilized and safe these days with their strong economic growth and development. That is why I was so shocked to hear that the city was attacked by terrorists who randomly shot at people on the streets and hijacked 2 of the most luxurious hotels there, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi, and a Jewish center, taking and killing many hostages! The latest death toll as of Saturday evening was at least 183. The terrorists, were well trained and in their 20s. They arrived in Mumbai by boat and the whole thing appeared to be very well planned. They suspect that the gunmen are from Pakistan and that this may have something to do with the dispute in Kashmir.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hye Park in Saks Fifth Avenue Catalog, Holiday 2008

Model: Hye Park
Catalog: Saks Fifth Avenue, Great Gifts 2008 (Holiday 2008)
Photographer: Unknown


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Du Juan for JCrew Catalog, December 2008

Model: Du Juan
Catalog: JCrew, December 2008
Photographer: Unknown

Source: JCrew

Happy Turkey Day

While you wait for Thanksgiving dinner, here is something to oogle over.....

Happy Turkey day everyone!

Image Source: Net a Porter

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Saks Girl

I think I need to convert to Saks girl, because they are officially my favourite department store this season. After having walked through Barneys and Bloomies (judging from the crowd, I assume Neiman Marcus to be the same), I can officially say that Saks is offering the BEST deals this sale season! Earlier this month (when I was pondering over my pink skirt), they had that weekend of extra 40% off already on sale items. While everyone else is currently doing that however, Saks has moved on to taking 50% off already on sale items, there are also a LOT more on sale items too! This sale began last week (privately) for Saks card holders and I heard the Saks New York was flooded with customers, literally fighting over each other for the latest stocks as they unpacked the boxes. This week it is open to everyone and it's craaaazy (I believe they are having a "black week" instead of black friday, so better get there early!).

To begin with, the traffic on their website must be phenomenal, because the website is constantly down and I'm led to a "Sorry we're experiencing technical problems" page every few clicks. And when I DO get onto the page, it appears that many sizes are already out!
Luckily for me, Saks Fifth in Chicago is not exactly the busiest department store in town (this honor belongs to Nordstroms and Bloomies) and there were still some stuff left in my size (kind of) when I visted today. So I swiped this Rebecca Taylor dress for 1/3 of the price!! I believe it was 40% off and then another 50% off. I was considering it when it was at 40% off, but when I saw it was another 50% off, it was almost a no brainer. It's not super special, but if you look at it more closely, it has mini dark purple polka dot prints on it in felt. And when you swirl, the dress swirls with you. It just feels so cute and fun! The back is also a racer back design, which I thought was very intriguing. I am super happy with this find (besides the fact that I had to get it in a 4 instead of a 2, but I figure that the dress is supposed to be a bit loose!).
What got me super psyched and smiling all the way home and then dancing around wearing them like a crazy person (in the privacy of my apartment of course) though were these Stuart Weitzman pumps (except mine are actually sling backs). I've been eying them for a week now, ever I caught sight of them on the sales rack. I asked HG what she thought and we agreed that they were very classic looking pumps and would be worth it (it was at 40% off back then). So today when I passed the shoe floor and saw that the racks (and the whole floor for that matter) was literally empty, I had to stop by and check out my shoes. Lo and behold, they were also another 50% off. I was SO psyched, I immediately picked them up and tried them on even though the store was closing then. Unfortunately they only had a size 5.5 left (I'm a 6). But since they're sling backs, I didn't think half a size mattered as I can adjust the straps. Also, I tried them on and made sure that my feet isn't sticking out the back (a big no no). While I was waiting for the sales guy to get me the full pair, I watched women all around me in a flurry grabbing and trying on shoes, furiously sweeping up 70% off Jimmy Choo boots and Louboutins in a mad rush to buy all they can before the sales people refuse to serve us. It was quite an amazing sight. THIS was what I'd imagined black friday to be- I guess there won't be much left now for black friday (we asked and they're not planning to restock, they've been on this mode all week). It's a good thing I got to my pumps on time!

It's amazing what a good bargain can do for one's constitution. As you can tell, I am still super hyped about it :D

Image Source: Saks

Eugenia Mandzhieva in Bloomingdale's Big Brown Bag Sale, November 2008

Model: Eugenia Mandzhieva
Catalog: Bloomingdale's Big Br own Bag Sale, November 2008
Photographer: Unknown

Source: Bloomingdale's

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lakshmi Menon Magazine Cover for India Elle, November 2008

Model: Lakshmi Menon
Magazine: India Elle, November 2008
Photographer: Unknown

Source: Marcel @ tFs

The "S Dress"

Just because HG is taking a break from blogging doesn't mean that we've stopped overanalyzing fashion in our free time (our gmail chain frequently goes above the 100 limit). Our latest topic of obsession?
I like to call it the "S dress," because when HG first showed me, it reminded me of S. And when we showed it to other friends, they also thought it looked li ke something S would wear. I guess we all had the same look in mind- the two toned dress S wore to the Dean's dinner party at Yale (btw, it is a totally inappropriate dress for a college recruiting event).It's form fitting, sophisticated and sexy, but youthful and modern at the same time.
S continues to favour this style later in the season for Thanksgiving. Granted the skirt is overly tight and short and not exactly the most flattering dress on her (or on anyone I should think), you can see how the concept and style is very similar. And thus, the "S dress."In particular, we are loving this two toned dress by FCUK (left). I love this yellow/black contrast, while HG is thinking of the red/gray-or silver combo. The contrast and shapes makes it cute, colorful and young, but the style and cutting lends it sophistication. It is dressy enough for a nice dinner, but not so formal that you can't drop by a club afterwards. It's really quite a clever design! Sadly for me, I must be deformed, because I tried it on the other day and the fit was way off. While everywhere else fitted tightly (so tightly in fact that I couldn't even twist to zip up!), the chest part was loose. HG is still in love though and she's thinking of getting it tailored.

We also found a very similar version of this dress over at Ted Baker, though with the white t shirt top, it is much more casual and is perfect for a day out.

Image Source: Gossip Girl, ASOS and FCUK

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hye Park Editorial for Korea Harper's Bazaar, November 2008

Model: Hye Park
Editorial: La Bohème
Magazine: Korea Harper's Bazaar, November 2008
Photographer: Song Changrae

Source: Oxymoron @ tFs

ANTM Cycle 11- Spoiler!

At this point, I think I've come to accept ANTM as part of my life. Something I just mindlessly watch when it's on. You must admit, it's a nice indulgence. *spoiler alert*
Now that I've "come around" to this way of thinking, my expectations are lower and thus I thought this season's show was not bad! There was a bit of drama, there were pretty pictures, some cool themes (voting booths, award accidents, underwater eye level shots, hanging on hot air balloons etc), a bit of traveling (to Amsterdam)and some sweet prizes. They had fashion show opp prizes, shopping sprees and free designer clothes- it was pretty awesome! The window display challenge in the red light district of Amsterdam was refreshing. Plus they had a REALLY gorgeous Willy Wonka like pink runway in the finale. There was a mini "hill" at the beginning and the models had to run up it in their heels (otherwise they'd fall backwards), it was quite an entertaining scene! Though I thought at the beginning the whole space theme thing and turning a new leaf because it's the 11th cycle was a bit overplayed.
And the winner of Cycle 11 of ANTM is- McKey. She does have very stunning modelesque features and towards the end, I thought her pictures were one of the strongest.
I mean, you got to admit, she has definitely improved from her first photo at the voting booth. It looked like she had no idea....
...and then bam! Here we are. I thought she had some of the most interesting and varied poses in her shoots. She always tried new things and they worked. And did I mention her amazing features? Once they got to final 2, it was obvious who the winner is. Granted she's not who I was vouching for, I thought out of the two she deserved to win (she was a bit too tomboy for me and her walk was a bit "lurch" like as they said). By the way, I thought renaming herself McKey at the beginning was a genius move. It is SO much more interesting and memorable than Brittany.
As you may be able to tell by now, Sam wasn't my favourite girl. Everyone else loved her though, because she had the whole sunny, free California girl next door personality. Maybe I just prefer more serious, subdue personalities. Also, she just didn't LOOK like a model to me, because this girl absolutely cannot dress herself for her life. I still remember that horrible salmon colored v neck sweater and straight skirt she wore to panel, that even Tyra couldn't do anything *shiver*. I also didn't think this picture was as "all that" as all the judges thought. Though I didn't realize that she had only just turned 18 on the show, so I guess I should cut her some slack. Making it into the top 2 is pretty good (her walk was not much better than McKey's).
My favourite girl was Analeigh. Maybe I just have a preference for girls with long hair? She was just so SWEET. I loved her personality. She was sweet and cute in a more subdue and quiet kind of way. She also improved dramatically. I remember how she struggled at the beginning and I totally thought she'd be sent home. Her hot air balloon picture was absolutely tragic. Her legs look cut off.
But then she survived being in the bottom two and she finally got the hang of modelling. This is my favourite picture of her. You can see the skater in her and it's so edgy even though she looks so sweet normally. Another thing I loved about her was that she knew how to dress. She's mastered the shift dress and I'm amazed at how versatile her peace pendant was with all her outfits! Too bad about the Cover Girl commercial. It really was quite awful, especially considering how she ROCKED the other commercial! A strong contestant that got weak in the end was Marjorie. I think she actually has that natural model potential that would lead her far in the real world, just not in the world of reality TV. She has that perfect awkwardness and European-ness that makes her so model- she looks modelesque just STANDING there in her windmill photo. Just don't put her in any role where she needs to speak. Her jitters really would not work... But she DOES take some AMAZING photos. I loved this one here. It is so completely convincing! Though she was visibly weaker when she turned a "new leaf," like she lost her natural ability to model (though at times I found her hunchback signature pose a bit too much and she really looks like the hunchback of Notre Dame!).

Another contestant of note was Elina, the control freak. She started out strong and she thought she was so good, but her pictures were getting a bit monotonous. The whole cultural difference and Europeans don't express themselves was a bit too much. Clarke also did not see her elimination coming after she got best photo at the under water eye level shot. I liked Sheena and how she didn't play the whole Asian card on us like Gina did. Nikeysha reminded me of Saleisha, except Saleisha is pretty IMO (they even have the same haircut and similar names!). I remember being surprised by the whole drama with Hannah even though I don't quite remember why anymore (race?). Oh and of course there was Isis. She was strong at first! I'm very impressed with how feminine she looked given that she was a man. Her attitude was also very open, brave and admirable. Wasn't there a really similar contestant before, who kind of looked like her too, took great pictures at first and then dwindled?

I liked how they showed little clips of what other contestants from past cycles are doing now in between too. It's interesting to be reminded of them and see what they're doing now. It sounds like a lot of them signed with Elite anyway, even though they didn't win. Are Elite contracts that hard to come by then?

Image Source: CWTV

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lakshmi Menon Editorial in US Vogue, December 2008

US Vogue has finally put an Asian model on its pages albeit, it was in an article that spotlights the brightest stars in fashion today. Lakshmi Menon was listed as one of 6 such girls.

Model: Lakshmi Menon
Editorial: Shine A Light
Magazine: US Vogue, December 2008
Photographer: Patrick Demarchelier

Source: Luxx @ tFs

Circulation Numbers: US Vogue, December 2008

The December issues for most magazines not only celebrate the holiday season -- like who's been naughty and who's been nice. It is also the time to see who's been doing well in the news stands and who aren't. The magazines will be publishing their annual circulation numbers, usually at the last few pages at the back.

In comparison, Paris Vogue and Italian Vogue have about 10% of US Vogue's average circulation numbers, i.e. about 150,000 - 200,000 copies per issue.

Source: US Vogue, December 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 11/21

It's been another exciting week! Almost comparable to that week in September/October, except no major banks collapse (yet) and there were no big mergers. The DOW finally broke the 8000 point after hovering around it for a month, on Wednesday, tumbling 5.1% in a day to yet another more than 5 year new low. The downward momentum continued into Thursday, until it finally went back up to 8000 levels towards the end of Friday.

The week started off with Pandit's speech at Citi, announcing their plan to cut 52,000 jobs (yike!) and cut expenses by 20%. Citi's share began falling as investors worry that these measures will not be able to revive Citi from its current situation- they lost $20.3 bn in the last year and some don't expect it to be profitable in 2009 as they worry about Citi's exposure to credit card/mortgage lo sses and toxic debt. On Thursday, Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia announced that he was boosting his shares in Citi from 4% to 5%. That didn't give other investors much confidence (not everyone's Buffet), as Citi shares broke the $5 point that day (a 13 year low). This is a very dangerous level to be at, because many institutional investors are not allowed to own shares below $5 and this could trigger a wave of selling before year end. On Friday Pandit assured employees that he would like to keep the company together and does not wish to spin off its Smith and Barney brokerage unit (their crown jewel I guess?). Still, there are rumors of them finding a merger partner or raising capital in the future. Citi is also pressing members of Congress to put back the ban on short selling, as they claim that it is hurting their stock price. Citi's stock price ended $3.77 on Friday, down from $20 a month ago and $30 a year ago!

Following the lead of Golman and UBS, other Wall Stree t banks are being pressured to foregoe execute bonus this year. JP Morgan also announced that they will be cutting 10% of their workforce.

The other big driver this week was the auto industry. Discussions started looking bleak on Wednesday (and thus the huge drop on concerns of an even deeper recession if the auto industry collapses), as Congress members continue to bicker with the Big 3. I'm not too sure about the details (cars just don't interest me that much), but it sounds like they're concerned about whether taxpayer's money is going to waste since the auto industry was already not competitive before the this financial crisis and they want to see a sound plan to change them into healthier companies before they come to their aid. I believe the catch phrase of the week is, "You show us the plan, and we'll show you the money." Makes sense to me. They will be meeting again in December for the Big 3 to prove to American that they are worth saving. Oh and they seemed to have came up with a good source of where the $25 bn will come from too. Instead of from TARP, it will come from the money already approved in July to help make more environmentally friendly cars. They will give them this money in advance and the Big 3 will slowly pay back this amount into this pool of funds. Makes complete sense to me. That way, we're not creating extra debt.

Speaking of politics, Bernanke has not been very popular recently. His abrupt change of the use of TARP surprised many, leaving them to wonder what exactly they voted for. His annoucement that he doesn't plan to use the rest of the $350 bn of TARP until Obama's administration comes on board, making one question whether he's given up already. Claiming twice in the last week that the government's efforts have succeeded in stabilizing the financial system does not make it true- especially given the crazy market mo vement this week.

Another major factor contributing to the drop this week is the Fed slashing its outlook for the economy through 2009. They lowered the 2008 GDP forecast from 1-1.6% to 0-1.3% and forecasts that the economy could shrink by 0.2% in 2009. They also raised their unemployment projections sharply higher to 6.3% to 6.5% for 2008 and 7.1%-7.6% for 2009. In addition, the consumer price index also fell by 1% in October, the biggest drop since 1947, suggesting deflation. Many expect this recession would last longer than the middle of 2009. This is gloomy enough news to send anyone running.

Even Berkshire Hathaway was not immune to this market turbulence. On Wednesday, Berkshire plunged over 12%, its worst day since 1987's market crash. They've been getting a lot of bad press lately, with declining earnings in their insurance operations and stocks. They had 9 straight days of decline after they published their third quarter earnings report. Goldman Sachs and General Electric, Buffet's most recent purchases, also went below the price he got them for. Some suggested that he needed a new crystal ball. But on Friday, it Berkshire bounced by 16%, to $90,000. This week, Berkshire also got over $1 bn for its shares in Anheuser-Busch, a brewer, as the acquisition of it by InBev was formally completed. Buffet says he's not worried. Incidentally, Berkshire also significantly boosted its shares in ConocoPhillips this quarter, indicating that he's bull on oil.

On Friday Obama finally decided on the next Treasury Secretary- Timothy Geithner, the current president of the NY Fed Reserves. This appointment was welcoming news to Wall Street as it rallied back up into the 8000 levels. I'm not going to go into his history but he's had a LOT of experience and is widely seen as a good candidate for the job.

Overseas, Iceland finally got a $10.2 bn loan on Thursday, from the IMF, Dutch, British and the Nordic countries. And did y ou know that we still had pirates in this day and age? Earlier this week, it captured the Sirius Star, which has an oil cargo of about $100 mn worth. Apparently piracy is still very prevalent these days, there has been a record of 199 since the beginning of the year- most prominently in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.
On Thursday, an Indian navy warship sank a Somali pirate vessel. It's like the Pirates of the Caribbean in modern times!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gossip Girl, Last Season?

It's a bit of a late rant, but I've had it on my mind for a looong time now and I simply must just get it out of my system. Remeber the episode this season when they went to visit Yale?
Serena had on this pink and white striped blazer that is just absolutely gorgeous. The design is classic and preppy, while the color and stripes is pretty and flirty. And I REALLY wanted it. Like seriously. I immediately went online and looked up Gossip Girl websites trying to figure out where I can get myself one of those (which frankly, is not one of my fortes). Finally, I found it labelled as a Ralph Lauren blazer. Doh! I should've known. It is so obvious now, I wonder why I spent so much time searching for it to begin with.
Of course, I then hurried onto the Ralph Lauren website, crossing my fingers that it'll be from the RL label that is within my price range- and I couldn't find it! Not deterred, I told myself I'll stop by the RL store next time and ask if the sales person has it. Before I got myself there though, I showed it to my cousin who is positvely a RL expert and he told me that it was a blazer from last season. You have no idea how disapopinted I was (AM!). WHY would they style the characters of such a hot TV series in last seasons clothes? It doesn't make sense. Isn't the whole point of such publicity for labels is to convince viewers to buy these clothes? How did they think we can buy it when it's not even available?
Speaking of which, it reminds me of the second episode of this season (which aired in September) when Blair was coming back from the Hamptons with "the lord." She was in THE orange Marc by Marc Jacobs dress of SS08, which is so completely recognizable I was surprised they chose this dress at all. I'm sure a LOT of thought was put into their outfits by a hoard of stylist, so I don't know what they were thinking.
Because it has been publicized as such a stylish and trendy hot TV series (which I LOVE), I expect to see the latest fashions and style. I was sorely disappointed in these two instances. I am sure there are lots of other instances I haven't caught yet. Maybe the sponsors are getting cheap. Or am I expecting too much?

Image Source:
In Style and Gossip Girl online

Juliana Imai Ad Campaign for Saks Fifth Avenue, Fall 2008/Winter 2009

Model: Juliana Imai
Ad Campaign: Saks Fifth Avenue, Fall 2008/Winter 2009
Photographer: Unknown

Source: Gwen/MODA via Leonardo @ tFs

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stephanie Shiu Editorial for China Vogue, July 2007

Model: Stephanie Shiu
Editorial: Face of the Future
Magazine: China Vogue, July 2007
Photographer: Ben Hassett

Source: via Vogue Model