VA-VA-VOOOOOMMM

What’s spring without a big hit of color? 

 

original_url: 7E2BFEFD-6289-487B-86C4-58D94C7FCC47

Red is well-known for its seductive powers, and we both feel it is the the fiercest shade in the wardrobe for a trailblazing Spring.  We jumped into this editorial layering different (but compatible) shades of crimson for power moves and playful laughs.  Wearing fiery red always helps boost our mood, stamina and confidence.  Not for the shy or faint of heart, our favorite bold color will satisfy anyone drawn to making a strong statement.

aIMG_3038

On Francesca:

A lot of people write to me asking why I don’t wear jeans or pants, and then proceed to ask if it is ‘okay’ to wear pants.  Of course it is okay to wear pants (and whatever else you want), as long as you are comfortable in them!  Personally I find pants very restrictive and love to wear skirts for comfort and mobility.  But last week I embraced something new and bought the silkiest, loveliest crimson pants from H&M that feel like pajamas.   I had to add a feminine touch by pairing these relaxed pants with a bright red corset.  I satisfied all of my current fetishes…including my corset over blouse obsession, my sparkly chocker addiction, and (duh) my monochrome craze.

4aIMG_30032aIMG_30816aIMG_3081-Recovered5aIMG_3081-Recovered

On Valentina:

I resisted the urge to stop at just a pop – instead I created a long line of color that is often visually slimming and stunning.  As (almost) always I opted for pairing feminine (my light and silky dress) with masculine (my tough puffer jacket). I find an addictive balance in this combination, and I can’t seem to ever walk way from the habit of combining my daily outfit in this manner.

I’ve been obsessed with my red Ienki Ienki Puffer Jacket ever since I first tried it on, and even though it feels like summer has arrived, I have desperately been trying to wear it during the few, last remaining rainy California days.

aIMG_3076aIMG_3018aIMG_3193original_url: 24DBD7F8-6F73-4D59-8982-27718C654ACEaIMG_3084

FRONT ROW

5aIMG_5784original_url: BD0586FF-5773-4559-B8D9-D0F83D305492

3IMG_57842aIMG_56531aIMG_5873-Recoveredoriginal_url: BD0586FF-5773-4559-B8D9-D0F83D3054922aIMG_5784aIMG_5721aIMG_5776original_url: BD0586FF-5773-4559-B8D9-D0F83D305492original_url: BD0586FF-5773-4559-B8D9-D0F83D305492aIMG_5744aIMG_57094aIMG_5784

BRING IT LIKE A SUPERHERO

 

aimg_5541

Confession:  2017 has been a rocky start for us.

Let’s be real.

It feels like monsoon season (cold, dark, and raining for days), Christmas is over, Trump’s executive orders scare us everyday, and in the midst of it all our New Year’s goals have been slightly sidelined.

All we want to do is getaway!

It’s easy to get caught up in the stresses of life, and we often find ourselves neglecting our health (and sanity!)  Sometimes we need what feels like superhuman strength to keep pushing forward.

aimg_5480

How do we become our own superheros and power through?
Focus on reinvigorating inspiration, which for us starts with the power of a dramatic #OOTD.  To get re-inspired, we went back to basics in a clean  white and black palette (on the one day the sun came out to give us enough good light to shoot an editorial). Black and white are very cleansing to the mind, and always looks modern. The perfection of high contrast is shocking to the system in an ultra chic manner, jolting the wearer into action once again.

 

aimg_5617aimg_5626

VALENTINA’S BOLT OF WHITE

A refreshing hit of white is just the tonic for turning a palette of darks from boring and insignificant into something memorable and interesting.  Valentina took her creativity to the next level and re-designed an old Forever 21 long white dress (similar here) into a striking, minimalist, white coat – perfect for asserting her authority and confidence in herself and with others.  To elevate the clean lines from to ladylike into edgy territory, Valentina employed the sophisticated underpinnings of Wolford’s lacey black tights.  Valentina encourages us all to use the cold weather as a time to get creative with seductive touches of black lace, silk and suede a la her outfit here.

aimg_5460aimg_5420FRANCESCA’S SUPERWOMAN KA-POW!

The LBD has been around for at least 100 years.  Coco Chanel was the first designer to create a big shift in the 1920s with the LBD; she gave power to an alluring concept, that simple black meant strength.  In the 1920s Vogue had tipped the LBD to become, ‘a sort of uniform for women all over the world, from all backgrounds regardless of their walk of life’.  Today Francesca chooses to wear the LBD as a statement of freedom and confidence.

Legs. For. Days.

 Francesca’s perfect addition to her superwoman LBD has also become her official addiction.  Spring’s key statement heel – thigh high boots – are becoming a growing staple for Francesca.  This statement approach to dressing that instantly elongates the body. As someone who is never caught in pants, these velvet ( a hint of Old World elegance) Raven Simmi Shoes boots make the perfect addition to Francesca’s sculptural black cape dress.

aimg_5505aimg_5631

aimg_5426aimg_5444aimg_5439aimg_5578aimg_5618

Tell us below – how do you conquer your stress and become your own superhero?  What are your go-to power outfits? 

 

LOVE POTION

Whether you are single, taken or in the first throws of passion, love is in the air!

We decided to shoot two romantic looks featuring our favorite combination – red and pink.  As we shot each look by our favorite new wall, we excavated the issues that Valentine’s Day often brings up:  what characterizes an amazing relationship and how do we (realistically) maintain that connection and effort?

 

aimg_5325

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and see those closest to us as so familiar that we stop putting in the extra effort to truly hear and feel them on a deeply connected and respectful level.  As two people that have experienced the ups and downs of dating, of being in family fights, and of battling the intricacies of friendships, we have observed that there is an art to building term relationships.

aimg_5089

But how many of us have learned how to build loving relationships?
And where did we learn?
At home?
At school?
Here is our advice from the school of life experience:

 

1. Appreciation

Frequently we forget to let other people in our lives know that we appreciate them. We think it, but we don’t remember to show it. This occurs in our romantic relationships as well. Healthy couples vocalize their love for one another, saying “I love you” often and offering compliments. Show your special someone that you love him or her. This could be done with words, cards, flowers, acts of kindness, or more.

2. The Glass Half-Full

Sometimes, we get caught up in the negative. We hate our jobs, are annoyed with our friends, and our boyfriend or girlfriend is getting on our last nerve.  So instead of focusing on the bad, let’s make a conscious effort to look at the good.  It’s vital that we look at our partner’s positive qualities. Nobody is perfect, and that includes our significant other.  Practice observing yourself and your partner without judging.  Judging closes a door. The opposite of judging is compassion. When you are compassionate, you are open, connected, and more available to dialoguing respectfully with your partner. As you increasingly learn to see your partner compassionately, you will have more power to choose your response rather than just reacting.

3. Enjoy Dynamic Differences

Different is sexy and intriguing!  The differences between you and your loved one are not negatives. You don’t relationships with people who share all of your interests and views. We may sometimes fear that these differences are incompatibilities, but in fact, they’re often what keeps a relationship full of spark.  Plus you and your partner can learn from each other’s different strengths and become stronger together.

4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Maintaining a joyful relationship means respecting your partner’s time, heart, character, and trust. However, there are many things people do in relationships that can break down respect, like name-calling, talking negatively about the other to friends or family, and/or threatening to leave the relationship.

5. Quality Time, not Quantity Time.

No matter who you are or what your work is, you need to nurture your relationship. Make sure you schedule time for the well-being of your relationship. That includes making “play dates” and also taking downtime together. Frequently create a sacred space together by shutting off all things technological and digital. Like a garden, the more you tend to your relationship, the more it will grow.  It’s crucial to make sure you two are still engaging and spending quality time together to maintain a deep connection.

 

aimg_5127

How are you going to start putting in the extra TLC into your relationships?  You can start by spicing up your Valentine’s Day look – whether its a for a night out with the girls, for yourself, or for your lover.

FRANCESCA’S LITTLE RED DRESS

Francesca has a little more then lace up her sleeve in this statement number by Express!  A wildly sexy red mini dress that will make heads turn.  This dress transforms the stereotype of ‘lace’ as old school grandma into a red hot item for every bombshell. Paired with luxurious pink velvet Simmi Shoes boots, this look is an edgy take on symbols of decadence, femininity and romance.

MAXI SKIRT ROMANCE WITH VALENTINA

aaimg_5295aaimg_5318aaimg_5265

Valentina embodied a playful, softer romantic look with her flirty maxi skirt and adventurous sneakers.  This look is perfect for bringing something sensual and sophisticated to an outdoorsy date like a picnic or walk into the sunset.

REINA de España

Although we have never been to Spain, there is something about Spanish glamour that beckons to be explored in the middle of this dreary, California winter.

Perhaps Spain’s influence on the Bay Area is iginiting a craving for Flamenco dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches and lots of sunshine?

aimg_4352aimg_4406As we were contemplating all the glories of Spanish culture – from Penelope Cruz’s sex appeal to Pedro Almodóvar‘s eccentric art films to Basque fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra, we realized that Spain has some of the world’s richest contributions to art and culture.  And we must mention the amazing array of artists that have inspired our painterly side – from El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, to Dalí.  But most importantly, Spanish culture deeply embraces and celebrates the power of strong women.  When you dress like a Spanish woman, you truly feel like a Queen – whether you are in denim or lace.  You feel beautiful, confident and powerful in your own skin. And there’s no better feeling than this. No matter how strong we feel internally, fashion is always available to lend a helping hand in how we manifest our reality through a part of ourselves. With a hint of fire, hoop earrings and sexed up stilettos, we re-imagined ourselves as modern Spanish Queens under a lush setting of dancing Palm Trees shadows.aimg_4338aimg_4433aimg_4440

CAUSAL DENIM FLAIR
Valentina just bought the coziest pair of cool-girl Mom jeans from H&M, and her challenge was to sensualize this piece of denim with Spanish attitude. Valentina suggests carving out an hourglass figure by tucking a blouse into the high-waist jean or wearing a simple crop top to add femininity. She topped off her look with delicate hoop earrings, which have an uncanny ability to draw the eye towards your face, with the circular shape creating extra drama to your jaw and cheekbones, defining your features with both the shape and shade they create.  Valentina is also obsessed with her new handmade clutch by Kult by Artexco – a brand of handmade accessories created by very talented women in Guatemala.  With the addition of a bold red lip and Kurt Gieger heels, Valentina is ready for meetings, grocery shopping and even date night with this effortlessly chic look.

aimg_4378aimg_4357

SPANISH LACE
Francesca’s obsession with European history (especially the royalty) encourages her daily hunt to embrace all opportunities to dress with a regal air.  With a love of Spanish courtly dress, garments, and textiles from the 17th century in her heart, Francesca’s look pays homage to the elegance, sophistication, and supremacy which emanated from the Spanish Court’ fashion in the 16th nd 17th centuries.  With a hint of the theatrical in mind, she paired an H&M lace bodysuit with a sculptural white skirt and gold choker.  Paired with red hot heels, Francesca is ready to hold court and dance from day to night!

aimg_4504img_4418aimg_4428aimg_4468aimg_4370aimg_4349

aimg_4335aimg_4389aimg_4344

BABY ITS COLD OUTSIDE

What is timeless but not boring? Beautiful but still edgy? Sexy, but not vulgar? Retro, but not thrift store old? What is so versatile that it can work on different figures, skin tones, and different personal styles? Cue the Classic Trench Coat.  It ticks all the boxes and warms up our delicate California blood as the temperatures decrease.  But more importantly, it makes us feel like we are stepping into a Jean Luc Godard film and are Bridget Bardot personified! Or perhaps Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

What remains intriguing to us is the sliding scale of eclectic associations that this one garment can possess.  There is its professional role as a sophisticated, double-breasted, weather-resistant staple for businessmen; its powerful silver-screen status as the uniform of sly film noir gangsters and detectives; and then, of course, its seductive side. Add a pair of stilettos and something lacy or nothing at all underneath, and the buttoned up trench becomes erotically charged, suggesting an underlying state of undress.

Whatever mood you are in, this historical WWI piece will match the variety of personas you wish to portray.

aimg_1529

Francesca played the coy romantic by pairing her vintage Burberry Coat with a white lace corset peeking through. Not going to lie – she was inspired by the off-the-shoulder Kim Kardashian Balenciaga look pre-Paris robbery.  Fall 2016 has seen a revival of corsetry on the catwalk, and Francesca loves reinterpreting the corset in combination with the trench coat.  The key to making corsets contemporary and elegant is layering well.  The lace-up fabric belts a la Prada make a great accoutrement for wearing over your trench as well as wearing a classic corset under…

aimg_1479aimg_1660


SIMPLE STYLING, MAJOR IMPACT


Forget the little black dress; Valentina’s number one Fall obsession is  a classic, well made trench coat. Valentina loves wearing her trench as a statement piece and a canvas to create her own unique look. If you’re wondering when to wear a trench coat, Valentina’s answer is: don’t be limited by your imagination! Slip your trench coat over a tee and jeans, a mini dress, or in a silky blouse with tailored pants and heels.  Valentina wore this H&M trench as a statement piece on its own, and paired it with a bold red lip.  Having grown up in London, she loves the British heritage roots of the trench, and wishes more Californians would catch on to the elevated piece of British history.  The beauty of a trench coat is the way it lets you stand out, while blending in with your natural style.

aimg_1601aimg_1510aimg_1612aimg_1528aimg_1696

HAVANA NIGHTS

After the post-election shock turned into a week of heaviness filled with impending apocalyptic dread, we needed to re-capture the spirit of openness, global unity, and freedom that we hold so dearly.  We looked back through our recent shoots and found one that represents our current rebellious mood – an anarchic, colorful Cuban carnival editorial shot in San Francisco’s mission district – where people of all races and backgrounds can express themselves, the neighbor’s laugh together against the brightly painted houses and local bands play loudly while people dance up a storm!

aaimg_0599Inspired by Chanel’s recent staging of its Resort 2017 show in Havana, we picked up on the musical Havana essence associated with pre-Revolutionary exuberance, and donned a vibrate color palette that translates to a wearable sense of joy.  Cuba’s rich artistic and cultural heritage has inspired designers like Lagerfeld, McCartney and Piccioli, and similarly we have fallen in love with the romantic sunbaked colors, decaying colonial buildings, and clandestine retro cars.  The island has now become a potent symbol – an isolated, stagnating nation slowly embracing change.  Cuba’s own traditional dress is an exclusive synthesis of diverse nations, influenced by several cultures including Latin and African roots, empowering a sense of vivacity built on a tradition of simplicity and authenticity.

aimg_0579aimg_0360aimg_0454

aimg_0541aimg_0560What a perfect time to inject for Fall with the energy of island-infused Caribbean colors? Think coral, turquoise and bright yellow – and birds of paradise, palm fronds and Fifties car prints – all perfect for dancing the election blues away.  We focused on traditionally feminine, ’50s and ’60s-inspired silhouettes in the form of ankle-length skirts, paired with a fitted top on Francesca or a structured jacket on Valentina. We love this paring because it creates a fit-and-flare bombshell shape. Tropical motifs featured heavily, like the wildly colorful patterned vegetation on Francesca’s skirt and the bold embroidered prints on Valentina’s jacket.  Combined with simple, strong colors to balance out the patterned statement pieces, these outfit are perfect for an elevated day to night look.  We hope the Cuban spirit moves you to connect with the visual therapy of color and utilize what you wear to spread joy and positivity.

Kick up yours heels and cha cha cha!


Similar billowing skirts on Francesca: Stella Jean Graphic-print skirtMarni wool midi skirt, and Delpozo High-Waisted culottes 

Similar maxi skirts on Valentina – Peter Pilot Butterfly hemmed skirt and Diane Von Furstenberg  Melita Skirt 


aimg_0586

aimg_0589aimg_0520aimg_0594aimg_0356aimg_0491

NOT A BASIC WITCH…HALLOWEEN EDITION

Fright night is fast approaching!  Are you still need of inspiration for your devilish disguise? We dug through our archives to give you a sampling of tricks and treats to make any last minute costumes come to life with a high fashion twist.

1.  SIREN CALLING

Sirens. Those eerily beautiful mythological creatures. Odysseus and his crew became entranced by them during their long voyage. Feminine sea creatures have long enchanted fashion designers, artists and other creatives, but they certainly are not the fresh-faced ocean dwellers reminiscent of Disney movies. She is strong and full of lean silhouettes that connect with the aesthetic of a modern mermaid, vindicated with free-flowing hair.  Instead of sweet Ariel, we are envisioning seductive sea sirens glammed up with gothic hints using come-hither purple lipstick and smoky eyes.

Re-create Valentina’s otherworldly enchantress utilizing feminine silhouettes without the obvious red carpet-type mermaid gowns. Opt for dresses that cinch-in and accentuate the waist, like these from Attico and Undress.

 2. MORTICA ADDAMS

For a super luxe Halloween, turn to classic black and upgrade!

Morticia IS glamour. We have always been taken with Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams—the ultimate combination of class, grace, and sexuality. And who doesn’t have a wardrobe filled with black lace that they are searching for an excuse to wear?

She’s dark magic elegance from head to toe – her smooth black hair to the hem of her tight black dresses. Morticia’s family tree can be traced back to Salem, Massachusetts, and witchcraft is also implied in the television series. Her skin glows, her eyes twinkle and she understands the power of deadpan humor and languorous sensuality. Not to mention she has a kind of glorious love with Gomez we all dream about having someday.  Anjelica Huston as Morticia is something we could never compete with, but revamping this character in a modern interpretation is seductively easy to put together and quite satisfying!  Morticia’s dresses are black and fitted, with long sleeves and long Maxi skirts. Her necklines are usually low, but not cleavage-y.  Try a more daring contemporary approach to this look with a French twist from Beaufille or minimal  T by Alexander Wang dress Or shop your own wardrobe!  Pull out that classic black maxi dress hiding in the back of your closet, paint your nails and lips venomous red, and whip on this eyeliner for a complete transformation!

3. Melisandre Priestess of R’hllor

The night is dark and full of terrors!

We love Game of Thrones, and what better magical character to embrace this Halloween then the red priestess who serves the Lord of Light?  Her magic is running hot as she’s brimming with the power!  Melisandre is a great beauty with intelligence, and of course the ability to practice magic.   With long hair the color of burnished copper and pale, unblemished skin she is careful to cultivate an image of mystery, serenity and power.  As is the custom of the red priests of her faith, she wears red or crimson clothing, usually long gowns of silk. Nothing makes a woman feel more powerful, sexy, confident or bold than the red dress. Even with a more conservative style – whether it’s a long dress, a midi one, or knee – length – that dress is going to make a statement if it’s red. From the darker colors of scarlet, crimson and oxblood red to the softer shades of red violet and dark pinks, there are many shades of red to choose from when channeling your inner Melisandre this Halloween!   Get inspired by this Rachel Pally Maxi Dress, this modern Marni dress, and this dramatic flared-sleeve dress by Giambattista Valli.  

4. BRIDE OF DRACULA

We loving paying tribute to the beautiful ladies that have with the widespread vampire craze we have enjoyed over the last two decades. The concept of vampires in the horror genre has seen a fair share of changes since the first film about the Nosferatu was released many years ago . We have seen  pregnant vampires, hybrids, and even sparkly ones come on the scene. The one thing that stayed consistent is the seduction and pure sexuality of the female vampires through the years. Luring in their prey as they prepare to strike, most of their victims don’t even suspect the attack. The sexy sirens of the blood trade will forever intrigue us with their beauty, elegance and cunning hunting skills. We especially love Monica Bellucci’s interpretation of Dracula’s Bride, and found inspiration in her Italian sensuality and flowing lace garments.  For Halloween, we love to interpret this look through come-hither hints of lingerie and a bold red lip!  Throw on one of these dresses and some fangs and you will be ready for any Halloween or holiday party to come:  Oscar de la Renta Sleeveless Lace dress, Isabel Marant Tulane Dress, and N/Nicholas Cold-Shoulder dress.

5. GEISHA

We are huge fans of the versatile allure of the kimono, and Halloween is no exception!  Eastern-influenced silhouette results in an elegant and feminine look for a more graceful take on Halloween.  This humble piece can easily be elevated into cocktail territory. When paired with shredded jeans and strappy stiletto sandals, it creates a perfect ensemble for a late night out.  We love this elegant Etro kimono jacket , Red Valentino floral silk kimono and this Duro Olowu Kimono robe.

6. STORM TROOPER

Star Wars droids are always on the top of our most fashionable list!  Pair structured white dresses with tough boots and you are ready to rule a galaxy far, far away!!  We are obsessed with this Cynthia Rowley Turtleneck Dress, Alice + Olivia Sleeve Shift Dress, and this Seersucker Tie Sleeve Dress from Tibi.  Pair with these white Valiant Tophop Ankle Boots or these sporty Fenty by Puma Over the Knee Sneakers!

 

 

 

MEET THE MAKERS

Ask and you shall receive!

 They say two heads are better than one. That also applies to fashion. One outfit is better. But twice the look is a visual experience.

Last week we went on an off-site getaway to the gorgeous North Shore of Lake Tahoe.   We noticed a lot of reader questions have been piling up in our various email and social media inboxes, and thought it was the perfect time compile your questions and interview each other!  Voila la – her are our answers.  Let us properly introduce ourselves to you as well.

We began our friendship while attending the University of the Arts in London (Asha was at Central Saint Martins studying Fine Art while Juliana was at London College of Print and Design studying Print and Communications Design).  We always have viewed fashion, style and art as fluid and both longed for careers that would nurture our creative voices – places where a job never felt like work. Since we first met we have worked together creatively, traveled around the world and finally settled down in Palo Alto where we work at our creative agency Animal Spirit Design and become Valentina & Francesca

aimg_1401

MEET ASHA RAVAL

What three words would you use to describe Francesca?

Cheeky, flamboyant, with a penchant for drama.

How did you meet Juliana?

I first met Juliana through mutual friends in London, where we were both in college studying at the University of the Arts.  She thought I was a glamour-puss, slightly snobby, over-the-top American girl.  I thought she was the most quiet, put together, dainty British lady, and marveled at the fact that she could eat her food sooooooooo neatly!  We went on a girls trip to Portugal with a huge group of friends and literally got lost for 10 hours in a random town where no one spoke English.  Since then we have been inseparable, and created a lot of projects together.

What are the 5 things you would hate to live without?

No matter what, I cannot live without intrigue and excitement in my life (yep, I have been known to stir up some drama).  I also adore filet mignon, flavorful dark chocolate (I’m obsessed with L’ Amourette chocolate made in San Francisco), super rich moisturizer from Ren (my skin is always soon dry) and most importantly the deep connections that make life worth living with the people I truly love.

Who takes all of your photos?

Unless we have credited otherwise, Juliana and I always take turns shooting each other.  We get in front of and behind the camera on every shoot.  For the images of us together for this editorial we have to thank our super talented friend Harini who got behind the camera for us!

Tell me something your followers don’t know about you…

Ahhh – you want to know my dark secrets??  Of course you do!  I’m actually very traditional in many ways and a total hopeless romantic at heart.  I love and live for romance of all kinds.  I can also be quite shy, especially if I am trying to impress someone or I don’t know you super well. A lot of people think I’m an exhibitionist because I have so much fun posing in front of the camera, but I’m definitely pretty shy and quirky in person.  And sometimes I am a terrible fashionista … I am either super dressed up or in pajamas and work-out clothes for three days straight.  Since my days are so filled up with fashion, I really treasure the time I spend on non-fashion activities.

Top of your holiday wishlist?

Currently I love wearing long-sleeve maxi dresses as we head into the winter and holiday season.  There is something about becoming a majestic Sorceress that really turns me on, and the more decadent and embellished the fabric and tailoring the better.  So if my dreams were to come true I would love to wear Giambattista Valli’s ruffled organza gown for all my holiday parties.  Practically, I think Balenciaga has an amazing collection of jackets this season that are designed with a kind of architectural laser-focus.  I love investing in pieces that will last and that I will wear everyday, so I am also putting this Balenciaga Parka on my list.  And how cool to create a jacket with a hint of sexy (love the off the shoulder design)!

aimg_1215


“Fashion helped me fuel my creative fires and nurture countless fantasies.” – Asha


How do you unwind?

I relieve stress by cooking…my latest project last weekend was butter chicken from scratch, and I’m still super proud of my results!  I also love creating healthy versions of my favorite desserts – my flourless chocolate cake really hits the spot and is made with minimal sugar.  A good film, running and sexy time are also a regular part of my relaxation time.

Do you remember the first special item you splurged on?

I love impractical things!  And I collect high heels because I think of them as art pieces.  My senior year of high school I splurged on a decadent pair of purple velvet Christian Lacroix pumps with a rainbow heel.  I still love wearing them today!

aimg_1063

When did you first know that your love for fashion was going to be a part of your life forever?

I grew up in Palo Alto where there is no fashion!  I was surrounded by engineers and scientists and got very bored because the people-watching wasn’t as exciting with all the khaki pants floating around.  I drove my parents crazy because I changed my outfit 5 times a day, made them buy my costumes all the time, and never put things back where they belonged.  When I was 12 I remember an important moment when I realized that fashion was an obsession I had to follow.  All the other kids would be chatting during morning break while I would sneak into the library and check all the latest fashion trends on the computer.  Fashion helped me fuel my creative fires and nurture countless fantasies. I remember being blown over by some ready-to-wear Chanel show and thinking that I must immediately fly to Paris, meet Karl Lagerfeld, and chase down that exact outfit…since then I never have looked back!  In fact, I still have re-occuring dreams where I am best friends with Karl Lagerfeld; he hands over all of his couture collections to me and the keys to the Chateau where they are stored.  Those dreams defiantly make my day and inspire me to keep working hard!

What is the best part about being a fashion blogger?

First of all, I do not consider V&F a blog, but a true platform for inspiration.   Because Juliana and I are serious about V&F as a business, and we wear many hats, the word blogger seems outdated.  I would consider myself both an Editor and Creative Director at this point in our development of V&F.  Having creative control is so empowering!  I love being an authority in my own domain, and my website allows me to bring my endless visions to fruition. Naturally there are always challenges, and I look back on old posts and get annoyed at what I could have done better.  But that challenge of the creative process keeps me interested and engaged….life is never dull and no two days are the same!

aimg_1144

MEET JULIANA STOY

Tell us a bit about becoming your alter-ego Valentina and what she means to you.

I think we all have things we want to hide from sometimes. I used to hide from the camera and shy away from drawing attention to myself. But since moving to California I’ve learned, and I’ve come to love, being loud with my creativity, which now comes through running this blog. Valentina is not afraid to stand out and be bold, and letting that side of me run wild has been so liberating. So becoming Valentina and not holding back means a lot, and has changed me in ways I will always cherish.


 “Life is nothing but one long movie, and being the lead is a must. Don’t play a supporting role in your own story.” – Juliana


What is it like to be Juliana?  How is she different or similar from Valentina?

Valentina is the Juliana without the stress of life getting to her. Valentina owns her destiny, and doesn’t let the little things get to her. She is a constant reminder to exercise my freedom, and not take No for an answer. She is the most confident side of me. Valentina is more extroverted than Juliana, and more daring. Daring herself and those around her to be fearless, and realize life is nothing but one long movie, and being the lead is a must. Don’t play a supporting role in your own story.

You grew up in London and now live in California. What do you miss the most about London?

Oh boy, do I miss London! That city is magic! Although I’ve come to LOVE California, and my more suburban lifestyle, London and its charm has left a mark on me forever. I miss the magic that’s within London’s historical streets; I miss the ever-changing dynamic; I miss the diversity and culture you find yourself in daily; I miss a lot of people with whom I created so many memories. I’m excited to visit soon, and take it all in again. But for now I am in love with California, and I couldn’t be happier to call this place home.

Is traveling regularly also an important aspect of your creative process?

When I travel, especially as a team with Asha, everything we experience (whether it’s something we see in nature or a different cultural attitude) stimulates our creativity and triggers different ideas in our minds.  Art, film, music, a trip, it could even be the aesthetics of an American diner…inspirations come from life itself and the current cultural climate, which are then reflected back into an editorial story or fashion collection.

aimg_1200

Favorite spots in London?

The Curzon, or The Prince Charles Cinema – perfect for the latest indie movies showings

National Portrait Gallery and the V&A – sigh!

Covent Garden for charming little London streets and fun shopping.

Laduree, Piccadilly for a quick stop of indulgence.

Liberty of London, for the amazing aesthetics and shopping!

Strangest indulgence?

I love cars!  Everything from the design, to the mechanics, to the physical experience of driving fast.  At the moment I’m learning to rotate tires and more at my local car repair shop. I’m also getting very inspired to create a Franca Sozzani Vogue Italia style editorial for V&F at the auto body shop.

Who is your style icon?

I’m pretty sure I’ll be in love with Joan Smalls forever. Iris Apfel can do no wrong. Mariacarla Boscono and her style-marriage to Givenchy – match made in heaven. From the blogger world I adore the diversity of Margaret Zhang. The elegance of Faye Dunaway is timeless.

What’s particularly sacred to you?

My friendships and relationships.

Top of your holiday wishlist?

A sneaker fan over here, so this year I’m lusting after a pair of Fendi Slip-Ons in Black Leather and Fur (I gladly accept any Christmas presents from the Fendi Santa Claus).

Favorite secret spot in the Bay Area?

Not so secret, but I just went to Montana beach, and fell in love with the majestic landscape. Perfect location for photoshoots too.

Have you become a more confident person through blogging? If so, how?

Absolutely! I think it also has something to do with working as a duo. We push each other out of our comfort zones. Asha’s drive motivates me to be brave all the time. Starting the blog and growing it over the last year has made me face challenges and overcome fears I didn’t even think I had.

What apps do you use for your Instagram photos?

My favorites are Luminance and Snapseed.

What is the most challenging part of blogging for you?

Probably dealing with creative blocks. Sometimes is can be so frustrating when inspiration for a project is MIA. That can be very hard to accept. It takes a lot of patience, and stepping back to allow for the creative juices to start flowing again. Keeping a healthy lifestyle and having a support system of other creative people around me helps.

What is the most rewarding part of blogging to you?

Seeing your vision come to life, and sharing it. Having the ability to work in a creative environment with no set restrictions, where you are constantly learning is so satisfying. It’s a temporary bliss I want to keep experiencing – it’s addictive.

aimg_1063img_1279

Do you have any advice for other girls who are interested in creative careers but aren’t sure where to start?

I would say go for it, and be smart about it! Nothing comes just by wishing and hoping. Be smart about realising that it will take a lot of hard work. Be smart about researching the process, and sourcing the right guidance. Know that passion and hard work are your two main ingredients. If you have a desire don’t deny yourself living a creative life – do it!

What do you love the most about fashion?

That there are no rules, and that you can chose who you want to be. That you can express your individuality and feel unique. There are endless possibilities, and you can tell elaborate, powerful stories through it. It is a visual narrative, and you can be the star of the story You create. It’s empowering!

aimg_1030

ASHA

What’s it like working with one of your best friends?  

Friendship is the family you choose to love.  It is wonderful to have that creative and collaborative trust and a sounding board.  But like anything else, we do face challenges, and sometimes interpersonal struggles can be tricky when we know each other so closely.  Knowing each other’s expectations and limits made a world of difference.  We may know each other better than anyone else, but sometimes it can be difficult to be upfront.  We have learned that support, encouragement and bringing out the best in each other is the most important thing to focus on! I feel really lucky. And I know we couldn’t do it without one another. This definitely wouldn’t be what it is without one of us.  When you come to work and both are excited to be there and organically collaborate, you feel invigorated to build the company together as one unit.

Who is your style icon?

I have SO many!  I take a lot of inspiration from certain characters in films and books, as well as people in real life.  I love iconic women of history like Marie Antoinette and Elizabeth I – their stories are so full of challenge and drama, and I think their bravery and poise inspires a lot of my ideas for editorials.  I also love the colorful personalities of modern icons who don’t follow the rules like Anna Dello Russo, Giovanna Battaglia and Carine Roitfeld.  I’m also obsessed with the show Penny Dreadful, and adore all of the Victorian lace and gothic romance of the costumes for Eva Green’s character.

aimg_1273aimg_1041

How do you deal with creative blocks?

 Getting enough sleep and running really re-energizes my mind and allows me that break time to gather distance from my creative project.  I think working smartly is also important, which means giving yourself enough time to truly switch off and tune into another activity.  Cooking is a very meditative activity for me that helps me embrace my inner world and come up with creative solutions for the V&F if something isn’t working smoothly.

How would you describe your style?

I go with my instinct, and encourage everyone else to do the same! I find that my emotions and mood change in the moment, and I try to honor whatever that means visually.   Sometimes I start with a pair of shoes, sometimes from a shirt or a skirt or a pair of big earrings. It is a natural process, and by now I know what looks good on me and what doesn’t work. I prefer to have a more elegant look with hints of inner wildness.  I like electric combinations with a sophisticated touch.

aimg_1248aimg_1376aimg_1118

Anything else?

Ask and you shall receive.

We are ready to answer! 

Comment box is below.

Go!

NEPTUNIAN

Recently we have had some frustrating experiences piling up – from random people offended by our shoots happening in their public territory to feeling too crunched on time to capture our visual vision to stressful interpersonal vacation situations (sometimes a vacation becomes a whole lot of not stepping on other people’s toes).  The urge for a creative reset was clearly brewing. Cue the ghostbusters theme song…who ya gonna call?  Our creativity of course…and the backdrop of a supremely gorgeous ocean setting doesn’t hurt either!

aimg_0803

We took last Friday off from all other work and technology to purely focus on shooting.  The Californian landscape was blooming under the sun, and we headed to our favorite year round Pacific Ocean setting by the Cliff House in San Francisco – the perfect place to calm the stormy artistic soul!  When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, outside distractions recede from consciousness and one’s mind is fully open and attuned to the act of creating. There is very little self-awareness or critical self-judgement; just intrinsic joy for the task.

 

aimg_0760Inspired by Renoir’s impressionist painting “Figures on the Beach”, we re-imagined ourselves as a modern day representation of this painting – two French girls residing by the sea, who dwell within the ocean spirit, at home with the rocks, with themselves, with the swell and the surge of the surf, and take all the ups and downs in stride. Painted on the Cote d’Azur in southern France, this sun-filled painting shows two female figures at the beach. The women appear carefree and neither at work nor in the presence of men. Painted later in Renoir’s career, a period at which point the artist expressed skepticism of industrialism and machines, this quiet seascape pays homage to the resplendent beauty of what is ordinary and simple.
Like Renoir’s inspiration of embracing the simple moments lost in nature, losing ourselves by the sea in this shoot reconnected us to joy, let our worries melt away, reduced stress and increased the quality of our output.

img_0844img_0799aimg_0744aimg_0782aimg_0687img_0637aimg_0673aimg_0784

aimg_0747aimg_0695aimg_0764

Similar Trina Turk skirt and T Alexander Wang Top on Francesca

Similar red crop top by Top Shop and skirt by MSGM for Farfetch on Valentina

Fare Una Bella Figure

aimg_0434-recovered

aimg_0698We are at the end of Milan Fashion Week, where we have been oogling the whirlwind of confident poses, bright prints, and the sound of clicking stilettos masterfully navigating the cobbled streets.  With their legendary seductive prowess and immaculate sense of femininity and strength, Italian women seem to be guided by one simple principle: fare una bella figure – make a beautiful impression.  We adore the inner strength of our favorite modern Italian beauties, who possess an strong sense of self and love of life that make their outer beauty come alive.

aimg_0539

What are the ways of harnessing the modern Italian woman’s strength and allure? Her strength is a combination of athleticism, poise, energy, a sense of sisterhood as well as harnessing the power of glamour and knockout dressing. She is a sophisticated woman who is elegant, not afraid of her own sensuality, and not afraid to dare or take risks in life. Modern and inventive, but also real – her mantra as the seasons change hones in on channeling authentic power.

We chose to shoot this story against the athletic drama of a baseball field – juxtaposing this gladiator esq setting with modern, authoritative silhouettes that fall with deliberately with seductive intent, reveling a hints on skin within layers of fabric. Inspired by all the feminine strength and grace of our inner bella donnas, we played with power poses, hints of skin and fire.

aimg_0675aimg_0406-copyaimg_0592Valentina embraced a combination of trenchcoat and bathrobe, a strong look sculpting the body in contoured, undulating waves.  She took inspiration from the glamorous Italian mothers like Bianca Balti, who would surely do their grocery shopping in emerald flowing silk and a strong red lip.  Silk robe coats are the perfect transitional piece for this time of year. Pair an embellished one with jeans and a simple tee or bodysuit to give you that closing splash of seductive elegance!

 

aaimg_0616Francesca’s flowing cape-like dress was a celebration of movement,  allowing her to more natural confidence that also welcomes her inner softness as strength.    With flattering lines and a nod to the glamorous ’60s, it infuses instant elegance into your wardrobe.  Cape-tivate your enemies and friends alike with the modern take on sensuality.

On Valentina – similar silk Trench Coat by Theory available on Farfetch.com

On Francesca – similar black silk cape dress by Alexander McQueen available on Net-a-Porter

 

COURTSIDE PLAY

Independent, but not afraid to show her feminine side…here we are, embodying the spirit of iconic, modern sex appeal in clean lines and a powerful, courtside form.

Strong?

Absolutely.

Serene?

Not at all!

Our challenge – can minimalism ever be sexy?

While that’s a pretty subjective question – everything is something to someone – on the whole we usually find minimalism quite bland.  Minimalism’s usual intellectual commitment to distillation of form and austerity of delivery is just too cold to be hot.  But as usual, we broke our own rules and short-circuited our prejudices with an interplay between inhibition, abandon and ecstasy on the tennis courts.

Taking an active approach, created two looks full of sleek, sportswear-inspired elements with tons of challenging, mischievous attitude. A play of contrasts is always welcome chez Valentina & Francesca, so we worked our favorite feminine/masculine motif into each look through a focus on clean lines – bringing sexy back (literally a la Francesca), and keeping a hard-core, female-empowerment mood in our every step. Slinky sexy, yes, but also fiercely don’t-give-a-damn physical.

aimg_0147aimg_9944aimg_0148

Definitely our comeback moment for power of dressing in black! We tend to shy away from too much black, but we challenged ourselves to plumb the highest depths of black – underscoring the color’s sleek and sophisticated nature.  We felt formidable and empowered, lunging around the tennis court cloaked in sleek black fabric, and even though we had quite a crowd gathered to watch the shoot, our outfits reduced any vulnerability, thus enabling us to embrace our inner femme fatales. Serving as a protective shield, this minimalist approach to a daytime or evening look can embolden your Fall and make anyone smolder for you!

aimg_0155aimg_9946aimg_0150aimg_9940aimg_0100aaimg_9905aimg_0102

aimg_0143Francesca‘s Grand Slam Look:  Similar dress by Stella McCartney  and similar heels by Jimmy Choo

Valentina‘s Yin and Yang look: Wolford Black Leggings, Steve J and Yoni P Tee Shirt, similar heels Misty Velvet Leather Boots by Sophia Webster

KENZO FEVER!

Keep your eye on the prize and focus on your bigger vision!  If we had to pick a brand that empowers us to follow our crazy dreams and matches our artistic and personal intensity, it would have to be Kenzo.  No other fashion house consistently delivers clothes season after season that embrace a colorful joie de vivre, pack bold visual punches, and create magical moments of pure fun!  Tying together elements of urban skate culture from their California upbringing with atelier craftsmanship of Paris and futuristic styling of Tokyo, Creative Directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim infuse Kenzo with the buzz of vigor and an exuberant spirit.

11.1aIMG_0137

“We are a community. We are universal. We follow the path of tigers into bamboo jungles.”- Kenzo

We are always searching for our next big adventure, visionary idea and ways to push further out of ‘the box’. Spearheaded by duo Leon and Lim, who rejuvenated the brand in 2011, Kenzo is the epitome of visionary idealism and playful fun that helps us tackle life with positivity.  We created two distinctive looks playing wth the versatility that Kenzo offers.  Embracing East meets West, future meets past reinvented, and offbeat visual poetry, we headed to the Half Moon Bay harbor to get a little wild!

 

4aIMG_0121

Francesca fell in love with the folded waves of geometric color suggestive of the new meaning that can be created when you are full of verve and open to possibilities!  Although this piece is from the Fall 2015 collection, we feel the energy and dynamism is still relevant now, and can be found on sale at Kenzo.com.

aIMG_0418

RAWR!  Valentina channeled her inner hot pink tigress with the latest SS16 interpretation of Kenzo’s iconic, cult worshipped Tiger motif. Embroidered in vibrant neon shades for spring, this soft cotton piece is backed in looped terry so it feels extra cozy but looks fierce!

aIMG_0579

“For sexy, powerful women and those not afraid to wear color.” – Carol Lim, Creative Director

aIMG_0143

3aIMG_0201aaIMG_0103

1aIMG_0215

Illustrations by Animal Spirit Design 

SPOTLIGHT: FASHION DESIGNER SHANNON SNOW

Shannon Snow, Fashion Designer, Googler, Fashion Design, Little Black Dress, San Francisco Fashion Blog, San Francisco Fashion Blogger, Silicon Valley Start Up, LeanIn, business casual for women, Jimmy Choo Shoe, You know that feeling when there are so many exciting things you want to accomplish in your day, and you want to look fabulous doing so, but you can’t handle the decision fatigue of changing your outfit 5 times throughout the day? Continue reading “SPOTLIGHT: FASHION DESIGNER SHANNON SNOW”

SPOTLIGHT: KATYA GEORGE OF POSH RX

Continue reading “SPOTLIGHT: KATYA GEORGE OF POSH RX”