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Special thanks to Cassie Mlynarek for putting together the first Hilltop Stylists video

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A day in the life of an FD Luxe photo shoot

By Chelsea Parker

FD Luxe is a glossy, full-color monthly published by The Dallas Morning News. The publication’s sophisticated design and content reaches readers with a passion for fine living. In the June issue, these readers will be taking a trip down memory lane as FD Luxe puts a modern twist on iconic couples’ marriages.  Through a massive, daylong photo shoot involving eight models, FD Luxe modernly styled and shot the looks of these iconic weddings one Wednesday in April.

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

8 a.m.  In a hidden warehouse in the middle of South Dallas, a mix of The Who and The Beatles pumps through the space where contemporary versions of iconic couples will soon be re-created. With the first step in the door, the music gives the photo shoot an air of the past as the models begin to arrive for their early call time. Rows of shoes and racks of clothes take up one corner of the space.  They sit  directly across from make-up tables covered in products waiting to paint on the models’ new identities.

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

The models begin their transformations with the make up artists before moving on to hair and eventually to the stylists where they will be dressed and accessorized to complete the process.

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

9:30 a.m. Christina Geyer, managing editor of FD Luxe, arrives to the shoot. Before becoming managing editor,  Geyer worked as assistant editor at Papercity. She and another SMU alum also founded the online magazine SMU Style while students as an outlet for their own editorial passion. Geyer oversees the entire photo shoot and enjoys every minute of it.

            “It’s not every month that I get to come to a fashion shoot. We shoot monthly for FD, but it isn’t always a fashion editorial and these are so much fun,” Geyer says.

Stephanie Quadri and Christina Geyer overseeing the Mick Jagger wedding shot. Photo by Chelsea Parker

Stephanie Quadri and Christina Geyer overseeing the Mick Jagger wedding shot.
Photo by Chelsea Parker

Christina Geyer was the one who contacted Stephanie Quadri to collaborate for the June wedding shoot.  Quadri, who spent eight years as D Wedding’s style director, has been freelancing with Sister Brother Management for the past three years. As the concept creator for this photo shoot, Quadri was able to make staffing suggestions and fill this shoot with other freelancers from the agency.

“Big shoots like this normally take two days to do,” Quadri notes, “but since everything is being shot in one day, the staff here is doubled what it would be at a typical editorial shoot. We have two stylists  and two hair and make-up artists.” . .

Quadri prefers styling fashion editorial shoots, which generally pay less than commercial shoots. She says that she would rather take less pay and instead enjoy the fun and creativity allowed with fashion editorial concepts – and this shoot allowed exactly that. The concept was fresh and fun, and because of that the photos emit a certain “joie de vivre.”

In Stephanie Quadri’s words, “The concept of the photo shoot is a modern take on iconic celebrity couple weddings.”

12:30 p.m. Lunch arrives at the warehouse, and everyone breaks to eat the home-style catered meal.  During lunch, everyone chatters and talks about their favorite parts of the shoot so far. Everything is ahead of schedule. Since the Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer, and Mick and Bianca Jagger shots have already been completed, some models are coming and going as they finish for the day.

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

2 p.m.. Shooting starts back up after two models sit through hair and make-up to be transformed into the Presleys. These models capture Elvis and Priscilla Presley flawlessly. A chisel-jawed model with jet black hair is dressed in an Elvis-inspired luminous suit jacket.  He is accompanied by a 15-year-old model, who causes the entire room to gasp as she steps out in her veil and gown, looking identical to Priscilla on her wedding day.

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Music circa 1950-1960 fills the warehouse as the models start doing the Twist. A little dance inspiration was all it took to bring this scene alive.  A few camera flashes go by, and it is quickly decided that the photographer, Steven Visneau, got his shot.

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

            Steven Visneau has been in the photography industry for 16 years. He followed his love of fashion editorial photography and never looked back. His passion for his job is apparent and generates an intoxicating environment at the shoot. He smiles with every flash of the camera and dances along with every move the models make.

            “Every day in my life is new and exciting,” Visneau says.  “There is such a contrast in my yesterday and today, and as cliché as it is, it’s an adventure.  Yesterday I was in Austin shooting a rock band with their pet raccoon, and today I’m on set doing FD Luxe’s editorial shoot.”

            Steven Visneau’s enthusiasm translates to the models he works with vicariously. Steven Busby, 23 years old and a new guy to the world of modeling, is on his second shoot with Visneau. Busby took up modeling after graduating from University of North Texas with hopes that the job would help open doors as he pursues a career in music — but a great photographer turns work into play for  Busby.

            “My favorite shoots thus far have been with Visneau,” Busby says. “When we worked together last the shoot had a really dark fight club feel and he had be snarling and actually enjoying the shoot.”

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Steven Busby as Kate Moss’s husband, Jamie Hince.
Photo by Chelsea Parker

3:30 p.m. The look that everyone has been waiting for all day is ready to be shot. Hours of hair and make-up have been devoted to the model for Elizabeth Taylor while the model playing her male accessory, Richard Burton, simply gets a little gray added to the hair.

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

4:30 p.m. Taylor and Burton’s shot is quickly followed by the remake of Kate Moss and Jamie Hince. In a sequined gown and lace veil, a young Kate Moss appears to be standing in front of the camera.

Photo by Chelsea Parker

Photo by Chelsea Parker

5 p.m. The last couple of the day, models cast as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, take their turn in front of the camera way ahead of schedule. The shoot wraps up with one last flash of the camera and a peace sign from each of them.

            Mick Jagger, Sinatra, JFK Jr., Hepburn, Taylor, Lennon, Presley, Moss  – they have all been captured on film, their modern day equivalents, in a matter of 12 hours. All in one day in the life of the FD Luxe June fashion editorial photo shoot. 

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What’s Trending in Weddings

By: Valerie Exnicios

The bridal salon at the Neiman Marcus flagship store in downtown Dallas. Photo by Valerie Exnicios

The bridal salon at the Neiman Marcus flagship store in downtown Dallas. Photo by Valerie Exnicios

I began to brainstorm the idea of partnering with Valerie Lindenmuth at the end of 2011. At this time Lindenmuth had been working for a few of the larger bridal planners in Dallas and had several years of experience already under her belt.  I, in turn, had experience with events and floral design. We came together and the wheels started to turn. Valerie & Valerie Weddings and Events opened for business in spring of 2012.

 At the start of the 2013 season, my business partner joined me at the Joule Hotel in downtown Dallas for an American Association of Certified Wedding Planners event.  There we got the scoop on wedding catering trends with industry professional Allison MacNealy.  MacNealy is the Catering Sales Manager at Arlington Hall, a one-of-a-kind venue space at Lee Park located on picturesque Turtle Creek Boulevard.  Dating back to 1939, Arlington Hall is one of the oldest and finest venues in the Dallas area.


 When it comes to catering, many couples are rethinking traditional sit-down dinners. Instead they are opting for more creative cocktail weddings and food stations.  At a cocktail wedding, trays of food are passed around throughout the evening.  This option allows guests to mingle and dance the night away so the evening flows beautifully.  Another alternative to the traditional sit-down meal is food stations, where guests can sample from grilling stations, sushi-rolling stations, dessert stations, and more. 

In my experience, these options are great since they don’t trap guests at a dining table all night.  However, MacNealy discourages the cocktail catering trend and suggests food stations instead.

“After a certain point at events I’ve seen guests decline passed bites during extended cocktail hour because it might interrupt conversation or they don’t want others to see how much they are eating,” says MacNealy.  “Instead, we do a lot of stations for the bride who does not want a sit down dinner. ”  Cocktail catering may also confuse guests.  “Guests may think there is more food to come when it’s just cocktails,” says MacNealy. 

The Cake

No matter which catering option you choose, one tradition will never change: the cake in honor of the bride and groom. Dating all the way back to the Roman Empire, the conventional wedding cake can be anything you dream it to be!  The cake is the receptions biggest accessory that everyone will be talking about for weeks after the event.  Thus, this confection offers a perfect opportunity to make a statement about who you are as a couple.

At Valerie & Valerie Weddings and Events, our clients are bypassing the traditional white cake with stacked layers and are opting for three-dimensional cakes with floral designs and unique accents.  Other cakes incorporate antique gold, silver and a little extra sparkle. 

The Ring

Speaking of sparkle, last week I met Laurie Holton, a bride-to-be whose astonishing Tiffany yellow diamond engagement ring lit up the room. Tiffany has long been known for their dazzling designs and flawless craftsmanship.  Classic and clean settings have been prevalent in the Tiffany collections, along with colored stones.  Diamonds occur in a variety of colors including gray, white, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink, purple, brown and black. 

As far as colored diamonds go, red diamonds are the most rare.  Pink or blue diamonds, such as the Hope diamond, are drastically more valuable than your standard white diamond.  Yellow diamonds are less expensive and the most accessible for retailers.  For example, the Tiffany Sola Yellow Diamond Ring has one gleaming cushion-cut yellow diamond surrounded by two rows of supporting round diamonds in an elegant platinum and yellow diamonds as “sunlight” because their bright yellow hue is simply radiant. 

The Dress

On a Friday evening last spring I attended a trunk show with Salvadoran fashion designer Francesca Miranda in the Bridal Salon at Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas.  Miranda is widely known for her delicate, feminine silhouettes with glistening, “sugar-like” textures.  Her spring collection showcased elegant designs in all of the latest trends such as color, illusion necklines and lace sleeves.

Tradition is being thrown out the window as many brides are walking down the aisle in colors beyond your traditional white, cream and ivory.  Miranda’s fashion sales agent Iván Meza says that the color trend has been growing worldwide. “Colored gowns have been very prevalent in other parts of the world, particularly the European market, but are just now making their way to the US.” 

The main gown on display at the Neiman Marcus trunk show was Miranda’s dramatic black ball gown, a trend we have seen by many fashion designers such as Vera Wang, who debuted an all black bridal collection in the fall of 2012 and several shades of red in her spring 2013 collection.  We have seen bolder bridal dresses by big name designer Oscar de la Renta, who showcased his bridal collections in shades of red and blue. 

“Black tie is playing a huge role right now, and so we are seeing lots of feminine, full-length gowns,” says Miranda.  As bridal gowns are becoming more simplified and sophisticated, they are allowing for richer colors.  From pastel hues to bold blues, most brides are choosing shades for their bridesmaids that add a pop of color.  Jewel tones are big in 2013, and gold is a great accent for rich colors such as emerald.  Eye-catching and vibrant, emerald green and gold is a magnificent pantone that is sure to make your guests green with envy.  However, the ladies are not the only ones gravitating toward bolder hues.  Our dashing grooms and groomsmen are becoming bolder by the day as they begin to add pops of color to their boutonnières, socks, ties and belts. 

Neiman Marcus Bridal Salon. Photo by Designer Francesca Miranda

Neiman Marcus Bridal Salon. Photo by Designer Francesca Miranda

Also burning up the runway this year is the utterly romantic illusion neckline.  The illusion neckline gives the feel of a strapless dress while still offering support.  More attention to detail is being seen on the back of the wedding dress, primarily the illusion trend, lace and buttons.  As seen on the Duchess of Cambridge nearly two years ago, luxurious lace sleeves are still prevalent in this year’s runway collections. 

Yet, despite these fabulous new fashion trends, strapless wedding gowns remain the most dominant style.  Kelsey Park, the bridal consultant for Neiman Marcus, estimates that while illusion necklines and sleeves are becoming more popular in runway collections, brides still choose to go strapless 90 percent of the time.  “Women will come in asking for sleeves or an illusion neckline, but in the end they always go with strapless,” Park says. “The only way to sell an illusion neckline dress is to alter it and sell it as a strapless.”  Park believes strapless gowns will continue to be the dominant style because the majority of women want to wear a princess ball gown.  This leads to women preferring to show more skin up top due to the immense amounts of fabric on the bottom.  “Lace sleeves and illusion necklines can offer too much coverage,” says Park, “while strapless is more flattering and highlights beautiful collarbones and shoulders.”   

Francesca Miranda Dress. Photo By Valerie Exnicios

Francesca Miranda Dress. Photo By Valerie Exnicios


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Fashion in the Fast Lane

By Veronica Phillips


Photo courtesy of

You know this scene, every college girl does. You walk into the brightly lit store and you’re instantly greeted by racks of clustered clothes and cluttered hangers. Tween girls are running around in Nike shorts and laughing into their phones, while a Katy Perry remix buzzes through the air.

Those first few steps are so neck-jerkingly stressful that you immediately do a pivot turn and exit the store. A week later you repeat the process, maybe making it a few more steps into the fitting rooms, hoping you’ll unearth a dream closet assembled for under $30.

Yes, Forever 21 offers an entire into the world of fast fashion and its weekly rotating trends. How have we sunk so easily into this superstore quicksand? Through our social media habits, celebrity-obsessed culture, and lack of satisfaction with wearing our favorite shirt twice.

“Fast fashion” defines the short length of time it takes for a catwalk trend to reach mainstream stores. Brands like Urban Outfitters, H&M,Zara and TopShop are all examples of mass-produced lines classified as fast fashion. Competitor sales might spur this fast-paced mentality, however, self-competition might be another factor. Brands funnel out runway styles so regularly it forces store management to rotate the racks every three days.

Picture 11

As shoppers, we often buy into the thrill of purchasing “new” goods. As a culture, we are obsessed with anything “new” in general. In my opinion, this is why social media flourishes. Social outlets like Facebook and Twitter thrive on our obsession with new trends. Because fashion and celebrities are constantly new and trendy, the cogs of fast fashion and social media react and spin off one another.

For instance, if you post a picture of yourself with a group of friends to Instagram — and you’re wearing a favorite green dress in the photo, the chances of your posting another picture in that same dress are slim to none. Why? Once it’s published the image is no longer new and fresh.   

The ultimate question, however, seems to be who in influencing whom. Does fast fashion cater to the hanger-snatching needs of our fast-paced society, or does it accelerate the rate at which we make our trips to the mall?

Levy Palmer is a London-based designer with a successful line of fashion-forward clothing for both men and women.  He believes that fast fashion discourages good design. “Fast fashion destroys fashion,” Palmer says. “In three weeks you throw it out and don’t like it. But if you love fashion, then you invest money in it and it lasts forever.”

The difference between mass-produced and luxury garments lies in the quality of the goods. There’s no comparison between a button-down blouse from Neiman Marcus and one purchased at Charlotte Russe. The shirts may be identical in cut and color — but made from two vastly different materials. The price reflects the quality and ultimately how long the shirt will durably remain in your wardrobe.

But Chelsea Bell, fashion professor and freelance designer, notes that consumers wield real power in the fashion wars. “It’s a big industry,” she says. “The only way the cycle will end is if consumers break it with their buying power.”

Have we bought into the thought that we no longer own this power? Do we continue to shop these name brands based on convenience and pricing? Maybe it’s time we start considering these factors before we hand over our credit cards. Maybe it’s time we slow the pace, savor our purchases and dare to wear our favorite shirt a second time.   


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UAPO: Fashionable Necklaces for a Cause

By Mackenna Scripps

The Akola Project
Photo courtesy of pininterest

          The Ugandan American Partnership Organization, or the UAPO, is a non-profit organization that is close to home here at SMU.

            The organization was started by an SMU student, Brittany Merrill, in 2006 to build an orphanage for a developing ministry. Since then, the UAPO has grown to initiate five development projects across Uganda, including two orphanages with the capacity for 200 needy children as well as 20 clean water wells.

One project that stands out from the UAPO’s other work, however, is the Akola project. The project is a non-profit enterprise in Uganda that trains and equips more than 200 women to generate income through creating crafts.

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

            It started in 2007 in the village of Buwala by a woman named Alice Dramundru, who lost her husband to AIDS-related complications. Alice decided to dedicate the rest of her life to serving women and children in need and partnered with the UAPO to start the Akola project. The project trains Ugandan women to make crafts that are sold in the United States and Ugandan markets. It employs mothers in impoverished areas of Uganda who hope to earn enough income to send their children to school. As of now, the Akola project has generated over $250,000 for families and communities (

Photo courtesy of Will Graham

Photo courtesy of Will Graham

            The Akola Project today provides the majority of UAPO funding. The Akola Project has been able to reach this level in part because it’s unique among non-profit efforts: these Ugandan women make a high-end line of unique paper bead jewelry. The jewelry ranges from $60 to $200 and is sold in many top boutiques around the United States. Most of the jewelry is sold in Texas stores, as well as boutiques in the southeastern part of the U.S.  You can find these unique pieces at Elements Boutique in Dallas, M. Lavender in Birmingham, Ala., and Hemline in New Orleans, just to name a few. The jewelry can also be found online at

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Christy Munger of Dallas, sales director for the Akola Project, says that this unique beaded jewelry is very much on-trend today.

       “Socially conscious brands that are transparent and beautiful are performing very well in the current retail market,” she says. “Walk into any Whole Foods and you can see that. Our line is designed by a U.S. design team and executed through an onsite designer leading production so it has an edge to be on trend. The jewelry is designed a season ahead.”

Merrill partnered with this U.S. design team to create fashion-forward pieces that incorporate indigenous customs and materials from a number of African countries. Elizabeth Carlock, an SMU alum and jewelry designer, also helped create the unique designs. The Akola leaders found inspiration through the technique of paper bead rolling. According to the UAPO website, paper is a safe, easy resource in a Third-World market. As for the bold symbols found on the necklaces, the UAPO uses materials from Ethiopia. Each pendant’s design symbolizes an ancient Ethiopian city, including Lalibella, Axum and Gondar.

The Akola Project
Photo courtesy of pininterest

“The Akola project is different from other fashion lines that give profits to a group of artisans in need because we don’t find existing artisans,” Munger says, “We train women that are undereducated and never knew how to make jewelry. We also differ from fair trade in that we give 100 percent of the profits back to the project [a lot of money goes to holistic aid like training or programs]. We stimulate the economy of the villages.”

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

The project strives to teach the women about financial responsibility. Instead of just giving free money – it gives them a job and steady income. They must treat their work as a small business. As the spreadsheet pictured above shows, they must keep track both of their inventory and their production.

The UAPO is also the local philanthropy SMU sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma supports. The organization gives students the opportunity to travel to Africa to help with the project. Many Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority girls have travelled there, including SMU junior Kirby Wiley.

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

“The trip that I went on with the UAPO was an experience trip so it was less hands-on,” Wiley says. “We really got to oversee everything they do there. We would watch the Ugandan women hand over the jewelry they made and the UAPO leaders, like Brittany Merrill, would evaluate the quality of it and decide how much money each women would receive for the month.”

            Many SMU graduates are still involved with the Akola Project and UAPO, including Genny Weaver. Weaver is now an intern for the UAPO and has been in Africa for nine months.

            “My favorite part about working in Uganda has been the people I have met and the spiritual growth I’ve had,” Weaver says. “The people have never met a stranger and are some of the most generous people I know. Whatever they have, they share. It is not just an act of kindness for them to share their time and things – it is a way of life and they wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

            Another SMU graduate who is still a part of the UAPO is Lydia St. Eve. She was just hired as the marketing and fulfillment coordinator for the organization.

            “My favorite aspect of the UAPO is probably the genuine and amazing good it is doing for the Ugandan people. It’s a Christian based organization that has amazing goals to help the people, and that in itself is so inspiring and motivating for me,” St. Eve says.

            Many students who have visited Africa through UAPO say the experience has left them with many fond memories.

            “My favorite memories are dancing with the UAPO women in the studio,” Wiley says. “During their lunch breaks they just dance, sing and laugh with each other. They are always happy, excited and grateful to have the UAPO in their lives, which really reminded me to appreciate what I have.”

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

Photo courtesy of Kirby Wiley

            Munger also says some of her favorite memories include dancing with the Ugandan women.

            “I loved meeting the women…it is so exotic for them to meet Americans and likewise for us. The children in Africa are charming and it was a privilege to meet these future citizens that have the burden on their shoulders of rebuilding a country savaged by war, poverty and disease,” Munger says.

Photo courtesy of Christy Munge

Photo courtesy of Christy Munge

Anyone can get involved with the UAPO – either by spending time in Uganda or Dallas. Internships are available in fashion, design, engineering and sustainability for students and/or after graduation. To find out more about getting involved contact Christy Mugner at , or visit their website at

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Going Monochromatic for America: Rating First Lady Fashion

By Kelsey Reynolds

Southern Methodist University welcomed a few visitors to campus April 24-26. SMU celebrated the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on April 25 with a dedication ceremony featuring some of the nation’s finest. Past presidents—George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton—as well as President Barack Obama all spoke at the dedication that welcomed this important monument to the SMU campus.

While I understood and celebrated the important political and historical aspects of dedication day, I found myself focusing on other details of the event:  What the politicians were wearing. I turned my attention to the women behind these men, the first ladies of the United States who were recognized at Thursday’s ceremony. 

The five living first ladies of the United States (Photo c/o NY Daily News)

The five living first ladies of the United States
(Photo c/o NY Daily News)

Rosalynn Carter 

Wife of former President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn, wore a pantsuit to the dedication ceremony. Her pantsuit was a light grey, almost nude shade and was accented by a printed silk neck scarf. Overall the look was sleek and traditional but the color washed her out. SMU junior Hannah Stuckey said, “I really like that she wore a pantsuit but it wasn’t fitted.”

Rank: 3rd

Barbara Bush

The eldest of the group and wife of former President George H. Bush, Barbara, also wore a pantsuit. Barbara chose an all black pantsuit, a bold statement that was accented by her purple scarf and pearl necklace and earrings. The black color choice and pearls were two classic choices that received a fresh update when she added the purple scarf. However, it may have been due to Barbara’s buttoned up jacket or heavy scarf but her pantsuit look was not half as sleek as Rosalynn’s. Stuckey commented on this look too, “Wasn’t it warm on dedication day? Barbara’s scarf is not weather appropriate.” It seems that Barbara had the right idea for her dedication day look but it was not executed properly.

Rank: 4th

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Third times a charm for the pantsuit, wife of former President Bill Clinton, Hillary also wore one to the dedication ceremony. Hillary’s pantsuit was non-traditional compared to Rosalynn and Barbara’s; she wore nude slacks and swapped out the matching suit jacket for a printed coat. The coat she wore was tan with grey detailing and stitching embellishments on the sleeves, collar, pockets and front of the jacket where buttons are normally lined. Stuckey said, “It looks like she just got back from Thailand on Air Force One.” Unfortunately I have to agree with Stuckey; Hillary’s look at the ceremony was very out of place. Although she wore pieces from the same color palette, she broke the monochromatic trend with the printed coat and earned herself the worst dressed title among the first ladies.

Rank: 5th

Laura Bush

Wife of former President George W. Bush and SMU alum, Laura, wore a blue shift to the dedication ceremony. Laura was a vision in her blue long sleeve dress that hit just below her knee and was paired with a simple necklace and bracelet. The two things that made this dress a standout were the cowl neck detail of the dress and the blueberry color of the dress. Stuckey also loved Laura’s look, calling it, “fitted, polished, and conservative.” It’s no surprise that the wife of the guest of honor for the dedication ceremony was best dressed among the first ladies.

Rank: 1st

Michelle Obama

Wife of current President Barack Obama, Michelle, wore a shift and matching jacket to the dedication ceremony. Michelle’s monochromatic look was a very light grey almost blue shade and paired with a chunkier necklace and simple stud earrings. Her shift was form fitting and flattering, it had an empire waist and hit just below the knee. My favorite part of the look was the peplum detailing on the matching jacket; it gave the look a very modern feel. However, Stuckey disagreed on the peplum, saying, “she looks like a space cadet,” the empire waist, peplum and jewelry made it seem like, “there was just too much going on.” Stuckey and I agreed to disagree on this look.

Rank: 2nd

Is it just me?

After analyzing the first ladies for their outfit choices I wondered if others noted women’s looks in politics or if it was simply my fashion background picking up on this. I asked Olivia Niemeyer for her political opinion. Niemeyer is a student at Elon University pursuing a political science degree and career in politics or law. Here is her take on women’s political fashion, “I certainly pay attention to what they put on and how much effort it seems they put into their appearances. I personally love when women like Ann Coulter wear professional attire that exudes class, femininity and individualism.”

Ann Coulter, social and political commentator, at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (Photo c/o Wikipedia)

Ann Coulter, social and political commentator, at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference
(Photo c/o Wikipedia)


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The Focal Point

Jordan Moore

The clichéd phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” just might have some truth within it after all, especially when referring to the fashion world.

The infiltration of images in fashion is so intense, that it is arguable that these images have more to say than the words that accompany them in ads, editorials in magazines and even online blogs.



            Smartphones have made it so simple to snap a photo and share it, upload it and place it on the web. Photos can be streamed almost anywhere, making images a constant sensory stimulus. Nowadays, smartphones are almost as valuable as an I.D. They’re second nature in helping identify ourselves and those we are connected to.

            With smartphone apps for things such as blogs, especially, the graphics of someone’s personal or a publication’s professional blog oftentimes are often as recognizable as the voice found in the text.

            Take Scot and Kristi Redman for example, two SMU alums who have made a living off if blogging and fast photography.

“Our hope is to have a cinematic feel to every image,” says Scot of his and his wife’s work.


Photo courtesy of

            The Redmans photograph, write and essentially run D Magazine’s StyleSheet ( Although there are some posts that have text, most of the posts are images alone.

            “People are attracted to photography,” Scot says, explaining why the blogging they do for D Magazine is made up primarily of images rather than text.

            As to how the Redmans choose which image to place on the Style Sheet, “We know right when it happens,” Scot says.

            Again, it’s that instantaneous reaction to images we have as a society nowadays; it’s simply scientific. There are things that our eyes are naturally drawn to, whether it be size, color, shape, print, etc., certain elements in images will be quick to catch our eye sometimes faster than text can.



            Perhaps the best examples of images that attract the eyes and captivate them quickly are advertisements; ads must – and usually do – effectively spark attention and deliver understanding to their onlookers.

            “In some high end photography, you can’t even see the clothes; it’s all about the illusion – the desire,” says Deborah Hunter, an associate professor at SMU.

            Advertisements are simply psychological. Ad agencies will go to whatever ends to make the product or service sell. How else did the phrase, “sex sells” come around? It’s often not about what is being presented, but rather, how.

            “It’s the aspirational aspect of advertising,” Hunter says.

            What is visually pleasing or intriguing is something immediate. People like what they like – it’s as simple as that. Ads, in particular, are all about making people look. The hope is that the ad’s viewers will be effected so much in some way just from the image, they’ll go further to investigate what is being advertised. In this way, the what is simply the profit of the how.

            People are affected by images, and often, it’s the image that sticks with us more than anything.



            Even when it comes to high-end fashion magazines with six-page spreads and lengthy tales printed upon its glossy pages, the photos are what is lusted over, not the text. Of course, without the text there would be no story behind those six, sometimes 10-page spreads. This poses the question, however, is the image accompanying the story, or is the story accompanying the image?

            Hunter delves into this topic a bit, saying that within these editorial images, there lies an “implied narrative.” The implication of a story here is not the story printed alongside these editorial images, however; the story is within the image itself.

Photo via

Photo courtesy of

“The best photography is what is known as aueteur theory,” says Hunter. “High end designers recognize themselves as artists,” she says.

            Auteur is the French word for “author.” Artists, designers and photographers alike can in fact be authors themselves, as each have a story behind their work. At the heart of it, they are also telling stories, but instead of using words, they tell them with their respective mediums. Whether it’s the paint on a canvas, the fabric of a collection or the lens of a camera, images are integral to the storytelling world.

Photo via

Photo courtesy of



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Fake it Till You Make It

By Farah Abdelqader

Strolling through the streets of Chinatown, hustling through the crowds of bargain-hungry tourists, you make your way down a narrow alley to a shop with a false rear wall. Past that wall lies a dreamland for the ultimate faux-fashion shopper.  This may sound like a passage from a spy novel, but this scenario takes place daily  all across the U.S. as shoppers hunt for counterfeit designer goods.

Even on crowded city streets, the people hawking these cheaper imitations of popular designer brands often show no fear of repercussions, shame or guilt for the deliberate and sometimes misleading sale of “fake fashion.” Salesmen excitedly wave the leather goods left and right — and successfully attract a herd of women dying for the latest Celine Boston Bag. Or the next best thing: A cheaper knock-off.  In New York, Canal Street, despite the recent efforts of the City Council, remains flooded with the detritus of forged fashions that haunt the world of haute couture and threaten the economy.

The Results of Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting is the passing off of imitation products as authentic. This is being done with countless brands that even the average pedestrian recognizes. From Rolex watches to Chanel purses, the business of fashion piracy has grown dramatically over the past 10 years. It is believed that the industry costs the United States economy up to $500 billion annually, and it has been directly linked to the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs.

Many local governments have taken steps to push for laws that make buying counterfeit handbags illegal. For instance, one law proposed in New York City would make these purchases a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.  Proponents of these laws argue that counterfeiting has been linked to organized crime, child labor and even terrorism, and that dealers’ money laundering operations ultimately cheat the city, consumers, legitimate business owners and trademark holders.

Fake Gucci and Louis Vuitton wallets. Photo courtesy of

Fake Gucci and Louis Vuitton wallets.
Photo courtesy of

Legal Reasoning

When it comes to the laws of copyright and trademark, says Barbra Kincaid, senior lecturer of business law at Southern Methodist University, for an infringement to occur, there must be a likelihood of confusion to the reasonable consumer. Since all well-known fashion brands undoubtedly have their own copyrights and trademarks, this makes it illegal to try to produce an imitation of that product without a license. The penalty for selling fake designer bags is a violation of the federal trademark law, also known as the Lanham Act, and therefore is indeed a federal offense.

Coach v. Sam Moon

Yet it turns out these illegal practices are happening all over the nation. For instance, Dallas megastore owners Sam Moon Group were sued in 2010 for counterfeiting and selling bags with the Coach brand name for a fraction of the retail cost. Sam Moon Group made a public statement that they are “confident that we do not sell any merchandise that infringes on Coach’s trademark.”

Evidence suggests, however, that Sam Moon Group will likely have to settle with Coach for trademark, copyright and patent infringements along with misleading and false advertising to consumers. Since then, Coach has dedicated an entire webpage to educating consumers about counterfeited fashion goods, along with their very own Coach counterfeit hotline.  

Dangers of Cyber Shopping

Coach is not the only brand that has been involved in a major lawsuit. Christos Patelis, with Michael Kors at NorthPark Center, says that the company has also dealt with counterfeit suits. “Kors has successfully won several lawsuits over the past couple of years against several infringing online merchants who claimed their items were authentic Michael Kors products,” he explains.

Cyber shopping limits one’s ability to inspect merchandise to verify its authenticity, making it easier for online merchants to deceive the shopper into believing their products are genuine.

Mustang “Designer” Pride

Here at SMU, we take pride in the brands we wear. When asking the ladies around campus if they had ever bought a fake bag, I got responses close to: “I wouldn’t be caught dead with a fake designer purse.” However, there are women who appreciate the value of the counterfeit business. Senior Norah Kunob explains: “I understand that many people are against fake bags, but I can’t help but love the idea of getting almost the same designer bag for a bargain price. Many girls feel the pressure to keep up with the latest fashion trends, which have been evolving at a faster pace than in previous years.  So whether the copy evokes Chanel, Prada, Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Gucci, there will always be demand for fake handbags.

Counterfeited bags sold out in the open in New York City Photo courtesy

Counterfeited bags sold out in the open in New York City
Photo courtesy

Spotting the Fakes: It’s All About the Detail

Alan Prado, a salesman for Gucci at NorthPark Center, notes that Gucci is one of the most copied brands in the world. “I do not support the manufacturing of fake bags because it decreases our own company’s profits and lowers our exclusivity and brand image,” he says. Prado gave me a few tips on how to spot a fake Gucci. “Always look for the Gucci double ‘G’ logo on the inside of the bag,” he advises. Another tip when deciding to purchase a brand name bag is to always be sure there is an authentic identification card and serial number that comes with the product. If not, that is a red flag you should not purchase the item. A third characteristic to look for is the quality of stitching; even the “real” fakes have poor stitching and likely do not use the same color thread as the originals. Also, keep an eye out for misspelled words. Sometimes the detailing on fake bags will include misspelled words due to the lack of quality control.  Finally, if you want to be 100 percent sure you are purchasing an authentic product, buy only  from licensed distributors — stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue.  This step will guarantee that you are purchasing an authentic product.


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The Evolution of Coachella from Music to Fashion

By Paige Corwin

The elders might have sniffed at the sexual, and potentially revolutionary, undertones inherent in the new music, but here at last was a genuinely popular culture, endorsed by the masses and met by a seemingly non-stop flow of hard-up heroes armed simply with attitude and a guitar.

–Mark Paytress, rock journalist for Mojo and Q magazine

The words of Mark Paytress evoke the true spirit of music festivals, whose initial stirrings can be traced back to the 20ththe late ‘60s and early ‘70s during the heyday of rock ‘n’ roll. Music festivals became a cultural phenomenon, a movement to express the vision of love, peace and freedom, inspired by the lyrics and beliefs of the musicians themselves. Legendary music festival Woodstock didn’t intend to mark an apotheosis for the world of music, but those three days in Bethel, N.Y., manifested one of the most powerful musical statements of modern times.


Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Origins of Coachella

            Paul Tollett created and founded the two-day Coachella Music and Arts Festival on the fields of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. – just months after the disastrous re-creation of Woodstock in 1999.  Coachella was the first festival in the U.S. to attempt to capture the style and essence of European festivals, such as Glastonbury and Reading. The success of the first Coachella music festival was attributed to offering an array of music genres, including rock’ n’ roll, electronic, hip-hop, pop and alternative. The expansive grass fields encompassed by the idyllic desert mountains of Indio proved to be the ideal setting for the harmonious blend of musical talents.

Festival Fashion        

Today, every Coachella festival brings a new perspective, providing festivalgoers with the interminable power to express their diverse style year after year. The evolution of festival fashion did not originate at Coachella, but rather is a transplant theme from European festivals. As Coachella continues to progress in the music scene, it has also become an established venue in the world of fashion. The LA Times recently stated, “In recent years, the festival has achieved another notoriety: as a world-class fashion parade where, to paraphrase the old Guns N’ Roses lyric, the grass is green, the girls are pretty, and laid-back street-ware choices can define the women who wear them at least as much as their musical predilections.” As much as it is a music festival, it is also a fashion show, a place to see and be seen.

Photo courtesy of Vogue

Photo courtesy of Vogue

            Fashionistas go into Coachella weekend with impeccably styled ensembles, part flower child and part indie rocker. California native and third-year Coachella veteran Kate Wilson says, “It’s always such a fashion scene at Coachella. With all the celebrities, musicians and artists, there are always photographers around.  Everyone is vying to catch their [the photographers’] attention with their distinctive style.” With the various types of music fans co-mingling, it’s always bound to be an interesting display of street fashion.

My First Coachella

Intrigued by the promising lineup and the opportunity to go to one of the most aesthetically pleasing festivals in the country, my girlfriends and I decided to make the journey to the desert for the first weekend of Coachella. It was a first-time experience for all of us, armed only with stories from past festival devotees and our own expectations for the weekend. Our expectations were not only met but exceeded. Coachella proved to feature some of the most inspiring exhibitions of style and innovation – in art, music and fashion.  My festival companion Alexandra Sisto explained the significance of style at Coachella, describing the festival as “a place where people can freely express whatever they would like through their style.”

“It’s a weekend free of judgment and convention, where everyone gathers in unison for their love of music and fashion,” Sisto says. “It truly has become a destination to showcase your individual style.  The entire weekend is visually exciting.”

Elements of Coachella

            Whether you are a fashion blogger seeking fame, an ex-hippie looking to relive your glory days or a true fan who can’t live without the music, Coachella is your festival of choice: an extravaganza filled with visually stunning art installations, an unending flow of fashion and tents of international DJ’s spinning until the early hours of the morning. Coachella is a sensory overload.

            It is still a musical festival, though, so unless you are lounging at one of the pool parties, or mingling in one of the many beer gardens, you are wandering the field’s massive grounds or raving alongside the other 180,000 attendees, so you still want your outfit to be cohesive with your surroundings. You’ve got to be sure you’re comfortable.  Frequent festival goer Mallory Olson says: “ I couldn’t come to Coachella without my Frye motorcycle booties, Balenciaga messenger bag, Chanel aviators and lots of light cover-ups. It’s chilly at night in the desert, so I always pack lots of layers.” Regardless of the searing temperatures and nightly wind gusts, Coachella fans persist through the natural elements and continue to look good while they are doing it.

Photo courtesy of Refinery 29

Photo courtesy of Refinery 29

Media Power

            The rising influence of social media is one of the contributing factors in the increasing popularity of Coachella as a fashion destination. With fashion blogging more powerful than ever before, our society has developed an incessant need to publically photograph our lifestyle.   Whether it is though Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, it’s all a platform for personal expression. One of my Coachella companions, Audrey Struve, is a social media intern for Plan B Public Relations: “ Social media is the most convenient outlet for people to share and display their opinions, thoughts, photographs, information, pretty much anything they want.,” Struve says. “Fashion bloggers have become the social hierarchy for our media-crazed generation.  People pay attention to what they have to say.”

Their opinions influence society. They have the power to create exposure, making their opinions matter.  The most elite fashion bloggers can attain an invite or a ticket to almost any event. Coachella is one of those events.  It is the perfect occasion to promote not only your own style but also the inspiring fashion happening around you.


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SMU’s Fashion Media Program Fosters Careers & Internships

Photo courtesy of google

Photo courtesy of google

By Catherine Stacke

As the job market becomes more competitive for graduating college seniors, students are expected to gain an immense amount of experience in their field throughout their college years to compete for top-level jobs.  Nowadays a well-rounded resume is more important than ever, and some young adults are struggling to keep up with the pressure. 

The fashion industry is one of the most diverse and successful markets in the world right now.  Frankly, Americans are obsessed with spending money, and the ever-changing fashion industry is the perfect funnel for that desire.  According to, apparel is a trillion-dollar industry today.  The womenswear market alone is expected to earn about $621 billion in 2014.  So needless to say, a job in the booming fashion industry seems like a good career move for many young adults in today’s struggling economy.  Fashion media – journalism, blogging, photography, public relations – are a big part of that industry.

Southern Methodist University is ahead of the curve in terms of the fashion media career resources offered to students. With an already well-established fashion media minor, the university will now offer a major in fashion media beginning with the graduating class of 2016. 

Photo courtesy of cencom.orgStudents who have jumped into the program since the minor launched in 2011 are reaping thebenefits of the skills and contacts they have acquired through the program’s required internship and “capstone courses,” such as fashion photography and fashion journalism, and taking their expertise out into the real world. 

Chandler Broadrick, a sophomore at SMU, is one of the many students hired as a college representative with the prestigious company Rent the Runway. 

“The fashion media program helped me know how to write a good blog,” says Broadrick.  “I also learned how to break up texts with good pictures and tag clothing with websites where readers can buy the clothes.” 

With the increased presence of bloggers in the fashion industry, these skills that Broadrick learned early on in her college career are extremely important.   Many businesses are making their mark on the industry by helping writers and designers make a profit from something as simple as fashion blogs.  Broadrick’s job at Rent the Runway was to promote the company to SMU students. 

“I would write a blog twice a week about fashion,” she says. “I’d also update the Rent the Runway Twitter and Facebook to gain traffic to the site.”

Photo courtesy of Vogue Paris

Photo courtesy of Vogue Paris

Similar internship opportunities with Kim Dawson modeling agency, D magazine, and FD Luxe have given SMU students the hands-on experience they need to compete for a fashion career post graduation.

Other students have used these vital internships to employ different skills, such as planning trunk shows and sorority visits to gain publicity for the various businesses.

Erica Robbie, a sophomore journalism major, is currently an editorial intern at D magazine.  D is Dallas’ largest lifestyle publication and covers a wide variety of topics — from food to fashion — in every issue. One of my primary responsibilities is fact checking for our blog. I do a lot of that, which is basically reading stories, highlighting the facts and then calling or emailing to confirm the facts.”  From her position as intern, Robbie has learned the importance of accuracy in both print and broadcast reporting, something people in both the fashion and journalism markets highly value.  She also prides herself on being able to transcribe interviews with the CEOs of some of Dallas’ largest lifestyle companies. 

 As the ninth largest city in the United States, Dallas is not an easy place to land a fashion internship or job.  Fortunately Southern Methodist University students are blessed with professional connections in many markets.  Since an internship is a required part of the fashion media minor, the program offers a database to help their students find the internship or job of their dreams. The spreadsheet, created by a number of SMU students and staff, lists both media and public relations companies that are looking for fashion interns, the job descriptions and a contact for the student to get in touch with. 

“It’s easy to keep building the ‘list’ now, since so many fashion professionals have heard of the program and now contact us when they are looking for an intern,” says Camille Kraeplin, director of the fashion media minor.  “These days we are also fielding inquiries about candidates for jobs.  We try to send information about each new position to all our minors.”

For those of us who know how competitive applying for an internship can be, this is an invaluable resource.  Providing SMU’s fashion media students with contacts who are familiar with our program and coursework automatically puts us a step ahead in the internship application process. 

Photo courtesyof Google ImagesVictoria Waterhouse, a business major and fashion media minor, found the best of both worlds when she recently landed a retail job with Neiman Marcus. This spring she was enrolled in SMU’s Fashion, Media and Culture class – a core component of the fashion media program — and says that the class has helped her learn the history of fashion trends. Waterhouse hopes to work as a buyer for Neiman Marcus one day by combining her enthusiasm for fashion and her business degree from SMU.

“I had always known I had wanted to major in business and specifically marketing,” she says.  “I love working with people and knowing the best way to buy and sell a product.” Waterhouse says she views landing the retail position with Neiman’s as a “first step” toward what she hopes will be a long career with the company.  “I look forward to gaining experience on the retail side of this company so it will give me greater insight on what to be aware of as a potential buyer, ” she says.

Another SMU student, Kathrine Krylova, just accepted a job offer as an assistant buyer for Neiman Marcus in Dallas.  Krylova is so enthusiastic about this position that she is graduating a year early to jumpstart her career.   She’s been accepted into Neiman’s highly competitive Executive Development Program – 12 weeks of intensive training that includes both classroom work and in-store rotations. “Within those 12 weeks you are placed in a department as an assistant buyer,” she says.  “So you can be in ladies handbags, shoes, men’s leather accessories.”  Krylova graduates this spring and will begin her job shortly after that.   


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