January 27, 2015

{EVENTS} AVA & VIV Launch Event in NYC!

Last Thursday, after a few weeks of build-up and anticipation on my end (and a couple years for the AVA & VIV team), Target's new plus-size line, AVA & VIV was unveiled at a very swanky party at the Standard East's penthouse. The setting was incredible - you walked in to see an enormous flower wall (hello wedding/life inspo!), models wearing great head-to-toe looks from the collection, passed appetizers and cocktails, and lots of bloggers and journalists excited to see the new wares. I was truly honored to be co hosting the event with Gabi of GabiFresh and Chastity of Garner Style, two girls who I not only consider my friends, but who seriously inspire me on a regular basis. It feels amazing to work together and have the opportunity to have an enormous brand like Target bring us in to give feedback and help develop future collections. 

The energy was amazing, and the buzz was clear: even if AVA & VIV isn't your personal style, we'd all (journalists, bloggers, shoppers who took to social media to have their voice heard) contributed to an ongoing change that has made progress in a big way, and we're succeeding at creating more options in the plus-size market. (More on this below). 

I was so excited about the event, that I even splurged on getting my hair and makeup done by Glamsquad, which made for a great excuse to indulge in the act of taking selfies with my friends at the party -- the photographer caught a candid of me mid-selfie, HA! 

Because there's been a lot of misinformation, I wanted to take the opportunity to address a couple things I've responded to via Twitter and Instagram comments. We were brought in as consultants for the AVA & VIV line in December, long after the collection had been in development, design, and production was well underway. Still, the team at Target was very eager to get our opinions and feedback, and we were all pretty blunt to share what we were excited about but also what we never want to see again in plus-size departments. Still, I think this is enormous progress and a huge step in the right direction - plus what we've seen so far from Fall looks amazing (and 100% consistent with my personal style), and will probably be even better once our pointed feedback (and yours!) has a chance to make it back to the drawing board before production starts. One of my goals in working in the plus-size market has always been for there to be more options across the board. Sometimes that means that not every collection, every brand, or every line will cater to my personal style needs - but I know that more options means someone else's style needs are being met. And for the record, there are quite a few AVA & VIV pieces I love and can't wait to wear in my real life - the black and white striped tulip skirt, the joggers, the striped eyelet tops, the distressed denim, the black and white printed pants, and I love the blazers! Plus, did you see those adorable printed bikinis? Yes, please! That we can now walk into a store and try things on is enormously exciting, (another thing I keep seeing falsely reported is that this will only be online - wrong! The collection will have devoted in-store selection in all sizes!) 

The launch event was the perfect way to kick off a partnership with the team at Target and celebrate their hard work and progress. You have to trust me when I say that the people behind the brand are some of the most passionate, hard working people I've ever met in this business, and they are completely committed to getting it right. I'm back in sunny LA now, but celebrating this collection with panoramic views of New York City made for a personal highlight in my life. 

This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Target
All content and opinions are my own. 

January 21, 2015

{STYLE} Announcing Target's New Line... AVA & VIV

Video via A Bullseye View

So following this morning's piece in Womens Wear Daily (OMG, I'm in WWD), the cat is out of the bag: this morning Target has officially announced their new plus-size collection, AVA & VIV. Many of you have pieced together parts of this story through little teasers on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook - but it is with a lot of excitement that I finally get to share this enormous secret I've been keeping: plus-size fashion is returning with a vengeance at Target. I was contacted by the team at Target a couple of months ago to come in to refine parts of the collection, work on social media strategy and promotion, and give feedback on how future seasons can expand and grow to cater to their plus-size customers in a more concerted way than ever before, (and I'm joining Gabi & Chastity in this effort). I had the opportunity to go to Minneapolis and visit the Target headquarters in December (it was a balmy 30-degrees; practically spring temps for Minnesnowta), see the first couple of deliveries as well as what is to come (great swimwear! coats! colorful textures and patterns!) from their all new in-house designed line.

That the line is designed in house is probably the biggest coup when it comes to Target's endeavors in plus. Previously, and by their own admission, the collection was all over the place - and the pieces were shopped from the marketplace leading to a disjointed, mish-mosh of inconsistent styles and sizes. Now, the collection works together as a cohesive capsule to mix and match from, with pieces that honestly do work from day to night and work to weekend. The intention is to find pieces that stand out and mix well into a foundation wardrobe - though you can find great essentials like black ponte pants and v-neck fees in a wide array of colors from AVA & VIV, too.  

There are lots of hits in the collection (the joggers, white & black contrast trousers, great tencel and indigo pieces, and a khaki anorak that I love), and other pieces that just aren't me (my longterm fear of palazzo pants is still standing), but what I'm most excited about is knowing that there's an incredibly passionate and talented team working hard to do this right - with all the trials, errors, hits, and misses, that come along with that. AND - more broadly - that there are more options for women who are sized out of 0-12 collections to shop for affordable, on-trend pieces that are differentiated from the never-ending sea of basics. Full disclosure - Gabi, Chastity and myself came in too late in the game to give feedback on the design for their first run of production, but the team was really eager to get our honest input on what worked and what absolutely did not, so that they can steer future deliveries in the right direction, (and trust me, we went IN). It means a lot to me not just as a person in the industry but as a customer to know that the brand is actually intent on listening and learning from their mistakes with designing the line. So many brands and designers exist in silos and only ever integrate feedback from their own internal teams, but the people behind AVA & VIV (a pretty incredible team of designers, fit experts, textile designers, and design innovators from across fields) want to know where they've gone wrong - and they're fully aware of the many missteps with plus in their history. 

Down to the nitty-gritty details: with this initial launch, landing IN STORES (finally) mid-February and online February 22nd, you can find apparel up to sizes 26 & 4X, and trust me the stuff in the pipeline for AVA & VIV is even better than this initial launch (though I'm definitely wearing those joggers, chambray, and indigo pieces ASAP.) Prices will start at $10 and go up to $79.99, and there are 90-pieces in their first couple of deliveries - which means I've literally only seen a small fraction of the physical pieces, so far - and am excited to see the rest! 

By the way, Gabi, Chastity and I also got to model in the AVA & VIV look book - styled by fellow #TeamMC editor and all around renaissance woman Zanna Roberts Rassi. I can't wait to see it!!! 

Thank you to Target for sponsoring this post.
All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

January 19, 2015

{WANDERLUST} Miami Photo Diary

It's hard to imagine that a few weeks have already passed, or that we're now halfway through January, but somehow the older I get, the faster time seems to slip by - I'm sure there's a songwriter or philosopher who says just that in a much more articulate and meaningful way. Before this past trip to Miami, my first and only other time in the city was for a 48-hour business trip. Then, I barely got to explore anything outside of Collins Avenue and the famed Webster boutique; there was no time for the beach, or pools, or any Cuban delight. So, when I started planning my trip for this past December with my family, I made sure to factor in plenty of down time to explore and soak in the sun and revel in all the art deco architecture and luxe hotel lobbies. I strolled through The Wynwood Arts District (with a stop at Panther for coffee, naturally), swooned through the Design District (Celine! and Marni! and Prada, oh my!), and yummed through the entirety of South Beach (Joe's Stone Crab and Ola were serious highlights) with Ali, Frankie, and my family as my travel companions. I had a really, really good time - and plenty of R&R. Just what I needed before starting off the year with a bang! 

Wearing: Karen Walker Sunglasses, Dress c/o Myer, Mini Chanel Flap Bag, ASOS Sneakers

January 8, 2015

{STYLE} Check Mate

Pants?.... Pants?! Hey, I told you I was shaking things up with my style and trying something new-ish for me, didn't I? I've actually shared pictures of these almost-leggings-so-I'm-kind-of-cheating jeans from NYDJ before (here, in an easy travel look), but unlike leggings, the material has such a great weight that they're perfect for these almost-freezing temps (with room for a layer of tights, when they become vital). Not to mention, I loved wearing them as the more neutral companion to my statement-making pink coat. I first spotted this collarless, checked number at SimplyBe, and it obviously appealed to my weakness for both statement pieces and the color pink... because no matter how much I challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone, some things will never change. 

And about that cold... I've been keeping this a secret for as long as I possibly could, because it still doesn't feel real, but today I begin my life as a truly-bicoastal lady, who will catch-up on sleep on airplanes and conveniently escape from bad weather as I see fit. So while there's still snow on the ground here in New York, my bags are packed to head west to sunnier Los Angeles. I have some adventures up and down the coast planned, too - and it's exactly what this almost-30-year-old needs to shake up her life. See you in a couple weeks, NY - and hellooooo, LA!

PS! If you're catching this in the morning, tune in to Good Morning America on ABC! I'll be on around 8:30 AM. 

January 7, 2015

{STYLE} Flirting Outside the Comfort Zone

Lately my style has felt like it's sort of in flux. I've been wearing styles that feel completely foreign - joggers, slouchy and oversized tops, minimalist dresses, menswear inspired button-downs, and literal menswear knits (I went to Gant looking for an anniversary gift for Ali, and walked out with a gorgeous mustard sweater for me. Oops.) Overall, I'd say this is a good thing. I love expanding my horizons when it comes to fashion and style, and it's been a big boost for my self-esteem to walk out in something that is so outside of my comfort-zone and somehow survive. I want 2015 to be all about new experiences, new styles, and less about my comfort zone. So while this leather-and-sparkle duo is totally my jam, the bright peach color is not my typical palette. Colors that are even remotely close to my skin tone have been on my "No, absolutely no, I will not wear that" list for as long as I can remember, and even though I know the fashion authority and rule-enforcers will tag this as a major washing-you-out moment, it feels really good to me, and maybe that's the only thing that matters.