FLORENCE FILE #002: Murphy’s Law

Florence Files, Uncategorized

Yes, you’re reading this, which means I’m alive, but just know that that was not a guarantee after the events of the first few days.

I left New York on Monday night, equipped with nothing but three bags worth of personal belongings, a passport, a four-year-old learner’s permit, an emergency replacement debit card, and a handful of euros. Some might say that this arsenal is less than sufficient, and I’d agree. Never would I ever leave for another country with no credit card, had it not been for the events of Saturday night. Due to a series of unfortunate events, I, who has never misplaced a single credit card or ID in her life, lost my whole wallet during a goodbye dinner with a friend. Before you ask, yes, I retraced my steps, turned my room upside down, cancelled the cards, and ordered replacements.

This left me a bit rattled, but I still boarded that Air France flight with three of my friends and a sense of excitement. As I landed in Florence and saw my first view of the city, I had completely come to terms with the hand I was dealt, and the long overnight flight and chaotic layover instantly seemed worth it. The plane flew over the green mountains and down into the valley, revealing the sight of the sun coming up, illuminating the Duomo peeking out of the thick layer of fog. A next road bump came in the form of a missing fleet of suitcases, our checked bags lost in the scuffle of our layover. Had this come at any other time, I probably wouldn’t have cared so much, but anyone who has been awake for far too long and has dealt with human beings in airports will probably understand just how poorly I took this information. Nevertheless, we left the Amerigo Vespucci airport ready to catch up on some sleep and explore our new city. Our bags arrived at the hostel in the midst of our deep nap, and we instantly freed ourselves from our black leggings and comfy tees in exchange for our featherweight sundresses, since the blazing heat was brand new for us.

The next few days consisted of orientation all day, sleep all night. Temperatures were in the high 90s every day, with frequent thunderstorms due to the ridiculous humidity. According to fitbit, we walked an average of around 15,000 steps a day, collapsing as soon as we got back to the hostel. We began apartment hunting on Thursday, coincidentally the hottest day of them all, and after a long, hard day, we found a great little three bedroom apartment, within spitting distance of the Arno River and the Palazzo Vecchio. We’ve since had the chance to get our bearings, check out our local restaurants, and partake in the Florentine nightlife, which is, funnily enough, saturated with American college students.

Photos from my first week will be in a photo diary that I’ll post in a bit, as well as my San Gimignano and Siena visit this weekend.




Let’s chat.

I started this blog with the intention of encouraging myself to write creatively, a skill that I overuse academically, causing me to dread it recreationally. Thanks to a fabulous professor this past semester, I nurtured my blog for the sake of class assignments, exploring the different ways that fashion journalism can be presented. I grew to love blogging, but could never quite find the right subject matter. Thankfully, life has since provided me with much to talk about.

For the next two semesters, I’ll be studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Naturally, I plan to document this amazing opportunity, for the sake of sharing it with my loved ones at home and for my own posterity’s sake. In preparation for this trip, I’ve been reading up in the Library of Alexandria of travel; Pinterest. So many people have shared such great tips and tricks in the form of their own blog posts that I feel that it’s only right to pay it forward and share my knowledge and experience with you all as it occurs to me.

I intend to revamp my blog not only with travel content, but also with the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle that I originally intended to fill my blog with. If you’re just following along for the pasta pictures and museum recommendations, you can follow along here. If you’re brave enough to stick around for the rest of my ramblings, thanks!

I fly to Florence on Monday, August 20th, so if there is a Florence File #002, know that I’ve made it.




For this assignment, I had the opportunity to collaborate with three other bloggers (Carolyn, Ellie, and Callie) on a video lookbook describing Doneger’s Spring/Summer 2019 trend, Youthquake: Ethnopop. Youthquake:Ethnopop is a trickle-up trend based on today’s youth, street style, 90’s pop culture, and cultural exchange. Today’s youth values “the experience”, and cross references based on their interests. We each chose a microtheme and styled looks from our own closets that we felt best explained where this trend was going. As the videographer and editor of this project, I had a lot of fun filming and putting together our video like a serious youtuber. I really think that video lookbooks and influencer collaborations are the future of fashion presentations, and in such a digital age, it’s great to know how to utilize this technology.



In an age where fashion and the internet go hand in hand, there is one word that comes up very frequently; influence. Fashion influencers can be traditional journalists, designers, or models, but more often than not, the people making waves in fashion (and, subsequently, driving sales and traffic) are quite simply people with great taste and an internet presence. Some retailers will continue to funnel millions of dollars into print and television ads, but the retailers that are currently thriving ahead of the curve are doing business with internet influencers who have amassed followings within said brand’s target demographic. The model is simple; consumers log on to Instagram and Youtube to be inspired by those whose taste, wardrobe, and lifestyle they look up to. When a brand that the influencer already loves pairs up with a retailer, the retailer pays the influencer to create content for them using pieces they love in exchange for exposure to the influencer’s audience. It’s a symbiotic relationship in which nearly everyone benefits.

This partner-driven content is exemplified in blogger and Youtuber sunbeamsjess‘s Summer 2017 lookbook, in which she partners with Urban Outfitters. She picked what she liked from the Urban Outfitters website, they sent it to her for free, and she credited them in the video. A viewer who likes Jess’s style will watch the video, like something they see, and easily be able to obtain a link from the description to purchase the item they like, driving sales to Urban Outfitters. This video also helps promote the Urban Outfitters lifestyle, with the vacation-ready vibe, laid-back music, and beautiful cinematography. I think videos like these are about to be much more common because more and more retailers are catching on to the importance of influencers. More out-of-touch marketing teams are often quick to dismiss the power of influencers since it’s a relatively new way of going about things, but especially for the millennial and generation Z age ranges, influencers are incredibly powerful.



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In an internet age where visuals are everything, sometimes a brand’s merchandise can be one of their strongest marketing tools. When fans purchase a piece of merch from a band or musician, it marks somewhat of a milestone; they not only appreciate this musician’s music, but are appreciative enough to go out and spend extra money on a piece of clothing that broadcasts their appreciation to everyone who encounters them.

Few musical acts have been able to truly master the art of merch, but a band that I feel has excelled in this area is the artistic zeitgeist that is Brockhampton. For those who are unfamiliar, Brockhampton is an American musical group comprised of not only singers, rappers, producers and musicians, but also web developers, visual artists, videographers, and photographers. Brockhampton skyrocketed in the past year due to their release of their first three full-length albums, Saturation I, II, and III, each dropped only months apart. All of the members live under one roof in Los Angeles, California, where they collectively brainstorm every song, every visual, and every photoshoot. This holistic, independent approach to producing content is perhaps what makes Brockhampton so unique and successful, as they are constantly interacting with each other and listening to fans, free of interference from outside sources.

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Instead of having merchandise available 24/7, Brockhampton chooses to drop their merch in highly anticipated releases, bringing a sense of exclusivity and excitement to each launch. One of these launches was announced several weeks ago, projecting an April 2nd drop date. The only information given at first was the title; “Gay”, most likely in reference to frontman Kevin Abstract’s sexuality and the group’s overall message of inclusivity. To give fans a peek into what was to come, Brockhampton released a lookbook on their site, featuring the line largely designed by the group’s visual artist Henock Sileshi and stylist Nick Lenzini and modeled by the members themselves. The retro, saturated feel of the photographs is a signature element of photographer Ashlan Gray, and combined with web developer Robert Ontenient’s website, the result is pure magic. Pieces largely include their hallmark couch logo, as well as quotes from songs and photographs of the band members themselves. The shirts, shorts, backpacks, socks, water bottles, hats, and notebooks are very representative of Brockhampton; a little bright, a little retro, fun, casual, and very, very cool.

This merch drop had me wondering why more musicians hadn’t pursued such an interest in merchandise before. Brockhampton itself is very influenced by Kanye West. After all, they all met on a Kanye fan forum. The idea of such exclusive, cutting-edge merchandise is very reminiscent of Kanye’s Yeezy collections, but why aren’t others following suit after seeing how successful such a release is? As music, fashion, and technology become more and more integrated, why haven’t more artists figured out that presenting new merch in exciting ways is a huge drive for both listeners and business? On April 2nd, Brockhampton’s “Gay” collection sold out almost completely within 10 minutes, so clearly they’re doing something right. Just as Brockhampton’s the future of music, they might just be the future of fashion too.

To see the full lookbook, click here.

To shop what’s left of the “Gay” merch drop, click here.

To listen to some of my favorite Brockhampton songs, click https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/dufffs/playlist/5vm0iNDGutYYBdUmeimMVl“>here.

All images by Ashlan Grey 2018.

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Trunk shows are a great way for labels to give their customers some inside information about what’s to come without really breaking the bank on presentation and venue. The clothes speak for themselves, and really can be inspected and appreciated. While browsing one of my favorite fashion sites, Moda Operandi, I stumbled across designer Jennifer Zuccarini’s ready-to-wear line Fleur du Mal. The collection seemed very contemporary, paring menswear elements with delicate and feminine materials. This combination of masculine pieces with lingerie-esque textiles feels very accessible to the modern young woman.

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Upon first glance, I adored what I thought was a really adorable plaid minidress, but when I went to see more photos, I found out that it was actually a skirt and a top. I love this coordinate trend, especially with pieces that could be worn just as well together or separate. This mix of a traditionally masculine suiting material with a bustier and paper bag belted skirt is the exact play on gender dynamics in fashion that I think is very appealing and exciting to a millennial shopper.



Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 1.32.10 PM.pngFleur du Mal is also known for their usage of lingerie and sleepwear outside of the bedroom, and I think the styling of this outfit hits the nail on the head. The intricate bralette and the silken pants may suggest a more intimate feel, but with a bright, dressy shoe, these pajamas are suddenly ready for cocktail hour. Although this is a ready-to-wear line, this look feels a bit less wearable than the aforementioned bustier and skirt set, but it seems as though Fleur du Mal’s target audience knows what they’re doing when styling an outfit for a night out on the town. The collection is structured and chic while being just racy and sexy enough to really cater to the young, stylish city girl.

#6 Runway Presentation: Alexander McQueen A/W ’96 RTW “Dante”



The runway presentation, colloquially known as the fashion show, is an art form that is a decades-long work in progress. It is one thing to design an astonishing collection, but it is an entirely different challenge to present said designs in a compelling manner.  When the presentation and collection are equally as strong, it generates conversation and skyrockets the collection to commercial success and critical praise. This was very much the case for Alexander McQueen in the early-to-mid 1990’s as his innovative aesthetic and conceptual shows rocked the fashion world. McQueen’s collections were racy, edgy, and often scandalous, but remained credible due to his stunning design sense and wealth of intelligent references. Every collection had a clear theme based on a set of references, which showed through in the clothing but was further elaborated upon in the aesthetic of the presentation. While many designers relied on the clothes to speak for themselves on a stark white runway, McQueen executed a full immersive experience, utilizing sound, light, set design, and venue to tell a complete story.

To choose one of McQueen’s presentations above the rest would be nearly impossible, but a show that I feel exhibits his balance of shock value and beauty is his 1996 A/W collection “Dante”, inspired by fourteenth-century Florentine author and poet Dante Alighieri. Alighieri’s subject matter of life, death, heaven, hell, and purgatory with heavy Christian undertones. “Dante” was presented in the decrepit Christ Church of East London, to the soundtrack of ominous organs peppered with gunfire. A cruciform runway was lit by flickering candles, as luxurious Victorian-inspired corsets and skirts were styled with tough shirts printed with war scenes. Front row, a skeleton was seated next to prominent British fashion critic Suzy Menkes. Menswear and womenswear were treated with the same attention to detail, with menswear pieces being shown in an unusually romantic fashion and womenswear incorporating decidedly masculine elements. So many different textiles, silhouettes, and prints were utilized, yet somehow the show was cohesive and true to theme.

Such complexity of design left the audience feeling as though they had just witnessed something incredible and truly put McQueen in the favor of the general public. Alexander McQueen was not well-liked by all; his rebellious nature and heavy usage of shock factor concerned the reserved British fashion scene, but his clear attention to detail and loving reference to Victorian elements made it clear that McQueen was not only a clever showman, but an incredible craftsman, a reputation that has cemented him as one of the most brilliant fashion designers of the twentieth century.

#5 LV x KOONS at Saks: a Retail Window Dreamscape


Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe Saks 5th Avenue flagship store is, and has always been, a sight to be seen. The luxury retail mecca invests deeply in their window displays, enticing all shoppers into entering the store, regardless of if they can afford the big-ticket items or not. While passing the storefront a few weeks ago, I noticed Saks’ incredible promotion of the Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons Masters collection, a series of limited edition handbags and accessories featuring iconic works by the great painting masters like Monet, Van Gogh, and Da Vinci.

I was completely in love with the window display, and thought it was a really inventive, cool visual for the collection itself. If you told me what the name and theme of the collection was, I would completely expect larger versions of the paintings to be somehow incorporated in the display. Instead, they chose to pull the rich teals, airy purples, and deep oranges and reds from the paintings and create mylar balloon-type fixtures in the classic LV print. I believe the shapes were in a coated plastic or metal, but they looked just like balloons and the metallic finish drew the eye while still letting the bags speak for themselves. Since this display was at Saks and not Louis Vuitton, there needs to be a certain level of brand recognition in order for the consumer to know where to find such a bag. The signature LV print in the back is so iconic that it communicates that information to the consumer at once. It may not be as obvious at first that these are Louis Vuitton bags, but upon seeing this display, anyone could go inside and request to see something from this line. I was not able to snap a photo from a distance to get the whole idea of the window since the street was so crowded, but up close and through the glass you can see how imaginative and beautiful the display really is.



The New York Times fashion blog post I chose to analyze was Vanessa Friedman’s article “Kanye West Finally Gets His Fashion Right”. Friedman chronicles Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 6 presentation, not a runway show, or even a collection showing, but a series of Instagram posts featuring his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and several other friends wearing the collection during everyday errands. The author makes it clear that she is not a die-hard fan of Yeezy as a label, but did feel that this collection was his most successful. While the collection, quite frankly, looked very much like his previous collections, saturated with neutral-toned athlesiure wear, it is pointed out that this collection is the first of the Yeezy releases to have some sort of humor to them. Previous collections by Mr. West were overwhelmingly pretentious and self-important, begging to be taken seriously, while season 6 has expressed wit in the bevy of Instagrams featuring celebrities and models such as Paris Hilton and Amina Blue dressed exactly as Kim Kardashian, getting ice cream from McDonalds and walking away from her parked car. Yeezy as a label has always had an off-duty celebrity aesthetic, and the faked paparazzi shots as promotion are a witty and original way to display the line.

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  • silhouette– crop top, bike shorts, bomber jacket, stiletto boots
  • design/details-  distressed denim, shearling-lined
  • color- platinum, sage green, desert sand, heather grey
  • fabric- athlesiure
  • creative jargon- virtual lookbook, athlesiure, direct-to-consumer marketing

***Language in italics are from my own observation, not directly from the article, as the blog post focused mainly on the show itself and not the clothes.



Fashion forecasting services are used throughout the fashion industry to peek into a crystal ball and see what may lie ahead, a little secret that the rest of the world usually knows very little about. As a fashion student, the moment you get the password to Doneger and Fashion Snoops, you feel like you’ve seen something you shouldn’t have, almost like you’ve walked in on something top-secret. This isn’t to say that fashion forecasting services are always right, but most of the time, they really are on to something. It’s always fun to browse the beautifully presented and fully realized inspiration boards and color stories, especially for the Spring/Summer season. A prediction that really stood out to me was a concept Doneger has dubbed “La Dolce Vita”, a stunning story of summers by the Mediterranean seaside, illustrated through Roman Holiday-esque silhouettes, breezy materials, and earthy neutrals accented with seaside brights. Everything seems a touch vintage, with a romantic, elegant, and effortless feel.

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For womenswear, the forecast calls for sunny awning stripes, flirty florals, midi-length skirts, and a scarcity of pants. If there MUST be pants, they are breezy and cinched at the waist, made of linen or silk. The menswear forecast hearkens back to 1940s-1950s resort wear, with airy textiles in desert hues, mixing utilitarian pieces with classically Mediterranean stripes. The majority of the retro emphasis will be seen in the swimwear, which could easily be envisioned on Sophia Loren or Audrey Hepburn.

I felt especially inspired by this trend because I’d spotted it already on three influencers that I really admire. This trend story immediately reminded me of a model I’ve been following on Instagram for quite some time, Bonnie Strange. Bonnie’s style has such a mid-century Hollywood feel, which she expresses through her beautifully shot, film-like Instagram photos. She’s also currently pregnant and I don’t think I’ve ever seen maternity style done quite like this. (via instagram)

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The next two bloggers who pull this trend off so well are Devin Brugman and Natasha Oakley, swimwear models and co-founders of Monday Swimwear, a growing swim and activewear brand. While shooting for their Resort 2018 campaign, Dev and Tash traveled to Positano, Italy, a total inspiration for this story. I love how wherever they go, they embody the aesthetic of their surroundings through their clothes, and while mimicking the Mediterranean beauty of the Amalfi Coast, they really nailed La Dolce Vita. Below, Tash wears a sunny yellow jumpsuit while Dev wears an off-the-shoulder red dress, and Tash wears a gingham one-piece with cat eye sunglasses. (via instagram)

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I see this trend really taking off, especially for vacation wear, because it evokes such elegance while still being easygoing and effortlessly chic. The colors are ideal for summer, the brights popping on tan skin, and the vintage elements assist the trend in reaching several age demographics. While trends are meant to only stick around for a little while, I can see certain pieces and silhouettes from the Dolce Vita look sticking around in summer wardrobes for years to come.