Italy

British edge meets Italian grace in Alessia Prekop’s designs

Written for JustLuxe.com

England is a country notorious for dark, daring fashion with a focus on asymmetrical lines and abstract shapes. Italy, however, is renowned for elegant, feminine silhouettes featuring flirty colors and soft fabrics. So what do the two style-savvy locales have in common? Alessia Prekop, an Italian-born designer with a London label. This curious combination of style lives in every seam of Prekop’s collections. Her pieces hold elongated shapes that are fitted in tailored separates with both symmetric and asymmetric lines. Just like the women of Italy and England, the street-style clothing is made for the modern, daring fashion lover who is both powerful and graceful.

Photo Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Photo Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Prekop studied fashion design at Instituto Marangoni and graduated in 2010 before launching her line in 2012, which quickly caught the eyes of the style-conscious. After being acclaimed as “One to Watch” following the debut of her Autumn/Winter 2013 collection at New York Fashion Week, Prekop brought her work to London, a city that she knew would inspire her designs due to its bold nature.

“While I was living in Italy, my visits to London always left a great impression because of the eccentricity of the people that wandered its streets. Their fearless attitude represented a freedom of thinking; I knew I had to be a part of,” she said to Schon Magazine. “As a designer, the city’s rough, rebellious energy unconsciously provides a plethora of ideas that feed into my work.” But that doesn’t mean Prekop left her Italian roots back at home. “Italian style knows how to show a woman at her best,” she added. “In my work, I express a specific aspect of femininity by focusing on the beauty of the female form.” Prekop accomplishes this by embellishing her pieces as much as possible by using satin strips, ribbons, metallic sheen or other romantic finishing touches.

Photo Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Photo Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Now releasing her fourth collection for Spring/Summer 2015, Prekop is channeling the distressed housewife of Betty Friedman’s The Feminine Mystique, who meets the contradictory modern woman of the future. Incorporating soft, feminine colors in powder pink, cream and lilac alongside harsh, monochromic black, the collection showcases Prekop’s signature clean-cut lines alongside delicate crepes and ruffles. And quality is never sacrificed in the design of her work, which uses materials such as mohair, lamb hair and mélange wools alongside silky leather.

Although Prekop’s collections continue to appropriately change with the seasons having now translated to subdued, romantic colors for Spring/Summer 2015 after the edgy, dark styles of Fall/Winter 2014, her uncanny ability to juxtapose the dreamy, tender woman and strong, modern woman exist in every item of her growing work.

Photo Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Photo Courtesy JustLuxe.com

How to Shop Like a European

I’m standing in line at the department store, my arms stuffed with bags, shoes, blouses, and jeans. Items are practically rolling out of my hands, yet now that I’m standing here thinking about opening my wallet, I’m starting to realize…

Those heels were a little tight.

I have a blouse that looks exactly like this one at home. 

This bag is a little small to fit everything I need. 

And then I glance behind me and see that there is another woman, holding one swimsuit, looking enthralled. 

How many times have you convinced yourself to buy something in the store by saying to yourself “I’ll find somewhere to wear this” or “I can afford this”? And then how many times have you found yourself shoving that same item in a bag headed for the Salvation Army six months later?

In America, we overcompensate. Instead of buying one designer, classic piece that we can wear for the rest of our lives, we buy 15 trendy tops from Forever 21 which are going to fall apart and go out of style in a matter of weeks. We end up with empty wallets and closets full of nothing to wear. However, across the pond, it doesn’t really go down like this. Instead, European women tend to opt for smaller closets full of truly interesting, timeless pieces that they knew they couldn’t live without when they stood in that line in front of the cashier. If you’re sick of throwing dollars away to cheap chain stores and clothes away to thrift stores, see below about how you can learn to shop like a European.

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  1. Keep a list handy of items you’re looking for. In the notepad on your phone, make a list of some pieces you’re on the lookout for like white jeans, a pair of brown wedges or a skinny leopard print belt. Then when you get to the mall, glance at your list so you can keep an eye out. Having a list makes you less likely to buy things you don’t really need and more likely to pick up signature pieces that you considered beforehand.
  2. Imagine three events you would wear this piece too. If you find something you like but you’re not sure if you would wear it, consider the rule of three – is there at least three separate events/locations you could wear this to? If you can’t think of three quickly (to the bar, to work, and to a BBQ) then it’s not worth it.
  3. Tell yourself you can come back later. If you’re debating an item but can’t make a 100% decision, tell yourself you’ll continue on your shopping trip and if you’re still thinking about it at the end of the day, you’ll come back. Car salesmen put pressure on people to buy right away – you don’t have to put pressure on yourself too.
  4. Ask yourself if you think you’ll be wearing this in three years. If it’s a classic, beautiful piece you  love, you’ll be sewing holes back together and getting an item dry-cleaned until the tear-stained day you have to throw it away. But if it’s something trendy and cheap, it’s going to be gone in six months. Through promotions and moves to new cities, is this something you’re going to want to have in three years?
  5. Buy what fits now, not later. Never, ever buy something with the intent to fit into it after your diet, after your workout or after the winter because it’s not going to happen. Instead, buy what fits you now and tell yourself that when the 15 is off, then you’ll reward yourself with a new pair of jeans.
  6. Think of the price in terms of how much money you make an hour. If you make $10 an hour and you’re trying to decide if that $80 dress is worth it, realize that is one entire day at work. If the dress isn’t worth the eight hours you spend slaving away at a desk, put it back on the racks and look elsewhere. Your time is valuable.
  7. Ask yourself if you can find this cheaper somewhere else. You may loooooooooove those brown gladiator sandals, but don’t you think Target may carry them too at a quarter of the price? Ask yourself if you can find this somewhere else for cheaper at a comparable level of quality. And hey, if you’re wrong, you can always come back (or scour the Internet).
  8. Consider if you can make three separate outfits with this piece. Following the rule of three referenced in Tip #2 – try to put together three separate and different outfits you could pair each piece with. If you can only pair that leather high-waisted skirt with a crop top, is it really worth it? Or is it worth it instead to go with the black sleeveless button-down you can wear with white jeans, mint pants or jean shorts?
  9. Evaluate the material. That top may be pretty, but if the material is cheaply Sears-esque and sort of itchy, you’re not going to wear it more than once. You don’t want to be aching to get out of your clothes by 5:00 pm everyday. That designer top may look like the cheap generic version, but if one is significantly more comfortable and sturdy than the other, it may be worth it.
  10. Ask yourself if it feels like you. I want to do the crop-top trend too, but the second I put one on, I feel way too exposed to go anywhere outside of my own bedroom. Even if something is trendy and cool-looking, if you feel like you’re trying to be someone else when you wear it, you’ll never put it on again.

The Italian Faux Pas

I still remember the first time my Italian professor showed up in the same outfit she had worn the day before; her hair piled up high on her dark-haired head above the purple blouse and funny purple cropped pants atop her Italian leather heels. 

My class of nine whispered among ourselves – had she had a one-night-stand? We knew she was single. Did she think we wouldn’t notice that she had worn the same purple outfit yesterday? 

However, it wasn’t the first time that our signora showed up to class in a duplicate of the outfit she wore the day before. Actually, it became so commonplace that we all started to do it a little bit too as our time in Florence wore on and it became more and more evident that this was the norm and not the result of a misplaced one-night-stand. 

If you ever had the good fortune of opening an Italian woman’s closet, you would be surprised to see that there isn’t much in there. Unlike my American closet stuffed to the brim to coincide the boxes of winter clothes under my bed (and in the attic), Italian women have small closets with lots of beautiful things. You will not find a trunk full of items bedazzled with last year’s trends or cheap, holey shirts from Forever 21 – instead, you will find chic, classic pieces that were meant to last a lifetime and have the price tag to prove it. 

In America, it’s a major faux pas to wear the same outfit twice in two days or even twice in one week – I feel a little funny even when I come across a Facebook photo of me wearing the same ensemble on two separate occasions; like my womanly secret has been given away. In Italy, the opposite is true – because if it looked good today, why not wear it again tomorrow? 

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And maybe that’s how our budgets across pond lines even out – in America, we drop dollars on tons and tons of cheap pieces to fill up our walk-in closets and one season later, we send it off to Salvation Army or our little sisters and start the process all over again. Our big closets make us fill obligated to wear it all, and we’re constantly on the lookout for the newest ensemble using our boring, run-of-the-mill items so that we can chase after the celebrities we yearn for. However, in Italy, tiny closets filled with designer pieces are adorned with beautiful details and it actually becomes easier to put something interesting together – even if you wear it the next day, too. 

Somehow, a couple weeks in, arguably, the most fashionable country in the world can make a purple outfit worn day after day seem chic – even to a group of nine bratty American college students. We stopped whispering about our signora soon after that, although I don’t think she noticed nor cared in the first place. 

I’m wearing the same outfit I wore on Friday tomorrow – and I dare you to point it out.