SMU Style

SMU Freshman Rebecca Marin Interns with Dallas-based LunaTeal Jewelry

Posted in Fashion Insider by SMUstyle on May 24, 2011

On the hunt for some color in your wardrobe this summer? Check out Leslie Chatman’s jewelry line, LunaTeal.

LunaTeal rings

Assortment of LunaTeal rings

SMU Freshman Rebecca Marin is interning with Dallas-based upscale design company LunaTeal, which was launched by jewelry designer Leslie Chatman in 2009. Her collection holds a whimsical and bohemian touch to every piece, perfect for a breezy, effortless look at an affordable price!

Rebecca’s favorite piece is LunaTeal’s Calypso Breeze necklace.

LunaTeal Calypso Breeze Necklace

Calypso Breeze Necklace

Shop LunaTeal Jewelry and visit Leslie Chatman’s blog featuring her latest creations.

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Fête Set: SMU senior hosts party at Chanel Highland Park Village

Posted in Fête Set by SMUstyle on May 12, 2011

SMU Senior Lauren Taylor has spent the past semester interning at Chanel and tonight the soon-to-be college grad is hosting a farewell bash at Chanel’s Highland Park Village store. Lauren has invited SMUstyle readers to attend tonight’s stylish soiree. See you there!

Fashion on Film: SMUstyle makes The CW 33 News!

Posted in Fashion on Film by SMUstyle on May 12, 2011

The CW 33 came to campus earlier this week to chat with Christina, Meg and I + our phenomenal team of bloggers. Watch the story on SMUstyle HERE

SMUstyle's Christina Geyer and Sarah Bray

Fête Set: Theodora & Callum Shopping Party at Neiman Marcus NorthPark

Posted in Fête Set by SMUstyle on May 10, 2011

Spotted: Simple Sophistication at SMU

Posted in Spotted by SMUstyle on May 9, 2011

Dressing sophisticated and stylish seems to be a balancing act for most students. Finding the perfect ensemble that transitions from a morning psych class, where casual sweats and athletic shorts are the standard, to a business presentation in a marketing class, where Wall Street appropriate attire is mandatory, can be almost as challenging as having three semester exams within 24 hours. SMUstyle tracked down two students who managed to meld professionalism with comfort.

SMU senior Lela Harper works in one of the season’s hottest trends, coral, into her business appropriate basics.

SMU junior Alaina McLemore works in a classic white t-shirt and sandals with a flirty yet still conservative skirt.

Fashion Insider: SMUstyle catches up with SMU alum Amber Venz

Posted in Fashion Insider by SMUstyle on May 9, 2011

As Amber Venz got out of the cab outside of The Capitale in New York City, I immediately felt underdressed. She was wearing an enormous grey and white mink coat, sky-high stilettos and a translucent cream minidress she had made herself. The invitation to Patty Fields’ Fashion Week party specifically said to dress for a part on the hit TV show “Sex and the City.” I wore leather pants, a sequin bag and an ostrich feather clutch, but walking behind her was like walking behind a tall, blond supermodel in fur. We breezed past the line and I was surprised to see her expression: a mixture of shock and sheer terror as we entered the vast room. Perhaps it was because we were surrounded by thousands of drag queens dressed in costumes, sipping on Belvedere cocktails in a dark room. DJ Cascade was spinning in the front of the room amongst go-go dancers in thongs and masks. Venz immediately slipped through the crowd to the side of the room, away from the mass of people dancing underneath the flashing neon lights. After half an hour, she whispered to me, “This is so not my scene. A man…woman just told me I was the hottest drag queen in the room. When I said I wasn’t one, the next question was whether I’m a drug dealer.”

Venz’s style is over-the-top; her style blog is witty, sarcastic and conversational; her jewelry designs are classic and effortless. But in person, she is a self-proclaimed wallflower. I was baffled. How could she stand in the shadows at a party but have the confidence to wear a dress made of a huge piece of fabric that she wrapped around herself, secured only with a knock-off version of a Lanvin belt she had made herself?

“In school, I always wanted to do something that was different. Anything that was a step forward or one-off. In high school, no one wore hats so I decided to start wearing them or I’d wear fake glasses. I’ve always just done things with fashion that other people are afraid to do, I guess…even now my boyfriend will say why can’t you just wear something normal? But if I’m going to tell people what to wear and how to think about the way they dress then I can’t walk in a place in something normal because then it’s like, well why are you so different? Up until very recently I’ve been very reserved, but my clothes make me less so. My clothes are loud and I’m not, so they balance me out,” Venz said.

Her style is definitely distinctive, so it’s impossible to disagree that her sense of style and jewelry designs give her the right to be a dictator of style and trends on her blog VENZEdits. Reading the blog, it’s easy to picture the style icon. She calls it her “Style Diary” that gives a voice and a personality to her jewelry designs.

Grace Davis, Venz’s assistant last year, said the blog is a reflection of how approachable Venz is in real life. “She writes as if she’s talking to you and she really does understand the everyday young woman in the same way as seen with her style and her designs. Her designs reflect how unique but classic her style is.” Baxter Box, Venz’s boyfriend of several years, describes her style as “over-the-top and more-is-more.” He agreed that Amber is her blog and her jewelry. “She shares her fashion insights and style tips on her blog at no expense. Her jewelry style reflects her personal fashion style: it’s loud, over-the-top, but wearable. Amber is a person who loves being a weekend warrior – brunches at Taverna followed by dinners at Mi Cocina and nights on the town. In much the same way, Amber designed her jewelry to be worn from morning until night.”

It seems hard to believe the 23-year-old has enough time in a day to offer advice to the style-challenged on her blog, design jewelry and look like a diva in the spotlight 100 percent of the time. That’s the secret: she doesn’t. Walking in to her office, which is the top floor of her dad’s house, you’ll find her in sweats working diligently on the floor in front of piles of chains, stones and other materials if she’s in a “design mood.” The rest of the time she sits at her desk at the computer, which is in front of a board of pictures and clippings, which she calls her inspiration board and personal to-do list. The office is set up like a showroom– jewelry everywhere. On shelves, on hanging racks, on the floor— but don’t be fooled— everything is systematic and organized. The racks on the right side of the room hold hanging necklaces that are organized by rose gold, gold, silver and antique silver .

Though Venz doesn’t design every day, she keeps materials in a pile that takes up about three feet of floor space so when she’s in the mood, she can sit down and design three to five pieces. Three to five pieces seems like a lot, but Venz can finish one in an hour and a half. Bauble building just comes naturally to her.
Venz runs the entire company by herself and hand makes all of her own jewelry. “Making things overall started when I was a little kid. I didn’t ever sit down and watch TV; I just sat in my room and made things whether that is purses or sweatshirts. There was definitely a pattern at an early age of making things…In fifth grade I actually got kicked out of math class for knitting and selling scarves in the back row.”

The pattern continued through high school. In ninth grade she saw a pair of earrings at Studio Sebastian in Snyder Plaza. They cost $120 so she didn’t even bother asking her parents to buy them. Instead, she borrowed jewelry making tools from her neighbor and rigged them herself. “I just kept making things I wanted. If I saw a celebrity wearing something I’d knock it off for myself and figure out a way to make it,” she said. When Venz noticed the jewelry for sale at Sebastian’s after she began working there in 2005, she saw it as a perfect opportunity to take her jewelry to the next level. She started selling her jewelry in the storein exchange for bags, shoes and clothes from Sebastian’s. “My first trade of jewelry for merchandise at Sebastian’s was a Jane Mayell top, but my favorite thing ever was a mint green patent Lanvin bag. I love it so much that I actually designed my bed after it. But instead of patent it’s going to be velvet.” A designer who even sleeps in her work. It wasn’t until after she graduated that Box sat her down and to break the news that she couldn’t use her jewelry to pay off bags and clothes forever.

The first step to her one-man-show success was starting up the Web site, with the help of the boyfriend. “My technology company-the Nasty Goat Corporation- helps Amber with business development and web strategy for her blog and jewelry e-commerce site. Amber is very knowledgeable in the fashion area, but not so much in the web technology arena. I’ve enjoyed teaching Amber the ropes so to speak…I enjoy our meetings very much. They usually turn in to ‘mixers’ as Amber prefers meeting environments to be more like a party than a serious meeting,” Box said.
Davis remembers her time working for Venz as a truly amazing and entertaining experience, noting that she knew she wanted to pursue a serious career in the fashion industry after working with Amber for only five minutes. “It was great because Amber is willing to try to expand her business in any way…Everyday in the office was something different which really reflects how dynamic of a person she is as well as a businesswoman. She’s just truly passionate about what she does,” Davis said.

Right now Venz sells most of her jewelry to Stanley Korshak. Her designs have been sold in The Shak for the past year and Melissa Geiser, the store’s jewelry buyer, she is happy about her decision to buy Venz’s pieces. “I thought the look was fresh and current and that the pricing was right for our client,” Geiser said. “All age groups are buying it from college students to a woman in her mid-40s. She has a fresh take on jewelry combining ancient thoughts and new ideas into her work. It’s all about an inner feeling and an outward style.” The wide demographic of Venz’s customers may be credited to Venz’s versatility as a designer and commitment to personal relationships with clients. After leaving Sebastian’s, she hired a rep and went straight to market. Her jewelry did extremely well, but she blames the bad economy on why she decided to stop and stick with smaller boutiques that she had a personal relationship with. “Stores were bouncing boxes and some would actually steal merchandise. At the time I was working with about 20 department stores. About half of them stole stuff, including major department stores,” Venz recalled. So she decided to keep it simple: fire the sales rep and run the show herself, working only with a handful of stores. “The store Cabana on Lover’s Lane is great. I make pieces specifically for the owner’s inventory. I know the lines she carries and I know how she’s going to buy it so if I’m going to make a necklace in silver or gold, I’ll do it in gold instead because I know that she’ll buy the gold…She likes dainty pieces so I’ll dial down my bigger pieces. Even though a lot of it wouldn’t fit my actual collection, I’ll go ahead and make them because they work for her and her store,” Venz said. She learned to adjust her ideas and designs while working at Sebastian’s, noting that in order to cater to the customer there, she had to make pearls because her boss said pearls always sell. “But when I took the pearls to market after leaving Sebastian’s, none of them sold because the look was over. So I said well my whole thing has been this girly-girly persona. My Web site is like a tea party…what am I going to do now? So I totally revamped my site, my branding.” Comparing the evolution of her designs to the hit show on the CW, Gossip Girl, Venz describes her early designs as “very Blair: pearl necklaces, floral, ultra-feminine. I really embraced ‘The Blair’, but now everything is more Serena. Since then my style has gotten not darker, but more bohemian, more comfortable, layered.” Now her collection is almost 100 percent chains- many of them vintage or vintage reproduction.

It seems like this style icon of a 23-year-old has already conquered it all so it’s hard to even ask the question: what’s next? But Venz is ready with a list of plans for the future and projects already in progress. “The next step is licensing my jewelry and I’m helping other bloggers monetize. My boyfriend and I have built that project from the bottom up and it’s now a working site. I also want to become more of a fashion personality…and I want to write a book! A stylebook for the coffee table. And I’m helping as a stylist for a new TV show on Bravo.” Anything else? Exhausting and chaotic though her life may seem, Venz doesn’t skip a beat because she’s doing exactly what she loves. “I leave a lot of stress out of my life. I tend not to do things I don’t want to do. An overarching theme of everything that I’m doing is just making it happen for myself. That’s how the jewelry line started and with the blog you know you’ll see a lot of stuff about sales and vintage stuff. It’s all about how to attain what you want.”

Rachael Mackin

Fashion Insider: SMUstyle talks to local designer Brianna Kavon

Posted in Fashion Insider by SMUstyle on May 9, 2011

Recently, the SMU Retail Club held its annual Spring Fashion Show where we showcased local Dallas design talent. Among the local talent was fashion designer Brianna Kavon. SMUstyle blogger Darby Radcliff caught up post-show with Brianna Kavon to talk about the Dallas designer’s inspirations, and her latest collection.

SMUStyle: Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?
Brianna Kavon: I was born in Dallas, but I have lived in Minnesota, L.A., and New Jersey.

SMUstyle: What does fashion mean to you?
Brianna Kavon: Fashion to me means making style your own interpretation.

SMUstyle: How would you define your city’s fashion?
Brianna Kavon: Dallas fashion is glamorous, colorful, and anything goes. Also, Dallas women overdress for everything, so Dallas fashion evokes a sense of elegance as well.

SMUstyle: When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
Brianna Kavon: My whole life I’ve known that I wanted to be a fashion designer. I always dreamt about and it was always a strong passion of mine.

SMUstyle: What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
Brianna Kavon: I have always altered garments, but the first article of clothing that I designed was for a singer in 1999, and it was a white tank top with feathers.

SMUstyle: Who are some of your favorite designers?
Brianna Kavon: Some of my favorite designers are Alexander McQueen, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Missoni.

SMUstyle: What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
Brianna Kavon: My advice is “Don’t let anyone stew you away from your vision” There are enough copycats in the world. Also, don’t plug into trends, just stay true to yourself.

SMUstyle: Why did u decide to start your line?
Brianna Kavon: I decided to start my line because I felt that I wasn’t seeing anything in fashion that spoke to me. I felt that I could fill a void in the market by creating a line for the young spirits that can be worn by women from ages 18 to your 30’s.

SMUstyle: Why do you call your Fall 2011 collection “Tough Love”?
Brianna Kavon: I call my first collection “Tough Love” because I feel that women are tough, but also, feminine and nurturing. I wanted to combine the two to create a line that define this confident, but flirty and feminine woman.

SMUstyle: How would you define your personal style?
Brianna Kavon: My personal style is unique and original. I love going to estate sales and finding old ethnic jewelry. I also love color depending on my mood, but also, love to wear neutrals.

SMUstyle: How would you define the style your line exemplifies?
Brianna Kavon: My line exemplifies structure, sweetness, flirtiness, and femininity.

SMUstyle: Lastly, where can readers buy your clothes?
Brianna Kavon: Readers can buy my Fall 2011 collection on briannakavon.com in late August.

Darby Radcliff


Art Smart: Juegen Teller + Ezra Petronio at Dallas Contemporary

Posted in Art Smart by SMUstyle on May 9, 2011

I finally made the time to checkout Juergen Teller’s “Man with Banana” and Ezra Petronio’s “Bold & Beautiful and Le Pavillon” exhibits at Dallas Contemporary. If you aren’t familiar with who Juergen Teller is, then I recommend picking up any issue of Vogue, W or Harpers from the past decade and flipping to a Marc Jacobs ad. Yes, Teller is the artistic mastermind behind the iconic sepia-toned Marc Jacobs ads that feature inimitable images such as a stark-faced Dakota Fanning, the infamous Vivienne Westwood posing with a banana and Victoria Beckham stuffed in a shopping bag, to name a few. Ezra Petronio is the editor-chief and creative director at Self Service magazine, a bi-annual, fashion and lifestyle magazine based out of Paris.

The famed fashion photographer’s work will be on exhibit at Dallas Contemporary until August 21st. Admission is always FREE.

Fête Set: Peek Party at Dallas Contemporary

Posted in Fête Set by SMUstyle on May 3, 2011

Attention budding art collectors: Dallas Contemporary, a must-see art space in the Design District, is offering a special ticket price for college students to attend its Peek party on Thursday, May 12 from 7 to 10 pm.

A cool $25 ticket will grant you entree into one of the Dallas art scene’s hottest parties — both night’s are chaired by PaperCity editor-at-large Brooke Hortenstine and Christie’s Auction House VP Capera Ryan — including a preview of the art to go up for bid at Saturday night’s Wish! Art Auction, heavy hors d’oeuvres, plus a shopping market via Thai performance artist Surasi Kusolwong.

Ring the Dallas Contemporary at 214.821.2522 (ask for Megan or Anna) for your ticket. Don’t miss it!

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