Sunday, June 25, 2017

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why did the chicken cross the road... and why are its motives the subject of so many jokes? For that matter, what's up with rubber chickens - what is about them that is so comical, anyway. Are they even actually funny? 
I can't say I'd ever seen the humor in rubber chickens, but the nation's largest manufacturer of the fowl prop reports that up to 20,000 of them fly off the shelves every year, so they must be tickling somebody's funny (wish)bone.
When I had the chance to pick up this rooster purse at a charity purse auction to benefit Beacon of Hope last Fall, though, my love of wordplay and quirk kicked in and I found myself bidding on the bird despite its admittedly aesthetically dubious demeanor.  
Come on, you have to admit it's kind of funny to cross a road while carrying a chicken purse! I mean, really, it makes every outfit "poultry in motion!" Don't lie -I know you're cracking a little smile.
You may not be crowing at my hard boiled attempt at humor, but this little guy didn't lay an egg when he accompanied me on a road trip to Nashville, Tennessee  with a friend last month. 
One of our first stops was famed biscuit joint, Biscuit Love, which I highly recommend. And in the South, nothing goes better with chicken (or a chicken purse, as the case may be), than biscuits or waffles!
Clothes don't always have to be so serious, you know, and I certainly had a good time making fowl jokes all around the town, which only had my road trip companion groaning two or three hundred times.
We were both a little "shell" shocked, though, when a group of girls approached to take a picture, with one of them asking, "Please tell me your purse has his own Instagram account, because I would totally follow it?!" 
When several more people snapped photos while we explored the Music City on foot, we decided our faux feathered friend needed a name, and dubbed him "Nash" in honor of the town that brought him out of his shell. He even made his stage debut, bringing down the hen house on Honky Tonk Row (aka Broadway) as the honorary front man for the Nashville Nobodies' rendition of the Zak Brown Band hit "Chicken Fried!
Nash isn't stopping with Nashville, though! He was last spotted photobombing Mac the Macaw at Zoobilation. I wonder what roads he'll cross next?!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Gingham Dress, eyelet lace wedges, and heart-shaped sunglasses (Amazon); Hat (Charming Charlie)
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Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Birds & the Butterflies

Getting up close and personal with exotic butterflies like this Blue Morpho, indigenous to South and Central America, made me feel a bit like Snow White. All photography by Faith Blackwell.
I didn't learn about the birds and the bees at the Indianapolis Zoo, but I did learn about the birds and the butterflies! The Indianapolis Zoo's new "Magnificent Macaws" are a sight to behold, with three flocks that include multiple species and total more than 50 of the exotic birds.
This "Paper Kite" butterfly was particularly fond of my parrot gown, and sat on my collar like a brooch for several minutes even though I was moving around.
Last weekend, more than 5000 people feted these colorful winged creatures at Zoobilation, a black tie fundraiser that raises more than 2 million dollars to support the zoo's ecosystem, programs, and conservation initiatives.
The "Great Owl" butterfly is so named for their owl-like markings. This little guy (or girl) crawled all over me.
This was my 8th Zoobilation, which each year has a unique theme honoring one of the zoo's special exhibits. If you follow Red's Shoe Diaries even a little bit, you know that I love color, and that I can't resist a theme. So, it shouldn't surprise you that I took advantage of the "tropical adventure" celebration of the macaws to indulge my imagination and dream up an over the top dress.
It's not just kids who get excited about the zoo. My butterfly experience was beyond cool, though they did tickle.
I was also honored this year with a special opportunity to serve as the zoo's official social media fashion correspondent. Guests really step up their wardrobe at Zoobilation, making people watching as engaging as watching the animals! You can check out my coverage of Zoobilation street style on Instagram. The Indianapolis Star, Where's Amy, and Pattern Magazine also had great coverage (see the links).
Where's Waldo? Can you see the orange butterfly hiding in my feathers? Another one tried to hide out and hitch a ride on the back of my neck as I was leaving.
One of the perks of serving on the zoo's social media street team was the chance to visit the zoo early to see the macaws in free flight through the zoo, which they do several times a day before landing in the new Bicentennial Pavilion where they preen and enjoy treats while zoo patron's get up close and personal. 
I wishI had crisp video of Blue Morpho opening and closing his winds in my hands. It's so vibrant and perfect it almost doesn't look real.
Speaking of up close and personal, I was also a special guest of the senior butterfly keeper, who invited me into the White River Gardens butterfly habitat to "hold" several of the more than 30 different species of butterfly that live there, many of which I'd never even seen before.
When you're going to an event celebrating some of nature's most colorful creatures, your accessories need to bright! Both heels and purse are Amazon finds.
You don't actually "hold" a butterfly, though, so much as you allow them to alight upon you and stay for as long as they'd like while you marvel at the striking colors and exquisite detail in their delicate wings.
Zoobilation is outdoors and, though this year's weather was perfect, a little (matching) insurance never hurts. The parrot umbrella is also from Amazon.
The butterflies were big fans of my macaw-inspired gown, and seemed very content to sit in my hands; crawl up my arms; and find a place to rest on my collar. I think it was the bright colors of the silk fabric and feathers that attracted them, but having them flit around me and sit in my hands made me feel a bit like Snow White.
As it turns out, there were a few other guests at the zoo during my pre-Zoobilation visit who also thought I was channeling a fairy tale character, like the little guy in the photo below, who made my day with his shy smile afterI heard him tell his grandmother he though I was a princess.
It was actually a Disney villain that helped me explain my vision for the collar of the dress to extraordinary local fashion designer Nikki Blaine - I told her I wanted it to channel Maleficent, but with color and feathers!  
I knew the moment I found the sheer silk parrot feather fabric that it would make my perfect Zoobilation dress, but it took a lot of collaboration, patience, playtime, and serious sewing to turn the bolt of flowing fabric and pile of feathers I brought to Nikki Blaine's studio into the final, one of a kind creation.
Nikki's creativity and skill not only brought my vision of a parrot gown to life, but also turned it into more than a one and done dress. The feather collar is separate from the rest of the dress, as is the feather-trimmed crinoline that peaks out from the high-low hem.
With the feathers and underskirt removed, I"m left with a beautifully lightweight and flowing silk maxi dress that can definitely be worn in a more casual Summertime setting or on a tropical vacation.
"Mac the Macaw," aka my purse, was the perfect accessory for Zoobilation, though just large enough to hold Altoids and a credit card, and is also a little work of art. He sits upright on little gold feet and his chain is removeable, making him a sparkling little sculpture to enjoy all the time!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
You may also enjoy this post from Zoobilation 2016:


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Art of the Race

Every year, on the eve of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the 500 Festival Foundation hosts The Snakepit Ball, a black tie event to celebrate the Indianapolis 500 and entertain dipolomats and celebrities in town for the race.
The Snakepit Ball has a different theme each year, though always with some connection to the world famous 500 mile race it fetes. The expected attire is typically black and white, evoking the iconic checkered victory flag.
The 2017 Snakepit Ball theme was The Art of the Race: An Interactive Art Event. The Indiana Roof Ballroom was transformed for the evening into a fully interactive combination of Racing and Art. 
In keeping with the artistic theme, the invitation encouraged guests "to make an artistic statement" with their black tie attire. 
If you follow this blog even a little, you probably already know how much I love a theme, and one with true artistic license to embrace creativity had my engine revving.
I knew right away that I wanted to embrace color, eschewing the standard black and white fare and celebrating the bold colors I associate with Indy cars and the drivers' graphic uniforms. I also knew that I wanted my dress to feature a hand-painted race design.
As is often the case, however, my artistic vision exceeded my skill set. So I set about assembling a creative and talented "pit crew" to help me bring it to life.
My first call was to my friend Nikki Blaine (featured in the third photo, above). Nikki is the creative mastermind behind Indianapolis-based Nikki Blaine Couture. She specializes in custom, one-of-a-kind designs, and shares my dramatic aesthetic. We also laugh a lot, which makes the "business" of working with her a party in its own right!
NIkki "got" my vision right away, and together we identified unusual fabric choices (like the webbing and faux leather that trim the dress) and graphic details that evoke race and automotive elements while still embodying evening gown elegance. 
Nikki also brought local artist Gary Gee on board to round out our (art of the) race team. I had a very specific picture in my head for the hand painted, vintage cars that circle the bottom of the dress, so I was a little nervous about working with someone whose work I didn't know well. But, my trust in Nikki as my "chief mechanic" was well-placed. Gary's work exceeded my every expectation, and he surprised us both by giving the winning driver a red ponytail and red lips!
Gary's fine work and the "art of the the race" theme are complemented by every detail of the ensemble: "tire tread" inspired canvas webbing creates the neckline and finishes the bottom of the dress; the same trim also embellishes the cocktail hat and its undulating blue silk abaca fabric, which reminded me of an abstract racetrack (the color wasn't quite right when I received it, but a can of high gloss spray paint was a quick fix); the strappy sandals (already in my closet) feature industrial looking black and white cords; the black crystal bracelet is evocative of a race tire; I carried a vintage silver compact from the 1920s that features a car similar in design to those in the painting; and, of course, I had to create another custom "milk purse" to complete the look, because #WinnersDrinkMilk!
As the other "driver" on my team, KDef's "uniform" got the same attention to detail: cobalt blue shoelaces echo his tuxedo shirt and match my dress; his cufflinks were silver racecars; the button covers are gearshifts; his Tag Heuer watch is a limited edition Indy 500 piece created to celebrate last year's 100th running; and his scarf features a pattern I designed using a black and white photograph from the 1965 race. Oh yes, the art of the race, indeed!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
I'm linked up with Hat Attack!
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wine, Women & (Horse)Shoes

Juan Carlos is a handsome red-headed steed who raised nearly $12,000 for Gleaner's Food Bank last week. 
When I agreed to attend last week's "Wine, Women & Shoes" fundraiser for Gleaner's Food Bank, I didn't expect my favorite shoes of the day to be horseshoes!
Handmade ribbon flowers from a local weekend market added to my heart-heeled sandals from Showstory pair perfectly with the explosion of yellow roses on my dress. Both the dress and the shoes are from Amazon.
And yet, when I met Juan Carlos, holding court at the Lucas Estate on a sunny Friday afternoon, he had me eating out of his hand...er, perhaps he had me feeding him out of my hand. In any event, those soulful eyes and that ginger mane had me swooning.
Graphic black and white framed sunglasses (found at Meier) were as much necessity as accessory for Friday's outdoor luncheon. The same can be said for my hat (a Steinmart find). 
The handsome horse was on hand (or hoof, as the case may be) to help raise funds for Gleaner's Backsacks Weekend Food for Kids program, an initiative that provides healthy meals to help children on reduced or free school lunch programs get through the weekend when they otherwise might go hungry.
It's a good thing for me that Juan Carlos wasn't part of the live auction, or my ginger haired puppy Tim Riggins might have gained an equine "brother!"
"Garden Party Chic" was the dress code for the day, and I took advantage of the long overdue Spring sunshine to don a wide brimmed hat and black and white dress (THE colors of Indy in May) punctuated with bright yellow roses. Handmade ribbon blooms in the same sunny hue on my shoes finished the garden party look tip to toe. 
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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