Author Archive for Nina Thomas


My New Year’s Resolution: to put shopping on a diet

There is definite connection between eating and shopping. Both are sometimes necessary and more often an indulgence; both are about consuming, after all.

We eat for energy and for entertainment…we shop for necessities and for recreation. You get my drift.

Fast fashion is a lot like fast food: cheap, mass-produced,  a quick fix… but not very satisfying.

In 2011 I resolve to think more about buying less; to value the story behind the merchandise and less about the bargain I bagged.

I am drifting away from the lure of the sale; now if only I can remain under the influence… of soulful shopping.  Help me, y’all!


Buying vintage fur: it’s a luxury, but is it ethical?

I have always said NO to fur: out of a love for animals, a disdain for high-pile  pelts and their obvious elitist vibe, and a fear of  the wrath/red paint righteousness of  animal rights activists.

And then I made an amazing find in the cramped basement of The Vintage Bar in a funky yet  fashionable Paris ‘hood. I was cold and on vacation so I played dress up with coats of fur: first  too big and garish,then  too small and creepy, and then the Goldilocks thing happened. A perfect fitting sheared silver fox coat with beaver collar and cuff, lambskin trim, horn buttons, bound button holes, and iridescent silk lining came to enshroud me. Museum quality couture! I came up with a number of reasons why I should adopt this little guy: custom-made by hand in the 1970’s by Azzedine Alaia in a nearby apartment, no sweatshop labor, pure craftsmanship, a recycled, re-purposed organic garment that I could bring back to life. The poor foxes were gone but I did not want their lives to be sacrificed in vain. How’s that for rationalization? And the fact that it is sheared makes it more low key, and they make amazing faux beaver these days…I just had to have it, so I listened to my gut and thought about the years when Alaia was not so well known and made this one-of-a- kind coat  that must have been meant for me: slow fashion, heirloom quality, organic materials, formaldyhide-free.

Am I Cruella DeVille in fox clothing? What say you?


Tripping onto a Master Tailor

Jean helps a customer try on a coat


An anniversary, 2 birthdays, and cheap airfare drove us to go to Paris: Excuses, excuses, I know. We decided to go there to just “be” and not to “do” tourist stuff.

Scraps swept into a pile

We walked really fast, wore lots of black, popped in for pastry and espresso, and generally tried to act natural. We were good posers until I opened by mouth and my accent gave me away. On our mission to nowhere in particular, we turned down a random street and discovered this amazing shop of hand crafted lambskin called Walry.

The owner, Jean Guise, sized me up and gallantly helped me try on several of his masterpieces. I did not protest. He spoke little English and with a combo of my bad French and charades, I was able to figure out that he buys the skins, designs the patterns, cuts, sews, and sells. “Ezz juss me”, he said.

Patterns and sewing machine- tools of his trade

Check out these photos. The guy is a genius on fit, style and stitching. He told me he would check out Project Artisan on his old home computer, but has no web site of his own. Maybe PA can help him design one and set up a store with us. I’d be happy to go back and help!

Oh, and he makes buttery soft pencil skirts in black and brown for 80 euro (once you deduct the value added tax) Such an amazing value.

Nina Thomas is a regular blog contributor.  This is one of two posts about her recent trip to Paris.


Roughing up the meaning of fine jewelry by nina thomas

There’s fashion jewelry and then there’s fine jewelry, but where do you draw the line? Does “fine” always mean precious gems and gold, both perfect and glitzy? I think not.

I would much rather pay the price to own a rough hewn, edgy piece made of pure, organic materials– an objet d’art with more soul and less bling.

Take Jill Evans Petzall’s Large White Baroque Pearls. I sure would… anytime.

Swinging wide of the classic strand, Jill’s creation shows us the beauty of imperfection: lovely asymmetrical pearls set off-center with 24 karat beads, disks, and stylized clasp. Refined, yet free-flowingly natural.

Jill is a gem of a jewelry designer. Take a look and experience her collection.


TOO MUCH STUFF by Nina Thomas

I spent the weekend in Atlanta on two major mall crawls and it just about did me in.
Don’t get me wrong I love to shop, but there’s just too much stuff out there to sift through.
And most of it is not good.
That’s why I like small stores with a clear sense of identity– Americana, vintage-inspired, urban chic, etc. And it’s even better when the buyer has great taste– one you can trust to find the good stuff.
And if you think bricks and mortar stores are work, it’s even harder to sift through Internet sites.
You know, it just occurred to me that Project Artisan is like that small store with a clear identity and a buyer you can trust.
Think of PA as the eyes and ears for emerging designers of eco-friendly and ethical luxury–all equally represented on an excellent E-commerce platform.
(Count the number of the letter “E”‘s in that sentence!) Back to the point I want to make:
Some say “more is better”, but I say “less is best”.
I’m just sayin’…


LA Fashion Week: Setting Trends in Fashion and Philosophy by Nina Thomas

On the “coattails” of the Paris, Milan, London and New York shows, LA interprets spring fashion in uniquely SoCal style.

Transparency is a trend that LA understands: from Prada’s clear vinyl satchels to sheer and flouncy frocks, sunny Californians are at ease with baring their bodies and souls, right down to the contents of their handbags.

They also think Pink in all shades of pale as a reverent nod to Breast Cancer Awareness.

LA is in love with lace and metallics, and Angelenos everywhere go for “baroque”.

Always on the edge, LA loves to cut the fluff and glitz with a shot of Military/Aviator/Motorcycle leathers, even for spring. Think Earhart/ Brando.

There is another kind of trend that LA Fashion Week represents—a philosophy of conscientiousness shared by Project Artisan.

LA and PA do indeed think alike, with these core values in common:

Both celebrate the Indie Spirit by showcasing emerging designers.

Each curates Eco-Collections that use organic, local, and re-purposed materials.

They both take a stand for ethical designers who practice fair labor.

It feels so good to think about supporting people and the environment as we think ahead to spring…ahhh, California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day!

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