Dressy meets casual in Lacson Ravello line

Ask Oakland designer Kristina McConnico how to describe her new women’s line Lacson Ravello, and she’ll happily admit that it’s about the contradictions.

“It’s a little bit California and relaxed,” says McConnico, 43. “But also a little bit preppy — and a touch bohemian.”

A look from Ravello's lookbook. Hair & make-up: Betten Chaston Model: Jillian Lieber/Stars Photo: Andrew Paynter

Photo: Andrew Paynter

Inspired by the casual urban cool of French designer Isabel Marant and the minimalist lines of APC, McConnico decided to launch her made-in-San Francisco label after more than two decades of fashion design experience working for lesser-known start-ups and iconic Bay Area brands such as Levi’s, Gymboree, Old Navy and Bebe.

Her summer collection debuted on her web shop in late August with five go-to silhouettes in natural fabrics — a poncho, dress short, blouse, pant and dress — that McConnico envisioned as the key pieces any busy, modern woman might pack in her suitcase.

Fall debuts in early October with six separates in premium Japanese fabrics, including a leopard-print camouflage jacket, a chambray culotte and a jersey drop-waist dress. The collection was inspired by the outdoors and her exploration in Marin’s Muir Woods.

“The silhouettes really came out of my own frustration with trying to find clothes for myself,” says McConnico, who designs from her sunny studio cottage behind her North Oakland home and produces out of a factory in San Francisco. “It’s that ubiquitous problem — I’d shop, and things were either too dressy or too casual.”

Lacson Ravello strikes that ideal balance between easy and put together: The Sayulita poncho in a white-and-cobalt blue textured print, inspired by McConnico’s travels to Mexico, looks equally fresh dressed up with a pair of slim trousers and heels or thrown over jeans and a T-shirt for a beach outing.

With quality details such as finished inside binding, YKK zippers, drawstrings with leather stoppers, and carefully thought-out pocket placement on each garment, McConnico designs for the sophisticated, West Coast woman who values small-batch production and craftsmanship details from the inside out.

“She’s a Bay Area girl,” says McConnico. “She works hard and plays hard. She needs a wardrobe that’s just as versatile.”

— Nerissa Pacio Itchon

As seen in the San Francisco Chronicle Oct. 9, 2015

Shop online: www.lacsonravello.com

Menswear on the Move

Apple revolutionized consumer electronics shopping with its beautifully designed, well-staffed meccas. Sephora forever changed the way women shop for beauty with its open-sell playground of high-end cosmetics.
Now Bonobos, the e-commerce menswear company best known for its well-fitting chinos, is breaking ground in the realm of fashion retail with its “guideshops,” an unusual hybrid of online and personalized offline shopping.

Bonobos’ new San Jose guideshop is the second in the Bay Area. Photo: Bonobos / ONLINE_YES

Photo: Bonobos

“We are the pioneer in reinventing retail for this day and age,” says Stanford alum and Bonobos co-founder Andy Dunn, whose plan for launching a Web-only company in 2009 has since evolved into an aggressive brick-and-mortar expansion that includes its second Bay Area location in San Jose’s Santana Row. “We realized, of course people love to touch and feel clothes, but we can also provide a real retail experience without customers walking out with their order.”

While mass retailers from Gap and Macy’s to Kohl’s and J.C. Penney are closing stores and seeking ways to stay current in the fast-changing, omnichannel arena, a new breed of specialty e-commerce startups is popping up in the Bay Area with physical storefronts that are redefining offline shopping.

Instead of the traditional store model of tracking backroom inventory and tying up staff with the tedious task of constantly folding clothes, says Dunn, Bonobos’ guideshops offer an edited, relaxed space where guys can enjoy a beer during their 45-minute appointments. There, they receive one-on-one sample fittings from knowledgeable “guides,” before placing an online order that is delivered to their doorstep within one to five business days.

To read the full story, click here.

By Nerissa Pacio Itchon. As seen in sfchronicle.com, Feb. 12, 2015.

Podolls in Noe Valley sells simple, sustainable clothing

At new Noe Valley boutique the Podolls, “Slowness is beauty” is emblazoned on graphic canvas tote bags and organic cotton T-shirts designed by husband-and-wife team Josh and Lauren Podoll.

“It’s a phrase that we love that’s brand-defining,” says Josh, who launched the Podolls’ women’s ready-to-wear line with Lauren in 2003. “There’s a movement in fashion, as there is in food, to slow things down and to consider things made by hand and by people we know. In our case, it’s our garments sewn by people in South San Francisco, who we’ve been working with for a decade.”

“Slowness is beauty” is a “brand-defining,” phrase according to Josh Podoll, co-owner of the Podolls boutique in Noe Valley. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

To the couple, the mantra also serves as a bold reminder of their sustainable design ethos, which resonates throughout the sunny, gallery-like space. The 800-square-foot San Francisco shop is their second store location (the original downtown Burlingame store opened in 2013) and serves as an ideal backdrop to the Podolls’ eco-conscious label, which has since expanded to Podots, a playful children’s-wear line sewn from excess fabric from the women’s collection.

“It gives us the opportunity to create special kids’ wear while minimizing textile waste,” says Lauren. “Many of our textiles are exclusive to our brand, like our seasonal custom silk prints, and we love making mini-me pieces out of these same luxurious fabrics.”

To read the full story, click here.

By Nerissa Pacio Itchon. As seen on sfchronicle.com March 19, 2015.

Uniqlo SF Grand Opening: Mob Mentality

With the grand opening festivities of Uniqlo‘s San Francisco flagship opening out of the way this weekend, I figured I could dodge the crowds and pop into the famed Japanese retailer’s first West Coast store today in Union Square to grab a few staples. Boy was I wrong.

Known for their well-cut basics (think Japanese version of Gap), I’ve never had trouble finding an assortment of trim-fitting, quality sweaters, pants, and tops– in every color of the rainbow– when shopping at Uniqlo’s New York and Asia outposts. It also happens to be a great place to find pieces cut for those with more petite frames as sizes run smaller than those of typical American retailers.

Here’s a snapshot of the insane line outside the 111 Powell Street mega-shop this afternoon that wrapped half-way around the block. I guess I’ll just have to wait until the madness dies down to stock up! (Tip: For those of you unwilling to hoof it to the brick-and-mortar location, Uniqlo.com will soon be available to US shoppers. To get notified of exactly when, pre-register on the site with your email address).

My Favorite Outfit: Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse Chuck-Oliver Lapus

In all the years I’ve known friend, and fashion inspiration, Chuck-Oliver Lapus, I’ve never seen him sport the same outfit twice. A master of the  remix, this Bay Area pediatric intensive care nurse and proud fashion experimentalist dares to go with his wardrobe where your average guy doesn’t—from dapper dandy to hip-hop inspired to avant-garde. In Chuck’s world, fashion is art. “When I dress for occasions, I am painting my own portrait and I am producing my own music.”

Photographed at Diablo Ranch, Mount Diablo, by Edric Itchon.

Name: Chuck-Oliver Lapus

Occupation: Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse

Age: 34

Where I live: South San Francisco

What I’m wearing:

“Super-Bars Fade by LoLo at the San Mateo Zoo Barber Shop. Aviator shades by Police-Italia. Satin Burberry Classic Nova print bow tie. White organic cotton short-sleeve collared shirt, modern fit, by American Apparel. ZARA-Man Euro cut blazer. Black leather embossed belt by Coach. Classic wool cashmere-blend trousers by Burberry Prorsum. Dress socks by Donna Karan. Black 3/4 High Sharp Boots by Rick Owens.”

Why this is my favorite outfit:

“My new outlook on fashion has changed so much and the days of ‘just wearing a suit’ has come and gone. I am sure that for the fashion world in general, suits will always be part of the runway. However, I take pride in the deconstruction of my suits; I have to create a look that draws people’s attention—something avant-garde.”

How I’d remix this outfit:

“I would make it more casual by putting on a fedora, taking off the blazer and bow tie, and untucking the shirt. I’d fold up the hem of the trousers and replace formal boots with boat shoes. I’d also add my double pyramid ring in gunmetal by Black Scale SF.”

As a nurse, I’m assuming you are in uniform scrubs for work. Does this influence how you tend to dress in your non-working hours?

“You know I always look forward to going to work for meetings and showcasing. Not in an arrogant way, but a lot of the other nurses always dress up when they come to meetings at work too! It’s almost like having a ‘free-dress’ day when I was in junior high. The thought of being able to go into work and not having to wear scrubs is a pretty liberating.”

Fashion inspires me because…

“Like art and music, fashion is derived from the individual, but it has the possibility of reaching and touching so many people. Fashion is art!”

My fashion icons are:

“Pharrel Williams, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Nickleson Wooster, David Beckham.”

What piece I’m coveting for Fall right now:

“Denim. I have a denim addiction. It’s almost scary. I have more denim than my wife. The move from wearing denim with no enlarged embroidery is a must. I dig the Euro cut of the NUDIE line. I have the same cut in three different dyes. I am also digging the Japanese line Naked and Famous.”

My most prized fashion find:

“My most prized find was a gift that I bought for my wife. I was in a Crossroads shopping phase at one point in my life, and I happened to stumble into the Irving location one day before I went into work and I found some beautiful Louie Vuitton yellow suede high heel espadrilles. The heels were practically dead stock (never worn). Five years later, my wife still covets those heals and they still transcend fashion’s past!”

The most daring ensemble I’ve worn consisted of:

“All my friends called me ‘Ross’ because we went out one night, and I was brave enough to wear brown leather pants. That’s all I am saying because if certain friends of mine are reminded of this particular outfit, I will never hear the end of it!”

What “makes” an outfit?  

“A person’s attitude and how they wear an outfit. I have been told many times by other people, ‘I love your (insert article of clothing), but I could not pull off that outfit.’ I am willing to take the risk. I don’t really pay attention to what anyone else thinks about my outfit. My biggest critic (besides my wife) is me. If I like it, then I’ll wear it anytime, any place–like Janet.”

My ultimate fashion fantasy is….

“… to be discovered while having coffee at Starbucks and asked to model for Givenchy.”

Why Working at Sephora is Fun

Today I felt like sharing a little snapshot into my work day. This beautiful assortment of new “La Laque Couture” nail lacquers  from YSL, launching on Sephora.com next week, just landed on my desk.

I’m fully on board with the hot-as-ever nail art trend and obsessed with all the intense, bright colors for summer I’m seeing everywhere–from the runway to our office. These quick-drying formulas are strengthening, the colors are pigment-rich, and they go on easily with the wide brush. Plus, these golden bottles look so lovely and luxurious, I am compelled at the moment to use them as cubicle installation art.

English Luxury Brand Mulberry Bows in San Francisco’s Union Square

It was a truly “un-S.F.” moment. A line of stylish guests gussied up in cocktail dresses, platforms, and trim-cut suits snaked down the block as a stern bouncer dressed in all black held back impatient line-jumpers from storming their way through the glass doors–at 6:30 p.m. “One in, one out,” he barked. “No exceptions.”

Photos by Nerissa Pacio Itchon, unless otherwise noted.

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All That’s Fine and Dandy: Menswear Styleforum 10-year anniversary

It’s not every day that a San Francisco fashion event draws the special breed of stylish male shoppers who probably know the difference between a three-fold versus a four-fold silk grenadine tie or perhaps the finer points of construction of a Goodyear welt wingtip oxford.

Scenes from the Men’s Styleforum 10-year anniversary event at the W Hotel. Handmade ties by San Francisco fashion newcomer Louis Walton. All photos by Edric Itchon.

But at the premiere fashion showcase last month celebrating the 10th anniversary of Styleforum, an online fashion community for men, more than 300 dapper guests turned out at the W Hotel for bespoke suit fittings, complimentary shoe shines and an opportunity to peruse 15 local and national vendors specializing in quality menswear.

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Best SF Financial District Beauty Deal: Robert James Color Salon “Happy Hour, Happy Hair” Fridays

Summer and Friday Happy Hour seem to go hand in hand, and this season that ideal time of day has gotten even sweeter. For the beauty buff seeking the ultimate in efficiency—gal-pal bonding, something bubbly, and much-needed after-work pampering—Robert James Color Salon in San Francisco has launched a new “Happy Hour, Happy Hair” promo.

Robert James Color Salon. Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey.

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Summer Beauty Obsession: Laline’s Exfoliating Dead Sea Salt Body Scrub

Despite the pending change of seasons and sunnier skies ahead, my hands and cuticles seem to be perpetually stuck with the winter blues. Rough and dry from my obsessive hand-washing habit and battered from my constant tapping on the keyboard, my dehydrated digits could use some serious TLC.

Laline’s Dead Sea Salt scrubs. All photos by Alex Akamine.

Laline’s Beauty and the Beach Summer Kick-Off event in San Francisco couldn’t have come at a better time, if only to introduce me to the boutique brand’s signature Dead Sea Salt Body Scrub—now my go-to product for soothing parched and flaky skin.

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