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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
Fashion Drive-By: Richard Chai for Target GO International
If nogoodforme.com had a minimalist in residence, it would pretty much be me. You'd imagine then that I would be so excited that Richard Chai, he of some of the loveliest pared-down clothes going these days, was doing a collection for Target. But the truth of the matter is that I was more apprehensive than anything. The thing about foregoing the usual bells and whistles is that it makes elements like fit and the quality of your fabric so much more important in the design -- and the Target GO International collections have been way hit-or-miss in regards to these. It's definitely buyer-beware, so without further adieu, here's our version of Consumer Reports -- where I went to the store, tried on a bunch of things, annoyed the dressing room people to no end and endured some really awful lighting to tell you lovely readers what worked and what didn't.
Overall I find that the quality of each GO capsule collection to have improved with the past few collections, at least in terms of the fabrics and fit. Chai's collection is not different in this respect -- it's at least on level with H&M in my opinion and a bit above Forever 21 and other sort of junky mall fashion. The most luxurious item by far is the long cardigan -- they're 5% cashmere, super-soft and just really, really lovely. I was not overall keen on the rose print tanks and t-shirt -- the fabric doesn't stretch so much (so get a size up on them) and it felt kind of rough and yucky to me. The fits generally are true-to-size, but I'd still size up on items with no stretch at all or if you're one of the better-endowed out there (or even, like, a B cup on some items!)
This really surprised me as a dress -- at first I was all "no fucking way" because of the print. (Being petite, I always get kind of nervous about large, bold prints like these.) It's also a lot more "lady" than what I usually wear. However, in the interest of being somewhat thorough, I tossed it on with a great degree of skepticism -- and then kind of fell in love with it. It's cut really beautifully and is just a nicely done item for the price, especially for some of the details. (Even the zipper pull is super-nice.) I think if you are smaller-busted, you may need to size down because of the bustier-style bodice -- I feel like this is a dress for a curvier girl or for a girl with a hidden Dita Von Teese side to her, which I guess I do have because I have this weird adoration for her. I already have so many dresses, but man -- this kind of made me feel like a minor character in "In the Mood for Love." If that's not a seal of approval, I have no idea what is!
This was the frock that I liked from the press preview pictures, but in person I found it just okay. The fabric is this kind of tech-y thing -- kind of like parachute pants? -- that reminded me A LOT of Helmut Lang-era 1990s. It's very stiff and synthetic-feeling -- andoddly dissonant with such a girly, feminine cocktail-dressy cut. I couldn't get over that, but maybe some of you out there will. It's cut very straight, so those with hips might find it hard to make happen, and I found it true-to-size.
I'm really tired of tent-type dresses these days, but this is not quite tent-y -- it just falls pretty straight. Normally that is so not flattering on anyone, but I don't know -- it kind of worked here. Polyester material dominates here -- not super-great, but not as awful as you'd think, as it's pretty silky. I did love the pattern, though, and the banding and collar are a nice touch. It falls nicely in the plaid and purple trends coming up for fall.
This has the potential to be super-cute on the right frame, but low-waisted things never work on me. The top is a sheer cotton voile and fits pretty close to the body (with no stretch) but the bottom is a weirder synthetic material and poofs out. A bit too much for me, but then again, I like a straighter line. This is a tryer-on, for sure.
NO. Well, the print is so not me -- the truth of the matter it takes an avant-wack adventuress like Laura Jane Faulds to make something like this work. I just tried it on for fun, but found the material to be really scratchy and rough. It has no stretch -- size up on this one if you're into it. You better be into it for a print this bold.
Ooooh, these I loved. The tank top is, along with the cardigan, one of best items in the collection, methinks -- it just has an incredibly nice cut for the price, very low and sexy and urban in feeling, and the seaming is pretty hot. It combines the architectural slant of Chai with a super-casual material and cut, so the result is something really relaxed and yet with some sense of shape and sophistication. It's super-soft in a thin, jersey-ish material and kind of simple, but therein lies its genius as a tank top. The skirt is pretty cute, too -- the stripes look hand-painted, and the material is a sort of subtle chiffon/georgette that is light and flirty-feeling. I bought the tank top right away -- I snapped up the last one at my Target, whoo hoo! Most of the stripe-y tanks in this collection are pretty awesome. Some are more '80s than others, but the material is nice and the cuts all work. If you love stripes and tanks, this collection may be for you.
I pretty much just say no to this top. I'm not even going to show the photo I took of myself in it, it's so wrong. This is very youthful and gamine, and being une femme at my age and NOT Camille Bidault-Waddington, it just doesn't work on me. It's a sheer, very stiff cotton voile as well with no stretch, so if you have boobs AT ALL and want this, I'd size up a bit. I'd just size up anyway, actually. It's super-cute, but not for me. I've kind of learned that ruffles only work on me if they're working with the lines of the body -- decorative ruffles are sort of too twee these days for my tastes. This feels very out-of-character for Chai for me, and doesn't have a lot of the architectural feel that a lot of the items in this collection have but it is pretty damn cute for the right type of girl out there.
Oh, and did I mention the cardigans? If you're in the market for a nice long cardigan, these ones are pretty awesome. Seriously, the photo of me wearing them got fucked up, but I LOVE THEM. The arms are super-long (which I personally love, it reminds me of ballet class and wearing my boyfriend's sweaters) and the material is so, so soft. There are these little epaulets at the shoulder, but they're pretty tasteful -- no Rhythm Nation-era Janet Jackson happening here. It's also slim-fitting, very beautifully cut. They're made of 5% cashmere as well. LOVE! I'd wear these for years to come, seriously.
IN CONCLUSION: There are kind of a few things happening here -- there's a 80s thing, a sophisticated lady thing and some sportiness as well. It's like a very clean take on bad Lower East Side fashion, and I mean that in the best way, because Chai takes those street elements and makes them a bit more sophisticated in his cut and details. Nothing except the tank tops and cardigans made me itch to buy, but it doesn't mean I won't online stalk some of these until they go on sale.
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