Fiesta for a Cause: Project Paz’s Annual Auction

Guests nursed cocktails inspired by Maestro Dobel and Bohemia under strands of bulb lights and papel picadostreamers as George Sotelo and David Lipke spun tunes last night at the fourth annual Project Paz Art Auction. Art and fashion luminaries such as Jason Wu and Thakoon Panichgul came out to support Project Paz, a non-profit committed to promoting peace and helping kids off the streets in Juarez, Mexico. Guests spent the evening bidding in an art auction, sitting for portrait sketches, a photo booth, shopping a pop-up shop, and partaking in music, and of course, lots of food and drink.

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The art auction was comprised of two collections. The contemporary collection, curated by Anne Huntington, consisted of 40 works inspired by the art, history and culture of Mexico. Among them were pieces by such visionaries as Alex Hank and Erika Harrsch. The second collection featured 12 photographs, taken by students who participated in this summer’s Pictures for Paz pilot program. “We picked images that feel like Mexico—we tried to capture a mood that ties them back to Juarez: the landscape, the colors, the workers,” said Annette Stephens who helped curate the photographs.

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The deluge of support from the art and fashion community was inspiring to say the least. Jason Wu and cohost Sofia Sanchez Barrenechea posed for pictures while Vogue’s Eugenia Miranda and Lucia Talt admired the photographs. The evening ended on a sweet note thanks to the La Newyorkina Paleta cart that surprised guests ice pops. The news that all our fun (boozing) had raised over $100,000 for the organization was a sweet surprise as well. Olé!

FashionFeed: Fashioneer Heads to Vegas, Coco Rocha Escapes to Venice

● We’re off to the MAGIC, Pool, and Project tradeshows in Las Vegas next week to peep the latest and greatest in textiles, clothing, and accessories. Be sure to follow my tweets and the hashtag #MAGICLV to get in on the action (and exclusive parties). [Magic] ● Ah, the life of a supermodel. Coco Rocha recently hopped over to Venice, Italy, to work with Americana Manhasset on their Fall 2011 fashion campaign. Watch the enchanting short film from the project. [Tumblr] ● DJ turned model turned Chanel darling Leigh Lezark is collaborating with H&M to curate the Swedish retailer’s first-ever shop-in-shop at London’s Selfridges department store on August 25. [Vogue UK]

● Designer Thakoon Panichgul is donating 100% of the proceeds from his limited-edition Masai-print scarf to aid famine victims in Somalia. [Vogue] ● We’re loving actress Sean Young’s style inspiration in these recently discovered polaroids from Ridley Scott’s 1962 sci-fi film, Blade Runner. Hint] ● We didn’t see this one coming. Spanish fast-fashion retailer Zara is being investigated by Brazilian federal prosecutors for alleged slave labor practices. [Zara]

Thakoon Panichgul Credits His Success to Net-a-Porter

Former Marie Claire fashion editor Sandra Bauknecht recently blogged about her trip to London to meet with designer Thakoon Panichgul in the offices of online luxury retailer Net-a-Porter. Bauknecht joined a select group of bloggers and press for an intimate presentation of Thakoon’s FW11 collection, in which Panichgul voiced his appreciation for his top supporters. While Michelle Obama’s early championing of his designs definitely helped place him on fashion’s high-profile map, Panichgul thanks Net-a-Porter for giving him his real start.

“First I did five pieces and thought it was a collection. Net-a-porter bought all of them and has been so supportive since then,” explained the designer, to which Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massanet replied, “We are all about great products!” It’s always nice to hear when a luxury designer acknowledges the value e-commerce brings to their business.

The complete Thakoon FW11 collection will be available to shop here soon.

Thomas Sires, NoLita’s Latest Fashion Outpost

When it comes to fashion, if it’s too tight, too tall, or too trendy, you’ll be cursing like a sailor and swearing bloody vengeance on your garment’s designer by day’s end. True fashionistas know, when you feel good, you look good – or, at least, happier than you would teetering around in four-inch, bunion-inducing stilettos. Elegantly comfortable clothes interlaced with unique details is the go-to style mantra for a certain set of sophisticated women, and it also happens to be the core philosophy behind NoLita’s latest and greatest fashion outpost, Thomas Sires. The propietrixes of the new Elizabeth Street boutique are Fiona Thomas and Allison Sires, who met working side by side at Loeffler Randall. Thomas was the PR Director and Sires helmed the design team. They bonded over a love of fashion, unique objects, and a desire to one day open their own boutiques. Over time and work-related globe trotting, they also discovered a shared admiration for the lifestyle boutiques they frequented in Japan and France. Early in 2010, the idea to curate their own store with a bit of everything they love in stock took shape, and Thomas Sires was born.

The shop’s sleek, minimalist space is peppered with clothes and products from around the world, each having their own whimsical twist. Think Scoop meets Kate’s Paperie meets the MoMA store and you’ll get the idea. Thomas Sires has designed an eponymous clothing line cut in comfortable chic silhouettes that, with a change of heel, shift seamlessly between work and play; their lingerie is as cute as it is sexy, and you’ll wish the gals had made their children’s sweaters and dresses in adult sizes. The shelves are also packed with oft-overlooked everyday items like undeniably chic dog collars and Bonpoint perfume, hilarious Japanese soap-on-a rope fish, and the ephemeral, like Pieter Stockman’s colorful porcelain candle holders. As Thomas explained about the duo’s buying choices, “Functional items like a notebook don’t have to be so standard. If it’s well designed or has interesting details, it can be so much more fun.”

And speaking of fun, the launch party Thomas Sires threw last night spilled out into the streets in the arctic night, attracting the kind of uptown/ downtown crowd the store and its owners’ aesthetic exude: casual chic, understated sophistication, global minimalism, West Coast whimsy with an East Coast heart. While fur-lined hunting hat fashion types dominated the scene, cultural tastemakers, from restaurants and art to media and nightlife, tippled and talked amongst themselves, and to me, about the fact that Thomas Sires is filling a void New York never knew it was missing.

Bonnie Morrison, who, with her Wildean wit and Saville-sexy style represents one of fashion’s coolest dames, was lending a helping hand, passing out champagne to designers Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos, who were standing near David Lipke of Women’s Wear Daily. Lipke couldn’t get enough of the “charming store that’s incredibly inviting and has an amazing collection of pieces from all over the world.” Nearby, General Manager/ Wine Director of Craftbar, Hayden Felice, one of the most fashionable (and eligible) men in the food service industry, was canoodling with Victoria Birch, an editor at Taschen, and Elizabeth Kohn, of Kohn & Schumacher interior design fame. To this trifecta’s right was a well-heeled group that included the heralded designer Thakoon Panichgul, who loved the stores novelty items and felt like he was “walking into Tokyu Hands, a department store I love in Japan.”

Guests marveled how Thomas and Sires were able to effortlessly bring so many cultures, eclectic pieces, and exciting people together under one roof. It probably had something to do with the fact that there was a keg in the changing room, but that’s another story entirely.

As a whole, the collection, like the hot pink neon Thomas Sires sign that hangs vertically in their window, is really, well, a lot of fun. And while “fun” isn’t a word normally associated with NoLita high fashion, it’s a relief to walk into a boutique that isn’t incredibly self-serious about its fashionable form as much as it’s serious about its cultural function. As purveyors of relaxed style, elegant design, humor, and functionality with flair, Thomas Sires is a classic store for modern times.

Thakoon’s New Men’s Wear May Be Coming in 2010

Thakoon Panichgul has a lot on his plate. The women’s ready-to-wear designer — a former fashion editor who in recent seasons has become a favorite of the likes of Anna Wintour and Michelle Obama — is kicking his game into high gear, rather than resting on his laurels. High on his agenda: embarking on his debut foray into jewelry. Panichgul is taking on the title of creative director of the Japanese accessories company Tasaki (to note, the designer is likewise already the creative director of Italian leather accessories brand Hogan). “Known for its pearl jewels, the 55-year-old jeweler that’s listed on the Tokyo/Osaka Stock Exchange, became a De Beers site holder in 1995,” says Women’s Wear Daily.

Also in the works: a collaboration with Aloha Rag (also not Panichgul’s first, as he already has a capsule collection for Target under his belt). In conjunction with Aloha Rag launching its debut house collection this spring, the chain of boutiques, which started in Hawaii, is enlisting various designers to do one-off pieces for the line. Thakoon, the first to participate, “was asked to design ‘something in the vein of a cardigan’,” says WWD. The sweater in question is a “plaid cashmere cardigan [that] is being manufactured in two colorways — red and blue, and green and black,” says WWD, noting they’ll sell for $850 a pop. And, it seems this might not be the last time Panichgul dips his design toe into the men’s wear pool. “I’m dying to do men’s wear, I really am,” he says, adding, “I think maybe in a year. Maybe.”

Thakoon for Target (Thank Santa)

Target’s next partner in capsule collection crime has been announced, and it’s none other than Vogue darling and Michelle Obama favorite Thakoon Panichgul. WWD reports that Target has enlisted Panichgul to “design a sportswear collection that breaks Christmas Day.” Talk about a something to look forward to Christmas morning. While the Thai-born, Omaha-bred designer is best known for his decidedly modern, high-end feminine frocks (think any of Mrs. Obama’s debate outfits if you need a refresher), there’s no doubt this collaboration will induce some frenzy among fashionistas from all walks of life. Not to mention, should Barack Obama be elected, there’s a very good chance you’ll spot his wife sporting the line on jogs around Capitol Hill.