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066: Rachel Tashjian's most opulent tip comes in a gasoline canister
Plus SSENSE's Private Sale, Browns' arguably better one, and "that body-morphing bitch” Michaela Stark.
If you subscribe to this newsletter (for those who don’t, I’ve dropped the button below), chances are you’re also on the mailing lists of Blackbird Spyplane, In the Cereal Aisle with Leandra Medine, Perfectly Imperfect, are you wearing that? by Subrina Heyink, Amy Odell’s Back Row, and maybe even After School, I <3 Mess, or Thingtesting. I read them all regularly and even pay for a few. But even as I’m writing this, I can feel myself dancing around it…the one with the mailing list that counts: Opulent Tips.
The “invitation-only Natural Style-Email Newsletter,” though it claims inclusivity, is notoriously hard to coax into one’s inbox—let’s cite applicant overload. Even I had to drop a very public and obvious hint on Twitter that, yes please, I would like to hop on that recipient list, for its creator Rachel Tashjian to finally add me.
I’ve since found frequent breakfast-nook comfort in her newsletter’s caution-meets-wind exclamation point use and pocket knowledge of obscure socialites, and I’ve have somehow convinced Rachel to bring her princely New Englander sensibilities over to Magasin. I’m feeling a bit like Matt Damon slamming a sheet of paper against the bar window, yelling about apples. But I did get her number, and you can read all about it in our interview below.
“That body-morphing bitch,” as Michaela Stark identifies on Instagram, has devoted her artistic practice to molding human flesh, usually her own. She has found a space in high fashion through jerry-rigging garments to simulate or enhance bulges and rolls in the human form. Now, in addition to the bespoke couture services Stark offers to clients, the designer has released her first collection of made-to-order garments, each a piece of wearable art. An abject and abstract interpretation of a lingerie line, the standouts include asymmetric corsets that cover one breast while allowing the other to spill over a strategically darted lip and a denim-and-organza girdle “designed to sculpt your body by framing your belly and making it appear rounder.” Amid the current resurgent obsession over the unobtrusive “supermodel body,” the stunning way in which Stark’s collection presents an alternative relationship between garment and body is a clarion call to the rest of the industry.
The Café Forgot x Nordstrom partnership created a moving walkway for idea-having small brands that could have sooner ended up being ripped off on the platform than represented by it. Café Forgot’s curatorial signatures—found in Gabe Gordon’s thread-taut knits, all is a gentle spring’s expert darts and boning, and Alterita’s hand-forged finishes—become canonized by the department store’s sheer size and reach, while the Lower East Side project’s barefoot sense of “cool” reveals itself as essential to Nordstrom’s edge in the multi-brand mega-retailer marketplace. Still, while Café takes its DIY couturier clique national, one has to imagine this leap leaves room for an even younger, more subversive act to move in.
Leave it to Maison Margiela’s MM6 and Salomon, two brands known for their creative approaches to pragmatism, to produce the fashionable answer to sticking your feet into trash bags and cinching them with duct tape during a surprise rainstorm. The collaborative sneaker comes in demure black-and-white, a red-orange that has never heard the word “demure,” and a khaki-based, multicolored iteration. All three colorways have gender-spanning size ranges and sport a laceless design with the sole of a classic Salomon sneaker and a formless polyester upper that bungees around the ankle. The chimera of a shoe will likely elicit divisive reactions, but the history of footwear has taught us that backlash can give way to widespread adoption (see: Crocs, Keens, etc.), so expect to see the silhouette gain traction in years to come.
Acne Studios folds its excess inwards, repurposing cast off materials from past collections into a very limited-run capsule of poly-satin blouses, cash-wool turtlenecks, and a graphic lambskin suit that can exclusively be found at SSENSE. To highlight the collection’s in-the-muck ethos, SSENSE’s editorial team put it to work on Brooklyn’s creative class, who proved its studio-to-rich-social-life mutability.
Eckhaus Latta x Moose Knuckles’ fall collection lands for the second consecutive year, without answering the question—for who? The partnership must be doing numbers for the New York outfit to warrant a repeat performance, but we can’t imagine that’s being driven by the brand’s core audience, with the more experimental coats leaning unironically “you’ve caught me in my house robe!”
There’s also: Reformation addresses the work holiday party (for those still employed and office-going), and I have to say the leather blazers and Khaite-like silk drape tops nailed the vision; SSENSE releases its gift guide, a meandering celebration of the depths of its Everything Else department; KASSL Editions releases its first ready-to-wear capsule collection inspired by the “ideal of ultimate uniform dressing” and featuring mix-and-matchable pieces in neutral shades of wool, oilskin, and taffeta; the new sneakers by New Balance x Mowalola are the footwear equivalent of your dad and your tween cousin working together to make a viral TikTok; Gigi Hadid’s brand Guest In Residence churns out a ski collection, mostly in cashmere and featuring shockingly good color schemes (lots of “neon pastels”); Jacopo Pagin’s surrealist illustrations feature in a subtle three-piece capsule for Paloma Wool; the pleasantly expansive line of lingerie, PJs, and more featuring Alice Bloomfield’s trippy art is now available at Savage x Fenty, starting at $5; the staggered drops of Brain Dead’s collaboration with Oakley on its coveted “Flesh” sneakers begin today and will likely all be bloodbaths; Chicago-based boutique-turned-menswear-haven Notre is the latest to collaborate with Converse on a sneaker collection, taking inspiration from home interiors to execute quilted, buffed suede, and basketweave editions of the sneaker brand’s 70 Hi and One Star silhouettes; a raffle has begun for the chance to purchase the groovy and goth Crocs x Salehe Bembury clog; Honey Fucking Dijon must have peeped the SSENSE book collection because its Tom of Finland capsule looks as if scissors were taken to the coffee table tome and cutouts collage-printed onto basic tees, a hoodie, and jeans; you can find cheeky snails, smug peppers, and prim argyle all woven from the same snuggly cloth in the new Percival x Harry Lambert collaboration; the Shrimps Christmas home capsule features mantle-ready stockings and hot water bottle covers in adorably knit florals; these new MoMA-exclusive slippers in Subu’s classic puffy shape and Dusen Dusen’s characteristically cheery prints are talismans to ward off seasonal gloom; and With Jéan’s new collection includes cutout corsets in glowy, psychedelic designs and strappy minidresses embroidered in optic white for those in the lower hemisphere where summer is just starting (or for whom winter is a challenge to be faced in stockings).
What’s on sale
“The SSENSE Private Sale has launched” is a sentence I only got around to writing after reaching page 30-something of Sale: High to Low. Now that I’ve confirmed the closed preview sale is indeed on—for logged-in account holders who’ve recently purchased from the site—I can report it’s precisely as good as we romanticize it to be. From my personal wishlist: the brown By Far Edie boots we’ve been talking about on all the ad hoc boot forums that’ve popped up for the season, a Loulou Studio puffer blazer, a purple lace Diotima unitard, that slashed-torso cowboy Commission shirt, SC103’s leather basketball shorts, a cute and pert Marge Sherwood box bag, and the very last of this earth-quaking Vaquera frock. Some other worthy tabs to comb include The Row’s, which features its season-defining zip ankle boots in three different finishes; Reformation’s many sets that make the sale prices work even harder; and at Maryam Nassir Zadeh where wares modeled by Ottessa Moshfegh in February—plus a pair of SSENSE-exclusive black-as-night Canyon boots—are cut deep. To cap off round one of the sale sweeps, this pair of Khaite boots, a signature Toteme scarf, or the most joyful Pleats Please dress on the internet might do the trick.
Browns’ Private Sale is also underway, and similar to the above, there are real fences that’ve been built around this liquidation. Extended only to select shoppers via a private link (which I’m sharing with you here, naturally), the alarmingly generous sale takes up to 50% off highly competitive brands, bringing whales like the Khaite Admiral boots of the moment (also in white), these cream Jil Sander riding boots (or these), and a legendary Loewe leather bomber at 60% off within fishing distance. If ever there was a time to spend that investment cash on good, timeless fashion, this is it.
The 12 Days of Keen are well underway, with 40% off flash sales on different footwear every day, from the practical waterproof boots that you know would be the “smart” thing to grab to…more unconventional opportunities. If you’ve ever been blinded by lust for the famously mocked 2019 Gucci knockoffs of the classic Keen water sandal and happen to have women’s 9 or below feet, the “Kids” and “Big Kids” styles often go up to a European 39 and tend to be available in colorways much more fun and unique than their bland adult counterparts. With an intrepid heart and Cinderella-sized soles, there are shoes to be found on the Keen site and via REI with prices that dip as low as $30 for a pair of absolutely unhinged, runway-worthy water sandals (check out the “Orange Peel” colorway).
Ethereal and elegant but robust enough for daily wear, Sophie Buhai’s jewelry has always been accessible in design. The atelier’s 20% off holiday sale, a curation of precious and powerful objects, is a chance for a bit more accessibility price-wise. Alongside classics like the unimpeachably cool shell earrings are giftable trinkets such as an ostensibly “decorative” comb that would look gorgeous on a bedside table and could surely (hopefully) work out a tangle or two.
There’s also: Mansur Gavriel isn’t advertising this sale on its homepage, but you can take 20% off any order over $200 with MG20; The Outnet’s Singles Day sale is still up, offering an extra 22% off over 23,000 styles with SINGLESDAY22; for a more tailored approach,La Garconne’s fall edit is now 20% off with LGNOV20; the last time I covered a Helmut Lang sale it ended before almost any of you had the chance to shop it, but today’s discount of 25% off core styles might help ease the sense of loss; cozyheads and knit seekers should peek at Rus’ website, where the brand is currently hosting a half-off archive sale (that includes its agenda-setting Ranpu headpiece); for those in the know (this now includes you), nearly everything at the nouveau NYC institution Batsheva is 30% off, excluding Resort ‘23 but including already-marked-down sale items with BLACKFRIDAY30; find genuinely good deals on a well-curated selection from brands like Aesop, Nike, and Carhartt at END.’s mid-season sale on men’s and unisex wares; heads up that Self Portrait has gone big on sale in case you have any weddings to attend to in the coming months; more sly discounts prevail with Maria McManus’ Private Sale quietly offering 20% off sitewide with THANKYOU20-22; Greg Lauren’s latest collection of garments, beautifully and sturdily constructed with patchwork, sashiko, and other traditional techniques, is 30% off with 30OFF; Black Friday starts early at Buffy where many of the contemporary bedding brand’s best-sellers are on sale for 20-40% off; and Glossier’s early Black Friday agenda entails a new free gift with purchase each day, today’s being a full-size Lash Stick with orders over $75.
Rachel Tashjian Wise speaks fluent gift
The genteel newslettress on Nantucket basket bags, signature wrapping paper, and the scalable touch of cool hands.
Rachel Seville Tashjian Wise is the Fashion News Director of Harper’s Bazaar, but is perhaps better known in these highly online circles as the voice behind the newsletter Opulent Tips. Her New England upbringing, track record within the new wave of menswear since its indie origins, and institutional knowledge of fashion’s avant garde seem to coalesce into an unpredictable, often transportive set of sensibilities that’s captured the public’s fancy. We caught up over coffee in Clinton Hill, and she shared some of the recent things that have made her click “Buy.”
L: You were at GQ when you started your newsletter, and I don’t want to make this so interview-y but I don't really know what your career background looked like before that and I’m really curious. R: When I graduated I wanted a magazine or newspaper job, but I didn't know how to get one. I went to a college where they could help you get a job in banking or consulting but not at a magazine or paper, so, I did that—I actually had a job at a consulting company. And I started a blog, because this was around the time that women had personal style blogs, when that was a really big thing. I didn't think that I wanted that to be my full-time job. I really wanted to write…not in a more “serious” way, because blogging at that time was serious, but I wanted to do reporting. I loved Cathy Horn, Judith Thurman, and Robin Givhan.
I eventually got a job working at Vanity Fair, and the way that that happened is that someone contacted me on LinkedIn. L: Oh wow, I didn’t know those LinkedIn messages were real. R: They were like, “I work at Conde Nast and we're looking for a PR person.” I had been doing marketing and PR for this consulting company, so I started working in the PR department [at Vanity Fair]. I was writing for Four Pins, which doesn't exist anymore, doing some other things on the side, still working on my blog, and then I was doing a lot of writing for Vanity Fair. Then I went to Garage Magazine and then went to GQ, and now I’m at [Harper’s] Bazaar! L: RIP Four Pins. That was super influential to me too. I didn’t realize people were allowed to write about fashion like that, it was great. Taking a blue collared shirt and exploding it in a million different ways, just an ode to the beautiful essence that they had.
Can you tell me about the last five things that you’ve bought? I know you’ve been busy getting married (congratulations!), but I'm sure you purchased things in that window as well. R: My purchases have been mostly wedding-oriented, but as for “not wedding” things…When I was in Paris I got a few things, like this skirt I'm wearing, which is Casey Casey. They only had three of them in these patchworks of white and orange fabrics, and because they were working with a limited amount of fabric all of the patterns were different. It was such a cool, classic Paris shopping experience…You know how when you're shopping in Europe specifically, there's this level of customer service, it's almost like you have an appointment. You say, “Oh, I like this sweater,” and they unravel the sweater for you to point out: “The neck is like this, so this could be very flattering on you, and this other piece we have might also be really flattering, or you might like this scarf…” Anyway, the guy who was helping me pulled out all of the orange patchwork skirts, and we looked at them and figured out which one I liked the most. There was this crazy, enormous angora sweater that was the same orange as the skirt, and I thought, “You know, I think I want the sweater as well.” So I got the matching sweater, and in a funny way, it reminded me of this all-orange outfit I wore when I was in middle school, with an enormous orange turtleneck. It was very extreme and kind of ugly, but also sort of a cool, metal outfit. There were orange cargo pants involved, too.
L: Oh my god. I definitely had those orange pants. So, Casey Casey has a physical store in Paris? R: Yeah, and the store is really beautiful. The clothes make even more sense in the store, you can appreciate how special they are. Sometimes, for an American audience, It's difficult to explain, like, what it is and why it's special, even when they're looking at it. “Oh, it's a really simple pair of cotton pants.” And you're like, “but it's the greatest simple pair”!
The other thing I bought in Paris was one of the Issey Miyake “winding” pieces, the boat neck, sleeveless dress. They had it in this slate blue color that I hadn’t seen before. L: I haven't seen that either, just the black and white version. What do you think of it? R: I love it, it's awesome. I've worn it a couple of different times; I've worn it out to dinner, but I've also worn it into the office with a turtleneck. L: It’s got a bit of cut out, like an open side? R: The one-shoulder version has an open side. This sleeveless boatneck version is a bit more traditional, but the winding creates almost a pannier shape. It really stands out from your body and then wobbles on this jellyfish sort of axis, and the winding piece also makes the dress asymmetrical. In a really funny way, it reminds me of the Ghesquiere Vuitton collection from a year ago where he had the crazy Grand Ball of Time and all the dresses looked like chandeliers. L: That makes me think also of the Comme [des Garçons] Lumps and Bumps collection with all the bulbous, tied hips and breasts, things not quite in place, but held to the body. So fun.
R: I also bought some new washcloths. I go to Tres Belle in Boerum Hill to get facials, they’re really amazing, it’s a Biologique Recherche “experience” and everything about it is so considered and beautiful, even the hands of the person giving you a facial are a very specific temperature. A little bit cool, but not cold or off-putting.
L: It's so funny that you say that because I've had one BR facial before in my life—I can see that it's all top-down, super tight, no matter where you're getting it—and the hands were something that I noticed too. How can you have control over someone's hands from thousands of miles away?
R: Yeah, and the level of moisture in the washcloths is incredible. I'm used to using a standard terrycloth from Ralph Lauren, but I realized that they hold too much water in a way that seeps onto my face. So in an attempt to replicate the Biologique Recherche facial experience at home— L: You keep your hands in a fridge at a certain temperature? R: I found these bamboo terrycloth washcloths, and when I got them out of the packaging this morning. I was like, these are really gummy and sort of remind me of the blanket that I have for my dog. But when you fill them with water, they hold the water in this really beautiful way. L: I'm picturing them, like, bright lime green. R: These ones are white and red, but you could get them in lime green, those were available!
R: So another thing I bought…after you get married, if you have a wedding registry, some of them give you a discount on the remaining items that weren’t purchased by others for you. So I've been going through and thinking, “what are the things that we didn't get and we really want?” One of them was a Chilewich utility mat. They make this incredible, beautiful, dense, rubbery material that’s woven, it looks sort of like basket or bamboo, but it's very easy to clean. And they make placemats, table runners, and floor mats. We registered for a big utility mat for our kitchen but didn’t get it, so I was like, “Oh, I'm gonna buy that at 20% off!”
L: Did you have fun putting together your registry? I just got married, but we’re having our ceremony next year. It’s hard to think of things we’d want to ask for. R: Yeah, but I'm old enough that I have most of the things that would be on a “traditional” registry, like one when you don't have any sheets or towels— L: “We’re moving in together for the first time ever!” R: “I'm gonna have a kitchen, it's so exciting!” Yeah. My husband's a really big cook, so we have Le Creuset pots and all those sorts of things. It was really about, what are the little things that we can update, or what's just a beautiful object that we can have in our house? We actually went to Bloomingdale’s, we went to Scully & Scully, and we went to Williams Sonoma. And actually went around with the little price gun. Oh, it was so fun. You should totally do that. You go around and there are so many things that you're like, “Wow, it just never occurred to me that we could have that!” Registering for a new set of luggage? And a really nice down comforter.
And then there are all of these amazing places, especially in this area, you know as well as I do, all of these places that have beautiful home sections. Tina the Store, which is like my favorite store in the world, has the most amazing Japanese baskets, shaker boxes, all sorts of things. There's a store I love called Reed Smythe, it's in Tennessee. I've never been there, but they have a great online store, but again, not things we would’ve thought of for our registry, like “gosh, we really need a Faye Toogood bowl!” but then when you see it… L: You’re like “this bowl is us!”
R: Can I also list things I’ve bought for other people? L: Yeah! Gifting season is coming up…
R: When I was planning my wedding, I really wanted to get my sister and mother-in-law gifts. They both had given me a couple of gifts at this point that are, like, family heirlooms. My husband's grandmother used to make silver earrings, so each woman in the family has gotten a pair of silver earrings. My engagement ring was also their family heirloom. I was trying to think “what is something that's kind of like an heirloom in my family?” and a lot of the women, like my grandmother, my mother, and I, have had Nantucket basket purses.
They are beautiful. Ideally handmade, although there are people who make them on machines. They're based on old whaling baskets from the late 1800s, early 1900s, and they started as truly just a place to store things but then evolved into this purse-like shape. They have “scrimshaw” art (not real scrimshaw in the modern baskets) on their lids…And my mother's is made by, like, the great Nantucket basket guy, and it has a little painting of my brother and I on the beach.
So I thought, okay, this would be a cool gift that's sort of an heirloom in my family. I found this woman in Cape Cod, which is where my parents live, who still makes them by hand. Her name is Lisa Bessette. She made a basket for my mother-in-law, one for my sister-in-law, and then one for one of my best friends who planned this beautiful bridesmaids brunch for me. She wrote their names on the inside and they came out so beautifully. I was really shocked. I think I actually want to order one for myself.
And I love that kind of shopping project, too. It's like an antique or vintage-hunting approach to finding something new. Who still makes the most beautiful version of this thing, who's still doing this in the old way? Which I think is really fun. L: It gets really close to what I see as being your fashion philosophy in a lot of ways: “What is something that captures this moment or this feeling with the fewest interruptions?” I also really love that this gift is something that's very much about connecting you with the recipient. Something that they can appreciate but that tells them about you.
R: I love giving gifts. Are you a gift giver? L: I think I'm a really bad gift giver. It's hard to tell because everyone is so gracious when they receive a gift. You can be like, “I don't think they liked that,” but how are you ever gonna know?
R: I think the best gift givers are people who think of something that never would have occurred to you to buy. My godmother is an amazing gift giver. Last Christmas, she gave me and my husband these really beautiful wine glasses that are just from Crate and Barrel but they're so cool. And then she gave us a decanter to go with them that echoes the bulbous shape of the glasses. I think it’s a hand-blown piece of glass. She also gave us a really nice bottle of Italian wine. Maybe I would have picked out the wine glasses for myself, but her eye for the decanter, her taste for the specific kind of wine… L: The fact that it was packaged as this experience for you…It lets the gifts become part of your lives. I feel like I haven't figured out what the rule is for gift giving. How do you get a read on what you should get someone?
R: My friend Sam McKinniss is a painter and gave us a painting of his as a wedding gift, which was an extraordinary gift. What was really extra special about it, before we even knew what it was, was that the wrapping paper was insane. It was really Dorothy Draper-intense, it wasn't cheesy, but it was very retro and a little unhinged. And when I looked at it, I was like, that's gotta be from Sam. L: That's incredible. To have a wrapping signature. R: I think that you can be a really thoughtful and elegant gift-giver, but you could also be a gifting auteur, in a state where it doesn't matter if you don't need it. The kind of person generally who would give someone an Hermès scarf is probably a gifting auteur. L: I like gifts that feel like you're getting them from a different century. Like Gohar World or Buly, things that automatically have this heirloom-y vibe baked into them, even if you got them online.
R: You know what's a good gift like that? And this is something I bought recently. I found this detergent called Glamour Wash. I was looking for a book about divas—and I was not gonna buy it on Amazon, but I was wondering if I looked it up on Amazon what would come up—and what came up was this laundry detergent called Glamour Wash. The copy on it is incredible. It's like, “This is only for the most glamorous and extravagant people.” It's kind of got a Dr. Bronner-but-Victoriana vibe about it. L: I love how it says “Glamour Wash” in this super Rococo font on such industrial packaging, in white plastic…It kind of looks like gasoline. R: I was like “how have I never owned this or heard of this before?” so I bought a small container of it. Crystal Anderson, who has really insane style, was like, “don't use too much of it, just a tiny drop,” and I'm so glad that she told me that because it’s very aromatic. “A warming complex fragrance overflowing with delicious fruits and rich florals. Rich, aromatic chocolate and amber complete this luscious blend.” With two exclamation points! It's her world, we just live in it. L: That's opulent punctuation right there.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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