Interview

No stranger to the Nordstrom Blogs (we do love her style), Margaret Zhang is a writer, photographer, stylist and the creative powerhouse behind the blog Shine By Three. Oh, not to mention a law student at the University of Sydney and a brand ambassador for Clinique. We can barely keep up! Zhang found some time between all that (and traveling the world) to give us a peek into her universe. Read on for our full Q&A with this inspiring young entrepreneur.

Margaret-zhang-shine-by-three-blogger

Beauty Blog: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Margaret Zhang: My mum has the most fantastic pearls of wisdom. Throughout my career in the fashion space, she has always reminded me that longevity comes from real skills, so you should never stop learning and trying to improve your work. It might take longer than faking it ’till you make it, but “at least you can sleep at night,” she says.

clinique-black-honey

What three things do you never leave home without?
I always have my phone, Lucas Papaw Ointment and Clinique Black Honey in my wallet. I don’t know what that says about me!

What’s you beauty regimen? How has it changed over time?
I cleanse, tone and moisturize every morning and evening, do some kind of sheet mask or clay mask once a week, avoid hot showers as they can be quite drying, drink 2-3L of water a day, and fit in 1-2 hours of exercise 5-6 days a week. Obviously, the products I use change as I travel because of different climates, mineral content of tap water and time permitted to work out, but that’s my baseline and I tweak from there.

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Image by Gabi Porter

Don Was is one of our heroes, a triple O.G. in the music biz who doesn’t believe his own hype and never stopped being a fan. He’s still blown away by all the new styles in the world, and despite making classics has steered admirably clear of the mindset that “it was all so much better when…”

Now president of Blue Note Recordsthe American jazz label with the musically revolutionary back catalog (think Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk) not to mention peerless and influential graphic design by Reid Miles, whose name is one of the freshest Google image searches you’ll ever do–Don Was is basically the keeper of the cool

A fan’s dream.

Keep reading to learn which Blue Note albums he considers unheralded classics and which basketball positions each Rolling Stones member would play. 

Check this audio clip about Blue Note in the big picture:

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A blogger is a blogger is a blogger, right? Well, no. Not when the blogger is 4th and Bleeker’s Alexandra Spencer. We chatted with the model, stylist, artist, photographer and yes, blogger, during our recent Stuart Weitzman campaign shoot and got a window into her gorgeous world of creative cross-pollination. But it wasn’t all business. We talked boots, sandals, inspiration and outfits too.

The Thread: Tell us about 4th and Bleeker.
Alexandra Spencer: It’s where I share all of the different projects that I work on. It’s a place for all of my collaborations in whatever form they’ve come—whether it’s photography or modeling or art direction or styling or painting, it’s a home for all of that.

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HERO
It’s time for another edition of “House Call,” an ongoing series in which we peek inside the abode of a Nordstrom employee. This time we’re heading to Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood for a tour of the architecturally stunning home of Red Godfrey, our Fashion Office V.P.

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Missoni: Italian Heritage

For some, fashion is merely a passion; for others like Ottavio Missoni Jr., it’s literally in their DNA.

Ottavio Jr., part of the third generation of the House of Missoni—and grandson/namesake of Ottavio Missoni, the man who started it all—ventured to the Pacific Northwest for the first time, where he mingled with customers at our Bellevue Square store and discussed the driving forces behind the brand’s success: family and heritage pride.

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10 Questions for Prabal Gurung

HERO

Few fashion collectors can claim to own an early-era item from the likes of Valentino, Saint Laurent or Alexander McQueen, which is why we’re excited to introduce you to the newest member of the soon-to-be-iconic: Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung.

Now is the time to invest in this burgeoning wunderkind. Launched just four years ago, Gurung’s namesake brand has appeared in the wardrobes of everyone from Michelle Obama to Lady Gaga—a testament to his balance of timeless femininity and boundary-pushing concepts. We sat down with the New Yorker to discuss his new collection, killer camera phone skills and personal heroes.

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It’s been nearly a decade since Thai/American designer Thakoon Panichgul quit his job as an editor at Harper’s Bazaar and launched his namesake collection of feminine, boundary-pushing clothing. Now, after more than a few seasons of glowing reviews—Vogue called his most recent show “disarmingly gorgeous”—we grabbed the designer for a quick Q&A, starting with the scoop on his fall collection.

HERO

Tell us about the inspiration behind Fall 2013.
This collection was about looking at what makes great classics, and twisting them into new ideas with witty and feminine takes.

Thakoon Animal-Print Shearling CoatThakoon Dragonfly DressThakoon Black Lace Sweater

Thakoon Animal-Print Coat | Thakoon Leather-Back Dragonfly Dress | Thakoon Floral-Print Lace Dress

Describe the woman who wears your clothes.
She’s feminine, sophisticated and bold. She loves fashion, but wants it to work with her busy lifestyle.


What inspired you to work in this industry?
I love the dialogue between fashion and culture. I also love when I see a beautiful woman wearing something new and unexpected—all of a sudden it changes your perception. That’s the beauty of fashion, those moments.

What does the future of your brand look like?
We’ve grown steadily and organically, gaining loyal customers season after season. It’s a solid ground that we’ve been building, and for me it’s about that kind of growth. We have accessories on the horizon as well.

Photo by The Sartorialist

Do you pay attention to street style?
I pick and choose what I see and like. You can’t look at it too much because your job is to propose something new. But then again, when you see something that looks fresh, you take note.


If you weren’t a fashion designer, what would you be?
A musician, definitely.


What’s your all-time favorite band?
That’s difficult. I think the Eagles and Coldplay are certainly up there.

How about your favorite book?
A Confederacy of Dunces.

What’s the last great movie you saw?
Blue Jasmine with Cate Blanchett. She’s so phenomenal in it, and I’m such a fan of Woody Allen.


If you could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
To the beach in Thailand.

Thakoon Printed Dress | Thakoon Sequin/Lace Sweater | Thakoon Knit Fair-Isle Dress

Do you have any advice for a young woman trying to cultivate her personal style?
You should always have a uniform of sorts. I hate when I see someone dressed girly one day, and edgy the next day. That’s playing dress-up. If you know your personality, what you like to wear and how you want to look, just stick with that look and silhouette, and in the long run, you’ll have a distinct style.


Name three wardrobe essentials every woman should own.
A great cocktail dress, a classic men’s shirt and a great pair of pants.


Who’s your design hero?
Elsa Schiaparelli.


If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be?
Salvador Dali. I’d love to hear his perspective on the world and what he sees.

Thakoon Panichgul backstage, Fall 2013

Photo by Fernando Colon


What’s the one thing you always have to do before any show?
Drink water!


Please share a little-known fact about yourself.
I love leftovers.

Describe your morning getting-ready routine.
Two cups of coffee, a quick shower, and lots of moisturizer—that’s it.

Mary O’Regan

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Agent Provocateur (AP), makers of fashion’s fiercest unmentionables for the last 19 years, is launching its first-ever diffusion line, L’Agent, in collaboration with Spanish ingenues Penélope and Mónica Cruz.

L’Agent embodies the seductiveness of AP’s core aesthetic, yet it’s designed with a comfortable, everyday approach to intimate apparel in terms of shapes, cuts and colors.

Leading AP’s legacy in lingerie is the brand’s creative director, Sarah Shotton, whom we phoned in London to get the lacy details on the collection, which is available online and in Nordstrom stores starting today.

HERO

Bound for Britain: Last summer, Penélope and Mónica camped out with Sarah at the London-based studio of AP to conceive and design the L’Agent collection

THE THREAD: Tell us how the partnership with the Cruz sisters got started!

SARAH SHOTTON: It began with a conversation on set. Mónica modeled for the AP fall/winter 2012 collection, and while she was getting her hair and makeup done for the shoot, we got to chatting. She mentioned that she and Penélope have been buying and collecting AP for about 15 or 16 years, if not more. Mónica said, “We love what you do. We love the brand. We love all the lingerie.” She just said that she and her sister really wanted to design lingerie and would love to work on a collaboration with us. At the time, Gary Hogarth, AP’s CEO, and I had already been discussing producing a wholesale line. So it was perfect timing and very organic. They adore the brand, and we adore them.

Lovely in Lingerie: Mónica Cruz was hand-picked by Sarah to model for AP’s fall/winter 2012 collection

THE THREAD: How involved were the Cruz sisters in designing the collection?

SARAH: We shot Mónica in April of 2012, and since then, we have been working closely together. This is not a collaboration where somebody else designs it and they just put their name on it. Penélope and Mónica have been actively involved in the creation of this line and have spent a fair share of time with me in London, conceiving ideas and looking through our archives.

We were three girls working together, having a giggle and designing what we want women to wear. It’s been really sweet because I was pregnant at the time, and then Mónica became pregnant, and then Penélope became pregnant. At one point, we were all pregnant. I had my “King George” nine months ago.

Sister, Sister: Penélope and Mónica have previously collaborated with two Spanish brands: Loewe, on a handbag line, and MANGO, on several clothing collections (photo by Mert and Marcus)

THE THREAD: L’Agent features 15 styles that range from bra and brief sets to basques and babydolls. How hard was it to narrow down the selection?

SARAH: It was really hard! We knew from the start that this would be an ongoing partnership [expected to last at least five years], so for some styles, we were like “That’s great for next season or the season after that.” I suppose for this launch collection, we had to design something that would have mass appeal. I think when you watch the campaign video that Penélope directed, you’ll see lots of different types of women, personalities and lifestyles, who are wearing lots of different types of lingerie.

Practical Panties: The Cruz sisters set out to design a range of lingerie that women could wear every day, and they gave each piece a Spanish woman’s name. Clockwise: ‘Isi’ Quarter Cup Bra & Low Rise Thong‘Zanita’ Bra & Thong and ‘Penélope’ Underwire Balcony Bra, Waspie & Brief

THE THREAD: How important is lingerie for the fashion-conscious woman?

SARAH: Lingerie is really important to women worldwide. It’s unbelievable, the trends in lingerie right now. When I started with AP 14 years ago, women were still a bit afraid of edgy, out-there lingerie, but not anymore. It’s almost like in the ’40s and ’50s. Women wore great lingerie because their dresses wouldn’t fit properly if they didn’t. Women who wanted a tiny waist and a pointy chest would wear underwear that created that effect.

I think the modern woman now knows that it’s important to have lingerie for different occasions and for different outfits. We all know it’s really important that, if you’re going to play sports, you wear a sports bra. I think we are more aware of creating a lingerie wardrobe today, especially after the book 50 Shades of Grey (which mentions the brand).

In the Director’s Chair: To celebrate the launch of L’Agent, Penélope makes her directorial debut in a film starring her husband, Javier Bardem (center), model Irina Shayk, and her sister Mónica, who was pregnant at the time

THE THREAD: What inspired Penélope to direct the campaign video?

SARAH: The video is something that Penélope really wanted to do. She was like “I haven’t directed anything before. I really want to direct my first piece for the L’Agent launch.” Penélope had an idea of a party, and I think she’d been dreaming about it for ages. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard. She was literally outlining the direction of the film non-stop—and pregnant at the same time! A lot of her friends and family were involved. It’s a very special piece with a funny little message at the end.

Spanish Style: The Madrid-born design duo wanted the collection to have an alluring Spanish point of view. L to R: ‘Rosalyn’ Quarter Cup Bra & Thong, ‘Mónica’ Bra & Tanga & ‘Penélope’ Underwire Balcony Bra

THE THREAD: Music and film have been cited as outlets for your design inspiration. Were there any films or characters played by Penélope that you felt came alive in the collection?

SARAH: It’s funny, because when we were working on this collection, they wanted the line to have a very Spanish feel, even in the colors they were thinking of—like red flamenco. Obviously, I love Penélope. She’s such a great actress and has played so many different types of characters. I would say there’s a lot of Volver in the line. She’s very sexy and voluptuous in that film, which is very L’Agent. There are also some aspects of her fiery character in the film Blow with Johnny Depp. She had a really strong attitude in that movie, and you can feel that in the bold and sassy pieces of the line.

Enchant. Entice. Empower. Transform in L’Agent.

Qianna Smith

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Hero

Our latest House Call takes us inside the downtown Seattle apartment of Nordstrom employee Deniz Anders, who oversees our Topshop partnership.

Deniz got her start at Nordstrom 12 years ago, selling in the Savvy department of our Walnut Creek, California, store. From there, she moved into corporate PR, becoming a company spokesperson, and then got into designer marketing and online merchandising, where her wardrobe took a turn for the high end. Her next move brought her to men’s merchandising—bringing with it a slew of menswear-inspired shoes and separates—before she finally landed her current role as our Topshop director.

“We dress up at Nordstrom all the time, but I feel the most like me when I’m in jeans and a T-shirt,” Deniz says. (Topshop T-shirt and J Brand jeans)

“I grew up in a multicultural home. My dad is from Montana, so I spent a lot of my summers there, and my mom is Turkish, so I travel to Istanbul once a year to see my family.”

“This is a good example of mixing high and low. I’m wearing Topshop pants, a Helmut Lang top, Dior shoes and a Maison Martin Margiela leather jacket. It’s how I’m going to roll for the next few years.”

“I have a few accessories that I keep on until they fall off, like these necklaces. I bought the red one in Turkey last summer, and the other was a gift for my 30th birthday from a group of Nordstrom friends. I’ve worn it every day for six years. The ring was a gift from from my Turkish aunt.”

“Somebody once told me that a view of the water will change your life, and I believe it. I live in a studio and sleep in a Murphy bed, but there’s just something calming about looking out at the water. It’s a nice way to wake up.” (dress by Givenchy*, shoes by Jimmy Choo)

“I got this print at the Lollipop Shoppe in London. You know how they say that people who aren’t nice to the waiter just aren’t nice people? I’m a big believer in that. I just want people to be nice to each other.”

“I found this lace dress while rummaging through my grandma’s house in Istanbul. It smelled like mothballs and was ripped down the side. She had worn it on a trip to Paris in the 1930s or ’40s. I sneaked it out of the house, brought it back to the U.S., had it repaired and wore it to my second cousin’s wedding as a surprise to my grandma.”

“When I moved onto the men’s team, I noticed myself taking on more of a masculine way of dressing. This Jason Wu blouse and Christopher Kane sweater vest is kind of a feminine-masculine combo, and the white blouse is by Helmut Lang.”

“I wore these Alexander Wang chukkas with rag socks all winter. They’re kind of unexpected for a girl, which is why I like them.”

“I love old books and magazines. My grandfather had a huge collection of them in Istanbul. He passed away several years ago, and when I go there in the summer, I take some. I think the earliest one is from 1930.”

“This Alexander Wang dress is a little short for work, so I wear it going out. I basically only wear black when I go out. I like to look tasteful and cool without standing out in the crowd.”

“I’ve never worn this Alexander McQueen dress, mostly because I have nowhere to wear it. I’ll never give it up, because he was an amazing designer, but it just sits in my closet.”

“This clutch is classic Balenciaga*. I use it all the time, casual or out.”

“These sunglasses are by Illesteva as part of our CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund partnership. They’re just fun and kind of street-stylish. I think anything we can do to support new designers getting into the business is super important.”

“I love this leather Margiela jacket. It has holes underneath the armpits. People will come up to me and say, ‘There’s a hole in your jacket,’ and I’m like, ‘It’s a breathing hole—there’s two of them.'” (worn with an Erdem skirt and Charlotte Olympia heels)

(left to right)

*available in selected stores

—Mary O’Regan

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We tapped New York blogger Kelly Framel of the Glamourai to style and model in our Pre-Fall Designer campaign. Watch our behind-the-scenes video below, and read on to hear about Kelly’s latest style predilections and blog endeavors.

Where are you from?
Austin, Texas.

Where’s the accent?
People always say that! I don’t think people in Austin really have accents. Honestly, nobody I grew up with has an accent.

Hero

3.1 Phillip Lim sweatshirt and skirt

What was it like growing up in Austin?
Amazing. I read and painted and was pretty shy. I didn’t realize fashion existed until I got to high school, and then it was like the floodgates opened. I taught myself how to sew and started making my own clothes and reworking things that I found at thrift shops.

What was your first job in fashion?
It was at Contempo Casuals in the Barton Creek mall. The manager was the first person to tell me that you could go to school to study fashion. It had never occurred to me that you could actually do that for a living.

Who’s your all-time fashion idol?
Loulou de la Falaise, Yves Saint Laurent’s muse in the ’70s. There was something classic about her style, yet eclectic at the same time. She always had a look, but it never felt like she was trying too hard.

Valentino dress

What’s on deck for the Glamourai this fall?
We have some elaborate fashion editorials planned, and we’re introducing some new features, like monthly playlists, home décor stories and profiles on inspiring women.

L’AGENCE dress | Missoni coat

Any beauty essentials you can’t live without?
I always do my eyebrows. I’m a child of the ’90s when everyone overplucked their brows, and I’ve been suffering for it ever since, so I always fill them in. For my skin, I love La Mer Face Cream. I had lifelong acne, started using La Mer, and suddenly, I had completely different skin. I will never not use it. I also love CAUDALÍE Beauty Elixir. I carry some in my purse, and anytime I’m feeling run down, I give a little spritz—it fixes a lot of evils.

Are you more of an eyes or lips girl?
Eyes. I naturally have big eyes, so I just focus on playing those up.

Giuseppe Zanotti sandals

You used to sell jewelry on your website. Are you still creating new designs?
Not for the past year or so, only because it’s impossible to do everything I want to do in the course of a day. At some point, I plan to focus on jewelry design again. I grew up loving to paint and recently starting painting again. That’s sort of taken up the space in my life that making jewelry used to occupy.

What do you paint?
Mostly portraits, oil paintings of women, nudes. I’ve always been drawn to the female form, which is what got me into fashion design, my original career.

L’AGENCE dress | Missoni coat | Jimmy Choo clutch

What’s a little-known fact about you?
I have a birthmark over my right eye. I always cover it; otherwise, my makeup looks lopsided. I call it my “Mommy drinks” moment, because it looks like I got a little tipsy while doing my eyeshadow and smeared across one side.

Moschino Cheap & Chic dress

If you weren’t in fashion, what would you be doing?
I love interior design and would be happy doing that for a living.

How do you transition your wardrobe from summer to fall?
It’s all about finding pieces that can be worn in many different ways. I live a busy life, so things have to be multifunctional. I’m excited about chic basics these days: white collared shirts and cardigan sweaters that can be worn on warmish spring nights and layered in the wintertime.

Michael Kors heels

What’s your ideal night out?
There are so many opportunities for black-tie moments in New York. Last night, we had this wild adventure: a designer friend of mine hosted an Alice in Wonderland-themed treasure hunt at the Standard Hotel. I wore flamingo-print pants in honor of the Red Queen. I love living in a city where these sorts of things aren’t out of the ordinary.

Moschino Cheap & Chic top | Christopher Kane skirt | Giuseppe Zanotti sandals

What are you listening to these days?
I’m obsessed with Alt-J. It’s like space-techno-rock-emotion. I have no clue how to categorize them, but it’s just transportive.

Any favorite TV shows?
I’ve been watching House of Cards on Netflix. It’s really well done and smart.


Moschino Cheap & Chic dress

Name four wardrobe essentials every woman should own.
Jeans, sunglasses, a great trench coat and a button-down shirt.

Tod’s shoes

What do you pack for traveling?
Everything. I am not a light packer. I travel a lot with my friend Jamie Beck (of the blog From Me to You). We’ve gotten this system down where she just brings her camera equipment and some beauty products and I pack for both of us—things to shoot and things to wear.

L’AGENCE dress | Missoni coat | Jimmy Choo clutch

What’s your current favorite snack?
Radishes with sea salt. I can’t stop eating them lately.

Moschino Cheap & Chic top | Christopher Kane skirt | Giuseppe Zanotti sandals

What do you think you’ll be doing 10 years from now?
Who can say? I never thought I’d be doing this 10 years ago. All I really need is to have the opportunity to do something new and creative every day. What that’s going to look like in 10 years, I have no idea, but I look forward to finding out.

—Mary O’Regan

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