Monday, August 25, 2014

Styletag x Parsons Challenge Winners Announced!

I had been in New York for barely a month in January when I heard about the Styletag x Parsons Challenge in school. Styletag is a fashion-sharing app that "brings together expert curated and crowd-sourced photos of fashion trends and designer styles." To celebrate Fashion Week, the company challenged students from Parsons to capture original photos of trends not from the runway, but on the street. More about the contest details here.

In May, Styletag announced the winners, and I was thrilled to win first prize for the Womenswear category. The below image with accompanying text is just one of dozens that I uploaded for the contest.
Blue Calm. Having just flown in from Japan, Yoshi looks so serene in her deep blue
oversized coat. She wears a sweater from Zara and a pinstripe newsboy cap from the Gap.

Even without winning, joining the competition was a good experience, as it stretched me in ways I really did not like being stretched in, such as:

1) Being exposed to the freezing, blustering cold in one of the worst winters in the city's history, after moving some eight thousand miles away from a tropical country I call home. I couldn't fathom how fashionistas braved the weather in outfits like these whereas I looked like an eskimo and was still shivering under five layers of clothing. I admit she looks gorgeous, but bare legs -- Really???

Winter Elements. A cable-knit sweater and fur-lined heels are sure to warm you,
if not functionally, then aesthetically ;) Paired with a waxed denim overalls dress,
this look exudes quiet, elegant nonchalance.

2) Waiting patiently to capture the right look at the right time. Like a few other photographers, I paced outside the fashion show venues for the opportunity to spot fashion insiders and celebrities. Because these people were photographed dozens of times a day and by other Styletag contestants too, I decided that my portfolio would include "regular," non-fashion people on the street as well.

My favorites were young, sartorially fearless women/girls; I wish I were as cool and confident as they are when I was their age!

Color blocking in jewel tones. World traveler Delphie stands out in jewel tones
in pieces that journeyed a long distance to be here. Her coat is from Argentina,
the long mustard sweater knitted by a friend's mom, and burgundy leggings
purchased in the US.

3) Convincing myself to walk up to complete strangers, compliment their look, strike up a conversation, ask to take a photo and get their outfit details -- in under a minute or so because most of these people were busy and in a hurry to get to the next venue. Believe me, I missed capturing some great outfits because my shyness would have me convinced that I would get shot down.

Flight of Fancy. I'm sure Coco Chanel wouldn't have minded McQueen's feathers
taking center stage amidst her label's dress and shoulder bag. After all, it's daring and bold,
just like her, and the overall look is a smooth blend of purples, grays, and blacks.

I learned that although they seemed intimidating (what could be more intimidating than a person swathed in feathers?), most people are actually friendly and happy to be photographed. As for the rare refusal, I didn't take it personally and moved on to the next willing subject.

4) Once home and defrosted, taking the time to search the shoppable outfit pieces online, uploading the photos, and writing captions for each of them. This process often took hours in addition to school work and made me think about whether or not I'd continue to work on the contest. I confronted myself about my motivation to do this: God, can you please let me win? I want to win!!! This was the wrong mindset. I convinced myself that regardless of the outcome, this would be good exercise for me, and it was.

Winning was just a really nice bonus to gaining confidence, meeting new people, getting to know the city, committing fully to something, and developing discipline. I also realized that I enjoy spotting trends, connecting the dots, and creating stories, and the contest simply cemented that love. I had more fun once I let go of the results.

This winter witnessed an abundance of fur, despite despite the continuous debate against it, and countless iterations of leopard.

Personal fashion consultant Shella Sitt glows in her honey colored leopard print coat.
She keeps the rest of her outfit pared down with leather leggings and an exquisite 
leather and mesh pointed pump.
Flora and Fauna. This quirky lady combines plant and wildlife with her patterned dress
and leopard-print coat and gloves. She finished the look with forest green tights and neutral
accessories in fray and black. Doesn't she look like she's ready for a safari? :)

Camo print was also everywhere -- in menswear, on the homeless (seriously!), luxury bags, Valentino sneakers, mass market brands, you name it. With this scarf I scored in Manila last year, I was happy to be on-trend but not fully invested as say, a camo-print dress or coat would be.

Feels like spring! It felt amazing to wear a sleeveless top underneath a leather
jacket over the weekend. I layered with a gemstone necklace to dress up casual
tennis shoes and rolled up jeans.

For the timid and uninitiated, accessories are the easiest way to jump in on a trend without going overboard.

Heavy duty in a long, thick fur coat, sturdy Doc Martens, and a Marc by Marc Jacobs bag
-- this girl is ready for anything! I love how she's carrying a mic and her guy friend's big
camo-print tote bag. Getting out of the house may feel like a battle during this chilly weather,
but she just proves winter-ready doesn't need to be short of awesome.

I usually don't join contests and I certainly did not expect to join one when I came to New York; life in a new role, a new school, a new city already has enough challenges. But I'm very grateful for the Styletag challenge, because it was an awesome way to jump into everything and for God to show His faithfulness to the promise He gave me before I left home:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be wherever you go. -- Joshua 1:9

Thank You.

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