News & Runway

Closed Set with Julie Bensman: Cross Country Fashion

East Coast style

As I pen my first column of the year (the column aimed at giving you a behind-the-scenes look at New York’s fashion/beauty/lifestyle/entertainment cosmos), it’s ironic I’m actually situated behind my laptop in Chicago. Snowed OUT of New York City and booted from three Continental flights to date. I’ve made myself at home (again) in the Windy City and, amid the process, have become reacquainted with its people … and fashion.

Before I get to the latter, let’s backtrack to the inbound flight I enjoyed in balmier days. Munching on my mini pretzels and flipping through Elle‘s January 2011 issue (a bit bored by the cover star, but her Halston Heritage dress was too gorg to pass up), I came across one of my favorite sections: Style A to Zee. This month, Joe Zee discusses the differences between New York and L.A. style, as it’s influenced by the people, places, and of course, weather: "In L.A., you have your busty, beachy blonds. (I know I’m making a gross generalization, but go with me here)… They’ve never met a flowy dress or a pair of flip-flops they didn’t like…In New York, you have your tough rebel. Black – duh –  is the color of choice, from clothes to hair to nails." It’s not an earth-shattering revelation, but definitely a reality New Yorkers (natch, I) need reminding of, whether it be through the pages of a magazine or the voice of an L.A. editor.

East Coast styleWest Coast style

photos via AltamiraNYC and DenimBlog

LA Confidential‘s Editor in Chief, Sari Anne Tuschman, recently showed me film from the magazine’s upcoming spring fashion story, shot by the lovely and talented Ashley Barrett. Just the day before, I had been on set of a Gotham fashion story (shot by the equally lovely and talented Bell Soto) and my mind was still reeling with moving images of moody, artistic prints shot on matte black (the story is going to be amazing, I can’t wait to see it in print!) When Sari emailed me samples of the L.A. story, I was, for lack of a better phrase, taken aback by the contrast. As she described it: "colorful and uber-preppy with an edge" – it was almost jarring in comparison to the New York-centric shoot by which I was consumed less than 24 hours prior. Still, it was beautiful and fashion-forward in its own L.A. way – light, playful and fun. It occurred to me: who said fashion has to be so serious? And does "fun" fashion translate into something less sophisticated? Something less inspirational? I think not.

As we begin what is sure to be a most fashionable 2011, my style resolution is to add some "L.A." to my wardrobe – albeit in baby steps. Whether via a bright accessory, jewel-toned bauble or even a flash of some neon shadow (a la Dior S/S 2011), I want to look in my closet and see some color amid that sea of black.

As for taking any fashion cues from sweet home Chicago? Let’s just say, when it gets that cold, all bets should be off.



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Editor-At-Large Julie BensmanThe Fashion Spot’s Editor-at-Large, Julie Bensman, is also the Entertainment Editor for Niche Media, whose titles include Gotham, Hamptons, Ocean Drive and LA Confidential. Closed Set is a collection of her musings on all things fashion, from an editor’s desk to your desktop.