Hot Couture 2014 at The Crucible

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

The Crucible’s Hot Couture event took West Oakland by storm last weekend, serving up pieces by up-and-coming local designers with a hefty dose of fire. For those who have yet to visit the West Oakland space, The Crucible is a non-profit arts education facility that trains both children and adults in the industrial arts. I participated in Hot Couture last year, where I walked the runway wearing a corset and metal cage. If the 2013 show was a roaring bonfire, 2014 was an unstoppable inferno.

Featured designers included Miss Velvet Cream, Annamarta, Heather Wakefield, Medium Reality, and several others. From giant, fashion-forward birds to Victorian-inspired corset-dresses, Hot Couture turned a classic runway show into an all-encompassing dramatic experience.

Some pieces were designed to be worn; others, to excite and inspire. Medium Reality showcased LED-lit partywear, while Samuel Waller & Sophia Constance Ellis’s fantasy-inspired pieces would fit right in an an episode of Game of Thrones. The attention to detail and strong craftsmanship elevated the costumes into serious art, and the sudden presence of a twenty-foot-tall dragon finished the presentation with a roar.

From fashion to fire to molten metal, Hot Couture brings fashion back to its daring, artistic, truly creative roots. It’s easy to start playing it safe when it comes to your wardrobe (see my uniform post from last week!), but nights like this inspire me to try something new. I might not walk down Fillmore Street wearing a giant bird head, but I’m definitely inspired to turn up the heat.

Photography by James Winstead.

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Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland, Latex Fashionistas

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

Hot Couture 2014, The Crucible Hot Couture, Oakland fashion show, Crucible Oakland

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12 Must-Do San Francisco Holiday Events

Ok, guys, Thanksgiving is officially over, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop my holiday cheer. Finally, I can whistle Christmas carols without getting odd looks on the bus, and my pine-scented candle is burning brightly as I write this. Maybe it’s my snow-bound Minnesota roots, but I absolutely love the holidays and everything that they entail. After several years celebrating the holidays away from the Midwest, I’ve created my list of 12 days of San Francisco holiday events. Try one, or if you’re feeling extra jolly, try them all!

San Francisco holiday events, Bay Area holiday events, San Francisco Christmas events, Hyatt Regency Embarcardero

12. The Hyatt Regency Embarcadero Center boasts one of the most gorgeous light displays I’ve ever seen. Order up a spiked apple cider or hot toddy (half price during happy hour!) and check out the adorable holiday village in the center of the atrium.

11. To continue the hot holiday drink theme, Vesuvio in North Beach makes one of the most delicious hot toddys I’ve ever tried. I love to walk down Pacific Avenue in Jackson Square to see all the beautiful lights and then stop at Vesuvio before dinner in North Beach. Be careful with those toddys, though- they’re stronger than they taste!

Macy's Union Square holiday, Union Square Christmas tree, San Francisco holiday events, Bay Area holiday events, San Francisco Christmas events

10. Even if you couldn’t make the tree lighting ceremony the day after Thanksgiving, the giant tree in Union Square is definitely worth a trip. See it up close in the square, then push yourself to hike up to Top of the Mark for a warm drink. Depending on where you sit, you can see the lights down in the square from your perch up high!

9. To pick up a tree of your own, check out the Guardsmen Tree Lot in Fort Mason. Perched over the water, the giant tree lot smells like pure holiday happiness, and The Guardsmen donate proceeds to local organizations that benefit at-risk youth.

8. Even though giving back to the community is important all year round, the holidays are a perfect excuse to start a food drive with friends or your workplace. Check out SF Food Bank for more information on how to get started.

Embarcardero ice skating rink, San Francisco holiday events, Bay Area holiday events, San Francisco Christmas events

7. Even though they’re not exclusive to the holidays, the Bay Bridge lights are especially dazzling in the winter light. Go ice skating at the Embarcadero rink, then head towards the bay for a beautiful evening display.

6. Since before I was born, many Marina neighborhood boat-owners deck out their sails in splendid holiday lights. Start walking towards the bay from the Palace of Fine Arts, and head east along the water to enjoy the nautical holiday glory. Many residents along Marina Boulevard put up festive displays inside their windows as well, so you can enjoy a 360-degree holiday cheer experience.

Dickens Fair, Christmas Dickens Fair, San Francisco holiday events, Bay Area holiday events, San Francisco Christmas events

5. We all know how much I love A Christmas Carol, so naturally anything Dickens-themed will strike my fancy. Go to the Dickens Christmas Fair for costumes, period-themed food and beverages, and a generally jolly good time.

4. I’ve been waiting all my life for a good craft fair pun, and the folks who run the Bazaar Bizarre holiday fair (“Not your granny’s craft fair”) take the cake. The giant fair boasts goods from local designers and craftspeople, and it’s impossible to walk away empty-handed. The Chime necklace that I wear in many of my outfit posts came from last year’s fair- props again for a good find, husband! I usually do most of my holiday shopping here- woohoo local businesses!

3. If you’re going the store-bought route for holiday gifts, turn shopping into a fun day trip instead of a chore. The 10th Annual Fillmore Holiday Stroll in Pacific Heights turns shopping into happy hour, and proceeds from the event benefit Women’s Community Clinic. Post-Fillmore, walk a few bl0cks west to Divisadero and take the 24 bus south to 24th Street in Noe Valley. Slightly more low-key than the Fillmore scene, Noe Valley is chock-full of unique boutiques and foodie-friendly stores. If you have the energy, wait until dusk and walk up Castro Street to the top of the hill to see one of the most fantastically decorated houses in the city.

Fairmont San Francisco holiday, Fairmont San Francisco Christmas, San Francisco holiday events, Bay Area holiday events, San Francisco Christmas events

2. If you’re the type who likes the holidays served with a decent side dish of corniness, the Classic Cable Car Holiday Light Tour (50% off on LivingSocial) is not to be missed. Sure, it may be a bus dressed up to look like a cable car, and your husband may glare at you for a portion of the trip, but listening to carols while peeking at beautiful residential light displays is pretty fantastic. If you do the Union Square start location, the “cable car” stops at the Fairmont Hotel.

1. And speaking of the Fairmont, it’s hard to pick a winner for the most amazing holiday display, but this hotel is a top contender. With a 22-foot-high gingerbread house and thousands of twinkling lights, it’s always worth a stop.

Even though there are dozens more of fun holiday activities in the Bay Area, these twelve are my must-do every season. Did I miss any of your favorites? Will I see any of you guys at the places mentioned above? Let me know!

Images (top to bottom) : Judy Bayliff, California Beat, NBC Bay Area, Medieval Faires, Travel Zoo.

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Westfield San Francisco + eBay = Digital Storefronts

Westfield Labs, digital store, Westfield Digital Store, Rebecca Minkoff store, Sony digital store, TOMS digital store

Even though the first snowflakes of the seasons are miles away from me, holiday shopping ideas and sugarplums are already dancing in my head. In the same way that pumpkin starts sounding great in August, there’s something fun about getting ready for the holidays a wee bit early. I love baking gingerbread houses and peeping at holiday lights, but my favorite November-December ritual is thinking about what I’d like to give my family and friends. Call me sentimental, but there’s just something about tying a bow around the perfect gift that makes me downright jolly.

To help fuel such holiday inspiration, Westfield Labs + eBay Inc. launched their new trio of digital storefronts for popular brands Sony, Rebecca Minkoff, and TOMS. Based in Westfield San Francisco Center, the interactive displays will remind SF residents of the touch-screens popping up at bus stops and airplane terminals around the area. Unlike the screens you’d find elsewhere, however, the digital storefronts allow customers to purchase items on the screen and pay directly on their phone. Neither purely digital nor traditionally tactile, the storefronts are the perfect merger between online shopping and the physical browsing experience.

Westfield Labs, digital store, Westfield Digital Store, Rebecca Minkoff store, Sony digital store, TOMS digital store

While perusing Sony’s display, I had the opportunity to play with the QX100 Lens-Style Camera, a nifty little device that uses Bluetooth to turn your smartphone into a camera screen that syncs with the lens. I always have my iPhone with me to snap spontaneous city images, and I love the idea of taking the image quality up to the next level (ok, about ten levels). Any Instagrammer’s dream, right?

Westfield Labs, digital store, Westfield Digital Store, Rebecca Minkoff store, Sony digital store, TOMS digital store

Even though my holiday shopping list is still in the works, I love knowing that I have a brand-new way to shop this December. If you’d like to see the displays for yourself, head to the 4th floor of Westfield under the dome. Displays will be up until January 12th. Who knows- you might just run into me there!

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for many more holiday adventures!

Westfield Labs, digital store, Westfield Digital Store, Rebecca Minkoff store, Sony digital store, TOMS digital store

Westfield Labs, digital store, Westfield Digital Store, Rebecca Minkoff store, Sony digital store, TOMS digital store

Westfield Labs, digital store, Westfield Digital Store, Rebecca Minkoff store, Sony digital store, TOMS digital store

Westfield Labs, digital store, Westfield Digital Store, Rebecca Minkoff store, Sony digital store, TOMS digital store, TOMS shoes

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