Khoi Le’s interest in—obsession with?—backpacks wasn’t piqued by Eastpaks stuffed with social studies textbooks, but it does go back to his H.S. days in California. When he was a teenager, Khoi became so enamored by Marc Jacobs’s Murakami collaboration for Louis Vuitton that he decided then and there to model his life path after the heralded designer, following his footsteps to Parsons School of Design.
Blown away by the access to material he had in New York City—“You just walk downtown or to Midtown, and you can buy almost anything”—Khoi scooped up a bunch of leathers and, in 2011, started experimenting with with rucksacks, using an inside-out JanSport as a starting point. (To hell with the school’s lack of accessories programming.) He gave college pals Sophie Tabet and Courtney Dransfield early prototypes to wear around town, and the response was, in a word, insane. “I think about every other person stopped and asked, ‘Oh my god, where did you get this bag?” he recalls.
Now Khoi’s running a full-fledged accessories line along with those same pals, who also run a creative agency, Landed. “They were the ones who helped me turn it from a hobby into a business,” he said. And at this rate, it’s only a matter of time until he’s inspiring the next generation of designers, looking to carry on the cool-bag tradition. —carlye wisel
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Meet Cold Picnic
For these two, love came with an accessories line.
In 2007 while studying fashion at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, Phoebe Sung and Peter Buer, the couple behind the handmade accessories line Cold Picnic, met. Phoebe made the first move. “I asked him about homework,” she admits. “He was so friendly that I thought, ‘Oh, if he is English, then he likes me, but if he is Australian, then he’s just friendly.’ It turned out he was English.”
Two months after they started dating, Phoebe took a summer internship with Marc Jacobs in New York, and their relationship flourished amidst Garment District errands, Popeyes dinners, and lots of Starbucks. Back in Boston, they moved in together, graduated, and started working at fashion companies for middle-aged women—the kinds that specialize in elastic waistbands. “There isn’t much work in Boston,” Peter admits. “We always wanted to move away, but in the beginning we didn’t have any real plans.”
New York kept calling, and in April 2011, they went for it. But it was their final summer in Boston that shaped what their future there would be. “We spent weekends traveling around to book fairs in small Massachusetts towns,” Peter recalls. “We collected books on seventies arts and crafts, barns, Woodstock houses, sharks, and Native American crafts.” All that inspiration led to sketching, which quickly gave way to creating: First there were the printed suede earrings that marked the formation of Cold Picnic, and then the duo started dabbling in a whole boatload of techniques like macramé, clay work, metal-casting, and etching to push things further. As Phoebe puts it, “We’ll make something continuously, get bored, and jump onto something new. We can’t sit still for long.” —maggie dolan
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Meet Yestadt Millinery
Hats off to these two.
When speaking with Molly Yestadt (right), one half of the Yestadt Millinery duo, you can almost hear Bob Dylan’s “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” playing in the background on some well-worn record player. Much like the song’s melody, the namesake designer combines focus and free-spiritedness in the homegrown hat label she’s built with her childhood best friend and business partner, Jane Pincus.
Up and running since 2008—and with lots of sleepless nights and bottomless cups of coffee to prove it—Yestadt Millinery has become a go-to for cool, artisanal hat-making. Showcasing their pieces on the Marc by Marc Jacobs runway and collaborating with the likes of Vena Cava and Thom Browne, Molly and Jane create headwear that appeals to a surprisingly diverse set, from seasoned wearers to members of a younger, perhaps more reluctant generation. If you’re part of the latter and the idea of introducing a bowler or cloche into your wardrobe seems, well, daunting, Molly isn’t going to cut you any slack: “Find a style that you feel most comfortable in and make it your own. We’re huge proponents of the ‘just wear it’ school of thought.” There are striped sun hats, floral turbans, feather-accented straw fedoras, and even vintage-y veils from their made-to-order bridal line—basically something for everyone, whether you have Dylan, Biggie, or T. Swift blasting from your speakers. —courtney mccarroll
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The beginning of the Meredith Wendell story has the markings of a movie starring Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, or both. “We met at an Upper East Side Christmas party—we were the schlub friends who were smoking in the kitchen. Then I kept seeing him on the street and would think, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s that cute guy that I liked,” Meredith German says. “She lived on 55th Street and worked at Saks Fifth Avenue in the windows; I worked at Playboy on 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. I got out of the subway at 53rd and Fifth,” her now-husband and business partner Wendell German explains. “One day, I finally stopped him on the street, and we got engaged a year later, on that same day—at this Marriott Marquis, because my grandparents were staying there. It was very romantic,” Meredith adds.
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In Character: Audrey Rouget
Sweet, virginal, achingly naïve Park Avenue princess Audrey Rouget is the heroine of Whit Stillman’s 1990 film Metropolitan. When I first saw the movie I must have been around 12 or 13, growing up in the Boston suburbs, and the world that Stillman presented—one of debutante balls and boarding schools and the joys of New York at Christmas and 11-room apartments and taxis, always taxis—was completely foreign, and yet utterly intoxicating. I didn’t want to be Audrey Rouget, exactly—she didn’t seem to be having very much fun, for one thing—but she is the one character in the film who is unimpeachably good. Her friend Sally Fowler is a Mean Girl and a snob, Nick Smith is a charming roué, and even the object of Audrey’s affections—the young man from the wrong side of the tracks (in this case, the Upper West Side)—turns out to be a bit of a phony himself. And so it seems, for a moment there, that nice girls do finish last. We won’t give away the ending, but suffice to say that fortunately that’s not exactly the case.
Audrey’s outfits throughout the movie are pitch-perfect reflections of her personality: When she goes to the debutante balls that are the center of her crowd’s social life, she looks like a little girl playing dress-up in huge, poufy gowns, while her friends wear sexier, more sophisticated looks . Away from the parties, she wears demure, almost prim outfits: cardigans, pearls, wool pants. We wonder: Would the Upper East Side implode if she went goth for a day? —doree shafrir
Finding a dress that looks exactly like Audrey’s gown would probably require a trip to Paris and an appointment with a couturier. But it’s not hard to imagine her wearing this lovely Marc Jacobs cotton and silk embroidered number to meet her mother for lunch at Sant Ambroeus come spring.
Audrey would snatch up this gray wool Steven Alan sweater for cold nights away at school. It’s utterly practical and slightly formless—all the better to keep the boys guessing as to whether there are actually any curves under there.
This dress from Phillip Lim is perfect for a Columbia Publishing Course cocktail party. After all, as we learn in Last Days of Disco, Stillman’s follow-up, Audrey Rouget is the youngest person ever to make editor at Strauss, where Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale) works.