As if owning a copy of Electric Fashion isn’t glorious enough, coming to the book launch party at Neiman Marcus San Francisco on May 27 gave a rare up close and personal view to the genuine personalities of Christine Suppes and Frederic Aranda.

Book launch at Neiman Marcus photos by Christian Hadidjaja.
Electric Fashion interior images by Frederic Aranda via Skira – Rizzoli New York.

When I finished reading Electric Fashion, I got giddy. It is a fashion photography treasure trove. The true essence of fashion, especially haute couture is fantasy. And creating fantasy is exactly what Christine Suppes and Frederic Aranda extraordinarily achieved in Electric Fashion. Christine’s nostalgic and captivating narrative, which gradually unfolds her impeccable fashion taste honed since childhood, Frederic Aranda’s expert captures of Christine and her collection, tied in a bow with Ken Downing’s succinct and effective foreword, Electric Fashion is a definite must-have for fashion lovers.

I first met Christine Suppes briefly during Academy of Art University Graduation Fashion Show. Her look stood out effortlessly, so charmingly. Luckily for me, I saw her talking to a mutual friend, photographer Ed Jay. He introduced me to her, and that’s how I knew about Electric Fashion and the book launch party at Neiman Marcus on May 27.

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Christine Suppes

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Christine Suppes is an iconic figure for modern bloggers. Her Fashionlines was visionary, being the “first purely editorial fashion e-magazine” that’s ahead of its time during its conception in 1999. She’s a person to look up to, to learn from; I cannot help but feel proud having a woman of her stature in the Bay Area. Seeing photos of her modeling tremendous couture pieces from her own collection was great, but talking to her during the book launch and finding her real warmth was…a divine experience.

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Christine Suppes and I

Electric Fashion is the first fashion book that makes me emotional. The way Frederic Aranda captured Christine’s natural, majestic, charming qualities while wearing great fashion pieces by Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Christian Lacroix, Rodarte, Alexander McQueen, on aura tout vu, Comme des Garçons, Geoffrey Beene, and more is so breath taking. It’s hard to believe Christine initially did not wish to model her collection because she is such a natural model.

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Frederic Aranda (left) with Ed Jay and I.

Those gorgeous shots of Christine, accompanied with museum quality photos of the garments (on dress forms) and detail shots are effective catalysts to fashion daydream. But more importantly, Frederic’s photos coupled with Christine’s text is the ultimate combination. The fantasy, the tremendous craftsmanship infused to haute couture garments and accessories, the motivation behind the book’s inception, the 5-year book making journey, the conclusion, they are conveyed flawlessly and effortlessly. All that underlines the implied hard work and love poured into making this book. That’s why Electric Fashion makes me emotional and humbled.

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The Electric Fashion launch party on May 27 at Neiman Marcus San Francisco – The Rotunda was special, thanks to Neiman Marcus Fashion Director Ken Downing. Ken and Christine have a long history of mutual fashion admiration. As he said during the Q&A panel led by SF Chronicle’s Carolyne Zinko, he dressed the store mannequins just as fast as he stripped them, because Christine wanted to add the pieces to her collection. So it’s fitting that for the occasion, Christine paired a 25-year-old Virginia blouse with this season’s Saint Laurent floral skirt, which Ken suggested.

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Ken Downing

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The Q&A was delightful. Frederic offered words of praise to Christine, of how it wouldn’t be a full picture without her. The book is a 360-degree view of a collector with such a fine taste, who knows herself and her style very well and embody them beautifully.

Ken added, half jokingly, about how rare it is to have a living fashion collector who fits all garments in her collection perfectly. However, more importantly, it is Christine’s fearlessness and true appreciation about her own taste that sets her apart in a small group of women who can own couture pieces.

In turn, Christine conveyed her gratitude to Neiman Marcus for making her foray to haute couture via front-row seat at Dior Haute Couture show in 1999. Christine also briefly reminisced memorable, favorable reactions in Paris, when she was wearing a Lacroix piece during a couture high season. Frederic, who shot 8 looks with Christine in San Francisco’s Fort Pointe in one day with minimal camera equipments, chose “Four Seasons” as his favorite theme in Electric Fashion.

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Left to right: Frederic Aranda, Carolyne Zinko, Ken Downing, and Christine Suppes

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It sure was lively during the Electric Fashion book launch party. Gorgeous people getting their copy signed at The Rotunda is a rather rare sight.

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It’s such an honor meeting and chatting briefly with Christine Suppes and Frederic Aranda that evening. The book is so much more than just a book, for me it’s a true collector’s item. The choices that made it to each and every page of the book are thoughtfully made and flawlessly executed, creating a seamless journey of a reading experience. The book is a clear reflection of Christine’s and Frederic’s characters, who are genuine, down-to-earth, humble people in person. I was so astonished to feel their sincerity.

As a closer, let me share how much Electric Fashion means to me. I didn’t grow up loving fashion; the term “haute couture” didn’t even come across my vocabulary until I’m in my 20s. My approach to fashion has been more from the functional side, leading me to favor more minimalist, sleek design. I have not developed a keen eye for more grandeur fashion, let alone haute couture. My experience with couture mostly involved going to FAMSF’s exhibitions of Balenciaga, Jean Paul Gaultier, Brooklyn Met High Style exhibition, as well as reading Couture Sewing Techniques and pinning WWD images during Couture seasons.

While those are awesome experiences, I’m still lacking the all-important context for couture appreciation to be made alive: the fantasy. Therefore I’m very grateful to see how fantasy materialized in Electric Fashion, as a combination of beautiful photos and captivating narrative journey. It gives me a better understanding of what fashion is, far beyond the activity of browsing / pinning the latest and greatest various Fashion Weeks have to offer each seasons.

My tremendous thanks to Rizzoli New York for sending me a copy of Electric Fashion and for providing Electric Fashion interior images. Thank you Frederic Aranda, for being such so kind and grounded despite your list of accomplishments. And thank you Christine Suppes, for being a trailblazer and pioneer for internet fashion magazine. Your life and 5-year Electric Fashion journey are inspiring, and I’m sure there are many more inspirations to be had from you. By the way, I now take your fashion mantra of Four Couture Looks (décolletage, mini skirt, body conscious, and diaphanous) to heart. Now I no longer wonder why I love transparent fabrics and laces so much.

Thanks for reading; until next time,

Book launch at Neiman Marcus photos by Christian Hadidjaja.
Electric Fashion interior images by Frederic Aranda via Skira – Rizzoli New York.

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