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Photos: Adam Cohen.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008 

Question and Answers- Fashion, Icons, Style, Trends

These questions were previously posed to me and answered elsewhere on another Blog on another website. I however, realized that hardly anyone ever read it because the original site is so ridiculous to navigate, most can't be bothered. I spent a lot of time in answering these questions it would at least be nice to know that someone actually read them and were possibly inspired to come up with their own answers to these questions, especially to form a list of your favorite Fashion Icons. I had a lot of fun answering these so if you get a chance to read some of my thoughts on the current state of fashion, feel free to leave some of your own.
Much Love, SANTINO

Who are the designers and fashion icons that have inspired you the most?

Oh man, how much space do we have here?

I've been inspired greatly by many amazingly stylish individuals in history and a few that are consistently expressing themselves today. As for my favorite Fashion Icons, they're in no particular order: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Marie Antoinette, Beau Brummel, Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Leigh Bowery, Keith Richards, Diana Ross, Isabella Blow, Oscar Wilde, Kate Moss, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Patti Wilson, Marisa Berenson, Grace Jones, Guy Bourdin, Bjork, Diana Vreeland, Jacqueline de Ribes, Pat Cleveland, Joan Crawford, Cary Grant, Carine Roitfeld, Kanye West, Anna Piaggi, Anita Pallenberg, Gram Parsons, Dodie Rosecrans, Cecil Beaton, Chloe Sevigny, Jeff Lynne, Veruschka, Eric Vidmar.

Also, King George IV, Doris Duke, King Louis XIV, Drew Barrymore, Jefferson Hack, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Betty Page, Helmut Newton, Liya Kebede, Antonio Lopez, Gloria Guinness, Steven Meisel, Alek Wek, Mick Jagger, Lou Lou de la Falais, Fiona Scarry, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Franca Sozzani, Lou Doillon, Lauren Bacall, Anna Wintour, Liberace, Cher, Hank Williams, Slick Rick, Nan Kempner, Johnny Depp, Naomi Campbell, Jackie Kennedy, Jennifer Connelly, C.Z. Guest, Sophia Loren, Victoria Traina, Vanessa Traina, Milla Jovovich, Marc Bolan, Jane Birkin, Prince, Gloria Swanson, and Mark Twain.

As for my favorite Fashion Designers, also in no particular order: Yohji Yamamoto, Adrian, James Galanos, Martin Margiela, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio di Sant'Angelo, Azzedine Alaia, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Valentino Garavani, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Gianni Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix, Hubert de Givenchy, Kenzo Takada, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gianfranco Ferre, Raf Simons, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Hussein Chalayan, Viktor & Rolf, Alber Elbaz, Paul Poiret, Halston, Zandra Rhodes, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Charles Frederick Worth, Madeleine Vionnet, Cristobal Balenciaga, Charles James, Edith Head, Heidi Slimane, Kaisik Wong, Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy, Manolo Blahnik, Norma Kamali, Rei Kawakubo, Thierry Mugler, Ossie Clark, Barbara Hulanicki, Elio Fiorucci, Mary McFadden, and Mariano Fortuny.

Well, I'm sure I'm leaving somebody out, but that's all I can think up right now! Sorry to those I've forgotten to mention!

What advice would you give readers for finding fashion on a budget?

Make your own clothes! And if that's not going to happen, buy fewer clothes!

Seriously, whatever your budget is for the season, use it to invest in 2 to 3 new pieces. Many subscribe to the "All You Can Eat" mentality of acquiring a wardrobe. Don't do that!

Quality, not quantity should be the rule for a fashionista on a budget. For instance, if you decide that 1 of your 3 pieces to purchase is a classic and flattering cocktail dress that cost $3000.00 -- do that... You could wear it to every special event for the year, styling it differently each time with accessories and shoes. You would consistently be the chicest women in the room guaranteed!

Unfortunately, many women run to the mall, or worse, and try to always buy something new and cheap. Not realizing that they themselves will look just that- new and cheap! Try to incorporate quality and uniqueness into your personal style. Obtain a look that is timeless and expensive. Intelligently invest in better fashion that will become a signature piece in your wardrobe.

Splurge on inexpensive accessories to curb your consumer appetite. Take your time, plan in advance, and concentrate on the fit of every garment you buy from now on.

What are the BIGGEST FASHION MISTAKES people make?

People blindly following trends! People just buying clothes impulsively, then ending up with garments that aren't appropriate for their body types. It seems that as many articles and books that there are to outline the invaluable tips and golden rules of dressing yourself, no one's listening! I see a lot of poorly dressed men, but women make the biggest fashion mistakes.
For starters, knowing how to navigate all the ill-conceived merchandise is paramount. Maneuvering through the sea of bullshit to find something appropriate and chic is tough at most department stores because there are more bad choices than good. Take more time when making your final selections. Look to better designer boutiques before heading to larger department stores. Your personal style should dictate and guide you to selecting new additions to your wardrobe. Every piece should be tailored to your mood and personality. Become a better version of yourself!

What should women wear to holiday parties?

I wish women took the time to look as if they were going to a Holiday party every day! Don't be afraid to be festive. If a woman can mix the humorous, kitschy themes of the season with something that is flattering and elegant, they'll brighten up the room.

I love when anyone makes an effort, and there's no such thing as being over-dressed as far as I'm concerned. The Holidays are perfect for pieces that would normally be perceived as "over the top." Metallic fringe mini dresses, elaborately beaded sweater sets, sequined cocktail dresses and blazers, embroidered suede skirts are all appropriate. Wear a dress that helps you resemble the star on top of the Christmas tree! Standout, shine, and twinkle ladies!

First Impressions: What clothing catches your eye when sizing someone up?

If someone has style, I can spot them from a mile away! It doesn't matter "what" they're wearing, but more importantly it's "how" they're wearing it. Nonetheless, if there's one thing that will articulate volumes about someone, it's shoes! Men, you only need to own 2 pairs of dress shoes and 1 pair of trainers.

Your dress shoes should be in the range of $550-$900 per pair. Investing in quality footwear will change your life! The price range is only a guide to know you're in the right ballpark. If you look hard enough during end of the season sales, men can find classic brown and black quality dress shoes and boots for 50% off.

Women. Seriously? When I meet a woman in $30 shoes, it pains my heart. "Cheater" shoes aren't fooling anyone! Prostitutes and strippers wear cheap shoes. Remember that. Don't be cheap when it comes to shoes. In this awesome age of instant Internet gratification, there is no excuse for not having the appropriate pair of shoes.

At you can find an awesome selection of footwear. Platforms, wedges, pumps, ballet flats, boots, women have so many options. Bergdorf Goodman,, has some of the sickest shoes ever. Look at the radical beauty of the footwear by Christian Louboutin, Giuseppe Zanotti, Cesare Paciotti and Manolo Blahnik. If anything, by acquiring a pair or 2 of these will attract you a better suitor, but most definitely you'll look like a million bucks

Do you have a one "GO-TO ITEM" in your closet? And why?

Recently, I purchased a great-looking tuxedo shirt from Japanese designer label, Number Nine. It works under a blazer or alone with dark denim jeans. The shirt is beautifully made and is a great shade of fawn gray. I've already gotten quite a lot of wear out of it and it's become the "go to" item when I'm in a hurry or traveling and I need to pack with versatility in mind. I'm sure I will have it in my closet for years to come!

What trends do you see right now in Fashion?

I never have been one to follow trends. So I can't really tell you what everybody else is doing. I really feel like if you've got your finger on the pulse of what's going on in the world, quite possibly your designs are going to relate to other designer's work in some way. That's how a trend happens.
What I really love about fashion today is that really, anything is possible and anything goes! It's more about personal style than anything now. The variables and finishing that I choose for my designs stays consistent. I will always love quality textiles, luxurious textures, and rich colors. I don't suggest that anyone should follow trends -- ever. Cultivate your own personal style and invest in pieces that make you look your best!

What do you think is next for the world of Fashion?

There is a direct correlation between what is going on in the world and what is going on in the world of fashion. With the exit of our current President we will see an explosion of creativity and color amongst American designers. A new environment will emerge to explore progressive subject matter and vibrant fantasies.

Hopefully, with the changes that will take place in the near future, it will bring back the joy we once had as a nation and bring the joy back in fashion. More fantasy and more fearlessness -- I'm putting it out there so let's watch what happens!

Where do you look for design inspiration?

I look everywhere for design inspiration. However, Music, Nature, and Art are the biggest influences for my work. Contemporary art has always greatly inspired me. It just has a way of surprising me by what it does to my thought process.

In the Saturn spot, I take everyone to one of my favorite and most inspirational places in Los Angeles. The Broad Art Foundation houses the largest collection of Contemporary Art in the world and I've been fortunate enough to attend several exhibitions there. The inside never fails to blow my mind and leave me pondering many aspects of the work that I've absorbed while I was there.

The galleries are the perfect setting for enjoying such powerful Art. From surface textures and unexpected color combinations to profound conceptual ideas, every work is simultaneously stimulating and unpredictable. In the spot, I specifically talk about the work of Albert Oehlen. The 5 examples of his work were just hung for an exhibit that will open in February 2008 along with works by John Baldessari, Mark Tansey and many others.

Eli Broad and The Broad Art Foundation are dedicated to building a collection of diverse works by the greatest artists of our time. They have created a great resource for people to enjoy these amazing works. By loaning out the collection to prominent museums and galleries all over the world the collection is in constant rotation. Truly inspirational!

Absorbing influences outside of Fashion keeps my eye fresh and keeps me motivated to create inspiring work myself. For more information about The Broad Art Foundation go to:

On the topic of 'RETHINKING FASHION', How do you approach Fashion and make it your own?

I'm always thinking about Fashion. I'm always re-evaluating Fashion. I'm a designer with his finger on the pulse of what's happening. Everything I see and hear goes through my internal filter. My creative process allows me to take everything into consideration in order to create something that feels right to me, right now. When I get that feeling, I know it's right; I know I've designed something desirable and intoxicating.

Every journey is exciting because it ends in rewards. I enjoy projecting what beauty means to me. My consciousness, my instincts, and my overall imagination are all in tune with the universe. I'm a champion of progressive thought and new ideas. I'm constantly refining my own distinct look.

It seems to me that in the current landscape of Fashion, many designers' definition of "inspiration" and "re-thinking Fashion" are synonymous with blatant plagiarism. One can gain knowledge from Vintage, but more commonly than most, I'm witnessing a crop of copycat couturiers that feel by changing the color or fabric that they have done some kind of service to the original. It's obviously not the case and pretty ridiculous. It leaves me with an existential sickness for the overall future of Fashion.
My personal approach is a logical progression from where I began as a designer. I continue to strive to create beauty in the world and I believe that what I'm cultivating is current and relevant. My stories, the quality of materials, and finishing, could never be mistaken for the work of anyone else. Asking myself questions -- about what I want to see women and men wearing in the future helps me come up with the answers to what I will create next.

About Me:
I'm Santino Rice, a fashion designer living and working in Hollywood California. I was a contestant on Bravo's Project Runway Season 2. This is my personal journal.