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Exceptional Dress

Happy Day One of the 2021 Holiday Gift Guide! We've been scouring the world all year to compile this year's list and we can't wait to share everything we collected. In the wake of the pandemic, we prioritized gifts capable of bringing a bit of magic and exploration to your lives without demanding travel or public contact. With that introduction, let's get under way by diving into the Day One gift category: clothing!

We know what you're thinking, "Clothing? Isn't that a bit cliche?", "My grandmother gave me socks every year for Christmas, I'm not sure that's the vibe I'm aiming for with my gift-giving". We—and our sock-filled drawers— hear you! But clothing can make a transformational impact on the lives of our loved ones. A phenomenal jacket or a devastatingly chic dress is uniquely suited to bestow style, confidence, and glorious every-day reminders of our love upon our gift recipients. As we've said before, we don't believe garments are inherently gendered, but this list does includes pieces that are both "feminine" and "masculine" and, as there are plenty of items on this list, you are sure to fine something for everyone in your life. Without further delay, here are the fashionable wears we plan on gifting this holiday season.


Given our deeply tropical Miami roots, we are nourished by vibrant colour and bold patterns. Whether your gift recipient lives in a climate that mirrors this brightness, or in one with a bit less vivaciousness that prompts them to seek external colour satisfaction, offer your loved ones a taste of the tropics with mood elevating clothing pieces. Few items elevate mood like the Collins Ave Maxi dress from Meow And Barks Boutique. An unapologetically bold print of saturated ruby, bubblegum fuchsia and rich black flourishes pirouettes across this floor length dress. A playful tie at the waist, a button closure drawn along the front of the skirt and a stiff lapel collar offer ample design details that balance the complexities of the print and contribute to a dress that is undeniably eye-catching.


Another eye-catching tropical dress, the Awe Ben Kimono in Ananas Yellow, comes to us from Senegalese brand Diarrablu. The one size fits all nature of this relaxed wrap dress, combined with the high-contrast, illustrative black and white pineapple jacquard, and vivid bands of accenting orange, makes this piece an easy gift choice that will leave everyone on your list happy. Solidifying its gift-worthiness, the Awe Ben dress can also be worn as a kimono or as a rob. We cherish the opportunity for fashion individualization offered by this versatile garment and we're certain the people on your gift list will too!


Featuring a luscious jackfruit print and effortlessly flattering silhouette, the Nala Dress by Argentinian designer Daniella Batlle will spotlight your natural radiance and shower you with the effervescent lightness of summer. The print is large enough that it becomes almost abstracted by the drapes of the fluid fabric, and the subtle detailing along the waist and sleeves offers an added whisper of femininity without challenging the command of the print. The cinched-waist and billowing sleeves and hemline ensure the dress will flatter every body shape so you can readily gift this beautiful garment with the comforting knowledge that your loved ones will look their best in it.


Cara Cara similarly channels the natural energy of the tropics but in a slightly more mutated palette with their stunning Piper collection. We especially adore the Piper top with its simplistic turtleneck design. The minimalistic form provides a broad uninterrupted canvas for the Peruvian modal featuring sprawling botanicals, delicate white flowers, and scatterings of quiet birds on a warm backdrop of ginger jersey. Perfect for the chilly weather much of the world experiences during the holiday season, the top imparts the flowering dendritic breath of the tropics while retaining the winter dress appropriateness one expects from a long sleeved turtleneck. It's an exceptional piece.


When winter weather isn't a necessary consideration, the Etro Brown Diamond Strapless Dress from Australian brand Dissh is a clothing pick that will not disappoint. Velvety cocoa brown entwines with luminous white to form an almost dizzying geometric pattern that spans the entirety of this floor-length dress. A straight, strapless neckline presents a welcomed frame of décolleté, allowing the print to shine without overwhelming the face of the wearer. The fitted cut of the bust defines the sophisticated shape of the garment while a straight, sheath skirt, cascading from right below the bust line, ensures that comfort remains uncompromised, which is an absolute must when considering a clothing piece as a gift!


If you're eager for pattern but looking for a bit more colour than that in the Etro dress, we want to introduce you to the Dana Dress offered by Canadian brand Kaela Kay. Described by the brand, the dress, "set in a beautiful green hue and glorious metical embellished details, ...will have you positively shining. The patterns are perfectly and intentionally placed. Get ready to dazzle and stand out from the crowd"(1). We love the uniqueness alchemized by the pairing of the bold pattern with the classic and universally flattering silhouette. A member of our team swooned over the verdant abstracted pattern, describing it as " tropical peacocks in tall grasses" but however you interpret the design, it's absolutely beautiful.


Jumping across the pond to Paris, we find Plume's luxurious bronze jacquard Neptune. A broad shawl lapel and belt tie convey the subtly sultriness and moody authority of a traditional smoking jacket. Platinum hue-ed highlights are contrasted by metallic blacks that form along the lines of the jacquard pattern, creating a dramatically dimensional coat that remains unquestionably wearable. With this jacket on, we are transported to the brisk autumn streets of Paris, emboldened by its luxurious chicness we find an elegance, power, and unfazed, unapologetic confidence that can be liked only to Caroline de Maigret and Aymeline Valade.


An equally elegant piece is the smashingly minimalist, Rib dress from Dutch brand, Vanilia. The timeless neutrality of the offered black and oat colours, combined with elbow-length sleeves and band collar, imparts a implication of modesty that is subtly—but assuredly playfully— contrasted by patch pockets and a short hemline. This inconspicuous dichotomy establishes a defining equivocalness that guarantees the dress is appropriate in any situation. The supple, sustainable, signature 'Rib' fabric is made from responsibly obtained wood pulp and features a linear diagonal ribbed texture that provides a high-quality weightiness to the dress while highlighting the modern playful notes of the design with the unexpected diagonally of the weave. It's a powerful and evolved black dress that is an absolute staple.


Another powerful, must-have staple is the Flyette Double Breasted Coat from Malene Birger. The long houndstooth coat forms a structured, menswear silhouette and frames the face of the wearer with a contrasting black wool lapel and a constellating trail of raven black buttons. When paired with the coordinating blazer and pants, the coat creates an awe-inspiring suit. When topping off another outfit, the coat shrouds the wearer in palpable sophistication.


Should your gift recipient crave a less formal coat, look no further than the Danish Dina Trenchcoat by Hosbjerg. A noteworthy crinkled fabric is formed into a relaxed trench with Raglan sleeves and double storm flaps for a decidedly contemporary interpretation of a classic silhouette. Epaulettes and sleeve straps, in combination with a sprinkling of traditionally placed, and equally orange buttons, offer structure to an otherwise fluid shape. The Dina trench is, in our opinion, the ideal hybrid of contemporary boldness and timeless form.


Few brands produce contemporary, timeless jackets like Arket. Designing within the H&M house, Arket is deliciously modern and decidedly chic with a price point that won't make you recoil. This year we have our eye on two light-weight, swoon-worthy, off-white jackets with unisex designs that align with any aesthetic. The Brushed Terry Overshirt is our favorite design to emerge with the current overshirt fashion trend. The minimalist button-down design features crisp cuffs and lapels and a single patch style breast pocket. These accents—all of which are strongly defined due to the substantiveness of the material— impart a quality and intentionality the look of of an otherwise subdued jacket. Buttoned closure along the front is mirrored by trios of buttons offered at the back of each sleeve, resulting in moments of smooth texture to punctuate the otherwise terry-clothed surface that you won't be able to resist touching.

For a bit less texture, look no further than the Hooded Pop-Over Jacket. A water-repellant treated, organic plain weave creates an incontestably sleek light gray finish that's down right luminous. Ruching over elastic cuffs provides just enough folds to catch light without compromising the slickness of the face of the jacket. Two silver-capped cord pulls emerge from silver grommet framed holes at the collar, framing a quarter-length silver zipper. These small but thoughtful sparkles of metal add moments of reflectiveness and highlight the luminosity of the jacket itself all the while preserving the minimalism of the colour palette. The zipper leads to a broad envelope pocket, situated high at mid-chest, for an unexpected but appropriately modern geometric plaque. Of the jackets on our list, this is the one that the members of our team have gifted the most, and for good reason!


If seeking sleekness, the Cape Blouse from Cihuah in Mexico City will leave you weak at the knees. This versatile top can be worn forwards or backwards, though we favor the orientation where the deep v lays on the back. With this orientation, the front of the top begins with a long boat neckline that continues off the shoulder to strong angular corners. This neckline allows for a stunningly smooth décolleté that exudes sensuality without a whisper of exposed skin. The neckline fabric drapes over the bust line, forming a straight floating band that intersects the sleeves. Together, the band and sleeves create square of negative space that reveals the lines of the torso, which remains covered by the base structure of the shirt, a simple sheath blouse. The real magic of this piece is the sleeves. When the fabric from the bust reaches the sharp shoulder corners produced by the neckline, the three quarter length sleeves immediately drop, emerging as strong vertical lines of fabric. The sleeve fabric tightly follows the angular corner of the shoulder and continues toward the back body, wrapping around the arms and across the shoulder blades before ending abruptly. The top corners from each rectangular sleeve are paired at the center point of the back to form a deep exhibiting 'v' of exposed body at the top of the back and a broad open vent at the bottom, parted to reveal the underlying base structure of the shirt. The design captures seemingly endless moments of smoothed, sensual surfaces that allude to, and accentuate the body within without relying on fitted silhouettes or exposition. The result is an elegant, shapely, and truly sculptural top capable of transforming any wearer into an architectural masterpiece.


While the Cape Blouse employs design techniques to evoke artful sculpturalism, creative director Lasha Mdinaradze of Ukrainian brand Gudu utilizes the implicit structure of leather in the Venus Midi Dress to create a garment that captures the sensuality of form with undeniable gravity. With masterful artistry and viscous subtly, the piece invites an exploration of intensifying bondage while remaining appropriate day to day fashion.

A buckled turtleneck initiates the dress and the exploration, demonstrating the most explicit stage of bondage with a collar-like belted strap set around the neck. At the next stage, the torso, the restriction is lifted slightly but the structure of restraint remains. The supple golden leather is gloriously fitted, almost carved, to form a second-skin-like shell that encases the bust of the wearer. At the waist, the wearer is released from all constraint as the leather emerges from its previous binds and is permitted to flow freely, circling the lower body. While this dress may not be an appropriate gift for everyone in your life, for the right recipient this dress is a once in a lifetime treasure.


The handcrafted Kyrgyz Felted Tunic Dress from Seven Sisters of Kyrgyzstan is a phenomenal piece that is incontrovertibly worthy of a gallery and is free of any suggestion of bondage. Constructed from ethereal silk and felt, the dress blankets the wearer in a striking black and white tiling of three dimensional print. Effortlessly draped atop a fitted slip, the dress forms a shadowy aura that floats above the body. A pattern of scattered Kyrgyz totems, one that has, for centuries, decorated yurts scattered across the Kyrgyz landscape, offers adoration to the thin cloud of cloth. Described by Ibu Movement, which sells the dress, "ancient Kyrgyz float mystically on a lightweight sheer silk background" (2). Could anything sound more enticing? As the dress is available in s/m and m/l and boasts a free fluidity and structureless form, you can be confident that any recipient can comfortably wear the dress without worry of an improper fit.


Following in high-contrast footsteps of the previous dress, the Masiki Maxi Cape Dress from Sika'a is a stunning presentation of contrast, pattern, and form. Sika'a—which mean's "God's will" in Bamileke, the language of founder John Tchoudi's home of West Cameroon—offers contemporary collections that never disappoint. But the Masiki dress is a triumphant design that in our minds will forever be Tchoudi's defining work. Made of 100% African cotton, billowing cape sleeves and a tailored floor length silhouette serve as the canvas for a blackened navy and luminous, pearly white geometric print that symmetrically defines the dress. Large abstracted shells are incorporated into the pattern and offer moments of visual respite from the hum of the background geometry while their delicate pointillist trim adds a softening roundness to balance the angles of the underlying shapely print. This dress is a love letter to balance. Billowing sleeves balance an otherwise fitted form, roundness balances angularity, solidity balances noise, dark balances light. The elements comes together flawlessly to form an intoxicating dress.


If the Sika'a dress feels too formal for those you're shopping for, then this timelessly soft dress from Sarah Divine Garba, the Cameroonian designer behind the brand Maison D'Afie, may be perfect fit. A square neckline frames the face and rests along the top of a fitted bust that holds the cascade of fabric of the floor length skirt. The plummed burgundy silk fabric is ornamented with a stunning jacquard print that, from afar, creates a scattering of shimmering gold hexagons interspaced with oxblood squares while, up close, produce a deeply nuanced pattern that captures the attention of anyone lucky enough to steal a glance. The comfortability of the relaxed silhouette combined with the sultry luxuriousness of the silk fabric solidifies our belief that this crowd-pleasing dress is ideal for everyone.


If you're eager to find an even more casual option, Irawo Studio offers the made-to-order Moremi Jumpsuit that boasts a rich warm colour palette and a fun, playful silhouette. Made in Lagos, Nigera, the garment is a glorious collage of patterns, all featuring the same umber and spiced honey hues. Triangles and cross shapes are formed in negative spaces between midnight black blocks. The geometry travels the length of the jumpsuit, changing scale and shape between each leg and the body. The collarless split neckline lets the print shine while flattering the shape of the body and ties at the ends of the elbow-length sleeves impart levity and liveliness to the structure of the design. Breeze wide-legs and a cinched waist make this jumpsuit an amazing choice for any body, and—by extension—any person on your list!


This body-flattering universality can also be achieved with the Barke African Print kimono from Tufafii which features a luxuriously relaxed shape that will flatter absolutely everyone. A graphic gridded, plaid African print is detailed but geometrically simplistic and reminds us of men's windowpane dress shirts in the very best way. A wide banded black trim traces the entire perimeter of the kimono, from the sleeves to the belt, and underscores the elegance and power of this impressive piece. However one chooses to wear it, this kimono is versatile and crushingly chic.


While we're focusing on uni-size clothing, we want to highlight the emerald Diliman dress from souk + SEPIA. The empire silhouette of the dress is about the only thing traditional about this design. A micro-pleated, chiffon style fabric, tailored by a wide coordinating belt and adjustable pulls at the ruched neckline, provides an elasticity that ensures every body will be comfortable in this dress. A bouquet of twirls constructed along the hem, neckline, and across three tiers at each side of the skirt, add an element of whimsy and dynamic flourish to an otherwise simplistic dress confirming that versatility does not negate style.


Our next two clothing picks can be placed in the same velvet lined category as the previous jewel-toned dress. Let's start with the Azul Satin Mono Breast Jacket from Giuliette Brown. We love every single item we have from Giuliette Brown (especially a tiger-printed silk and wine-coloured velvet wrap dress we have from a previous collection) but we almost fell out of our chairs when we spotted this incredible blazer. Metallic teal silk forms the majority of the blazer and a modified peak lapel, trimmed in black, imparts formality and gravitas and leaves us feeling shiveringly chillingly suave. If someone on your list has the fashion command to rock a piece like this, we highly suggest you make this your gift choice!


Next we take a trip to Lebanon for some similarly jewel-toned Belgian linen. From Orient 499, the Philippe Blue Linen Shirt is a heart stopper. With "an easy-going, relaxed feel that's accentuated by the mandarin collar and a slightly loose cut", this shirt has a classic form that makes it an easy gift choice (3). But what sets this shirt apart from the rest is the unexpected shimmering quality. The dynamic texture of the linen, with subtle natural variations in hues from deep oceanic navy to luminous aquas, implies a sense of luster without any actual metallic material.

Furthering this sense of reflectivity, the nine delicate mother of pearl buttons contrast the succulence of the shirt colour and prismatically capture any ambient light. The Philippe shirt is a simplistic design with a striking impact and we adore it.


Much like the shimmering optical illusion of the Philippe Shirt, the print of the ottod'Ame viscose dress appears deeply dimensional despite its two dimensionality. Tiny, rudimentary flowers and leaves are presented as a swarm of irregular dots and dashes that dance across the surface of the dress. Variations in density and brief lines of negative space create the illusion that the print is something entirely not floral. Perhaps it's an abstracted animal print? Maybe a fully beaded overlay? Regardless of what it appears to be, the ambiguity of the print is deeply alluring and we can't stop ourselves from leaning in a bit closer to steal a better look. We would love nothing more than to be gifted this dress, especially as its easy sheath shape makes it an ideal everyday dress.

As you begin dressing your homes with festive holiday decorations, appreciate the transformative power of wears and consider sharing this power with your loved ones by gifting one of these gorgeous garments!


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