Month: January 2013

The Road to Sundance: The Making of Little Black Dress 2.0


Upon finding out that I would be attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival as a member of Cherien Dabis’ entourage for the premiere of her film May in the Summer I’d like to think a stroke of genius sizzled in my brain. I have always gotten the biggest high off of connecting extremely talented individuals together…and this was opportunity presenting itself before me.

Joshua Christensen is one of the single most talented individuals I’ve ever met, and I knew it from the moment we met on Grand Hope Park in Downtown Los Angeles. As a favorite of Season 9 Project Runway I got to see his electric personality shine on camera, but I’ve known him better to be a gracious and humble friend over the last few years. Maybe humble isn’t the right word, as Josh knows how talented he is and there is no argument that he will do amazing things with that talent in his lifetime.

On short notice I was able to connect Joshua and Cherien with the intention of having Josh make a dress for Cherien’s big premiere. The problem wasn’t Josh’s willingness to make a dress, or Cherien’s willingness to have a dress custom made for her…but this had to be done in a week’s time and without the benefit of being able to fit the dress to Cherien’s body as she was in New York City preparing for her big day.

You can see the results for yourself. I asked Josh about the experience of creating what he calls “Little Black Dress 2.0,” and this is what he had to say:

C: Josh, you created this incredible piece of couture work in under a week, for a woman you had never met, and for the premiere of a movie at Sundance Film Festival. Not just any premiere, but the movie that would open the festival. How did you feel about such a huge opportunity?

J.Christensen: I was so grateful and excited when I was asked to design a dress for Cherien Dabis, the Director, Writer, and Lead Actress of her film May in the Summer. It was a bit of a time crunch, but I immediately started researching previous years of the Film Festival and what was the general red carpet vibe.

C: What was the concept for such an elegant design, especially considering that time crunch you were under?

J.Christensen: It had to be something simple, edgy and warm! I felt like black was so classic and easy to wear and with a bit of black leather the dress could really stand out.  The dress features a black knit body with leather yokes and a leather stripe down each sleeve. If you notice the back of the dress there is a set of pleats and a cowl below the yoke which zips up.

C: Now I know that once the connection was made you had not only little time, but no way of having Cherien try on the dress. What was going through your head as you started to create your design?

J. Christensen: Of course when you make a dress for someone without being able to do a fitting it makes me nervous. I just used basic body measurements given me and prayed for the best.  I was so relieved when I got word that she loved the dress and that it fit perfectly.  Oh, and having such a beautiful client to work with makes designing so much easier [laughs].

I am so pleased with how the project came out with the little time I had to make it happen. I look forward to doing more event dresses in the future!

For more Joshua Christensen please follow his Facebook page: Josh is currently running an exciting campaign to raise funds for his store ready collection. More on the campaign:

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Josh’s original sketch of the concept behind Cherien’s Sundance premiere dress.


Cherien getting ready for her big premiere. The dress absolutely fit like it was made for her…which it was!


The incredible back leather yoke and cowl of Josh’s premiere dress creation.


A full look at Cherien in the dress in the press line before the premiere of her film May in the Summer.


Cherien and co-star Hiam Abbass in the press line before the premiere.


Even from a distance the dress was absolutely stunning on Cherien.


Director Cherien Dabis with Asher Roth, DJ Theory and StyleCaster founder Ari Goldberg at the May in the Summer premiere party.


The Road to Sundance: A Review of Sundance Opener May in the Summer

If you came here looking for a review of the highs and lows behind Sundance opener May in the Summer, I suppose I should tell you to get out now. This will be instead more of a narrative regarding my experience watching a film through the eyes of someone who knows the storyteller personally, and less about where the movie soars and where it may fall.

Here, let me help you out if you were looking for something more verbosely critical: May in the Summer Reviews (more…)

The Road to Sundance

*For a more visual take on my experience follow me on Instagram @instacougar / follow my twitter @cougartweets and the Left Coast Fashion Tumblr account.*


What is going to Sundance like? That’s been the question of the minute since I returned from Park City, UT, so I decided to share a little of my experience with you…

There are many that don’t seize opportunities before them for one reason or another, and I’m not one of those people, so when asked if I could make the Sundance Film Festival I said, “YES!” This is Sundance after all, right? Though let me say that going to a destination where the temperature high is a balmy 25 degrees Fahrenheit is not my idea of a vacation. This just happens to be occasion where four years ago I got my first bloody nose (of memory) due to the chilling cold, dry air. Worth it. Every bloody nose of it.

Sundance provided the opportunity to reconnect with my best friend Carla who lives halfway across the world in Jordan, for the premiere of her sister and my good friend Cherien Dabis‘ new feature, May in the Summer. May in the Summer was picked by the festivals gods to OPEN the US Dramatic Competition. What an honor. Again, there is no way I could turn this down. I’ll be writing more on May this week, so stay tuned.

Much like my home town of Forks, WA, Park City is completely over-run (at least during the festival) with tourists trying to snap pics of their favorite starlets. As with my last trip to Sundance in 2009, I barely saw any celebs walking the streets, but personally I’m not one to care. Someone pointed out the guy from Grey’s Anatomy as he brushed by me…all I can tell you is that it was not Patrick Dempsey. I did admittedly geek out a bit when I got to meet Asher Roth during the StyleCaster premiere party for Cherien’s movie. Asher and I waxed about his like or dislike of new tracks while he spun hits with DJ Theory to get the party going in celebration of May in the Summer. That was my only geeky star moment, I swear!

For me this trip was marked by precious time with friends, meeting new inspirational faces (shout out fashion photographer Thierry Van Biesen), the opportunity to be in the entourage of a great film maker and to see her the stunning product of her love labors, and be fed by the energy of creativity. If you ever have the chance to do any one of those things, do not hesitate.

Let me wrap this up with my top tips for attending / surviving the Sundance Film Festival:

  1. Once announced, register ASAP for pre-sale tickets.
  2. If you didn’t register for tickets (like me) you can still crash the wait list line at any movie you may want to see. Of the three movies we crashed, we only got into one. Make sure if the movie is a highly touted feature (because of the actors, story, etc.) to be in the wait list line at LEAST an hour (if not more) in advance) to have any hope of getting in.
  3. Wear one outfit that WILL cause comment. Mine was a ridiculously haute red blazer provided by my friends at Klein Epstein & Parker. More on this to come…
  4. Drink lots of water as the altitude will get you.
  5. Don’t be overly aggressive with blowing your nose.
  6. Bring snow boots even if you think you’ll be in taxis all of the time.
  7. Download the Sundance app. Don’t bother buying the catalog unless you’re really that person to walk around referencing it every five seconds.
  8. Be extra nice to the Sundance voluteers who are planted all over the city. Many are not from the area, but the fact that they stand around in the cold answering your (probably) dumb questions all day makes them gold. Treat them with kindness and care.
  9. Please, please don’t be one of those 100 people that I wanted to kick in the shins for stopping every five seconds in the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures or chit-chat. I don’t know how many rude people I almost ran over simply trying to get around Main Street in Park City. Move off to the side folks!
  10. Say hi to one celebrity or industry person (producer, director, etc.) without freaking out and make an honest connection with them. Talk to them about their craft or why they’re at Sundance, and be genuinely interested. You never know where that conversation may lead.

*For a more visual take on my experience follow me on Instagram @instacougar hash tag #roadtosundance is my own / follow my twitter @cougartweets and the Left Coast Fashion Tumblr account.*

Ran into my favorite street artist Banksy while on the hunt for good art around Main Street in Park City.

Ran into my favorite street artist Banksy while on the hunt for good art around Main Street in Park City.

The desolation of Utah...

The desolation of Utah…

The legendary Egyptian theater of Park City.The legendary Egyptian theater of Park City.


Remember to NOT crowd the sidewalks if you visit Park City during Sundance. Be a good patron!

Where the majority of the Sundance action was taking place...Main Street in Park City.

Where the majority of the Sundance action was taking place…Main Street in Park City.

The iconic bridge and lift from Park Avenue in Park City.

The iconic bridge and lift from Park Avenue in Park City.

Art at the J.Go gallery.

Art at the J.Go gallery.

Art at the J.Go gallery.

Art at the J.Go gallery.

The mountains surrounding Park City are absolutely pristine and beautiful in every way!

The mountains surrounding Park City are absolutely pristine and beautiful in every way!

My best friend Carla and I goofing around at the Sundance Co-op repping some Canada Goose gear for their photo booth. Totes fun!

My best friend Carla and I goofing around at the Sundance Co-op repping some Canada Goose gear for their photo booth. Totes fun!

Asher and I at the May in the Summer premiere party. More on this and that red blazer to come!

Asher and I at the May in the Summer premiere party. More on this and that red blazer to come!

Committing to Un-Commit: New Year’s Resolutions 2013


I took this picture from Mt. Hollywood only three days ago. To me it looks like a fresh start.

Today is the start of a brand new year. I love the saying that “today is the first day of the rest of your life,” because that state of mind rings especially true on New Year’s Day. A new year brings about all sorts of promise and possibility; the chance for you to live the life you always dreamed about.

This is where many people get caught up in making lists. Those pesky “resolutions” that no one seems to be able to keep. I heard about an interesting concept the other day called Dynamic Time Inconsistency, where (per Wikipedia):

A decision-maker’s preferences change over time, in such a way that a preference, at one point in time, is inconsistent with a preference at another point in time.

Translation: your brain can’t make New Year’s Resolutions and actually keep them. You can’t make decisions about your future self, and expect it to be exactly that way you envisioned because you literally change your mind every second of the day. Your failure at making resolutions is a real, studied phenomenon.

So, what is my (to ultimately fail at) resolution for 2013?

I resolve to un-commit.

Think about it: we commit ourselves to so many obligations, both large and small, every day of our lives. You set your alarm, and that is a commitment to waking up at a certain time the next day, even if you hit snooze one thousand times. You want to be acceptable to the general public, so you commit to showers, brushing your teeth, hair, make-up (not in my case), exercise…the list goes on. And that’s just to start the day. Each decision we make seems to be a commitment to someone or something.

So my decision to un-commit is really just a decision to reexamine what I do on a daily basis, and of what things I can let go. I have commented before on how feel that I am faced with too many distractions. Whether it is blogging, social media feeds, work, friends, family, dinners, lunches, parties…my day is usually sold to someone else before I even open my eyes.

So 2013, for me, is about letting go and freeing up space in my life for that which truly matters. I have a pretty clear idea of what matters most to me, and it is a simple list of two.

We’ll see how this plan pans out, but I’m fairly certain that resolving to un-commit will have much more success for me than any of my New Year’s Resolutions of the past.

All the best to you in 2013.

– Cougar, Left Coast Fashion

PS: For all of those wondering after reading this, yes, I will continue my commitment to brushing my teeth.