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The Collective Behind the Vetements Collective

Relative fashion new-comer Vetements became the most anticipated, buzzed about show of Paris Fashion Week A/W2016, attracting mob scenes of fans and fashion powerhouses from across the globe.

As the story goes: Frustrated and stifled in the fashion establishment’s straight-jacket, several long-time cohorts gather nights and weekends in Demna Gvasalia’s bedroom to unchain their creativity and design purely for love and fun. Add an enterprising brother and the mystique of anonymity, and upstart brand is set to shakeup BigFashion.

While the Vetements’ backstory has been well documented, the line’s creative evolution has not. How did the brand go from what Business of Fashion’s Siska Lyssens described as “deceptively simple,” “nondescript at first sight” and “sober” to being hailed a mere two years later by W Magazine’s Alexander Fury as the “most radical thing to come out of Paris in over a decade?”

Photo: Vetements

Photo: Vetements

Gvasalia’s oft-quoted commitment to “real” clothing is usually cited as the determining factor, telling BoF, “The most important ingredient for us is the reality, what our woman wears to feel good and comfortable,” and to W Magazine, “It’s very product-orientated. There are no illusions of, ‘Oh, we want to create a dream about fashion.’ We just want to create clothes that people want to have.”

True enough. But a closer look at Vetements reveals a success story far more interesting – one of friendship, creative collaboration, and the creation of a new underground scene alchemizing not only Paris fashion, but the city itself.

That part of the story begins in 2013, just as Gvasalia starts to prepare for the collective’s debut show. Two fortuitous introductions in Paris nightclubs would provide the fuel for what would become the Vetements creative explosion. The first, stylist Lotto Volkova. Russian-born and named after Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” Volkova would soon bring the hard-edge attitude of the 90s-era post-Soviet underground scene to Vetements’ somber silhouettes.

Photo: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

Photo: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

Her fearlessness forged in the USSR’s fall, it’s in the revolutionary time of Western media influx that Volkova’s future takes shape. “It was so inspiring for me. The first time I learned about fashion was through the series Eurotrash, that program with Jean Paul Gaultier and Antoine de Caunes,” says Volkova to Vogue’s Liana Satenstein. “I was watching Jean Paul Gaultier naked in a tree, interviewing someone else naked in another tree. It was so fucked up and so much fun.”

Photo: Vogue.com

Photo: Vogue.com

Leaving her hometown at 17 to study art at Central Saint Martins, Volkova quickly fell into the local club scene. “I used to run a few club nights in London. I made and customised stuff for myself and my friends to wear. Then, somehow, that became a little business in itself. I started selling things and people would use them in photo shoots, so styling really came about naturally.”

Eventually she relocated to Paris, meeting Demna Gvasalia a few years later while out clubbing. When the Soviet-occupied Croatia-born Gvasalia approached her to work on his collection, she knew, “Straightaway, we understood we have a lot in common.”

Photo: Elsa Guardia

Photo: Elsa Guardia

Making the party circuit with Volkova, Gvasalia next met 23-year-old Clara Deshayes, AKA “Clara 3000.” The young DJ frequently mixed her vinyl at Paris hotspots as well as the infamous Fashion Week party, Cicciolina Paris. “When Demna was preparing his first show, he thought about me and called me,” she recalls to Ssense. “I started making music for shows a little bit earlier, for Jacquemus. It was the same process: we are friends, it was his first show and he didn’t have any budget.” The collaboration worked. “It’s like an additional vision of the collection – trying to make the idea of it even more powerful thanks to the music.”

Deshayes had started writing for Trax magazine when she was just seventeen, but it was in

Photo: Luca Tombolini

Photo: Luca Tombolini

electronica music that she found her calling. “There was this big sound, something very different from what I knew, there was an energy and I fell in love with it,” she told I-D magazine. “I moved to Paris and did an internship for an electronic music magazine that allowed me to go out, listen to records during the day and watch DJs at night. I bought turntables, learned to mix in my room, one thing led to another and a few months later, I was working with Pedro Winter of Ed Banger. Shortly after he called me and said, ‘you’ll do the warm-up set for Justice.’ I was freaking out, my knees were trembling behind the decks. I’ve not stopped DJing since.”

In Deshayes’ tough yet vulnerable tomboy looks, tousled hair and big blue eyes, Gvasalia had found not only a musical collaborator, but a friend, model and muse as well. And it was through her that he found photographer Pierre-Ange Carlotti. Working as a casting assistant by day, by night Carlotti documents the outrageous life of Paris’ underground party scene. His point-and-shoot style conjures images of 1970s basement porn – raw, exposed, unvarnished truth.

Photos: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

Photos: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

Drawing much of his inspiration from the work of directors like Pier Paolo Pasolini and photographers like Helmut Newton, not surprisingly, he is also heavily influenced by music, telling Konbini’s Jordan Gold, “Musically I had the chance to live with [DJ Clara 3000] for 3 years, I learned so much from every style of music because she has a really eclectic taste and culture.”

Photo: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

Photo: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

“I’d love to consider myself some kind of reporter,” he confessed to I-D’s Daniel Oritz. “I am a true believer in the things that I like the most, which is documenting my life and that of those around me. I feel inspired by them. There is no real boundary between my life and my work, because what I do is take pictures of my own life. I worked for Jacquemus, but he appears in my portraits too. I take pictures of Clara Deshayes for fashion editorials, but we are also flat mates. In the beginning there was no job that some friend of mine wasn’t involved in, and they are now quite used to being in my pictures.”

As for fashion? “My favorite trends are from another time, from New York and the men that used to go cruising and go to the Mineshaft, for example. I’m all about the colour black, chains and leather. If I had to dress someone in Paris, it’d be with Vetements. I like people dressed as if they just left an after party. This is also how I usually dress.”

It’s clear Carlotti’s admiration for the fashion brand isn’t one-sided. As Vetements’ Gvasalia explains to Dazed Digital’s Kin Woo about the label’s core in club culture and underground music scenes, “There wasn’t much happening in Paris that we related to for a long time, so we all decided to do something about it – run club nights, DJ, make clothes, go out and listen to music. We’ve grown up together with people like DJ Clara 3000 and photographer Pierre-Ange Carlotti, who takes the backstage photos at Vetements.”

Photo: Vetements

Photo: Vetements

It is within this context of mutual admiration that we begin to realize that Vetements is not merely a fashion collective, but an extended creative collective, ready to inspire and challenge each other in their respective crafts. It is this environment that empowered Vetements warp-speed creative evolution from “non-descript” to “radical.” As Carlotti told Ortiz, “Today’s fashion has this sexy feeling because it relies on music, photography, design, all these other creative disciplines. I think that what’s new about it is that in the current environment everybody is as interested in his or her own abilities as in what others are capable of.”

“I think we’re all trying to create things that are part of our time,” Deshayes told Karin Nelson at W Magazine. “It’s almost an urgency.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Gvasalia to NYT writer Ann Binlot, saying “It’s about now, it’s about our generation, and that’s what the big difference is for us.”

Photo: Mudd Club

Photo: Mudd Club

The parallels to New York’s Mudd Club circa 1981 are hard to miss. Regulars at the “no wave new wave” underground scene included up-and-comers from Debbie Harry to Betsey Johnson, Allen Ginsberg to Keith Haring, with David Bowie and Andy Warhol frequenting the place as well. Anna Sui and her friends were (as NYTs Magazine’s Tim Blanks puts it) “the tightknit group turning the toilets into a club within a club.” It was an environment of exchange; a merging of art, literature, music and film.

unknownMudd embodied a merging of fashion as well: thrift-shop chic met DIY as the not-yet fashion elite swapped clothes with friends of both sexes, took scissors and hammers to denim and leather, and pulled out safety pins, markers and craft scraps to create one of a kind, fashions on the fly.

It was scene steeped in music, fueled by creativity and empowered by the possibility that even if you weren’t an artist, musician or filmmaker, you could be. It was the kind of creative combustion engine fashion hasn’t since – at least not until now.unknown2

In Vetements 2016 collections, we find Mudd-esque influences underpinning every color, fabric, form and silhouette. We find them in rippling through Lotta Volkova’s so-bad-it’s-good styling, and echoing throughout Clara 3000’s set lists. Recalling Maripol’s Polaroids, we see them develop in Pierre-Ange Carlotti’s backstage photographs.

What might this collective tour de force have lined up next? As Deshayes said to I-D, “I really believe it’s better not to plan too much. Right now, we’re a bunch of young people all pointed in the same direction within our fields. We are in Paris, we have a common vision. We’re the same. Simply, we’re a group.”

Photo: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

Photo: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

 

 

Fashion Passport: Rajasthan, India

Five no-hassle, high-quality shopping experiences in northern India.

For many, the hustle and bustle of India’s street markets are a shopper’s paradise. The lure of glittering saris, exotic spices and aromatic teas is hard to resist. And let’s face it, where else can you pick up an armful of bangles or fifty strands of beads for a mere 100 rupees (about 1.25€)?

But for some (like me), they can also mean sensory overload. I found wandering through stall after stall and wading through the thousands of choices paralyzing; the constant hassling, haggling and high-pressure tactics exhausting. By day three, I longed for something a little more relaxed.

Ferreting out low-pressure, high-quality shops in India wasn’t easy. But with a little persistence (and some help from our tour guide), I finally found exactly what I was looking for: stores offering authentic, made-in-India goods in an atmosphere meant for leisurely browsing.

If on your next trip to Rajasthan you begin suffering street-market burn-out, checkout these five places for a restful respite:

1.  Fabindia

Linking over 55,000 craft-based, rural producers to modern urban markets, Fabindia is chain-store shopping you can feel good about. Alongside clothing for men, women and children, you’ll find stunning housewares, hand-crafted gift items and organic cosmetics.

What to buy: 

Tunics chic enough for the streets of Paris; skin-soothing Papaya Face Pack and Aloe & Cucumber Gel; super-hydrating Avocado Conditioner; Kajal kohl eyeliner with almond oil (the blackest-black I’ve found yet!).

Insider tip: 

The stores’ incredible clothing assistants will help you find the right fit and create a perfectly coordinated head-to-toe look, accessories included.

fabindiacollage

2.  Jal Mahal Textile & Carpets

One of India’s leading manufacturers, Jal Mahal is well known for its wool and silk rugs featuring beautifully intricate, hand-woven designs. But upstairs from the carpet showroom is where I found my heaven: an expansive shop of textiles ranging from fabrics to finished fashions.

What to buy:

Elegantly designed scarves in 100% pashmina wool or silk-wool blends (my favorite); summer-perfect pants in hand-blocked prints; hand-quilted coverlets made from traditional dyes and fabrics.

Insider tip:

Don’t miss the highly-educational demonstrations of block printing and carpet weaving taking place just outside the store.

rugcollage

Image Credit: TripAdvisor

3.  Antiquariat

Jewelry is always my souvenir of choice, and Antiquariat is definitely the place for it. This family-run business offers one of the largest collections of jewels in India, featuring precious and semi-precious stones set in platinum, gold or silver. While their beautiful pieces are designed and produced exclusively in Jaipur by local craftsmen, their prices are surprisingly affordable.

What to buy:

Your hearts desire! Though the store offers a seemingly endless array of stones, the locally-sourced garnets stole my heart.

Insider tip:

If you’ll be shopping with several friends, call the store ahead of time to arrange an exclusive, after-hours visit.

jewlerycollage

4.  Mehrangarh Fort Museum Shop

In Jodhpur, a visit to Mehrangarh Fort is an obvious must. Less obvious are the shopping gems you’ll discover at the fort’s museum store. Alongside the usual gift items are delicate soapstone carvings, inlayed jewelry boxes and a multitude of high-quality clothing options. All profits from the shop support ongoing conservation and restoration of the Mehrangarh Fort and the nearby Ahichhatragarh Fort at Naguar.

What to buy:

Camel leather shoes in an array of vegetable-dyed colors; hand-woven area rugs; one-of-a-kind statement necklaces.

Insider tip:

In the smaller booths outside the main store, look for original artwork by the renowned local artist, Syed Mehar Ali Abbassi.

museum

5.  Sheroes’ Hangout

Ok, so this place isn’t exactly a shopping mecca, but it’s a great retreat from Agra’s busy streets at which to enjoy a cup of masala tea while picking out a few hand-made gifts. Created by the Stop Acid Attacks campaign, the café is a place of empowerment for survivors. All proceeds benefit the campaign and the shop’s local artisans.

What to buy:

Cute and simple dresses, original artworks and hand-made gift items, all created by survivors working at the café.

Insider tip:

If you’d like to know more about the Sheroes’ women and the Stop Acid Attacks campaign, ask to see the video of their story.

sheroescollage

Time(less) Travel with Louis Vuitton

How the Louis Vuitton retrospective at the Grand Palais won my wanderlust heart.

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been much of a Louis Vuitton fan.

Fashion heresy, I know. The logo-emblazoned handbags have always seemed just a bit too flashy, too obvious a display.

All that changed about fifteen minutes into my experience at the recent Louis Vuitton “Volez Voguez Voyagez” retrospective at Paris’ Grand Palais. Curated by Olivier Saillard, the exhibition (the title of which translates to “Fly Sail Travel”) retraced the brand’s journey from 1854 through today. Here, I would discover not just the brand’s fine craftsmanship, but a kindred spirit inspired by the love of travel, adventure and life’s journey.

The experience began expectedly enough, taking us back to Mr. Vuitton’s origins as an apprentice to box maker Romain Maréchal. Eyeing Vuitton’s tools of the trade – those of carpenter rather than couturier – and wandering through his early creations, I began to understand the thoughtfulness and quality with which they were crafted. His trunks meticulously compartmentalized every dress, hat, glove, coat and shoe of his clients’ wardrobes. Ergonomically designed and tailored for strength and lightness, his perfected flat trunk heralded the beginning of modern luggage.

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Image Credit: Grégoire Vielle (top) / Elle Stark (bottom)

Here, I began to see the genius not only of Louis Vuitton, but that of Olivier Saillard’s curation. For betwixt the heritage trunks was a modern creation, foreshadowing this exhibition to be both a journey through time and one of utter timelessness.

This initial temporal juxtaposition was the 2014 “Studio in a Trunk,” created for, and in collaboration with, photographer and filmmaker Cindy Sherman, herself the subject of retrospective at New York’s MoMA. Inspired by the feather colors of Sherman’s beloved parrot, the trunk’s vivid yellow, green and blue interior compartments were designed for her unique on-set needs, complete with a lighted vanity and pull-out camera case. Handwritten labels designate her tools of the trade: fake eyeballs, clown wigs and miscellaneous small body parts.

While Sherman’s trunk stood apart for its brilliant colors and modern utility, I was surprised how the lexicon of its design felt perfectly in place with Vuitton’s earlier creations. What I did not realize, however, was that this would be just one of many surprises Saillard had in store.

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Image Credit: Elle Stark

In the next gallery I learned of an ambitious expedition through Algeria, Mali and the Congo, organized in the mid-1920s by French industrialist, André Citroën. Citroën insisted on outfitting by Vuitton, including special order trunks accommodating the specific climate and all-terrain transport. Instinctively Vuitton recognized luxury as necessity, incorporating carriers for bone china place settings and sterling silver tea sets. By the time Citroën embarked on his second expedition across the legendary Silk Road five years later, the Maison Louis Vuitton had been cemented as the accoutier of civilized adventurers the globe over.

Journeying through the Citroën-era display, I didn’t think to distinguish the contemporary from the classical. Instead, I studied the palettes of gold, silver and sand traversing the entire collection. I was mesmerized by constructions and silhouettes of the past, for how could they feel as relevant today as they were to a bygone era? Through it all, I imagined myself on Citroën’s safari-style adventure – conquering sand dunes, making camp for the night and sipping tea beside the evening’s fire.

My traveler’s spirit had been called, my imagination ignited.

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Image Credit: Elle Stark (left; bottom right) / Grégoire Vielle (top right)

Next I was yachting, beckoned to the deck by a warm summer sun. I imagined wind tousling my hair and a gentle sea spray on my skin, my dress billowing in the breeze. Below deck I would later dress for dinner, selecting from elegant garments safeguarded in purpose-built trunks; compartments coddling my hats and jewels. Steamer bags would accommodate purchases from ports near and far.

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Image Credit: Elle Stark

Suddenly I’m traveling by train – the Orient Express, perhaps – countries and countrysides passing like celluloid frames out my window. I glide through the cars carrying my bejeweled bag, stylish and smart in my… Marc Jacobs pantsuit? Wait, what? How could I be on a steam train traveling from 1930s Paris to Constantinople wearing a creation from 2013?

This would prove to be the moment of both my revelation and infatuation. Saillard’s curation had given me a time machine, and Vuitton, a wardrobe to journey through it. Never before had I recognized the era-defying genius of Vuitton. Now, it was all I could see.

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Image Credit: Elle Stark

Reaching the era when travelers took to the skies, I studied every placard, examined every date. These too were designs from across the ages, yet ageless in their design. Lightweight Aéro and Aviette trunks for long weekend stays, Square Mouth and Gladstone model carry-ons fitting neatly in cabin compartments, butter-soft leathers in cognacs and coals – all crafted for the modern traveler as if in a continuum of modernity.

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Image Credit: Grégoire Vielle (top) / Elisha Moore (bottom)

By the time I’d reached the final destination of the exhibition, my perspective of Louis Vuitton had shifted. No longer would I see logos emblazoned on handbags carried in obvious displays of wealth. Instead, I would see fellow travellers ready to embark on their next adventure, if only in their imaginations.

Les Benjamins Brings the Street to SILENCIO

Designer Aydin’s Paris Fashion Week party lives the rebellion of his “Ottoman Punk” collection.

The silent staircase leading down to SILENCIO gave us little indication of the mayhem ensuing at what may have been the hippest after-party during the Paris Menswear Fashion Week. After having our picture snapped red-carpet style (check out all the guests’ photos on the Les Benjamin’s Facebook page), we shimmied through the club’s golden corridors, lined with achingly beautiful models, tattooed rappers and fashion it-girls. Making our way to the (normally subdued) lounge area of the David Lynch-conceived salon, we found party-goers dancing on tabletops, drinks in one hand, cigarettes in the other. After hitting the open bar, we bumped it on the dance floor with Rita Ora, Alexander Wang, G-Dragon and Derek Blasberg. Performances by Montaigne Street, ASAP Nast and Section Boyz laid the backdrop for the street-chic scene.

While this latest edition of the near-legendary Les Benjamins’ parties did not disappoint, neither did Bunyamin Aydin’s AW16 “Ottoman Punk” collection for the brand, which we previewed via an exquisitely-produced film shown in SILENCIO’s theater room. Dervishes whirled amongst mohawked models displaying the gender-neutral collection of tunics, joggers, bombers and motos. Turkish traditionalism met icons of rebellion, merging patterns of Istanbul with visages of Sid Vicious, Grace Jones and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Eastern palettes of mustard, canary and cranberry punctuated de riguer city-black, as intricate embroidery mingled with images of grafitti spray-paint.

With dawn nearing, we reflected as we ascended the stairs. Neither the event nor the collection would soon be forgotten.

Learn more about Les Benjamins and SILENCIO.

SILENCIO Party Photos by Yulia Shadrinsky
Collection Photos by Kevin Wong

How I Decided to Follow my Dreams.

One year ago today, I decided to follow two of my life-long dreams: going to graduate school and living in Paris. It was a long time coming.

I first had the idea to go to grad school in Paris when I was finishing up my undergrad. But it had taken me seven years to get my Bachelor’s degree and at 25, I was quite a bit older than most new graduates. I had some ambitious career goals and felt spending another two years in school wouldn’t give me enough time to get where I wanted. Marriage and kids would mean taking a break from the workforce in my early 30s for sure. And besides, I didn’t need a graduate degree to work in advertising. If anything, it would make landing an entry-level position more difficult.

So I put it off.

Ten years later, I was still single, didn’t have any kids and had accomplished everything I’d wanted in my career. The thrill of my work gave way to routine. I was bored and longed for new challenges. I again thought of my dream of grad school in Paris. This time, I got as far as finding the school and the program I wanted. But tuition alone was unbelievably expensive. I couldn’t imagine ever being able to afford it.

So I abandoned my dream altogether.

Another ten years go by. I knew I still wanted to go to grad school. Teaching at the university-level has always been part of my long-term plan. But I could do it in Austin. And while I may never live in Paris, an extended visit would be almost as good. So I made a plan to spend a summer in the City of Lights.

Then on this exact day last year, I found myself both extremely sick with the flu and having to work on a major client project with an urgent deadline. Frankly, I was pissed. I should have been enjoying my holiday, or at the very least in bed nursing my illness. I had started having some serious, stress-related health problems months earlier and having to work while sick was not what I needed to be doing to myself.

Angry, I started day-dreaming about my upcoming trip to Paris that summer. Anger turned to sadness as my dream of grad school in Paris crept back in. Suddenly, my summer trip seemed like such a waste. To be in Paris for three months, a quarter of the time it would take to complete the Master’s program I’d wanted, and right next to the school I wanted to go to…it felt tragic.

And then I heard the little voice: “What’s stopping you? Why don’t you just do it? It’s not too late.”

That was the moment I decided to make it happen.

I started the application process that very moment, lined up my references the following day, and took the GRE three days after that. Within two weeks, I had updated my résumé, written my statement of purpose, requested my undergrad transcripts and submitted the application.

I did everything so fast there wasn’t time to talk myself out of it. I didn’t let myself think about it too much. I didn’t want the fear, uncertainty and doubt to creep back in. I had no idea if I’d get in, and no idea how I’d pay for it if I did. But I decided to worry about all that later. I would just take it one step at a time, and trust if it was meant to be, the Universe would make it happen.

Today, I am living in Paris, working on my Master’s degree, and living a life-long dream I  thought impossible.

Life should be challenging and exhilarating. But it shouldn’t be a constant struggle. Borrowing from an old Irish blessing, I have always believed when you’re on the right path, the road will rise up to meet you.

For me, it has. Which is why I know I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

It’s never too late to follow your dreams. May you find your path, and may the road rise up to meet you.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

What are the life-long dreams you’ve yet to realize? What’s standing in your way? Have you found your path already? How did you find it and how did you make it happen? Share your thoughts and let’s inspire each other. I’d love to hear from you!

Sneaky Diet Saboteur: Gummy Vitamin Supplements

I have always hated taking vitamins. When I was little, I used to bury them in the ketchup on my plate so I could hide from my mom the fact that I hadn’t taken them.

As an adult, I’ve never taken them on a regular basis. But, in an effort to pay more attention to my health, I recently decided to start taking various vitamins and other supplements. I was so happy to find they’ve finally started making “adult gummies.” Finally, something I actually want to take!

Well, not so fast, lol.  I knew it was too good to be true!

Since my fantastic little MyNetDiary Pro app also helps you track nutrients, I started entering the nutritional values of my supplements into my daily intake as well.

Horrors! My supplements are adding up to a whopping 120 calories a day. Yikes!

I’ve heard over and over again that as little as 100 calories a day can make the difference between maintaining a healthy body weight and becoming obese. And there it is—120 calories a day I didn’t even realize I was consuming.

The worst offenders are the Vitamin C slices at 48 calories a day. Add in the CLA supplements (non-gummy form) at 27 calories, Omega-3 gummies at 20, and the multi-vitamin gummies at 25, and that’s a full 10% of my recommended daily caloric intake!

Supplements are expensive, so I will be finishing out this current stock, in spite of the caloric sacrifice. But after these are through, I will definitely be looking for more weight-loss friendly options.

Love & Hate: ExfoliKate

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate for some time now. It started about two years ago when I was given a sample. My excitement to try this product bordered on embarrassing.

That excitement turned to horror less than five minutes later, however, when I rinsed off the treatment and found my face not only beet-red, but covered in 2nd degree burns. Some burns were about the size of a pin head, others nearly the size of a dime. The redness lasted for several days and the painful scabs from the burns took a week to heal.

To be fair, this wasn’t exactly Kate’s fault. The product sample didn’t come with full directions or warnings and I have famously sensitive skin, turned red and irritated by even some moisturizers over the years. Nonetheless, this was the first time a beauty product had literally reduced me to tears.

But as the redness subsided and the scabs healed, I noticed something else — my skin was incredibly smooth, visibly brighter, and the sunspots noticeably lighter.

Still horrified from the experience but impressed with the ending result, I decided to give ExfoliKate Gentle a try. An Allure magazine “Best of Beauty” award winner, I anticipated the same illuminating results as the original, but with none of the trauma.

Alas, I was again disappointed. While significantly less irritating, I never saw the dramatic results of the original formula for which I longed. In beauty as in life, there are always tradeoffs.

Then this Christmas I was given not one, but two, full-size tubes of the original ExfoliKate product. I decided to give it one more try before re-gifting to one of my less-sensitive friends. Knowing the potential for another tear-filled disaster, this time I had a plan. It was a gamble that paid off.

So, for my fellow sensitive-skinned friends, here are my tips for garnering the fabulous results of ExfoliKate, while minimizing the horror-show potential:

1.  Use a stopwatch. You want to massage the product into your skin for 30 seconds and then leave it on for no more than one minute afterwards. Timing is crucial in getting the results you want without the burns. Use the stopwatch function on your smart phone to ensure both.

2. Be delicate with your cheekbones. While massaging in the product, be careful not to place too much emphasis on your cheekbone area. This is an area we tend to over-massage and even with careful timing, I still had a near-burn on my left cheekbone. This was also the site of my most severe burn on first use. Go over the area only once or twice, then focus on the rest of your face.

3. Immediately sooth your skin. Keep your most calming, soothing moisturizer on hand to apply immediately after rinsing. Products with coconut oil, avocado oil or aloe will particularly help reduce the trauma and speed healing.

4. Plan accordingly. This is not a treatment to try before a big night out or when you have an important client meeting the next day. Even with the careful timing, I still experienced significant redness which took two days to subside. Save ExfoliKate for a no-plans weekend or a slow workweek.

Sensitive skin or not, I recommend giving ExfoliKate a try. I have yet to find another treatment that delivers such immediate and noticeable results.

 

ExfoliKate in 0.5 oz, 2 oz, and 5 oz, $22–$175; available at Sephora