April 10, 2013
For those of you who have Coachella on the horizon, it’s major crunch time for putting together a festival look. In addition to our breeziest dresses, cutoff shorts and supersoft linen tees (it does get really hot in the desert), we’ll be piling on the bracelets. (After all, what goes better with the mandatory wristband than an armful of bangles and friendship bracelets?)
Photo by Bryan Derballa
Take a tour through our fresh crop of arm candy and then tune into the ten artists from this year’s lineup who we’re most excited to see—even if we have to experience them vicariously via YouTube footage.
April 8, 2013
We’ve been fans of Katy Goodman since we first spotted her bouncing around on stage with Vivian Girls, the all-female peppy punk band she has been the bassist for since 2007. And while she remains a faithful member of VG, we have found ourselves even more smitten with her solo project, La Sera, which brings Goodman’s utterly charming, soft-focus vocals and knack for catchy pop songwriting to the forefront at long last.
Since one of the songs from her 2012 album Sees the Light (the tropical-tinged “Real Boy”) serves as the backdrop for our captivatingly cool Madewell swim video (seriously, it’s like a little mental vacation), we thought there was no better time for a catchup with Goodman to talk songwriting, spring rituals and poolside playlists.
How’d you come up with the name La Sera?
I was on tour in Italy with Vivian Girls while I was trying to come up with the name for my new solo project. We were at a restaurant when I saw a crazy pink tropical drink get sent to a table and I asked the waiter what it was called. He said “la rosa de la sera,” which means “the rose of the evening.” I thought it was a beautiful phrase, so I shortened it into a band name.
Sees the Light is, by all accounts, a breakup album; was there something cathartic about putting all those feelings into song?
Oh definitely, that was the main motivation behind writing the album. After singing all those songs a thousand times, I can safely say I am over that breakup.
Can you tell us a little bit about your songwriting process?
I tend to start off by myself in my bedroom with a guitar. Lately I’ve been experimenting with more unique chords and song structures. On Sees the Light, I generally wrote the music first and lyrics and melody second.
What are your plans this year for La Sera and/or Vivian Girls?
I plan on recording my next La Sera record this spring! I’m very excited. Also, I think Vivian Girls will be doing a few shows here and there…
What’s your favorite springtime ritual?
I live in LA, so it feels like springtime all year round. I would say my favorite daily routine is walking to the coffee shop every morning without my cell phone. It’s only 15 minutes, but it’s the perfect way to start every day. It almost feels like meditation.
Any favorite song that always gets you in the mood for sun-filled days?
Maxine Nightingale’s “Right Back Where We Started From.” It’s an instant mood-lifter.
April 7, 2013
April 5, 2013
If you swing by our new Chicago store (and you should—doors just opened at 932 Rush Street on April 3rd) you’ll notice a captivating multipanel wood installation.
The impressive piece is the work of Michelle Peterson-Albandoz, a Chicago-based mixed-media artist and painter we commissioned to build a sculptural screen for our first-ever Windy City store. We’re excited for you to see it, and all of our spring goods. We caught up with the artist to talk about the piece and get her recommendations for must-see art shows in the area.
How long have you lived in Chicago and why did you choose the Windy City?
I moved to Chicago from Puerto Rico in 1989. I chose the city to further my education at the Art Institute of Chicago. I graduated with a BFA in sculpture and painting.
Can you tell us about the installation you built for the new Chicago Madewell store?
It celebrates nature. My hope is that the viewer will celebrate nature and its gifts and become more sensitive to them.
What environmental issues are of greatest concern to you right now?
The sustainability of our forests and protection of our oceans.
How do you communicate this in your work?
By choosing reclaimed materials I relay the concept of sustainability and reveal nature’s beauty. I hope that the grounding visual of the work will inspire people to think about nature’s essential value in their lives.
What are your favorite places to look at art in Chicago? Any must-see current shows?
My favorite spot is the Modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum has a great show up of Vivian Maier’s photographs. She wasn’t discovered until after her death and her story is worth knowing.
April 3, 2013
If you haven’t already heard, these are no ordinary beach blankets—in fact, the story behind them is quite extraordinary.
The mission of the Collaborative Group brand is to partner with and provide sustainable employment for artisans in small communities in need around the globe by connecting them with brands looking for unique products. “I founded CG in September 2011 after spending four years working in the developing world and seeing firsthand women who were capable of making beautiful products that people would love, but who were still living under the poverty line and I wanted to change that,” says Kathleen Wright.
Each of the woven beach blankets we are carrying at Madewell is entirely crafted by hand in India’s northern Rajasthan region by skilled artisans—the weaving is done in a number of villages, depending on the design (ikat in Pochampally and Andra Pradesh and stripes in Baksar), and the sewing in a community sewing co-op in Bikaner.
The co-op is particularly unique because it is mixed-gender, employing many local women who traditionally are not permitted to work outside the home or alongside men. So the beauty of each of these Collaborative Group beach blankets goes way beyond the stitch—and that’s something we can definitely get behind.
April 1, 2013
Did you know one of the earliest records linking the first day of April to purposeful foolishness was in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales? While today the faux holiday is celebrated with silly inter-office emails (among other shenanigans), there was a time when hijinks were taken very seriously. Here, five all-time bests that’ll make you think twice about investing in that whoopee cushion:
1. The Scholarly Stunt
On the last day of classes back in 1994, a group of crafty MIT students placed a flashing police car on top of the school’s tallest building—or so it seemed. The vehicle was, in fact, the shell of a Chevrolet merely painted to resemble the campus’ cop cars, but the legend lives on as one of the university’s best stunts.
2. The TV Trick
On this day in 1957, the BBC aired a faux documentary about Switzerland’s “spaghetti harvest.” How convincing was the piece? Well, a slew of viewers actually phoned in to ask how they could grow their own spaghetti trees.
3. The Gotham Ghosts
In 2010, an NYC improv group surprised a room filled with unsuspecting Public Library patrons when they burst in as Proton pack–wielding Ghostbusters, recreating the movie’s famed literary scene. Sadly, no books flew off the walls, but in the end it didn’t matter—the bookworms gave them a round of applause.
4. The Crazy Clock
College students are master tricksters, apparently, and a savvy few from Louisiana Tech shocked everyone when they reprogrammed the main clock tower’s bell to play “Dueling Banjos” (from the film Deliverance) every hour on the hour. If you’ve ever seen the film, you know this prank was probably very funny and slightly terrifying all at once.
5. The Oldest Trick in the Book
During the Trojan War, in a brilliant scheme fit for modern day, the Greeks pretended to retreat, leaving a large-scale wooden horse in front of the gates of Troy. The structure, which the Trojans mistook for a victory trophy and brought into their city, was—surprise!—actually filled with Greece’s finest soldiers, who snuck out in the early morning hours and opened the gates, letting the entire Greek army in and winning the war. Next-level horseplay, folks.
March 28, 2013
This season, Madewell designer Maggie put colored pencil to paper to spell out her spring love on a dreamy linen tee using all the beautiful things she associates with the season: M is a vine-covered wall, A is daisies, D is leaves and a rose, E is a hose and water, W is braided leather, E is leaves and those double L’s are calla lilies.
Here, a few snippets of her handiwork as it evolved:
Think of it as our love letter, or rather letters, to all things spring.
March 27, 2013
For a fresh look this season, we are in love with linen tees. Lightweight and perfectly draped, they are supersoft perfection thrown on with everything. They’re also a key piece of the effortless, off-duty model look, so we asked three of our favorite faces to give them a spin. Here, they share their thoughts on tees and other warm-weather pleasures.
What do you normally wear to a go-see? Skinny jeans and a simple T-shirt or tank top.
What’s your favorite thing to do once the weather warms up? Explore a new city with freshly blooming flowers.
Favorite word that starts with T? Truth.
What do you normally wear to a go-see? Usually my outfit is very simple: skinny black jeans, a white T-shirt and high-heel boots.
What’s your favorite way to soak up spring? On the weekends, I love having a glass of rosé on the terrace with my friends. We’ll stay there for hours enjoying the sun.
What smell most reminds you of spring? The smell of Nuxe Oil—to me it means that winter is over!
Favorite word that starts with T? Travel.
What’s your favorite rite of spring? Just sitting in the park with a nice book, sunbathing. What else do you need? I also like the fact that I can put on anything I want and not worry about being cold. I’ve been collecting new skirts, dresses, shoes and other stuff all winter, and just waiting for the moment I can show them off.
What smell most reminds you of spring? Lilac and cherry blossom.
What’s your favorite way to wear a tee? Over a swimsuit, while playing beach volleyball on summer vacation.
Favorite word that starts with T? Tomorrow.
March 26, 2013
We’re longtime fans of Brooklyn label Whit, led by ever-charming designer Whitney Pozgay (she of the signature top knot and coral lip). Her new collection—full of feminine silhouettes and whimsical prints—is so perfect for the season, we decided to pick her brain about all things spring.
10 Ways Whit Thinks Spring:
1. What’s your dream destination for a spring break?
I have always wanted to go to Indonesia. This April, we are finally headed to Bali. We’re going to scour the island for inspiration for our Spring 2014 collection. There’s so much to explore, from spending time with the craftsmen who produce amazing traditional textiles, to hiking to the terraced rice fields, volcanoes and temples, to experiencing the rich culture during the colorful religious ceremonies that will be taking place while we’re there.
2. Spring-cleaning strategy?
I take everything out of the closet and donate what I haven’t worn in a year. (In theory that is…I have a hard time letting go of some things, especially vintage.) Then I organize by item and color. It looks really beautiful for about a week or two. If I could only figure out how to keep it that way!
3. Spring produce of choice?
I love strawberries on everything, especially arugula with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar.
4. Music that sets the mood for spring?
Go Outside by Cults
The Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte
Anything by The Beach Boys
Itchycoo Park by Small Faces
Cleo’s Mood by Jr. Walker and the All Stars
Dance Yourself Clean by LCD Soundsystem
5. Cultural event?
My husband is from New Orleans and we’re hoping to make it down to the Jazz Fest this year. Fleetwood Mac and The Black Keys are playing in the same weekend and the food is off the charts.
6. Spring nail polish shade?
“Butler Please” from Essie is the best bright blue for toes! It’s really saturated and looks rad with a tan.
7. Spring fragrance?
I’m obsessed with Bobbi Brown Beach. It smells like sunscreen. I wear it year-round.
8. Spring flowers?
I love bright pink ranunculus for entertaining, but I am a sucker for white daisies. We keep them in the kitchen all through spring. They make any room feel brighter.
9. Quintessential hue?
Pinky corals are my favorite for spring. They look great on everyone.
10. Outdoor activity?
Pro Kadima in the green grass.
March 22, 2013
Model Liu Wen is by far one of our favorites. Born in Hunan, China, the 25-year-old beauty is known for her outgoing and funny personality (not to mention killer cheekbones).
But what we love most about this girl is her impeccable personal style. Her knack for mixing denim with designer duds and streetwear constantly provides us with style inspiration. The cover star of our first-ever Madewell catalog, she’s back in our latest spring edition modeling black and white fashion, one of the season’s biggest trends.
We caught up with the whimsical, globe-traveling Wen to find out about her denim choices, her styling tips and what she can’t leave home without. (Spoiler alert: It may include a cookie or two.)
You have such incredible off-duty style—who else do you admire for their sartorial choices?
Where do you look for fashion inspiration?
My work is the best inspiration! Every makeup artist or stylist with whom I work has many special ideas, tips and creations. I can always learn so much from them.
What did you like about this shoot?
Striped shirts and printed shorts, jeans and trousers are all items I buy and wear a lot in my private life. They are very easy to mix and match and they’re must-haves to create many different looks.
How would you describe your denim style?
I prefer skinny jeans. I’ll wear simple, tighter clothes on top to make a sexy look and when it’s colder outside I wear a big jacket over them.
You’ve said you would like to be a stylist. Do you offer advice on shoots?
Ha, ha—actually, I rarely offer my opinion on shoots. After all, I am working as a model now and think it’s more important for a model to let others be creative and realize their ideas.
How will you wear graphic black and white this spring?
I’m thinking of using a bright solid-colored bag to contrast with the black and white.
When you have down time, what’s the first thing you want to do?
I let myself wake up naturally, do a manicure and my hair-care routine and cook for myself.
Is there anything beauty-wise you would never try? Say, with your hair color?
I wish to try everything beauty-wise (except plastic surgery), although sometimes I’m just not brave enough to take the plunge and do something that makes a big difference.
Since you are constantly traveling for work, what are you packing musts?
I collect a lot of eco-friendly shopping bags that serve to separate my shoes and other small stuff in my luggage. For skincare, I always pack facial masks from Estée Lauder. There are always candies and very often a half a pack of cookies in my bag.