Dear Anthro: I am in love with your Creative team.

Okay, I intended to make this post more sincere, but I just had too much fun making captions for the pictures. If you recall, I love making snarky captions.

In all seriousness though, I think the branding/merchandising folks over at Anthropologie are f-ing geniuses. They create this vibrant fantasy world in which women of all kinds want to live - a romantic place full of lush textures, flowery scents, afternoons spent by the lake, and daydreams. The aesthetic has such a French emphasis on living well and surrounding oneself with simple luxuries. And the team has taken it up a notch by creating this quietly dramatic, visionary take on an outfit collection/lookbook. They have my team here at work practically drooling at the mouth with its sophistication and general gorgeousness.

But make no mistake, this kind of lifestyle doesn't come cheap.  In fact, a trip to the bakery could very well cost you $1000 if you want to look as good as these models do!

"FLAME HAIRED": One beautiful, striking image from the JAK & JIL blog

So normally I find the Jak & Jil blog a bit exhausting with its spiked and spiky heels, slavish adherence to all things high fashion, and decidedly unwearable get-ups (at least...for regular people). But every once in a while Tommy Ton blows my mind.

Such is the case with this photo of Taylor Tomasi, preternaturally red hair against a backdrop of neutrals. The precise angle of her profile, the tilt of her head, her expression, the wind-sweptedness of it all. For a moment, the world revolves around her. The buttery black leather and hard-edged zippers are an afterthought. Thank you, Tommy Ton.

(Happy Friday!) Why Harper's Bazaar subscribers have it better.

Besides the fact that the newsstand price is about $4/issue, and I pay just $10 flat for a whole year's worth of magazines. No, what I'm talking about is a fact little-known outside this special club of people who subscribe to the magazine on a regular basis: we get different covers.  Better covers, I must say.  

Harper's Bazaar newsstand covers don't really stand out from every other magazine out there--huge faces with loud words graffittied all over them.  "Fabulous at Every Age!" is a popular Bazaar saying.  "Bags! SHOES! 437 New Looks! Beauty STEALS!"  I really hate how these kinds of covers treat us like we're stupid.

But oh, the subscriber covers! I'm not sure if other magazines do this, but I prefer Harper's Bazaar to most other fashion magazines because of it (the only other one I love is W, with its awesome photography in that fabulous large format).  Every month I look forward to receiving that delicious piece of artwork in the mail, showcasing that issue's lovely celebrity in some sweeping, epic gown, striking a whimsical, gestural pose against a cinematic backdrop.  Oh, how I love it.  So much that I painstakingly collected some of the most striking covers from the past couple of years and created diptychs so you can compare the subscriber covers to the regular newsstand covers.  You're welcome.

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Barbara Cole for Anthropologie May 2009

It's funny how Anthropologie appeals to almost every woman out there in the way that it captures the imagination.  It's some very powerful brand management that communicates a single, cohesive idea: a well-lived and beautiful life.  Everything from the whimsical details (flowers and pearls on a cardigan?) to the lush weight of the fabrics to the jewel-box setup of of the stores works together to create this feeling of romance, creativity, and luxury.  And yes, I love their clothing--but can only afford to buy it on sale.

So whichever marketing manager came up with the idea of teaming with self-taught fine art photographer Barbara Cole ought to get a raise.  What a stroke of genius!  When the gorgeous May 2009 catalog landed in my mailbox, I was intrigued by how Cole's style brings the clothing to life.  And the cover looks almost like a painting, reminiscent of the Pre-Raphaelites, fairy tales, and the Lady of Shalott.  

I don't know a lot about the photographer herself, but I poked around her site a bit and found some more arresting images of dreamy water-color fabrics and burnished floating hair.

To see the "making of" video, visit Anthro's website.

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