Buy Curious: Dress Shopping in West Africa, Bringing Style to UC Berkeley, & Industrial-Chic Fashion

This week, Buy Curious reports on hunting for traditional fashion in Ghana. Plus, some UC Berkeley students band together for the purpose of upping the college town’s couture clout, the Crucible puts fire and metal together for an industrial-grade fashion show in West Oakland, beading enthusiasts descend upon downtown Oakland, and we break down the latest in cosmetic surgery: eyelash extensions. It’s Buy Curious!


Buy Curious Does West Africa
One half of Buy Curious just got back (or at least finally recuperated) from an exciting, exhausting ten-day trip to Ghana. And while I was happy to return to the luxuries of the “developed” world (garbage pickup, recycling, closed sewers, potable tap water, endless food options, etc.), I’m longing to see the beautiful bright fabrics and tailored dressing on Ghanaian women again. Many of the people there live on $2 a day, but one thing they definitely don’t skimp on is their clothes! The majority of women (save some young, modern ladies) still wear traditional-style dresses and skirts (mostly floor-length) of a mish-mash of vibrant prints. After days of seeing such gorgeous outfits, I set out on a mission to get one of my own. I headed over to the frenzy-paced, open-air Makola Market in the capital, Accra, where rows and rows of vendors sell fabric from their stalls. Choosing from the sea of dazzling prints was nearly impossible, but I finally settled on one that would still be wearable in the bland U.S., called “Royal House.” After the obligatory haggling, four yards came out to $9 (which was probably the “obruni” or “foreigner” price, but was still a bargain in my mind). Conveniently, dozens of tailors set up shop right next to the fabric sellers, so I enlisted the services of Sister Lydia. Most tailors have a ready-made poster with styles you can simply choose from, but I sketched out my own design, which Lydia kindly agreed to tackle. For just another $7 and a few days later, I had this beautiful dress (with head scarf) as a token of my amazing trip. If I had made the same dress in the Bay Area, it would have cost me at least $200. My only regret is that they didn’t take Visa!

UC Berkeley + Fashion?
When it comes to fashion in Berkeley, most people think of styles from the college town’s more notorious days: tie-dyed t-shirts, the dreaded Birkenstocks, maybe a Hacky Sack as an accessory. But a group of students aiming to “bring the world of fashion to the University of California, Berkeley” hopes to change all that by organizing a spring fashion show on April 29 at the Pauley Ballroom. Called FAST, or Fashion and Student Trends, the four-year-old student group wants to foster the talents of the fashion-inclined, such as designers, models, artists, and photographers. If you’re interested in modeling (and over 5’7″ if you’re a woman; 5’10” if you’re a guy), or want to help design for the show, send an email to [email protected] In the meantime, help support their cause by attending a fund-raiser next Thursday, April 19 starting at 11 a.m. at Bay Street’s California Pizza Kitchen. For more info, join their Facebook group.
Fashion Show
When: Sunday, April 29, 3 p.m.-10 p.m.
Where: Pauley Ballroom on UC Berkeley Campus (2nd floor of MLK Student Union Building)
How Much: $5-$10
When: Thursday, April 19 at 11 a.m.
Where: California Pizza Kitchen, 5614 Bay St., Emeryville

Industrial-Chic Fashion Show
Like metal with your chiffon? Glass with your silk brocade? Check out the Crucible‘s Fashion Show tonight, featuring wearable art made from repurposed materials. Participating designers include eimajdesign, Auberon, Spy Girl Friday, Eric Pennella, Jay Bridgland, Diana Stasko, O’Lover Hats, Helena Stoddard, Bree Hylkema, Bonnie Heras, SuperSugarRayRay, Kathleen Fernald, and Hungry Panda. Also check out performances by Urban Pointe Evocation, Miranda Caroligne, and Mystress Fyre and Company
When: Friday, April 13, 7 p.m.-10 p.m.
Where: The Crucible, 1260 7th St., Oakland
Cost: $15

Put Your Tax Refund to Good Use

** Deliciouz: Save 15 percent off your purchase at this spring preview event. Plus champagne and treats!
When: Sat., April 14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: 1506 North Main St., Walnut Creek

** Ooma: Save 20 percent on any one item at this North Beach boutique.
Where: 1422 Grant Ave., San Francisco
Store Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11-7; Sun., 12-5

** Zaza Nail Spa: Save 20 percent on all nail services at this South Beach salon.
Where: 543 Second St., San Francisco
Store Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

** Take $20 off any purchase of $100 or more, $50 off $250+, and $100 off when you spend $500 and up. Just enter “Taxbreak2007” during checkout.
When: Now, till Mon., April 16

** Bead Expo: OK, so it’s not a sale. But check out the goods from more than 180 bead vendors in Oakland this weekend.
When: Fri., April 13 from noon-8 p.m.; Sat., April 14 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun. April 15 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Oakland Convention Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland
How much: $8 (head over to for a $2-off coupon toward admission)

FASHANALYSIS: Style News & Views

Lashing Out at Plastic Surgery

We were shocked to hear about a new cosmetic surgery for eyelash extensions. Apparently, this procedure is pretty popular in Japan and South Korea, but it’s just starting to catch steam in the U.S. In this blog item, plastic surgeon Dr. Alan Bauman explains how the trend has gained steam as new technology has allowed more and more hairs to be implanted. The doc says he can add about forty hairs (harvested from the back of your head) to each eye for those who have “naturally shorter, thinner or sparse lashes.” Semi-permanent extreme lashes aren’t new, but will this new surgery herald a new wave of Tammy Faye spider lashes? We hope not!

Should She Really Be in Fashion Mags?
OK, so it’s not really a fashion magazine, but seeing Avril Lavigne’s mug on the latest issue of shopping guide Lucky instantly made us want to revoke our subscription. We’re not even sure what “look” she’s got going on in this promo pic: Tacky punk? Confused schoolgirl? Naughty soccer player? Have any ideas? We’re clueless.

Every Friday, Buy Curious dishes on the hottest fashion trends, news, and sales in the East Bay – and we want to hear from you! Tips? Suggestions for things you’d like to see? Questions for Buy Clueless, our advice column? Send it all to us. Email BuyCurious[at]EastBayExpress[dot]com


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