Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday selfie

Today's look: Show up, look sharp, crush it.

The outfit: Madewell gray jersey dress; Madewell candy pink leather belt; Mossimo faux suede wedge heels; Metropolitan Museum of Art crystal drop earrings; Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Passion; Revlon nail color in Black Lingerie + Sparitual nail color in Lithophonic (on fingers).  

The occasion: I have a coffee meeting/interview today with the editor-in-chief of a local publication here in Cleveland. I'm super excited because I love this magazine and would be thrilled to join the team. Wish me luck!  

Why I like this look: This dress is soft as my favorite pair of sweatpants. It's quite versatile, too. I can wear it with ballet flats, wedges (as seen here) and even my beat-up pair of sneakers if I want to dress it down. I think this look is polished without trying too hard. The cut is simple, the top looks like a t-shirt, and the full skirt is flattering and fun.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I am the bow and my child is the arrow

I am the bow, my children are the arrows and God is the archer.
(Illustration by Kahlil Gibran)

I spent two and half years writing a parenting column for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario, California. My editor at the time took a risk on me when I pitched the idea of chronicling my pregnancy and subsequent motherhood. I wrote about morning sickness, my swollen breasts (we called that column, "My New Breast Friends"-- I'm not kidding) and even about my private parts going "under construction" while I recovered from childbirth. 

I had the grandest time with these columns. It was wonderful and cathartic to share my deepest joys and anxieties with my readers. And to my delight, I had garnered a small following. Every week I received encouraging feedback and kind emails from veteran mothers, moms-to-be, fathers and grandparents. I even received hate mail from readers, which I found rather amusing. 

This column, inspired by Lebanese-American poet and artist Kahlil Gibran, is one of my favorites. I came across it again and wanted to share it with you. 

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
September 25, 2006

"I am the bow and my child is the arrow"
By Jennifer Cho Salaff

EVERY ONCE in a while, you come across something so brilliant it changes your perspective on life. For me, it was a poem by Lebanese philosopher and artist Kahlil Gibran. His perspective on children inspired the way I approach parenting.

"The Prophet" is Gibran's masterpiece and his most beloved work. Published in 1923, it is a collection of 26 poems on matters such as marriage, work, friendship, beauty and prayer. It reads much like proverbs: short and succinct with juicy morsels of wisdom.

I was in bed one night when I read "On Children," the third poem in "The Prophet." It was just what the mother in me needed. It had been one of those days where I felt like I was on survival mode. My head hurt. My bones were tired. I was discouraged.

Then I read this:

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot
Visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you
With His might that His arrow may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So He loves also the bow that is stable.

My favorite image is the parent as bow, the child as arrow and God as the archer. It reminds me that my 9-month-old son, Caden, has all the potential in the world to achieve anything he dreams of. As his mother, I must be that bow-- sturdy yet flexible; firm yet able to yield. The arrow won't go far if the bow isn't strong. And the archer can't use a bow that doesn't bend.

I agree with Gibran; Caden is traveling through life's adventures with me, but he's not mine to keep. He's my gift. I may give him my love, support and guidance, but I must not stifle him. I will learn much from my son and hope to be like him, but should never expect him to be a carbon copy of me.

I love that the "archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends (me) with his might that his arrow may go swift and far." How wonderful to  think that Caden will be shot into the future like a flaming rocket.


Jennifer Cho Salaff's column about motherhood runs the second and fourth Mondays of the month. Contact her by e-mail at or write her at Jennifer Cho Salaff, U section, The Daily Bulletin, 2041 E. Fourth Street, Ontario CA 91764.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What a difference two years make

Same kids. Same blanket. Photo taken two years apart.
(Izzy & Caden; 2010 and 2012)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This week's obsession: all-natural beauty

The Body Shop's Earth Lovers Cucumber & Mint shower gel smells like
you're slathering freshly sliced cucumber all over your body. Yum!

We are the generation hyper aware of anything and everything all-natural, organic, biodegradable, sustainable and fair trade. So why wouldn't we bring those earth-friendly habits to the vanity table? I'm loving these five.

Root Beauty's organic deodorant is the best.
Potent, powerful and good for the planet.

An oldie but goodie: I find Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps
lavender liquid soap works best with a pair of
exfoliating shower gloves. Try these eco-friendly ones. 

I've traded in "traditional" toothpaste for Jason's
PowerSmile toothpaste in Powerful Peppermint.

Yes To Carrots Super Rich Body Butter smells
delicious and is 97 percent natural.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday selfie

Today's look: Plaid is rad.

The outfit: Xhilaration gray tank with crochet detail; Hinge plaid skinny pants; Mossimo Supply Co. braided leather sandals; copper bangles (from Zambia); Nars lip pencil in Dragon Girl; Sparitual nail color in Emerald City (on fingers); Essie nail color in Lollipop (on toes). 

The occasion: Memorial Day chill out. 

Why I like this look: It's official. This is my new favorite tank top. You can wear it with pretty much anything (dress it down in shorts or jeans; dress it up with a skirt or even pull it over a maxi dress). I love the crochet trim and I love even more the forgiving cut (two kids = not-so-taut tummy). And for $16.99 at Target, totally easy on the pocketbook!

***Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all our brave men and women who are serving (and have served) our country.***      

Friday, May 24, 2013

O Canada

From Canada, with love. (Clockwise from top left) Canada Post; Labatt Brewing Co. was founded
in 1847 in London, Ontario; Canadians pledge their allegiance to hockey player
Tim Horton's addictive coffee and doughnuts; all hail Queen Elizabeth Way.   

A recent family reunion took us across the border to our northern neighbor, Canada. A six-hour drive from Cleveland (give or take a few hours if you're totin' the little ones), the road trip to Toronto takes you on a scenic journey along Lake Erie. We traveled through the small chunk of Pennsylvania that touches the lake, passed Buffalo, New York and made a stop in Niagara Falls. We picked up cousin Shana in Toronto and got a brief taste of this very cool metropolis (think New York with a Euro vibe).

We strolled down Queen Street West, a main thoroughfare of eclectic boutiques,
art galleries, fantastic restaurants and plenty of Toronto hipsters.

Our final destination was Collingwood, Ontario-- a two-hour drive through the Canadian countryside, north of Toronto. Founded in 1858 and named after Admiral Lord Cuthbert Collingwood (why do the Brits have such amazing names?), Collingwood sits on Nottawasaga Bay at the southern point of the Georgian Bay. Though it was the middle of May, it was a blustery 45 degrees when we arrived. We were hardly aware that summer was around the corner with our down coats, scarves, mittens and heavy boots.

The main reason for our gathering was to commemorate the life of my husband's uncle, Stephen Salaff, who spent the majority of his life in Canada. Remembered as an activist, nature lover, and beloved father and brother, Uncle Steve inspired us with his brilliance, his insatiable thirst for knowledge and his passion for social justice. 

We spent two days visiting beautiful scenic areas in and around the Canadian countryside to scatter Uncle Steve's ashes. The first spot was a small and secluded waterfall along the Niagara Escarpment.

The next day we visited the arboretum and gathered at Steve's memorial-- an American Sycamore sapling which had been planted and dedicated in the spring of 2012, shortly following Steve's death. 

"I like to feel Uncle Steve's ashes in my hands," Caden told Auntie Shana.
"Why is that?" she asked. "Because it makes me feel close to him." 

At the third spot we said our final goodbyes as we scattered Steve's ashes at the water's edge. It was a beautiful and profound experience for everyone. Closure for those closest to Steve; discovery for those who, like myself, had only corresponded with him by phone and email; and a sort-of introduction to family legacy for my children.

My 7-year-old was particularly impacted by the trip. At this impressionable age, he is opening up to the world and to concepts like birth and death. "Goodbye, Uncle Steve," Caden said as he scattered ashes at the falls. "I pray you would have a good life in heaven."

A family remembers. Rest in peace, Uncle Steve.
We love you and remember you, forever.
This trip will always have a special place in my heart. Because of the treasured memories we made. Because we got to say goodbye to Steve. And because I finally got to meet Annie, a beaming and beautiful soul who was Steve's closest friend and companion for many years. I had heard so many wonderful stories about this woman. Her vibrancy, her sense of humor, her love of life and easy-to-fall-in-love-with personality. She lived up to everything I had expected. "Dance party!" she announced the first night we gathered for dinner. I love this lady already, I thought. Annie shared fascinating stories about Steve. His encyclopedia-like knowledge about art and music. His natural ability to whip up delicious dishes in the kitchen. His love of trees, plants, flowers. 

Annie and her partner, Jim, were generous beyond measure. They made us feel at home the moment we arrived. Cooked homemade meals for us. Showed us around Collingwood. Took us on hikes. Poured their love on my children. I will never forget their giving hearts. 

O Canada, thank you for being sacred ground for our family's stories.

Izzy contemplates the events of the day on the shores of Georgian Bay.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ode to my sneakers

I love these old, worn-out, beat-up, grimy, borderline gross sneakers. 

My beat-up Converse and I have history. 
We've journeyed through major life events:
Childbirth for the second time. 
Career successes. Job losses.
Deaths in the family. Newest additions.  
We've traveled great distances together.
And walked through shit.
I will wear these old dogs 'til they disintegrate. 
And when they do, I will 
Nurse them back to health with duct tape. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Only in Brooklyn

Four of the many, many reasons I (heart) Brooklyn.

It's no secret that my husband and I want to get to New York City. We uprooted our life in California and are currently 2,300 miles closer to our goal. While we're in a holding pattern here in Cleveland (finding work as a journalist in NY is no small feat), we still dream of Gotham.

Last summer, we went on a preliminary neighborhood hunt in Brooklyn. The last time I lived in the city was more than a decade ago, and Brooklyn has changed dramatically. It's less rundown and more Hipster Central (this is both encouraging and annoying). My husband and I fell in love with the many neighborhoods we walked through. From Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill to Park Slope and Fort Greene, we couldn't help but imagine raising our family amidst the kombucha bars, artisanal cheese boutiques and over-priced frozen yogurt shops.      

I don't know if we would consider ourselves hipsters, but if it's defined by progressive thinking over conservative ideals, a particular fashion sensibility and an appreciation for art and design, then I suppose we've signed up.

I came across this amazing compilation of "The 39 Most Brooklyn Things Ever" on BuzzFeed. All together wonderful, witty, quirky and annoying. Just like Brooklyn and hipsters.

Portrait of a Brooklyn hipster.
(Illustration: Rebeccah Mary Hartz @

Wednesday selfie

Today's look: Hooray for sweatpants!

The outfit: C&C California tank; Mossimo Supply Co. sweatpants (which I cut off this morning); Converse sneakers; Flea Market Girl fortune cookie necklace. 

The occasion: No special occasion (obviously). Was down for the count for a few days and today is the first day I feel human.    

Why I like this look: I know, I know. This isn't your "traditional" dolled-up, decked-out, styled-up selfie. It's me very dressed down, in no make-up and wearing sweatpants. But let me explain. First of all, I'm getting over a cold and today is the first day I feel like myself (the fact that I'm not wearing pajamas is a win). Second, it's starting to get warm and muggy here in Cleveland. I broke down and cut my favorite sweatpants into sweatshorts (all my summer clothes are still packed up in a box somewhere). Also, don't you think it's annoying that self-portraits are always hyper-styled? I mean, c'mon. Do people really look that put-together when grocery shopping or cleaning the house? To be fair, I did put on a swipe of lip gloss (Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Passion) and am wearing my favorite necklace-- so I don't look like a complete slob.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma devastation

Yesterday's devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma has killed dozens.
And more than 100 people have been pulled from the rubble.
(Photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP)   

My heart goes out the families affected by yesterday's devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. I remember well what it's like living in a twister's path. Growing up in Iowa, we knew exactly what to do when those ominous black funnels came ripping toward us. But nothing prepares you for the chaos and destruction left behind.

Two men check for survivors in the wreckage.
(Photo: Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman/AP)

Reports say yesterday afternoon's tornado was one-mile wide and traveled in excess of 200 mph. The twister destroyed schools, flattened entire neighborhoods and left a 12-mile gash in the earth. 

The good people of Oklahoma are bracing themselves for another storm today. So keep them in your prayers. To read how this story is taking shape and how you can help, click the links below:

  • Crews are searching for survivors today. (The New York Times)
  • Slide show of Oklahoma in the tornado's wake (The New Yorker)
  • How you can help. (Samaritan's Purse)
  • Get involved in the Red Cross' relief efforts. (Red Cross)      

The drawing gene

He gets his drawing gene from Daddy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Links may19

Rather than sounding like a broken record,
I should just have my kids read this.

Sit back, relax, you still have a few more hours to your weekend. Presenting today's links. 

  • This is basically why all parents are paranoid about their kids getting hurt. (BuzzFeed)
  • Last night's looks. Love it or leave it? (People)
  • Best and Worst Dressed at tonight's Billboard Music Awards. (Celebuzz)
  • Oblivion, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. Check, check and check. Now onto Man of Steel and World War Z. 
  • Last night's Saturday Night Live season finale. (Time)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday selfie

Today's look: Warm spring weather + the weekend =
Time for flower dresses!

The outfit: Xhilaration floral dress; h.i.p. cardigan; Converse sneakers; Cara Accessories rhinestone stretch bracelet (  

The occasion: My 7-year-old's Saturday morning basketball practice. 

Why I like this look: Spring is handing over the baton to summer. I can feel it here in Cleveland. Flowers are in full bloom. Trees offer lush canopies of green. Lawn mowers are working overtime. Kids are out well after dusk riding their bikes and scooters. It's also time to put away down jackets and pull out spring dresses (I think the it-might-be-sunny-today-and-snowing-tomorrow weather typical of Northeast Ohio is over). This cute floral dress is my go-to when I want to be super comfortable in warmer weather without having to resort to short shorts (those days are over). And I've had these yellow Converse sneakers forever. They are falling apart and will probably disintegrate soon but I love them and they are my favorite.   

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I love you, mama!

Happy Mother's Day to the most loving, giving and wise woman on the planet.
God chose you to be my mama. For that, I am eternally grateful.
(Photo: Taken in 1977 by Dad in our backyard in Des Moines, Iowa.)  

I'd like to point out Mom looking so 70s-fab in her big-collared, floral bell-sleeved blouse and green corduroy jeans. And those nails! Who but she would make time for a manicure? Even a toddler (me, on the right) and 9-month-old (that would be little brother) can't keep this mama from being super stylish.

Love it! Love her!

Links may12: Happy Mother's Day

Madonna and Child by Il Sassoferrato (c) 17th Century.  

Don't forget to give your mom, grandma, auntie, neighbor, anyone-who-is-a-mom a BIG HUG today. Mothers make the world go round.

  • Sandra Tsing Loh on being a bad mother. (The Atlantic)
  • Duh. But just in case you need a reminder. (Psychology Today)
  • The history of Mother's Day. (History Channel)
  • You work it, mama. (Dub Step Mom/YouTube)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Martha Graham

The legendary Martha Graham would have been 119 years old today.
Happy Birthday to the woman who changed dance forever! 

Debut performance

Caden plays the Twinkle song at his first violin recital. This mama was so proud, she
was brought to tears. Best Mother's Day gift, ever! 

Saturday selfie

Today's look: My most prized second-hand discovery.

The outfit: Thrifted polkadot jumpsuit w/ drawstring waist; Aldo Kabba wedge heels (in sparkly black upper w/ weaved jute sole); Nordstrom gold hoop earrings; copper bangles (I got these in Zambia); Nars lipstick in Schiap; Sparitual Nail Color in Emerald City.

The occasion: My son's first violin recital.

Why I like this look: What to wear for my son's violin debut? Oh, the choices! Though it's not a formal event (this morning's performance is a "Play-In"), I still wanted to celebrate the occasion with one of my favorite outfits. I found this adorable polkadot jumpsuit at a church clothing exchange last year. It's my most prized discovery. It fits perfectly (which almost never happens to me, especially when it comes to pants-- I always have to get them hemmed), it's super comfortable and it will never go out of style. The label says "Chian Fuh," which sounds Chinese to me. Makes sense since the clothing exchange was at an Asian American church. Note to self: hurry and make a trip to China/Japan/Korea to go shopping!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

My inner Tiger Mom

It's not my goal to raise a virtuoso, but a virtuous human being.

The violin is a source of joy and frustration. This instrument, the most exalted in the string family (in my humble opinion), has become my greatest ally and worst enemy. Ever since my 7-year-old son started learning to play, I’ve realized this: Nothing can bring out an Asian woman’s inner Tiger Mother more fiercely than a violin.

I recently finished reading Amy Chua’s controversial parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. This book was both affirming and aggravating. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me wanna violently shake Chua while screaming at her, “You’re such a horrible mother!” (Read the chapter called “The Birthday Card” and you’ll want to scream at her, too.) 

I embraced this book and I wanted to throw it (and Chua) across the room.

But it also made me empathize. As a mother, an Asian woman and the offspring of a Tiger mom (and dad) myself, I totally get Chua's extreme style of tough-love parenting. I'm a Korean mother, so of course it's in my blood to accept nothing less from my kids than Harvard. Yet like Chua's daughters, I felt as a child that my parents could have just chilled out. (Eighth grade graduation was considered a family tragedy, for example, because I had smeared my almost-perfect academic record with one single B-- and in math!).

And the instrument thing. Did I mention growing up I played not just the violin, but the piano and flute, too?      

As a kid, I had a love-hate relationship with the piano. I absolutely loved
to play. I hated to practice. But when I look back, I'm glad my Tiger mom
pushed me so hard. I know it was her way of showing me that she
believed in me. (Illustration: Yuta Onoda @

My Asian American friends and I have this joke: When asking an Asian American adult about his or her classical music background, the question isn’t: “What did you play when you were a kid?” but “How many instruments did you play?” 

My piano training started at age five and ended some time before high school. Somewhere in between I also picked up the flute and violin. One could say my musical upbringing was intense. I was expected to practice two hours a day, three to four on the weekends, and record it on my cassette tape player so my parents could 1) confirm the practicing took place and 2) make sure that it was an excellent, rigorous and focused practice session.

Tiger cubs grow up to become Tiger mothers.

I have no plans to encourage my son to pick up three instruments. I don’t make him practice two hours a day. I have no expectations that he'll be the next Joshua Bell. But I'll admit I push him (sometimes to the point of tears).

Caden will perform at his first recital tomorrow. Not happy with his progress, I decided to ramp up his practice sessions a few weeks ago. I cracked down on the lazy bow arm. Constantly corrected his stance. Forcefully moved his fingers to the right fret. "Watch that wrist!" I told him. "Tuck the violin under your jaw, not your chin!" I made him play scales and the "Twinkle" song over and over again. I shot over disapproving looks when he lost focus. I rarely smiled. I offered more criticism than praise. I couldn't help it: Tiger Mother was in full effect.

Perhaps you want to violently shake me and scream, "You're such a horrible mother!" But it's not about making my son play at Carnegie Hall (that's where Chua and I go our separate ways). It's about discipline, perseverance and character. Take this recent conversation he and I shared during a practice session:

Me: What’s the matter, Caden?

Caden: (Shifting around uncomfortably) Everything hurts. My fingers. My neck. My back. Can I take a break?

Me: But you just started. It’s only been five minutes.

Caden: (Groaning)

Me: (Voice getting louder) Caden, do you want to quit?

Caden: (No answer)

Me: (Even louder) Do you want me to force you to play the violin?

Caden: (Eyes start tearing up)

Me: (Voice softening) Because that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t want to force you to do anything. I want you to play beautiful music on this instrument. Because I know you can. You are capable of doing anything you want if you put your mind, heart and soul into it. You are a talented boy. I believe in you.

Caden: But it’s hard.

Me: I know, sweetheart. This instrument (holding up his violin) is one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, instrument to learn. Did you know that? There’s nothing natural about it. You hold up this strange wooden thing and sling it under your neck-- which is a very sensitive part of your body—-and then you use this bow thing, which is made of horsehair, and you pull it over the strings. Too much pressure and it sounds like a dying bird. Not enough pressure and it sounds like a hoarse voice. And your fingers? You place it even a millimeter in the wrong place and the sound is completely off-tune. This is a strange thing we do as humans, isn’t it? Trying to play the violin?

Caden: (Laughs)

Me: But you know what’s so cool? That this violin, if you let him become your friend and if you get to know him every day, he’ll make beautiful music for you. But he can’t do it without you.

My son is one of those kids blessed with the ability to pick things up quickly. Mastery is his specialty. You teach him once--whether it’s complicated math equations, picking up lyrics to a song, or learning capitals and their corresponding states and countries-- and his brain downloads and retains the information forever. He’s never been tested, but my husband and I are convinced he has a photographic memory.   

But a photographic memory won’t help much when you’re learning to play the violin. For the first time, Caden feels like he’s not good at something. He wants to give up. I get it. It’s discouraging. It’s hard. It sucks.

But sometimes you gotta suck it up and move forward (actually, you need to do a lot of that in life). Discipline. Perseverance. An indomitable spirit. That’s what I’m trying to teach him. It is my responsibility, as a parent, to instill these values.

       “…The [Asian parents] believe that the best way 
       to protect their children is by preparing them 
       for the future, letting them see what they’re 
       capable of, and arming them with skills, work 
       habits, and inner confidence that no one can 
       ever take away.”

       --Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, page 63.

A magical thing happened during our practice sessions. Caden started seeing the fruits of his labor. All the repetition--playing scales and the Twinkle song ad nauseam, the correcting of stance and bow hold and wrist. It started getting easier. It felt more natural. It was actually fun (what a concept!) to play the violin.  

Caden played the Twinkle song for his classmates today.
It was "Share Your Talent" week at school and he
couldn't wait to perform for his teachers and friends.

The groans have disappeared and practicing is now (dare I say it) enjoyable. As a born performer, Caden can't wait for his first official recital tomorrow. In fact, I caught him playing "air violin" in the car on the way to school this morning.

I can't tell you how proud I am when my baby plays Twinkle Twinkle-- even when he's a bit off tune. I know how hard he worked. I know he didn't give up. I know he is building his character, one note at a time.     

And that is music to this Tiger mama's heart.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Met Gala: to punk or not to punk

Was JLo's look very punk? Whether she hit the night's theme or not, she rocked the 
Met Gala's Red Carpet in this animal-print Michael Kors gown. And love that pompadour! 
(Though it feels more 50s rock a la Elvis, no?)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute Gala is the perfect opportunity for Hollywood's biggest stars to take risks and be fashion-forward. No need to hold back at this event. Anything goes! Especially with this year's theme, "PUNK: Chaos to Couture."

The ten best looks from Monday night's affair (including JLo's, above):

Sarah Jessica Parker paid attention to the night's theme and nailed it, as seen in this awesome
Giles Deacon gown and Philip Treacy mohawk headdress. You can't see it in this photo, but her
thigh-high boots are flannel/plaid, a nod to punk rock. Nice work, SJP!

Cameron Diaz's Stella McCartney cobalt number might hurt you. Look at that spiked belt! Beware.

Anne Hathaway (in Valentino) opted for a bleached blonde bob,
"ripped-up" sheer and this season's Red Carpet favorite: the sideboob.

Channeling her inner-punk is not very hard for Rooney Mara
(in Givenchy Haute Couture). Although this look is more 

couture than chaos. 

The always fashion-forward Kate Bosworth didn't disappoint
in this gorgeous beaded hot-pink Balmain dress.

Loving this black-and-white striped J. Mendel gown worn by model Chanel Iman. 
Would have been cool though, if she wore some punk-inspired make-up.

Only the Queen of Cool (aka Gwen Stefani) can pull off this Maison Martin Margiela 
dress. A faux hawk would have completed the look.

Christina Ricci rocks the taffeta and asymmetrical hemline
in this Vivienne Westwood punky plaid gown. 

Stacy Keibler looks kinda futuristic punk in this Rachel Roy studded mini.

And the night's ten worst looks...

If Anna Wintour (L) is the most powerful woman in fashion,
then certainly she could have snapped her Vogue fingers and
whipped up something better than this ugly, boring, floral Chanel
dress. As for Kim Kardashian (R), her Red Carpet choices are
pretty hit or miss. This Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci floral gown is
definitely a miss. There's the weird turtleneck thing going on.
Especially bewildering are the matching gloves and heels.   

Yes this is punk, but it's awful, I thought when I saw Madonna's Givenchy Haute Couture 
get-up. I hate to say this, Madge, because I love you and have been a devoted fan 
since childhood. But I'm afraid you're gonna have to start dressing your age. 
At lease put on some pants!

Zooey Deschanel is practically unrecognizable without those trademark bangs! The toothy, squinty smile is throwing me off, too. And unfortunately there's nothing punk about this Tommy Hilfiger gown.
(Has Tommy Hilfiger ever made anything remotely punk?) 

Beyonce's Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci gown with paisley print and matching knee-high
boots = tacky not punky.

Elle Fanning's (L) tie-dye Rodarte dress feels more 60s hippie than 70s punk.
I find Nicole Richie's (R) gray updo a bit eery. In fact, the frosted hair paired
with the matronly Topshop gown makes her look like a geriatric punk rocker.
Perhaps it's exactly the look she was going for? If so, it's genius. 

Fashion risk-taker Chloe Sevigny (L), who looks very unhappy in this photo 
(I would be, too if I was wearing this), is one person I thought would nail the 
punk theme. Not sure what she was thinking when she chose this Proenza 
Schouler dress with matching head wrap. Katy Perry (R) looks beautiful 
in this Dolce & Gabbana Virgin Mary-inspired dress and gold crown. 
But it's not very punk rock.

The usually over-the-top Nicki Minaj played it safe in this rather plain navy blue
Tommy Hilfiger gown. Totally underwhelming and a total #punkfail.