Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Accessory Highlights: Fall 2014

As you've probably figured out by now, writing about accessories is one of my favorite things to do. While covering the rtw portion of the shows is important to give you a hint of the trends to come, there's also a lot of other stuff that happens during that week and the one following. Trade shows, and press events are a great way to find new as well as established accessory resources. This go round I want to focus on handbags since we never can have enough, n'est pas?

SHANA LUTHER HANDBAGS is a two-year old resource that is manufactured right here in Brooklyn. The designs are modern, clean and impressed me with the quality craftsmanship. For me, Shana¹s capacious leather totes have style to spare and are worth checking out. The "William" tote will hold everything you need for work or weekend shopping. Find more great styles at

Another handbag designer making totes is BAXTER DESIGNS. These have a totally different look and will appeal to the hip, more bohemian customer. The luxury totes (and clutches) are made in designer fabrics with silk linings and come in an assortment of fabulous prints and a wide range of colors. Check them out at

Calling All Bohemians... Baxter is on Line One!
Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

I skipped over the rtw during RAOUL's fashion week presentation. Instead I zeroed in on the range of handbags on display. I loved the black/white graphic looks with touches of red, while the use of luxurious leathers, calf hair and quilting touches made me a convert. Now if only I could afford one of Raoul's top quality designer bags!

RAOUL'S RTW - Amazing, Right?

C&C Says: "Raoul's Bags Stopped the Show..."
At least for her!

Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

Speaking of designer bags, DRESSAGE was a collection to drool over. Made in Italy (natch), the heritage embodies the finest combination of materials and textures. Each bag is a chic yet refined work of art. In addition to classic handbags there were weekend carryall pieces geared to both sexes. Save up for one of these beauties since the styling throughout is timeless and made to last a lifetime. If you love the "Hermes" aesthetic you will die for one of these handbags. Check them out at

JOANNA MAXHAM is a name I had not heard of before now. So I¹m certainly glad that I stumbled across her beautifully crafted handbag collection. These designs are perfect for the uptown girl who wants a bag that¹s both stylish and roomy enough to carry all her everyday crap (and that includes just about everyone I know). I loved the convertible pleated satchel with raised handle detailing in paprika calf leather with ribbed satin lining. Clutch bags are in and Joanna does an oversized envelope version with wide contrasting band. It¹s offered in white calf with dark taupe band and paprika with cognac. A winner in either color way. Visit online at

That's enough to get your shopping juices flowing. Next up I'll review a brand new trade show entry called Edit. Stay tuned. C&C

Friday, March 14, 2014


With apologies to Bob Dylan, the Fashion Week showings at the Lincoln Center Tents left me less than excited. No, it had nothing to do with the designers, but the look and ambiance of the venue. Supposedly, in an effort to project a more upscale feeling (and eliminate the so-called riff-raff, ­(bloggers, hanger's-on, etc.) from attending the shows, the invites were sent to the top fashion editors and major celebs. These were easily spotted by the proliferation of sky-high stilettos and summery dresses worn without regard as to the piles of snow and freezing cold that lasted all week. As for the tent itself, the redesigned look could be categorized as funeral parlor chic, thanks to the black wall coverings and overall bare look. But enough bitching, since I did manage to attend a few shows ­ some terrific, some just so so. Here's a quick rundown of some of the highlights:

RUFFIAN explored a "monastic opulence, tailored volume and lavish sumptuousness," according to their press release. To me the collection riffed on the Game of Thrones renaissance costumes updated for today. I loved a dramatic black double crepe dress with ivory inserts and ruff collar in ivory silk. A watteau back dress in chartreuse and blush double duchess satin was simply gorgeous as was a blouse in a pixilated floral digital print silk crepe de chine worn under a metallic boucle blazer with black piping and skirt in metallic brocade. Now, that's what I call suiting!

At RICHARD CHAI LOVE I spotted some wearable outfits with pizzazz. Starting with a petrol green shaped jacket, skinny trousers worn with an onyx sheer tissue jersey turtleneck (a la St. Laurent), and a dramatic bordeaux/onyx floral jacquard shawl collar midi coat thrown over sage/onyx floral jacquard slouchy trousers. What a concept! Actual winter clothes that made sense.

Another collection designed with grown-ups in mind was TOME. I thought that the double felt and double face wool gab coats were elegant but the outstanding pieces were the cocktail numbers, Two that come to mind, the black lace and pink lame shirt with a black silk embroidered skirt and a black lace dress with silver lame lining worn with a mink stole trimmed with shearling Not your ladies old fashioned 1950's style, but modern and sleek. Also modern and very very special was the DENNIS BASSO collection. To pay the mortgage or to buy a gorgeous luxury occasion outfit, that is the question? For me, the answer is simple. Not a chance in hell! However, a girl can dream and dream I did (and drool) over a black/white chinchilla coat tossed over a sequin tweed lace dress. For casual days there was a Russian barguzin sable coat with emerald silk twill blouse and trousers. I also swooned over Basso's Sapphire alligator,broadtail and sable coat worn atop a hand painted brushstroke cocktail dress. I could go on and on....

For another take on fur I went to see ADEAM. Tokyo born, New York raised designer Hanako's collection melded the delicacy of Japan with a carefree ruggedness- perfect for today's women. Standouts included a mink and nappa leather biker coat trimmed in white atop cropped tailored pants and the mink snood that accessorized a leather collared shirt and pleated maxi skirt. The leather banded pink off the shoulder simple shift dress got a fresh look when worn with astrakhan cut-out booties.

DESIQUAL's collection was a mixed bag and directed more towards warmer climates. As the show notes stated, "Desigual is getting back to basics with a personal collection that reflects the enduring optimism found in our hometown Barcelona." In addition to lots of rich colors like violet, hunter, burgundy etc I noted lots of black and white combos. While daywear was slanted more towards the very young, almost any age could wear the terrific evening wear. I loved the silk maxi dress with artisan embroidered gold sequins in a baroque motif and the ecru jacket also embroidered with same. However, the back and sleeves were in gold lame. This was paired with gold/bronze lame straight trousers.

As I folded my tent metaphorically speaking, what better way to end fashion week with one of my favorite designers, ANNA SUI. I personally felt that this was her strongest collection to date. The mood (and with Anna there's always a theme) was 1920's louche, jazz age mixed with old Hollywood/Shanghai Anna Mae Wong glamour. The knockout number for me was the black fox dragon boa slung over a long black velvet dress with beaded phoenix embroidery. All that was missing was a long cigarette holder and a martini cocktail! I could go on and on but I feel it's time to say farewell to the fall 2014 runway shows.

Next up, more fall/winter accessories. Stay tuned, C&C.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Summertime and the Living is Easy

Yes, I know that you were expecting a blog on the fall fashion shows that just ended but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to tell you about the summer 2014 ANN TAYLOR press event that I recently attended. 

In short I was bowled over by the terrific apparel and accessories – and don’t even get me started on the shoes which were fab! If you love creamy neutrals mixed with hits of bright red and navy this is the collection for you. I have my eye on the one button seersucker jacket and matching crop pants, an anchor sweater atop  rope print shorts and the darling nappa leather block heeled sandals and the perfectly chic linen tote with leather trim. Whoever styled the  models did a terrific job coordinating the outfits perfectly from the cross body bags and canvas belted clutch, to the rope and link bracelets and ankle wrap pumps.

While it seems as if spring let alone summer will never come it can’t hurt to get ahead of the fashion game and with Ann Taylor’s latest collection you’ll be a step up on the competition without breaking the bank.

Sacrifice Made in the Name of Fashion!

Unless it involves a sunrise swim in the Bahamas, yours truly  never gets up that early. However when the Metropolitan Museum invited editors to their Costume Institute press presentation to hear about the Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit I couldn’t pass up the opportunity even though it meant getting up at the crack of seven o’clock.

After opening remarks by curator Harold Koda and other bigwigs we got a first hand glimpse at a few of the actual ball gowns that will be part of the exhibit which will open to the public on May 8 through August 10. Whether or not you’re a fan of James’ oeuvre this is an exhibit not to be missed for any lover of fashion.

The Early Fashionista Gets the Gown!

While we’re on the subject of “culture” be sure to check-out the lecture at the 92nd street Y on Tuesday March 25th at 12pm. Titled Shoes: A Walk Through the History of Women’s Footwear. Linda O’Keeffe, (journalist/stylist) will discuss the psychology behind wearing heels, plus take us for a look back at shoe fashions through the ages. For those of us who LOVE shoes, this $21 a ticket is money well spent!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


As I write this the snow is coming down like crazy so naturally I’m thinking warm thoughts. Yes, the fall/winter runway shows will be coming up before you know it. However, realistically you want to see what’s new for spring 2014.

By now, you are all aware that I love to blog about accessories since the smallest touch can make a big difference to your wardrobe. Before we get to that I want to remind you to see the JEWELS BY JAR exhibit at the Met Museum since it ends March 9th. I saw it and highly recommend it for anyone who loves fine jewelry. A girl can dream can’t she?

Okay, now back to reality. GLITTERRINGS has a team of designers that travel the world for inspiration. The collection features stackable rings, necklaces and bracelets using a variety of motifs and delicate metals in 14K gold plating, rose gold plating, rhodium plating and genuine Austrian crystals. Personally I would love to own any of the bold cocktail rings especially the one with a rich blue faceted resin stone surrounded by clear crystals.

For more casual jewelry check out NINETEEN PIECES. The company slogan is “jewelry to live for, prices to die for.” Go for the twisted “Aya”snake bracelet in gold plate or gunmetal. Somehow, snake designs never seem to go out of style. “Aisha” is the perfect everyday multi-link necklace in rose gold plate. It’s also available in an iridescent rainbow colorway and 14K gold plate.

Aya, Nineteen Pieces' Snake Bracelet Is a Serpentine Delight!


The Aisha Necklace Improves Every Day and Every Look.

Enough with the jewelry, let’s move on to handbags. A girl can never have too many in my book. For designer looks at unbeatable prices check out the DAVID JONES line.  Standout bags include the plastic “Furla” satchel in vivid pastels or the laser cut zip top satchel in off white. The collection can be found at many boutiques. For more info go to

I found the cutest travel/weekend bags at AME &LULU. This Boston-based company’s bags make me want to take a trip asap. The chevron patterned giant shopper tote in water repellent canvas could take me to Europe and back , it’s that roomy. Get it in tangerine and khaki. Also on tap are duffels, backpacks, cosmetic bags and more in a terrific range of colorful patterns. If you’re gonna travel why not stand out from the pack? For info go to

Another thing a girl can’t do without is shoes! You knew that was coming. While we’re being price conscious I must point out the fashion forward styles at CHINESE LAUNDRY. The d’orsay flat is a must have trend and this company has some of the best looking versions. Also moving forward is the menswear look oxford in neutral toned linen. From the Dirty Laundry division there’s a cute perforated ankle boot in nude with metallic buckle.

Chinese Laundry - Their Shoes Are Great, 
But I'm Pretty They Sure Can't Be Laundered



Jellies are a summer wardrobe staple and I found a brand that combines style with practicality (at prices that are much more affordable than those by the Melissa brand), since these are made in the good old USA. Every pair is colorfast, non slip, and machine washable and contains 25 % recycled content. Those are all great reasons to buy this brand. I personally hate flip flops unless their worn at the beach, but Oka.b has terrific sling back flats and ballerina styles in a range of snappy brights and neutrals that work easily in the city or on la playa. My favorite styles are the “McKenzie” ballet flat in in kiwi or orchid with contrast color disc, and “Lily” in fuchsia with a giant purple bow at the heel. I could go on and on as the collection is extensive so they’re sure to have what you want. 

Designer shoes at more affordable prices can be found at CAROLINNA ESPINOSA. This is the source for sexy, colorful stilettos and other fashion forward shoes and sandals for summer. Not cheap but the collection won’t break the bank.

Carolinna Espinosa - Foot Styling and Bank Safe!  
Jamie Dimon Would Be Pleased.

Happy shopping.

Until next time and fall 2014 fashion week update, C&C.

Monday, November 25, 2013

About Face

… And the rest of the body! Yours truly had an opportunity to check out some new products recently (in spite of the fact that we’re flawlessly gorgeous). At a press conference held at Magnolia Bakery (I’d attend just for the sweets, but digress), we got the chance to experience first hand GLYTERRA-gl, an anti-aging regimen designed to help firm the appearance of wrinkles etc. The two part system consists of highly concentrated day and night creams. Also included in the presentation were SeroVital capsules meant to be taken internally twice a day. I won’t go into the technical stuff since it’s all gibberish to me. But this much I can tell you, after using the creams for the past month, my skin really does seem to be looking and definitely feeling better. The bad news is that the price is steep at $135. For a one month supply but if skin damage is your downfall, give the product a shot. I’m not so sure that eating two cupcakes at the event did my skin any good but you gotta enjoy life!

Glyterra Event at Magnolia Bakery - Cupcakes and Anti-Aging Creams - A C&C EE Ticket!

Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

While I’m on the subject of skin care you might want to check out ECOGENICS, an active botanical product line. This skin care company was recognized as best in North America in 2012 /13 by the Taste Awards so they must be doing something right. The range is paraben-free, contains no animal ingredients and isn’t tested on animals. There are three treatments offered for, dry, regular/combination or oily skin. Each contains a cleanser, skin serum, moisturizer, micro-dermabrasion cream (my fave) and a mineral masque soufflĂ©. The former products are meant for daily use while the latter two are only to be used twice weekly. Simple, effective and worth checking out at or call toll free at 877-372-6972.

Now that my face looks ten years younger (you just have to take my word for it) let us move on to the body. I came across a new launch from noted beauty expert SONIA KASHUK. I’ve long been a fan of her affordably priced makeup line that’s sold at Target since I LOOVE a bargain! Now there’s even more to love with the launch of her delicious body creams and bath gels and hand creams offered in a choice of three wonderful fragrances. I’ve fallen in love with the body creme wash in a gorgeous tuberose/plumeria floral scent but they’re all great and lather nicely. So head to Target asap. **P.S. Sonia also has a perfect new red lipstick for holiday so get your butt moving.

Now that we’ve covered the bod let’s move on to hands. There’s a new nail polish brand in town called LVX that colorwise follows closely the emerging fashion trends. The unique color collections are designed to follow the top colors of the season while still maintaining a timeless appeal. In addition the polish has a superior formula that’s socially responsible and eco friendly. LVX is non toxic and vegan, not to mention long lasting, chip resistant and streak free. There’s no formaldehyde, DBP, toluene or camphor and are produced right here in the USA. From now till Dec 31st 20% of all sales go to PETA so don’t wait, start shopping. I’m personally in love with all the shades but especially the holiday trio of Alchemy (a gorgeous gold that’s on my fingers right now as I’m typing), Sanguine and Luxe. Spring shades look even better with colors including a mauvey Azalea, vivid Citrine orange and Fantom, a pure white. There are other shades but these are the most elegant – no one needs bright green or indigo nails. I have spoken! For info on where to buy go to

La Vie Zen Spa Event for LVX Nail Polish - Great Nails, Happy Animals, and Spa Life - Christmas Came Early!


 Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

Until next time, that’s all folks, C&C.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lounging Around

During Fashion Week it isn’t only what’s being shown in the tents that interest me. Sometimes the lounges offer more interesting designer collections in a setting that makes checking out the merchandise up close and personal easier to focus on.

Papyrus knows:  You need the right cards for lounge life!
Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

 Ebay - Buy It Now, Lounge Life!
Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

While I did find many cosmetic/skin care brands on my travels I want to wait till I have a chance to personally try each one out and give you my input. That said, there were some accessory collections that caught my eye and I feel are worth mentioning. D’ANDREA handbags were on the classic side but with a contemporary edge that I found appealing. The chain handled leather bags with quilted angled flaps come in a host of fresh spring bright colors that will add zip to any outfit. Best of all, this family owned firm makes its bags here in the good old U.S.A.

D'Andrea Handbags at GBK Lounge
Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

I chanced upon an interesting luxury handbag line called DB that stands for Diana Bousso a Dakar, Africa-based designer. Her handmade premium leather, suede lined bags are worth the price. Particularly striking is her high fashion take on the backpack done in a combination of ostrich, croc and calfskin. Each is accented with the gold hardware initials db on the front. This isn’t your everyday backpack, but a true couture item that will last a lifetime. Check out more at

Every season there are jewelry designers that I feel compelled to investigate and SATYA showcased some beautifully delicate pieces from the Peacock and Winter Solstice collections while CYNTHIA GALE’s jewelry is aimed at the customer who prefers her modern, eclectic art inspired pieces done in sterling silver.

Satya at GBK Lounge
Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

Cynthia Gale at GBK Lounge
Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

LULU AVENUE designs by Jude Frances is strictly for the fashion forward customer whose up on the latest trends. I especially covet her wrapped leather bracelets worn in multiples but there’s so much more to choose from.


Lulu Avenue jewelry at GBK Lounge
Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

DEE HILFIGER (yes that’s Tommy’s wife) showed up with her latest collection of rtw handbags and footwear for HSN, the shopping network.  I was blown away by the tartan plaid, crested slippers that could easily hold their own against Ralph Lauren. My love affair with plaid is well known among my friends so naturally I gravitated towards Hilfiger’s coordinating handbags that are roomy and very stylish and beautifully finished inside and out. Keep on the lookout for this designer brand.

Dee Hilfiger at HSN Lounge
Photo Credit: M. McKenzie

Next time I’ll let you in on some of my beauty picks. Until then, C&C.