Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Picking Daisies



We all know about so-called celebrity designers. One day they’re busy promoting their collections and the next, they’re out of business. With the possible exception of Jessica Simpson most haven’t a clue.

Therefore when I was invited to celebrate Daisy Fuentes ten-year collaboration with Kohl’s. Daisy was Kohl’s very first exclusive brand and has become a match made in fashion heaven. Over the past decade the line has expanded from women’s apparel into petites, plus sizes, intimate apparel, jewelry, eyewear, accessories and home.

Viewing the fall/holiday collection I can see why the brand is so successful. Forget about prices (retail ranges from $18-$68), the clothes were very attractive and made well. I especially liked the ponte knit dresses in black or burgundy. Simple, chic and timeless.

Also terrific were Daisy’s knits. If I was younger I’d opt for a cable knit flared dress (very Alaia) available in teal or white. The complete collection will be in-store October/November in all Kohl’s stores nationwide.

Happy shopping, C&C.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day Tripper



Think NYC is the only place for the fashion savvy to shop? Think again. With apologies to the Beatles song, day tripping can yield some interesting finds, and all within an easy commute by rail for those without a car.

I started my hunt in nearby Westfield New Jersey, a hop and a skip on NJ Transit – no car necessary as the station is a short walk to the main shopping and eating drag. While many retailers cater to a mostly preppy crowd a bit of hunting unearthed some true gems. BETTY GALLAGHER ANTIQUES on Broad Street offered a lovely selection of antique jewelry at reasonable prices in amongst her collection of bric-a-brac. The park across the way is a good place to recover from your spending spree.

I also found a great source for really inexpensive costume jewelry at ANAIS BOUTIQUE. While most of the items are geared towards a Gen-X crowd, there were some cute nautical themed enamel bracelets and rings in bright summer colors.

After a much needed rest stop at The Turning Point restaurant (fab food and real lemonade). It was time to continue my hunt. At PATRICIA & PAUL on Elm Street I found a lovely assortment of olive oils, balsamic vinegars, jams and other culinary goodies plus imported teas, bath and body products. If I ever need a gift basket hostess gift or cookbook (ha, that will be the day), I’ll head here.

Saving the best for last, I made my way over to Broad Street and THE FARMHOUSE STORE. I could have spent all day combing the two-story furniture, jewelry and gift boutique. Highlights included a unique mermaid motif necklace, fun retro inspired glassware, tote bags, printed linen dish towels and coordinating cutlery. Prices range from cheap and cheerful to expensive (but worth every penny). The owners have fantastic taste and a great eye for what’s new and wonderful. This boutique was a real find.

Every couple of years I make an hour trip on Metro North up to Cold Spring, a charming village on the Hudson River. Talk about vintage/antique collector’s paradise. Just walking up the main street leads to a variety of shops and boutiques. For vintage costume jewelry and knickknacks this town is a collector’s heaven. Believe it or not, I found the prices overall less than the flea markets in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Two of my favorite dealers were Ann Cohen of HEAVENLY TREASURES and the good people at BIJOU GALLERIES. Both offered a terrific selection of designer vintage costume jewelry - lots of ‘40s ‘50s and ‘60s pins, bracelets etc. Also keep a lookout throughout the town for genuine Bakelite jewelry. There were still bargains to be had at the various dealers’ stalls.

Cold Spring is a great place to find Fiesta ware, vintage shoes (I saw a pair of ‘60s Hermes croc pumps) and inexpensive handbags, plus antique books, furniture and anything else you can think of. In addition there’s a wealth of charming restaurants to satisfy all tastes and prices and even a short trolley ride that leaves every 15 minutes and circles through the town and beyond. I think the price has jumped up to a quarter! You can also picnic by the water if you’re too broke from shopping to eat out, but do sample the homemade ice cream emporium.

So while summer’s in full swing, get out of town! C&C.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

IFN at FIT


Many moons ago I was a free lance reporter and fashion illustrator at Intimate Fashion News (IFN), a trade newspaper that covered the lingerie market. I’m telling you this because I recently attended the Fashion Institute of Technology’s latest exhibit, Exposed: A History of Lingerie.

The exhibit traces the developments in intimate apparel from the 18th century to the present. To quote the curator of the exhibit, Colleen Hill, “There are two types of lingerie, hard and soft. Hard lingerie includes corsets, bustles and structured bras, while soft lingerie consists of unstructured garments, such as slips, nightgowns and panties.”

More than fifty objects are featured in the exhibit and a companion book is available for sale and I heartily recommend it for anyone interested in fashion history. Frankly, I find that FIT often surpasses the Met when it comes to costume exhibitions – plus it’s free!

The exhibit will run through November 15th, 2014 at the Fashion and Textile History Gallery. Hours are Tuesday-Friday, noon-8pm and Saturday 10am-5pm. Until next time C&C.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Scent of Money


There are colognes and then there are Colognes! What do I mean by that? Simply put, expensive ingredients make all the difference when it comes to designing a new fragrance. Add to that, the skilled "nose" can transform a multitude of different elements into a winning scent.
 
Want to be clear about one thing. I'm no snob when it comes to perfumes etc. One of my personal favorites is plumeria flower toilet water which is a fraction of the cost of Broderie perfume by Hayari, an elegant and sophisticated scent that I love.
 
On that note, I'm here to discuss two new high end fragrances for men. When Hayari Paris invited a select group of press to preview the launch of their mens colognes, I was naturally intrigued. ONLY FOR HIM features top notes of bergamot orange, elemi, black pepper, heart notes of rose, white flowers, cyperus papyrus and base notes of atlas cedar, gaiac, amber, benzoin. Don't ask me what any of those elements are since I have no clue. Just saying!
 
The second cologne is called Le Paradis de L'HOMME. Ingredients here contain top notes of schinus, (don't ask), heart notes of vetiver, atlas cedar, cyperus papyrus, and base notes of leather, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss (yay, stuff I recognize).
 
I got to try out samples of both and let me tell you, these are both true couture fragrances and when they're launched in September I will be first in line to buy a bottle for significant other. In keeping with Hayari's gorgeous perfume packaging expect the same distinctive design for men.




 Even If You Can't Live Like a Millionaire Hayari Makes You Smell Like One! 

Photo Credit:  M. McKenzie 



For more info on launch dates, stockists, etc go to www.hayariparis.com.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

CHARLES JAMES: Beyond Fashion


A couple of months ago I urged you to check out the upcoming Charles James exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Now the exhibit has opened and yours truly got a preview peek and I'm here to tell you that this is a must see for anyone the least bit interested in high fashion.

I have a confession to make. I'm not particularly a fan of the '40s and '50s decades (I love the '60s ), however as one of the greatest couturiers of the 20th century, Charles James was in a class by himself.

The exhibit is divided into two separate categories and rooms. At the new Anna Wintour Costume Center the focus is on daywear and personal memorabilia which I found fascinating, while the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery is devoted to James' iconic evening wear.

Go see the exhibit if for no other reason than to get an up close and personal look at the inner workings and impeccable construction that defines what haute couture is all about. Then you can understand why the prices for couture are astronomical. Start saving your pennies!  The exhibit runs from May 8 to August 10, 2014. Until next time, happy dreaming, C&C.