Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Take Five

Fashion week is over, the tents have folded, the off-site venues have shut down, press lounge is kaput and the trade shows are finito.

While I saw quite a few designer offerings I've narrowed my selection down to my top five picks (translation...I want to owe them all).

1. Tan & Brown : A scrumptious luxury handbag line from Australia. The saddle brown cowhide and "leopard" calf hair are stand outs. All bags are beautifully lined in rich suede.  Find out more at

2. CANADA BLISS: Perfect for the cold days ahead, this line of hand knit and crochet caps are comfy and come in a variety of colors. This is a great unisex line. Find them on line at

3. MOLLY BRACKEN: Recently launched in the U.S, this French ready to wear collection can be found at upscale boutiques. Perfect dresses, separates, outer wear and even shoes all have that Parisian je ne sais quoi. For more info go to

4. Angela Roi: This is a very affordable of vegan leather handbags from a talented South Korean designer. The collection includes a variety of tote bags, satchels, saddle bags that come in a variety of great colors. Buy on line at

FW Models Look Better with Angela Roi's Vegan Leather Handbag

Photo Credit:  Angela Roi

5. Eric Javits: One of my favorite milliners has outdone himself this time. Thinking ahead to resort/spring there's a drawstring bucket bag that's on trend.  It's available in gold or silver with brown leather trim. Pair this with anyone of his "Squishee" packable hats. Perfect for town or travel. The line is carried at all major retailers. For more info go to

Spring 2016 - All You Will Need Is an Eric Javits Bag and Hat!*
*additional clothing may be required per local ordinances

Photos Credit:  M. McKenzie

Coming up soon, C&C

Saturday, August 1, 2015


No, I'm not talking about swimsuits and sandals. Yours truly in an never ending quest to bring you the latest fashion finds trekked to Ocean Grove, New Jersey (easy access via N.J transit). This charming resort town offers a wealth of quirky boutiques plus a fabulous ice cream parlor that should not be missed. 

Since I'm always on the hunt for vintage finds where ever I go, I made a bee line to a boutique called "FROM HEART TO HEARTH" at 62 A Main # 732-774-0269. The shop's warren of rooms are filled to the brim with affordable collectibles, from vintage 50's straw hats and purses to jewelry, figurines, books and toys, etc. I scooped up a delicately carved intaglio stick pin and vintage Avon perfume encased in a ceramic bottle in the form of an Elizabethan era doll. A lack of funds prevented me from doing more damage......besides black raspberry ice cream was calling me.

Just letting you know that if you get the chance......Ocean Grove will be hosting a flea market on September 8th.

Since there is more to life than shopping......maybe.....take a stroll on the boardwalk that runs from Asbury Park to Ocean Grove and beyond. If time permits be sure to splurge on dinner at the "MOONSTRUCK" restaurant.....reserve a table on the second floor porch and enjoy the views. For information go to 732-988-0123.

Enjoy yourself ........who just might run into Bruce Springsteen.

Until next time......C&C

Thursday, May 14, 2015

East Meets West

Yes, I know that you've seen a million images from the latest Met gala........including a lot of half naked badly dressed celebs.  But here's the thing, The Costume Institute's "China Through The LookingGlass" is a must see exhibition. I was in awe of the fashions both authentic Chinese and Western inspired.

Fashion Didn't Stop at the Great Wall!

Photo Credit:  M. McKenzie

In addition, the magnificent displays, film clips and background music combined to make this a must see and my favorite all time exhibit.

C&C'S Minions Created a GIF of Their Favorite Styles at the Exhibit

Photo Credit:  M. McKenzie

Here's a tip:  skip the gift shop offerings and head to Pearl RiverMart in Soho for the real deal at better prices.

The exhibition runs through August 16, 2015.

Until next time.....C&C

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


If you're like me you're probably tired of seeing the same old designer names over and over. Fortunately at a recent Macy's press event dubbed" Fashion Incubators" I found some interesting noteworthy young designers on the cusp of fashion stardom. Be sure to check out these following newcomers:

VICTORIA WRIGHT - her collection is composed of diverse textures, modern florals, whimsical silhouettes and vintage references. Her line is aimed at bohemian contemporary women. For more on this designer go to

Incubating a Bohemian Style - Victoria Wright


Photos Credit:  Melanie McKenzie

SHELBY STEINER - has an interesting, unique aesthetic (think Bjork, only more wearable). I flipped out over the white puff A-line skirt and sweatshirt.....very cool. Think of these as the high fashion version of bubble wrap. For more cool fashions go to

"Wearable Bjork," a Contradiction in Terms, 
But Shelby Steiner Proves It Can Be Done!

Photos Credit:  Melanie McKenzie

MINKEEBLUE - solves the problem familiar to many women, the stuffed to the gills overloaded handbag. MinkeeBlue handbags are fashionable and functional and eliminate the need to carry two or three bags. Each bag features a 2 in 1 adjustable compartment panel. This creates an upper and lower compartment when the panel is closed. For more on this must have collection go to
Who Carries Three Bags?  No One Carrying a Minkeeblue Bag


Photos Credit:  Melanie McKenzie

EVGENIA - her take on intimate apparel can compare with the best of La Perla. I loved everything from her vintage inspired silk charmeuse shell pink bias cut gown to the ocean blue floral half slip and camisole. This collection would be perfect for a fashionista's trousseau. For more info go to

Caution:  Evgenia's Incubating Lingerie Can Lead to Incubation


Photos Credit:  Melanie McKenzie

Until next time...HAPPY SPRING......C&C

Friday, February 20, 2015


Be sure to check out the exhibit at the Jewish Museum at 5th Avenue and 92nd street in New York, Helena Rubenstein: Beauty is Power. Her cosmetics empire spanned four continents . She became a global icon as well as a leader in art, fashion and philanthropy Rubenstein was arguably the first modern self-made woman magnate.

At the turn of the century the use of cosmetics was frowned upon by the middle class. Madame Rubinstein rejected this, producing and marketing the means for ordinary women to transform themselves. This exhibit gives viewers a glimpse into Helena Rubenstein's extraordinary life. Be sure to check it out before it closes on March 22, 2015.

Until next time C&C

Monday, February 2, 2015

Singing in the Rain

With the possible exception of Gene Kelly or the seriously depressed, does anyone really enjoy schlepping out on a cold depressing day? Since we can't control the weather why not come up with something to put a smile on our faces.

KNIRPS, a leading umbrella manufacturer has just come up with the perfect solution ....ta da!  Welcome to the world of" FLOYD" with their new FLOYD WET, a black umbrella with a white zebra pattern.   This umbrella is light weight in design and features a ring handle. 

"He was such an unassuming umbrella," said Floyd's neighbors.

Photo Credit:  Knirps USA

Here's the good part.....when the white zebra pattern gets wet the lines change into bright colors.

"But when it rained, he turned wild."

Photo Credit:  Knirps USA

How cool is that? At $39 retail this is something to sing about. For more info go to

Stay dry until next time, C&C.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Salvation Army Savior

Chanel? Dior? Dooney&Bourke? Vera Bradley? Burberry? Prada? Saint Laurent? Salvation Army? … Brand New Look, Designer Labels and Lots More At This Super Cool, One-Of A-Kind, Concept Boutique Outpost in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

When most people think about the myriad of international Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores, there probably is nary a thought nor an kind of an idea about any of those stores being well-lit, open, airy; having clean, chic, eclectic interiors, not to mention showcasing exposed brick walls, carpeting, high-end, designer clothing, accessories, footwear, home furnishings, artwork, books, and so on and so forth.

Well, get ready to rethink what you ever might have thought about any Salvation Army Family Store, especially if you were (or still are) a shopper, and be prepared to be shocked, awed and blown away, because all of this good stuff is now available for everyone’s enjoyment; all under one very cool roof; within an experimental, Concept Boutique shop in the trendy 11222 zip code zone of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Back in late December 2014, The Salvation Army did something for the very first time; something so new and so different; something so radical and controversial, in terms of how it wanted to approach its retail business; broaden its growth, image, sales revenues. Obviously, the change made waves and drew headlines, not just because The Army had decided to completely shift its mentality and its retail gears; lifted the veil on its new M.O., but, more importantly, because The Army decided to put its money where its mouth is; i.e., launch a totally re-done, re-worked, refurbished, one-of-a-kind, never-been-done-before, intimate, jewel box of a shop, at 981 Manhattan Avenue, smack dab in the heart of trendy Greenpoint; dubbed “the new Williamsburg” by more than just a few of those well-placed, in the know scenesters.

Welcome to Salvation Couture!

According to Major Joe Irvine, the soft-spoken and erudite, 25 year Army veteran, who was born to Canadian parents, and now serves as Administrator, for the Brooklyn Adult Rehabilitation Centers, all funded by the Thrift Stores, the idea behind the overhaul and renovation of the 35-year-old, 2,500 square foot shop into the chic, hip, Boutique-style Concept shop, is simple and direct. “Time to throw away the rule books and let’s see what works. We have to be forward-thinking, creative retailers, in order to help our people. We have 135 beds in Brooklyn alone; everything is free; while we do not take children; we will take anyone and everyone who needs help.”

For Irvine, his wife, Major Lisa Irvine, and William Franklin, Store Supervisor, the question of timing for the change was right on target; tying into Greenpoint’s location, hipness quotient, huge growth and rapidly changing face, popularity and population. According to Irvine, the former store, housed in a Salvation Army-owned building, and much smaller than any of the Army’s other Thrift Stores, probably would have closed; “the building might have just been sold off”; had it not been for the new model, which currently represents a first on the East coast. He expects the model to spread.

From start to finish, the overhaul work, which was mostly done by the Major, his wife and a few other Army workers in tow, embraced swapping out the old look of dirty store, (chipped, peeling paint on walls; cracked floors; horribly cramped aisles, boring, cheap clothing, hung cheek to jowl on old, falling down racks, dim lighting, sullen, rude employees, et al.) with freshly painted and exposed brick walls, elegant carpeting, interesting and bright lighting; lots of covetable, high-end, modern and vintage, designer merchandise, housewares, home décor, etc.; all easily accessible, neatly and beautifully arranged and displayed, either on fine hangers or well-folded inside of antique wood armoires, or atop open chests, plump couches, leather chairs, living room and billiard tables, etc. Definitely, no more falling down and dirty steel racks in this place anymore. And, while the old awning outside the shop remains for now, Irvine says that this, too, will change, as the shop grows and progresses. Then, there are the fashion-y, welcoming “Store Attendants” - Shannon and Tyasia – who were specifically hired to constantly provide excellent customer service; understand and cater to the younger, hipper shopper in a warm, non-threatening way.

Greenpoint's SA
Williamsburg is Jealous

In order to uphold the store’s retooled aesthetic, workers now cull through the gazillions of Salvation Army donations and then, cherry-pick those special, high-end goods for women, men, kids — or, simply unique items that just seem to fit; everything is then priced to sell from a mere $9.99, upwards to hundreds of dollars. On the day this Editor visited, there were well-priced, standout items galore; a natty, Burberry herringbone overcoat ($74); lots of cool Fedoras and knitted hats, scarves, gloves, pair of quilted, vibrantly colored Vera Bradley overnight bags ($46, $38); a really sweet Dooney&Bourke wristlet, complete with signature heart fob keychain/charm ($11); assorted cashmere and wool jackets, pants, sweaters; hip T-shirts, trendy athleisure gear; and lots more. Interestingly, a neat, oversized, men’s vintage leather bomber jacket ($68) was instantly scooped up by a cool Japanese girl from Astoria, who said that she first heard about all of the changes in the shop from her boyfriend who lives in Greenpoint. 

 Clothes Picked for You, Not Before You!

Explaining the raison d’être for the turn-around, Irvine explains, “the store was horrible; had long served its purpose; sales were at an all-time low; a struggle, in order to make $500 a day; staff, merchandise; atmosphere; everything in this store needed to be re-tooled and reinvigorated. Overall, the store simply represented a disservice to The Salvation Army, as well as the international Thrift Stores. The time had come to do something new and different, while at the same time, we needed to bridge the gap; stay true to our standards of always meeting the human need without discrimination; race, color, creed, budget, while continually honoring the customer, the donor and the beneficiary of all of our programs.”

Something Different, Something Simple and
Everything Better!

When asked about the possibility of some long-time neighborhood residents and former shoppers, being unhappy about the new shop and its new look, upscale, designer offerings, higher price points, hipster clientele, et al., Irvine does not miss a beat when he says,” some people are going to like the shop; some will not like what they see here. There are always positives and negatives in life and in retail, but I do believe that through the growth, on-going sales, word of mouth, popularity, etc., all of this will help bridge the perception of the store catering to only the upper class, young hipster.” Looking ahead, Irvine is more than just a bit optimistic for the shop’s growth and success. “The approach seems to be working well; sales have already increased by 30% to 50%. I’d like to see us realize around $350,000 in sales for the period through December 2015.”

Maj. Joe Irvine's Rebranding
Thrust SA to the Fashionista Front! 
--not too bad for a Major--

ADWB for C&C