Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Steals and Deals: More Great Finds

Neither rain, nor sleet nor bad hangover can keep this intrepid reporter from her fashion rounds in an effort to bring you the best stuff at affordable prices.

I started my quest at the Walmart Holiday press event. For most bang for the buck it’s hard to top this retailer’s many brands. I will personally make the schlep to Secaucus, NJ via bus from Port Authority’s terminal. Here’s what I MUST HAVE: Faded Glory’s – get this – reversible puffy jacket that comes in lots of fab colors and retails for only $15.00, or the price of two Starbucks lattes.

It's Winter, Bubble-Up at WalMart!

Another steal is Walmart’s private label zip top mini shoulder bag in genuine suede. For $14. I plan on getting it in the purple, as well as burgundy. For those dreary winter zero temp days I’ll opt for their version of the Ugg boot in black. At $12. I might even spring for the brown pair also. All Holiday merchandise should arrive in store by mid-November so don’t hesitate as at these prices the merch will fly out.

Speaking of footwear, I must let you in on a terrific secret – Payless offers some of the best looking “designer” shoes and bags specifically for this retailer. While I recently saw the gorgeous spring collections, I’m here to tell you about Christian Siriano’s Holiday offerings. They’re in store now but at these prices the shoes will blow out. I already bought his cute black/white/red print flats with gold zipper detail on the vamp. What also sold me was the gold metal trimmed heel. I know what you’re thinking – the shoes sound gaudy but let me assure you they are adorable and will go with everything in you closet right through spring/summer. The price? A whopping $29.95. There’s also a matching bag, but I prefer Siriano’s black patent shopper with detachable shoulder strap and simple chain detail on the front. With zips and pockets galore inside the pink lining, this is a versatile piece and a real deal.

Want more bang for your buck? Then why not check out the new consignment shop, Second Time Around at 1040 Lexington Avenue (www.secondtimearound.net). I took a look recently at the affordably priced items (all less than two years old), that are priced 1/3 to ¼ of the original retail. My friend picked up a chic, barely worn pair of Stuart Weitzman suede pumps for under $60 while I took note of the affordably priced range of sweaters and trousers. The merchandise changes frequently so it’s a good idea to look in often. The merchandise ranges from high end designer labels to better name brands.

When I attended Right Light PR’s press event, I wasn’t prepared for a fashion overload but that’s exactly what I got. Surrounded by a gallery full of various designer merchandise – from rtw to accessories and footwear – I was in hog heaven. Admittedly some of the collections don’t fall into my Steals and Deals category, there was more than enough to satisfy my craving for bargains. So check out the following brands:

Little Rooms (www.littlerooms.com) , is a California-based jewelry line with a unique look. From the Thornwall Collection, I fell for the clever “Cityscape” bangle available in either gold or nickel plated finish. What this is, teeny little three dimensional skyscrapers that surround the bangle and form the design. No retail prices yet but my guess is that these will retail around $75. Also cute is the “Small Radio” pendant that I found charming in the antiqued gold plated finish but nickel and sterling are also available. The design references those old ‘30s dome shaped radios and looks to be a steal since the wholesale price is only $14. Radio Stud earrings are also available with silver based posts.

Jlee Silver is a Chicago-based designer RTW collection at bridge prices. While not cheap, the quality and styling compares very favorably with other top young designer names like Alexander Wang and Jason Woo but at lower prices. I found the collection to be wearable by almost every age since the styling is classic yet with a focus on fabulous materials and unique prints. Some of the highlights from the spring collection include a strapless sheath (with side seam pockets) in silver linen, that will retail for $178. the rust leopard (or solid lilac) shift at $170. and every single one of the gorgeous tunics. These range anywhere from $125. -$148.00. For more info on customer service go to Lindsay Waldron at Lindsay-@-fashionheist.com.

While I don’t usually go gaga over tee shirts ( I get enough of them in event goody bags) I have to tell you about Trash and Luxury’s line.
I flipped over the screen printed vintage Vogue and Harper’s bazaar covers that are simply TOO DIVINE. Styles include a pocket dolman sleeved tee, a drop hem tank, scoop neck with pocket and more. The tees will run you around $60 but my personal favorite is the “Eiffel Tower Bazaar” skinny scoop tee on black ground at $50. While these may seem like a lot of money the quality of the fabrics not to mention the “look-at-me” factor makes this line worth the bucks.

That’s all for now. Coming soon: more spring fashion events C&C

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cold Comfort

I just returned from my semi-annual jaunt to Montreal, where it was colder than usual for early fall. Naturally, this meant that I had to hit even more shopping centers than usual just to keep warm. In my endless quest to bring you the most interesting fashions and trends I scoured every neighborhood and came up with two fabulous new boutiques. I have to be honest with you, both feature rather pricey clothes and accessories but in both cases, you’ll definitely get your moneys worth in terms of high style and impeccable workmanship.

Boutique Scandale at 3639 Boulevard St. Laurent (www.boutiquescandale.com), offers a very chic and modern take on the vintage look designed by Montreal designer Georges Levesque. What sets the collections apart are the unusual, simply gorgeous fabrics, often combining patterns with solids in very unique ways. I flipped for Levesque’s rust colored velvet and wool plaid draped dress that gives the impression of a two-piece frock. The closest designer I can compare him to is Vivienne Westwood because of his use of plaids and intricate construction. The boutique also carries a limited selection of retro looking shoes and some jewelry, but it’s the rtw that really stands out. If you want to stand out from the crowd and are willing to invest in great pieces, then this is the boutique for you.

Histoire de plaire at966 St. Catherine Street (www.histoiredeplaire.ca), is a brand new (only opened two weeks prior to my visit) boutique smack in the heart of Montreal’s main shopping drag. Funnily enough, the merchandise is primarily Italian and French designer sportswear with some terrific – and affordably priced, capacious handbags, elegant yet rugged suede boots and “Hermes’ faux croc belts thrown in the mix. The color palette consisted mainly of subtle shades of grey, bone, taupe and black. This store offers customers of any age basically one-stop-shopping with a marvelous selection of butter soft cashmere sweaters, knitted fur stoles and some of the prettiest, exquisitely detailed blouses I’ve seen in a long time. I wanted to snap up everything, but lack of funds and space in my suitcase prevented me from going hog wild.

As far as other fall/winter trends, I took note of some adorable trapper fur lined hats in every price range, cardigan sweaters everywhere and naturally, some of the best looking, lined all-weather boots. On a personal note, If you plan a trip to Montreal anytime soon (Amtrak offers a smooth, hassle free ride and bargain prices), check out The Bay department store on St. Catherine Street. This is the place to fine the original Hudson Bay rugged wool car coat and scarves in the brand’s iconic stripe. For casual chic, it’s had to beat the collection which includes lots more items including some wonderful throws, etc.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

High Society

Here’s an upcoming event that every true fashionista should check out. Doyle New York auction house, will be offering couture items at their upcoming High Society Sale curated by noted fashion historian Caroline Rennolds Millbank.

Included in the sale will be some fabulous vintage costume jewelry by most of the top designer names, the coveted Hermes Birkin bags and other designer handbags, as well as the classic Vuitton trunks, plus beautiful fashion sketches and lots more. Some of the timeless items will include a black quilted Lady Dior handbag from the ‘80s (estimated at $100-150), Dior’s black calf handbag with tortoise bracelet handles from the 1960s ($200-250). Chanel’s knockout brooch designed by Gripoix in the ‘80s. It’s gold plated metal set with emerald and rose pate de verre stones ($400-600). However if you’re really feeling flush why not bid on the two heraldic brooches originally owned by Diana Vreeland. The first consists of a silver-tone metal pin/buckle enameled in white, green and red with a crown, Maltese cross and laurel wreath. The other is a gold plated pin molded with the Royal Arms of England including the royal family’s mottoes. The estimate is steep ($750-1,000) and will probably exceed it, but if nothing else, these two gorgeous pieces will only go up in value over time, not to mention look absolutely gorgeous on your H& M or other bargain basement outfit. Listen, a girl’s gotta cut back some where!

Lady Dior Handbag - History Never Looked So Stylish

Chanel's Brooch - Finally, the Good Parts of the 80s are Back!

The exhibition preview dates are October 31 – November 2, with the auction held on Tuesday November 3rd. For more info log on to DoyleNewYork.com.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fashion Follies: Spring 2010

By now you’ve probably checked out all the websites and newspapers, so you have a pretty good handle on what’s happening for spring. Instead I’ll give you a blow by blow account of my travels during New York’s fashion week both at the tents and off site. And believe me, it’s all work and (very little) play…plus I do it in heels!

Sept. 8: Day one got off to a smooth start with Norman Ambrose’s show at the posh St. Regis Hotel. The ladylike collection definitely falls into the demi-couture range and was inspired by Grace Kelly. While I loved the beautifully made evening dresses (that I’d never have an occasion to wear) I absolutely fell in love with his navy/white chevron striped cotton jersey so called “beach dress.” Perfect for those of you who own your island. My beach attire never looked this chic! When you win the lottery check out his collection at Neiman Marcus.

Most Beaches Can't Handle This Dress!

Wear with caution lest you confuse the natives.

Sept. 9: Spent the day gearing up for the main events by weeding out my most fashion-forward duds and resting my feet. It’s not easy being a fashionista.

Sept, 10: Started off at the Scandinavia House where the press were treated to a buffet lunch and a cute collection from Stem Designs. This was part of a Breakout Designer Series. The models mostly paraded out in a variety of swimwear – loved the bikinis – and my personal fave, a white silk organza blazer with glass buttons that was worn over a lilac and gray bikini top.

Keeping With The Zeitgeist - The Best Cover-Ups Are Transparent

Afterwards, I trekked over to the Bryant Park tents. First and foremost I needed to check out the sponsors booths and was thrilled to find MC Café back again for spring. Personally. I could live on their hot and iced mochas and boy did they keep me going all week. I also took note of Maybelline’s booth where the new lipsticks were being handed out. Love those perks.

This was a good day as I got to see one of my favorite designer shows, Ports 1961. This was one hot ticket as every seat was filled and it was standing room only for the unlucky few who didn’t rate a seat. Except for the red eye shadow and crazy, impossible to walk in platforms, I loved it all. The standout for me had to be sculptural, pale “oasis” taffeta warp print coat and the chic “nest” (sort of a cocoa color) duchess draped sheath. Looking back, this had to be one of Tia Cibani’s best and accessible collections.

Busy, busy, busy. I headed over to the Bryant Park Hotel HauteLook, an invitation only media lounge where editors could chill out, get manicures, massages (boy did I take advantage of that) and nosh while checking out the various brands showcased there. I got a fantastic touch-up courtesy of Rock & Republic’s fabulous cosmetics. Buy the brand at Sephora. I especially loved the perfumes from Comptoir Sud Pacific but there was lots more to see. The featured lines can be ordered through HauteLook.com.

Looking Good Is Important, Smelling Good Is Critical!

I ended my day with a showing by a trio of designers, Nicholas K. Whitney Eve and Mara Hoffman at the Promenade tent. Of the three I’d opt for Mara Hoffman’s flowing coral silk chiffon bias gown and her white graph silk chiffon cross back number if I had a social life. Also nice, Whitney’s young and flirty blue sparkle halter dress or the (very ‘50s) black lace, full skirted party dress with cap sleeves, belted in black satin.

Outside the tents was the usual freak show. My pick for the day was the naked, (except for a nude thong) girl covered allover in back body paint chatting away in Bryant Park.

Sept. 11: Only got invites to two shows. My first stop was the Monarchy Collection held in the main tent. Again, the place was mobbed but fortified with my daily mocha, I took in the scene both on and off the runway. One of the funniest was the camera hog wearing a giant black bow – think Minnie Mouse stuffed in a giant gold chain embellished puffy coat. Another fashion victim sprouted a spray of pheasant feathers sticking out of a pink cotton scarf twisted into a turban thingy. As for the collection itself, I’d love to own the muted teal blue butter soft suede, draped cropped jacket (very Rick Owens) and a lovely tan metallic coated linen trench coat.

Moseyed over to Leifsdottir’s showroom. I absolutely fell in love with the presentation last season and this one didn’t disappoint either. It felt like being in a tropical garden with potted palms, caged birds, patio furniture and a fountain. Tables were laden with all sorts of desserts and nuts and champagne was offered to the milling crowds. Check out the cute collection sold at Anthropologie. In the meantime I’ll dream about owning the hot pink print silk ruched top worn with cuffed white shorts or the green/white print on black ground sundress, or maybe the beige suede puff sleeved short jacket.

Sept.12: This hard working editor actually got up early on a Saturday just to make it in time for the Lacoste runway shoe at the ungodly hour of 10:00A.M. Guess what? It was definitely worth it as the show was terrific. The sportswear was very chic and very French with lots of crisp whites and a terrific finale that featured a lineup of guys and gals dressed in bright yellow complete with matching sunglasses that stole the show. My feeling is this – if you’re going to spend the bucks, invest in Lacoste’s timeless classics. In time they’ll pay for themselves in terms of looks and value for money.

Had time to kill between shows so I ambled back to the HauteLook suite for some lunch and some much needed rest. Then it was back to the tents to see the graduate student designs from the School of Fashion at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Out of the six featured designers I was most impressed with Brittney Major’s cute plaid taffeta separates and dresses and Richelle Valenzuela’s intricately cut organza pieces. Both of these girls should have a bright future so keep your eyes out for their names.

I ended the day with former Project Runway winner, Christian Siriano’s show at the promenade tent. Boy, I never expected to see such chaos as it seemed as if everybody wanted in on this. Who knew he was such a hot ticket? Fortunately I had a pretty good seat (not the back row for a change) which helped my mood. So here’s what I think. Siriano’s got talent to spare but still has a ways to go. What stood out for me were his blush colored silk chiffon and charmeuse separates and a gorgeous metallic linen trench coat worn over a charmeuse sleeveless pleated neck blouse and wide leg khaki trousers.

Sept. 13: Guess what! I took the day off and went to see The September Issue movie which was a treat. If you haven’t already seen it, go for a behind the scene look at the workings of Vogue magazine.

Sept. 14: Started the day with a peek at the Expose Spring Collections that were being showcased in The Daily Suite lounge at the AKA Hotel. I moseyed across the street to the Adrienne Vittadini collection at the International Center of Photography. Looking back for my money this was one of the week’s best and most wearable (not to mention affordable) collections. I loved everything, especially the soft khaki silk and knit tunnel belted “safari” dress and the confetti paillette sweater over a cheery garden floral inverted pleat skirt, but if I had the bucks I’d by the whole line.

Next it was on to Tracy Reese’s highly anticipated showing in the (smaller ) Salon tent. Again there was pandemonium among the press and onlookers hoping to get at least standing room. I liked her cute orange belted trench style dress and the slip dress with colorful sequin flowers on a black ground.

Now You Understand Why There Was Pandemonium!

Afterwards I prowled around the booths and lo and behold, I found a mob at the Sharpie booth where we were offered fun tees designed by Betsy Johnson, bangle bracelets and sunglasses. The hook? Everyone got to pick up as many colorful Sharpie pens that we were supposed to use to decorate our loot.

Back to Bryant Park Hotel’s HauteLook suite for a gander at the Victoria’s Secret display and generous goody bag. I even finished up with a massage and manicure compliments of the HauteLook suite. Sometimes life is good!

The day ended on a high note with Douglas Hannant’s cocktail party/collection at the Plaza Hotel. Talk about elegant! Champagne in hand I took note of the gorgeous evening gowns placed on mannequins set atop high white platforms. The late day collection is definitely geared to those who make the society pages but if I could own just one number I’d die happy in Hannant’s pink/peach ombre voile strapless gown.

Attention Social Page Editors:

Anyone Wearing This Gown Should Be Automatically Published Due To Her Good Taste!

Sept. 15: Hangover free, I began my day at the civilized hour of 11:00 AM at the Brian Reyes show in the Promenade tent. Again, fortified with my ubiquitous McCafe mocha, I was inclined to look favorably on his collection. On the whole I found it to be pretty, young ( hate that word) and saleable. Best looks included a stone color cotton “Japanese” car coat, cute aqua shagreen printed wrap shorts (shorts are very in for spring) shown with a bleeding heart print ruffled cami and a sexy black jersey strapless gown.

After a reviving lunch and massage it was on to Max Azria’s runway show in the large tent. I could have done with all the deconstructed looks but I did like a white crepe dress with deep cowl back, the delicate, dove crepe beaded dress and his gorgeous nude silk beaded frock with its extremely low back – very sexy!

Sept. 16: Made the trip down to Bryant Park at the crack of 10:00 AM only to be turned away from the Michael Kors presentation. This was definitely one of the hottest tickets as the tent was jammed with press, ladies who lunch and assorted hangers-on. Just to give you an example, I spotted a skinny guy (?) wearing mid heeled pumps and a fur stole over his suit. Sometimes it’s worth it just to see the freak show. That was that, so I killed time until the Nanette Lepore show. Here too I spotted another fashion victim, this time wearing black sequin leggings, and an YSL tee shirt under a blk/white houndstooth jacket and ridiculous ruffled platform shoes. All this at 11:00 in the morning, mind you. As for the show itself, there was lots of color, beading and prints. And like almost everyone else, a surfeit of dresses, jackets, knits and shorts. Personally, I’d buy the cute “twig” cargo shorts, the easy to wear racer back “twilight” color knit dress and Lepore’s pretty “firefly” beaded top.

I ended my day at Anna Sui who showed in the main tent. This is one show I always look forward to, not only to see what her imagination has come up with, but for the celebrity packed crowds. The theme for spring was the circus, but filtered through Anna’s prolific and unique imagination. All the top models were booked and let me tell you, what a difference it makes. These girls know how to project a designer’s vision. When it comes to mixing patterns and textures, no one does it better than Anna. For example, her black/ivory jigsaw and quatrefoil metallic jacquard (what a mouthful) jacket and skirt, topping a purple clover foulard print metallic plaid blouse, was the height of trendy chic. Another winner was a tan multicolored plaid jacket and skirt paired with a pretty persimmon sunflower foulard metallic, clipped dot chiffon blouse.

Anna Sui's Line Is Three Rings of Metallic Success

Sept. 17: I swung by the Stephen Burrows intimate presentation held in his showroom. The collection emphasized streamlined late day wear and was attended by some of the industry’s big name editors and stylists. For me the standout was a slinky long white jersey gown with insets of blue sequins that served to emphasize the languid lines. It was modeled by Anna Cleveland, daughter of famed ‘70s model, Pat who was one of Stephen’s muses.

Afterwards, it was on to Naeem Khan’s showroom. Oh, my god! Was it glorious. The collection’s focus was strictly after dark (and you’d need a small fortune to afford anything), with red carpet worthy clothes embellished with crystals, paillettes, jewels and magnificent embroidery. The models wearing their hair in stylized poufs, stood two deep and stock still looking like the most gorgeous living dolls. I’d be hard pressed to name a favorite but one of the loveliest had to be the lilac chiffon halter gown embellished with sterling silver floral paillettes – very ‘30s Jean Harlow. In the next room that was overflowing with flowers that covered one whole wall, were some magnificent jewels by Ranjana Khan. I loved the crystal necklaces pinned to photos of famed 19th century beauties. All I could do was ooh and aah, the pieces were so opulent. Between the two collections and the champagne, I was one happy – if envious – camper.

I ended fashion week with a final stop at the tents and one last iced mocha. Chocheng’s collection was aimed at the over 30 crowd with late day clothes in a black/ivory palette with a touch of turquoise at the end. While the tailoring was superb and the details romantic, the show left me wanting more, especially after Naeem Khan ‘s great collection. For my money, the best look was the black silk satin trench coat. It was an updated version of a beloved classic and worth the designer price tag.

So there you have it, a weeks worth of shows filled with (some) crap and (some) couture, both on and off the runways. If you have any comments or thought about the spring fashions, feel free to comment.

Until next time, C&C.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Antidote to Paris when it Sizzles: The Cool Couture of Madeleine Vionnet.

By the European correspondent

Most travellers know better than to visit Paris during the month of August when the city literally sizzles with heat and the most crucial hotel amenity is air conditioning. However the upside of my recent summer sojourn to the French capital was the discovery of the fabulous Les Arts Decoratifs museum at 107 Rue de Rivoli, wherein I spent several delightful, temperature-controlled hours perusing the brilliant couture designs of the late Madeleine Vionnet. Fittingly, the latter’s own couture house was originally located on the same street as the museum (number 222) where it debuted in 1912. It continued to attract an elite stream of wealthy clients at this address (with a four-year hiatus during the war years of 1914 – 1918) until the company’s move to Avenue Montaigne in 1922. Included in her roster of celebrity customers were Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo.

As a fashion editor I am, naturally, familiar with the Madame Vionnet name and reputation; she is regarded by many as the greatest dressmaker of the 20th Century and is known as ‘The Queen of Bias Cut’. Her fashion philosophy was simple and yet revolutionary for its time; to free women from the constrictions of corsets, padding and stiffening and instead to accentuate the natural female form. She spent a great deal of time and energy in order to achieve this fashion fluidity; she even created miniature creations on tiny mannequins in order to experiment with different techniques.

This was the first opportunity I had to observe Madeleine Vionnet’s unique couture creations at close proximity and the experience left me overwhelmed by the impressive talents of this dedicated designer. Described as an “artistic visionary” in the exhibition brochure, her creations do seem to transcend fashion and enter the realm of intellectual design and construction.

The exhibits engendered in me feelings of awe, admiration and respect: they also evoked a sense of déjà vu because I recognized elements from these exquisite constructions in the numerous fashion runway shows I’ve attended over the past two decades. Whether the designers responsible were ‘paying homage’ to this remarkable woman or (to put it less diplomatically) copying her trademark style, it is obvious that a number of them have been directly influenced by Madame V.

The Madeleine Vionnet signature was the purity of line and cut in her form-conscious silhouettes. She incorporated elements of architecture and the aesthetics from Ancient Greece into deceptively simple draping and folding of sumptuous silks and crepes that glide over the female form with grace and fluidity. One of the exhibits is a single ingeniously-cut and draped piece of fabric that spirals around the female form to create a flattering and flowing evening gown that’s simply cinched at the waist (and so held together) with a jewelled belt: sheer genius. In addition to her innovative use of the bias cut, she is renowned for her use of the halter neck, the draped cowl and the chiffon handkerchief hem – all of these trademarks evident throughout the exhibition.

The hand of Andree Putman is evident in the sumptuous and yet practical exhibition design: cleverly placed mirrors for instance, enable the observation of intricate detailing on the reverse of the garments that are displayed to maximum effect on mannequins. A photograph of the original model wearing the outfit accompanies each vintage piece, providing an additional historical reference point. (It was interesting to note the prevalence of a much more curvaceous silhouette than is currently en vogue).

Madeleine Vionnet – who died at age 98 in 1975 -- donated 122 ensembles, 750 dress patterns and 75 photo albums and volumes of memorabilia to the Union Francaise des Arts du Costume from her personal collection. She closed her couture house in 1939 at the outbreak of war.

The exhibition continues until the end of January 2010.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stephen Burrows World

Anybody who lived through the ‘70s remembers that generation’s hottest designer, Stephen Burrows. You weren’t in if you didn’t dance the night away in one of his flirty little lettuce edged matte jersey frocks or hit the Fire Island Pines and dance till dawn in his colorful separates. All the coolest people shopped at Steven’s “O” Boutique on Park Avenue South and 19th Street. It was the trendiest place to congregate (and this was way before “downtown” became the most coveted neighborhood for the in crowd).

All right kiddies, so why am I giving you a history lesson? Because Stephen Burrows never really went away – you can’t keep a great designer under the fashion radar for long. Sure, he’s still doing updated variations on his signature jersey numbers, but there’s a lot more to covet as I found out when I checked out his Resort collection. Now, don’t go crazy thinking that’s so far away, because stores will be getting deliveries as soon as November 30th. Please, I’m already looking ahead to the spring 2010 shows coming up right after Labor Day but that’s another story.

Back to the fashions – I LOVED the khaki broadcloth separates and dresses but I gotta warn you, start sucking in those stomach muscles now because most of his pieces feature a wasp-waisted silhouette with either high-waisted pencil skirts or laced front, full skirted charmers. Don’t panic, there are terrific slim tapered pants and three fabulous (very Mad Men) dresses that should retail under $500 and while that may seem like a lot in this economy, it’s money well spent, trust me! Moving on, there are also some cute sky blue polka dot voile tops to mix/match with crisp white shorts and the new palazzo pants in cherry silk linen. These I like paired with a resorty-looking Marina or reef print voile bustier with diagonal gathers and tie waist. Which just goes to show, you can be cool and look hot all at the same time.

Wasp-Waisted Is Right
Betty Wears This and Don Draper Never Stray!
-well maybe-

For more on Stephen Burrows World, go to www.stephenburrows.com.

That’s all for now. Talk to you after the New York Fashion Week frenzy is over.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Glam Puffer Coat

We had some technical difficulties and could not post the Ann Taylor's glam puffer coat referred to in my "Haute Stuff" entry. Thanks to Michelle Longo of Ann Taylor, she sent a great image and I want you all to see it. Your wardrobe is incomplete without this coat!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Holiday/Resort: Looking Ahead

As I sit here typing away in the unbearable humidity of an August summer, naturally, my thoughts are turning to Holiday and resort dressing. Ah, the sacrifices I go through for your benefit. Listen, pretty soon I’ll be checking out the Spring fashion shows in and around Bryant Park. While it’s too soon to concern yourself (unless you regularly make a habit of planning your wardrobe that far ahead), with next year’s stuff, lets concentrate on more immediate dressing. Before you know it, these resources will be in store around October, November.

While I did schlep around and about the trade shows and attended various press previews, I’ve broken it down to a couple of my personal favorite retailers and designer collections that I feel offer the most bang for the fashion buck.

Numero uno on my list has to be Talbots! Yes, you heard me, Talbots! If you’re thinking that this is the same old fuddy-duddy retailer, well, guess what, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Not only are the offerings a lot more fashion forward thanks to a very savvy design team, the boutiques themselves have gotten a fresh makeover. If the store in your area hasn’t gotten updated yet, give it time, the powers that be are working on it.

Now about the extensive merchandise. Personally, I’d opt for the black satin belted trench coat (also available in sapphire) and a stretch satin twist neck sheath. Both items will take you anywhere for many years to come. At $189 and $179 respectively, these are a steal at more than twice the price.

Wear it again, Sam!
Casablanca Never Looked So Chic!

If you have the guts to wear white in the city (personally I’m a slob), check out Talbots’ luxe ivory hidden placket coat. It will set you back $499, not to mention the dry cleaning bills, but the wow factor alone could be worth springing for it. As far as sportswear pieces go I love the $79. bias cut tartan plaid silk cowl neck blouse and the adorably preppy (very Ralph) shrunken navy blazer in basketweave wool, nicely detailed with gold crest buttons for $189.

Only the Brave Wear White in NYC!

Talbots didn’t neglect the accessory area either. Personally, I want the ivory faux fur toque hat especially when it’s accessorized with a crystal snowflake brooch. The hat’s $39 and the pin, $69. If you’re feeling generous, you might want to consider giving your best bud a pair of glamorous rhinestone buckled hostess slippers in platinum… or keep them for yourself. Either way, they’re a terrific buy at $99.

Can't Toque That!

Love Ann Taylor but want to get the same look at even better prices? The answer is Loft, the brand’s more moderate sister line. While fall looked good, holiday looks even better. Want to add a little sparkle to your wardrobe, look no further than the sleeveless gold sequin tank. At $59.50 it’s a steal. Don’t think that this will only work for late day,. I’m here to tell you that you can layer this item over a black or cream color turtleneck and slip it under a suit etc. The possibilities are endless so don’t limit yourself. Definitely on the cozy, casual side is the Loft’s snuggly grey, ¾ length, waffle weave cardigan with toggle closure. The price here is $108. I also love the slim metallic leopard jacquard skirt at $89.50 paired with the $49.50 cascading ruffled shell. I have to admit, the Loft did an amazing job with accessories for holiday, especially the long gunmetal jet knotted necklace ($49.50), the adorable feather trimmed headband ($18.50) and faux fur neckwarmer ($29.50). If you want to be a sport give a pair of jewel trimmed grey knit ballet flats that will run you a measly $24.59. Here’s the thing, both of these retailers offer on the money looks for a lot less than you’d pay for a brand that’s spending a small fortune to advertise in Vogue and other fashion mags.

As I said in the beginning of this blog, I checked out some of the designers that showed holiday and resort collections at the trade shows. While it’s no fun to slog through miles and miles of booths to find great lines I did narrow things down to a few designers that I think you should check out when they hit the stores. Style, quality and price were my key priorities. Two were diffusion lines and the other a nicely styled collection from an up and coming designer whose background included stints as part of the design team at Prada and Gucci. Not too shabby!

By now you must be aware of Tracy Reese. Her collections cater to the girly-girl in all of us. Well, if you want that pretty look at a more affordable price range check out her Plenty collection. For holiday (which starts shipping to stores in Sept), there are some fabulous clothes, from the not so basic black dotted lace full skirted “little frock” (which should retail for about $295.) boat-neck tee and full skirt, to a magnificent embroidered wool “Cossack”coat in ivory or black wool. If you only buy one coat this season get this beauty. Suggested retail price is $325 and it’s a bargain at twice the price. You will definitely make a fashion statement in this number. If you feel that you simply must get in on the wide ‘80s shoulder trend (think Rihanna at the Met Costume gala) opt instead for a much more wearable version with Plenty’s draped shoulder pocket tee in printed jersey. It’s cute, trendy and a only $85. The tee shirt dress version will go for $125.

Moving on to resort we check out Adam by Adam Lippes who is already on every fashionista’s radar. The line will hit the stores in November so you might want to cut back on Xmas gifts and treat yourself instead. I love his perfect little stretch cotton deep V-neck cinched waist sheath in black, white, citron or cloud. This will set you back $325. But it will never go out of style. Upping the price to
$495 will get you a gorgeous long satin chiffon dress with back loop detail in the most glorious water garden print. Another charming number is the rope print chiffon gathered tank dress with self belt in dreamy shades of milk/grey and will retail for $395. While I do love Adam’s separates I still have to say that his dresses while not cheap offer more value and fashion for the money unless you have $225 to throw away on a pair of draped shorts that will only work on 18 year old stick thin models.

Demoiselle is a brand you’ve probably never heard of – I certainly haven’t. Finding this hidden gem in the vast recesses of the Moda trade show made my trek worthwhile. The collection’s styling had all the earmarks of a sophisticated designer’s hand at work, quality craftsmanship, trendy (but not too) styling and best of all very friendly prices. The resort/spring line is extensive so I won’t bore you with every item, just the highlights. Starting with a cute dotted cotton crop jacket, I moved on to an abstract print jersey skirt, cotton blk/white bold check sundress and ended with the knockout cotton/metal blend db belted ombre trench coat that shaded from white to gray. Everything in the collection will run you about $100 give or take a few bucks.

Coming up, my report on Steven Burrows and his fabulous resort collection!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Haute Stuff

Who can’t use a little pick me up now and then? If like the rest of us you’ve been saving those pennies, now is the time to indulge a little. I’ve found some terrific items that lean towards more of the “couture” rather than “crap” price points and everything I’ve singled out offers great value for money. My choices run the seasonal gamut, from summer right through holiday. Happy shopping.

Now that Henri Bendel’s focus is strictly on accessories be sure to check out their latest find - Tuccia DiCapri’s gorgeous custom made sandals. What makes this line interesting is the fact that customers can practically design their own sandals, by style, color and heel height, and they’ll be ready in 30 minutes! The company’s founders traveled to Capri to study the ancient art under one of Italy’s foremost families of shoemakers. While the prices are pretty steep (they range from $168 - $408) just sliding you feet into one of these beautifully crafted sandals will take you back to those golden days spent on Capri, St. Tropez or St. Barts…now all you need is a yacht.

The collection will be available until September so if you’ve got the creative urge, this is your chance. Bendel’s biz has been pretty brisk. For more info, go to www.tucciadicapri.com.

Now this tiny Upper East Side boutique at 1324 Lexington Avenue came as quite a surprise. I spotted some of the most unique vintage bakelite and designer jewelry items at Ms. Montage. While the shop also offers a well edited RTW selection, it’s the unique bracelets that should have you running uptown. While prices can run into the hundreds for truly special pieces, there are some very affordable ones as well. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Italian costume jewelry designer Angela Caputi’s entire collection. For more info on what’s new and noteworthy, call the boutique’s helpful staff at 212 722-1077 or email tessonlex@hotmail.com.

Continuing in its quest to help find a cure for breast cancer, Bloomingdale’s has put together a showcase for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. There will be special events, new vendors and special custom publications held in-store. I recently had a first hand peek at some of the terrific merchandise that will be offered and I’d have to give thumbs up to the full size umbrella that’s a steal at $12. It has a chic, black exterior piped in pink and a pretty pink solar system design on the inside by noted illustrator, Marisa Acocella Marchetto.

Guaranteed To Keep Your Hair Stardust Free

Twenty bucks will get you a chicly (what else?) designed pink pony water bottle from Ralph Laure. It’s exclusive to Bloomies and features single wall stainless steel construction, a screw top lid and a carabiner for portability. It can hold 24 oz. of fancy-schmancy designer water or good old NY tap.

One of the most fabulous items I noted during the store’s holiday press preview, was Nespresso’s sleek and compact coffee maker, the C110. It was conceived to appeal to both coffee brewing neophytes and lovers of retro-modern design. It’s available in steel gray and fabulous fire engine red. For a couple of hundred bucks you can enjoy the perfect cup of espresso any time you want! Remember, the holiday stuff won’t be available for a couple of months so just be patient. To shop online, visit www.bloomingdales.com.

Roberta Roller Rabbit by Roberta Freymann just happens to be one of the cutest (and chicest in a low key, sort of way) boutiques on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. There are also satellite stores in East Hampton, South Hampton and Brentwood, California. They carry a full range of products for the home, as well as apparel and accessories in unique prints, textures and colors (think a combination of Kate Hudson meets Talitha Getty as the ideal customer). As Ms. Freymann puts it, “our stores are a global shopping destination.” While I’d be perfectly happy to indulge in anything on offer for summer, it’s the holiday stuff that had me drooling, especially the olive “Lakme Kurta” (that’s tunic to you) for $295. This little number worn over skinny pants will take you anywhere all season long for years to come as will the python box clutch for a measly $95. Last but by no means least are Roberta’s GORGEOUS chunky jeweled necklaces. Forget Prada, these are a hell of a lot better looking at a fraction of the price. Personally I’d happily kill for the “Tamika.” It’s worth every penny of the $300 price tag. If you want to make your friends green with envy, this is the one to buy. Check out the company’s new website, www.RobertaRollerRabbit.com. By the way, Roberta Roller rabbit is a famous Indian fairy tale. Who knew?

By now you’ve gathered that I’m a big fan of the “new” Ann Taylor so it won’t come as much of a surprise that I also loved their holiday collection. While I’m not going to go on and on about the whole line I definitely think you should invest $185 in a bright red “Glam Puffer Coat.” It’s really more of a ¾ topper with stand up neckline and chic styling that will easily segue from day to night, it’s that versatile.

If you really must consider buying someone else a gift, go for the chunky cabled hand knit cardigan in gray, unexpectedly detailed with a row of delicate crystal buttons – or keep it for yourself. It’s gonna be $185 so you might want to re-think the whole gift business! Ann Taylor has stores all over so just keep checking their website for updates.

That’s all for now, more Holiday news coming up, Happy shopping, C&C.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Macy’s Fall Trend Report: Come Together

Want to know what one of America’s leading retailers predicts will be the hottest must-have items to punch up your wardrobe?

Here’s the list:

1. The motorcycle jacket

2. The belted structured jacket

3. The trench

4. The crafted white shirt and or blouse

5. The dazzled tee

6. Animal printed cardigans

7. Leggings (you knew that was coming)

8. Slim pants

9. Skinny jeans

10. Sublimation denim (whatever that is)

11. Pencil skirts and printed full skirts

12. The crafted sheath

13. Draped jersey dresses and crafted (there’s that word again) strapless dresses

14. One sleeve/one shoulder dresses (I’d skip those).

That should keep you going for awhile. Happy shopping C&C

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Steals and Deals: Summer ’09 Best Buys

Here are my latest picks for all you fashion starved bargain hunters.

H&M: I recently made a pit stop to check out H&M’s latest outpost on 86th street. While I had to troll through the crowds on opening day I did manage to zero in on a terrific buy, a chic organic cotton pencil skirt. It ‘s a crisp white (gold) button front number nicely detailed with button accented faux flap pockets. Think Michael Kors/Ralph Lauren upper crust style for a measly $29.90

Marc Jacobs: This fun item is probably the (only) inexpensive thing you’ll ever find by this hot designer. It’s a tongue-in-chic ballpoint pen disguised as a lipstick. Lift off the red lipped top and find the cutest little pen. At first glance I mistook it for the real thing. At $3.00 you can afford to buy it in multiples since it makes a whimsical gift. I got mine at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Model as Muse exhibit but you can also pick it up at Marc’s downtown boutique.

This Year's Hottest Stick

Elliott Lucca: Thinking ahead to early fall and beyond, I’d recommend checking out this well known handbag resource’s collection. The quality’s top rate and the styling’s right on target. If you’re only going to invest in one bag this season buy the “Zafra” double handled hobo. It comes in butter soft smooth and woven leather, in a size to hold all of your gear. I love the Portobello (mushroom color) best but you can also opt for cognac, metallic pyrite, or black leather and patent. Find it now at Lord & Taylor. The $298.00 price tag may seem like a lot but compared to some of the other over priced designer junk out there, it’s a steal.

Hobos in Lord & Taylor... Who Knew?
Elliott Lucca For One!

Uniqlo: This is another one of my fave boutiques. As far as I know the only outlet is in SoHo so far but when you’re trolling the neighborhood it’s always worth a look-see for affordable not-so basic separates. And they offer FREE alterations on lady’s pants. Since I don’t possess the longest legs in the world this is definitely a plus. I digress, so back to the deal! When I attended their fall editor’s press event there were lots of terrific pieces for both guys and gals that will retail for under $100 bucks. For my money I recommend the double knit pea jacket in gray (my choice), or black, the velvet jeans in gorgeous colors - I want them all – and the snappy cropped, belted navy trench coat. All of the above will be in store around Septemberso keep a look out. The quality’s top notch and no one will ever guess the price.

C&C has spoken! Go and do your part!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Canada Dry

No I don’t mean to imply that Quebec is a “dry” province, quite the contrary in fact. Montreal is full of trendy watering holes. Nope, I meant the sunny, albeit cold weather spell that I had on my yearly vacation up north. This time I brought a friend and fellow shopaholic with me and we stayed at my home away from home, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel right smack in the heart of downtown Montreal. Frankly, I’m starting to sound like a pr flack for the hotel but I ADORE the staff, especially my favorite waiter Shamsu and concierge Francois Pascal.

Now back to the important stuff – shopping! To cut to the chase, Montreal’s like any major city in that it has all of the known fashion brands, from the Gap and BCBG to H&M etc. So instead I always go for the unexpected sources. This trip took me to St.Laurent Boulevard (think NYC’s SoHo neighborhood) and the three best vintage boutiques around, and at prices that are much friendlier for a clothes hound like myself. My absolute fave was Kitsch’n Swell (www.kitschswell.ca). This relatively tiny shop has something for everyone from authentic Hawaiian shirts to ‘50s roller skates and a fabulous costume jewelry selection. I snagged a vintage sailor pin for a mere ten bucks while my friend opted for an authentic’40s cheese grill contraption – don’t ask, I couldn’t even begin to explain what it looks like but it brought tears of joy to his eyes.

Next stop was the Boutique Cul-De-Sac right next door. Here was where I found the handbag buy of the century- no not an Hermes - a vintage ostrich top handled, framed handbag from England in perfect condition for $35! No way would this bag been that cheap in Manhattan. Sorry I don’t have an email address but the phone number is 514 529-0557.

My next choice for those of you into new designer duds I recommend U&I a hip boutique (www.boutiqueuandi.com) on the same street. There were some cool , slightly pricey clothes for both sexes but I’d recommend that shoe fanatics check out the new ‘40s inspired range. Very tongue-in-chic and different in a good way.
Back on St. Catherine street the best shoe boutique is Felix Brown (e-mail them at felixbuyingco@hotmail.com). I found labels that I never came across before and some of the best looking, stylized patent loafers in unique color combinations. Prices are high but worth every cent.

As far as the other shopping goes, I’ve already spoken last year about Simons on the same street for a fab and affordable selection of sweaters for both guys and gals, La Senza for the Canadian version of Victoria’s Secret (only cuter and cheaper) and Jacob, Montreal’s answer to Banana Republic.

Lest you think I did nothing but shop I must tell you about a fabulous exhibit at the Eaton Center; TITANIC, The Artifact Exhibition. To quote the brochure, “the Titanic takes you on a journey back in time to experience the legend”. The galleries feature over 288 real artifacts recovered from the ocean floor along with room recreations and personal stories, each highlighting a different chapter in the poignant story. This is truly a must see exhibit. If at all possible try to catch it in Toronto where the exhibit will be when you read this post. Log on to expotitanic.ca for more info. One of my most treasured souvenirs has to be the necklace that contains an actual piece of coal used to stoke the Titanic’s furnace. The proceeds from every one sold will go to preserve artifacts from this great and tragic ocean liner.

Talk to you soon, I’m still recuperating from my vacation, C&C.

More Coming Attractions... Heck, Some Might Be Here, Already

According to all the so-called fashion experts, during this recession, women will be spending their dollars on accessories rather than rtw. While in theory this is a great way to stretch a wardrobe and save a bundle on over priced clothes, what I’ve found is that a lot of times investing in a good bag, piece of costume jewelry or
(especially) shoes can run into big bucks.

While I can’t promise that some of the designers I’ll list are on the very inexpensive side, I can promise that you’ll get more bang for the buck with the following fall 09 collections, This go round I’m focusing on hats and shoes, in other words, top and bottom.

These are some of the latest fall trends in headwear: knit caps, berets, molded driving caps, cloches, fedoras, floppy brims, plus all sorts of interesting and fun imbellishments. I especially love the designs of Brooklyn-based milliner, Cha Cha, founder of Cha Cha’s House of Ill Repute. Her eclectic creations combine vintage charm with modern hip styling. Cha Cha (love that name) has recently partnered with well known firm, San Diego Hat Co. to broaden her customer base – the result is a line of affordably priced casual millinery that’s sure to stand out in the market. Judging by the traffic at her booth at the Accessory Show I’d say this will be a hit with customers.

For more info on the extensive collections call 212 420-7450 or go on line at www.chachashouse.com.

By this time you all know that platforms, spike heeled stilettos and gladiator monstrosities are still keeping the terminally trendy fashionistas in and out of emergency rooms and podiatrists in clover, I’d rather focus on some more practical ins interesting options, boots and comfortable (now there’s a concept) shoes.

My first pick is Re-Mix, a whimsical, unique line of sexy updated vintage-footwear with looks taken from the ‘20s. ‘30s and ‘40s. Don’t panic, they’re all new shoes not recycled stuff. Styles range from open-toe platforms to two-toned spectators and t-straps and much more. This line is perfect for the fashion individualist of any age. Find out more from the main man at the company, Philip Heath by e-mailing him at philipheath@sbcglobal.net.

The Frye Company is a name known by everyone who ever lived through the 1970’s and didn’t we all own a pair of their famous boots? Well, time marches on and the firm is still racking up sales with a terrific line of ruggedly chic boots with that fashionably broken in look. Tops on my fall hit list, the “Cindy” button boot in cranberry washed goat leather or the soft antique leather “Cindy” slouch boot in dark brown.

Also chic is the antiqued suede “Dorado” in grey. All of the above are available in other colors as well but these are my faves. E-mail John.Smyth@Jimlar.com or phone customer service at 866 929-3793 for retail outlets.

I’m off to Montreal to see what’s new in my fave happening city up north. Until next time, C&C.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Girl About Town

O.K. so I’ve used the term “girl” loosely, I certainly ran around town like someone half - alright, a quarter – of her age and it was worth the effort.

Ann Taylor - Fall '09

First off I must talk about one of the best press events I’ve ever attended, Ann Taylor’s fall 09 fashion preview.

Here’s the deal. The event was held in Ann Taylor’s gigantic full floor showroom, complete with staff coffee bar and cafeteria. Not too shabby and certainly better than any office I ever worked in.

Now to the best part, the fall collection was GORGEOUS and beautifully tailored. There were stunning deceptively simple sheath dresses, sophisticated pencil skirts and jackets to die for. I’m not kidding, the stuff looked better than most designer clothes at quadruple the prices. With the addition of lovely silk georgette tops with feminine ruffles or pleating details, this collection can go non stop for years. Even the accessories were fab. If you buy nothing else this fall get the beige patent mid heel pumps with rounded toe. They will go with everything day of night. Forget wearing black shoes with black, these are much chicer, trust me. Also terrific are the necklaces, especially a chunky rhinestone twisted number (very Vera Wang) that I’ve already gotten compliments on. In a smart move, the design team went back to Ann Taylor’s archives dating back to 1954 so that should give you an idea of the refined aesthetic updated for today’s woman – and at affordable prices.

Every outfit was shown on mannequins so I was able to get up close enough to touch the fabrics and make note of the styling, all the while as I was stuffing my self with scrumptious truffle grilled cheese sandwiches and champagne that was being passed around. You might as well know that most fashion editors never eat at these events so I felt it was my duty to lighten the waiters' trays.

Moving on in another room there was the Loft collection. More sporty in feeling, with an emphasis on the introduction of Loft Lounge, a line of cozy activewear including sweaters, leggings, layering pieces etc. While the intended purpose is to wear these items on casual weekends you can easily work these into your everyday wardrobe. Prices run from $14.50 to $69.50 so check it out. More high fashion oriented is the exclusive, limited edition collection of fashion forward necklaces designed for the Loft by Lisa Salzer of Lulu Frost, a media darling in the design world. These will be in-store beginning August 31st.

Left Coast Loot

While I’m on the subject of jewelry, I want to take this opportunity to give a plug to a dear friend, college chum and old traveling buddy from years past, California designer/ graphic artist/Renaissance woman, Arline Wolfson of Studio Arli and her line of hand crafted artisan jewelry. The Relics collection consists of toggle bracelets crafted with fine sterling silver elements “reminiscent of the ancient Dead Sea scroll fragments” to quote the designer. Arline combines carnelian, amber or lapis beads with interesting results that make each piece unique.

You can reach Arli at arligraphic@aol.com or call 619 449-9036.

No Witty Comment, Just a Logo and Some Great Jewelry!


So, maybe you’re not ready to fork over some bucks for fall just yet, then consider Sag Harbor’s must-have black seasonless Slimming Solution pull-on pant in, what else, black. It features a unique, comfortable built-in body shaper, guaranteed to make you look sleek and trim. Lets face it, not everybody’s a size zero so these are a God send for real women who actually like to eat food. These are a steal at $48. Find them now – and hopefully- at JC Penney, Kohls and Sears.

In addition to the pants, I got a preview look at the rest of Sag Harbor’s fall line, Again, the prices won’t break the bank and there were some terrific sportswear pieces that you might want to consider for you wardrobe needs. Personally, I’d opt for the $70. exploded plaid/Donegal tweed (better looking than it sounds) zip front jacket with detachable faux fur collar or the chic black double breasted pea coat – a great buy at $64. Both jackets are part of the Manor House collection.

Sag Harbor - Your Ship Has Come In!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Neighborhood Watch

Now that spring has finally sprung, yours truly will start making the rounds of Manhattan’s various ‘hoods to scope out some of my favorite retail destinations. Since I live on the Upper East Side I’m starting off with my part of town, which I’ve christened NOB or north of Bloomingdales! In future blogs I’ll hit SoHo, etc.

French Sole is the place to go for those cute ballet flats that we can’t live without. Fortunately, this is the company’s outlet store so prices are definitely affordable and the selection is terrific. Personally I favor the classic quilted/patent toe cap style but there are lots more. So in case you don’t have a thousand bucks to spend on some designer name this shop is your best bet. Location: 985 Lexington Avenue; Phone: 212 472-9200

Dooney & Bourke is a wonderful source for preppy chic handbags, totes, travel bags and more. The look is old money for a fashion savvy generation. Frankly, I find the quality to compare favorably with Ralph Lauren at a fraction of the price. On my latest pit stop I found darling bright patent bags, whimsical (Dooney) duck patterned totes and lots more to love including some fabulous chunky unisex watches. For fall, there are FABULOUS tartan duffels, totes, satchels and more in black watch or Stuart plaids. And don’t pass up the “Lee” totes in gorgeous fall shades, Personally, I’d opt for one in cobalt or bordeaux. Here’s the best part – everything’s under $200 retail! That Peter Dooney is one smart cookie. Location: 20 East 60th Street; Phone: 212 223-7444.

Wink is a tiny hole-in-the-wall clothing boutique that’s chock full of affordable, (but not) terminally trendy fashions for the under 40 crowd. While this retailer also has two other outlets, this Upper East Side shop is my favorite for the range of young designer labels. On a nice note, shoppers are asked to bring in a gently worn dress and Wink will donate it to Housing Works. Here’s the best part. Do that and get $50 towards the purchase of a new dress from the Wink collection. Location: 1050 Lexington Avenue; Phone: 212 249-2033

Furla is another source for beautiful leather goods. OK, the prices aren’t exactly cheap but the quality is superb. Instead of checking out the sales, wait till July/Aug and splurge on one of their stunning fall bags. My choice would be the “Susana” clutch (yes it holds plenty) in cherry or deep cobalt faux croc. You’ll wear it for many years and always look gorgeous and of the moment. The $525 it’ll cost you is still a heck of a lot cheaper than most other “designer” bags and you won’t look like a fashion victim. Location: 727 Madison Avenue; Phone: 212 755-8986

M.A.D. is a vintage couture and designer resale boutique. Since it’s not located in trendy SoHo/NoHo yada yada yada, the shop’s off the the fashionista set’s radar. The owner, Marion Alexander has a hawk’s eye when it comes to selecting the best rtw, accessories and shoes. While not every piece carries a designer label, the savvy shopper can usually spot the provenance. Prices are terrific and there’s something for everyone. When it comes to buying vintage, forget seasons and buy what you love as it may not be there next time. I’d check out the great ‘70s YSL wool coat from his Russian collection. It won’t kill you to store it away for next winter. Marion’s also got some great jewelry from top designers and witty evening bags – all of which can be carried year round. You can also check out her website at www.madvintagecouture.com. Location: 167 East 67th Street; Phone: 212 427-4333.

So now that you’ve shopped ‘til you dropped why not stop by the cozy new Yorkville Creperie for a $6 glass of wine and one of their delicious filled crepes? Personally, I loved the midnight crepe as I’m a chocoholic, but I plan on working my way through all the other varieties. It’s only been open about a week and already the buzz has started. Prices are friendly as crepes run between $5- $7 so go ahead and indulge. And if crepes aren’t your thing, they also serve some tasty paninis. Location: 1586 York Avenue; Phone: 212 570-5445

Until next time, happy shopping, C&C

Monday, April 20, 2009

Steals and Deals

From time to time I’ll let you in on what I consider to be the best retail buys. It won’t always be the cheapest stuff around, but nevertheless the items I’ve scoped out are what I feel is worth spending your hard earned bucks on.

Renee Stern Cosmetics is an extremely affordable boutique line that right this minute consists of (with some of the best staying power) a comprehensive range of powder eye shadows and blushers. In Manhattan, the collection is available exclusively at Clyde’s at 926 Madison Avenue. You can also call toll free at 800 RX CLYDE. At a nicely priced $16 for the shadows and $22 for blushers, the company has garnered a devoted following. Ms. Stern is on hand most Thursdays to offer her expert advice and answer questions. It’s also worth buying her $18 eye shadow brush and the $26 blush brush. These two are all you’ll ever need and definitely a bargain. Trust me, I’ve checked out the outrageous prices some other makeup brands are charging. Why pay big bucks for some designer name when you can get the same top quality at much lower prices?

Also at 980 Mad is a wonderfully quirky but definitely upscale boutique, Clearly First. The store sells everything from men’s and women’s apparel to footwear, and items for the home, etc, primarily manufactured by top Scandinavian designers. The ambiance is great, with interesting music playing and a friendly sales staff – no hard sell here. Sure, most of the prices are high (and for the most part, worth it) but Clearly First has come up with a great alternative. Every week the store puts a few fab items on sale at 50% off, and alerts shoppers to the deals with window signage. Last time I looked, Tretorn sneakers were a steal, but next week it could be something equally worth getting. You can call the store at 212 988-8242 for updates on the latest deal.

This next item, while not exactly bargain priced should appeal to anyone looking for an unusual one-of-a-kind item either for themselves or for a special gift. The HBO Shop in New York commissioned Natalie Chanin, creator of clothing label Alabama Chanin (founded to preserve American craft traditions and a community-based culture), to design an exclusive, limited edition collection of embellished tee-shirts. The kicker – each tee is hand made and recycled from previous HBO collections featuring logos and key themes from hit programs like Sex & the City, The Sopranos, etc. The collection consists of men’s and women’s tees with Chanin’s signature hand stitching, embroidery and appliqué details. The prices, while not a steal at $65 and $85 (approx.) are on target for the unique quality of the pieces. In addition to the HBO store at 1100 6th Ave in Manhattan, the line can be bought online at www.HBO.com/store. It’s worth checking out.

Ms. Chanin, HBO, and clothes... it's fashion wearing TV

True Blood - Tasty!

Sex and the City - Carrie Bradshaw Wishes She Had These!

Flight of the Conchords and the Sopranos - Hipsters and the Mob Agree on Tees!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lisa F. Pliner - Basim Boots

Lisa F. Pliner sent me some pictures of her "Basim" line of boots which I described in my last entry.

Ahh... to have to wait through a summer is just too long to wear these. Buy a pair, or all three pairs, and you have the perfect excuse for that trip to points north or far south where it is still weather-appropriate for these gorgeous boots.

Lisa F. Pliner:
She Just Gave You Three Reasons
to Take That Summer Trip to Greenland
1) Patent; 2) Taupe; and 3) Midnight

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Coming Attractions

It’s never too early to think about your fall wardrobe, especially, if like me you’re on a budget and need to plan ahead carefully. This column is all about three collections, two of which are making their debut.

Blanc de Chine
First up, Blanc de Chine’s luxury rtw collection which I recently checked out at the brand’s fall fashion show. Held in its flagship Fifth Avenue store complete with a runway presentation, we were treated to a lineup of some of the cleanest, understated and timeless clothes albeit with a modern luxury Chinese twist. While I did like some of the women’s fashions, it was the menswear that blew me away.

To quote the press release, “the collection uses an unconventional approach of modifying classic pieces and making them into unexpected unique designs.” The menswear favored fine supple wool in black tones and cashmere and crepe in royal blue. One ensemble I loved and could picture on the actor Armand Assante (who was in the audience) and anyone with an ounce of style, was the box quilted “Zhong Shan” jacket with removable sleeves over “hand pocket” casual pants. It’s not often that I talk about menswear, since most of the time, the clothes are boring, but not in this case. The prices are steep, but the stuff will last a lifetime and never look dated.

C&C Gets Blown...
oh never mind, just look at Blanc de Chine's fantastic jacket!

Lisa F. Pliner
You’re all aware of shoe designer, Donald J. Pliner. Not only do his styles stay on trend, they’re actually comfortable to walk in. While, the brand’s celebrating 20 successful years in business, it was inevitable that his gorgeous (and really very sweet) wife, Lisa would launch her own line. So for fall ’09, her capsule collection consists of fashion forward platforms, sculpted wedges and rugged boots. I particularly coveted the “Basia” chunky heeled suede boot. If I had to sum up the Lisa F. Pliner collection I’d say that her footwear combines comfort with sex appeal – and isn’t that what we all want now? P.S. Both collections feature some stunning handbags. Donald has a gigantic hobo that’s roomy enough to use as carryon luggage yet weighs next to nothing! Look for both lines in most major retailers or email the showroom for more info at www.donaldjpliner.com.

Kate Spade
Last but definitely not least, is Kate Spade. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the launch of Spade’s debut fall ’09 rtw collection. The brand has grown like topsy, starting with just a simple fabric tote (that was copied to death and sold by every street peddler), and has now morphed into shoes, eyewear, stationary, accessories and at last, apparel. While some designers are reviving the – horrors - ‘80s, Kate Spade is taking another direction. The adorable ladylike yet hip collection definitely referenced the 1960s London looks favored by top models of that era Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. While most of the clothes are aimed at the under 35 crowd, there were some striking pieces that anyone could wear, from the horizontally striped navy/gold cropped jacket and skirt to a drop dead gorgeous black/ivory coat in a stylized animal pattern. Even the shoes were terrific, particularly the pretty black suede sling back, open toed stilettos trimmed across the vamp with a shocking pink (or white) triple looped satin bow. If you’re gonna wear platforms this is the one to buy. It’s graceful, not terribly high so you can actually walk in them, and won’t look dated after one season.

In upcoming blogs, look for the following:

Neighborhood Watch: My picks for the most interesting retail stores in the ‘hood.

Steals and Deals: Check out some of the best values around town, from sale items to store promotions.

Stay tuned, C & C

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row