Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Who’s the fairest? That would be moi. Why? Because I’ve been experimenting with all the new cosmetic products in store now and for holiday. Forget about all the technical stuff, this report is all about what worked for me (and some of my guinea pig friends) personally. Thanks to some terrific beauty press events I got a first hand peek at the latest stuff from top brands such as Shiseido, Orlane, P&G and niche brands like Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics and urban decay.

While your results may be different than mine, I have to start by raving about IMMUNOCOLOGIE’s Treatment Serum that I put on my face every morning. After using just a few drops my skin feels like silk. It firms and provides cellular support and brightens the complexion. Used in conjunction with the firm’s Treatment Crème the results should reverse the signs of aging and repair damaged skin. While I haven’t tried the complete range of products I highly recommend this new skin care brand.

IMMUNOCOLOGIE'S Magical Elixir

My next step is a primer. And I think that OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE has one of the best. Just a few drops on a sponge is enough to guarantee overall coverage. ORLANE’s Anti-Fatigue Absolu (fancy-shmancy name) foundation is the final step on my path to glorious beauty. While I hate to admit that my complexion is less than perfect, wearing this liquid make up makes my skin look air brushed perfect. If I’ve had less than 8 hours sleep I turn to PAYOT’s Lotion Bleue, a soothing plant derived eye lotion that gets rid of signs of fatigue, redness and puffiness. In my case it’s not under eye bags, it’s trunks!

Lotion Bleue Gives a Great Look to Blue Mondays (or Tuesdays)

If like me you want longer lashes, check out TALIKA’s Lipocils colorless gel that stimulates growth. The treatment takes about 28 days for results to show. If you’re willing to put in the effort (and expense) try Lipocils for yourself. Moving on, let’s talk about color. Personally I love ANNA SUI’s new #800 powder eye shadow in a pretty case. It’s a pale golden shade that works beautifully with brown or hazel eyes. SHISEIDO’s genius makeup artistic director has come up with a beautiful holiday collection. I’ve been using his eye and lip Contour Regenerating Cream as a final step before lipstick. I found that this really works to stop it from bleeding. If I buy nothing else, I plan to get the limited edition 2010 Holiday Collection Palette. It contains 7 original shades for eyes, lips and cheeks and I think it’s a great buy at around $40 bucks.

Getting back to lipstick, why not try URBAN DECAY’s Wicked lipstick. It’s an interesting and very wearable, slightly iridescent shade of mauve. And the case itself is a hoot. It’s cover is topped off with a silver dagger! My nails get the finishing touch with ESSIE’s polish in Limited Addiction (a fab red) or the trendier Merino Cool 9a soft warm grey).

I’m definitely not a shower person. Give me a hot soaking bath any time – which unfortunately leads to winter dry skin. You can save a bundle and get great results if you try OLAY’S Total Effects Body Wash. I got a gigantic bottle during P&G’s three day pop up store event that highlighted the company’s many brands. I found the perfect shampoo in LEONOR GREYL’s shampoo for oily scalp and dry ends, both of which I have in abundance.

Perfection Bottled, Leonor Greyl!


For those of us who have, ahem, “mature skin” be sure to try the full range of skin care products from VOTRE VU’s Full Benefits line. This brand also offers Ten Gauge Health & Energy Slam. It’s an absolutely delicious high performance drink that blends tangerine juice with B vitamins, sea buckthorn, selenium, zinc, green tea, ginseng etc etc.

Drink Healthy - Look Great, C&C Does!

There you have it, all my beauty secrets in store now.

Talk to you soon, C&C

Best Buys

Sometimes it’s not about price, just great value for money (and stuff I like and have road tested). Check out the following:

1: Essie’s fall nail polish collection of six on trend shades. At eight bucks a pop you can’t go wrong with either In Stitches ( a pretty blush pink), Merino Cool ( smoky mulberry) or Velvet Voyeur (a dramatic chocolatey amethyst).

2: The Infiniti Pro hair dryer by Conair makes blow drying a five minute job (my hairy boyfriend can vouch for that).

3: For a quick and cheap footwear fix check out Spring. This lower priced division of Canadian brand Aldo just launched in the U.S. I popped by their branch in the Manhattan mall on 32nd street and ended up with the cutest grey flannel wedge oxfords (around $39.00) and a sporty pair of brown ankle boots cuffed in faux shearling ( $69.00).

In addition there are handbags, accessories and shoes for guys too.

4: I’m a big fan of the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show. If you like one-of-a-kind apparel, etc. this show’s a must. Sure, some dealers charge a small fortune especially for high end designer names but you can always find a bargain amongst the 90 or so dealers that show. For example, this go round I found a stunning pair of Ferragamo knee high leather boots for a hundred bucks cash. Check out the dates for upcoming shows at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street. Feb 4th & 5th and April 29th & 30th. Here’s a tip. If you go on a Saturday, many dealers will put merch on sale since they don’t want to schlep the stuff back.

5: Since Target moved to Manhattan I’ve made it a point to try to get up there at least once a month. On my last go see I found really chic leather, fully lined (with French seams), four button length gloves in a rich shade of red for $17.95. Believe me, I’ve scoured the city for warm gloves and nobody can match target’s price. My friend picked up a cute pair in teal suede for the same amount.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for my beauty report. C&C

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lounge Acts

Yours truly simply adores spending every waking hour during fashion week running from show to show without a break, shoving my way through the hordes of editors, B list celebs and assorted gate crashers, fortified by nothing more than free coffee. Yeah right! No, in truth, myself and every other member of the press looks forward to the (invitation only) lounges scattered throughout the week.
The one invite that I really covet is the Luxe Laboratory fashion week retreat hosted by the one and only top stylist, Robert Verdi.
Verdi's Retreat Saved the Day
(photo by M. McKenzie)

While I could have indulged in a healthy (ugh! So not my thing) lunch, I headed straight for Panasonic’s massage sofa chair and a caffeine fix courtesy of Nescafe’s Dolce Gusto coffee bar and its magic Piccolo.
Give C&C A Double, Not Shaken and Not Stirred!
(Coffee Bar Photo by M. McKenzie)

Thus fortified I was ready to check out the various vendors. Vintage Revolution jeans gave out pairs of sexy skinny jeans in an array of styles and washes (if I never eat again these will look terrific on my bod), while easier to wear were the wool shawls handed out by Panasonic who introduced its Freestyle cordless iron. Can’t wait to get my hands on one. There was lots more to see and sample but the week was just getting started.
Panasonic Cut the Cord and Made a Hot Impression
(photo by McKenzie) 

I didn’t bother to get a manicure at the Luxe lounge since I knew that nail polish maven Essie would be at the tents showcasing her new fall colors.
When C&C Drinks and Drives at a Retreat, She Prefers Bread Products and Spreads with Soda
(photos by M. McKenzie) 

Naturally, I got the perfect manicure which I got to show off at the Harper’s Bazaar accessory presentation at Avery Fisher Hall. By now you’ve probably guessed that I adore accessories so I was in hog heaven (the complimentary champagne didn’t hurt either). The designers that made the greatest impact on me were Albertus Swanepoel, Lizzie Fortunato and Meredith Wendell. I would literally kill for one of Swanepoel’s sophisticated fedoras (I’m definitely a hat person), Fortunato’s dazzling, chunky and very pricey necklaces, and last but not least, one of Wendell’s gorgeous leather totes and bucket handbags. For a better look at these designer collections go to their websites.
I wandered further afield during fashion week to the Daily lounge at the Townhouse Spa off 5th Ave. here the goodies were up for grabs and included a pair of DSquared2 sunglasses courtesy fo Marcolin Eyewear, a firm noted for its fashion forward designer licensed and proprietary eyewear collections. Think John Galliano, Tod’s and Roberto Cavalli just to name drop a few. And since I’m blind as a bat finding the perfect pair of glasses that can take my prescription is a definite plus. Moving on, I paid a call on to Urban Decay’s booth to check out their funky makeup collections and came away with a terrific limited edition palette of the brand’s best selling vegan eyeshadows among some other fun stuff. After a fortifying glass of prosecco and a cupcake (my idea of a nutritious lunch) it was time to check out the Calvin Klein perfume collection, Tocca’s fragrant candles and glance at the latest copy of the Daily for all the insider fashion dish.
Fashion Week ended on a high note for me when I went to the Victoria’s Secret lounge. Not only did I get another manicure, a make-up touch up, delicious food and possibly the world’s greatest cupcakes, I also got Victoria’s Secret lovely body splash, cologne and a goody bag full of sexy panties. It doesn’t get much better than this. See, this is a part of Fashion Week that “civilians” don’t get to hear about.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spring 2011: Same circus, Different Tent

After eight days of running around during Fashion Week I’m frankly pooped. And while I’d rather sleep for another eight days I figured I’d better give you the scoop while I’m still conscious.

My week started with Fashion’s Night Out. My friends and I braved the hordes and had a terrific time in spite of the crush. The standouts for me were the tap dancers in Bergdorf’s window, the models dressed in red Escada gowns parading down Fifth Avenue, caring darling umbrellas from Elizabeth Arden and the scene at Kenneth Cole’s boutique where everybody got personalized screen printed tees and their photos snapped for the designers web site.

As for the actual fashion shows my guess is that you’ve already been inundated by the media so I’ll just give you my impression of the whole circus. While it may seem to you that covering a week of shows is a glamorous way to spend the time (especially as the venue has moved from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center), in actuality, it’s been a schlep and I’m not looking forward the making the rounds in the winter since I gave my “chauffeur” the year off! So these are my thoughts on the collections: Lacoste as usual did their thing with a fresh take on classic sportswear with a French twist. The standouts were the black and white separates. In addition, Lacoste launched its first jewelry collection. I love the bold resin cuff that was given to the show attendees. Casual chic at it’s best while Yigal Azrouel showed some gorgeous pared down pieces timeless in their sophisticated simplicity.

While it’s obvious that Christian Siriano’s heart lies in designing red carpet ballgowns what I preferred were his clean, chic sportswear items, especially the belted leather safari jacket and stretch cotton trousers and a cotton kimono shirt dress with double buckled belt. Back to the red carpet and Farah Angsana’s ivory silk chiffon gown
with Swarovski crystal and metal chain trimmed neckline and a pretty black chiffon ruffled number with ostrich feather detail. I can always count on Monique Lhuillier for gorgeous evening wear and she didn’t disappoint. If I had the lifestyle that warranted these designer clothes I would definitely check out her pink floral printed chiffon asymmetrically draped gown or the cream soutache gazar a-line cocktail dress. Also perfect for the money’s no object crowd was the magnificent collection that Carolina Herrera showed. I loved her subtle take on the traditional Korean robes. For me, the standouts were the simple yet sophisticated cocktail dresses, especially the metallic tweed and black sesame and gold burnt sequin double cross fold number with hibiscus “Korean” bow and any one of her gorgeous evening gowns. Bravo!

It seemed like a lot of designers concentrated on late day dressing for spring and Edition Georges Chakra’s collection stood out as one of the best. Personally I’d be perfectly happy with any one of his ombre chiffon gowns in purple or saffron, the pale grey crepe number or his taupe charmeuse gown with satin strap basketweave and caged neckline. Time to get back to reality and surprise, surprise, affordable daywear. I went off site to check out Callula Lillibelle’s debut presentation and was pleasantly surprised by the terrific looks. I would personally but the black satin pinpoint cotton bolero jacket that was shown over a pretty full skirted print cocktail dress (forget late day , this dress can work anytime) in a beige/taupe/ivory. A beige and silver cotton zip front dress was the height of sporty chic. I also liked Yoana Baraschi’s gold safari jacket worn over a draped chiffon blouse and chalk wide leg utility trousers. Lets face it not everyone can or wants to wear skinny pants and leggings. While I found Tess Giberson’s collection a little to esoteric (think downtown artist) for me there was one cute outfit, a black cotton voile asymmetric shirt paired with black tropical wool folded shorts which looked sort of like a mini kilt. By now you know that I always check out Adrienne Vittadini’s collections. For me there’s always something that I covet. This season it was design director Kristina Salminen’s knockout black and white ikat topper that I’d wear to death since it would go over everything. Also terrific, her take on the safari look, but interpreted in an indigo denim (and I don’t even usually like denim) dress that’s perfect for the workplace. Vittadini’s collections are always on trend without going overboard.

That’s it for the designer shows. Next time I’ll fill you in on the happenings around town including Robert Verdi’s Lux Lounge, The Daily’s lounge at the Townhouse Spa and the Victoria’s Secret event, plus my beauty report, so stay tuned. It’s nap time!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hot Weather Cool Stuff

I should be sipping a pina colada on some tropical beach right now, but nooo, instead I’ve scoured the streets during New York’s record breaking heat wave on your behalf. Granted, summertime means slim pickings as far as finding newsworthy fashions and accessories to pass on but I have come up with some terrific finds for holiday and beyond.

1: If you love the classics then you’re sure to want NAUTICA’s fresh new take on the toggle and puffer coats. These feature unique touches such as grommet hardware and striped grosgrain trim. For resort right through the summer I loved Nautica’s classic rugby striped shirt with woven stripe detail on the under collar.

2: If you’re looking for the perfect all season handbag, look no further than “Kick”, a large croco embossed suede zipped shoulder bag with a grainy goatskin leather strap and covered rings from Paris-based firm SEQUOIA. Also noteworthy, the brand’s darling ballet flat offered in crinkled patent, nappa leather or goat suede. It features Sequoia’s signature leather covered ring. In case you’re interested, both collections are designed by Pierre Hardy whose it factor is right up there with Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo etc. Click for Kick




3: I should be getting kick back for writing about ANN TAYLOR so often, but I can’t help it if the brand keeps getting stronger and stronger. It’s not often that I can say I want every piece in a collection but that’s exactly what happened when I attended the Holiday press preview. For the sake of your wallet I’ll narrow my selections down to a few items that you shouldn’t live without like the creamy heather beige, belted “sparkle cardigan” with gold sequins across the front, or a metallic paisley jacquard pencil skirt. Both pieces can go non stop from the office to dinner no problem. Also worth mentioning, the Chanel-inspired chevron quilted “Townhouse” shoulder bag in petite or medium sizes.

4: I was invited to attend the launch of ZAIKEN, a fine jewelry collection reflecting a blend of designer Malak Atut’s Middle Eastern heritage with her sophisticated NYC upbringing. I like the fact that each piece is hand crafted right here in New York City using the finest gold, sterling silver, precious and semi-precious stones. My favorite pieces come from the “Crescent” collection and are offered in satin or polished yellow, rose, green and white gold, with emerald and sapphire accents. The crescent moon, an ancient symbol dating back as far as 100 B.C. is used in many cultures and to me looks as timeless today as it did centuries ago. For more info, go to www.zaikenjewelry.com or call 201 410-3240.

5: 80/20 is a fabulous footwear collection that’s high on style and comfort and low on price. I plan to be first in line at Intermix boutique to grab a pair of grey flannel ankle booties with hidden wedge and tan leather trim and laces.

Use Occam's Razor To Decide To Buy This Shoe


6: Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of unisex jewelry, but I changed my mind when I saw RUSSELL SIMMONS stainless steel (no polishing involved) collection. Some of the pieces are pretty pricey but trust me, they’re worth it. My money’s on the bold link bracelets and a fabulous modern cross necklace. Some pieces are diamond studded but you need not spend the extra bucks on those, just stick to the more understated styles and you’ll wear them forever.

7: Believe it or not, I also like to check out the latest in makeup ideas. POP BEAUTY offers a lot of bang for the buck in its’ Holiday line. My picks, the “Magnetic Mosaic and “Jigsaw Gem” combo kits. At $25 and $20 respectively there’s plenty of eye shades, liners highlighters, etc., to fool around with and the packaging is pretty and compact enough to fit in your handbag.

8: While we’re n the subject of beauty I must tell you about a fun press party I attended to herald the launch of ALICE & OLIVIA’s MAC makeup collaboration. The cool factor comes because the party was held at Beauty Bar, a trendy club that in a past life was an actual “beauty parlor”. The bar has retained the original hair dryers and model hair photos from the late ‘50s. In addition to the open bar and live disco music were treated to manicures offered in the three trendy new MAC colors from the line. Given the choice of either a bright teal blue, steel grey or metallic purple I chose the latter (there are some colors you just don’t wear at my age) and I’ve gotten compliments ever since. For more info on the collection check out Alice & Olivia’s web site.

That’s all for now as I really must get to a beach.
C&C

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Last Call for Fall

Summer isn’t even here yet but as far as the fashion industry is concerned fall 2010 is done, finished, kaput. Designers are already promoting pre-spring and resort apparel. So here’s the deal, I’ll fill you in on some of my fave items seen on my travels around the market. You’ve probably guessed by now that I love accessories and every chance I get to cover a collection or hit on a new resource I jump on it.

I’m going to start off with an admittedly expensive jewelry firm, ASHA. We’re talking couture quality costume jewelry that I’d consider an investment. My personal favorite piece has to be the enameled link bracelet. It’s got that classic old money but still high fashion look that will go with everything. Also on my hit parade are the zodiac sign pave rings ( this would make a nice little gift ) or one of the chic jewel detailed clutch bags. See more good stuff at www.ashabyadm.com.

Now back to reality! The price is right when it comes to handbags and footwear. Let’s start off with Southern Cal-based JALDA. I spotted a terrific group of clutch bags in embossed soft anaconda, water snake, python, embossed lizard and croc. Don’t care for exotics, no problem, Jalda has lamb, pebble grain and more. www.jaldastyle.com

Another Cal-based handbag line with attractive price points is BOULEVARD. Think sporty early Coach/Dooney styling for the type of merchandise you’ll find here. If you’re one of those people who carry the world around with them then you’ll love the “Bellami” tote with detachable mini purse and flat zippered outside pocket. It even comes with a cosmetic bag inside. Offered in three basic colors but I’d opt for the rich brown. At $215 retail why not invest in all three or get Boulevard’s updated “Ivy” messenger backpack for the same price. A bit higher in price but still in the affordable range is ME CHAR, a small but rapidly growing handbag company that puts an emphasis on details, elegant styling and functionality. While I liked the whole collection I have to point out two of my absolute favorites. My first choice has to be suede clutch, piped in leather that’s trimmed with a gold edged braided knot that ends in a tassel. Color combos are as follows, red with black trim, plum/grey, olive/brown, plum/gray and black/gray. While $500 bucks may seem like a lot to pay for a clutch, trust me, it’s worth it in this case. For a hundred dollars less you could get my other favorite, the suede “Sonia” flap over handbag with turn lock closure. Either way you can’t go wrong. www.mecharhandbags.com.


And One ME CHAR to Rule them All...




So that’s enough with the handbags let’s turn our attention to everyone’s favorite – FOOTWEAR! Let’s reboot with one of the tippy top Italian brands around, FRATELLI ROSSETTI. Rossetti offers a fabulous take on the classic riding boot in two gorgeous versions. If you’re going to lay out major cash then go for the two-in-one knee high boot that converts to an ankle boot.

Not All Convertibles Have Four Wheels


I don’t have to reiterate that the other major trend in shoes is the sporty chic oxford. Again, Rossetti has two styles to die for. The first comes in gray suede with black piping, laces and cap toes. The other is an exact take on a man’s wing tip brogue in black, with a slight variation done in pale gray suede/polished calf. Log on to www.rossetti.it

Also doing a version of the convertible boot is GLORY CHEN with her “Glace” boot. While not a classic riding boot, this innovative, ladylike supple leather style incorporating comfort features and custom hardware is definitely a fashion winner. From the lower priced JOY CHEN collection there’s a handsome above-the knee boot called the “Baron” that combines woven and smooth leather on a sturdy block heel. These boots were made for walking! www.glorychen.com

All these great accessories call for equally great (and affordable) clothes and that’s where UNIQLO’s fall collection comes in. From past blogs you know that I’ve always loved the Japanese firm’s take on updated prepster styling. I personally plan to hit their SoHo store in early fall for the nifty double breasted 7/8 camel wool pea coat as well as the faux fur “cheetah” hip length jacket, not to mention a body hugging zip front collarless jacket in synthetic leather and last but not least, a very chic gray tweed fly front, collarless coat that references Chanel. Prices for almost every piece will run you around a very pleasant $100.

Now that you’re all kitted out why not check out LANDS’END’s latest edition to their Travel Smart, FlightWise luggage collection. Comprised of six pieces, all under the TSA’s federal guidelines for carry-on. Made with extremely durable ripstop fabric, the available colors include black, dark sapphire, chili pepper red, canyon orange (my choice) and arctic gray. I personally love the expandable duffle bag and the upright wheeled bag with padded front pocket. Each piece can carry a ton of stuff and if that’s not enough room for you, then you have a major problem and it’s time to rethink your packing (and hoarding) skills.

If you’re interested in past fashion, be sure to check out the Metropolitan Museum’s new Costume Institute exhibit: AMERICAN WOMAN, FASHIONING A NATIONAL IDENTITY. Beautifully presented, the exhibit which runs through August 15th offers a fascinating glance back at the clothes our mothers and grandmothers wore. We’ve come a long way baby!
Bohemians on Top; Flappers on the Bottom
(Lucky you to get my Editorial Opinion in even the photo layout!)



Next on my agenda will be coverage of the fine jewelry market. If there’s anything interesting I’ll tell all. C&C.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bang!

BANG FOR THE BUCK: Fall 2010’s Best Buys

Since I’m taking it for granted that you’ve already put together your spring/summer wardrobe, let’s move on to some terrific fall stuff that I recently came across in my travels. By now you’ve probably figured out that I ‘m all for getting the most out of my money, in other words MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK! In this category I have to include a fabulous above the knee boot. Designed by Lisa for Donald J. Pliner (let’s face it, it takes a woman to know what feels comfy yet still looks trendy), the boot comes in a black crepe/calf combination with a triple row of silver studs down the back. Not only will this boot make a woman’s legs look a mile long the comfort factor is built in (thanks Lisa). The price will set you back a mere $250. Yeah, I know, that’s not chump change but have you checked out the price of boots lately? I rest my case. Looking for a pair of affordable pumps? Lisa’s husband, Donald Pliner has the most adorable pair in antique metallic gator with the important new curvy kitten heel and squared off toe. The vamp is embellished with silver hardware. Again, the price is right at $235. For more info check out donaldpliner.com. Even less expensive are the mid heel “leopard” pumps from Ann Taylor. Spots are hot and at a cool $198. They’re definitely affordable and part of a great fall/winter collection. My other picks include Ann Taylor’s signature satchel in the softest, buttery leather in creamy bone color. While it looks very expensive, it’s a steal at $248. The details are special and include stitching like a man’s oxford shoe, a turn lock closure and an inverted pleat in front plus double handles and a shoulder strap.

EVEN MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK! It’s not all about accessories at Ann Taylor. I would also explore the possibilities of the lovely boiled grey wool knee length topper with a gorgeous ruffled collar. It’s a classic yet at the same time it’s dramatic and fashion forward. This coat will work both day or night so your $278. Will be money well spent.
Most of fall’s merchandise will be hitting the stores in September/October so there’s time to start saving up.

MOST BANG FOR THE BUCK! If you’re like me and love (or even occasionally wear) vintage be sure to check out the upcoming Manhattan Vintage Show at New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion at 125 West 18th Street on April 23-24. I found some real bargains at the last one including a caracul lamb jacket in pristine condition for under $150. And unworn brown satin, bow trimmed ‘60s pumps by Margaret Jerrold for a measly $40. And believe me, it’s not easy to find vintage shoes bigger than a size 6. You can even drag your better half along as the show is starting to attract more dealers of men’s apparel. For more info contact manhattanvintage.com.

THE BIG BANG! While I’m a big believer in high/low dressing (hence the name crap and couture), there may be those of you out there who prefer investing in one or two fabulous and expensive pieces that will work forever. Then Blanc de Chine is the resource for you. I recently attended their fall fashion show held at the company’s Manhattan retail outpost on Fifth Avenue. Sure there were lots of pretty pieces including menswear, I especially loved the timeless beauty of one ensemble in particular that featured a round necked velvet jacket ($925) a sequin bustier ($995) and satin stretch pants ($485). This is definitely investment dressing for the well heeled sophisticated woman. However, even if you only buy the jacket, it will look great for many years and you can wear it with grey flannel trousers, simple dress or even skinny dark jeans. And I don’t even have to mention the many ways that the satin pants could work. I’m thinking a little cashmere sweater for day but you get the picture. As the press release stated, “the fall/winter collection draws inspiration from the refined elegance of the Ming Dynasty.” And since it lasted for 267 years, I think that a fraction of that time should make you and your wardrobe choices happy!

As more great bargains turn up I’ll keep you informed. Until next time, C&C.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fashion Week Perks, or why it pays to be an editor.

Guess what? It’s not all about the runway shows folks. No siree, editors and press get invites to off site venues for some (much appreciated) pampering and other goodies. Here are some of the fashion week perks that I took advantage of. My week got off to a great start with a door to door car service from Mercedes-Benz to Robert Verdi’s exclusive Luxe Laboratory. You probably all know top stylist Robert Verdi from his hit show on LOGO. Anyhow, The loft setting, decorated with various designer products from the furniture to the accessories was gorgeous, the lunch delicious (OK more healthy than tasty), but the best part were the manicures, make-up, blowouts and the personalized products, I got to design and custom order my very own pair of Vans sneakers, Land’s End boat tote check out the exclusive shapewear from sponsor ShaToBu, Pick out a nail polish from newcomers Ginger+Liz, take home samples from Phyto hair care company and order a pair of the coolest jeans from Rock & Republic. To top it off, everyone received a huge canvas tote filled to the brim with great stuff – AND WE LOVE STUFF! Another nice break during fashion week came courtesy of LA based leading private sale site HauteLook who hosted an editor’s lounge at the Bryant Park Hotel. Here, I sampled the snacks, got my make-up redone (at this stage, nothing really helps) with products from Jouer cosmetics and got a lovely gift bag from Exhale Spa. Every day, guests of the lounge were also able to win a variety of giveaways that represented the range of brands found on HauteLook. Did I win anything? Yeah right, that will be the day. Towards the end of the week I headed over to the Daily Spa for a much needed break. And I wasn’t the only editor that felt that way as the townhouse was packed. The crush was worth it as I sampled fantastic cappuccinos and cupcakes (gotta keep the strength up), had a manicure and just chilled. If I had booked in advance I woulda, coulda, shoulda had a massage, but by the end of a week of shows, I’m brain dead. That’s it for fall/winter 2010 Fashion Week and the shows in the Bryant Park tents. Next September the circus moves to Lincoln Center. Happy shopping, until next time, C&C.

Notes from the Back Row... again!

Now that I’ve brought you up to date on Fall accessories I thought I’d riff on some of my favorite collections that were shown during Fashion Week in and around the tents.

Stop me if I sound like a broken record when I tell you that there are millions of ways to check out the shows, so you don’t need me to rehash everything. However, since I think I have better taste than 90% of the “fashionistas” out there, here’s what I thought were some of the most interesting, beautiful (and mostly expensive) designer collections.

NANETTE LEPORE: I’ve got to hand it to her, this was a fabulous collection full of gorgeous jewel toned velvets, interesting fabric mixes (think a sheepskin coat tossed over a beaded dress), a wonderful copper plaid coat and some great sweaters.

STEPHEN BURROWS: This capsule collection shown in his showroom was his best to date and drew out the big guns of fashion. Tops on my hit parade was Burrows Audrey Hepburnish little black dress and a sensuously draped gown in wine jersey with an accent of burnished gold at the shoulder.

UNITED BAMBOO: My absolute favorite sweaters came from this collection. You must have the mohair numbers in subtly muted shades. This is also the place for great pea coats and an aviator jacket in navy wool inspired by the sophisticated women of the 1930s era.

ADAM LIPPES: This young designer offered wearable, sportswear looks with that extra something special. How cool would it be to wear his shearling trimmed charcoal etched stripe pea coat over the washed charmeuse tank and silver grey lambswool/angora birdseye pant, or the caramel leather pleated back tank dress, not to mention the olive waxed cotton hooded anorak lined in coyote? Adam showed this last piece over a sequin embroidered crepe de chine dress that wowed the crowd.

ADRIENNE VITTADINI: Always wearable, always saleable, always right on target fashion-wise without going overboard into Lady Gaga-land. Here’s what I want – her ‘60s influenced little black wool/cashmere dress with trompe l’oeil, a witty detail that also turns up on a cardigan in sage heather. It’s worn over a navy tank and aubergine knit skirt. The latter colors are worked to great effect in Vittadini’s plaid silk jacquard loosely belted balmaccan and cigarette pants.

Subtle and Fashionable: You in Adrienne Vittadini



SEARS/Kmart: If your fashion budget’s tight, when in doubt, do without. And with these collections you don’t have to. Sure, the fabrics aren’t the most expensive and the styling isn’t high, high fashion, but for goodness sake, don’t dismiss the clothes out of hand. I personally will head out to the burbs for the great looking vivid magenta wool coat (perfect atop my charcoal grey Chanel pleat skirt) and the chunky grey short sleeved cardigan (that I’ll wear over my skinny black turtleneck from and cream color Valentino trousers). There you have it, my version of crap and couture. It works for me and it can work for you.

PORTS 1961: Here’s where it gets tricky. By now you probably know that Ports is one of my favorite designer collections. However, this time around I could barely catch a glimpse of the models as they paraded down the runway due to the fact that an editor to my left spent the whole time standing and taking pics on her cell phone practically in my face. Not a cool move when one is already relegated to the back row where there was no run of show. What I did manage to catch a glimpse of looked terrific. Judging by the “art moderne” backdrop and the fact that the models I saw wore very chic ‘20s style neutral color leather cloche hats and the clean lines of the early pieces (at least from the shoulders up), I’d say that creative director Tia Cibani has another hit on her hands or maybe I’m just prejudiced.

To sum the shows up here’s what to buy: a great chunky sweater, a new coat (Marc Jacobs has one of the best), a pair of low heels (that means you), a soft slouchy handbag, a statement necklace, and the rest is up to you.

SPRING 2010 Jewelry, Bags, Shoes: More is More!

Before I get into the fall fashion week circus, I want to review the hot jewelry trends for spring summer. Piling the stuff on still seems to be the way to go, but if you don’t want to opt for the more is more look I suggest that you invest in a necklace. It could be an embellished bib style, multi-strand choker or a long chain with or without a pendant but either way you ‘ll get a fresh look that will take you into fall /winter. These are some of the standout resources that you should check out:

DETRA KAY JEWELRY DESIGN (detrakay@bellsouth.net) pieces put the emphasis on natural materials. Ms. Kay works with semi-precious stones, gold, silver, and vintage pieces and objects that result in exotic, ethnic, classic, floral or unique must have items. My faves include her Thai silver floral choker and the mother-of-pearl necklace consisting of flat drops, gold leaves and a vermeil clasp. I also liked the concept behind REAL JEWELS. (real-jewels.com.) The collection combines lovely designs with respect for our planets resources. Everything’s made in the U.S. of 100% recycled precious metals, conflict free diamonds and fair trade sustainable gems and every piece is embellished with a signature fair trade natural green peridot tag. I’d check out the silver necklace with lacey pendant (sort of an ethnic feel) but there’s lots to choose from.

Also offering some stunning necklaces is LAUREN ADAMS. This is the one to hit for bright colors and graceful prints fashioned into enamel and metal. Personally I’d suggest the gorgeous turquoise centered white enamel pendant necklace from her “Eilat” group but I gotta tell you that the coordinating cocktail ring and bangle are to die for. Other groups to check out include the “Cameo Rome” and “Lady Luck” collections. Look for this resource in better specialty stores.

Want something with more of an ethnic modern vibe, then check out BOTTICELLI’S NIECE (www.botticellisniece.com). What worked for me was the short gold “double flake” necklace on a black double cord and the “Mariner link” bracelet - offered in both gold or silver – on a knotted leather strap. It’s bold, chunky and will work nicely with all of your Gucci/Hermes (ha, as if) wardrobe.

Now that we’ve taken care of spring let’s move on to summer shall we? At the recent press event for Ann Taylor LOFT, there were some adorable items (not to mention some terrific sportswear pieces). Number one on my must-have list is the striking black beaded bib necklace. Sure it’s not dirt cheap at $89.50 but this piece offers the most bang for the buck. Another cute bib necklace features grey chiffon on a silver link chain.

GERARD YOSCA is always on my fashion radar and I’ve been a collector of his jewelry for many moons. Yes I know, his prices aren’t cheap but you get what you pay for (at least in his case) in terms of elegant styling and quality, not to mention longevity. Let’s get down to business – I personally like the oxidized copper necklace with “fire coral” stones from his “Native American” range, but let’s be real, all his stuff is gorgeous. On a totally different wavelength is PIXELMODA. (www.pixelmoda.com,) I’m talking about a watch! It’s a brand new digital time piece fashioned in ultra light, high silicone rubber. We’re talking about an ergonomically shaped bracelet style that comes in over 39 colors (and at a retail price of $20 bucks you can afford to buy in multiples) and three sizes.

Watchbands? PixelModa says your time is up!

Moving on to Fall 2010, I found another fabulous accessory resource that combines the best of neckwear with jewelry. VESPERS (Vespersnewyork@aol.com) is also a brand spanking new collection made right here in New York. It’s almost too hard to describe the intricate draping of exquisite fabrics with chains, etc. Any one of Vesper’s pieces will make the simplest dress standout! I adored everything!

Speaking of fall, there are some terrific footwear resources to note. Among my favorites: EMU, the Australian sheepskin collection could easily give Ugg a run for the money. In addition to the sporty jackets and knits was the “Illoura” below the knee boot with adjustable vintage leather belt with antique metal details and the lace-up “Tundra” boots. Boots continue to be a major trend so keep your eyes peeled for Stephen Kelian’s signature woven leather riding boot. This French firm is at the moment only available in Europe but hopes run high that a savvy US retailer will order the collection.

Let’s talk about shoes. It’s high time you stepped out of those ridiculous sky high platform stilettos and into low heels. On trend are ballerinas (of course) and the spiffy lace-up spectators. These two styles will be found at every price level and should be on your shopping list.

Let’s say you’ve bought a closet full of shoes, now it’s time to add a handbag to your shopping list. If big is your thing, then L.A.M.B. has two great options. From the “Dunkirk” range I’d buy the army green pigsuede hobo. It’s rugged, casually chic and will hold a ton of stuff. For more flash check out the lamb logo pvc tote In blk/white/red from the “Signature” group, or get it in the vivid graffiti print.

L.A.M.B. Gets It, You Should, Too!



Only LOVE MOSCHINO could come up with the idea of making a tote bag in satin, adding chain handles and gold hardware closure in the shape of a clothespin and offering it in 14 colors! It’s very tongue-in-chic and a real eye catcher. Also roomy is Moschino’s brown suede handbag, trimmed with tassels from the “Happy Hippy” group.

New to the handbag game is NANETTE LEPORE who showed a handsome collection in a variety of leathers, from lizard embossed lambskin to a cheetah print Italian haircalf and more. Styles range from convertible satchesl and totes, to hobos and darling little framed cross body bags. You’ve got to figure on spending around $500 bucks (give or take), but compared to some of the other “designer” junk out there at double or triple the price, Lepore’s bags offer good value for the money.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring 2010 Hot List

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when money’s tight and the urge to shop overtakes you, spend your hard earned bucks on accessories. That’s what I always do and believe me you don’t have to break the bank to look good. Here are some of the key trends to zero in on: Rounded handbags and cross body bags look right for spring with metallics, shine and mixed textures still going strong. Jewelry items include cuffs and bangles taking over from necklaces as the hot pieces to own now and for all you shoe fanatics out there, it’s all about the cuffed sandal, embellishment, scaled down platforms and wedges (thank god) and caged footwear. By all means go for what looks great on you but don’t sacrifice comfort for style. You’ll just end up looking like a fashion victim/jerk.

Choose Shoes! I don’t know about you but the first order of business on my spring/summer shopping list are shoes and I’ve rounded up some terrific names this season. First up is a name I wasn’t familiar with, GLORY CHEN. Memorize her name as her collection is terrific. Standouts include “Biome” a woven calf pump in beige/camel stripe with graceful mid heel that flows into a neat platform and “Patou” a delicate ballet flat in print split suede from the lower priced JOY CHEN collection. Both lines balance fashion with function beautifully. For more info log on to www.glorychen.com.

AMORE DEI CANI is a brand new line of shoes and accessories that combine the love of shoes with the love of dogs believe it or not. No, they don’t make barking noise, it just means that every pair of croc leather loafers is accented with gold tone medallions representing a variety of dog breeds. Currently the line is carried in 15 boutiques throughout the North and Southwest with 1% of all sales donated to the AKC Humane Fund. So you can feel good about spending money. www.amoredeicani.com.

Sandals are hot and Macy’s has them in a variety of styles and prices to suit all budgets. Check out MARC FISHER’s bronze metallic cross strapped and stud detailed sandal if you want to go for that ancient Grecian effect, or the dressier bone patent wedge sandal from BCBG with elastic criss cross straps. Want total comfort? Then opt for BCBG GENERATION’s hooded thong sandal in soft bone with side zip.

As always PAYLESS gives lots of bang for the buck and spring’s no exception. I’d head for the muted silver metallic wedges, the linen /cork wedges and the black patent thong sandals with matching rosette trims.

While the name LL BLACK conjures up visions of goth/punk be not afraid the collection is adorable. I flipped for the cute linen Mary Janes with contrast piping and detailing on the strap, the embroidered linen ballet flats (also in raffia with contrast piping and bow) and the metallic open toed number with jeweled ornament. For more go to www.allblack.com.tw

Bag it!
My next fave accessory is handbags, large or small new or vintage trendy or conservative - I love them all. However since you may feel differently here’s my guide to some of spring’s best designs.

DOONEY & BOURKE is a name I always come back to. Not only is the styling on target, the prices are too. From satchels to hobos, totes to clutches, Dooney’s got it all. And if you already have it all why not buy one of the numbers from the “Scottie Dog” collection? Personally I love the small messenger bag and the crescent tote in red with black trim. Also nifty, anything from the pebble grain collection. I love the faux tortoise shell duck accent.

ROMYGOLD is a brand new handbag collection for the cool girl who wants glamour without breaking the bank. The line offers a full range of styles from hobos to messenger bags minis and clutches and fashioned in top quality distressed and embossed leathers. The grommet detailed distressed hobo in gunmetal (and other colors) features a cotton lining and will hold just about anything you can possibly carry without the weight. Equally roomy is the “Biker Slash” tote in camel, white or black distressed leather with horizontal slits.

Also making a splash is LILLY PULITZER at LeSPORTSAC. Her debut collection features three colorful prints centered around endangered species of the Florida Everglades. Also noteworthy are LeSportsac’s black/white spirals, and painted floral prints from the signature collection. Check out the cross body and bucket bags, the voyager backpacks and totes. They’re all winners. Want to see more, go to LeSportsac.com.

For color that pops check out ALFANI’s yellow leather foldover clutch with double handles and top zip while a more subtle approach calls for their MICHAEL KORS chic brown leather trimmed straw shopper or the slouchy hobo in soft gold metallic grain from DEUX LUX. Again, all of the above can be found at Macys.

Lots more color is offered at VIETA, aline out of California. I loved the big bold shapes, especially the stunning sporty “Teori” a hot pink hobo detailed with outside zip and flap pocket. Also striking is “R’el” a feminine quilted satchel with gold chain handles and turn lock hardware accent. See what’s doing at www.vietafashion.com.

Another bag line making its debut is HEMPTRESS. Believe it or not, this is a fashion forward collection completely fashioned in 100% hemp with bonded leather trim and gold tone hardware and all are lined with silk/hemp. My favorite bags are the cross body “Mercedes” with zip front pocket on flap and the “Terese” tote detailed with vertical pleats and a cute little removable zippered change purse suspended from a gold chain. See what’s what at www.thehemptress.com.

I’ll live you with these resources for now. Stay tuned for my thoughts on costume jewelry next time. Happy shopping. C&C
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Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Girl’s Best Friend

No not dogs! That may be man’s best friend, but diamonds and all that glittery stuff is what I’m talking about. Speaking of jewelry, I recently a cocktail party at the Aaron Faber Gallery off Fifth Avenue. We’ve all heard of Cartier, Harry Winston, Bulgari, et al. but I bet you haven’t stopped by this jewelry boutique off the beaten path. Even if you’ve spent your last dime on Christmas presents it will give your spirits a lift just to gaze (longingly) at the gorgeous baubles.

Since the reason for the event was to showcase a group of French jewelers (and hopefully buy something), the champagne was flowing. In between the bubbly and chocolates I browsed through the baubles and frankly I was dazzled by the various pieces that ranged from delicate to classic and bold. Some of my favorites include Veronique Bailly’s hand made triple linked rings in 18K pink gold studded with pink sapphires and a pearl. I liked the fact that this collection is aimed at a young client who leads an active life and wants jewelry that works day or night, it’s simple yet elegant and easy to wear. Check her out at www.veroniquebailly.com

Veronique Bailly's Work

Three Rings, Three Materials, Three times Six is Eighteen... and I digress


Wit and whimsy combine in Antoine Camus’ contemporary designs. The pieces are as bold as anything David Webb designed but to me a lot more unique. Frankly, I’d kill for one of his African “Mask” pins or the adorable “Hippopotamus” ring, both in 18K yellow gold and blackened silver. Either one is a conversation piece! www.antoinecamus.fr

Who was that masked hippopotamus?


Personally I love enamel so when I saw the Bijoux Commelin collection I was enchanted. Founded in the 19th century under Napoleon 111 the firm continues to produce beautifully enameled miniature jewels for which they’ve become renowned. I recommend the darling 18K yellow gold charms from the “Monuments of Paris” collection, especially the translucent enamel kiosk or the Tour Eiffel. Either one would look lovely dangling from a cord bracelet which can be had in a choice of colors. www.bijouxcommelin.com

Cocktail rings are hot now and Garnazelle has a knockout version. Called “Boule D’Amour” (ring of love for you peasants who don/t speak French), the ring features an eye popping white cabachon cacholong stone set in 18K pink gold. More tongue-in-chic is the diamond studded yellow gold ring in the shape of a little frog. www.garnazelle.com I also took note of another dazzling cocktail ring at La Joaillerie Recreative. It featured a 27K faceted green quartz stone surrounded by 138 diamonds and set in a cage of 18K yellow gold. Not too shabby! Creative director Christine Escher collection features other pieces in precious wood, gold, diamonds and semi=precious stones such as her “Rock and Roll” ring in rubellite, garnet, carnelian and citrine in the shape of a flower set in yellow gold. www.christine-escher.com.

I challenge you to pick the ideal drink for each of these rings!

Totally different and simply adorable are Marchak’s teeny little “Hedgehog’ brooches in genuine mink. They have diamond studded snouts, sapphire eyes and onyx noses, set in 18K yellow or white gold. If I couldn’t have this I definitely want the precious gold ring with the polar bear’s face in white mink with jeweled eyes and nose! www.marchak.fr

The Perfect Hedgehogs for 2010


If there was only one piece of jewelry I could own in my entire life (ha!) it would have to be Tess&Tasha’s timeless diamond studded band ring and matching crown set available in white or yellow 18K gold. I tried them on (amazingly they were a perfect fit) and I’d be happy with either color. Since its inception in 2005, designer Maritess Damian’s collections have continued to dazzle her clients with gorgeous jewelry pieces. www.tessandtasha.com

Royalty That Won't End Up in the Tabloids

The companies I’ve just listed were part of The Jewels of France Exhibition and Trunk Show which is an annual week long gathering of some of France’s most acclaimed jewelry houses and their designers. This was the second year that they were aligned with the Aaron Faber Gallery at 666 Fifth Avenue, NYC.

That’s all for now folks. Happy Holidays. Coming up for the new year will be my first look at spring 2010 accessories. Yes I know that the fall fashion shows will be on the horizon but for you fashionistas out there it’s the spring stuff that will be hitting the stores in February that you need to know about. Next fall’s a long way off.

Cheers, C&C.

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row