Monday, August 17, 2009


The act of pilgrimage is among the highest demonstrations of devotion. Mecca, Jerusalem, St. Peter's Square--there is something affirming and inspirational that comes with journeying to a sacred space where great teachers and innovators have walked.

For me, a 3rd generation OPI nail lacquer devotee, that place is Studio City, California...12246 Ventura Blvd. to be exact... home of the newly opened ROB|B OPI Concept Salon

The salon, a labor of love and brainchild of Robbie Schaeffer--son of OPIs CEO & founder George Schaeffer, is the unofficial holy land of the 28 year old company... and probably the greatest idea since "I'm Not Really A Waitress." The salon's self-stated objective is "to provide excellent services using OPI products exclusively, while providing a comfortable atmosphere that will enhance our client’s physical appearance and soothe their mind all within a 'green' environment." Ummm... okay that sounds awesome!

I step into the holy grail and I'm immediately excited. To my right is a nail bar for "mini manis" and a the months featured facial which involed larges glorious chucks of anti-oxidant rich chocolate. To my left was a ginormous selection of OPI nail color! After finding my long lost favorite color "Kinky in Helsinki," I proceed to get one of the best manicures I've gotten in a LONG time...possibly ever.

The prices at ROB|B are a little bit higher than the average strip-mall drop-in spots. The Essential Manicure is $30 and includes a hand/arm massage (a real one... not some lady smacking your forearms for 20 seconds). But this is not your average nail salon. I was impressed with the overall health of my nails when I left. From the Avojuice and Nail Envy to the Avoplex Cuticle Oil and the polish itself, my hands were much better when I left than when I came in. Not to mention first time visitors get the world's best "welcome gift" ( I'm not telling what in it, but its worth it)!

To top off my almost religious experience, Robbie was there in the salon that day, and maybe...just maybe I was happier to snap a pic with him than I was when I got a photo of me and Pooh Bear at disneyworld when I was 7.

My trip only deepened my love for the products that have kept me feeling all grown up ever since I raided my Nana's vanity way back in the day, and I vow that if I ever give birth to a lil' Maven the indoctrination shall continue!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

From the makers of Apple, GOOP, and Moses...

Just in case you were starting to get withdrawal shakes from the lack of celebrity+designer collaborations (insert sarcasm here), a new union is at last ready to hit stores. French comfort couture purveyor ZOEtee's has teamed up with Oscar-winner, blogger, and wacky-name guru Gwyneth Paltrow for the label's new FL09 line "ZOEtee's LOVES Gwyneth."

The collection, announced earlier this year, contains luxe jersey knit separates (a hallmark of ZOEtee's) with an almost brooding femininity to their design. The monochromatic (dare, I say drab?!) charcoal and black palette is timeless (read: safe), while the pieces rely heavily on draping and hardware detail.

My major complaint: There is nothing here we haven't seen before.

For MSRPs that start at $550, I need you to come with more than cotton and jersey knit, an Academy Award, and some hippie kid's names! Don't get me wrong, I actually consider myself a quasi-Paltrow fan...and maybe that's why this is so disappointing for me. I expected more than a quirky tunic dress and a sweater vest with metal studs.

And this is my constant gripe with celebrity collaborations...and often many celebrities who fancy themselves to be designers (AHEM, Scarlett Johansson)...instead of getting amazing inspired fashion, we get a gimmick, a press release, a photo op. And while the celebrity is "rediscovering" or "diversifying their role in world of creating," we the consumers are handed down collections of so-so clothing to wear and encouraged to pay top $$$ for it...all because Pepper Potts (LOVE that character BTW) wants to be a designer. I don't think it's fair.

I'm not endorsing the idea that popular musicians and actors should be one-trick-ponies. Not in the least. All of us, regardless of fame have multiple talents (Paltrow, for instance has become quite the kick@ss foodie, and I would eat at her house whenever). But just don't expect me to get all excited about a collection because it has a celebrity's name on it. Collections should still be expected to stand on their own merit in terms of design and innovation. We expect that from Gwyneth Paltrow on the screen, and it should be no different on the runway.

If you're a die hard Gwyneth or ZOEtee's fan, you won't be as disillusioned as I was, and your loyalty will be rewarded by the proceeds of your purchase going towards the London Kid's Company. If you just like to wear things with celeb names on them, save your money and hit up targets next round of GO International.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fiber Optic Femme

Of all the vices I grapple with (and believe me, they are numerous), jealousy is not typically one of them.

I mean, sure, I may momentarily lust after a great handbag, or even admire the well-shaped calf of a jogger; but for the most part, I'm pretty content with my aquisitions and physical appearance.
There is only one thing I desperately tiny attribute... that just being in the presence of someone who HAS them can turn me into a miserable envious, pouting, covetous wrech.

Long, beautiful, voluminous eye lashes!

Mine are nice, but they have an extreme bend to them so they can look almost short. But my best friend from college, my girl who lives in Sweden, my 4 year old god-daughter--even the MBTA officer at the station near my house--all have these FABULOUS long, full, "mufasa-manes" framing their eyes. And a part of me hates them for it. It's NOT FAIR. I want long lashes. I DESERVE long lashes.

The problem with lusting after a different set of eye lashes than you were born with is that, unlike lip plumping glosses or (God Forbid) acrylic nails, lash extension is tedious, expensive, and often short lived. And your only other real option is to develop a steady hand and become BFFs with a bottle of adhesive.

So just when I was ready to curse my DNA and resign myself to a lifetime of envying pre-schoolers, I stumble bleary-eyed into sephora looking for a solution. And by golly, I found one!

Make Up For Ever's Lash Fibers ($20) is a lash extending primer that actually works...and doesn't leave you looking like a C-list porn star after a long day at the office...(I'm talking to you Maybeline XXL mascara). The look is natural enough to work for daytime face, but still subtantial enough to keep you batting shamelessly well into the wee hours of socializing.

So as it turns out, I can stop giving the evil-face to people born with long lashes, and can now genuinely enjoy time with my best friend without a part of my want to pluck her lashes for my own selfish transplant needs!

It feels good to be almost envy-free! Now all we need to do is take care of this whole "vanity-thing"...wish me luck!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Second Coming...(of Rodriguez)

Whether it signified a level of comfort, fidelity, or a Capricorn's steadfastness, incoming First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the official Inauguration activities wearing none other than Narciso Rodriguez.

Lady O donned a black and red Rodriguez creation for the election night festivities in November, so its not a total shock to see her in another look by the designer.

This time, the color palette was more subdued. Gone was the vibrant celebratory red. In its place, a chic but stately camel-hued high-waisted knee-length pencil skirt, paired with and embellished black knit top. A coordinating Long camel jacket completed the ensemble.

The official KoS review: We Likey!!! This is the type of look that is stylish enough to keep the fashion whores happy, while still being completely appropriate for Michelle Obama's "down-to-business" persona. This is the OPPOSITE of that wacky Thakoon number she wore at the DNC... and that's why we LOVE IT.

So far, our girl is off to a fabulous start...we're keeping our fingers crossed for only good things to come!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Belle of the (Inaugural) Ball

America is just 2 weeks away from what may prove to be one of the biggest Inaugural Ball scenes in history. And while most I-ball excitement is centered around our President-elect and the kick-off to his administration's first 100 days in office, the second, and perhaps most feverish anticipation is about one thing, and one thing only:


I'd venture to guess that never in a million years did Barack Obama imagine that one of the landmark moments of his (and even our collective) lifetime would be defined by his wife's wardrobe choice! But it is, and the fashionistas in all of us are waiting with bated breath...and opinions galore!

I-ball gown enthusiasts have been pouring over desiginer's sketches of possible looks for Lady O's grand entrance. The stylings range from the marvelous, glamorous and chic(Herrera, Lagerfeld, Rodarte) to the bland, horrific, and absurd (Besty Johnson, Zac Posen, I'm talking to you...).

After much debate, and some waffling, the official KoS selection is this glorious Marchesa gown. It just does all the right things in all the right places and demands attention without bludgeoning the onlooker's retna by being garish. With its well-achieved balance of structure and flow, the result is obvious femininity with an overwhelming strength.

So Michelle, if you or your search engine cronies read this in time... WEAR THE MARCHESA... and call me! We have at least 4 years of shopping to do! And after the Dress-that-divided-a-nation on election night, I think another voice of reason in the malay would be beneficial!!! The IRS seems to always know how to find me...greedy little buggers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The People's Republic of Freakin' Amazing Handbags

If you would have told me last month that my new favorite handbag was going to be for sale at Banana Republic, I would have laughed in your face. Hard.

Not that there's anything wrong with BR, I mean who doesn't love a good cashmere sweater set for under $200 bucks! But let's just say the upper echelon stylings of Gap, Inc. have never really spoken to me. Maybe a bracelet here, a super-bargain blouse there, but it's definitely not the first place I think of when I need my shopping fix. In fact, no phrase tends to curb my consumer fervor more quickly than hearing one of my friends coo, "Oh, lets check out what they have at 'Banana'!"

Hang me.

But this season, out of nowhere, a big heaping gob of style has apparently come and steamrolled the accessories design team for Banana Republic. Because they have, dare I say it,... some pretty fabulous stuff!

I'm not sold on their footwear, but by golly the handbags are great. I know this because, well... I bought one. (Don't tell Monica Botkier!) There are clutches, and chain-strap shoulder bags, but in particular, the Cambridge Pleated Tote in purple suede had my name all over it. The leather is stellar, and the details on the bag (braided handles, well-placed pockets, darling pleats) add a sense of luxury that even had my most stylish gay friends saying, "There is no way that came from 'Banana'!!!"
Which, of course, filled me with a great sense of accomplishment.

So kudos to you, Banana Republic! Your new bags have more than earned their place in my lust-worthy, must-have hall of fame. My money (well, my $260) is yours. If you have another great accessories season like this one, I may just be willing to pledge my allegiance.

Though I will never agree with your brand's moniker choice. Tropical fruits and governing systems just don't belong together. Not even if you do have really great cashmere.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Aqua Team Fashion Force

Aqua Team Fashion Force by austynellese

Nothing says 80's or early 90's quite like aqua! Thankfully, hindsight is 20/20, and this time around, the still watery hue runs deeper than side ponytails and stirrup pants! From oversized sunglasses to opulent jemstones, Aqua's renaissance has come...and not a decade too soon.

Click on the image above to check out these great styles and find out where you can get them now!