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!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fringe Benefits?

After watching more hours of RTW Spring 2009 runway shows than is clinically recommended, I think it's time for a second opinion diagnosis of one of the big Spring runway trends: the return of fringe.

It seemed to be everywhere--from the more rugged-looking fringe of William Rast and Hermés to the silky strands of Jil Sander and Alexander McQueen. Many of the looks were dramatic...others were fairly tragic, but their popularity among designers this season brings up a very important debate that divides humanity right down the middle. Because no matter how you try to find a gray area, there are two types of people in the world: people who love fringe, and people who don't.

Yours truly is a proud member of "Team Hem" on this one; because when you get right down to it, fringe always looks sort of costume-y. And whether you're a die-hard fan of the wild, wild west or perhaps just preparing your wardrobe to reflect the fashion era of the first great depression as we enter into the second one, there is no excuse for you to look like a cowboy or a flapper gal almost a decade into the 21st century.

No Excuse.

If you must wear fringe, you're less likely to become a cautionary tale if you stick to fringed accessories. A nice scarf, a fringed handbag, and a necklace or belt with a tassel are a few simple ways to capitalize on the hypnotically feminine movement and texture that fringe provides. But beware. it's easy to go overboard. I wouldn't was this to happen to any of you...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Retailers Remorse : Life After NY Fashion Week

'Twas the night after fashion week and all through the houses,
Not one item was thrilling, not even the blouses!
The buyers all sulked through the market with stares

In hopes that inspiration soon would be there!

Okay, maybe its not that bad, but according to WWD, retailers are suffering from a case of the blahs after what one boutique owner called a rather "phoned-in" showing at New York Fashion Week. With a few sited exceptions, like collections from Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Rodarte, and Zero+Maria Cornejo, most of the buzz this fashion week seemed to be about the celebs attending shows, and not the showcased designs.

Perhaps buyers were looking to the runways for the one "IT" look or "Must-have" silhouette that would bring customers clamouring back into stores after retail's brutally slow summer. What they seem to have encountered instead was alot of beautiful things...that we've all seen before.

Call it lack of inspiration, or blame it on a struggling economy (the DOW closed almost 500 points down today!), but whatever the reason, the end result seems to be a spring 2009 RTW inventory selection stocked more out of necessity than unfaltering love for the collections.

Not everyone was dismal about the collections. Larger retailers with lots of buying power seemed to be okay with the safer approach to spring. The VP/ Fashion Director of Macy's called the looks "fashionable and realistic,"which could just be the diplomatic way to say bland...

But huzzah! The industry did not leave us completely without a vision for SP'09! The dress, in almost all of its iterations remains a strong piece, and the "grandfather sweater" so popular this fall gets reincarnated as the "boyfriend jacket" in the spring.

2008 may not have been a groundbreaking year for fashion, but on the whole, it was pretty solid. Would a repeat be horrible? Maybe...maybe not. They say, "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't." And in many cases, its true. I just don't want either devil going anywhere near stirrup pants!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Best Foot Forward (with EXCLUSIVE video footage!)

(This lovely little ditty was published in the Boston Globe on July 31st, 2008! Click here to see the abridged version.)

It makes perfect sense that the world’s largest footwear tradeshow is held in Las Vegas twice a year. Shoe collections and “Sin City” have quite a bit in common. Both are full of seduction and intrigue, and oth have an element of risk, with the possibility of a huge payoff.

With shoes, as it is with Vegas, the difference between mere survival and utter dominance, is preparation; and of course, an inside informant to help you beat the house. And though you may have fall items on your current shopping list, it’s never too early to plan your thaw-out ensembles.

Danny Ocean knew there was power in numbers, so here are five sure bets that will hit the jackpot for Spring ’09:

Hole-ier Than Thou: Perforation isn’t just for notebook paper; it’s stylish, too. “Texture is a big deal,” says Rory Mitchell of Asgi Shoes. “It adds another level of luxury. This shoe is high fashion with lots of texture and the luxury of being comfortable.”

Pump It Up: “I think we’re going to see a return to the classic pump, but in a whole new way,” admits Iesha McTeir from Boutique 9. She suggests trying the traditional style with a platform. “It’s a great update to a look women are familiar with.”

Look on the Bright Side: Dull can feel so last season, so don’t be shy. “Nothing says ‘spring’ better than color,” says Nicole Smith of Katheryn Amberleigh. “It’s the best time to have great standout shoe.”

Square Deal: If you’re ready to venture away from a rounded toe, this could be your chance to get edgy. “Stronger geometric shapes, like squares, are going to be very popular,” says Jennifer Staples of Velvet Angels, “especially on the toe and heel treatments. They add lots of drama”

Cut It Out: “Cut-outs are going to be huge, especially for spring/summer boots,” predicts Annette Tang from Michael Antonio. “It’s a strong trend, yet really fun and playful. Year round boots aren’t just for California girls anymore!”

A KoS Exclusive! Check out the trend report video...you deserve to know!

Friday, August 1, 2008

¡Te Extraño, mi fashionista!

Was the last post really on july 15! I can't believe its been that long! Please know that my absence has nothing to do with my lack of things to say, or the lack of things that need to be commented on!

Honestly, the pask couple weeks have been a blur, and the great wall that was built between my blog and I can be attributed to 4 things:
  • 1) My birthday!!!! And I had friends in town, so I was running around playing hostess.
  • 2) More preparations to move into my new place!
  • 3) My trip to sunny Las Vegas to attend WSA (more on that very very soon!
  • 4) No wi-fi in my apartment!

But, I'm back and a little more settled... and writing this from a cozy seat in my neighborhood Panera! (If only I could link into this network from home! The signal here is amazing!)

So if you've been checking in faithfully, please accept this lowly and sincere Mea Culpa. I'll try not to let it happen again anytime soon!!!

Kiss and make up?... I knew you'd understand!!!

More to Come....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bend it Like Brontë: the return of the Victorian boot

Fashion is always re-inventing itself by taking inspiration from other eras and depositing little bits of the past into our closets of today. I'm generally thrilled when antique and vintage style has a modern resurgence (though, if you ask me, people were a little too eager to pull their stirrups out of hiding), but I was super excited to see many Fall '08 footwear collections showing oodles of looks that hearken back to the late 1800's!

The Victorian age was complicated. Women were looking for new avenues to express themselves in a male-dominated world...as long as it didn't mean showing any ankle skin. Today, almost 90 years after women's suffrage, we've made progress: pay is getting better, choices are actually choices, hemlines are all over the place, and even our toes have cleavage! Even so, conservative tones and silhouettes have returned to runways and showrooms, and romantic footwear could be your fall accessory of choice.

Keep an eye out for these fantastic boots in a month or so, and you'll be feeling like a dramatic character from Wuthering Heights in no time!

Briana by Anyi Lu

Icarus by Taryn Rose

Jeana by Pour La Victoire

Feminine by Poetic Licence

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Couture & Cream

After two summers of the industry's obsession with the chic simplicity of wearing pristine "Oh God-please-don't-let-your-kid-touch-me!" white, I am happy to see another round of moody cream-colored pieces filtering onto store racks.

The color oracles at Pantone have spoken, and white as we've come to know and love/fear it is moving over to make way for a new generation of the timeless neutral. For Fall '08 and spring '09, off-white returns as the new black. In their fall collections, labels like Max Mara and Chloé are showing delectably creamy items with varied undertones that combine well with the seasons heavier hues of greenish-blacks, muted browns, ochres, and purples.

Because of their versatility, a great way to start upping your off-white and cream collection is by way of accessories. I snagged a great Miu Miu tote during the current Barney's sale (if you haven't been been... GO NOW!). For my footsies, I bought the Delman "Cruise" ballet flats, in a soft quilted leather with gold-tone stud work. So yummy. Both pieces are appropriate now, and will work just as well with my fall wardrobe.

I enjoy the standard pure white, but it was beginning to make me a little paranoid and compulsive (ex: no chocolate or make-up, carrying moist towelettes with me everywhere, standing instead of sitting). With this seasons creams, I feel like I can relax... at least a tad. Finally, I can fully enjoy hugs from my 4 year old God-daughter without thinking about my dry cleaning bill. Life is good.

Monday, July 7, 2008

MFT catalog #2: Evian Brumisateur

I hate to be the whiney type, but this whole summer heat thing is getting to me. The recent spikes in humidity have been pushing me and my handy wall-mounted barometer toward a breaking point.

My only saving grace as we creep closer to the half-way mark of this hot-and-sticky solstice, has been good old fashion H2O...and by "old fashioned," I mean imported from France and shoved into an aerosol can!

For years, the Evian Brumisateur has been the go-to beauty product for savvy women worldwide who like to beat the heat while nourishing their skin. As if general consensus and the illustrious name of "Evian" weren't reason enough to add this item to your shopping list, here are a few more:

  • The spray's ultra-fine mist allows the skin to absorb important minerals along with pure clean moisture.
  • To quote my 7th grade science teacher, "Evaporation is a cooling process." That's how the light mist instantly combats perspiration and refreshes, as the moisture soothes and rehydrates sun-exposed skin.
  • For multi-seasonal bennies, you can use the spray daily before applying your facial moisturizer to improve hydration by up to 14%, combat aging and help your skin look younger!

Added bonus: the Evian Brumisateur comes in 3 different sizes so you can chuck a travel-sized one in your purse, and keep your larger ones at home (...which is way more appropriate than forcing a 14 oz. can into your handbag like moi)!

So if you need me, I'll be napping in front of a fan trying not to sweat, hosing myself down with canned mineral water, and dreaming of autumn with all of its fabulous sweaters and boots! Only 83 days til the equinox!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bidding goodbye to Louis V.

If you love scouring the internet for the best prices on designer handbags, your way of life could be experiencing a few changes, thanks to Lady Justice and some killjoy corporate folks at Louis Vuitton.

On Monday, a French court handed down a decision ordering eBay Inc. and eBay International to pay LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and 4 other companies a total of 38.9 million euros ($61.3 million) for allowing the sale of counterfeit goods and for the unlawful sale of authentic fragrances (Christian Dior, Kenzo Parfums, Guerlain and Parfums Givenchy also took part in the suit). The decision comes after 2 years of legal battles between the luxury goods companies and eBay, and marks the highest fine ever awarded against eBay in Europe.

LVMH, of course, was pleased with the decision, with hopes the ruling will help preserve their name and the status of the brand. The folks at eBay... not so much. To quote the website's rep: "The decisions today are not about the battle against counterfeiting. In reality, it's a matter of a wish by LVMH to protect its commercial practices excluding all competition."

Booyah. Take that Frenchie.

This battle is far from over. eBay has already announced its intention to appeal, though in the meantime, we'll see if they continue to sell the products (and pay the additional $79,000 daily fine if they do!), or if the popular items disappear from their loyal auction-addicted public.

I am not an eBay couture hunter... but I know some people who are going to be pretty hot (not haute) about this one!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

MFT catalog: #1 - the elephant ring

One of my favorite things in the entire world is fine jewelry that's fun and distinctive. So what better way to kick off the My Favorite Things list (MFT) with this gold, enamel, and diamond ring from Delfina Delettrez .

If you think a 3 ton pink elephant in the room is hard to ignore, just wait until you see a 24 carat gold one!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bitter-sweet Savings

I get daily news headlines and alerts emailed directly to my phone throughout the day to keep the journalist in me satisfied and up-to-date. And while it's a good thing to be informed, it can be a killer on morale...especially when the 4pm alerts arrive with the NYSE closing numbers.

Today the Dow dropped 350 points because of some unfavorable forecasts in technology and more possible cutbacks in oil production. The thought of paying closer to 5 bucks a gallon at the pump by the end of the summer was utterly depressing, so I did what I always do for a pick me up...I went to the mall.

But even at the mall, the tell tales signs of an economy in crisis were visible. Literally. Every store is on sale right now, with sale windows and displays from floor to ceiling. And not just a little discount here and there. Most places are offering 40% to 70%!

Usually a ginormous sale would be ecstacy...but here's the rub: I don't even have extra funds to enjoy the sales the way I'd like to, because the economy is so messed up! The irony is nauseating.

In order to maximize my money and get the best out of the "on-sale" retail trend, I have come up with 3 rules that help me make the most from a bad (economic) situation:

1) Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize. It maybe be tempting to buy that $160 Ikat dress (down from $535), but what type of longevity is it going to have in your wardrobe? You can get the feel of whatever look you are going for by getting good accessories! And by good, I don't mean Claire's or Icing. You're not 13, sweetie.

2) Shop around before you buy! Its easy to spot a sale sign in one store and get sucked in, but with so many great deals out there, it is worth your time to get a good lay of the land. You'll have more chances to find great stuff, plus it may alleviate buyer's remorse if you get $300 dollars worth of final sale merch, then walk next door only to find something better! (and believe me, this stuff is final sale! Stores want to keep your money, not mess around with returns or credit on slow-moving items.)

3) Avoid impulse buying based on price. A $5 price tag does not universally translate into "take me home!" Ask yourself, honestly, do you love it? Will you wear it? and most importantly, if you don't get it, will the money be better off still in your wallet? Sometimes you can find great penny-pincher deals on the chic-est of things, but don't waste cash on great deals that aren't great buys.

I don't know when the dollar is going to regain its strength in the global market, but in the meantime, I intend for the dollars I have to work as best they can. I am a shopper, darn it, and the Federal Reserve can't take that away from me!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Glossary with New Terms

I think it's safe to say there are two lessons in life that a girl has to learn through personal experience. The first: no matter what the circumstances, it's never a good a idea to wear fuchsia panties with white pants. The second: you always need to add a little bit of gloss over your favorite lipstick to give it the extra "umph" and finish off a superb makeup application.

But for some folks, these life lessons are the road to a great inventions...and while the pink undies/white pants conundrum baffles us to this day, the two-step lipstick process may have seen its last mirror, thanks to makeup savant Jody Cohen and her fabulous new product, Cosmoholic.

Cosmoholic is a specially formulated "liquid lipstick" that gives the rich coverage and pigmentation of traditional lipsticks, but is applied and has a high-shine finish like a gloss. (Why don't I ever think of these things!)

The tubes retail for $20, and come in 7 hues like promiscuous pink, mysterious mocha, and gold digger (I personally bought passionate peach and bossy berry)! If you aren't sure which colors will work best with your complexion, you can email a picture of yourself to the Cosmoholic team and they'll do an e-consultation to help you out! Now that's what I call service!

Ingenuity, price, and novelty aside, I love the way the product feels. It's not sticky or tacky on the lips, and lasts surprisingly well. The first night I tried it, I only re-applied once, and that was more out of desire to impress an ex-fling that showed up at the event than out of actual need. (I'm vain, so sue me!)

Cosmoholic glosses are available online and in select boutiques, and this is not a product you want to hold out on. It's getting a lot of attention and flying off of shelves. The gloss is being featured in upcoming issues of OK! Magazine and STAR, and completely sold out at a recent Henri Bendel trunk show in NYC.

Pretty soon, we could all be hooked on this stuff!...but what a luscious addiction to have!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hot Knots

It's true that many of the items we come to love in the fall have a way reincarnating themselves into spring/summer collections. The boot has the bootie, the parka has the raincoat, and leggings...well leggings are just going to be here forever. But recently, no piece has pulled off such seamless seasonal transitions like the scarf.

I don't know what it is about them--the drape of fabric, the twist of the knot--but nothing does for the décolletage what a scarf can do!

In winter, especially in colder climates, the scarf or wrap is just as much about style as it is about functionality, with heavy wool, or other knits spun securely about the neck, warding of the impending pneumonia that would love to settle in. But in the summer, the scarf is more carefree, tossed over a shoulder or loosely tied, so there's one more layer to ruffle in a summer breeze. It's a magical thing!

Use a scarf to add style elements to your outfit. Find a great ombre or floral to add pizzazz to a tee or solid dress. Add texture with an earthy crinkled linen or cotton wrap, or create drama by adding a super long scarf to any outfit.

If you haven't gotten a great summer scarf yet, leave your house now to get one... seriously, go now. And when you feel a slight breeze, or catch a chill while watching fireworks or building s'mores, you'll be well prepared (and of course, looking fabulous)!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Take a few Milly-seconds

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's the value of a 30 second video? That's the question Nordstrom is hoping to answer with the addition of video to their online "Via C" boutique.

According to WWD.com, the new "Designed to Inspire" videos are an experiment to test the impact of video content on consumer purchases. Each vignette features the designer discussing the style and inspiration behind different items, and giving tips on the perfect occasions or accessories for showcasing the pieces at their best.

The first 13 videos launched today (those of you on the Nordstrom email list will likely get an e-blast alert tomorrow morning!), featuring Milly designer, Michelle Smith. If all goes well, There will be new videos and a new featured designer in the fall.

I must say, Michelle Smith with be a hard act to follow. The designer comes across sweet, yet knowledgeable and totally in love with the collection she's created. The videos were shot in Milly's NYC showroom, and have the feeling of a personal showing, with Smith cast as the personal stylist, and the fall 2008 collection in the starring role. My favorite piece is the poppy print chiffon dress. I swear I got goosebumps!

I may be an easy sell, but the videos work for me! It's genius to be able to see individual looks on a model in motion, instead of the stylized still pix retail websites usually offer. The videos are wicked short, but they're definitely more functional than waiting for an entire runway show to load. Not to mention, I can select exactly what I want to see! It caters to every fashionista's dream of intimacy with the designer, as well as a customized viewing of the collection--all in the comfort of my own living room! Who needs netflix if Nordstrom can keep this up?!

The only drawbacks: for this round of videos, all of the featured items are only available for pre-order (ewww for the patience-factor!), and currently, none of the videos are shareable or embeddable. It's like they don't even care that I have a facebook page! But, I'll give them a pass this time, since they are new to this whole thing.

All in all, I think its an effective and entertaining tool for their website--because I'm getting ready to spend $435 to get that chiffon dress now!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tropical Storm Elbaz

In the classic tradition of togetherness, my family is taking a cruise through the Caribbean this summer. Ten days on a majestic vessel, with exotic ports of call like Belize, Cozumel, and other out-lying islands around the Yucatan.

Also in classic form, they aren't taking me. Go figure.

While my parents and grandmothers are off gallivanting near the Mayan ruins, the closest I'll get to a cruise this year may be gazing at the 2009 resort collections. But one collection in particular may give me the fix I need to make it through a summer and fall stuck in the states.

Earlier this week, Lanvin's Alber Elbaz presented the house's completely decked out resort collection which featured the brilliant colors of the tropics, blended with the classic silhouettes of the 1930's. Think Loveboat meets the Great Gatsby. The collection is bright, brooding, and erratically cohesive, full of bias-cuts, slouchy suits, and accessories galore!

According to Elbaz, the collection was inspired by the iconic notions of cruise and fantasy vacations, yet encompasses a "twisted Hamptons" flair (which begs the question, aren't the Hamptons always kinda twisted? But I digress...), pairing sunny t-shirts with floor length silk skirts, chunky faux-pearl and floral baubles with sequin polka dot dresses, and funky denim coats with raw-edge satin heels. I'd call the resulting look "consciously-flawed chic"--shabby chic's cooler, more confident cousin.

So there may not be a coastal getaway in my immediate future, but I can always live vicariously through the fam, and maybe even a little bit through the tropics-inspired creations of Elbaz and the folks at Lanvin.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Home, Chic Home

If there is one thing I dread in life, it's moving. The thought of shlupping all my earthly possessions from one place to another is mentally exhausting, and actually doing it is even worse! Sadly, due to rent increases, this summer is a moving summer. And I'm not looking forward to it.

Even more than the hassle of packing and unpacking, I always feel anxious about entering a new space--something empty and foreign--and figuring out how to make it "home." The process of turning an assortment of rooms into one's sanctuary from the world is not a task I take lightly.

A home should be a place that can recharge your energy and reflect your personality. Feng shui experts will tell you that the overall arrangement of things plays a big role in that; but I've always felt that it's the little things, like coasters, and catch-alls, even the right waste basket, that give me the greatest sense of comfort and ownership.

So imagine the thrill-fest I had when I visited The Macbeth Collection's online boutique. The New York-based home & accessories company offers customized items for home decoration and organization, with a gallery of over 200 patterns, colors, and symbols. Owner and founder, Margaret Josephs launched the brand to provide customers with what she hopes will be the tools "to transform their homes, rooms and hopefully their lives into functional, fashion-forward and sophisticated spaces."

Sounded good to me!

I found some great stuff for my new place: stationery, party serving trays, and the perfect not-too-big-not-too-small waste baskets for my bedrooms and office. I'm also dead set on ordering the mail pockets, so I can stop my nasty habit of piling unopened envelopes on my kitchen table. For the patterns, I'm planning on blend of the "Marcia" the "Eve chocolate" and the "Morocco lilac"...in moderation, of course. Since I am not big on wallpaper, I think the exaggerated patterns on smaller items throughout the apartment will add a bit of personalized eclectic feel that I wouldn't find at Target or Ikea.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still not "excited" about moving, but the prospect of cutie monogrammed notepads and paperweights is ameliorating! And when my friends visit me for the first time, and coo:"This place is so you," they'll be exactly right!