Friday, October 31, 2008

Mickey Drexler = retail genius

Watch this interview. Learn more than you'd expect. About life. About business. And about respect. I love this man.

Mike Jeffries wants to be Mickey Drexler

I may be wrong. Then again, seeing is believing. And it seems to me that Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries must be taking a cue from J. Crew's CEO Mickey Drexler. It seems Abercrombie is abandoning their recent frat party image for employees and actually focusing on customer service. On several recent visits to multiple Abercrombie stores, I've been promptly greeted, kindly offered assistance, and even been checked up on for follow up with fit and sizes. I am pleasantly surprised to say the least. It's like Abercrombie hit "remind" on their "employee handbook time machine" to the mid-1990s, when Abercrombie focused on quality goods, quality service, and a quality shopping experience. Maybe the tough economy has actually had a positive effect on American retailers and forced better service to be implemented. After all, even the best parties eventually lose their lustre.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

fashion perspective

Perspective and point of view makes a world of a difference in fashion. Consider these:

-- a sweater hand-knitted by your great Aunt Myrtle may be sold for $5.00, while a sweater hand-knitted by the masters at Gucci may be sold for $5,000.

-- a dress made in China may be sold for $2.00, while a dress made in France may be sold for $2,000.

-- denim splattered with paint from your next door neighbor may be sold for $20, while denim splattered with paint from Andy Warhol may be sold for $500.

In fashion, every detail matters. Hand-knitted. Textiles from far off lands. Overdyed fabrics. unique aging and treatments. Visible darting. Just as the details in construction add a touch of luxe, accessories can rev up any look. The perfect shoes or belt. A scarf or hat. A broach or hair clip. Cuff links or a bracelet.

When you make something your own, when you create a look that is comfortable and enticing, your fashion perspective can open doors and start conversations without ease and comfort.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

fall/winter essentials for men

(in no particular order)

-- boots (vintage cowboy boots, motorcycle boots, racing boots, fashion boots)

-- puffer jackets, vests (especially Moncler's iconic version)

-- luxe sweaters (special emphasis on the neckline - v-neck, shawl collar)

-- scarves

-- unexpected pop of colour (especially red, acid yellow, electric blue, fuscia)

-- distressed/destroyed denim

-- designer tennis shoes (Prada's red crocodile sneakers might be my favorite)

-- unexpected luxury (like chocolate brown lambskin gloves lined with bright orange cashmere, or sheerling lined boots, or fur trimmed sweatjackets)

-- the perfect smile/teeth (no one produces better results than the Smile Stylists - Drs. Jason and Colleen Olitsky in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Merry Christmas, Neiman Marcus

I think I might, just maybe, sort of, ok definitely be obsessed with the 2008 Neiman Marcus Christmas book. This is the ultimate wish list for everyone, whether naughty or nice. Brendan Hoffman, President of Neiman Marucs Direct, has outdone himself. And not just because a portion of the proceeds benefits research for the most common child brain tumor.

Let's start with how classic and amazing the tweed jacket and skirt from Armani Collezioni are on page four. Imagine the pleasant intimidation you would evoke wearing this in to a power meeting of brilliant minds. Incredible.

And the Yves St Laurent Arabesque dress on page seven? I hear stylist Rachel Zoe saying "I die. I die" as she drools over this masterpiece. Pure silk, made in France, ivory and black. All the ingredients you'd expect from Christian Dior's apprentice.

For a little va-va-voom, try the Marchesa Couture Mink Cuff minidress on page eleven. Some clothes say nothing at all. This dress introduces you as a fashion forward, uncompromising, beautiful power.

Page fourteen's wine coloured Jimmy Choo snake skin bag is absolutely beautiful. I'm not so sure if I like the crystal mesh bag also featured with it. But I love the snakeskin. Exotic without being egotistical.

Page sixteen and seventeen almost make me stop breathing. Prada and McQueen. The Nero black shade, the animal textured pattern, the oversize zip ... there's definitely something Prada going on here. The "Raso Animalier" padded jacket and mini skirt, to be specific. Continental couture that is perfect for excursions international or domestic. Those collar and placket ruffles on Alexander's black denim frock jacket fishtail right on down the back, too. His white high-collar shirt is a stretchy poplin, with elongated cuffs to match. The black georgette leggings have some stretch for a flattering fit, with black sequins for some dazzle. The jacket and shirt are cotton and Lycra®; the leggings are silk and Lycra®. Everything is crafted in Italy.

I usually love fur coats, but there's something a bit off about Burberry's Prussian blue rabbit fur coat on page eighteen. I wonder what Christopher Bailey was thinking...or not thinking. I don't know if it's the colour...or the fit...or the entire thing. Not a fan. But Gucci's giant pave diamond ring on page nineteen makes up for Christopher's lack of excitement. And the natural rough diamonds on page twenty...I think I'm in love.

You get the point. I'm only on page twenty and there are countless pieces of fashion marvel that have not only captured my mind and attention, but my breath as well. Be sure to check out the "wow" gifts, like the $110,000 motorcycle, a Dallas Cowboys football fan's dream package for only $500,000, a record collection for a quarter of a million dollars, historical jewelery, a transformable structure/art, lifesize personal replicas made entirely from LEGO blocks, and much, much more.

It's nice to dream. It's nice to see such beauty. This isn't just fashion. It's a wearable art and investment. Neiman Marcus makes Christmas merry and bright. Bravo, amici! E Buon Natale!

Monday, October 27, 2008

High Tech Fashion

I love fashion. I love technology. So you can imagine my excitement and intrigue when I first saw (and of course had to immediately purchase) the October 2008 edition of Esquire Magazine.

Esquire used a technology called electronic ink or e-ink, which features flashing, alternating words and pictures on the front of the magazine cover. This technological triumph is completely mesmerizing. It says "The 21st century begins now. *three hours later on the west coast."

Inside the magazine are several great articles, including a spread about the 75 most influential people of the 21st century. I've included today an entry from their list - a power player I don't know much about, but already respect very highly.

Rory Stewart.

Diplomat, author, adventurer, charitable-foundation director, temporary governor of an Iraqi Provence, walking enthusiast, 35. Afghanistan, Great Britain.

Last summer in Kabul, I visited Rory Stewart at the abandoned 19th century British Embassy he renovated and now occupies for his start-up, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation. Slight-framed and slung back in a chair in the compound's courtyard, he was anything but relaxed. While sipping Afghan green tea, he arbitrated (in multiple tongues) petty feuds among staff members who come from diverse tribes, gave an interview to a British newspaper, charmed a baroness into donating thousands of dollars, and negotiated a meeting with Hamid Karzai. He may be the man to fix Afghanistan. Stewart, not Karzai.

What Stewart lacks in Churchill's girth he makes up for in intellect and grit. At 35, he has tutored princes William and Harry, graduated from Oxford, served in the British Army and Foreign Service (in Indonesia), walked 6,000 miles across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal (about which he wrong The Places in Between), governed a Provence of Iraq (after which he published The Princes of the Marshes), and launched Turquoise Mountain, a community-action group that single-handedly restored artisan culture in a rundown Kabul neighborhood - for which he also sponsors public services like trash collection. Churchill fought imperial Britain's wars. Stewart is Britain's emerging conscience of the 21st century's main security problem: the postwar. The West has laser-guided weapons but few people who know Central Asia from painful wandering and hand-shaking, not from satellite images. Kipling said that the hand of friendship averts the whip of calamity. America talks of transformational diplomacy, putting officers on the ground in far-flung places; Stewart has long known diplomacy of the deed is the only kind that matters.

- Parag Khanna

How could you not want to meet this Rory Stewart? The logical side of me wonders just how exactly someone would go about walking 6,000 miles, let along across hostile, unknown territory. I wonder if this is the next level of adventure-travel we'll see offered by my favorites at Abercrombie & Kent!

Regardless, I love the October Esquire magazine, and hope you can find one still available in your local bookseller. For more information on how the cover was created, click here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Too much of a good thing... not a good thing. I was in line this morning to get some breakfast to go, and the woman in front of me seriously smelled like she just went to Sephora and sprayed every fragrance she saw all over her body. Seriously, the odor was so pungent that my eyes were watering. If you closed your eyes, you would never have known you were in a small shop with freshly baked bagels, doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, and freshly brewed coffee. Normally, you notice these smells outside the shop!

If you use fragranced shampoos, conditioners, deodorant or antiperspirant, body washes, exfoliants, and skincare, be mindful of the fragrance combinations you may be creating.

So the next time you go to spray a bit of your favorite fragrance, remember - less is more. If you can smell yourself, you've got too much. And when in doubt, limit to 1-2 sprays per application.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

H&M Magazine

I must admit, sometimes when I find something I love, I secretly wish other people wouldn't find out about it, as to not spoil the goodness. For example, if everyone knew about my favorite restaurant in Florence, it would take forever to get a table whenever I visit. Or if people knew all of my tricks to get better service at boutiques, it wouldn't be special service anymore.

But one secret I want to share with everyone is the H&M e-magazine. Fashion forward. Full of designs and trends that are both affordable and attainable. Celebrity style (and sometimes gossip!). Well-thought articles on pop culture, fashion, style, and trends. Everything we love.

I've talked a lot recently about famous designers and fashion houses pairing with unlikely stores and brands. I'm so excited to say there is yet another designer/store jumping on this trend - and it's H&M and Comme des Garçons! Below you'll find a clip from the official press release.

It’s a thrilling coup for H&M. Debuting at H&M’s new Tokyo store on November 8th, then entering approximately 200 stores worldwide on November 13th will be a collection designed for H&M by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. One of the most significant figures in modern fashion, Kawakubo has created a full men’s and women’s collection for H&M, complete with accessories and a unisex fragrance. The pieces all have the uncompromising Comme des Garçons spirit, yet will all be available at H&M’s brilliantly accessible prices.

“I thought it would be an exciting event to work with H&M in order to sell Comme des Garçons clothes in places where they have never been sold and to appeal to people who may not yet understand Comme des Garçons. Marrying the commercial expertise of H&M with Comme des Garçons creation was a fascinating challenge", says Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons.

“This collection really reflects Kawakubo’s creative spirit and integrity. It is complete with the designer’s trademark, independent style and clever cuts - elaborate tailoring, shirts, knits and a series of playful jersey pieces in dramatic black and midnight blue with accents of white and
rose”, says H&M’s Creative Advisor Margareta van den Bosch.

Now if only H&M would incorporate online shopping to their site, or at least open a store in every city with 1,000,000+ people. (If there's not an H&M where you live, you can always browse the website and read the magazine, and use it for inspiration and replicate the looks at stores you do have!).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

political fashions

I love fashion. And I love politics. Just as fashion and music go together, fashion and politics also go hand-in-hand. We've never seen so much attention on appearances and trends in this upcoming US Presidential election. NBC's Today Show anchor Hoda Kotb pondered live on the air "I wonder what Michelle Obama does to get her hair that soft and free flowing!". Internet and television media dissected Cindy McCain's "debut" ensemble and even speculated the price of each individual item. And the maker of Gov. Palin's frameless glasses has seen record sales.

Senator Obama's camp has created a campaign called "Runway to Change" and features several items designed by some of the industry's best - Vera Wang, Tory Burch, Tracy Reese, Pharrell Williams, Zac Posen, Narcisco Rodriguez, Nanette Lapore, Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg, Proenza Schouler, Isaac Mizrahi, and others. With $60 t-shirts and $80 tote bags, Senator Obama has obviously inspired some of the best designers and asked for their support in fundraising and spreading his message.

I hope it's not just a trend for Americans, especially young Americans, to be so interested in politics. With so many "famous" people voicing their opinions and trying to sway others' votes, I hope everyone can see past the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood and celebrities and truly vote on their own accord. Don't get me wrong, I really do love Diane von Furstenberg's work, but I don't exactly think she is the moral compass of my political ideals.

Designing dresses? Yes. Influencing the US Presidential Election? God I hope not.

Remember, taking an active role in democracy is always in style. Using your voice to shed light on important issues is always en vogue. Casting your ballot for the next leader of this republic is full of glamour. After all, we are the people.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Carmen Marc Valvo

Some pictures are worth a thousand words. I think Carmen Marc Valvo's latest chiffon dress needs much more than only one thousand. Raspberry. Strapless sweetheart neckline. Ruched crisscross detail on bodice. Pleaded skirt. Ruffled hem. Pure silk. Dry clean only. $1,150.

Monday, October 20, 2008


It's finally the time of year when cranberries are in season. I love cranberries. The taste. The look. The fragrance. I love the cranberry caipirinha at Circa in Washington DC. I love the new Infiniti FX50 crossover SUV in Cranberry with tan leather interior. I love the Cranberry fragrance at The Body Shop.

Cranberry is a perfect color for everyone this fall and winter season. It looks great with light grays, black, navy, winter whites, and khaki. I have a cranberry merino turtleneck that I absolutely am in love with. Paired under a khaki suit, it makes an incredibly strong statement of class and refinement, mixed with holiday cheer.

All the big designers are making handbags and shoes, among other accessories, in cranberry this season. It's the perfect pop of color for any occasion.

Cranberry - it's more than a garnish to turkey!

In celebration of cranberry, I've included a special recipe. Enjoy!


10 fresh cranberries, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 lime wedges
1/3 to a 1/2 a cup cachaça

Fill a rocks glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, using a wooden spoon, muddle the cranberries with the sugar, water and 1 of the lime wedges. Add the cachaça and a handful of ice and shake well. Strain into the glass, garnish with the remaining lime wedge and serve.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Responsible is fashionable

Part of being fashionable is being responsible. And green is the color of responsibility! I'm not saying we need to go out and hug trees or stop wearing deodorant! But if you can buy environmentally friendly foods, products, and clothing - do it!

One of my favorite eco-conscious companies is called Method. You can buy this range at retailers across the globe, but in America I always buy my Method at Target - one of my favorite stores on earth!

Method makes an entire range of cleaning products for your house - from dishwasher tablets, to antimicrobial wipes, to granite polish - if you can clean it, Method makes it! But they don't just make any household cleaner! Their approach to the formulation of products is from a perspective that's fundamentally different than the standard in the cleaning product industry. The rigor of this approach means that for each of the ingredients used can be completely certain of their human and environmental health effects, and that no product will get approved unless it meets Method's incredibly high standard for effectiveness.

Method's products are highly effective, while having a minimal impact on the environment. Plus, they have wonder fragrances (or a completely fragrance free collection as well!) and come in the most ergonomic packages!

I've talked about many other eco-friendly fashion firms - like Branch Home , Arbor Sports, and Inhabitat. Cadillac is evening making a hybrid gas-electric powered Escallade!

Think green. It saves the environment. And we all know how much every economy could use a little more green!

Friday, October 17, 2008

altered-ego fashions

I love making something my own. Whether it's a new trend, or something that has become vintage after years of love and use, there's just something special about clothes you love to wear season after season, year after year. Like my first cashmere sweater (that still fits, thank you very much!). Or my Dad's old helicopter squadron tshirts from the 70s and early 80s.

Don't get me wrong - I love great vintage stores. Almost as much as Rachel Zoe. But there's something more rewarding to having items aged on your own. It's the way your favorite pair of jeans fits. Or your favorite shoes. It just wouldn't be the same if someone else was wearing them.

I also love altering things to make them more unique. To update your denim, a few common household tools and some bleach can turn your drab jeans to fab. Rub wire brushes over the front and back of the garment to soften the texture and "open up" the fabric. You can also lightly use an electric sander to distress random portions of the fabric as well. I've even draped the denim over the edge of a cinder block, and then used the electric sander along the folded edges to create a "whiskered" effect. Spraying bleach or paints on the denim can also alter the look in a fashionable way.

And you don't have to stop at just denim. Splattering paint or bleach on khakis and other pants is an easy way for a fun update. Cutting or burning edges and hems adds an instant edge.

On another note, my loves at Diesel have extended their world from just clothing, accessories, and fragrance, and have paired up with the iconic Fiat Motor Company and created the Diesel 500. As if I needed another reason to relocate permanently to Europe?!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now is the time to shop!

If you're lucky enough to have some liquid income or have some extra money saved, now more than ever is a wonderful time to shop! Retailers are already advertising and promoting the upcoming Christmas season, and it's not even Halloween yet. Companies world wide are scaling back employees and other expenses, and are doing everything they can to entice sales - which means lower prices, more items on clearance, and more benefits for the customer! There was a tshirt at Abercrombie that I wanted. Less than two weeks after it debuted on the sales floor, the shirt was discounted nearly 40%. Higher end department stores are extending sales periods, offering free shipping, and even free gifts with purchase.

On another note, J. Crew has debuted a "tailored fit" dress shirt that is absolutely wonderful. The fit, the construction, and design elements are worth far more than the $75 pricetag. Crisp and classic in the 100s two-ply cotton. Tailored fit—a slimmer, more tailored cut with a made-to-measure feel. Point collar with stays. Standard placket. Chest pocket. Back yoke with two pleats. Finished with bespoke-inspired signature details. Shirttail hem. And machine washable!
I definitely recommend this shirt for the office, for dinner, and for the evening! It's slimmer fit and more luxurious elements can be a great alternative to having shirts customized or tailored - a wonderful way to look great without spending a small fortune.

The more you shop, the more money you inject into the economy, the quicker we see economic stability. Like we should need a reason to shop in the first place?!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Historical Fashion?

I love how, over time, fashion is an excellent indicator of what the times were like? During World Wars, clothing was very simple, taking minimism to a whole new level thanks to strict rationing of fabric and other sewing notions. And on 12 February 1947, Christian Dior created a new look that took excess to a new level, with layers and layers of pleated fabric, long skirts, and luxurious, exotic leathers - a signal that the world was no longer forced into limits of material goods.

Even today, we see the same trends. It's no secret that the United States is in the midst of military conflict throughout the middle east, and I'm sure things in Africa and Asian regions aren't exactly stable either. In 2006, John Galliano Rebelle Bag for Dior showed this military conflict again. The bag had military style grommets, ammunition cartridge type pockets, and came in colours reminiscent of camouflage - greens, grays, browns, and blacks.

This same militaristic feel has transcended all retail tiers, including Military style hats and jackets at H&M, Ruehl, The Gap, and J. Crew. War is never in style, but supporting our troops is in fashion.

Now that our world is focusing on the economic troubles, I wonder how fashion reflect this. Will being naked be en vogue? It's definitely cheaper than buying (or even caring for!) new clothes!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Attention all passengers in the terminal!

I'm always mesmerized by what people wear in airports. Some people try  too hard to have the "it" look that they simply look ridiculous. Like the young black
woman who just walked by wearing medium washed denim jeans with a matching denim jacket and a hot pink Juicy Couture shirt.
All wrong.

There are several people in my terminal who are also wearing clothes
that are incredibly too tight. I'm not hinting that everyone should
dress up for flight or even incorporate formalwear into their travel
cases. What I am saying, however, is that you can travel in comfort
without sacrificing style and class.

Take for instance the middle aged white woman next to me. She's
wearing wide legged black wool trousers, a casual white polo style
shirt, with a black sweater artfully draped over her shoulders. Simple
diamond studs in each ear, a beautiful David Yurman bracelet and
matching ring, with an incredibly big diamond wedding ring. Her shoes
are black and khaki quilted Chanel ballerina flats. Casual,
comfortable, classy. Ages ready for business or pleasure where ever
she goes. And she's winning me over even more with her giant
Longchamp tote bag. I don't know who she is, but she is totally going

I'm always a fan of breaking "traditional fashion rules" - like
wearing white after Labor Day for example. But it still needs to be
done well. The tragic Asian woman with her too tight, too long, and
too wrinkled white cotton skirt with her ill fitting blouse really
should rethink her fashion making decisions.

I also like to mix and match patterns. Maybe a vertical stripe dress
shirt with a diagonal repp stripe tie. But not a vertical stripe shirt
with a diagonal stripe tie and a polka dot sweater vest. I kid you
not. This shit is reality for some people, nightmares for the rest of

There's the new mother with her light blue and white stripe degrade
skirt and complimentary blue knit top that looks absolutely amazing
and ready for any travel delays she may face. And her stacked kitten
heels with peep toe show that just because she gas a baby strapped to
her body doesn't mean her fashion fundamentals should be compromised.

Neck pillows are out. Especially the inflatable kind. It looks like a toilet
seat is stuck on your neck.

Zone One is now boarding. It's time to join by cocktail party in the sky.

Enjoy your day!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bloomingdales is Blossoming

It's not often that there is one particular department store that I get really excited about. Target. Henri Bendel. Selfridges. Fred Segal. But I must admit, I'm loving Bloomingdale's right now. Maybe it's the fact that their selections are improving drastically, like my favorites - Diesel, Theory, Ted Baker, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani Jeans, Hugo Boss, Burberry...on and on. Maybe it's because they carry Bliss products. But I know for sure, they're impact and support for Breast Cancer Awareness month is incredibly pleasing. I just bought their giant pink golf umbrella.

I always associate the color pink with excitement, new beginnings, hope, and good fortune. These adjectives expertly describe how I feel towards finding a cure for cancer. And when it's raining, people usually are in need of a little reminder of these great qualities. So now this umbrella won't just contribute monetarily to finding a cure for cancer, but I also think it will cure people's boring raining days.

Let Bloomingdale's know that we appreciate their efforts for finding a cure by visiting their stores. If you can, give them your business. After all, promoting cancer awareness and finding a cure for this terrible disease is everyone's business.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

a personal card

First, you must watch this clip -

And in the Ocean's 11 movie series, Danny Ocean has a personal business card, with only his name embossed on the front. Back in the day before everyone and their baby's cousin had mobilephones, iPhones, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, people would leave a "calling card" - simple, elegant cards with their name and phone number on it. It was away to keep in touch. To announce your arrival (or departure) and that you may again pay a visit and grace them with your presence.

As the economy is less than stellar, and the security of each and every job is suddenly in question, I move that we all bring back these so called "calling cards". Elegant, simple stationary of extremely high quality material and craftsmanship, announcing your name and numerical communication code.

After all, it's never really about the position you fill, but your ability to network, complete a task, and contribute to the next better goal. The relationships you build, and more importantly, the relationships you keep, are more valuable than any project completed or employee of the month plaque you may receive. Traditional business cards marry your existence to a particular company or position; personal calling cards are identified solely by you. Your impact upon someone, the relationship and image you create, will last forever. So ditch the preconceived notions that your company or position may bring. Step up to the plate of life. Stand out from the crowd. Be your own image. Be your calling card. Because when you take the leap to really live life and quite your mundane job, you'll be so thrilled to continue to foster the relationships you established on your own accord.

You'll need a case to keep these personal calling cards secure. I love a discrete, small leather case, like those found at Hermes and Gucci. Just as you're selective with your fashion choices, you should also be selective in whom you present your personal calling card. Don't just give them to anyone. Offer the card to new business professionals with whom you call friend, or may see yourself learning from, gaining insight or experience, or getting or giving assistance in the future. After all, "networking" is one letter different than "not working"...and the opportunity to not work is always in style.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

tip du jour

Just because something is on sale or a good price does NOT mean you have to buy it. Sometimes, less really is more. There's nothing worse than a crowded closet. It is a good idea, however, to upgrade your choices. When your budget allows, shop for nicer selections of what you already have. Then pass along the favor by donating your "older" items to worthy causes (shelters, organizations, or friends-who-are-fashion-victims are always good options).