Tuesday, November 25, 2008

...from the Wall Street Journal.

Target’s New Cheap-Chic Line Kicks Off With Alexander McQueen

Target is planning to announce Wednesday that Alexander McQueen, the British enfant terrible of fashion, will design a collection of apparel for the mass-market retailer under a new program called “Designer Collaborations” in which it will partner with well-known designers to create limited-edition lines of clothing.

Mr. McQueen, who is known for edgy antics like sending robots out on the runway to spraypaint models’ white dresses, will design the first collection, which will be sold on Target.com and the retailer’s stores from March 1 through April 11.

The line, named McQ Alexander McQueen for Target, will be inspired by British rock band The Duke Spirit and will be priced within the retailer’s cheap-chic price range. (Designer Jonathan Saunder’s current pieces for Target include skirts for $18.89 and dresses for $27.99, for example.) The retailer notes that the new program differs from its GO International lines in which emerging designers like Proenza Schouler and Luella Bartley have created limited-edition lines for Target.

Target has had success with such partnerships so far — its Anya Hindmarch line of handbags sold out minutes after it started selling online in early October. The retailer says it will announce future collaborations with established designers for the new program throughout next year.

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Monday, November 24, 2008

ten great treats for the ladies in your life

Plain and simple. Ten terrific treats for the lovely ladies in your life. In no particular order.

1. Kenneth Jay Lane cocktail ring. 22-karat electroplated gunmetal with Swarovski® crystal insets. Faux amethyst center stone. Made in the USA. $165. Neiman Marcus.

2. "Lady D" by Dior. Black patent. The most classic, fashion forward, and timeless bag - all at the same time. This handbag was originally made at the request of Madam Chirac for Princess Diana as a symbol of France. It's canage pattern is a Louis XIV pattern, and was the same pattern featured on the golden chairs inside the original House of Dior (located at 30, Avenue Montaigne in Paris). Fit for even the woman-on-the-go, the bag has tiny silver "feet" on the bottom that prohibit the bag from resting on the ground. Stunningly beautiful. About $1,800.

3. Henri Bendel luxe candles. $45. The ultimate ambiance. The ultimate accessory.

4. Lacquered crackle jacket. This stunning jacket takes our breath away. A wearable piece of art (dare we say) in coated wool tweed from one of the world's finest mill's that specializes in the most avante-garde prints. We're smitten. Classic fit. No collar. Straight. Long sleeves. On-seam pockets. Double breasted with patent-leather buttons. Fully lined. Hits at hip. Part of the J.Crew Collection. Import. Dry clean. Catalog/jcrew.com only. $550.

5. Norman Love chocolates. This is the man who invented Godiva Chocolatier's luxe "G" collection. Enough said.

6. Marvis toothpaste. The acquamint is delicious. And makes your teeth sparkle like diamonds. $10.

7. Speaking of diamonds. They really are a girl's best friend. And when dealing with diamonds, the only mistake you can make is going too small is size. Remember - colour, cut, clarity, and carats. And if she's extra special, Cartier.

8. Blood Orange + White Pepper body wash from Bliss. The entire range is absolutely fabulous. But especially the body wash. $24.

9. Flowers. Flowers aren't a traditional holiday gift. So be unconventional and send them at random times. Just because. If you need help picking a florist, let me know.

10. Italian homegoods, accessories, and art are always in style. The best collection outside of Italia is Villa Fiorenza in Winter Park, Florida. Ask for Lael. And tell her Joseph sent you. She'll take care of you. I love the Francesca di Stefano artwork. And the l'Object picture frames. And the handmade ornaments. The list goes on and on and on. I love this store. It's romance. With the villa, you don't just give a gift. You give a memory.

bringing the outside in

I love beautiful things. When you upgrade your choices, especially with presentation, everything is better. Imagine the difference in drinking a fantastic Italian prosecco from a disposable plastic cup, or a hand blown glass. Eating your favorite takeaway meal on fine dinnerware won't change the taste of the "food", but it definitely will enhance the experience.

And such, I love beautiful tablescapes. My favorite touches are "au naturale". Incorporating fresh elements, like fruits, nuts, flowers, plants, and even tree limbs or wood instantly add pizazz and panache to any surface.

For the holiday season, take inspiration from fruits of the moment. Fill a vase partially with fresh cranberries. Add a small bouquet of flowers. Fill the remainder of the vase with more cranberries (about the same height as you would normally fill the vase with water).

For larger vases and arrangements, you can substitute the fresh cranberries for whole vibrant oranges, beautiful royal pears, or bright green apples. Fill the container part way with the fruit, arrange small branches, dried grasses, or large stalks of flowers in the center of the container, and fill the remaining space with more fruit. You can also create a different look with nuts as well.

Bring the outdoors in. Scattering slices of wood, small branches, or bushels of holly and other ornamental shrubbery can create incredibly warm, intimate settings. I've included a few pictures from a beautiful tablescape at West Elm for your viewing pleasure.

Remember, the more creative, the better! Happy decorating!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Gucci Tattoo?

Every holiday season since 2005, Gucci's Creative Director Frida Giannini has created an accessory range in to benefit UNICEF. This year, Gucci is raising the bar. The white Tattoo Heart Collection features accessories, small leather goods, shoes, handbags, and totebags. 25% of all sales from the collection benefit orphans and children affected by HIV/aids in Africa. The collection is available at Gucci stores in over 20 countries from 19 November - 31 January.

And you know how much singer Rhianna, so when I found out she was an integral part of the advertising campaign, I had to find out more. Watch Frida Giannini explain in her own words the importance of this collection, and see what Rhianna has to say about it as well.

Make a permanent mark. Support UNICEF. The fashionable way.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

sample sale to the nth degree

So I've spent a few days in Los Angeles. I think that town should be renamed "Los An-jealous". I have no problem admitting that I'm slightly vain. I always joke that I'm not "judgemental", but simply "observant". In Southern California, image is everything. The food you eat isn't just to sustain you, but tells about the choices you make. The clothes you wear don't just cover your body, they declare your style and attention to detail. The places you go aren't merely spaces on a map, but highlight the lifestyle you associate with.

Focusing on image isn't always a bad thing. It helps you keep your "A game" at all times. And so, designers are always on their "A game" in the City of Angels. I went to a sample sale with a friend in the Cooper Building in the heart of the fashion district. I must say, it was absolute madness. Racks and racks and racks of Ella Moss, Splendid, and Splendid Mills were packed into the 8th floor open space warehouse. And there must have been at least 1,000 crazy ladies looking for a uniquely styled garment at a bargain price in just a few hours.

For those who have never been to a sample sale, most often you're not allowed to try clothes on. Prices depend on the type of garment. For example, tops would be one set price, sweaters and jackets another price, pants and shorts another price, and accessories and miscellaneous another. But at check out, you can always "convince" the cashier that an item may fit into a less expensive category.
While Alana and I were scouring the racks for cute, one-of-a-kind treasures, we definitely made the same comment at the same time. "I swear all of these people have their arms full of the ugliest things!" Right after I said this, a random woman looked up and started laughing. It's so true. Just because something is on sale does NOT mean you are obligated to buy it.

One crazy young woman had her arms FULL of clothes. So much so that she had all of her potential treasures strewn out on the floor, so she could separate what she really wanted to take home with her. Apparently she didn't notice all of the giant signs absolutely forbidding the trying on of garments, because she tried on a few items. Needless to say, the staff was NOT pleased, and promptly let her know of the violation.

After nearly an hour of waiting in line, we purchased our items and went on our merry way.

Fashion is alive. Fashion is intense. And fashion is always a good time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The guy at Marc Jacobs...

...said it best today. "Everyone in Los Angeles is just another fashion victim." Beautifully said.

Next week you'll have the pleasure of reading about my whirlwind excursions to the City of Angels - I'll be writing about the most chaotic and visually overwhelming sample sale I've ever been to, and other adventures.

Until then, stay full of Glamour, dress in Style, and be en Vogue.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

wedding wisdom

I've known my friend Justin literally for all of my life - we were born about 3 months apart. In honor of his recent marriage to his lovely bride Christienne, I dedicate this posting to them.

When you receive an invitation, take special notice. Is there a dress code suggested? To whom was the invitation addressed? If there is no dress code, such as "black tie", always opt for classic formal wear. For men, a well tailored suit, beautiful shirt, and tie will always be in style. Don't hesitate to wear colour, too. I usually take a hint from the colours of the invitation - they'll often coordinate with the theme of the event. For women, if the wedding is before evening (meaning before 5 PM), a knee length dress and cardigan or jacket paired with heels in a fun colour will never lead you astray. If the wedding is an evening affair, opt for something either more formal or more daring. Regardless, no one but the bride wears white.

Your invitation sets the guidelines for who may accompany you. "Mr. Joseph and Guest" would allow me to invite a lovely lady. It would not be in good taste for me to invite a lovely lady, my parents, my brother, my brother's fiance, and a friend who sort of knows the groom.

If, by some infrequent event, you bring additional guests than otherwise notated on the invitation, each additional guest is obligated to bring a gift for the lovely couple. And nothing cheap either. Weddings are expensive. You don't attend weddings for the free food. Or the free drinks. You go to celebrate the couple's union and be a witness to their lifelong bonds. So don't be a pig and scarf down plates full of food, or be that guy at the bar who gets wasted and ends up dancing and dry-humping the groom's mother.

And with that, I'll close with a toast to Justin and Christienne. May all that you wish for, be the least that you get.

Monday, November 10, 2008

holiday offerings on the cheap

Throughout the next several weeks leading up to Christmas, I'll be highlighting several gift suggestions for everyone on your list. Should you have questions or additional suggestions, don't hesitate to reach out to me!

(In no particular order of excitement or price)

-- Bang & Olufsen A8 headphones. $159.95. The most comfortable, best sounding, travel friendly headphones. The first time I used these headphones, I don't know if I was more impressed with the sound quality, or the fact that more people kept commenting on how cool they looked!

-- Marvis Aquamint toothpaste. $10. Retro packaging. Delicious taste. Good for your teeth.

-- iTunes gift cards. It's safe to assume by now everyone has some sort of portable digital music player. And we all know that fashion rocks.

-- Gucci necklace with bamboo cross pendant. $290. I've seen this for several years, and always admired it's classic, simply beauty and elegant styling. Not too small, not too big. Italian made of sterling silver.

-- Prada's crocodile embossed leather card case. $150. Classic black. ...because real crocodile is very expensive. A good alternative for the fashion-forward man in your life. And if you don't have a fashion-forward man in your life, you can always remember me instead.

-- Emporio Armani's square face sport watch, yellow. $345. Stainless steel with black ion plated case. Chronograph movement. Vanilla scented yellow rubber sport strap; soft rubber pushers. Water resistant. Adds the perfect pop of colour to any wardrobe. Round-the-clock fun for all.

-- AUM shopper. $44. The perfect bag to keep in your truck. Great for the grocery store, a trip to Target, or to stash virtually anything when you're on-the-go. Made of reclaimed (recycled) sailcloth from sailboats. Eco friendly, handy, and chic.

-- Preserve Toothbrush. This toothbrush is designed by dentists and engineers. Made from recycled yogurt cups. Unique angle makes for easier cleaning. Available in seven stunning colours. And when you're done, return the toothbrush to the manufacturer to be recycled again. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Don't worry. Very soon I'll include gift suggestions for women. Until then, happy shopping!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jet Set Style

Some of us travel more often than others. Whether car or truck, motorcycle or bicycle, skate board or roller skate, plane or helicopter, boat or hovercraft, train or monorail, you can still look great upon arrival. Here are some quick tips:

-- if traveling by train, plane, or overnight ferry, prepare for cold air conditioning. I take a large scarf that can double as a blanket.

-- pack some essential skin and body care products for freshening up. On a recent trip to Asia, I was so thankful for packing my toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer for face and body, and even deodorant. As you all know, traveling can be tricky when it comes to packing liquids. Whenever I visit department stores or beauty boutiques like Douglas or Sephora, I kindly ask for skin care samples (face wash, moisturizer, exfoliants, lotion, hand creme, in addition to fragrance) - then slip those one-use packets and vials into a small plastic case. You get all the benefits of your normal skin care regime in a travel friendly, mess-free availability. You might even find a new product that you can't live without!

-- on long flights, freshen up your hands. Ask your attendant for the following on-hand items: a lemon or lime wedge, a packet of sugar, and some club soda. Then head to the lav. Dampen your hands with water. Open the sugar packet and dump contents into your cupped hand. Squeeze the citrus on top of the sugar. Rub the sugar and citrus on hands. Focus on tops, bottoms, and cuticles. Rinse when done. Instant hand exfoliation. You'll feel fresh and clean.

-- hydrate - be sure to drink lots of water. if you're having cocktails, alternate between your beverage of choice and water. The recycled air is dry to begin with; while alcohol is quenching, it's not exactly hydrating.

-- before you land, head to the lav. again to brush your teeth, hair, and reapply any makeup or fragrance. No one likes to arrive feeling less-than-clean.
-- always exit the plane wearing giant sunglasses. Jet lag is a bitch, and you want to look your best, not sleep deprived and like you've been inhaling recycled air for the last few hours.

Traveling is always in style. Now you can arrive en vogue!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

fall home accessories

fall essentials for your home(s)

-- Henri Bendel Candles (especially fig)

-- method home cleaning products

-- luxe throws (I have a fantastic silk/alpaca blend from Banana Republic Home that I got several years ago)

-- slippers (I have fantastic foot duvets with goose down and fur lining)

-- incredible bath products (especially Bliss's new Blood Orange and White Pepper)

-- fresh fruit for that special touch to drinks and desserts (cranberries, pomegranates)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

fashion feuds

Sometimes desperation leads to innovation. Tragedy can lead to tremendous success. When Christian Dior died, his young apprentice Yves St. Laurent took the reins of the famous French fashion house. I'm sure die-hard Dior fans weren't thrilled at first with the change in leadership and style, but ultimately, the house prevailed and continued to be successful. Even through the leadership of St. Laurent to Bohan to Ferre, and finally to Galliano, the history and air of elegance remains today.

In 1953, David Crystal, who already owned Izod, bought 50% of Lacoste to bring the range to America. Calling the range "Izod Lacoste", he marketed the companies signature pique polos and prep-wear. In the mid 80s, when the look of the prep was saturating the market, sales were incredibly high. But when the market was too saturated with the signature alligator embroidered polos, sales began to decline. In the mid 90s, the name and company was split - Izod to be a mid market price point, with Lacoste trying to recapture the luxe customer. In 1993, after a few other failed business attempts, Crystal's license ended on Lacoste, and he sold his half of the company back to the original owners (Sporloisirs S.A.), and sold Izod to VanHeusen. Lacoste wasn't available in America for several years, but now is reincorporated into the US Market throughout upscale department stores and freestanding boutiques.

Just like with the great schisms and evolution in fashion, I'm hoping the history and air of elegance of America continue through the future leadership of president-elect Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

retail political action

America has gone Presidential Election crazy. Even retails are capitalizing on the trendiness of being politically in-tune. On a recent trip to Orlando, Florida's Mall at Millenia , I snapped some photographs with my handy dandy iPhone.

Retailers like The Gap and Betsey Johnson used great window displays to remind shoppers to vote. Not just shedding light on the Presidential Election, The Gap encourages awareness for AIDS prevention, alternative energy, the elderly, and recycling. I'm so excited for companies that encourage their shoppers to be responsible and make a difference.

And to really attract customers and entice sales, Kenneth Cole even discounted everything throughout his shops 44%, in honor of the next 44th president. I love the advertisement -"Sale to the Chief"...how crafty!

Even retail giant Bloomingdale's jumped on the political bandwagon and created beautiful displays, centered around voting. I'm thrilled that these retailers are being responsible, not publicly endorsing a particular candidate.

I must say, I'm anxious and nervous for the outcome of this political election. And most of all, I hope that the increased voter awareness, the political buzz, and the excitement of young people towards politics isn't just a trend that will soon fade, but that it's actually lasting.