Sunday, May 31, 2009

Loving. These. Things.

(in no particular order)

-- the 2009 Volvo C30 - great gas mileage, great safety and luxe features, great style. I've yet to drive one, but will soon and definitely report back. regardless, I'm loving it.

-- the face that fictitious character "Bruno" (played by Sasha Barron Cohen) just flew in from the ceiling at MTVs Video Music Awards wearing a jock strap and some Victoria's Secret type angel wings, and landed upside-down with his crotch on rapper Eminem's face, who promptly jumped up with his entourage and definitely was offended. only ironic that the rapper who likes to poke fun at everyone can't seem to take a joke.

-- South African accents.

-- Orlando Bloom at the Burberry Day Party at NYC's New York Palace Hotel, celebrating Christopher Bailey's ab.fab. new collection, the new lighted Burberry sign in the NYC skyline, and all things British:

-- the excitement in giving gifts or sending cards when they're truly unexpected.
-- the Protein Rx kit from Frederic Fekkai.
-- the flavour combination of peanut butter and fresh banana.
-- the Orlando Magic battling the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2009 NBA Championship title.
-- Hallmark's Fresh Ink greeting cards.
-- bracelets for men (of all sorts and styles).
-- bracelets for women (the more, the merrier).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cole Haan sets sail, again!

I must congratulate Cole Haan. Up until about 4 years ago, I thought the brand specialized in shoes for old people with poor style and taste. It's so nice to be proven otherwise. I own a handful of the brand's shoes now - and am very impressed. (again, Megan at the St. John's Town Center, who provides the most amazing customer service and incredible client experience definitely helps the brand's image!).

This week I've been highlighting a myriad of fashions inspired by yachting and sailing. And again, Cole Haan is right on the mark. Don't get me wrong - I think Maison Martin Margiella and a host of other iconic brands make fabulous boat shoes for the fashion savvy, but not everyone can spend US$700+ on a pair of shoes, regardless of their intended purpose. For the money, Cole Haan makes the most incredible boat shoe -called the Air Blake Soft Boat Shoe.

This Air Blake Soft Boat Shoe features Air Blake Style. Milkshake suede. Laced front and sides. White rubber sole with concealed Nike Air technology for ultimate comfort. Made in Italy. US$195,00. Unlike many other boat shoes, this version is stylish, comfortable, and won't scuff your yacht deck, either!

I'm so impressed, I'm including some historical information on Cole Haan.

In 1928, Trafton Cole and Eddie Haan designed the first Cole Haan shoe. It was Chicago, the jazz age. Quality was everything – and style, like the sound, was smooth and sophisticated. Originally, Cole Haan was a men’s footwear label that captured the essence of the 20’s spirit with beautifully designed and well made shoes for the dapper gentleman. Today, Cole Haan brings that heritage to a full line of products including Cole Haan shoes, Cole Haan bags, Cole Haan belts and Cole Haan eyewear.

Each season they introduce an exciting new collection of high-quality men’s and women’s footwear, iconic handbags, men’s and women’s sunglasses and personal leather goods. Cole Haan is inspired by a passion for innovation and beauty, from authentic handcrafting, to the fast-forward excitement of NIKE AIR® Technology. Cole Haan shoes, Cole Haan belts and Cole Haan handbags are crafted using the most luxurious materials available (for the price, of course!), such as rich, hand-burnished calfskin, plush suede, genuine crocodile and American farm-raised alligator. The brand approaches design like sculpture or architecture – from a 360-degree perspective. Its designers think of every angle and give each its own design element. This level of detail sets Cole Haan apart. In addition, because Cole Haan products are hand-crafted, no two pieces are exactly alike. A dynamic luxury brand, Cole Haan defines the ultimate in artisan quality and detail … chic, on-trend fashion … ‘downtown’ style that is unique and eclectic … and beautiful products that people love to own.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

recycled sailboat sail bags

Must. Have. Now. This week I've been incredibly interested in all things sailing and yachting. Well, all things fashionable at least!

Branch Home, an amazing company with recycled and eco-friendly goods, has a fabulous bag. I've mentioned it in several other articles, but it's more than worth mentioning again. For those who don't know me, I love bags. Tote bags. Travel bags. Luggage. Shopping bags. Messenger bags. Grocery bags. Paper bags. Plastic bags. I love bags. I hope you get the point!

Regardless, there's an incredible bag called AUM Tote : Net.

design:Stuart Sproule and Barnaby Killam, 2007

manufacture:Handmade by Red Flag Design in Vancouver, Canada

materials:100% reclaimed sailcloth body, nylon stitching and handle, enameled metal grommets, reinforcements of reclaimed Hypalon. (Hypalon is a rubber material used in the maritime industry, notable for its strength and durability.)

dimensions:19.5" tall x 12.5" wide x 7" deep

about: Breathing new life into old sailboat sails, the all-purpose Alternate Use Material (AUM) Shoulder Tote transforms this distinctive yet durable material into a long-lasting, limited edition bag that retains the marks of its nautical origins.Cut from naturally textured cruising sailcloth that would otherwise be discarded, this tote's rich history is highlighted and reinforced by perfectly simple, handmade details. The sennet-knotted nylon handle is attached securely to the tote by enameled metal grommets and marine-grade rubber, allowing for heavy loads to be carried comfortably and with confidence. Each tote also sports an ample zippered pouch for the secure stowing of modern life's smaller flotsam & jetsam.

The AUM Shoulder Tote is a unique chronicle of voyages past, and a perfect companion for adventures to come.

Each AUM Shoulder Tote is one-of-a-kind, and may not match exactly the one shown. Also, please note that each is made of recycled sailcloth, and as such, may display unique marks characteristic of its former life on the high seas.

product care:Hand wash in cold water with a mild detergent. Do not use bleach. Soak and scrub with a soft brush if necessary. Hang dry.

availability:This item is currently in stock.


To order call: 415-626-1012

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Roberto Cavalli Yacht?

In keeping with my recent "yachting inspired fashion and lifestyle" I knew I would be forgetting one of the biggest fashion yachting icons of all - Italian designer Roberto Cavalli's fabulous floating vessel.

Consider these few statistics:

Length: 133 ft 9 • 40.8 m
Year: 2004
Builder: Baglietto • # 10185 Top speed: 35 knots

Roberto Cavalli yacht parties are legendary. Just look at all of the amazing people, amazing designs, and amazing time from a recent floating affair, complete with one of my favourite designers ever - Renzo Rosso of Diesel - and fabulous duo Victoria and David Beckham!

Monday, May 25, 2009

yachting inspired fashions

No matter where you live, there's probably a rainy season, at least some point of the year. Sometimes it may be cold, wet mixtures of rain, sleet, snow, and ice, or just plain hot summer rains. Regardless of locale, you'll need a good wet weather accessory.

I love the bold, whimsical prints of Marimekko fabrics - especially on their umbrellas. The fun Finnish company is a quick way to brighten some otherwise cloudy, dark days.

As for jackets and coats, there are three pieces for varying weather situations. I love the look of a traditional Macintosh jacket. More than 200 years after Charles Macintosh (without the `K') pioneered the process of creating water-resistant fabrics, J. Crew partnered with the celebrated craftsman to create the Mackintosh Coat for J.Crew. This classic coat is handmade in water-resistant cotton with underarm grommets for added comfort. Exterior slant waist pockets, interior patch pockets. Center back vent. Partially lined. Made in Scotland. Spot clean.

Norwegian great Helly Hansen also makes a packable, incredibly lightweight jacket that is perfect for quick, unexpected rain showers in warm weather. It literally packs into a bag the size of a soda can and usually lives in my attache or travel bag. Also from HH is a great yachting style jacket with a durable hood, neck and wrist closures, and an array of pockets. Very durable, comfortable, and easy to move in.

Marc Jacobs also makes an incredible double breasted patent raincoat in vivid yellow for both men and women. I first saw the men's version at Marc's store in Los Angeles, and just saw the women's version online at Nordstrom.

So the next time you're in inclement weather, you don't have to dress sad and gloomy. Be prepared. Be bright. And be fabulous.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Shirley Robertson, en vogue sailor

I must admit, I had never heard of Shirley Robertson until I watched her this morning on CNN International's MainSail programme. At first I thought she was a regular CNN presenter, but then quickly realized she knew way too much about sailing to be a journalist. After all, how many presenters have you seen at the helm of a ridiculously large sailing yacht?

With the cutest blonde short style haircut with the greatest little bangs, Shirley commanded my attention. I've always been drawn to the fashion inspired by sailing. Maybe it's the crews in impeccable white shorts or white pants, white shirts, and the best yachting jackets ever. Or the confidence sailors exude as they navigate not only their ships spaces, but the seas in which they sail. Or the seemingly permanent perfect tan that sailors consistently keep. Hard work. Team work. Luxe locations. Beautiful boats. Fabulous fashion.

I'm including a short biography of Shirley from her official website, which I highly recommend you visit - check out the amazing photographs and press section.

Shirley Robertson is already one of the greatest female Olympic sailors in history.

Shirley started sailing at the age of 7 in a Mirror Miracle on Loch Ard in the Trossachs in Scotland. By the late 1990s she had won silver medals at the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Europe World Championships. Her excellent form continued into the Millennium Olympic Games in Sydney.

Following her success in 2000, Shirley turned her attentions to a new challenge. In 2001 she switched to the new Yngling class and her team finished 14th at the World Championships. Over the next two years they improved rapidly, finishing third at the 2002 Olympic Test Event and winning the 2003 Pre-Olympic regatta. This new direction was rewarded with Shirley’s historical second Gold Medal at the Athens 2004 Olympics.

In 2005, Shirley took a year off Olympic sailing to focus on big boat sailing, a budding TV career, and as an athlete delegate to the successful London 2012 bid. She returned to the Olympic trail, for Beijing, and the quest for another gold in 2008, with new crew mates, Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor.

However, the team narrowly missed out on gold at the World Championships in Caiscais in July last year. In September 2007 the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) made the difficult decision to select Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson as the British Olympic choice for the Ynging in Beijing.

Shirley was the only female skipper who completed the 5 race series of the iShares Cup 2008 at the helm of the JPMorgan Asset Management Extreme 40. Successfully she won the first event on the circuit in Lugano (Switzerland) and finished in 6th position overall.

Although Shirley was not competing on the water in Beijing, she still had ringside seats to all the action as she took up a new role as a BBC Olympic sailing commentator. Her role with the Olympics continues through her involvement with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) Sport Advisory Group.

In 2009 Shirley was announced as skipper of Team iShares for the 2009 ishares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series.

Shirley continues to present CNN's monthly sailing TV programme "Main Sail".

Friday, May 22, 2009

Business Meets Casual

I'm loving the versatility of traditional business clothing in a more relaxed, casual environment. Lately I've been mixing a lot of my suit jackets with my favourite t-shirts and jeans, or wearing pants reserved typically for more formal occasions, like suit pants, patterned wool pants, and even tuxedo pants, with fun t-shirts and even rugby type tops.

There's something sexual, powerful, and magnetic in the way a woman can easily transition from the power professional to the social magnate with the simplicity of changing from the office blouse to the party top, reapplying a lip gloss, and voila!

So the next time you're out shopping for work, be sure to consider the versatility of the garment. Comfort. Design. Quality. Style. Those qualities should be top-notch. After all, there's a little "Clark Kent transforms into Superman in a phone booth" in all of us when we're properly outfitted from the get go.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

the face behind the dress

I love fashion. Or at least I think that's fairly obvious by now! I love the stories behind the fashion, the drama, and the fantasy. To help give a more in-depth understanding of some of the world's best designers, I present to you: the face behind the dress.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fashion + Uniforms = who are you kidding?

I know that there is a purpose to required uniforms. To ensure safety. To increase brand awareness. But really, I think uniforms are a disservice to the people who wear them.

Think about it. School uniforms are not smart. Some claim that uniforms eliminate competition and distractions from the classroom. But the last time I checked, there is still competition and distractions in jail - and all of those inmates are wearing the EXACT same thing, unlike those students who just HAVE TO HAVE the newest shoes, mobile phone, backpacks, cars, and everything else non-clothing-related. And, when those students graduate and leave their respected institutions, it's not like they'll be entering a world where everyone else is dressed alike.

Some argue that school uniforms save money. But I think it's quite the opposite. Do those students play football in their school uniforms? Do they practice ballet, swim in the pool, row their crew boats, and march with their french horns in a parade, all while wearing their uniforms? Do these students spend their nights and weekends in the same uniforms too? I don't think so.

And uniforms for work? Wow. I can see the value of having your coworkers looking to a particular standard, for easy brand identification. Especially at restaurants, on public transportation, and in factories. These uniforms also serve as protection from the elements and danger.

You can always tell the students and employees who are forced to wear uniforms, especially when they have to wear "non-uniform" clothing. They seem to get stuck in a fashion rut, with some miss-matched, random trend they saw on television or in a magazine a few weeks ago. It's almost like they don't seem comfortable in real clothes. Don't get me wrong - I'm sure there are a few of you out there that this does not apply too. I'm just speaking in generalizations.

And while I'm on the subject of general disclaimers (hahaha), let me say one thing as well. Not all uniforms are terrible. During designer Richard Tyler's fall 2005 fashion show, he included on the runway the new uniforms he masterfully designed for Delta Airlines! "Richard Tyler's extraordinary fashion vision and attention to quality has resulted in a uniform design that complements Delta's product, brand and image transformation strategy," said Paul Matsen, Delta's chief marketing officer. And I must say, the uniforms are amazing. (And just one of the many reasons why I fly Delta!)

Regardless of whether you wear a uniform, one thing is very important. Whatever you wear, wear with confidence. Consider the alternatives: we could all be naked!

Monday, May 18, 2009

flowers, ruffles, and shades

Sometimes I feel like I'm always surrounded by fashion. Don't get me wrong - I love it this way, and wouldn't choose any other. Whether shopping online, browsing in stores, flipping through magazines and fashion books, staring mindlessly into the television, or chatting with friends and industry leaders, there isn't a day that passes without some portion devoted to fashion. Sometimes intentionally; other times naturally.

When you live fashion, you get the privelage of learning what you truly like. Certain design details and aesthetics become more appealing than others. For example, from women's wear, I love the intricate detail John Galliano weaves into each of his designs - from the Luneville Stitch (an exquisite type of embroidery that began in the city of Luneville, France in 1837 that results in an exact mirror of the image on both the outside and the inside of the garment, rather than only one sided), to the seemingly unending rows of tiny buttons on a blouse or dress.

I love the precisement Valentino used when placing decorative elements like bows or ribbons on his fabulous design.

And the innovation and fantasy Nicholas Gesquière has brought to Balenciaga since 1997. His youth is evident throughout the collections, yet he still pays tribute to the mastery of Cristóbal Balenciaga (and his subsequent proteges and designers - Oscar De La Renta, Andre Courreges, Emanuel Ungaro, and Hubert de Givenchy). I loved when he painted beautiful floral designs on the fabric of some of his favourite dresses a few years back.

For both men and women, I love when designers take time to incorporate useful (and in my opinion very beautiful) visible darting. Darting is the process of gathering and bringing in fabric for a more tailored appeal. My favourite dress shirts from Dior Homme and Ted Baker all have small darts near the back of the shoulder area.

Right now, I'm loving ruffles. Ruffle trimmed dresses, skirts, blouses, and bags. I love them. It's a sweet, elegant way to feminize any piece.

One of my favourite year round accessories is sunglasses. I love seeing what designers are doing to the catagory - updating classic shapes, reinterpreting vintage designs with a twist, and dreaming up new versions all together. Crazy colours. Sexy shapes. I love them.

Below you'll find a series of photographs of sunglasses. Some people are famous. Others should only be famous. After all, when you wear sugnlasses, you instantly up your style quotient and amplify your attitude.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

what is proper "resort" attire?

The following is an actual text message conversation I had this afternoon with one of my dear friends and fabulous fashion clients.

her - "Dear Style Guru . . . I have a reception to go to next week. Dress is Resort Attire. What would that mean exactly? Yours truly . . . Unprepared.

me - hahahaha! Resort attire is like business casual with a twist. It's a little more fun, and a little more flirt. Like a pretty Lilly Pulitzer dress with a St. Johns knit cardigan jacket. Or a vibrant Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress with great shoes. But you don't have to look like a crayon box blew up either. A classic black dress with fabulous heels and big jewels is still resort, just as the perfect white linen pants, white blouse, and amazing accessories. What time is the reception? And where is it?

her - It's 6-8 PM and is being held at a home on (a prestigious) boulevard. Help me! You're my only hope!

me - I'd go with a vibrant colour - like aqua or corral. Or even all white. With tons of Yurman. (you see, I know she loves David Yurman - and has PLENTY to go around!). Even a floral or geometrical print skirt with a fabulous blouse is perfect for the occasion. Fashionable, fun, and not fussy.

her - Ok, we may need to meet in person next week. And what about (her husband)?

me - Khaki and Navy pants, a dress shirt. No tie. Jacket optional. He can play "resort attire" up. I always wear a small, fun, silk scarf instead of a tie with the collar and cuffs more relaxed whenever an invitation denotes "resort wear". Just remember, it's not business casual. And it's not tacky Hawaiian shirts and leis either. And I gurantee people will be in both. But you and your husband will be absolutely fabulous.

so my friends, remember these simple points when an invitation denotes "resort attire".

-- resort does NOT mean business casual or tacky Hawaiian wear.

-- think vibrant colours for the season. right now I'm loving aqua, bright yellows, and corral.

-- feel free to incorporate patterns or prints. just don't go overboard. pair a printed skirt with a solid jacket or blouse.

-- besides yourself, the only other person your attire must please is the hostess. After all, she's the one who picked the theme in the first place. And you don't want to draw attention for the wrong reasons (like wearing some tacky costume of a dress).

-- have fun. the best accessory a "resort attire" can include is a "resort attitude"...when you're on holiday, you're relaxed, feeling good, and loving life. So have a cocktail or two or ten and relax. Parties and receptions are always a good thing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

an Acqua di Parma spa?

I love Acqua di Parma's luxe bath collections and products. An old world, masculine product range, I imagine Steve McQueen and Paul Newman to have been fans. And now, Acqua di Parma has opened a brand new spa experience. It's not on my "must see. must do. must have." list.

Here's the press release:

As such, the values represented by the Blu Mediterraneo line, designed for a sophisticated public that loves to relax and be at one with nature in the most select locations on the Italian Mediterranean, find their true expression.

“The opening of the first Blu Mediterraneo SPA in Porto Cervo marks the beginning of a major international project that will involve other equally prestigious openings across the world. This forms part of the strategy of a brand that has become synonymous with the ultimate in Italian taste for the creation of a genuine Acqua di Parma lifestyle", commented Gabriella Scarpa, Acqua di Parma International President.

And what location could be more fitting for the opening of the first Blu Mediterraneo SPA than the Costa Smeralda - the epitome of Mediterranean elite - and more specifically the Yacht Club in Porto Cervo, a prestigious port of call for sailors and ship owners from all over the world for the last 40 years.

The exclusive Blu Mediterraneo SPA method was specially developed by the Spa Chakra team, the world’s foremost experts in the development of the most advanced techniques for luxury spas.

A haven of total wellbeing, Blu Mediterraneo SPA has been designed down to last detail to recreate the luxurious and authentic sensations evoked by a day spent on the shores of the Mediterranean. The SPA was conceived and designed by Studio Asia, who set out to develop a unique centre of wellbeing using natural, vibrant materials such as mosaics, glass, marble and wood. A relaxation area, special cabins for wellness treatments, beauty treatment areas, a natural wet area with Hammams and a sauna, two separate footbath areas, and a specific aromatherapy area. All of this on wooden and coconut fibre floors, sprinkled with natural stones and Mediterranean flora. Colours and materials that bring guests even closer to their natural wellbeing. Intense blue lighting at the entrance recreates the Mediterranean atmosphere. The wavy wood grain evokes the inexorable shifting of the sands and acts as a backdrop to the reception, embellished with bright blue glass inserts. Beside the entrance, the retail area offers all the best of the Acqua di Parma world.

The Blu Mediterraneo SPA in Porto Cervo marks Acqua di Parma’s first steps in the world of luxury spas, and will be followed with further openings in other highly exclusive international locations.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

pre-fall 2009 Manolo Blahnik

In heaven, there's never a bad shoe. If I were to guess what we'd see there, some may include Christian Dior's fabulous Cannage print classic heels, Christian Louboutin's 1-2-3 sandal, and Manolo Blahnik's pre-fall cage boot/heel.

Made of incredibly soft, yet durable calf skin, with pointed toe, 4,5" of towering heel, and the most incredible power as a bonus, this shoe might be the power shoe of the upcoming fall season. Style. Sizzle. Sex. Power. Passion. Fashion. Fantasy. And only US$1165.
From other pre-fall collections, I'm also loving Dior's two-tone strappy booties, Louboutin's outrageous python fantasy Dillian Pump, Gucci's Sunset Platform and Royal Flats, and Prada's Slingback Sandal.
For the more economically challenged, remember this easy fashion tip - investing in a few key pieces, like a statement shoe, jacket, jewelery, and handbag will position you much more forward than trying to buy an entire new seasonal wardrobe. Stick with your staple garments to carry you through the season, jazzed up with the perfect additional accouterments.

Monday, May 11, 2009

an annoyed shopper

I just spent the day with one of my favourite people - my Mom's dear sister, my Aunt Mary Jane. She looks and acts just like my Mom. (for those of you who don't know or remember, my Mom died about 2 years ago).

Well, my Aunt MJ and I went shopped all day today, throughout several fabulous stores. Of course, we had to make several purchases, especially at Anthropologie, which just happened to be one of Mom's favourite places, and subsequently mine as well. We received such pleasant customer service at every place we went. Except one.

While I was shopping at the Dillard's department store in the St. John's Town Centre, I was in the men's department for approximately 12-15 minutes. I walked through the Ted Baker section, the Calvin Klein section, and the Hugo Boss section. I passed through the shoe department, suiting, and even stopped to use the toilet. After all of that time, none of the associates once even acknowledged me, except Brian, one of the gentleman who's helped me many times before - but he was already with a customer. He did say hello and told me if I needed anything that he'd be happy to help when he was able - very professional and courteous. However, there was an older Asian gentleman, Mauricio or something, who was standing in the middle of the walkway like some sort of traffic cop, and without smiling, talking, or any ounce of friendly nature says quite loudly "what are you looking for?!"...I mean stern, unprofessional, and quite honestly - rude. I simply told him "nothing"...and kept walking. A few feet away, I heard him say to two other gentleman "can I help you" very loudly - and they seriously just stopped where they were looking and walked out of the store.

What ever happened to old school customer service? How about a simple "hello" or "how are you today" or "welcome to the store" before you dive in to your lacklustre sales pitch. In this economy, stores can't afford underwhelming efforts by their associates. No wonder half the store seemed to be on clearance.

On another note, it's stores like Anthropologie and Cole Haan, in the very same plaza, who continue to win my business through positive, professional customer service and genuine, punctual assistance.

So I encourage you, my friends and fellow shoppers, that the next time you experience subpar customer service, politely inform the manager or corporate offices of your experience. This is simply unacceptable.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Christian Louboutin - easy as 1-2-3

Looking good really is as easy as 1-2-3. Especially if you're wearing Christian Louboutin's 1-2-3 sandal! This might just be one of my favourite shoes for women. Sexy. Powerful. Fashion forward. Commanding. I love it.

Black patent calfskin leather. Buckled straps over vamp, instep, and ankle. Two platforms. 5,5" covered heel. Signature red sole. Made in Italia. US$1495.