Thursday, December 31, 2009

A 2010 New Year Toast,

Wishing you good health, happiness, and harmony throughout the coming year.

And of course, fabulous fashions and serious style!

There's lots in store for 2010 at Thirsty.Threads, so be sure to check back often, and tell your friends, too!

Voorspoedige nuwe jaar!


Gelukkig nieuwjaar!

Bonne année!

Ein glückliches neues Jahr!

Eutychismenos o kainourgios chronos!

Buon anno nuovo!


새해 복 많이 받으세요

Manigong Bagong Taon!

Feliz año nuevo!

Gott Nytt År!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Luxury E-commerce - en vogue or last season?

There's been buzz within the luxury retail world regarding the explosion of luxury houses hitting the internet. Up until 2002, most luxe brands shunned the idea of electronic commerce. They viewed the move as being "not luxurious, not exclusive, and not in line with their brand's values and history". Then a few brands stepped out, like Gucci and Neiman Marcus, and proved with solid sales figures that this wasn't a belief the consumers had.

Since then, and especially in recent months, we've seen nearly every luxury range hit the world's wide web of virtual stores. From Giorgio Armani to Gucci, Roberto Cavalli to Chanel, and Dolce & Gabbana to Dior, we're seeing more brands than Rodeo Drive.

Having worked luxury retail, I see both sides of the issue. On one hand, having a multimedia site, complete with the latest runway show, complimentary music, and photographs of key pieces, or even the entire collection can be a great way to intensify your clients' understanding of the brand, the collection, and latest offerings.

Internet sites, especially virtual shopping opportunities, also extend the reach of the brand - so clients from Tampa to Topeka to Taipei can all get their luxe fix.

On the flip side, I definitely understand the value of personal connection in luxury retail. Welcoming a client into your boutique is a sensory experience - from the scented air, to the lights, to the plush carpet, to the music and multimedia display - there's something to be said for actually holding and touching products before purchasing. If you're interested in a purse online, you have no way of knowing where exactly the bag will fall on your body - or whether or not the straps will stay on your shoulder - or if all of your necessities will fit inside - or if the closure is easy to open - or just how soft the lambskin may be - or if the colour is exactly what you are expecting. All of these can be answered when shopping in person. Now I understand you can always order and return if unsatisfied - but that costs money and time.

Additionally, electronic luxury retail definitely removes the exclusivity from luxury brands' identities. Back in the day, it used to be a big deal to own a Louis Vuitton handbag; possessing the French luxury house's signature monogram indicated you had traveled to the one of the few fashion capitals of the world. Now, with so many online retailers (and newly opened locations), the brand has lost some lustre.

There's also a huge benefit from shopping with an associate in person. They're your ticket to exclusive events, promotions, and private sales. They also are armored with immense product knowledge, understand the entire collection (and what other colours are available for that handbag you just have to have!), and can give you tips and tricks on how to best use the product. All of this you won't necessarily find online.

For me, luxury retail is more than just about selling product. It's about building a consumer-client relationship. It's about selling the story and the romance of a product. It's about instilling in your clients an air of luxury and history.

If luxury e-commerce is viewed as an extension of a boutique - a resource for clients to see new products and campaigns, and then head to their favourite boutiques to see, to touch, and to buy - that's definitely en vogue. But when the virtual world overshadows the traditional boutique experience - that's so last season.

PS - What do I think is even worse than luxury retail online? Let's just say that "luxury" and "outlet malls" do not belong in the same sentence.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Social Network of Fashion

I've always been attracted to the innovation and creativity at Hugo Boss. Whether it's a classic trench coat in a modern fabric, or performance racing inspired footwear, the German brand always seems to be one step ahead of the game.

For the 2010 Berlin Fashion Week, the fashion house is recruiting everyday model citizens to compete for a chance to walk the catwalk alongside famous faces and other Boss bodies. Through the company's Facebook fan page, users are encouraged to submit their pictures, which then will be voted on by fans. And as if that wasn't enough face time with Facebook, the Hugo Boss show will stream live on their fan page as well.

But there's more than meets the eye, or Facebook page. Sara Zucker of brandchannel said, "By allowing people to choose what they'd like to see in campaigns, the brand can determine consumer preferences and spending concerns, generating both brand loyalty for Hugo Boss and providing the company with a valuable platform for accessing emerging trends and cultural feedback."

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's just Ducky

So I had been lusting for several pairs of Cole, Rood, and Haan shoes. The vintage 1920s Chicago jazz scene inspired collection is the higher end, hand made in Italy, full of charm range-within-a-range of Cole Haan. Think of the love child of John Varvatos and John Lobb - and you've got the right thoughts of CRH.

So I ordered the first shoe that I just had to have - the Ducky - and I'm in love.


Genuine handsewn moccasin construction hand-crafted of vegetable tanned Italian leather on upper, sock and sole
Unlined upper
Heel counter lined in blood red suede
Hidden elasticized goring for laceless wear
Antique brass heel tacks
Raw sole edge finish
Embossed logo on footbed and outsole

The only thing I wish I would have known - is the shoe's size definitely runs on the large side. I normally take either an 11 or 11,5 - so I ordered the 11 to be safe (or so I thought) - but in all honesty, the 10 would have been perfect for me. But, after wearing the shoe for a few hours, and seeing that the only remaining size is an 8 - I think I'll be keeping these coveted shoes and looking for some good shoe inserts and thick socks to make up the difference!

Casual, comfortable, elegant, and incredibly fashion forward - everything you could hope for in a shoe. Whether with denim and tshirt, or to add a splash of character to a khaki suit in the summer - I'll be sporting these CRH shoes for many seasons to come!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Hair by Francky L'Official

This week, we've learned how to give the right hostess gifts, get the perfect smile, create the perfect, personalized denim, and now, celebrity hair stylist Francky L'Official tells us how to have the perfect holiday hair.

Thirsty.Threads - Describe what hair trends are hot for the holiday season.

L'Official: This season's trends are highlighted by the up do and glamorous waves... sexy chic is the word during holiday.
Thirsty.Threads - Discuss any hair care recommendations for "winterizing" your hair and ensuring healthy, luxurious locks in inclement weather

L'Official - Use a treatment once a week, and for dry hair - apply leave in conditioner if you don't have time to style, and don't forget to apply serum on the ends.

Thirsty.Threads: Last time we spoke, you were getting ready to launch your product line. Have you launched yet?

L'Official - The product still in production. I want it to be perfect before it is on the shelves, but should be out next year.

Thirsty.Threads - As people prepare for the holiday photos and Christmas card pictures, are there any hair "dont's" you would encourage people to stay away from?

L'Official - Stay away from the hair being too flat or too big, and please no pony tail! It's a Christmas card, not an editorial for Vogue! Stay natural with a touch of style.

Thirsty.Threads -Put yourself in this situation. You've just been invited to a holiday party at a swanky bar and begins in about an hour. What do you do to style your own hair with such minimal prep time?

L'Official - If you have long hair I would say tease the top of the hair to add height and put it back in a messy ponytail (chic and fashionable). Or if you have a big curling iron, take big pieces of hair and curl them just to have movement (really sexy). If you have a bob, put Velcro rollers at the end and on the top. Leave the rollers in while you fix your makeup, and then take out, run fingers through, and fix with a spray (sexy, natural).

Thirsty.Threads - You've worked with many celebrities and incredibly well-dressed people. Can you tell us about some of the styles you've created for them?

L'Official - I did the Hollywood 50's look for Kim Kardashian; the light, natural movement for Bethenny Frankel. For Christina Aguilera's concert, I did the 40's look for the Back to Basics and lots more.

Thirsty.Threads - When one of your clients is having a "bad hair day" - how do you calm their nerves and fix the problem?

L'Official - With my natural charm... lol - I listen to them and I speak slowly to relax them and I explain that I can fix it, and everything will be fine...

Early in his career, Francky L'Official joined renown coiffure Jacques Dessange as Artistic Director of his Paris Salons. Educating Dessange stylists throughout the city, Francky made a name for himself developing creative teams of stylists to take part in the conception and creative design of fashion events. After overseeing many fashion shows, Francky was awarded the prestigious Mondial Hair Show award.

A growing demand for Francky's expertise brought him around the world and after many years of experience he found himself in New York. During the Fall of 2005, Francky established himself at Salon a Deux, which he lent his name to soon after. As Artistic Director of Francky L'Official Salon, he brings his creativity and inspiration to New York's fashion world adding his own style.

Several years after arriving in New York, Francky has begun to make a name for himself. And with a product line due to be launched, Francky is poised to become a mainstay in New York for years to come.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a Vintage Holiday Just for You.

There's something to be said for genuine character. I'm not talking about the manufactured, predetermined, unoriginal, corporate type of "character" either. I mean the honest to goodness, it's there because it was meant to be, only through the hands of time and nature.

Every time I go to Los Angeles, I have to stop at the RRL store. This is Ralph Lauren's enclave for all things vintage. It's located in what looks like an old garage where you'd see 1960s muscle cars up on the racks. Maybe it's the garage doors rolled up, letting all the Southern California sun and breeze float through the entire store. Maybe it's Catherine, who has the most approachable, welcoming attitude and brilliant memory. Or maybe it's the authentic vintage jackets, leathers, and jewelry. True vintage pieces have a story, a romance, and a real character all their own.

With that being said, I love the look of truly distressed denim. I don't mean running out to your local Abercrombie and picking up some sand-blasted, ill-fitting jeans. I mean starting out with a pair of perfectly fitting, great quality denim, and then customizing it yourself.

Martin + Osa's Paul Dillinger shows us how to get the perfect holes, fraying, stains, and details. Don't worry - you don't need to channel your inner MacGyver and compete this entire task with just a pocket knife and a used roll of tin foil! With just a few tools that are probably already in your garage (or your neighbour's garage if you're not-so-handy), you can be the hit of your holiday party.

For the perfect holiday style, pair your custom distressed denim with a crisp red oxford shirt. No matter how dark or light your denim may be, a red shirt is sure to put you in the holiday spirit, and looks great on most skin complexions. If you live in colder climates, add a great navy v-neck sweater, and you'll be ready to jingle your bells all night long! Remember to limit distressed and vintage pieces - you don't want to look like a rag doll. Plus, the juxtaposition of distressed denim and the crisp shirt will provide the perfect contrast.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Perfect Hostess Gift

When you're invited over to someone's home for a party, whether a dinner party, cocktail party, or even a gathering at a location other than the home, it is customary to bring the host or hostess a gift. This small token of appreciation for the gracious invitation doesn't have to be extravagant. It should however be thoughtful, useful, and reflect the good taste of both yourself and your recipient.

If the event is a dinner party - I do not recommend gifting wine, flowers, or any food items. This gift may offend the host, as it is their responsibility as planner extraordinaire to have planned the beverages, decorations, and menu.

If the event is a cocktail party - I recommend refraining from any liquid refreshment, as just like the dinner party, one does not want to insult the planning skills of the host or hostess.

Now that your gift giving options are limited - do not panic! There are still many great recommendations:

-- I love the home fragrance diffusers from Agraria Home. Unlike most diffusers that are alcohol based, these diffusers are made from pure oils from the South of France, including delicious Mediterranean scents like Golden Pomegranate, Fig, Balsam, and Bitter Orange. The glass vessels are hand blown in Italy, and make for a long lasting, thoughtful gift for the home.

-- No matter what one's colour scheme may be, every kitchen can always use new tea towels. My favourite are from Garnier-Thiebaut, a fabulous French firm from the mid 1800s. The heirloom quality weave makes for incredibly long lasting linens, and the traditional patterns and vibrant colours are a quick way to bring the Mediterranean lifestyle into anyone's home. Think everyday elegance.

-- For the perfect whimsical gift, I love giving the Egg Plant: Basil from Branch Home. This sweet gift set includes a small, unglazed ceramic egg shaped pot, a terra cota dish, soil, and seeds - everything you'd need to grow basil on a sunny kitchen window sill!

-- After an exciting soiree, the host or hostess will no doubt be exhausted. What better way to show your appreciation by gifting a fabulous bubble bath. I am borderline obsessed with Bliss' Blood Orange + White Pepper fragrance. For men or women - you can't go wrong with this delightful, delicious treat!

-- Everyone appreciates a freshly made bed. And what better way to show your gratitude to your host or hostess by giving Caldrea's amazing Sea Salt Neroli Linen Spray? The fresh fragrance is fantastic for linens in the bedroom, as well as your curtains, bathroom linens, and virtually any other fabric surfaces!

When giving a hostess gift, it's not about the price of the gift that's important. Find something that is both a reflection of you and your recipient, and you're sure to be invited back again!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Winter White Smile

As the holidays approach, everyone's stress levels seem to be increasing. Whether it's planning your holiday soirée , last minute gift shopping, travel arrangements, or untangling that pesky strand of Christmas lights, we all have multiple tasks to complete. One thing you shouldn't have to worry about is having the perfect smile.

One of the most amazing cosmetic dentists, Smile Stylist Dr. Jason Olitsky, recently shared with us the perfect tips and tricks to have an amazing winter white smile.

Thirsty.Threads: We all want a whiter smile. What are some simple steps we can do at home to help brighten our teeth?

Dr. Jason: Avoid foods and beverages that stain the teeth. Beverages like coffee, tea, red wines, and sodas submerge the teeth in staining liquids that result in teeth discoloration over time. Try drinking dark beverages through a straw to bypass the front teeth. You will be the hit of the holiday party with a bendy straw in your red wine! Foods are culprits for stained teeth too. Anything that would stain your white T-shirt will stain your teeth, so think about chasing stain causing foods and beverages with a rinse of water to dilute and remove the staining compounds. Cigarettes and cigars are the worst offenders for staining teeth.

Thirsty.Threads: Are they any holiday foods (like cranberries, dark chocolate, caramels) that we should avoid to keep a brighter smile/healthier teeth?

Dr. Jason: Most people splurge during the holidays with all the good food and drink during the festivities. To keep the teeth looking healthy and white pick holiday treats that are not sticky. Chocolate is premium choice for sweets, because it is removed quickly from the teeth by the saliva in your mouth. Remember to rinse your mouth out with some water after eating foods that can stain your teeth. Dipping into the vegetable trays is a good call, not just for your health, but the natural tooth cleansing properties of vegetables can help remove surface stains from your teeth as you chew. Strawberries actually contain Malic acid which is natures on version of a tooth whitener.

Thirsty.Threads: Many of us have holiday parties to attend directly after work - what recommendations do you have for freshening up our breath?

Dr. Jason: Party time is a chance for great first impressions. Team up with a trusted friend to let you know when you have a piece of food in your teeth. Nobody will tell you, but they will eye it up while you talk and smile. Breath check? Try popping in a Listerine breath strip , it goes great with a sip of water to make some instant mouthwash on the go. If leaving from work, make sure you brush and floss your teeth before you go. Going the whole day with coffee and the same pieces of food stuck in your teeth before a party makes for bad breath.

Thirsty.Threads: In the media, there has been a lot of talk with celebrities about porcelain veneers, lumineers, laser whitening, etc. What is the difference between these procedures?

Dr. Jason: Porcelain veneers are contact lens thin pieces of porcelain that cover the fronts of teeth. Celebrities use porcelain veneers to get a whiter smile, fix crooked teeth, spacing, make teeth longer and more beautiful. Traditional veneers can require a small amount of tooth removal before placing the porcelain veneer over the tooth to make room for the veneer. A very trendy procedure called no preparation or minimal preparation veneers is getting more popular. A company called Den-Mat has been doing a substantial amount marketing to the general consumer about a product called Lumineers. This is advertised as a veneer that does not require any removal of tooth before placing. Lumineers is one option for the treatment of porcelain veneers with out the removal of tooth, but not the only option. The most experienced top cosmetic dentists do not place Lumineers, because they are unhappy with the unnatural looking aesthetics and poor fit. Doing your research before choosing a dentist for a new smile with porcelain veneers is the best option. Ask about alternatives like minimal or no preparation veneers like Emprethins by Gold Dust Dental Lab.

One hour whitening is hottest trend in teeth whitening. You can go the dental office and in about an hour leave with your teeth 8-10 shades whiter. Zoom! is the most common in office whitening treatment available popularized by Extreme Makeover on NBC. Zoom whitening treatments can be repeated at your cleanings or once a year to maintain your white color. Some people will have whitening effects that can last years, but it depends on your eating habits. Avoiding foods and beverages that stain and smoking can help keep white teeth white longer.

A great budget option is to have the dentist make you custom trays that you can wear at home. The whitening gels that come with the trays are stronger than ever and can be worn for as little as 15-30 minutes at a time. The benefits of trays is that it is less money and can be continued at home until your teeth reach the level of white you desire. You can also throw in your trays the day before a party to get a little bump in whiteness before the event. Need to pick up a whitener quick? Grab some Crest White Strips, the strip technology does the best over the counter job of delivering the whitening gel to your teeth.

Gum lifts and gingival contouring is a new treatment that can reduce the gummy look of some smiles and level out uneven gums. This procedure can be preformed with a special laser that eliminates the need for surgery and long healing times.Braces that focus on short wearing times, like 6 months compared to 2 years are now available for cosmetic concerns.

Drs. Colleen and Jason Olitsky practice in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and NYC. They have been featured in publications like Self, Woman’s Health, Real Simple, Fitness, and First For Women. They are members of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Drs. Colleen and Jason lecture on cosmetic dentistry nationally and Dr. Jason is an instructor with the Gold Dust Clinical Mastery Series based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Jason is also on the board of directors with the Florida Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and an accreditation candidate with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Looking for a comsetic dentist? Check out Dr. Colleen’s tip sheet on how to choose a cosmetic dentist by contacting the Smile Stylist!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bling Bling Bicycle?

Queen had it all right when they sang "I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike!" in their hit tune "Bicycle Race" - but they must have been envisioning the gold encrusted bling-cycle from Aurumania!

A 24-carat gold bike with Swarovski crystal encrusted from Aurumania is a limited edition of ten, and features opulent additions like a high quality leather Brooks saddle, leather hand-sewn grips and a ten-year warranty. Delivered via White Glove Service anywhere in the world for just €80,000.

These 10 limited-edition bikes represent a cornucopia of delights for any connoisseur . The designers have employed all the classic principles in their overall appearance, and every detail has been under careful consideration. Each bike is hand-built, and then plated with 24-carat gold and generously adorned with more than 600 fine Swarovski crystals. The handlebar grips are made of hand-sewn, chocolate-brown leather, and a moulded Brooks leather saddle provides exactly the right nostalgic touch.

To ensure potential buyers the greatest possible degree of discretion, these gold bikes are exclusively available via the corporate site. They are delivered to the buyer personally using a White Glove Service, in a specially designed packaging that exudes extreme luxury on a par with the golden bike inside.

The first bike in the series has already been sold to a customer in London – a man who wants it to decorate one of the walls in his home. AURUMANIA therefore also designed a special mount for this bike – also made of 24-carat gold, of course. The bike will then be on display, as a work of art in itself.

The brains behind this exclusive gold bike is the Scandinavian design company AURUMANIA. They work solely with the design of visibly extravagant luxury products made using gold, for an exclusive clientele who cannot get enough of this precious metal that really keeps its value. Hence the company name – AURUMANIA also means “pre-occupied with gold”, in the most positive sense imaginable.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vintage Ralph Lauren

new favourite obsession: the Ralph Lauren Gift Vault.

“The Ralph Lauren Gift Vault is the perfect destination for the discerning gift giver looking for something extraordinary for someone truly unique or even for themselves.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Luxe on Locale

Our current age is highlighted by commercialism to the nth degree. If it's able to be sold, bought, traded, or has any sort of value - there's bound to be someone out there who is entrusted with selling, packaging, marketing, distributing, creating a jingle, a commercial, a print campaign, a radio spot, or some other innovative method of spreading the word.

With this increased advertising, suddenly everything is marketed as luxe. There's "premium coffee" and "Certified Angus Beef" available at McDonald's, "luxury cars" available at Hyundai, and "private reserve" chocolates available at your typical grocery store.

All of this "over luxe-ification" of products and services really makes me wonder "what does it really take to be luxury?"

To the true luxury client, "luxury" is characterized by any products or services that are full of value, quality, exclusivity, comfort, and convenience. Valet parking is a prime example of a "luxury service" - the convenience of not having to park your car, saving you those precious few minutes, and preventing you from exposure to possible inclement or unpleasant weather is definitely worth the small fee and tip. The same can be said for utilizing a personal shopper. While a client may have fabulous fashion sense on their own accord, they simply may not have the time to physically go out and purchase a season's worth of accessories, nor may they have the access to limited products and collections.

The main trend you'll see in the luxury market segment, whether it's a high end European home furnishings boutique, a designer denim store, or a private jet corporation, is that all of these goods and services are sold the exact same way. Extensive attention is paid to the relationship between the vendor and the client. From regular phone calls, hand written thank-you notes, and small tokens of appreciation, are all the norm. Complimentary services are often included - from elegant gift wrapping and package delivery, to free upgrades, transportation, or special opportunities.

The one currency that is accepted in the luxury world, no matter the product segment, location, country, or culture -is time. When associates and owners bestow this precious commodity upon their clients, the culture is instantly increased towards a more luxe environment. Taking time to go out of your way for a client, thanking them for their business and patronage, and letting them know that you appreciate not only their business, but their friendship, will always increase your reward handsomely. The more time you give, the stronger your relationship becomes.

And in the world of luxury, it's the relationship with your clients that mean the most. From luxury real estate, to luxury travel, to luxury retail - everyone in the luxury segment is in competition with each other. You see, even the uberwealthy client is on a budget. If they're wanting to take a trip to Paris to shop for their wife's 40th birthday, are interested in upgrading their automobile, are trying to stock the kitchen at their new vacation home, and are paying the tuition and associate expenses of their last child's college education - all of those associated markets and tasks are going to compete for the client's money and attention. It's the associate or business owner with the best relationship, who can sell the story and romance of their product/market segment, that always wins.

We all can experience a little bit of the luxe lifestyle with the LUXE City Guides. Hello Gorgeous... Small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, but big enough to contain hundreds of hand-selected entries of the very best each city has to offer, LUXE City Guides are distilled from the recommendations of people who actually live in the city itself, and collated by a resident editor.

So the next time you're planning a holiday to Paris, Tokyo, Milano, or any one of more than 30 destinations, consider the advice of these amazing guides. They're small in size, but pack a huge amount of luxury. No matter where we are, we could always use a little dash of luxe on locale.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fashionable Flames

While I was perusing through a magazine this week, I found two products that I thought were incredibly innovative, beautifully designed, and quite intriguing. After staring at their images for a few minutes, I just had to learn more about them.

Above is the incredibly beautiful Manzanita candelabra from
West Elm. Obviously inspired by nature, I think this is such an innovative way to add warmth, charm, and a touch of the great outdoors in an elegant, easy manner. I love the simplistic, beautiful elements it brings.

After not finding any information on this fabulous find on the company's website, I called West Elm to investigate. Unfortunately, the product is no longer available, as the candles tend to tip over, igniting fires.

On a more positive note of safety and availability, I'm also loving the table top fireplace by Gido Wahrmann for Carl Martens at Generate.

Product Details

A beautiful miniature fireplace, both contemporary (2 stainless steel logs) and natural (slate base). Besides creating a beautiful focal point for your table, it radiates warmth as well as light.

  • Two 18/10 Stainless Steel oil lamps/logs
  • Slate base
  • Utilizes Liquid Paraffin Lamp Oil (not included)

Product Specs
Dimensions (base): 10" x 14"
Materials: 18/10 stainless steel, slate

US$398This holiday season, no matter which holidays you choose to celebrate or not celebrate, surround yourself with light, with warmth, and with the people and things you love. And remember, being en vogue is always in season!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Three Necessities.

It's safe to say that I'm constantly surrounded by fashion. Whether it's in a magazine I'm flipping through, a television program I'm watching, a website I'm surfing, or a store that I'm shopping in, I'm always an arm's length away from something fashionable. Needless to say, I've learned a lot about what I really like, and more importantly, what I don't like.

Visible darting makes for a perfect fitting garment. Gray denim always looks more interesting, is more versatile than the traditional blue, adds instant drama and sophistication, and is incredibly easy to dress up. Outerwear that is fashion forward, durable, and well tailored will carry you from year to year, rather than just season to season and is actually a good investment for your staple wardrobe. Vintage leathers, especially jackets, shoes, and belts, seem to add a dash of character and charm, while also bringing warmth and elegance to any look.
The three must-haves of the moment are from three of my favourite stores. Not only do these places always seem to hold my attention and interest, but they constantly provide amazing service and an awesome experience.
(in no particular order)

Company: Guess Jeans
Price: US$108
Name: Lincoln
Colour: Voodoo Grey Wash
Fit: Low Rise, Slim Fit, Straight Leg
Design Elements: Five pocket design, Whiskering at hips, Repair details, 100% Cotton
Special Instructions: Machine wash cold

Special Notes: I first saw these brand new jeans at the St. John's Town Centre in Jacksonville. Tony, who knows I love all things grey, immediately pointed them out to me. The cliche love at first sight definitely applied to these jeans. Their whiskering is the perfect balance - not obvious, not unnoticeable, and not overdone either. The slim fit is perfect for the season (and quite honestly, is my ideal cut for year round wear - it's not overly tight, and it's definitely not baggy). And their distressing looks like something that would have happend naturally to your favourite jeans anyway - without the years and year of waiting. Needless to say, when I returned a few days later to look again at the denim, Chanell only had more great things to say about the jeans I thought I already had to have. (Side note - I think Tony and Chanell could sell ice to an Eskimo - they're always en pointe, know exactly what new styles have arrived, and are always thinking outside the box for both me and my clients.)

Company: John Varvatos
Price: US$595
Name: Coated Cotton Plaid Trench Coat
Colour: Flint
Fit: Slim Fitting
Design Elements: Double-breasted trench is made from coated cotton and is water resistant. Constructed with shoulder loops, corozo buttons, button neck extension, belted cuff and welt pockets, and a 100% cotton poplin lining.
Special Instructions: Dry Clean.

Special Notes: I love John Varvatos. His designs are the perfect mix of vintage cool, with fashion forward fits, and the fabrics and colours you only dream about. Never flashy, and never understated, Varvatos is everything you want to own. The perfectly broken in leathers. The softest tshirts. The coolest sunglasses. If you closed your eyes and imagined your dream closet - it'd probably be filled with all things Varvatos. A few years ago, I stopped in the West Hollywood store and met Paul. I was just in college (and subsequently not able to buy nearly as much as I would have liked), but was so impressed with Paul's understanding of the collections, his obvious love for the brand, and his ability to mix and match the collection with ease and creativity. I took his card, and whenever I'm in Los Angeles, I try to stop by. For all of your Varvatos needs, I definitely recommend his services. And if you're not in Southern California - you must at least visit the website and listen to the perfect musical mix that is indicative of the brand: simply amazing.

Company: Emporio Armani
Name: Slim Fit Shirt
Price: US$177 (discounted from US$295)
Colour: Black
Fit: Slim
Design Elements: Small stiff collar, one button at cuffs, small rear yoke, 100% cotton

Special Notes: Giorgio Armani is undeniably one of the world's best designers. His deep understanding of how a garment should drape, paired with his impeccable tailoring, flawless design aesthetic, and brilliant creativity only further this notion. Each season, there's an odd familiarity with each piece, yet the Maestro always leaves us wanting more - to see more, to know more, and to have more. One of my favourite Armani boutiques is the Emporio Armani store in Beverly Hills. You'd expect true white glove service from a shop just a few steps from the famed Rodeo Drive, and at Emporio Armani - Jason is your man. Friendly, helpful, and a great sense of style - the triumvirate qualities in a sales associate. He's not pushy, doesn't mind offering his personal (and very well informed) opinion, and knows just why la moda italiana is famous.

These three pieces aren't just seasonally appropriate - they're wardrobe staples. The Guess Jeans would look great paired with the Varvatos coat and the Armani shirt, but would also look great with your favourite tshirt and flipflops during the summer. Or even a great white dress shirt, black skinny tie, and tuxedo jacket for a stylish night on the town. Just as versatile - the Armani shirt looks great with gray wool trousers in the office, or matched with denim and vintage boots at the pub. And that Varvatos coat will be a necessity during stormy weather for years to come.

These pieces have much in common. Quality. Style. Value. Next time you shop - think of these qualities, and you're sure to stay en vogue.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day, Feel Good Shopping

I've often spoken about the benefits of Philanthropic Retail - a marketing phenomenon where consumers' decisions to buy specific brands or products are attached to a philanthropic cause - such as Product (RED) items or goods that support and promote cancer awareness and research. Shoppers don't mind spending a little extra cash when they associate their purchase with making a positive difference. Creating a partnership with a philanthropic endeavour can be just the stimulating boost companies need in this tricky economy. And more importantly, philanthropies need all the support and advertising they can possibly get.

Enter, World AIDS Day and the fabulous Product (RED) campaign.

(RED) Partners are stepping up their support for AIDS research and prevention in their own special ways:

Starbucks will donate $.05 per hand-crafted beverage sold in the US and Canada, and 5P/5 Euro cents in the UK and Ireland.

GAP will donate 1% of all all revenue for participating stores in the US and Canada

DELL will double their contribution of Product (RED) Products sold in the US, UK, and Japan for the week of 26 November to 2 December

Athletics power house NIKE launched their partnership with Product (RED) today. Legendary musician and (RED) co-founder Bono joined a slew of football players gathered at London's Nike Town store to promote the new worthy cause. The first of many (RED) soccer products, Nike's (RED) shoe laces are a perfect way to promote AIDS awareness (and make great stocking stuffers for the holidays)! Chelsea's Didier Drogba laced his soccer boots with (RED) during yesterday's win against Aresnal.

So the next time your friends or family give you grief for shopping, just remind them that retail therapy actually can have a positive effect on the world.