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Monday, January 29, 2007

Calendar This!

We haven't really gotten the hang of Spring-Summer 2007 just yet, but our favorite designers are preparing for Fall-Winter 2007/2008 and beyond already! This season we know we've got to have florals, metallic sheens, neon colors, sporty and futuristic influences in our closets. I wonder what will make the cut to next season's runways!

Here's the calendar of the forthcoming Fashion Weeks from Modemonline.com:

January 07
Paris Men's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
January 26 - January 30 2007

February 07
New York Men's & Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
February 2 - February 9 2007
London Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
February 12 - February 16 2007
Milan Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
February 17 - February 24 2007
Paris Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
February 25 - March 4 2007

March 07
Tokyo Men's & Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
March 12 - March 16 2007
Kiev Men's & Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
March 14 - March 20 2007
Athens Men's & Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
March 15 - March 18 2007
Los Angeles Men's & Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
March 18 - March 22 2007
Miami Men's & Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
March 21 - March 25 2007
New Delhi Men's & Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
March 21 - March 26 2007
Moscow Men's & Women's Fall-Winter 2007/2008
March 24 - April 7 2007

June 07
Milan Men's Spring-Summer 2008
June 24 - June 28 2007
Paris Men's Spring-Summer 2008
June 29 - July 3 2007

September 07
London Women's Spring-Summer 2008
September 16 - September 22 2007
Milan Women's Spring-Summer 2008
September 22 - September 29 2007
Paris Women's Spring-Summer 2008
September 30 - October 7 2007

October 07
Athens Men's & Women's Spring-Summer 2008
October 18 - October 21 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's a Cinch

Wondering what to do to liven up an outfit? Its so easy! Here are some tips!

From a bright red satin sash...


to a tiny strip of leather...


to a metallic cummerband!


Different belts, different looks, same stylish effect! ;-)

I Am Who I Am and Why I Sleep in Style

My mom believes she is a very practical person. As much as she thinks my obsession with fashion is a waste of time, money and effort, I can't help but think she is somehow instrumental in shaping my world views. I am who I am, because directly or indirectly, she conditioned me to behave and act this way.

Take these instances for example:

When we were growing up, my mom would dress us up in tights with skirts and dresses/overalls or pants every single day if she can help it. Even if we had no place to go. Why? Because she says that we have to protect our knees and legs from getting scratched! Of course when I was old enough to think for myself, I preferred running around in shorts and slippers like the rest of the kids, and go barefoot at home just to freak her out. But wearing pants, and tights to protect my legs? Actually, it makes perfect sense to me now!

I was seven when I first stepped into a K-Mart. I was amazed at all the stuff in that place. Everything was imported! (hahaha) At that age, the first thing that I went straight for was the clothes section. I saw a cool shirt with a matching visor and told my mom I wanted that one! She was appalled at the thought of buying clothes in K-Mart and vehemently said no! But I got my way after I threw a tantrum, and my sister Trina decided she wanted the same item in red, and joined in the ruckus! Looking back, I realized the reason for her disapproval. My mom says that its better to have a few quality clothes and shoes than a lot of cheap, trendy items flooding the closet. She calls it "investment dressing". Fast forward to now, and me and my predisposition to expensive stuff (quality doesn't come cheap) is cause for her consternation.

My sibs and I used to complain that there's always no food in the house. I mean yeah, the refrigerator may have meat, eggs and vegetables. The fruit bowl full of mangoes, oranges and bananas. The pantry stocked with pretzels, trail mix and granola bars (my mom's concept of junk food); but where are the potato chips? The chocolates? The cakes? The donuts? That's what we mean by food! You'd expect a maternal woman to say, "Kids, junk food isn't healthy, it won't do your body good!". You know what she answers back? "Pasalamat kayo walang ganyang pagkain dito! Kundi matataba na kayo lahat! Kaya kayo payat dahil sa akin!" ("Thank me for not buying junk food! If I did, you'd all be fat! I am the reason why you are all skinny!")

My mom always tells us to put on nice underwear (in case you get into an accident) and sleepwear (in case you have to dash out of the house if ever there's a fire). She believes one always has to look presentable, at all friggin' times! But unlike my brother who manages to cling onto his favorite holey shirts, us girls are resigned to the fact that yes, we always have to look neat to avoid being the target of our mom's tirades. I have taken this to heart, and I make it a point to look nice even when I sleep. I have a vast collection of pretty pajamas, mostly ones I make for myself. I choose the prints and have my seamstress make me sets and sets for me to admire, and doze off in of course!

I realized though that I am one of the very few people who behave this way. While some people may look presentable, even kikay outside the house, they love wearing ratty stuff at home! Their oldest, most threadbare house clothes! That's why I have an affinity with girls and guys who get excited about a silly thing as nice pajamas! They are the ones who live and breath style - even in the privacy of their rooms. While there are an enlightened few who believe in the importance of sleeping in style, the concept of fashionable sleepwear here in the Philippines is still unchartered territory.

But I appeal to those who are not yet converts! There is a world to discover out there! Join me and my fellow believers in our journey to dreamland!

Isn't this collage of items from sleepyheads.com enough to set your heart and mind racing at the possibilities? Love it! Love it! Love it!

Nick & Nora® Sleepyheads.com Midnight Snacker Blue Flannel Pajama

Nick & Nora® Sleepyheads.com Circus, Circus Original Luxury Red Flannel Pajama

The Cat's Pajamas Geisha Print Capri Set PJs

The Cat's Pajamas Heels and Handbags Poplin PJs

The Cat's Pajamas Sushi Fannel Sleep Shirt

Incidentally, The Cat's Pajamas was founded by college friends Jenny and Lynn, who graduated from Stanford University (with degrees in sociology and american studies) mind you!

Now here are some sleepwear possibilities from Frankie & Johnny!

Frankie & Johnny Fairy Tale Wedding Print

Frankie & Johnny Apple Orchard Print

Frankie & Johnny Sleepy Sheep Print

CUTE! CUTE! CUTE! I WANT THEM ALL!!! Heehee! If you'd like some nice sleepwear here in Manila, I suggest you check out Women's Secret, Rustans (they carry Natori and a private label sleepwear line) and the Ruth & Esther boutique in City Golf Plaza Ortigas -- the shop stocks pajamas I designed myself ;-)

(Photos courtesy of sleepyheads.com)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Handy Dandy Helpers

If like me, you get frustrated with the accumulating grime in your white and pristine Macbook, the simple solution to that is good old Mr. Clean! But not the laundry soap silly!

When I first got my Mac, I made sure I washed my hands before using it. But for some reason, the space on each side of the trackpad where my palms usually rest would still turn into a revolting grayish/brownish dirty color. Good thing I heard of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, thanks to my future sis-in-law Lorr! It's just perfect for removing dirt and grime that have accumulated on a once snowy white Mac. And its very simple to use. Just add water! Really!

According to the company website, "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser® is a soft cleaning pad that acts just like an eraser. Its innovative cleaning material cleans tough dirt, lifting it away from surfaces all over your home. Try it on soap scum, marks on walls, inside microwaves or even on car wheels." And if I may add, your laptops as well!

Now if you like wearing white tops or shorts or pants or dresses or whatever, you may have noticed that Murphy's Law almost always takes into effect. But to mitigate the chances of a permanent stain ruining your favorite whities, it makes total sense to bring along some bleach in your purse. You doubt it? Don't! With Clorox® Bleach Pen® Gel you can "Bleach only what you want, where you want."

This is because "Clorox® Bleach Pen® Gel cleans with the power of bleach, but comes in a handy, pen-like tool. Its dual-tipped applicator has a fine point for precise jobs and a scrub brush for larger ones...it is perfect for removing stains from the white areas of your striped, floral, and patterned clothes because you put the bleach exactly where you want it."

This bleach is so potent that, let's put it this way, it can remove months old stains! One time, I was so bored that I decided to bleach a stubborn stain on a pair of white pants I was wearing that day. Just for kicks you know. (We're not supposed to do that, as the product coming into contact with skin may cause irritation, but I still would for extreme emergency situations). Like magic, the stain dissolved in a flash!

These handy dandy helpers are available at True Value, but you can also check out Handyman and Ace Hardware for stocks. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser retails for about Php300 and Clorox® Bleach Pen® Gel is about Php400-Php500.

(Photos courtesy of mrclean.com and clorox.com)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sew Happy! at the Fashion Institute of the Philippines =)


Back when I was in grad school, I supplemented my allowance by designing and producing made-to-order sleepwear (pajamas, girl boxers, etc.) which were regularly ordered by my very supportive friends, dorm mates, and classmates in AIM (Thanks everyone! You didn't know you were sort of putting me through grad school huh!). It all started when Rai, my roommate, saw the pajama bottoms that I had on (it was a blue floral capri pj with a blue & green striped trim and drawstring; low-slung, ie 7"-8" crotch; snug around the hips but loose around the legs). I told her that I made it for myself (with the help of the neighborhood seamstress of course!) and she asked if I could make some for her, and her sister who was leaving for Italy to study fashion and needed some stylish sleepwear I suppose (hahaha). Conci then thought that my concept would make a good DE (Development of Enterprise) project, and the idea of stylized pajamas for my clothes crazy friends took root.

Apart from Rai's orders, I soon found myself making sample items for Conci's project, and a couple of our guy classmates who wanted to order for their girlfriends as well! So when the other dorm residents saw my friends modeling my pjs on the hallways, I found myself spending all my free time just trying to fulfill orders, and breathing down my mananahi's neck to hurry up and make sure I had the items ready at the timeframe promised.

But was I stressed? No way! It was the most fun time I ever had! I walked around school with a tape measure, fabric swatches, sketches and order sheets in my bag. It was not unlikely to see me get a classmate's measurement inside the classroom, right before class started! I hung out at my mananahi's place to help her cut patterns, refine the proportions, discuss what color of drawstring ribbon would make the print "alive", stuff like that. I even got her to make me use a spare sewing machine so I could make the drawstring bags that the pajamas were packaged in!

That started my goal to one day really really really learn how to sew. Last week, I signed up for sewing classes at the Fashion Institute of the Philippines. Although I inquired at Slims and Lasalle College, it was the "individual time schedule" and the very reasonable price (Php7500, with the course to be completed in a max of 6 months) that convinced me that this was the school for me.

This morning was my first day in class! And you know what! I love the place! Both the teachers and students are very warm and friendly. None of that pretentious air typically associated with fashion folks. As soon as I stepped in, I was instantly greeted with sincere smiles from the girls. I felt so welcome, even if I wasn't really a serious design student. I mean, in five minutes, I was laughing and kidding around with my sewing teacher (sewing classes are one-on-one sessions). Though she was nice, she was also very frank in telling me when I could have done a better job with my sewing exercise, and would patiently teach me how to do it all over again. When I jammed the machine because I put the bobbin case the wrong way, and one of the sewers had to stand up and unscrew the machine, all I got was some humored ribbing! I tell you, the atmosphere there is just so conducive to learning!

As Little Orphan Annie said on that day she set foot at Daddy Warbucks' Fifth Avenue mansion, "I think I'm gonna like it here!"

Fashion Institute of the Philippines
One San Miguel Avenue
Unit 2407 Shaw Boulevard corner San Miguel Avenue
Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Tel. no. 635-5838

PS
Speaking of Annie, I broke my mom's locket and I lost the other half! I have no idea where I can get someone to make the replacement part? Thing is, its quite elaborate so it would involve a lot of engraving. Can the Bulacan jewellers do this? Help!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sneaky Girl

For the young and young-at-heart, here are some fun yet feminine sneakers to wear with summer shorts and dresses. Perfect when you want to add a dash of zing to a blah outfit!

Its the classic Vans black and white checks that got to me, and the fact that it comes in a slimmer, girly style. Me likey! Vans kvd slipper $40

UPDATE! I saw a similar pair in Zara Shangri-la! Except the black and white checks were placed diagonally. I swear the resemblance is uncanny. The first time they caught my eye, I was like "Whoa! Vans in Zara?"

The rainbows make this a winner! Keds celestial $40

Colorful, kooky but somehow appealing. Kristen peep toe wedge $29

I'm a frustrated ballerina remember? These would look wonderfully fresh with summer's yellow fever! Jack Purcell ballet flat by Converse $50

These sneakers are a hipper version of what my younger sisters call "plimsolls", a rubber soled shoe they used to wear for gym class when they were studying in the UK. Here in Manila, I see a proliferation of Keds sneakers in the same slip-on style. Check out SM Department store or Robinsons Department store for similar items (look for Keds, Vans and Converse) they carry on stock! Oh and of course! Do see if Topshop still has some available! I saw a couple of pairs at their Mall of Asia oulet some months back!

(Photos courtesy of delias.com)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

You Get Front Row Seats to these Fashion Shows!

Hot off the sky high heels of The Devil Wears Prada comes literal "fashion shows" that promise to take us all behind the scenes of magazine publishing and the fashion industry. According to The New York Times, "Interest in the world of glossy publications and their semi-renowned editors has reached an apogee."

From television shows, to chick-lit books to magazine editor memoirs, we're seeing fashion angled stories flooding the market. The NY Times hypothesizes that this is a result of the "copycat effect", wherein "Both the book and film adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada” were runaway hits, so programming executives and book publishers are eager to repeat those successes."

The article continues with an explanation from Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University. “All of these shows take place at magazines that deal with fashion and celebrity,” Professor Thompson said. “They’re not set at Time or The New Yorker. The intellectual magazines are struggling. The big fashion magazines and celebrity magazines still have a very prominent place in American culture, because the culture is obsessed, absolutely ravenous, about all things celebrity right now.”

Here goes the pipeline for all you fashionistas/couch potatoes:

1. Variety.com calls it "The Devil Wears Prada" -- the original. It seems Ms. Wintour wanted to cash in on her infamy (but hey I still love her!). "A&E IndieFilms and R.J. Cutler are bringing fashion dynamo Anna Wintour to the bigscreen in a feature-length documentary chronicling the making of Vogue's September issue. Cutler will direct the untitled pic, to be shot over the next eight months as Wintour, the infamously demanding editor-in-chief of Vogue, prepares the heavyweight fall fashion issue."

"You see fictionalized versions of Anna all over the place now," Cutler said. "None of them, of course, are as fascinating as Anna herself."

2. Vogue UK spills the beans on a SPIELBERG directed fashion show! Imagine! He has "tapped Christy Turlington and Ed Burns to work with him on a new drama series set in the fashion world. The Hollywood director, who was inspired to put the project together after attending New York Fashion Week, approached Burns, who starred in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, and his supermodel wife, who have been close friends of his for some time. Both will act as executive producers on the show that, according to CONTACTMUSIC.COM, will focus on five twenty-somethings with fashion jobs including a photographer, a designer, a make-up artist and a model."

3. An unlikely fashion heroine, "Ugly Betty" is "the oversized peg in the petite round hole" of fashion magazines, played by the award-winning actress America Ferrera of the show sharing the same name. The series is based on the Colombian telenovela "Yo Soy Betty La Fea," which I remember was shown here in the Philippines, and dubbed in Tagalog! And guess what! The show is produced by red carpet favorite/actress Salma Hayek!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Proenza Schouler for Target

Ok, I must admit the Behnaz line wasn't as great as I expected. Checked it out at Target 3 weeks back and the clothes weren't very "designer quality" like if you know what I mean. But who are we mere mortals to complain? You get what you give, and for $30 for a top by Behnaz, okay I concede. It is a pretty good deal! Sales wise, I think it did very well. They had a few items left hanging on the racks by the time January rolled by.

This February, Target and fashion fans have another line to gear up for! Proenza Schouler by Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough. Their fun fab clothes will be available starting February 1. Check out some of the looks below!






Are those palpitations I hear?

(Photos courtesy of the Target pressroom)

Another Devilish Novel (but with none of the whiny angst)

Read this budding novelist's riveting on-line saga about working in a fashion magazine (Not Vogue) at http://allabouteva.wordpress.com/ (Sorry have no idea how to do links!). Its sort of like The Devil Wears Prada but funnier and less stressful. Chapters 1 to 7 are posted in between her other blog entries, just go and look for it, I'm positive you'll find yourself wanting more.

Its hilarious, glamorous and straight from a true blue fashionista's puckered mouth. None of that "I'm an intellectual, I shouldn't be doing this!" crap. (Oopsie, sorry LW!)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Croco Kid

Style.com's featured beauty icon, Mexican actress Maria Felix, was described in the write-up as " an unrepentant diva...had a penchant for collecting husbands (four, officially) and lovers (Diego Rivera, for one) that was only surpassed by her love of jewelry."

The diva that she was, she deserved nothing less than an emerald-and-diamond-encrusted gold necklace modeled after baby crocodiles. This was said to be the piece de resistance of a collection Cartier released in her honor last year. According to style.com, the piece was specially commissioned for her. "She is reported to have stalked into the Paris boutique with a baby crocodile in tow and asked the stunned jewelers to replicate the reptile in gems, stipulating, no less, that the piece be done to scale."



How come we don't have anymore of these glamorously crazy women these days?

(Photo courtesy of style.com)

Who's That Girl?





Its Rinko Kikuchi (or should i call her Rinko Star?), Hollywood's Japanese import via the critically acclaimed Babel, a film by director Alejandro González Iñárritu starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and a burgeoning style star! Love the mix of classic Chanel and Harajuku cool. Japanese girls rock!

(Photos courtesy of style.com)

Friday, January 12, 2007

ala Lucky Mag

Lucky Magazine beauty editor Jean Godfrey-June shares that Lucky magazine staffers don't freak out at the sight of another person wearing a similar outfit. In fact they are amused by it, and take photos of the duo to post in their board, for all to see!

Sweet Tooth

I'll let you in on my secret stash of sweets: dailycandy.com

According to the website: "DailyCandy, a free daily e-mail newsletter and website, is the ultimate insider's guide to what's hot, new, and undiscovered -- from fashion and style to gadgets and travel. As useful as it is entertaining, it's like getting an e-mail from your clever, unpredictable, and totally in-the-know best friend. The one who knows about secret beauty treatments, must-have jeans, hot new restaurants -- and always shares the scoop."

Apart from scoping out all these trendy stuff, Daily Candy artworks alone are a delight to the discriminating eye! Sometimes I find myself more enthralled with the drawing of the day than the actual product featured! Check out some of my favorites! Think fashionable grown up storybook characters that are softer, more down to earth and real than Jordi Labanda's glamazons!

Its all about the Goyard bag with the hand painted stripes:
Its all about the eccentric, contrasting prints...and the bulldog:
Its all about the calf length pants showing off the slouchy boots:
Its all about the red fringe bag and the cowboy boots:
Its all about the red soled Louboutins:

With thirteen daily editions covering hip and happening spots like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, London, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Philadelphia, Miami, and Seattle plus three weekly editions (Kids, Travel and Deals) you'll be in the loop, whatever time zone you're at. Check out dailycandy.com and sign up for daily emails today!

(Artwork courtesy of dailycandy.com)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bottega Veneta

I just came back from a dinner with my grad school friends Alisa and Conci in Serendra this evening. Alisa, who recently graduated from Bocconi University's MAFED program in Milan, excitedly told us about her job interview with Bottega Veneta!!! They interviewed her for a business analyst position, based in the Italian capital of fashion!

Of course, after shrieks of happiness and ecstatic laughter, questions about employee discounts (estimated between 40% to 60%!), and other Gucci Group employee privileges, we pledged our prayers and wished her the best of luck! Alisa! You are in our prayers! We want what's best for you (and us! ehem ehem!)!

For some strange reason, Bottega Veneta has been in my sphere of thoughts these past couple of days. Some months back, Cons went to a Bottega launch in Greenbelt 4 and saw some exotic skinned bag that she wanted so bad, until she saw the price tag. Recently, one of my best friends received a small Bottega Veneta purse for Christmas and was she shocked to find out that the price of the item was enough for a downpayment for a car! (She incredulously told me about it, and what can I say! I'm sure it was a pleasant surprise! But oh boy! Where there more surprises in store after that! Anyway, that's for me to know and you to find out!) Then Alisa tells us about the job interview!

My friends and their shock and awe Bottega stories! I wonder what'll be mine like?

Keep Your Fingers Crossed

A very reliable source told me that a Filipino retailer is currently working on bringing H&M to our shores!

With news of H&M opening in Shanghai and Hongkong, Manila hopefully will not be too far behind! The H&M folks are treading carefully into Asia and may take some convincing, so let's keep our fingers crossed!!!

The Cat's Meow

I've been on a flats frenzy the past 3 years, and while I've given in to the occasional platforms as dictated by fashion, its just not me. I know that I have and will always be a sprightly, classic, flats kind of girl. There are days however when I feel like dressing up a bit. But the thought of wearing high heels makes me feel tired already. So though I've considered getting Louboutins, I've come to a conclusion that its not a wise investment as I'd only wear them once a quarter at the most.

But if push comes to shove, there will always be kitten heels to save "dress up day" for me! Its like high heels and flats meeting halfway to make me and a lot of like minded girls out there as happy and contented as a well fed cat!

Dabbler kitten heel pumps from Nine West

Miu Miu perforated pump

Classic Manolo Blahnik Kidskin Halter

Manolo Blahnik Metallic Crystal Thong Sandal

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pop Tart

What can I say, she's an icon! Kate Moss was immortalized in a series of Warholesque pictures by graffiti artist Banksy. Inspired by Marilyn Monroe (the original tart), Banksy set a new auction record for his pop tarty depiction of Ms. Moss at Sotheby's in London for£50,400.

Here's the financial formula: Kate+Marilyn+Art=Mega Bucks

(Photo courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk)

Celebrity Stylist

The title goes both ways, Rachel Zoe (she dropped her last name Rosenzweig) is THE stylist to the stars and a celebrity in her own right. And the girl just happens to have MY DREAM JOB!

Check out her "resume" from Marshall Heyman's feature story on the pint-sized fashionista in the February 2007 issue of W:

Zoe, 35 and a native of New Jersey, considers herself a "fashion doctor on call, 24/7." She majored in sociology and psychology at George Washington University, and one can only assume that -- with her high-drama twentysomething clients -- she's putting that degree to good use. But she has lately become much, much more than a dressing-room shrink handy with double-stick tape. Besides the 15 clients she dresses at a rate of more than $6,000 a day-among them Jennifer Garner, Keira Knightley, Maria Sharapova, Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz and Salma Hayek -- she designs a collection of ultraexpensive bags for Leiber; consults with piperlime.com, a shoe Web site run by Gap Inc.; styles runway shows for the fashion label Marchesa; is codesigning uniforms for the new Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills; works on the aforementioned ad campaigns for Jimmy Choo, Leiber and any brand a client may be promoting; stars in a current print ad for a Samsung cell phone; and will release her first book, set to be called Style A to Zoe, in the fall. Beyond all this, she is developing a jewelry line, an accessories line and possibly a television show, none of which she is ready to discuss. "I see Rachel almost as a brand herself," says Georgina Chapman, one of the designers behind Marchesa.

One day I will be doing what I love best and follow her footsteps! I have seen a sign! Check out the black polished toes on the lower left hand side of the picture above! Inspired by my sister who had her toes lacquered a deep plum almost black color a couple weeks back, and came out with whiter feet (trust me, this is a major deal -- she thinks her toes are dark & hideous), I bought a bottle of black nail polish from the Face Shop for Php95 a few days back! My sister, future sister-in-law and I then hied off to the neighborhood parlor for a pedi and polish. We're all sporting the same black toes now! It doesn't look goth at all I tell you!



(Photos courtesy of style.com and my camera!)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Great Clothes Swap or How to Swap & Save

Here's something interesting from Stylephile.com that I hope should catch on here in Manila!

A fool proof guide to hosting a clothes swap

By Variety Staff, Monica Corcoran

Every woman has a few fashion orphans in her closet. Like those Miu Miu platforms that torture your toes. Or that Hermes "H" belt that cinches too tight. And who hasn't invested in a pair of designer "wish" jeans that will only fit if you get two parasites? FYI: Wishing for a parasite is a big, fat waste of a wish.

Women in Hollywood and New York know that it's better to recycle than never wear. It's time to host a clothes swap.

How to trade up a J. Crew for a Chloe? Or politely decline a low ball offer for your Balenciaga? Here's a fool proof game plan for a successful swap:

1. Keep it small and familiar. Your first swap should be amongst no more than five friends. Explain to each one that she must bring clothes, shoes, jewelry and/or bags that are in very good condition. No Merlot-stained sweaters or broken heeled Manolos. (If there is a tiny tear or flaw, it should be pointed out right away.)

2. Have each pal put her wares in a neat pile in front of her. (Mixing all of the offerings in one big pile can result in a rumble.) Everyone sits in a circle and then you go around and each person gets to ask to see one item in another pile. After examining it, she should decide if she wants to make an offer or pass. Next! (This may sound over organized, but try separating two girls grabbing for the same vintage equestrian boots.)

3. Money should not change hands. If someone complains that her Balenciaga is worth ten times more than a pair of cubic zirconia earrings, tell her that it's better to own something that she will actually wear. If someone gets truly petty, she loses a turn. (That will keep the peace, for sure.)

4. Aim to have all items exchanged by the end of the night. Serving wine helps. If you have a surplus of nice shopping bags in your closet, pass them around. The key is to make sure that all of your guests go home with something new.

5. Donate leftovers to Dressforsuccess.org or a nearby shelter for women. Drink leftover wine.

(Photo from stylephile.com)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Free Gift with Purchase

Estee Lauder conceptualized the above concept, but Lucky magazine beauty editor Jean Godfrey-June brings it to a whole different level, with her biography and memoir on the beauty industry.

Let me explain. I'm not your cosmetics kind of girl. I'd rather spend money on a new pair of shoes than splurge it all on make-up or expensive body care products. Case in point, I don't even know how to apply on eye shadow and cannot shape my own brows for the life of me. But somehow, I could relate to this book. As Jean Godfrey-June says, "Everybody loves beauty products. Even if you think you know nothing about them, or even if you think you hate them, you actually know plenty about them and, in fact, have several of them that you love. You have major opinions that lie barely beneath the surface. Women whomodestly/moralistically claim to "never use all that beauty stuff" are big Clinique ladies, usually with a healthy helping of Neutrogena."

Reading this book was quite a revelation! It brings us behind the scenes of magazine publishing and confirms that the fashion industry can be a snake pit. Ms. Godfrey-June previously worked at Elle magazine, and shares with us instances that confirm that "The Devil Wears Prada" situations are leaning towards fact, rather than fiction. But of course, the upside of being in the industry are free beauty products and a fashion closet brimming with designer goodies to raid whenever an important event comes up!

Here's a sneak peek from the hardcover edition: From the beloved beauty editor of Lucky magazine comes a dishy, charming, and insightful memoir of an unlikely career. Combining the personal stories of a quirky tomboy who found herself in the inner circle of the beauty world with priceless makeup tips (Is there really a perfect red lipstick out there for everyone? Which miracle skin potion actually works?), Jean Godfrey-June takes us behind the scenes to a world of glamour, fashion, and celebrity.

Godfrey-June's funny, smart, outsider perspective on beauty has set her apart since she first started writing her popular "Godfrey’s Guide" column for Elle magazine. In Free Gift with Purchase, she invites us into the absurd excess of the offices, closets, and medicine cabinets of beauty editors. From shelves upon shelves of face lotion, conditioner, lipstick, eye cream, wrinkle reducers, and perfume to thoroughly disturbing "acne breakfasts" and "cellulite lunches"; from the lows (a makeover from hell, getting pedicure tips from porn stars) to the highs (the glamour of the fashion shows in Paris, lounging in bed with Tom Ford, a flight on Donald Trump's private jet, and landing her dream job at Lucky magazine), we see it all.

Like a friend sharing the details of her incredibly cool job, Jean lets us in on the lessons she's learned along the way, about the eternal search for the right haircut and the perfect lip gloss, of course—but more important, about what her job has meant to her and why she loves what she does, blemishes and all.

(Photo courtesy of amazon.com)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Scentsational

I normally try to post a little something new everyday to share with you, but lately, as some of you may have noticed, I've had intermittent postings the past two weeks! So, sorry for that! I just came back from a 2 week vacation in Richmond, BC with my fiance and my future in-laws and it was nothing short of sensational! It was a fun filled two weeks, never mind that the weather was hovering on the range of 3 to 5 degrees! But as my friend Nina once told me, there's no such thing as bad weather conditions, only badly dressed people. So to beat the cold, I bundled up when we went out, and took a slot beside Princess the cat in front of the fireplace while indoors! (That is, when not snuggling next to my dear fiance, haha!)

There's plenty of good food on that side of the coast, the freshest salmon sushis, the sweetest, plumpest shrimps (you should try the hakaws in this dimsum place in front of the Richmond Centre! super yummy!), the biggest crabs (Alaskan King crabs hello!), the best go-to place for cheap and generous portions of Chinese food (Richmond Public Market), the widest variety of curries (Indian, Singaporean, Malaysian, etc), and the best Korean cuisine (try Jang Mo Jib! That restaurant is always in my dreams darn it!) We ate out a lot that's for sure! So in between bonding with family, eating out and crossing the border to do some outlet shopping (Yeah!) that leaves little time for surfing the net, teehee!

Anyway, after a sensational holiday, I was inspired to write about a scentsational person, Jo Malone! I first heard about her from my sister Trina who brought home a bottle of French Connection's signature scent back in 1995 (At the time, French Connection still wasn't known as the controversial FCUK, and the scent was packaged in the simple, yet distinctly Jo Malone clear bottle with black and cream accents). Still relatively unknown in other shores, except for those in the know, Ms. Malone created the fragrance exclusively for French Connection. And was it a hit with the London crowd as it was with us! My sister found herself sharing the bottle with me, and most of our friends who couldn't resist spritzing the scent on ourselves before leaving the house! (You know who you are! Haha!)

According to Vogue UK, Jo Malone's fascination with fragrance started early: roses in the garden, the Eau Sauvage on her father's shirts and the sun-warmed fur of the family Labrador. Jo mixed her own creations even then, using rose petals, leaves, lemon and orange skins and grated Camay soap. "I'd put them in the fridge and my sister would get sick because she'd think they were something to eat," she admits. Jo grew up in Bexleyheath in Kent with her mother, Eileen, a beautician and her artist father.

At 17, Jo headed to London and took a job at Pulbrook and Gould, florist to the Royal Family. To supplement her £29-a-week pay packet she worked as a gardener in the evenings but still got up at 4am to go to the flower market. Within a couple of years though she was back in the beauty business, giving facials to wealthy women by day and mixing face creams in her kitchen at night.

Jo was 19 and husband-to-be Gary was 23 when they met. "I fell head-over-heels in love," she says. They married two years to the day after they first met and later joined forces in the business, putting their savings into renting a one-bedroom flat in Chelsea, where Jo used the bedroom to give beauty treatments. She soon became known as 'the girl who does faces'.

At a time when others in the business were relying on new-fangled electronic facial equipment to impress clients, Jo relied simply on her hands. Her attention to clients' individual needs and her obvious creative talent for fragrance combining and product invention meant that an initial client list of just 12 soon swelled to thousands.

Ever the canny businesswoman, one inspired idea Jo had in the early days was to give her very first clients her first creation - Nutmeg & Ginger Bath Oil - as a thank you gift for their business. One client ordered an extra 100 bottles to give to friends, 86 of whom called to place further orders of their own for the delicious scent.

Having spotted a gap in the market for unique fragrances created by combining unexpected elements, Jo set off to France to work with perfume specialists in the city of Grasse.

Jo's sense of smell is so acute that she is able to sniff out her husband from, if not a hundred paces, certainly from considerably further away than most people could manage. "I know when my husband's around. He's got a very earthy, quite manly smell," she says. Once, alone in New York on business, she was sure she recognised her husband's scent in the hotel lobby. She was right; he had flown over to surprise her.

Having once created a lemon fragrance for the scented hand wipes in McDonald's, Jo admits to being business savvy. "I'm a merchant at heart," she says. However, it's her husband who acts as the company's managing director today, having given up his job as a building surveyor years ago to work alongside her.

A self-confessed control freak, when Jo goes on holiday she takes her own white linen sheets with her and likes them changed and starched every two days. She also takes her scent-making kit and a dictaphone to keep by the bed - just in case. She insists her bed linen is treated with her own Linen Sprays. "I'm a real perfectionist," she says. "I like things really ordered. There's a little bit of the Howard Hughes in me."

Jo opened her first store at 154 Walton Street in London in 1994. In 1999, she launched her flagship store in London's Sloane Street. That same year her company was purchased by Estée Lauder with Jo still at its UK helm as chairwoman and creative director. Post-sale the Jo Malone brand expanded still further, thanks to the new research, financial, marketing and distribution opportunities offered by being part of the Estée Lauder family. "It's a security blanket," she says. "I've always said I wanted 50 to 60 years in this business. I want to be doing this when I'm an old lady. Now I know that the business is safe. I remember at one meeting saying to my managers: 'We'll be the best in the world in five years,' and they thought I was mad. Today, with the help of Estée Lauder, I can see it happening."

Jo's passion for scent and skin care remains as intense today as it was when it all began. In March 2002, Jo Malone launched a skin care collection, followed in 2003 by a Facial Finishers Collection, a Coffee Fragrances & Tasting Bar concept and a Basil Outdoor Living Collection in 2004. Found in the world's most fashionable bathrooms, Jo counts Yasmin Le Bon, Jodie Kidd and Kate Moss among her legion of famous fans.

Today, the company has ten stores in the UK and Ireland, one in New York's Flatiron Building, over 300 concessions in department stores across the US and a shop in Sydney, Australia.

Check out her site at jomalone.com and find out for yourself the treasures she has in store for you!


So, with a sweet scent to set the mood for 2007, I greet you all a HAPPY AND BLESSED NEW YEAR! May all your goals be achieved, and your aspirations be realized this year!

(Photos courtesy of Vogue UK and jomalone.com)
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