Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Barneys & Bergdorf's: A Shoepacalypse

There was discussion among the downtown set at Anna the other day that the shoes at high-end department stores were crazy, ugly and/or unwearable. I thought that sounded plausible, but wanted to do some real investigation (while looking for some new boots) myself, so I headed to two meccas: Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman.

Um, yeah, holy tacky cheese fest. There were easily 8,000 pairs of shoes and boots between the two stores, and I liked about 4 of them. I'm not even going to get into the absurd cost factor, but it seems to me that these retail shrines have turned to pandering to the lowest common denominator of style. Think Sopranos. And beyond style, who can actually wear these 9" heels?

Speaking of which, as I walked in the door of Bergdorf's Furio from the Sopranos was walking out. And no I am not kidding.

My quest continues. It's possible that this year in shoes is a wash. Or it may be time to refurbish ye olde boots in the closet. Either way, I shall continue to seek on all of our behalves.

p.s. Just say NO to over-the-knee boots. Especially if you are not 5'8" or taller!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Best 'Poo and Conditioner

Short story: Go to Ricky's and buy this shampoo/conditioner brought to the masses by Deva Products. The products run between $15-$36 a bottle.

Slightly longer story: I was getting extremely concerned about my oft-color-treated 'do - it was turning into cotton candy and falling out in record volume. My fab hair stylist (Helik at Mario Diab) quickly snapped into action by changing up my hair color a bit and demanding that I go fetch myself some no-poo/low-poo products. I did as he said, and after a couple of weeks I truly noticed a vast improvement in the quality of my wig. Give it a try, I suspect you won't be disappointed. Oh, and stop washing your hair so much!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Starting Sept. 25: Built by Wendy Sample Sale

From PAPER magazine's VIP Newsletter:

Built by Wendy, the fashion line catering to every side-parted hipsterella worth her WNYC tote bag, is having a three-day-long fall sample sale. Oversized wool felt coats are $180 (originally $405), wool drop-waist button-front jumpers are $85 (originally $279), canvas fishtail parkas are $100 (originally $326), and men's herringbone sport jackets are $100 (originally $280).
Built by Wendy, 46 N. 6th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718) 384-2882.
Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 12-6 p.m.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sept 22-24: Slane & Slane Sale

September 22-24
Tues 2-7; Wed 10-6; Thurs 10-7
48 West 25 Street(6 Avenue-Broadway)
11 Floor

Sample & stock sale. Save 50 to 70% off Slane & Slane designs. This sale will offer a large assortment of 18kt gold and sterling silver rings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets and earrings. Sterling silver rings for $60 (retail $120), 18k cuff for $1,620 (retail $5,400) or freshwater oval pearl necklace for $165 (retail $330).
Mastercard, Visa, American Express and cash accepted. All sales final.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jutta Neumann Closes Retail Location

So I had the sale card sitting right there on top of my microwave, and didn't realize that the reason for the "buy 1, get second 80% off" sale was due to the fact that Jutta Neumann is CLOSING the retail store on 158 Allen St. And now the sale is over. I am sad but not surprised as the last time I was in there we had a discussion about how oppressive retail rents are...

Anyway, it looks as though you can still buy the iconic handmade goods online. So do that instead.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Little King Ltd.: The Best Bracelet on E. 9th St.

Finally! I made it to Little King Ltd. yesterday after years of seeing their ads and thinking "why have I not yet gone to Little King Ltd?"

Well my glorious monkeys, I have to say it was worth the trip, if not only to come upon certainly the best bracelet on E. 9th St., if not the whole of the East Village. And here it is! It is a most substantial piece, and yes the heart is comprised of real, live red rubies. Like a million of them. And so goes the story - you get what you pay for, so alas our fine bracelet is not cheap! But it is one of a kind, and I was told that a similar sister bracelet is on its way shortly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Store to Watch (and Shop at): Change of Season

I went to the opening of Change of Season in the East Village (341 E. 9th Street) last night and am adding it to my list of stores to watch...and go to...often.

Tagged as "a boutique outlet," owner Clinton explained to me that he carefully procures pieces from last season among various non-U.S. based, high-end designers, including Vivienne Westwood, Dries Van Noten, Comme des Garcons and more. The prices are reduced to the point of actually affordable (most things I liked seemed to fall in the $125-$285 range) and the quality is impeccable. And almost as important, the variety includes all kinds of shapes and sizes. He is looking to expand the breadth and depth and I intend on offering him some ideas.

Additionally, the jewelry selection from Milan-based GM Collections and Florence-based Gaggio (see photo) were thrilling, especially Gaggio's bronze skulls with hand worked beading necklaces. Again the prices were in the attainable range, and well worth checking out in person.
Located in the old "Enchantments" retail space, I'd have to say...it's witchcraft...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WSJ: Style: Heard on the Runway / News From New York Fashion Week Spring 2010

Since I got boxed out of Fashion Week yet again, I thought I would provide you with a decent roundup from Christina Binkley at The Wall Street Journal:

Style: Heard on the Runway / News From New York Fashion Week Spring 2010
By Christina Binkley
16 September 2009
The Wall Street Journal

Marc Jacobs Air-Kisses the '80s Goodbye
Usually, you show up at fashion shows fashionably late. For Marc Jacobs, you show up a half-hour early. Anna Wintour was already there for the 8 p.m. show when I arrived at 7:30. The only person who strolled in looking unworried at precisely 8 p.m. was Madonna, her hair blown dry and poofed like a blonde That Girl.
Spread the word: Marc Jacobs is as punctual as a German train these days.
Jacobs brought us the whole 1980s power-clothes thing last year. Now, just as the rest of the world is getting in sync with shiny leggings, big-shouldered jackets and blouses pleated at the neck, he's moved on. His show Monday night was juicy and surreal -- and incredibly, laughably feminine. It was a circus of ruffles and frills, tamed by some 1960-ish men's trench coats and a touch of S&M wear. It was the opposite of power dressing.
Supermodel Jessica Stam wore a kinky black plastic (or patent) suit with holes cut out and huge epaulette-type ruffles at the sleeves. There were gray "Mad Men" trenches belted over lacy dresses.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the crazy styling of Jacobs's shows. This season, the models' faces were powdered white, and their hair was drawn up tight. They looked like cabaret clowns.
But look closely: Those fabulous "Mad Men" trenches were nearly vintage. A series of softly pink and mossy silk blouses could be worn in any boardroom. There was a nearly collegiate sportswear feel to some knitwear. The bags were rich-looking and the shoes mostly flat sandals, but they looked hard to walk in because the heels were several inches in under the sole.
Vera Wang Gets Personal
Vera Wang's clothes don't change drastically from season to season. There's an intimate quality to her work, as well as her shows. If you're a fan, you're going to find a satisfying consistency in her collections, which aren't the bridal gowns she's most known for.
This is the clothing Wang wears herself -- her personal style: black and gray silk sheaths, jackets transparent and light as a feather, and sculptural creations using tiny strips of fabric sewn together for texture.
A highlight at her Tuesday show was a black faille jacket and ivory-washed tank worn over a flanged skirt cut on the bias. Another was a series of prints -- lavender-colored flowers on a black background -- on which Wang had tacked each flower by sewing over and over a small square. It gave texture and richness to the lovely print and will be a signature as loud as her name.
Rodarte's Tattoo Theatrics
From the theatrical smoke on the runways to the mud-painting tattoos drawn on the models' arms, and the ragged, gauzy, vegetable-toned cheesecloth that draped the models' bodies, Kate and Laura Mulleavy's world is tribal and apocalyptic. It's Mad Max emerging from a cave, but dressed with the extraordinary artistic skills of two of fashion's most daring designers.
Their label, Rodarte, is becoming known more for artistry than sales. True to form, there was little in the collection, shown Tuesday, that could be worn to most offices. These are clothes for artists, special events and collections. It's hard to imagine that they could even be dry-cleaned. Yet they get you thinking.
Dresses were made from cheesecloth, silk linen and ruched leather, some covered with cobwebs of wool, which also wrapped the models' hair. Hand-braided belts -- some of the more sellable items -- encircled waists. There were macrame dresses with yarn hanging in strands. And in them, elaborately, were lace, velvet and leather wound and draped and stitched to look haphazard.
The audience was crawling with celebrities. Sunny Elijah Wood chatted with teen blogger Tavi beforehand. Backstage, actor Jason Schwartzman talked to model Madisyn. A spectacularly heavily made-up Courtney Love chatted animatedly. Kirsten Dunst sat in the front row.
As for the influential styles that will come of this show, I'm looking forward to a whole new trend in arm tattoos.
Stuart Channels Cher
Women of various generations flocked to Jill Stuart's noon show at the New York Public Library Tuesday. Teen girls watched while cameras trailed Leigh Lezark, Kim Kardashian, Kelly Rowland and Peaches Geldof to their chairs. A bevy of Bravo's "Real Housewives" from the New York and New Jersey editions attended.
While last season's collection was softly feminine, with fluffy tulle skirts and puff sleeves, this season's collection was all aggressive sex appeal. Body-hugging dresses with revealing sheer panels and cut-outs suggested an '80s exhibitionist club girl. Most dresses were cut so ultra-short that models tugged at the hems, with a few inadvertent flashes as they took their runway walk.Stuart says this collection's "angel rocker girl" look was inspired by Cher. A silver mesh dress was cut so low in the front and back that it prompted the question about what underthings one would wear with it. "You can't," Stuart said with a laugh. "You have to be pretty risky to wear that."
-- Elva Ramirez

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Great Hamburger Experience: Miller's Bar, Dearborn MI

I found myself in the cutting-edge town of Dearborn, MI this past weekend and had been informed that for one of the best burgers in the country, I had to go to Miller's Bar on Michigan Ave. So my family and I went.

Our first challenge was finding a door to get in - the first door we opened led right into the men's room. The second door looked like once we stepped in that we might never return. But brave and hungry we soldiered on. The largest table in the place sits four, so we arranged five chairs around a four-person table and waited for our waitress. She appeared and barked at each person:
"Whaddya want?" Hamburger.
"Cheese or no cheese?" No cheese.
"How do you want that done?" Medium.
"Fries or rings?" Fries.

Note that we got no menu (there isn't one) and she didn't tell us what they had (turns out they have a few other sandwiches, but no desserts).

The burgers arrived. On pieces of thin wax paper. There was nary a plate in sight. But we ate every last bit and rejoiced.

Then the waitress returned:
"You guys ever been here before?" No.
"Well you don't get a bill." You mean it's free?
"NO! We're on the honor system. Go tell the guy at the bar what you had and he'll tell you how much."

So how were the burgers? They were good, but I think the Miller's experience is the real draw. And this from a New Yorker who thought she had seen it all.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Album Launch of Note: Visqueen's "Message to Garcia"

Please Guerillas, I implore you to check out Visqueen's third album, "Message to Garcia." It's rock by Rachel Flotard, a lady who is really good at rocking. She's the ultimate kind of leadin' lady that girls want to be and guys want to be with. In fact, she was named Seattle's "fifth most bangable rocker" by The Stranger. She has been known to travel and sing with Neko Case, and in return, the lovely and talented Neko sings on "Message."

But wait! There more! Inspired by her dad's NYC Steamfitters union, Rachel has launched the new album on her very own new label called Local 638 Records. As the touching but excellent story goes, she was the primary caregiver to her dad for six years. She moved him out from NJ (where she grew up) so they could be together. Sadly, he passed away a little more than a year ago, but not before this Visqueen mini-biography was filmed for kstw.com. It's worth the seven minutes it takes to watch Rachel in action, and ol' George steals the show: http://kstw.com/underground/Visqueen.Seattle.Band.2.480734.html

And if you don't believe me, then believe John Richards, the host of KEXP's Morning Show in Seattle: "If it's possible to top their excellent debut, Visqueen has done just that. The long awaited third album from one of Seattle's best bands shows a ton of growth with even catchier songs and really tight songwriting. Every song is a single. One of the best records of the year."

Buy it here, $11.99 album/$0.99 per groove: http://www.amazon.com/Visqueen/e/B000APSR14/ref=ntt_dp_epwcd_T1_0

Report from the Front: Fashion Night Out

Thanks to Nancy Brenner for reporting on the new national holiday (while I was home sick last night!):

Major missed opportunity for men - bevy of fashion forward women who dressed like they were going to sashay down the red carpet at the Emmy's next week. Platform heels, ankle booties, mini dresses and toned thighs abounded - and that wasn't even the celebs. Started at Saks expecting scores of major makeup freebies as widely promoted. Not so much. I went to numerous counters and I'm too much of a lady to name names, but the consensus was sample only with purchase. Estee Lauder did it right - offered nice samples of Private Collection Jasmine White Moss - and you didn't have to go to the counter to beg for it. Blowout from Frederic Fekkai - only one person doing blowouts - until 7 - for thousands of women on the main floor. On the plus side, I got to meet Teri Jon designer Rickie Freeman who was very gracious and thanked me for coming over. I was two steps away from Elie Tahari who was posing for pics with customers. Spotted David Yurman. And met new to Saks, designer Yoana Baraschi who assured me that her stunning black and red knit color block number featured in the catalogue would fit me - and she was right. She even told me the secret to her rockin legs - Pilates. Wish there was a Nielsen's overnight ratings for sales - just curious how many credit card swipes aside from the makeup counters which were jam packed when I left.

Next stop Prada. Grace Coddington striking flaming red hair and all signing stacks of Vogue - standing with September little red riding hood model Sasha - looking teensy, but gorgeous next to her. I asked about the free t-shirts for Fashion Night Out they were supposedly giving out - but again, this was a gift with purchase.

The big B - Bergdorf's was bustling. Headed straight up the escalator determined to meet the Olsen twins at 7 p.m. Escalators were packed and they stopped letting people on to the 7th floor where the Olsens were supposed to be tending bar. Lots of smells mixed in - free chocolate and nut bits, flowing wine and strangely sausages. Seventh floor was packed worse than the A train at rush hour, but Olsens were nowhere in sight at the appointed hour and many of the hoards simply left in search of water. Ground floor packed with paparazzi snapping pics of celebs. Lots of people buying "Fashion's Night Out" tees. Disappointed hot Olsen fans just left. Major line of fashionistas waiting to get into the store. BG - A+ for coolest crowd, food and liquor freebies, empty makeup counters - if you really wanted a makeup makeover, this was your opportunity.

Final stop - Stacy London of "What Not to Wear" fame - pumped up arms, black peep toe ankle boots. Was standing right next to her at Ann Taylor when she picked out a soul in the crowd who needed a little bit of London tough love. Have to admit, it's one thing when you're fashion quarterbacking from your couch, and another when you are just an eyeball away from her as she's deciding who needs a new bra. London's dad was there - I asked him when she started her shopping sprees - he said she as always a big shopper. London offered to help everyone in the dressing room - the ultimate personal shopper.

Fashion Night Out - Where else can you mix with designers, celebs, models and real people? "What's Not to Like" Just paying retail...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Daffy's: Quick Current Sales

Ben Sherman outerwear for ladies starting at $39.99, with a suggested retail of $189.00. Lulu Bravo 100% cashmere twin sets, at $119.99, with a suggested retail of $260.00.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A report from The Front: Labor Day Edition

As experienced by Nancy Brenner:

My biggest retail boot score ever (so far) was yesterday at Barneys' Warehouse Sale, in the shape of Fiorentini+Baker - the uber stylish buckle boot that also does double duty as an awesome ankle boot as well - $85. Yes - $85 - reduced from $650.

So, there was a little work involved - like trying to bypass the Labor Day line by coming in later, figuring I'd miss the die-hards who came in at 9 a.m. to be the first ones at the starting gate at 10 a.m.

Wrong - waited with the Manolo masses for 40 minutes to get in, at which point the shoe shelves were nearly bare. I begged them to bring in the brown bags in the storeroom with my size - a few paltry pairs at that. Fiorentini boots in hand, I waited on the 'matching pair' line to discover they bought one boot that was full length and the other one ankle. I begged them to find the match - they did - but buckles were missing. Next step - brown buckles appeared instead of black ones - they suggested dye. I suggested finding black buckles. They did. So it was a bit of a project.

Next -- The line to pay was full of disheveled harried women in need of a bio break and their shoes. I used my back-up strategy and headed to the men's department to close the deal. The line was more than double its normal size - but the men were much more relaxed than the women (p.s. why doesn't Cosmo suggest Barney's as a place to meet guys - men are asking the few women there for fashion advice).

Oprah - bring Gail to the Barney's Warehouse Sale sale! You don't have to come in stilettos or makeup or run with a dog to get attention here.

Ladies - note to selves for next big Barneys sale - head to the men's department - they come pre-certified and well-dressed!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

LORAC Makeup: Major Online Sale

Get this massive VIP starter kit from LORAC for...are you sitting? $18.50 by clicking HERE!

A $160.00 value
Only available at loraccosmetics.com while supplies last.
3 Eye Shadows in "Cappuccino", "Harmony", and "Persuasion"
2 Lip Polishes in "Delicious" and "Bliss"
Front of the Line Liquid Eye Liner in Black
2 Cream Lipsticks in "Eloise" and "Charity"
Mini TANtalizer Baked Bronzer
Double-Ended Eyeliner/Shadow Brush

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Boots That Taunt Me

YES, this is my most favorite time of year because it means that fall is coming and I can buy BOOTS. I found these two pairs online and I love them both. But as is typical with tales of love, this one is tragic. The black Stuart Weitzman's are not only on sale for $385.20 (yes, not exactly a give-away, but less than the original $535), but they also have an elastic back for comfort and style and they are just perfect for me. Except for the fact that the largest size they are offering is 6.5. I am guessing they are leftovers from last year. Sigh. Then, the tall tie-ups (aka "the Daria") from the shoe masters at Donald J. Pliner remind me of my blue leather Kenneth Cole boots I adored back in the 80s. But at $595 and with a 4" heel, this frugal old lady can't commit. My quest for boot love continues...

Sept. 14-21: Openhouse Gallery Sample Sale/Flea Market

Openhouse Gallery* is having a sample sale/flea market from September 14-21, during the Feast of San Gennaro, right on the street where the festival takes place (201 Mulberry Street). It will include men's and women's clothing and shoes at discounted prices as well as hats, jewelry, artwork, and other fun stuff. They also have a few spots available if anyone is interested in booking a space where they can sell their unique and interesting goods.
*Showcasing an all-white 4,500 square-foot retail gallery with 16' ceilings and five massive skylights, Openhouse was designed to cater to the emerging real-estate trend of pop-up retail marketing and event promotion.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sept 3: Hickey Freeman Showroom Sample Sale

Showroom Sample Sale
September 3, 2009
10 – 4pm
At the hickey showroom
745 Fifth Avenue
Suite 500
Sample size 40 regulars and Mediums
Suits - $199
Sport Jackets - $150
Everything Else 80% off

Visa, American Express & Master Cards Accepted