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BEAUTY & FASHION

Verragio's New "Make It Yours" Engagement Ring Campaign

Mable Yiu

It always feels like once one person in your friend group gets engaged, everyone else starts getting engaged and it’s party after party, wedding after wedding. However, something very important to soon-to-be brides is of course the engagement ring, which can sometimes become very hard to choose if you want something unique. This is where Verragio, NYC-made designer engagement and wedding rings, comes into the picture. According to them, “the possibilities are endless when it comes to customization,” which is why they recently launched their latest “Make It Yours” campaign.

With this new program, couples can build the perfect ring together on their website. For example, you can start the base off with an existing ring on their website and then you can personalize it by changing the cut of the center stone and type of metal, adding intricate details like lacing, beading and tiaras, and going from there. As founder and designer Barry Verragio told us, they "never say something is impossible," meaning that you can really build the ring of your dreams. Because sometimes, more is more.

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Verragio

When Fashion Meets Technology: Recap of the 3rd Annual Fashion Tech Forum

Mable Yiu

In it's third year, the Fashion Tech Forum (FTF) 2016 was held at Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn, New York. Numerous speakers from successful brands (such as Snapchat, Verizon, DVF, Google, Theory and Everlane) came together to discuss topics such as: human curation in the digital age, transforming retail experiences, and redefining a legacy brand. Here, we are sharing our key takeaway points from this year's FTF.

FTF founder, Karen Harvey, started the morning off by giving the attendees some words of inspiration: "Leaders are those who try to know what they don't know." As a Zen practitioner, she talked about the importance of taking a little time to "go away" and clear the mind, which is why her introduction was followed by a meditation session led by Zen priest and teacher, Roshi Enkyo O'Hara. Roshi talked about how both things and we are changing—comparing it to being on a river boat where it seems as if "the shore is moving, but it is we that are moving." It was a delightful start to the day, and we learned how important it is so spend at least ten minutes a day to appreciate our lives regardless of the challenges or pressures we are currently facing. 

Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast.
— Laurent Potdevin, CEO of lululemon

Later on, lululemon's CEO, Laurent Potdevin, touched upon the idea of balancing mindfulness and innovation by saying the "only way to have a high-performing culture is to have mindfulness and being in the present. Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast." Someone with a different perspective was Robbie Meyers, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE, a magazine that has proved to be very innovative and technology-savvy by incorporating aspects of online platforms, television, and virtual reality into their storytelling. Robbie shared her definition of the "modern woman," where there is no work-life balance, and how we should be lucky to feel worn out at the end of each day, since we have all these choices that women did not have in the past. 

Throughout the rest of the forum, common themes discussed included innovation, wearable technology and redefining the luxury experience. Talking about their Innovation Center, stationed nearby their SF headquarters, President and Ceo of Levi's, Chip Bergh, explained their partnership with Google to create wearable, washable, and hidden technology—their new denim jacket for the "urban commuter" that transfers phone capabilities to the jacket cuff (basically, you can get directions and get calls from people without having to take out your phone while biking). It's the perfect example of how technology should be incorporated into fashion as a "mini superpower," where "if you're not using it, you don't see it."

Tesla's VP of North America Sales, Ganesh Srivats, brought up the point that the fashion and tech worlds actually face the same problemsstriving to establish physical and real customer experience and to reach millennial customers in new ways. This is why Tesla opened their Red Hook, Brooklyn location (so New Yorkers have the opportunity to test drive the cars), why the majority of employees in the store are product specialists (to educate people) rather than salespeople, and why everyone who attended the forum got a free overnight loan of a Tesla for the true luxury car experience.  Similarly, speakers from Rent the Runway, Spring and Maple, gave helpful advice on human curation and customer service in the digital age: 1) Customer service online should be like navigating through a retail store in that people can choose to explore the site on their own or ask for assistance, and 2) Staff should always be honest with recommendations, instead of lying to increase sales, in order to build loyalty.

It takes extreme focus to achieve extraordinary results.
— Sarah Robb O’Hagan, Author and Founder of EXTREMEYOU

Following lunch, Sarah Robb O'Hagan gave an energizing, inspirational keynote, telling us to be "extreme," and to challenge ourselves in order to "change the game." A big takeaway from her talk was to "get our of your comfort zone to become curious, [and to] listen, learn and grow" and that "it takes extreme focus to achieve extraordinary results." According to Sarah, "needs are evolving faster than we are...[which is why] you need to make investments without knowing what's going to happen. You can't make judgements or decisions based on what's worked in the past."

In regards to changing the game, Everlane Founder and CEO, Michael Preysman, shared how they are doing just that by releasing their products one a timerather in collections every yearsince why should they create multiple t-shirts if they have one really good t-shirt? Michael also explained how they are using social media as a two way street to get a view into their customers's alives, which aligned with Robbie Myers' (ELLE Magazine) point that engagement on social media was good whether they are agreeing or disagreeing. However, even with social media, Michael points out that you can't change the need for building a community with physical experiences, and he hints that they may be looking into physical spaces for Everlane…

A tree may not look good with few, small branches, but in the spring, it will be bigger.
— Diane von Furstenberg, Founder and Co-Chairman of DVF

Our last takeaway comes from the ever-fabulous Diane von Furstenberg, her CEO Paolo Riva, and DVF's newly appointed Chief Creative Officer, Jonathan Saunders. DVF's panel was one of the highlights in our opinion, because of how much wisdom, advice and humor she was able to pack in 30 minutes. Diane explained how they needed to reinvent the business model and to have new branding without taking away from the heritagewhich is why she had to take a step back to let Jonathan succeed and "push the refresh button." She also spoke about her role as the President of the CFDA, saying that the digital revolution has hit every industry, and that "we are all surfing a tsunami" with an unknown destination. Because of that, you have to focus on what makes you different and what you can offer. And some last words of advice: "It's an advantage to be small. Everybody can have a website and social media... A tree may not look good with few, small branches, but in the spring, it will be bigger." 

And with that, we'll be thinking of ways we can innovate and "change the game" in our own lives. Till next year's forum...

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Fashion Tech Forum

Q&A with Shannon Lima, Founder of Pickles N' Roses

Mable Yiu

How did you come up with the name Pickles N' Roses?

Pickles N’ Roses is named after my Grandmother’s nickname “Grandma Rose Pickle Nose. Growing up I would help my Grandmother at local fairs and craft shows. She loved creating and selling things, and I loved helping her! So, it only made sense to name the line after her since she was such a huge part of the inspiration behind starting. 

Please tell us about your most popular piece—the knit stretch harem shorties/pants—and how the idea for them came about. 

I was tired of basic baby leggings and wanted something my kids wouldn’t grow out of in a week! So I created comfy-fit harem pants with a foldable ankle cuff and used fun printed, comfortable fabrics. With an oversized fit and our custom stretchy material, our harems will grow with your babe and be super cozy! 

Where do you source your materials/prints from? 

In our FW16 collection, Pickles N’ Rose's team of artists painted every pattern by hand exclusively for Pickles. We then make the hand-painted patterns into a digital file and send them to be printed on to our comfy stretch-knit fabrics. Everything is sourced domestically in the United States and printed and handmade in Los Angeles and Brooklyn. We attend fabric trade shows a few times a year to ensure we always have the best and most comfortable fabric possible for our designs! 

Do you have a favorite article of clothing from the line?

I love our harems! They are always a go-to for my kids. Also, for Pickles Fall/Winter, we have adorable long-sleeved twirly day dresses coming out that I am in love with! Can’t wait to have them in the shop in just a few short weeks. 

When you went to fashion school, did you have any idea that you would end up creating your own baby apparel line?

Absolutely not. When I was attending The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, the last thing on my mind was anything baby. Little did I know that very soon, baby-everything would be my entire world. Between my two little girls and Pickles N’ Roses, my life is all about baby and I love it that way. 

What advice to you have for women trying to balance both a family and career?

To be completely and totally honest, it’s not easy and it’s a constant balancing act. When people say, “it takes a village” that is no joke… and I think a lot of moms can relate to that. But, if you have something in life that you love, you can make it work. I’m lucky enough to have a passion that aligns with my kids, they inspire me constantly on new pieces I want to work on, patterns for upcoming collections, etc... But, my advice would be to just let your family inspire you in your career and whatever it is you’re passionate about. And if you’re ever working from home, nap-time is crunch-time. 

When can we expect the shop to re-open?

The shop will re-open at the end of October! We can’t wait to release our new pieces for Fall/Winter—including harem pants, rompers, and our printed day dresses.

What's next for Pickles N' Roses?

We are focusing on expanding to wholesale and the re-launch of our new website. Also, continuing to create the highest-quality, American made and designed pieces for baby! 

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Pickles N' Roses

Q&A with Marla Beck, Co-founder of Bluemercury

Mable Yiu

How has the opening of the East Hampton store impacted the business? 

East Hampton is a great addition for us. Many of our loyal customers from New York are thrilled that they can now find us when they’re vacationing in the Hamptons. Weekends are when they have time to browse, ask our beauty experts questions and find solutions. New clients are loving our complimentary make-up touch ups and learning about new products. The store has been packed all season.

What are some of your best selling products?

  • M-61 Power Glow Peel – A quick, 1-minute glycolic and salicylic acid exfoliating peel with vitamin K, bilberry and chamomile. Simply wipe over your face and follow with your favorite skincare, no need to rinse off…making it great for on the go. I even throw some in my wallet.  It exfoliates and brightens your skin in just 1 minute!
  • M-61 Hydraboost Eye Cream – This cream hydrates and firms.  It’s packed with peptides, Vitamin B-5, soy, and tamarind and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, circles, and puffiness.
  • Skinceuticals CE Ferulic – This wonder serum transforms your skin.  It delivers antioxidants and helps to build collagen, making your skin look smoother and younger.
  • La Mer Crème de la Mer – The original ultra-rich cream that delivers maximum hydration and soothes the skin.  Formulated from La Mer’s amazing miracle broth, an all time favorite.
  • Trish McEvoy Instant Eye Lift – This is a breakthrough under eye treatment that brightens the area under the eyes.  It reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, puffines, and sagging to give your eyes an instant lift.
  • Lune+Aster Stratosphere Volumizing Mascara – This adds great volume and length to your lashes.  It’s paraben free and packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin B-5, and peptides! 
  • ByTerry Rouge Expert ClickStick – This is a great new lip product that’s already becoming a bestseller.  It’s a 3-in-1 hybrid lipstick that’s rich like a balm, precise like a pencil with a uniquely angled tip, and intense like a premium pigment.  It feels very luxurious going on and really stays on all day!
  • Oribe Dry Texturing Spray – This cult favorite, invisible dry hair spray gives you great texture and volume.  Perfect for any occasion!
  • Chantecaille Pure Rosewater – This pure rosewater spray is so refreshing and uplifting!  It contains 100% rare rose de mai petal extracts and essential oils, and helps to give your skin a more youthful appearance.  Spritz it on morning and night, or in the middle of the day for a pick-me-up!
  • This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray – This pillow spray is infused with essential oils of lavender, veltivert, and wild chamomile.  Perfect to prepare you for a restful sleep!
  • Eyeko Eye Do Liquid Eyeliner – This great liner gives you the precision to create the most dramatic cat eye!

What are your thoughts on women in the workplace? As a "woman on top," did you ever face prejudice? Is the empowerment of women important to you and to your brand? 

As a woman in the workplace, confidence crosses all barriers. You have to own the room. Female empowerment is very important, 90% of our employees are women and we strive to offer them a career trajectory and not just a job. When I came into the cosmetics industry in 1999, the majority of employees in the industry were part-time workers and were only given 15 to 25 hours a week and no work during the low season, January, June, July and August. I thought, what would happen if we gave our staff full-time work, benefits and a career path? Veterans in the cosmetics and retail industry said my idea would never work, but I pursued it anyway. This human resource model has turned into our secret weapon. By retaining full-time staff, we also retain their knowledge, customer relationships, loyalty and expertise.

Today, we have staff at Bluemercury who have gone from being sales associates (beauty experts) on our store floor making $16 per hour to being District Managers making $100,000 per year. Most of our staff do not have college educations, but we have taught them how to lead and manage and achieve a level of success that they never imagined they would achieve.

As a married couple, what is it like working together and how have you adjusted to your roles within the company's structure? 

We have worked together for 17 years now. We don’t know any other way! We hold primary responsibility for different areas, both at work and at home. At work, I handle everything that touches the customer—product merchandising, branding, store service delivery, field hiring, product development. Barry does all the real estate development and construction development and deals. At home I am responsible for our meals, the kids homework, their school activities and he is responsible for the social/fun and maintenance/landscaping, etc.

One thing that Barry and I do is to take walks every night together. Winter, spring, summer or fall, we leave the house at 10pm and walk anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. It gives us a chance to catch up on the day and we sleep so well afterwards! We have walked and walked since we met. I think at one point we calculated that we have walked the equivalent of halfway around the globe together.

How do you manage a healthy balance between your work and family lives? 

I believe in integration and not compartmentalization. Life happens while you are building your company. I built my family while I was building Bluemercury. Barry and I have been together for 17 years and married for 14. We have 3 children, ages 13, 11, and 9. Our 13 year-old, Ariel, was born when we were opening store #5, our 11 year-old, Sophie, was born when we opened store #8 and our son was born when we were opening stores 12–20. Some people would say that now is not a good time for me to start a company; others say, I just started my company so I cannot start a family. I think that anyone can make the case that it is never a good time to do either. Live your life, build your company. You will figure it out.

Bluemercury seems rooted in innovation. What are your tips on growing a business and keeping up to date with or being ahead of trends? 

My skillset has always been seeing white space and growth potential and what’s next. You cannot rest on your laurels. The pace of business and competition is faster than it’s ever been. We are continually seeking out and creating new opportunities by listening, watching and observing our customers. Without laser focus and detailed observation of our customers, we would have never been able to grow our business. To build an enduring, scaleable company, you must keep finding growth.

By Sidney Bitter-Larkin

Photos courtesy of Bluemercury

Q&A with Jillian Wright, Founder of Indie Beauty Expo

Mable Yiu

In the beauty industry, there are countless products being introduced into the market every month — many that focus on using all natural ingredients and work to not only enhance natural beauty but to also nourish and benefit the skin. In order to introduce these new independent brands to consumers, press and buyers, Jillian Wright has created the Indie Beauty Expo, held annually in New York and Los Angeles (and soon to be in Dallas starting May 2017!). As an esthetician and founder of her own skincare line, Jillian knows the ins and outs of the beauty industry and gives valuable advice to emerging brands.

On what IBE is to her...

"It’s more of a community and family that we are growing. It’s so nice to see everyone interested in independent beauty, discovering something new, finding an expert source. And of course, the buyers — all you need is that one buyer like Anthropology and Barneys. Because these brands put their heart and soul into these brands and because they are investing so much in themselves, it's nice to see it reciprocated."

On the start of IBE...

"It started in New York. I launched my own skin care line a few years ago, and I thought that having been in the industry for ten years, people would just come to me. But you have to work really, really hard no matter who you are or which famous person you’ve worked on. There’s a lot of competition, so I had to rethink the way that I was going to promote my brand and I decided to do a trade show. After doing tons of research, I couldn’t find one that fits. I felt like a wallflower — why would I spend the time and energy in doing something where I don’t fit in? So I decided to make my own. The press component is interesting because I wanted to create an environment to inspire them. And then the brands feel so good, because it gives them the confidence to grow."

On challenges in keeping IBE successful expo after expo (and her favorite color)...

"You can’t really visualize the kinetic energy in the room when people are together and creating that electricity. Last year definitely exceeded my expectations. Then year after year you have to make sure you keep up that level of interest and excitement, so you can’t be repetitive. There will always be new and fresh brands as the lifeline of the show. We always do something different, having women and men feeling confident and inspired. Everything in the environment is meant to make you feel pretty and lift you up. With that said, we’ll always have something new, inventive and creative. In LA last year, we did a flower wall with real flowers and this year in New York, we decided to go with a floor to ceiling wall of paper flowers, something more avant-garde. I have to admit that purple is my favorite color, so that’s why you see it everywhere. Purple is also the color of strength and the color of being a goddess."

On reaching out to new brands to feature in the expo...

"It’s very relaxing for me to surf beauty on Instagram and I get an emotional connection to the brand. It’s like dating… I’m flirting on Instagram!"

On making each expo unique...

"Every town has its own flavor, just like every brand has its own flavor. We are really in tune with where we have the show, the type of decor…We are never in a white box, and never will be. [In New York,] we ask our exhibitors if they want to stay in the Met Pavilion or if they want us to grow."  

On the IBE team and purpose of the face-to-face aspect of the expo...

"We’ve been growing our team, because your team is everything — it takes a village! Our team is so strong. They each do three times the amount of work they should be doing because they believe in this movement and this platform we are providing for these brands. And it’s only going to catch on. How could it not? It’s all about the brands, the buyers discovering and reconnecting. There’s a lot you can’t convey over social media. Nothing will every replace that human touch."

On expanding internationally...

"We are looking at Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. It requires a lot of research and due diligence but it is already on our radar. We’re taking chances and making it happen."

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Indie Beauty Expo.

One Hour at the Caudalie Spa is All You Need

Mable Yiu

One hour at the Caudalie Spa at the new Westfield World Trade Center, and you'll be walking away relaxed, refreshed and of course, blackhead-free.

We recently visited the spa to try their recently added facial service that incorporates deep cleansing, exfoliation, soothing, and hydrating elements. Created by Caudalie's star esthetician, Regine Berthelot, the facial revolved around the limited edition Jason Wu for Caudalie beauty elixir, a beautiful toning mist that sets make-up, provides an instant burst of radiance, and reduces the appearance of pores. Regine was fantastic in explaining every step and each product used in the treatment. Also, it doesn't hurt that every facial treatment includes a scalp, hand and foot massage, which is the best because it's a facial and massage in one. Other facials they offer include anti-aging, resculpting & anti-wrinkle, brightening, and soothing & hydrating treatments -- all 50 minutes long ($120). For a quick pick-me-up, go for the half hour Express Facial for an instant radiance boost ($65).

Located in the brand new, all-white Oculus building, Caudalie is joined by every store you could desire, from Sephora and Dior to Apple, Smythson and Epicerie Boulud. 

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Caudalie

Fall Trend: Dark Blooms

Mable Yiu

Although florals have long been a summer staple, transferring them into autumn is no easy task. Luckily, many designers have taken to fall foliage for women's wear this season. Valentino, Tanya Taylor, and Tory Burch each displayed bold blooms at their respective runway shows for Fall 2016. 

This trend provides the perfect opportunity to translate your summer wardrobe into fall. Utilize florals in darker tones and focus on layering by pairing a rich-toned floral dress with your favorite leather jacket. If you’re feeling bold, go for a two-piece suit covered in blossoms similar to those shown on the Givenchy and Giambattista Valli runways. Summer doesn’t have to end so soon—make it last by carrying your favorite trends into fall. 

By Kim Chmura

Photo courtesy of Tanya Taylor.

Q&A with Heidi Fossali, Founder of Siro Cashmere

Mable Yiu

When and how did you initially become interested in health and wellness/fitness?

I have been interested in health and fitness ever since I can remember. Growing up in England I was always sporty at school - definitely a team player. I was on the running, swimming, netball and volleyball teams; I was always pretty active. In my early 20’s I was introduced to the gym and to aerobic exercise classes, and I became completely hooked. Soon after I decided to enhance my personal and professional life skills by becoming qualified as a personal fitness trainer.

After moving to Los Angeles, the ‘fitness capital’ of the world, I discovered my ‘wellness world.’ I lived in Malibu with sunny skies, wheatgrass juice for breakfast, organic markets, running on the beach and rollerblading on the boardwalk…I was in heaven. I re-certified in the US as a personal trainer and established a varied and interesting client base.

After 10 years in LA and now living on the French Riviera, I workout 2-3 times per week at the gym as part of a healthy lifestyle – I still love running and probably sneak in around 20km per week.I am also very disciplined in what I feed my body. I truly believe that nutrition is the MOST important component in a healthy and active life.

In the past, you’ve studied makeup, hair design, and fashion. Do you continue to pursue these passions even though fitness is your primary business, and if so, how?

I studied beauty, makeup and hair design for 3 years in the USA and the UK. I then enrolled at college to study fashion retail, buying, and merchandising in London, followed by 2 years working for designer couture collections (Louis Feraud and Nino Cerruti). I then created my own consultancy as a ‘Lifestyle Beauty Coach’ beginning in London and then reintroducing it again 8 years later here on the French Riviera. It was a great way to incorporate ALL 3 of my passions – Faces, Fashion & Fitness.

Clients have included a new mommy wanting her ‘body back’, a new hairstyle, a need to re-balance her skin, a new wardrobe or even just an easy-peasy make-up routine. Another client might be a dynamic business woman with 2 children, 3 houses, an equally dynamic husband, a busy social life and a demanding schedule. We exercised at the gym twice a week, and I created an effective, attractive and practical wardrobe for her schedule.

I just love to inspire, guide and advise men, women and teens on how to look and feel their best, which I feel directly relates to self-confidence, self-esteem and being the best version of themselves!

You have two teenage daughters, who inspired your Teen Beauty Bootcamp programs. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience working with teens?

My instinct to share my knowledge with my 2 teenage daughters along with my desire for them to reach their potential, to feel confident, to love themselves and truly find their ‘WOW’ factor in life inspired me to create TeenLifeStudio. I wanted ALL teens to have the same motivation. 

Teenage years can be cumbersome, complex and sometimes confusing. A lack of knowledge about proper care (such as healthy food choices) could damage a teen’s self-esteem. I decided to create Teen Beauty Bootcamps so I could empower and guide teens to recognize their own individual beauty through sharing my knowledge and ‘tips from the top’ on personal presentation and communication.

We covered everything from first impressions to healthy food choices for your body and brain, skincare routines, fresh face age appropriate make-up, clothes for your body type, body care and the importance of exercise…I created a Starting School NOT a Finishing School! I am passionate and feel privileged to stand on this platform to perhaps make a difference in a teen’s life. My driving force is my motivation to help teen’s learn to love themselves!

You recently launched your luxury cashmere brand, SIRO. What is the inspiration behind your products?

After advising, guiding and inspiring others, I decided to think about what I wanted… besides true love, financial freedom and longer legs... I realized my frustration each morning as I opened my wardrobe! I wanted a simple, sexy, luxurious item of clothing that would ‘take me anywhere’...and so SIRO Cashmere was born.

SIRO includes a capsule collection of luxury 85% silk and 15% cashmere tee-shirts. The collection is enhanced by high-quality, Loro Piana yarn, and is inspired by the colors of the French Riviera. The collection was designed in Monaco and produced in Italy.

How has your experience living in both LA and the French Riviera influenced your brand?

Having lived an outdoor-based, active lifestyle in Los Angeles for 10 years and in the French Riviera for the last 12 years, it became inevitable that my surroundings and climate would influence my SIRO cashmere brand. My attitude, my expectations, my style and my desires are directly related to my environment… I doubt I would have been so inspired living in the mountains in a cold climate.

Do you have a most-worn, or favorite piece in your collection?

I have to admit that I love my off-the-shoulder SIRO tee-shirt. I named it ‘Ooh-la- la’--and that’s just how I feel when I wear it!

Do you think that your experience working in the fitness industry played a role in your desire to create a cashmere business?

The direct connection and inspiration between working in the fitness industry and then creating my SIRO tee-shirt brand is really all about self-esteem, confidence and body image. Exercise can help us feel confident, in control, attractive, powerful and sexy. These very words are what I felt and [they] ultimately inspired me to design and produce my brand of luxury tee-shirts.

To learn more, visit www.heidifossali.com.

By Sydney Hartzell

Photo courtesy of Heidi Fossali.

The Art of the LV Monogram

Mable Yiu

Louis Vuitton would have turned 195 years old on Thursday, August 4th. Walking down the streets of New York City, LV-monogrammed totes and wallets can be spotted everywhere. The floral pattern emblazoned with Vuitton’s initials is arguably the most recognizable designer logo in the world, and the fame and respect it has garnered did not come about overnight.

One thing to note: the iconic monogram associated with Louis Vuitton was not in fact designed by Louis at all, but rather, his son Georges. Louis Vuitton was a professional box-maker who made his name while working for French emperor Napoleon and from his iconic rectangular packing trunks. By the time of Vuitton’s death in 1892, he had already created his own brand which was taken over by his son, Georges. In 1893, Georges presented the company’s products at the Chicago World’s Fair. Three years after that, he designed the now-iconic Louis Vuitton monogram, which featured his father’s interlocking initials surrounded by minimalist florals. The monogram was printed on canvas instead of leather, as the new material proved to be more durable.

Smart marketing, high-end branding, and elusivity have allowed the Louis Vuitton monogram to stay relevant through the decades. Moving into the twentieth century, LV trunks became staples in the Hollywood scene and hit the pages of Vogue. In the 1980’s, Harlem boutique Dapper Dan created knockoff products featuring the Vuitton monogram and sold them for significantly cheaper prices, presenting the design to a new audience and furthering the brand’s appeal.

Marc Jacobs became the creative director of Louis Vuitton in 1997 and presented a resurgence of the iconic LV, printing it on shiny vernis leather and pairing it with graphic flowers and cherries. A monogrammed cherry blossom bag was worn by Regina George in the 2004 it-comedy Mean Girls, sparking a younger generation’s interest in the brand. Over Jacobs’s years as creative director, he printed the monogram on umbrellas, fans, hats, and even nursing masks (see the 2008 Spring ready-to-wear collection).Despite trends being in constant flux, the Louis Vuitton monogram has withstood the test of time. Vuitton’s pattern can be spotted anywhere from Central Park to Fashion Week. The design is a symbol of everlasting luxury: bold, recognizable, and absolutely timeless.

By Matt Bernstein

 

Q & A with Rachel Thompson, Founder of Hamptons Glow

Emily Allen

Rachel Thompson is the founder of Hamptons Glow, the go-to self tanning product for Hamptons it girls. We sat down with her and asked her a few questions. 

What is your background and how did you begin Hamptons Glow?

My background is Parsons School of Design, but that was a long time ago. After that, I went into advertising. There, I learned about corporate culture, which was a very important lesson. Then I went into real estate brokerage in 1999, which I did for many years. My design background came into real estate in the use of space, but ultimately I ended up in beauty. I grew up in the South, where you essentially grow up in hair and makeup and tanned everything. So I really felt like I wanted to do something in beauty. I’m very fair, so I used to use self tanners back in the 80s when they were horrible and would dry your skin out. I went into the spray tanning business because I thought that would be an easier way to transition into the business of beauty. I spray tanned for many years, and would spray tan for a lot of designers like Tommy Hilfiger and Tory Burch, but most of my time now is focused on my products. Given what I know from research about anti-aging, I just felt like the products out there weren’t working hard enough, so I created my own. 

What does your motto “Beauty is a lifestyle” mean to you? 

It’s all the little things we do everyday that add up to huge dividends when we age. I always wondered when I was younger why some women would age better than others. It was always interesting to me to see the lifestyle choices of women - obviously genetics plays a role - but I really do think that the products we use, sun exposure, nutrition, and exercise all play a huge role in how we age.

How would you differentiate your products from other products on the market?

In my products I really focus on the multi benefits - everything that I make has multiple anti-aging ingredients, a great scent, and ease of use. If we’re going to be putting something on our bodies, it should be working double time because we shouldn't have to choose between putting on a moisturizer that helps our skin and a self tanner. I always want to kill two birds with one stone and get the maximum effects from one product. My hands on research in the spray tanning field really helped me develop products that women wanted and needed. For example, I created my firming products so that women of all ages can feel beautiful, and show a little skin without feeling self conscious.

Also, all of my products are cruelty free. Not one product has been or ever will be tested on animals. That’s something that is very important to me. I’m in dog rescue and I’m such an animal lover, so I refuse to produce something related to animal cruelty. 

Why do think The Hamptons is an inspiration for yours and so many beauty products?

My spray tanning business started in The Hamptons, and I lived out there full time for a few years. I’ve been spending summers there for the past 14 years now, and I’ve learned that the women and men out there want only the best. Their expectations of products are above and beyond anywhere I’ve ever been because women in The Hamptons often are New Yorkers as well, so they tend to want the cutting edge - what’s the best workout? who’s the best nutritionist? what’s the best in organic food? - they also know all the best in skincare and makeup. These women and men are so discriminating that it pushes businesses like myself to excellence because the clients set a very high bar. There’s also many types of beauty in The Hamptons. there’s the beachy girl, the glamour girl, the socialite, the bohemian girl, so it inspires me to think about what will work and makes sense for all of these types of girl. My clients in The Hamptons are always hungry for what’s next, and they know their stuff. There’s no faking it with them because they can identify quality product. I’m so inspired by these women. 

What is your quintessential Hamptons glow girl?

In general, she cares about her appearance, she keeps up her appearance no matter her age - she could be 22 or 65 - “beauty is lifestyle” is definitely on her mind, she works out, she drinks a lot of water and the best juices, she eats healthy, she probably drinks too much wine, she’s got a really good dermatologist, she may be a little bit more bohemian and use only natural products, but she is definitely a big traveler and loves to shop. Health and beauty are at the top of her list. 

How do you balance work life and personal life as a businesswoman?

It’s really hard. You have to force yourself to go out and have fun. When I was really in the thick of starting the business, I felt like my creative juices were not as strong when I was locked inside my apartment researching things, working on branding, etc. It comes down to prioritizing, but you really can have it all. Work should be number one, but you also need to make sure you're dating, seeing friends, and so forth, because sometimes it’s hard to turn off the business part of your brain, but the best ideas come from being out in the world. A lot of my ideas are sparked when I'm out and about. It’s also super important to take time to work out and take care of your body. Overall, you have to continue to reset yourself - to force yourself to re-prioritize and to take short trips here and there to clear out the jumble in your head. 

By Emily Allen

Photos courtesy of Rachel Thompson

Nautical Fashion, Now and Then

Emily Allen

The renowned navy and white stripe, known historically as the breton stripe, is a universally recurring pattern in fashion found in everything from tee shirts to backpacks to flared denim. Not many people are aware of the historical reasoning behind this iconic color scheme. The first appearances of the nautical stripe came from sailors during the 1800’s, as the contrasting navy and white lines allowed them to remain visible when thrown off the ship and into the ocean. How, then, did such a practical arrangement of colors end up on garments like this $9 tee from Target or this $1,355 Moncler jacket?

Fast forward to the World War I era, a time when women’s daily garb was heavily corseted to appease the tiny-waist standards of the day. Due to expansive war funding, women began ditching the intense and uncomfortable formalwear that had been previously expected of them. Taking note of this, Coco Chanel released Chanel’s 1917 nautical collection, inspired by a recent trip she had taken to coastal France. The collection featured the now iconic breton stripe shirt, catapulting it into women’s fashion and the world of haute couture.

Chanel intended for the nautical, long sleeved shirt to be paired with wide-legged trousers. As the style evolved into the 1930’s, however, the upper class would wear it with blazers and shorts. The style stuck through the following decades, and the breton shirt became synonymous with French chic. It was seen on the most famous and glamorous celebrities of the day, including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean.

While the course of fashion through the twentieth and twenty first centuries has fluctuated at unimaginable lengths, the breton stripe has proved that it is here to stay. It’s now available in practically every garment on the market, including shirts, dresses, espadrilles, and totes. Its simplicity attributes to its versatility, making the pattern a year-round classic. 

By Matt Bernstein

Photos courtesy of Farfetch, Tory Burch, and Madewell

 

Lisi Lerch Jewelry

Emily Allen

Initially inspired by the bright, classic styles seen at the Kentucky Derby, Lisi Lerch started her affordable women’s hat business in 2001, after working on Wall Street for several years. As her brand began to expand, Lerch was invited to participate in hundreds of different truck shows along the east coast and the south, where she offered her new wool winter hats in addition to her popular Derby hats. With the expansion of her business came a new interest in creating colorful, ornate jewelry, which later became the primary focus of her brand. Lisi Lerch currently provides a variety of different fashion pieces that align with her philosophy of affordable, high quality style, ranging from jewelry to apparel.

Among her most popular pieces are the Tassel and Ginger earrings, seen on well-known Instagram and Fashion Blogs such as Classy Girls Wear Pearls and Gal Meets Glam. One of her most popular necklaces, the Kelly, is composed of a brass chain and glass beads, and was recently released in a variety of different colors suitable for the warmer months.

By Sydney Hartzell 

Photos Courtesy of Lisi Lerch

Hollie Watman Launches New Swim and Athleisure Collection

Emily Allen

New York-based designer Hollie Watman hosted a launch party on June 25 th to celebrate the release of her new line of swimwear and athleisure. The launch party and shopping event was held in Bridgehampton and was co-hosted by Watman’s fiancé, real-estate mogul Robert Futterman.

Guests enjoyed beverages from Veuve Clicquot, who sponsored the event. Michael Hertenstein, Henry Buhl, Peter Shatner, were among the many notable attendees. The bold, fresh collection includes high-waisted shorts, string bikinis, halter tops, and mesh leggings. Watman created the collection for the active woman on the go and hopes her line will inspire people to be their most confident selves.

By Kim Chmura

Photos Courtesy of Patrick McMullan Company

Dressed to Thrill

Emily Allen

Today’s top wedding-dress designers are taking fabric, drapery, and overall approach in brand-new directions that suit today’s brides. Here, three of our favorite designers disclose their secrets to a fresh, personalized look. 

What inspired your 2016 collection, Royaye Sefd (“Bright Dreams” in Persian)?

Leila Hafzi: I find inspiration from my clients, cultures, dreams, and the past. In the present 2016/17 bridal collection, I take inspiration from the patterns seen on Persian carpets and mix them with inspiration from nature. I have hand-drawn every lace we have made and feel very content with the fusion and end result of the collection.

You have said that this particular collection traveled with you only hours before the disastrous earthquake in Nepal. How did that experience influence both your work and that particular collection?

LH: Nepal is my second country. I love it and its people so much. When there was the disastrous earthquake I had left Nepal only 12 hours before and I was literally shocked when the plane landed and I heard the news of the terrible tragedy. At first I thought to return to help my employees and my people, but I thought it was wiser to organize humanitarian aid from Norway and from Europe, to be more effective. The collection was complete and we were able, with a huge effort and work, to maintain the production.

Your line is known for practicing eco-conscious and ethical production. Can you share more about the importance of sustainability to you and your line within the fashion world? What has been the biggest challenge in keeping true to these values?

LH: The ethical production and my pledge in eco-conscious practicing are my main focus. For this reason, I will keep the production of the collections in a country that is still in absolute need of help for as long as I can.

Congratulations on your 2016 “New York” collection. What is it about New York that inspired you?

Inbol Dror: I think New York is a wonderful city, so vibrant and cosmopolitan. The architecture and the beauty of nature in Central Park, the diverse people, the glamour, and the sheer rhythm of the city are all inspirational.

Tell us more about the specific materials you used in this collection.

ID: I source my materials personally and I design much of the lace used myself. I absolutely adore the champagne hues and the charcoal blush in this collection and the Chantilly lace is just so delicate and feminine.

We love how each of your collections is centered around a different city: 2016 was New York, and 2015 was Venice. How do you choose the city each year? Do you already know the theme for next year’s collection?

ID: I don’t tend to choose a specific city, it chooses me! As I travel a lot, I do find that my inspiration comes often whilst I am on the road. I can’t tell you about this year’s collection yet. You’ll have to wait till October!

What inspired your 2017 collection, Whisper of Blossom?

Mira Zwillinger: It’s about the rebirth of nature. We tried to capture the special moment when the first buds of spring appear on cold and bare branches, that moment when nature starts to whisper its melody of beauty and renewal. What drew us toward this collection was the idea of creating the branches motif and combining it with gentle handmade flowers.

Delicate fabrics, embroidery, and beading seem to be major components in not only this collection, but in all of your designs. How do you decide on what materials to use and where do you get them from?

MZ: Fabrics are our love. We start with fabrics and draw our inspiration from them. Sourcing them is one of the stages we love the most in the process of the design. It’s like opening a magic box without knowing to where it’s going to lead you. The fabrics we chose are very expensive and of very high quality, mainly sourced from Europe. We pick only what makes our heart miss a beat; we decide if we love it in the first second we see it. Then we combine different materials, hand-dye them, add a lot of handwork and beading, allowing us to create something new and special. The details are what make the dress unique, and that is one of the Mira Zwillinger trademarks.

You started your line 25 years ago, and in 2011 your daughter Lihi joined as lead designer and brand manager. What has it been like working with your daughter and finding a balance between timeless elegance and something still modern, new and fresh?

MZ: Throughout the first years of my business I had never thought about the possibility of my daughter joining the business, as I didn’t know whether she would choose the designing path. Today, I must say that one of the best things that has happened to the business is her joining. Lihi came from a background of streetwear design, so her approach to bridal was different, new and fresh. Together we are a great team. We both love the same things, but on the other hand we have a different perspective, which leads to a beautiful result.

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Eric Almas, Inbol Dror, and Mira Zwillinger

 

Grungy Gentleman at NYFWM

Emily Allen

The Grungy Gentleman Spring 17 show this past week unveiled a collection for a new generation of sporty, sensible men. The menswear brand showcased a variety of pieces by designer Jace Lipstein, each with different purpose but similar style. The Grungy Gentleman is a gentleman who goes from work to gym to play, carrying with him an effortless sense of self and practicality. This gentleman appreciates the finer things in life, but maintains a casual air nonetheless. 

The collection included everything from button ups to bomber jackets to swim trunks, all in neutral shades of white, navy, khaki, and black. A majority of the pieces featured a signature multiple stripe detail, marking the collection cohesive and adding the Americana flair that summertime often calls for. The shoes were provided by Timberland Boots. 

The show, hosted at the W Hotel, featured custom “Grungy Gentleman” and “Catwalk” cocktails by Ciroc, gift bags by Nivea Men, and a live DJ to keep the crowd lively. A lively crowd it was, as many of the audience members fit the athletics-meet-fashion profile that Grungy Gentleman has cultivated. Keeping with this athletic sensibility, many of the models carried football helmets and other sports equipment with them on the runway. Who ever said contact sports and fashion were mutually exclusive, anyway?

By Emily Allen

Photos courtesy of Joe Schildhorn

Q & A with Armarium Founders

Emily Allen

In the ever-evolving world of fashion, technology has come to the forefront as the new mode of transportation from fashion house to consumer. I recently interviewed two entrepreneurs, Trisha Gregory and Alexandra Lind Rose about their new app, Armarium that utilizes technology to offer a brand-new shopping experience. Armarium offers a new way for successful and fashionable women to receive luxury pieces and luxury experiences on-call with the tap of a button. 

What made you two leave the more traditional world of fashion in design and PR to start Armarium?

TG: The idea grew out of working at Ferragamo for years, and styling many of the runway statement pieces on VIP women around the country for special events. I watched them fall in love with the brand and designer after wearing them and knew I wanted to create a platform that provided this type of access to more women. Often times the best pieces were cancelled from production and not found in the market. There also wasn't a player in the shared economy for luxury fashion, so we wanted to educate and introduce new customers to these type of high fashion pieces through our platform, making it accessible for anyone!

Did either of you have experience in the tech world before deciding to launch an app?

I (Trisha) was instrumental in conceiving and launching various globally successful digital campaigns while at Ferragamo and coordinating the marketing surrounding them, with launch events, short lead press, influencer dressing and participation and online advertising.

Armarium is an invite-only app, so can you explain what that entails or how people could be apart of it?

TG: When we first debuted Armarium earlier this year, we soft launched in beta as an invite-only platform for fashion insiders. Now that we have officially launched out of beta, the app is available for everyone to download through the Apple Store. The decision to make Armarium available for everyone coincides with our mission behind creating the brand: Luxury, high fashion shouldn’t only be for VIP’s or the “elite”, it should be accessible for everyone, especially for those important life moments.  

Where would you like this business to go? Obviously the app only just launched but are there big plans for the near-future of Armarium?

TG: Looking to the immediate future, our biggest focus is to reach as many people as we can on a national and global scale. Whether that be through the app or various pop-up stores/events, I think Armarium has a real opportunity to introduce an entirely different group of stylish women to the world of luxury high-fashion in a more accessible way. So often people see high-priced runway pieces they would love to wear for that one special occasion, but might not have the budget to actually purchase - with Armarium, that once-in-a-lifetime is now not out of reach.

By Kat Jones

Photos Courtesy of Armarium

A Bride in Charge

Emily Allen

Barbara Tober’s influence over the evolution of contemporary weddings is incalculable. As Editor-in-Chief of Brides, she sent a message of empowerment to women that resonates to this day. Fairweather publisher Alexandra Fairweather spoke with Tober about her work, both past and present.

How did you begin working at Vogue? What was it like?

After several “training” jobs in the advertising and magazine business, I felt the time had come for me to go to Vogue, which was always the epitome of style and fashion.  On July 5th, dressed in a summer suit I considered appropriate for the occasion, I arrived for an interview at Vogue Editorial on July 5th.  At that time, Conde Nast published not only Vogue, but Glamour, Mademoiselle and House & Garden.  I specifically wanted Vogue Editorial and asked for it.  There was a question of “salary;" I asked for more, they offered me less.  I concurred.     

Happily in early August a phone call invited me to start after Labor Day.

That was the beginning of my career at Conde Nast, which lasted over 32 years.

Vogue was, in those days, the most glamorous place on earth, with the possible exception of the living rooms of Babe Paley and Pat Buckley to name one or two.  These elegant women, dressed in Mainbocher and Galanos along with some of the “newer people” later on like Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass were the celebrities of the time.  They “dressed” to go shopping at Bergdorf, and appeared constantly in the Society Pages. 

I worked for Despina Messinesi, a Greek socialite who presided over “Mrs. Exeter” (for the “mature” elegant woman) and children’s apparel.  And there was Grace Mirabella who did “sportswear” which was just coming into fashion and mostly meant silk and cashmere separates and other casual, but elegant clothes. Grace later became Editor-in-Chief of Vogue.

At that time, the fashion world was going “international” so Jackie Kennedy’s sister, Lee Bouvier inhabited the area, editing her collection for the Brussels Fair. 

Every year Vogue organized elegant fashion shows to classical and beautiful music at the Waldorf for the Fall/Winter European Collections.  Each of us dressed two or three models, such as China Machado, Carmen dell’ Olio, Monique Chevalier and Dovima with our little brown bag of accessories and these glorious Balmain or Dior dresses/suits that were as beautiful on the inside as they were on the outside.  (I had taken classes in patternmaking and draping at F.I.T. and Traphagen School of Fashion, plus sewing, so I pored over every seam.)

Irving Penn’s wife, Lisa Fonssagrives, was everyone’s idol as THE model to emulate, but by that time she had retired to rear her daughter Mia, who became the famous jewelry designer we all know today and married a real estate mogul.

We had to go through a “jury” that pronounced whether or not we had chosen the “right” accessories, which at 3:00 a.m. was devastating if you were wrong, but celebratory if you were right.  This exercise proved to me how elusive is the concept of “taste” as the judges pronounced which shoes, what hat, which pin was “right”.   

Being in Vogue was a lesson in determining taste, style and quality.  Quality is easy to recognize, but “taste and style” are always in the eye of the beholder.  They still are as we examine the see-through apparel chosen by the stars of today.  Those dear ladies would have fainted dead at 4:00 a.m., but now these beautiful bodies are exalted with/without clothes in the media wherever they appear.

With head up, eyes on the goal and feet on the ground, one had to move forward in spite of any glitches.  I learned then that in spite of “putting the wrong pin, earring, shoe or hat…” on the model, one should never think of oneself as a “victim” (which is the favorite pastime of today.)  I learned to take “being wrong” with good humor and carry on.

How did you start working at Brides?

I left Conde Nast at one point to take another position at a publishing company that promised greater possibilities.  There were at least 11 magazines that could benefit from beauty and fashion information, so I set out to provide them with this service. 

A couple of years into my tenure there, I got a call from Mary Campbell, Director of Human Resources (as they term it now) of Conde Nast asking about my current status. She offered me the title of Editor-in-Chief of Brides Magazine.  I was intrigued so I prepared an illustrated proposal over the weekend and delivered it on Monday morning.  The next thing I knew I was meeting the President, Iva Patcevitch, a charming man who after a friendly interview must have endorsed me because I got the job. 

I answered his question “How do you feel about marriage” by saying that I thought marriage was the most idyllic way to live IF you happened to be happy with your spouse.  (The former editor was separated from her husband and the magazine reflected her malaise.)  He pondered my answer for a moment, then said, “I’m married for the second time and I am very happy” at which time we both quietly laughed and I could tell he felt calmed by my positive answer.

How have weddings evolved over the years?  How did you change the landscape of weddings in America?

Brides Magazine was a flurry of wedding dress photographs, a smattering of etiquette rules, some editorials on "how to set the table," and so forth.  There was also a Brides Book of Etiquette that set out time-honored rules that had been established for decades before.  There was also a Bridal Registry Manual which still exists today, but it is now on the internet and often part of the couples’ own web site.   

Basically what we did was to listen to the public: How were they marrying in the mid-60’s.  The nation was beginning to change in major ways.  Swedes were marrying Cubans; Italians were marrying Jews.  Religions were important to many so couples had two officiants.  Russians were coming to the U.S. after “group weddings” in Moscow and wanted something more personal.  Asian weddings were grand and glorious; the bride changing two to three times.  The subject of who’s marrying who became more important than how. 

That’s when people began to rebel against the rules that had kept the wedding ceremony so sterile for so many years.  They were delighted to follow our lead and plan for more personal joy.  They began to asked questions… and we answered them! 

“Why can’t the groom’s family appear on the invitation as it does in France?”  “Why does the bride’s family have to pay for all when both families are involved?”  “Why does only the bride appear in the engagement announcement?”  “Who should be invited to the wedding; I don’t want only my father’s clients!”  As many questions evolved as there were weddings, and we expanded the Etiquette Book every couple of years to keep up with the changes and to answer these questions.  We wanted couples to have the wedding of their dreams, not just their parents’.

Meanwhile, the caterers, wedding planners, religious or judicial officials, cake bakers, wedding sites and other aspects of the event were inspired to keep up with the demand for change.  And Brides joyfully moved forward with every issue, keeping up with the attitudes and wishes of – not just the parents, any longer – but the couple who were getting older and more in charge of how they wanted to orchestrate this extremely important moment in their lives.  “It’s a party!”  “Let’s have the serious ceremony and make it very personal, and then have fun with our friends and family.”

This was the mantra of the moment … and still is!

Do you have a few rules you could share on what to do versus what not to do when planning a wedding?

For me, the fewer the rules, the better. But here are some thoughts on how not to make your guests suffer. 

a.    Plan the ceremony time close enough to the party afterwards so that people can go from one to the other without “hanging around” for several hours… Especially if they’re from “out of town."

b.    Don’t start serving alcohol so early that guests find themselves tipsy by dinnertime.

c.    If you are having a multi-generational party (grandparents, parents, siblings, friends, and kids) keep the event short enough so everyone doesn’t get exhausted/drunk before they leave. 

d.    It’s all very exciting, but remember you’re responsible for your guests.  (That’s another way of saying what I said before.)

e.    Certainly you want to have time for photographs, but don’t keep guests waiting for hours while you smile and hug for the camera.  (Yes, I know he isn’t supposed to see her before the wedding, but in many cases he does, so take the photographs beforehand, or at least quickly.) 

f.     If there will be children, try to enlist as many of them as possible in doing “tasks” that will be part of the celebration.  If they’re the “impossible” sort, forget it and have someone take them home early.

g.    The message truly is:  Enjoy yourself but think about those whom you have invited to celebrate with you.  Make it fun and safe for them, and get everyone home fairly early.

Do you have a favorite wedding you featured in Brides?

Actually, we never featured weddings in Brides, but left that to Town & Country, etc.  We were always dealing in theory, the “ideal” way to do something, and we photographed people and situations in that way, including reception tables, etc.

One exception I’m particularly proud of, however, was not a “wedding” per se, but an engagement.  I discovered a couple whose photograph together was published in a Westchester newspaper, and I printed an editorial of the two of them together along with their engagement announcement citing a trend. 

This started a flurry of excitement and agreement, because all across the U.S. “hometown” newspapers were doing the same!  It took the NYTimes several years before they caught on.  Now, of course, every couple is photographed together, and often their story is told.  But in early days it was only the engaged woman who was considered important enough to be photographed.

Who are your favorite wedding designers?

Top designers such as Pat Kerr, who created dresses from the most precious laces in the world and is still designing everything from Bridal dresses to flower girls and christening dresses, are choices of a number of brides today.  So is Vera Wang, whose store on Madison Avenue is the beacon for many celebrities.   

These days, however, there are so many evening dress designers who create glorious gowns for the bride which means that the bridal industry is no longer a specific world of white, separate from any other. 

In earlier days, Priscilla of Boston, Alfred Angelo, Milady Bridals, Jim Hjelm, etc. created specific shows for the press and the stores several times a year, but now the furrier Dennis Basso, for example, creates wedding dresses for sale at Kleinfeld’s on West 20th street which is THE emporium for the total wedding, flower girls and all. 

There are endless choices at every price; many are made to order but if one is able to fit into a sample, that with a few alterations will work just fine and there’s major money to be saved.

Who inspires you?

How can anyone select one person? 

For literature, I enjoy Simon Winchester for his mellifluous text, love of language, deep knowledge and wide interests.

For art, the superrealists such as Richard Estes, surrealists such as Salvador Dali and Magritte, and I just bought a work by Anne Siems called “Smoke and Fire,” which just arrived in our apartment and is already in place. It is evocative of my teenage life; indeed in many ways, the life of a woman. 

We collect Dale Chihuly, William (Billy) Morris, Wendell Castle, Dan Dailey and many other giants in the world of arts and design.  The MAD Museum considers them masters of our field.  I also have some outstanding art jewelry which is not noted for its precious jewels or metals, but for its artistic integrity and imagination.  

For business, I found my role model very early on at Vogue in the person of Catherine McManus who later on married an Italian count named de Montezemolo.  My desk was near hers and I always heard her say, “How can I help you” and “Thank you so much for your help” and so many other welcoming, friendly and thoughtful phrases on the telephone that I determined she was my role model for the future.  Never wavered from that and we became friends. 

Even when you are “the boss,” I believe that teaching and assisting others in achieving your/their goals is one of the most creative efforts one can make in life.  You really have to think of them and what you’re/they’re trying to achieve, then come up with something helpful they can act upon.  (While you’re at it, your own advice can be good for you, too!)

These are:  The worst six words in the English language:  “Do You Know Who I Am?” and the best are “How Can We Help Each Other?”

For innovation:  I’d pick Richard Branson.    

This is the man who created Virgin Atlantic and all the various products that emanate from that.  In addition, he has come up with so many daredevil and crazy schemes that the whole world is in love with his sense of joy and optimism for imagination and creativity.  People have signed up for his trips into space (and now there have been a few failures, so these may be postponed).  But always, Branson persists… what can be next.  (Now, his daughter has been groomed to head the company and the future will prove her ability to continue his legacy.)

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Oleg Cassini once said to me, at the end of a long flight to San Francisco, “The first person you will meet as you get off this plane is you!” because we were talking (in the 60’s) about the fact that so many people were going out to California to “find themselves”.  He was a man who definitely had found himself, and was completely at home in his own skin.  As dressmaker to “The Queen” (and I mean First Lady Jackie Kennedy) he had found peace and contentment with his life and friends after having been driven away from his home in Russia. 

I have learned that one has to be content not to have everything, but to have the best of something so you can find peace.  If elements of life go wrong and one reacts destructively, one enters the downward spiral.  That’s where drugs, etc. are today, and to find solace in that world is the beginning of a sad end.  

The best “old fashioned” advice: “Pick up your socks, blow your nose and move on…”

What advice would you give a bride to be?

Don’t expect heaven on earth the first or second year of your marriage; actually never.  There is no “heaven on earth.”  But there is great happiness, and you have to create it yourselves.   

Depending upon how old you are and how much “baggage” you have from your former life, it can take a while to feel “at ease”; perhaps even longer if you’re older.  You need to get into a rhythm of disparate behaviors without either getting bored or irritated with each other.  Then you start reaching out to enrich your lives with new ideas, activities, friends, careers, interests…. Older couples already have a foundation of friends and activities while younger people often develop their most fulfilling lives together. The world is huge and you have only begun to investigate it.     

And then come …. children!   But that’s another story.

What are the keys to a successful marriage?

Just be nice to each other.  You can differ on politics, on money management, on taste and whether to open or close the windows at night. But if you can come to some sort of agreement on how to please each other (alternatively or separately) then your arguments are over or at least on level “Calm.”  I know that sounds overly optimistic, but there’s no way two people can think exactly the same throughout their lives. 

Money, for example, is (yes) the root of all evil, etc. but if you can establish rules for management – even if you have to engage an “outsider” to create a list of fiscal “behaviors”, you will be able to live in reasonable harmony. 

People with absolutely no self discipline, however, do get into trouble, and I’m afraid that I have no advice for them except to try to adapt. If you can’t, there’s no recourse but to go and get professional help.

Where did you and Donald meet?

When you are single, the dating game is a game.  People forget that, and they expect someone they just met to become instantly close without examining the “space” that people always create around them. 

Thus began my friendship with my beloved. 

He was divorced and had someone in his life.  I wasn’t divorced, but I had several gentlemen I liked and a French teacher who I knew wanted to be “more friendly.” 

I was invited to a dinner party by a couple and had a “date” with the French teacher, but didn’t want to extend my hand of friendship too far.  So I invited him to be my companion at the dinner party. 

There – on the sofa across the room – was this tall, lanky man with a “halo of energy” around his head and I thought ‘Oh, no, I’ve been there already.” But we spoke, enjoyed the dinner, he played Rogers & Hart, Hammerstein, etc. on the piano and I sang (love to sing).  Definitely I felt more comfortable with this “new energy” and when Donald called to invite me to the Ballet, I accepted with delight. 

The rest is our history… for the next 44 years so far. 

We dated, talked incessantly, spent lots of time together, examined our lives, our hopes, wishes, fears and concerns.  After probably thousands of hours of discussion, he asked me to marry him at a dinner in someone’s home.  We announced right there and then, and set the date a week later.

Of course I had to say “Good Bye” to my other charming friends, and he had to do the same with his, but we married a year to the day that we met.   So sensible that was, we can never forget!

Please tell us about your role at the Museum of Arts and Design?

After 43 years in the corporate world I left my “home away from home” at Conde Nast to become Chairman of the Museum of Arts and Design.

In 1994, I had reached the age of 60, accomplished absolutely everything there was to do at Brides Magazine over those 30 years including all the media and public relations activities, trained a woman 20 years younger than me to take over, and I wanted a new life. 

Because I respected my boss Si Newhouse tremendously, I went to see him in the early morning and explained that the Board of the Museum wanted me to be Chairman, and that I was eager to accept.  I apologized because I truly did love CNP and the magazine, but the temptation to accept this huge challenge was more than I could reject.  He, the art aficionado, understood although both of us felt sad about this change, but I told him about the absolutely perfect person “waiting in the wings,” and he was satisfied.  (They interviewed Millie Martini Bratten, loved her and hired her for the next 17 years.)

Next step was a ski vacation, the Christmas holidays and right away, we began the new “regime” at MAD as we call it now. 

There was much to do, but I had been involved since 1981, elected to the Board in 1989, and so very familiar with the inner workings.  We needed to straighten up our finances (what Museum doesn’t?), to secure some Blockbuster shows, to expand our constituency and mostly, to be visible on the street (opposite MOMA.)  This proved to be next to impossible so we made plans to move to a new location which is where you find us now at 2 Columbus Circle. 

The story of how we maneuvered between success and failure during the next several years would take a book, but suffice it to say that we “put our shoulder to the wheel,” gave it everything we had, and moved forward from a relatively obscure art facility to the Museum of Arts and Design we are today. 

Are we as big as…. MOMA, Whitney, Guggenheim,  or even the MET? Of course not, but we are a Museum of contemporary surprises, of new ideas and creative artists from everywhere in the world that others do not necessarily embrace. 

Moreover, we represent the vast millions of creative artists, artisans and designers in the “middle class” who practice their art, do business and sell on the internet to Australia, Argentina, Indonesia, the European Union…. everywhere in the world. This is not the market of extravagant prices and celebrity painters (although we do have a couple of famous artists in our firmament.) This is a special assemblage of artists and designers who are passionate about their work and have a dedicated global following that transcends the traditional Art Market.

How would you define your style?

I believe in elegance and a sense of decorum, but I can balance that with great joy and a warm embrace.  Trying always to look well groomed is the goal, but there’s still a need for the gym and one has to “let down” once a while in transit.  The answer is:  No matter the situation, be ready to greet others with a smile and a kind word.  That transcends style anywhere in the world.

What is your greatest virtue and biggest vice?

It’s difficult for me to answer this, but my husband says I’m very (ridiculously?) friendly, which is actually true.  I thank policemen on the beat, praise waiters, doormen etc. when they do a good job, appreciate salespeople and others who happily help us live the kind of civilized life we prefer.  Yes, I know there are those who do not wish to involve with others, some who absolutely hate their jobs, but I prefer smiling and being pleasant to everyone with whom I have some sort of discourse.  In 90% of cases, I receive a positive response.  If not, I just move on; usually feeling sad for that person.

As far as my vice is concerned:  Donald says I just work too much, but I love to write and that takes time. If you’re not a writer, you can never explain how long it takes to carve the perfect sentence or discover the ideal word to describe a situation, person, feeling. 

Unless of course, you’re one of those authors who can write a perfectly researched column in 20 minutes (like William Buckley).

What do you hope your legacy will be?

It would be nice to have one’s obituary in the New York Times without paying for it. 

But all kidding aside, I like taking something small and making it bigger. 

Brides in the 60’s was spiraling down, “no one is getting married anymore” said “The Media” and Gloria Steinem, women’s organizations, and people at private parties laughed at me and said, “You’re certainly going to be out of business soon.” 

But I believed in the “Pair Bond” and Margaret Mead’s anthropological philosophies so I soldiered on.  We were right and the world changed with us.

The Museum of Arts and Design was “American Craft Museum” and people said “craft is doilies and macramé” who needs a museum?  Now “doilies” are 3-D printed lace and macramé or a bold new Rope sculpture in Chelsea (to name but two examples). We re-branded to MAD and moved to 2 Columbus Circle which is the acknowledged center of New York right at Columbus’ Statue!

When you are not working, what do you like to do for fun?

Some of the best times in my life I’ve enjoyed on the back of a horse.  I taught riding to some littler kids when I was a pre-teen and earned enough money to buy a Brownie camera and an Audubon Book of Birds.  Then I just rode all the horses in the stable until at 15 they were sold to my great sorrow. 

Later on, married to Donald, we started riding again.  He, the athlete, learned quickly, we began jumping, traveled to horse shows then joined the Goldens Bridge Hounds and went galloping over hill and dale in chase of … a fox, deer, whatever.  The idea is not to catch but to chase.  Even the “target” gets some joy out of it; there are many stories to back this up. 

We rode the route of the Duke de Lauzun from Connecticut to Yorktown, VA to celebrate the surrender of Cornwallis.  Then, at the invitation of the Lafayettes, paraded up the Champs Elysees on the Garde Republican horses to celebrate the Treaty of Paris.  Cheers from grandmothers to children resounded on either side from the Ronde Point to the Arche de Triomphe.

This fall we are hosting the Hunt Ball for the Millbrook Hunt, and we enjoy riding for miles through breathtaking countryside that is admittedly “at risk” for urban sprawl, but thus far, has escaped. 

Later in my 40’s I learned how to ski.  This was a revelation because once you are proficient, you can cruise to your heart’s content down all the green and blue slopes and you feel you’re flying.  This has been a favorite winter sport for us for decades, but recently the threat of snowboards and those who recklessly command them, plus altitude and knee problems have prompted us to say goodbye to the snowfields of Vail, Aspen, Gstaad and Courcheval.  

Still, there’s always scuba diving; went to the Great Barrier Reef; that was worth the trip.  And other outdoor pleasures… did a Parachute Jump in 1964, probably won’t do that again. 

Just keep moving; there’s lots to accomplish out there.

What is your favorite place in the world?

Perhaps I haven’t found it yet…. 

There are fabulous memories:  The Patala Palace in Tibet; the ladders one climbs are so slippery from all the Yak butter.  Then there are magnificent palaces, shrines, churches, mosques, chateaux, temples and other monuments in Italy, France, Turkey, India, China, Russia, Poland, Mongolia and on.  Don’t leave out the wildlife of Patagonia and South Africa… so much to see over the past 70 years since I left childhood.  Often I feel hesitant to “go back” because there will be skyscrapers instead of charming little streets, and clear cut fields instead of forested mountains full of creatures big and small.  Civilization is often the enemy of natural, untamed beauty, and we couldn’t drive through Kenya again for sure.  Maybe Veradero Beach again and the jungle in Cuba is the next challenge.

What is your favorite place in NYC?

Home Sweet Home…. of course! 

But every day is an adventure in this city, especially when your daily life encompasses challenges, business, philanthropy, friends, activities, theatre, ballet, opera, museums, food adventures and the odd event you never thought you would attend.

New York is full of surprises, but that’s why we all live here.

By Alexandra Fairweather

Photos Courtesy of Barbara Tober

Superb Taste, Zero Waste

Emily Allen

Designer Mimi Prober is a leader in the zero-waste fashion movement, repurposing vintage lace and fabric remnants from the 1920s and earlier—with stunning results. Prober says, “I believe sustainability in design, zero-waste fashion, is the future. There are many ways to utilize the concept—from pattern to draping to the recycling of textiles. From both an environmental and economic standpoint, there is no reason why materials should ever be wasted. Big change always starts small, and the designers of this generation are increasingly becoming aware of the need for industry change."

By Mira Dayal

Photo Courtesy of Mimi Prober

Something Borrowed

Emily Allen

For soon-to-be brides, shopping for the perfect wedding gown can be both one of the most stressful and the wonderful times of the wedding planning process. Fortunately, there are places like the Bridal Garden that not only sell gorgeous gowns with quality service, but also make a difference in the lives of others.

The Bridal Garden is a non-profit charitable organization which sells designer bridal gowns at up to a 75% discount and seamlessly unites fashion, business, and philanthropy. The Bridal Garden achieves this feat through partnerships with the designers, individuals, and retailers who donate the stunning gowns as well as with the consumers. The proceeds from the gown sales benefit the Brooklyn Charter School and help to create a strong community of families and educators who will improve the relationship between children and education.

The Bridal Garden is located near in the Flatiron District of NYC and is appointment-only. Their amazing community service is on par with the service they show their clients. Unlike many other bridal salons, this store allows customers to shop in what they refer to as a “no-pressure” environment. What this means is that when a bride enters the store, she is allowed to roam free and choose whichever dresses she wants to try on in the allotted time and is not bogged down with the pressure of just a handful of gowns. And while the bride is allowed her freedom, there are bridal consultants there to help direct her to a certain style or price-range.

The Bridal Garden offers styles from notable designers like Angel Sanchez, Badgley Mischka, Lela Rose, Marchesa, Monique Lhuillier, and many more! These gowns begin at a little less than $800 and range into the thousands, still at affordable prices for such couture designs. Paying for these bridal gowns at the Bridal Garden is unlike any other experience at another salon; when a bride purchases her gown from the Bridal Garden, she is not only doing so for herself, but rather contributing to something even bigger than her “big day”. 

The idea of "something borrowed" at the Bridal Garden is chic and inspiring. The Bridal Garden allows not only the dreams of the brides come true, but also the dreams of so many underprivileged children and families. 

By Kat Jones

Photos Courtesy of Dust Jacket Attic

Secrets of the Siren: Q&A with Leslie Mullin, Founder of Dirty Mermaid Beauty

Emily Allen

 

Founded by Leslie Mullin in the fall of 2015, Dirty Mermaid Beauty is a line of natural cosmetics including bath soaks, facemasks, and body wraps. Mullin runs her company with the ideology that women should take time to nurture their bodies through beauty rituals and embrace their inner sea goddesses. Here, Mullin discusses her business, her inspirations, and her favorite Dirty Mermaid products.

What inspired you to create your business? How did you get started?

I am a graphic/packaging designer by trade, and in that industry you spend a lot of time on the screen getting crossed-eyed over pixels. I wanted to create a business that would satisfy my love of design and give me more time “off screen.” Similar to other green beauty mavens and entrepreneurs, I was disappointed every time I flipped self-care products over to read the ingredients. I would immediately be put off by synthetic “fragrances” attempting to mimic scents from nature. I started mixing ingredients, playing with essential oils, testing on friends and family, and realized this was something I could do. I followed my curiosity and desire for greener products and my business was born. Luckily, my test subjects (my friends and family) have been very supportive and encouraging along the way.

What inspired the name “Dirty Mermaid”?

I’ve had a long-standing love for mermaid folklore and I wanted to create a brand that would be witty and easy to remember. The line is part of the larger green beauty movement, and it’s playful, not to be taken too seriously, and a little bit sexy. The brand also draws inspiration from the 1920s with various Art Deco patterns featured on each label. The Art Deco patterns of this romantic era often beautifully mimic mermaid scales. Dirty Mermaid also has a little bit of a glam, burlesque vibe but is rooted in earthy clays and natural ingredients from the sea. Dirty Mermaid is natural bath and beauty wrapped up in a pretty package.

Your customers are a part of the “Mermaid Squad.” How would you describe the squad and the quintessential Dirty Mermaid customer?

The Dirty Mermaid customer is a dynamic and bold woman (or merman), and you can’t really predict what they’ll do next! This is why I always like to come up with limited editions and new things for the Mermaid Squad to try out. The quintessential customer is someone who wants more agency over their own life, and wants to intentionally create moments to slow down and nourish themselves and their soul.

What is your favorite Dirty Mermaid product?

Perhaps this isn’t the fairest answer, but my favorite product hasn’t been launched just yet! Later this month, Dirty Mermaid will release the Citrus Summer Soak. It’s a lovely blend of grapefruit and bergamot essential oils, Dead Sea mineral salts, and organic red dulse seaweed pieces. I’ve been working on the blend the last month and have really fallen in love with the fresh and uplifting scent compilation.

Where do you see Dirty Mermaid heading in the future? Any exciting projects coming up?

What I love most is that the Dirty Mermaid story is still unfolding for me, as I only officially launched last fall. I am working on a business plan that will allow for sustainable growth. I currently hand blend all products in my Brooklyn studio, and would like to keep the line hand blended as it grows. Currently I am working on packaging items for spa settings, so hopefully soon you can use Dirty Mermaid Beauty masks and soaks as add-ons to your favorite spa treatments. I am always in product development mode trying out new blends, and always inspired by the vibrant sea and fabulous women!

By Kim Chmura

Photos Courtesy of Antonio De Lucci