Thursday, February 27, 2014

Verdura & Chanel

In honor of Paris Fashion Week, that is underway this week, I thought a post about something iconic and fashionably French was in order.  Of course, Coco Chanel immediately came to mind and I remembered that Verdura, the famous jewelry salon on Fifth Avenue, has the original pair of her Maltese cross cuff bracelets in their archive.  With just a few hours notice the fine folks at Verdura graciously indulged me and allowed me to go to their salon and rendezvous with Mlle. Chanel's beautiful bracelets.

I have been to Verdura many times as they are a personal favorite of mine.  I could spend hours there mesmerized by the beautiful colored gemstone jewelry, and indeed I have on occasion.  But, yesterday I was on a blog mission:  photograph Coco Chanel's cuffs.  And, even though I was dressed in head to toe layers of LL Bean and Uggs (save a spritz of Chanel No. 5 and the Verdura ring I slid on before I raced out of my apartment) in anticipation of yet another polar vortex, and in no way presentable enough to be entering what I consider a fine jewelry shrine, much less viewing an iconic piece of fashion and jewelry history, I couldn't help but feel just a little bit glamorous myself as I knelt down a few inches from the gem studded collaboration of Fulco di Verdura and Coco Chanel. There in front of me were the cuffs that adorned the wrists of the designer who forever changed the way women dress, and that's pretty exciting if you love fashion.

Coco Chanel's original Maltese Cross Cuffs

The Byzantine inspired cuffs were designed for Coco Chanel by Fulco di Verdura c. 1930 using pieces of jewelry Mlle. Chanel had been given by her former lovers, but no longer wore.  Verdura, a friend of Chanel's, was a textile and jewelry designer for the House of Chanel before he opened his own jewelry salon in 1939.   

Fulco di Verdura and Coco Chanel admiring one of the cuffs, 1937
(photo by Boris Lipnitzki/Roger-Voillet, courtesy of Verdura)

The cuffs were clearly a favorite of Mlle. Chanel, and their style and design remain as much in vogue today as they were eighty years ago. 

Coco Chanel wearing her Verdura Maltese Cross Cuffs c. 1935
(photo by Man Ray, courtesy of Verdura)

A big thank you to Verdura for allowing me to share this beautiful treasure with my blog readers!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Leopards Do Change Their Spots

The Sunday Styles section of The New York Times ran a piece about colorful animal prints this past Sunday and how resort collections are featuring animal prints in rainbow colors.  To read an expanded version of the story that appeared in the Times' T Magazine just cut and paste the link below:

This is welcome news to me since I bought a beautiful green leopard print scarf at Yves Saint Laurent two and a half years ago.  I love YSL and a display of these colorful scarves caught my eye when I was lured in by a special sale.  I still recall standing in the shoe department trying to decide between green and blue.  Green won out, because a) it matched my eye color and that's a good thing in an accent piece worn near the face and b) I thought the color would pair nicely with most of my coats and jackets.

Green YSL leopard print scarf

Looking fierce as the scarf makes my green eyes pop

So, while colorful animal prints are not exactly brand new, everything old is new again and I'm always happy to be able to breathe new life into an old accessory, especially an expensive, good quality one.  If you happen to have picked up some technicolor leopard, giraffe or zebra prints yourself a few seasons ago, this is the time for an encore.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Lawless Accessories

I am very flattered to have been asked to be a brand ambassador for Lawless Accessories and so thrilled to carry their stunning bags as I attend various charity functions about town.  Founded by a former lawyer, Lawless' motto is "Design Without Rules."  True to that concept, Lawless makes beautiful bags in unconventional shapes using the skin of non endangered stingray that is a by product of the seafood industry.  The attention to detail is so great that each bag takes a month to produce.  You can see the amazing results below.

A selection of Lawless' stingray clutch bags

I carried the colorful one on the left to the Museum of the City of New York's Winter Ball earlier this week.  It's so gorgeous and was just the pizzazz I needed with my yellow dress.  

Me at the MCNY Winter Ball
(photo courtesy of Jason Grant)

I took some close up selfies of the bag when I got home.  It's a fabulous piece of wearable art.

Lawless Accessories has gotten a lot of press attention, including being in Vogue China and the December 2013 issue of Travel & Leisure, which featured the red clutch above.   For more information about Lawless check out their web site: and their Facebook page under Lawless Accessories.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do the Polka!

There is something about polka dots that always reminds me of Springtime and being a carefree girly girl.   Wearing them makes the announcement "I'm here to have fun!"  Maybe because I had polka dot accessories when I was a teenager after Seventeen magazine declared them 'in,' or maybe it's the memory of the ultra sophisticated black and white polka dot dress with the poufy shoulders that I sauntered around in early in my career, looking like a mini Alexis Carrington from Dynasty and getting a million compliments from men, or it could be the classic polka dot dress Julia Roberts wore in the polo match scene in Pretty Woman, but those little -- and sometimes not so little -- dots always put a smile on my face.  So, prepare to see me smiling a lot this coming Spring because polka dots and all of their fabulousness are back in fashion!  And, since patterns in black and white are also a trend this Spring there will be a lot of black/white polka dots in stores (b&w zebra stripes and gingham will also be everywhere).  I haven't bought anything dotted yet, but I'm pretty sure my mother has a vintage polka dot scarf that is about to disappear from her house (shhh!).

Here are a few photos from my weekend stroll through Bloomingdale's:

Michael Kors black and white polka dot tote bags.  
I especially love the white with black dots.

More Michael Kors totes in pretty solid colors with polka dot accent scarves!

Technically, coats are not accessories, but I almost embraced these beauties when I saw them.  They are by Basler, a German company, and my new favorite clothing/coat brand.  Sadly, these Spring/rain coats cost almost as much as my rent, but if they go on major markdown prepare to see me floating through Central Park wearing one.  Normally, I prefer my dots in smaller doses, like on a bag or scarf, but I would make an exception for this statement coat.

Basler Spring coats

Finally, I did a little digging in my jewelry armoire and pulled out this Joan Rivers Classics Collection pink polka dot enamel flower pin, which will be a perfect accent on jackets and sweaters this Spring. We've featured this pin on the blog before in a flower pin post when Barbara (my mom) sketched the pins.  We both have them, because I think I gave it to her one Mother's Day.  It's a lovely classic.

Joan Rivers pin
(sketch by Barbara)

A polka dot tip to end with:  one item of polka dot clothing/accessory per outfit is enough, unless you are applying to clown college.  And, I would keep the rest of the outfit a solid color for maximum impact.

(All photos, except of the flower pin, courtesy of Kara Dober)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Politics of Fashion with Adam Clayton Powell IV

Adam Clayton Powell IV sporting a trademark colorful tie
(image from the New York Daily News)

Adam Clayton Powell IV is a second generation politician and a former NY Assemblyman (Democrat) who represented the 68th assembly district (East Harlem, part of Central Harlem and part of the Upper West Side) in Manhattan from 2000 to 2010.  He is also considering a run for Congress in 2016 when Rep. Charlie Rangel retires.  NB, you may be hearing that here first ;-)

Adam Clayton Powell IV announcing a previous run for Congress
(image from

I've known Adam for a few years now so I decided to ask him about his ties, because it seems that in every political showdown eventually the color of candidates' ties becomes a focal point.  And, I wondered: do Democrats favor blue ties, do Republicans prefer red ties or do they not even think about it?  What I saw when I Googled images of Adam is that his ties are really cool and they are patterned in every color of the rainbow.  And, when I asked him about his ties I discovered that he does, indeed, think about it.

Adam being interviewed on In Sight Nueva York

Adam describes himself as a "big tie person" and says he has a collection of about a hundred ties.  He likes all colors, he has lots of reds and blues, and he prefers modern ties and patterns.  I asked if he has a favorite brand and he said he likes Garcia ties, as in Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia.  Adam told me that he gets a lot of compliments on his ties and he thinks that colorful ties reflect his personality.  Knowing him I totally agree with that!

So, I wanted to know how his penchant for less than conservative neck-wear impacts his political life, if at all.  Never one to hold back Adam explained that his ties stood out from the crowd when he was an Assemblyman and they were definitely more exciting than the usual political ties.  Adam further explained that he thinks his ties do make a difference and will help him stand out  if he runs again.  I wholeheartedly share the opinion that accessories do make the outfit and do reflect one's personality.

Finally, I asked Adam to take a selfie wearing one of his favorites and he was kind enough to oblige.

Adam wearing a favorite from his tie collection
(photo by Adam Clayton Powell IV)

Many thanks to Adam for offering a glimpse into his flair for fashionable neckties!