Friday, December 24, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
There are two kinds of accidental moms. The first is the girl that gets pregnant and changes their reckless ways for good, like changing their stripper profession for teaching math. The second are those that secretly wanted to have kids but are not very good life planners. These are at least the kind of friends I have anyway. I probably fall into both categories, except I was a nightlife reporter, not a stripper.
Friday, August 13, 2010
“Don’t do anything I will be right back,” Patrick said to me. “I need to get a different lens for my camera.”
Monday, June 7, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
This month, the iconic TV series "Sex in the City" gets a necklace charm line. Later in the summer, the book "Eat, Pray, Love" is in negotiations for a keepsake line about the same time the movie is released.
Dogeared is known for creating sentimental totems and keepsake gifts as well as charms associated with charities like Make a Wish. The step up to the silver screen wasn't planned.
"We didn't really set out to do this," said sales director Elizabeth Dinette. "HBO reached out to us. Licensing wasn't in our business plan."
However, a "Sex and the City" jewelry line made perfect sense; the popularity of the series and first movie came from an intimate, yet lighthearted, connection among women.
"Our strength has always been themed concepts, words of inspiration and reflection that relate to our consumers," says Ms. Dinette. "We take the themes from the series that many women identify with and give them a part of that theme."
Dogeared is known for the simplicity of the designs and messages that accompany each item. Quotes were pulled from the show to represent each of the main characters of the series -- Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Each quote card receives a different charm emblematic of the message.
Attached to charms representing the Eiffel Tower, a martini glass, a diamond and a stiletto heel are quotations such as: "I've been dating since I was 15. I'm exhausted! Where is he?" and "Shopping is my cardio."
"The 'Single and Fabulous' card means you got to have confidence. The jewelry is a reminder," says Ms. Dinette. "The line is about life's journey from a female point of view and the different phases we experience. Every woman can see a part of themselves in this series."
The charms will be released first with HBO and Bloomingdales; later, they will be available wherever you find Dogeared charms. Prices range from $54 to $150.
Dogeared is still in negotiations on items from the book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. The movie with Julia Roberts is set for release in August.
Monday, May 3, 2010
If you are like me, you may cringe at the idea of letting your child dig in dirt or romp through poison ivy. You may have screamed, as I did on a recent Saturday morning, at spotting spiders in the toilet at Boyce-Mayview Park while the other parents waited to use the compost restroom.
If, like me, you're exceptionally squeamish when it comes to the natural world, Venture Outdoors' Tyke Hikes provide a low-maintenance way to get your child involved with nature.
The program's main goal is to introduce children -- including infants -- to nature while utilizing the city's parks and nearby outdoor recreational venues. The nature walks are so popular during the moderate weather that it is normal to have 40-50 people attend a hike.
Organizer Lindsey Rethage inherited the program in 2004 and has rejuvenated it by working to organize neighborhood chapters. Rethage makes it easy for parents by making the trails low impact and full of pit stops where participants look at vegetation and animals -- including insects -- that reside in the parks.
"As long as you introduce your kids to the outdoors, they are happy," says Rethage. Her oldest daughter Avery was 3 weeks old when she started leading hikes. Madison, her second child, was a fussier baby, but being outdoors calmed her down.
Rethage finds a lot of children are really fascinated by nature when they get around other children. Her two girls are often the ring leaders, she said, and naturally connect with the other kids.
Rethage says 60 percent of Tyke Hikers are parents trying out the program for the first time. Many, like Laureen Colusci of Ross, recognize that their children spend more time indoors than they did as children.
"I want him to learn about nature and see things," said Colusci, of her 4-year-old son Liam.
It was an exceptionally cold day at Boyce-Mayview Park, but three families showed for the Saturday hike. Kate Snyder of Mount Lebanon, 18 weeks pregnant, came out with her 18 month-old child, Eliah.
"I tend to like the idea of outdoor activity," said Snyder.
Parents like Julie Azzam of Dormont, who aren't exactly outdoors types, find their children provide incentive to search for more activities in nature.
The University of Maryland reported that the average American child spends 50 percent more time indoors than 20 years ago. The study found kids are spending 55 hours a week with electronic media. The American Journal of Public Health attributed outdoor play to a reduction in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children as young as 5 years old.
Rethage's interest in nature was inspired by her kids' need to get outdoors, as well as her own childhood in Canada. Her father was an outdoors educator. She found the inspiration again when she left the corporate world to become a mother.
One of the intimidating factors of nature, Rethage said, is that parents worry about their children's safety and health risks. During a recent camping trip she discovered one of her daughters has asthma. But that hasn't stopped her from engaging her daughter with nature.
"It really is like we are a community when we are on a hike," she says. "The stories from kids are great. They can remember the littlest things they discovered in nature."
During a recent Tuesday stroll, a group of six families was introduced to Ebony Scott of East Liberty, who is being trained to guide some of the programs. Her reason for getting involved in Tyke Hikes is also personal.
"I love to be able to teach my kids outdoor activities," she says. "I am also trying to get African Americans out on trips in the parks. There is a lot of obesity in our communities. I don't want my own children to become unhealthy."
Her daughter Heaven is 5, and her 6-month-old son Earth was strapped to her as she helped Rethage dole out complimentary snack for the kids.
Some hikers are grandparents. Nellie Curran of Shaler has been taking her grand kids out on Tyke Hikes for three years.
"I would be bored to death if I had to keep them at home," she said. Now her grandchildren, 1-year-old Seamus and 4-year-old Peter, have found regular playmates in some of the children.
I examined the mud on my daughter's pants and sighed, but I had to agree with everyone. Despite the dirt, she was much happier.
This year thanks to the social networking of the internet, a lot of designers have answered the needs of women everywhere with more creative and better built swimwear. However, there are designs that were made for only the young or svelte body types. For instance, the boy short has made way for the “hipster” bottom that barely covers the inappropriate bits that may show when you sit down.
Lesson number one: when trying on a bathing suit bend over, sit down, dance around, and lift your arms to test how the suit moves with you. Posing in the mirror and sucking in your gut does not count.
The bandeau top became en vogue in the last few years, but was not really appropriate for fuller women. However, designers have managed to build a support top with adjustable straps and reinforcing materials giving the look a more practical application.
The same goes for one-piece suits that are built with new tummy slimming materials. Vix, Gottex, Miraclesuit, and La Blanca are on the racks at your typical places to go swimwear hunting like Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Saks. They have built-in a tremendous amount of ruching and strategic ruffling into there suits. Contrary to this trend, I suspect that after I give birth to the baby in my belly next month I won’t want to wear a tutu or anything that accentuates a rippling affect.
The alternative trends to ruffles and ridges are the asymmetrical shoulder and cut-outs. Last year I tried a few on with laughable results. I was curious if the Fergie inspired hip-waist exposure, sometimes call the monokini, might be my bathing suit savior. I was profoundly mistaken. However, this year the term “cut-out” applies to many different styles that are less dramatic. The cuts are smaller around the hips, for instance the Stella McCartney version. Others appear as deep V-cuts that are made to elongate your trunk and give
a little styling to tummy tucking one-pieces like the ones found by Trina Turk. The one-shoulder look has the ability lift a one-piece bandeau suit into a better fitting statement.
A lot of designers are going the route of tactical colors and shapes. Clashing patterns and creating a busy bosom of color is completely acceptable this year. The look can be fun and, hey, it was popular in the Sports Illustrated Swimwear Issue this year. If you can’t quite get your mind around a string bikini from Maaji or Beach B
unny, which were featured in the sports magazine, than there are more un-revealing styles available in the tankini, and halter versions found at Kohl’s and Target.
Drenching yourself in a ridiculous upbeat pattern lends itself to having a sense of humor about the whole idea of baring your skin and no one does this quite as loud as Lilly Pultizer. This year Lilly Pulitzer, available at
Side, is offering separates for the first time in her career. According to Fashion Director Jane Shoenborn, the change was in direct response to the feedback they received from social networking groups like Facebook and Twitter. Now you can buy tops and bottoms in different sizes and styles.
“What we love is that just like the rest of the brand, we are print driven. We have a resorty atmosphere so we don’t spend a lot of time tricking up the suit. We let the prints speak,” says Shoenborn. This year the collection was inspired by endangered animals and nature. The swimwear line is full of crazy corals and shells in hot pink, vivid green and electric blue.
I am not sure any of the new fashions will turn anyone into a “regular” woman, but they will be more comfortable and maybe even a little fun to wear.
Monday, April 12, 2010
March 28, 2010
NEW YORK -- You don't have to be a die-hard fashion fanatic to access the crazed sample sale events that appeared in episodes of "Sex and the City" and the movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic." New York City is packed with destinations and boutiques dedicated to the bargain-hunting recessionista.
On a recent trip here, I scoured the Web pages of TimeOut and New York magazines looking for updates on key sales. My taste runs more to the peasant couture of British designer Orla Kiely, known for her pear and stem designs, than Louis Vuitton or Versace. But if that's your love, Boutique on 57 sells discounted merchandise for the fashion elite. The discounts are even deeper at venues such as the Chelsea Market on Ninth Avenue that often have more eclectic and exclusive designers.
In the past decade, the Meat Packing District became known as a hideaway for exclusive sales and clothing lines. However, all that has changed with the advent of huge clubs, restaurants and stores such as Jeffery New York that have eaten up the open warehouse space. In the stores and stalls of Chelsea, unmarked doors often lead to a world of sample sales or indie art galleries.
Similarly, storefronts in neighborhoods south of the district such as Samples for Ecompassion, Outlet 7 and Inven.tory have sprouted from the success of limited- and exclusive-run sales events.
On a mission to score a colorful Orla Kiely handbag, which can typically cost $600 for a large leather tote, I took a taxi to the "secret" location published in New York Magazine's Sample Sale Updates.
There were no signs or markers for Showroom Seven, and all the address numbers were really dusty and dirty. The taxi driver wondered if I knew where I was going (I didn't). As I stood on the sidewalk looking at the warehouse searching for signs of life, the driver reversed to tell me I needed to walk down the street a little farther for the correct door.
The moment I opened that filthy industrial door, the color and fabric of designer showrooms changed my dismal impression. A little sign directed me to the elevator that led to the third-floor stalls of Showroom Seven's glorious sale. Racks with humble little paper signs of designers filled every working space.
I was a day late to the opening of the sale, so I missed the grand rush, but there were still plenty of bargains and discounts to make me drool. I scored my beloved Orla Kiely for 75 percent off the normal price and a pair of Charlotte Ronson sandal shoes for the summer. I left wondering what I had missed at the opening but happy for the money I had saved.
Fortunately for the rest of the world outside New York, that feeling of discovery and the thrill of saving can be experienced online on sample sale sites such as Gilt, Rue La La, Hautelook and Ideeli. There are even phone apps so you'll never miss an opening, but don't be surprised if the popular designers sell out within 15 minutes of their release.
"In essence, we wanted to take the sample sale phenomenon to the rest of the country," she says.
Online sales are often like treasure hunts, where both lesser-known and premier designers sell wholesale from their lines. Often there are only a limited number of sizes available, so it pays to be a quick clicker. Also different from rack raking is that each item is modeled and photographed for the sale. However, as a now-seasoned online sample sale junkie, I can tell you it pays to know your exact measurements to get the best fit. Returns are accepted for shoes and clothes.
Bravo recently decided to partner with Rue La La to launch a clothing line exclusively through the sample sale site. Kathy Rose, a recent winner on the cable network's "Launch My Line" competition series, had great success with her two-day online sale. Everything was sold out by the end.
"I thought the people at Rue La La did a beautiful job," she says. "For me as the designer, I was happy with it."
Ms. Rose's nature-inspired jewelry pieces have been sold to Madonna, Cameron Diaz, Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston. On the Rue La La site, her jewelry designs were joined by a clothing line of animal print and gown-inspired designs. Suddenly, her work was not only available to the suburban sect but also affordable.
Now only her celebrity-worthy couture pieces are available at her store in West Hollywood and online at www.roseark.com. The masses will just have to wait for another sample sale. Oh, the suspense!
Monday, March 22, 2010
NEW YORK -- Despite the snow that blanketed the city at the start of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week last Thursday, attendees arrived at Bryant Park already nostalgic for the 17-year-old venue (the shows will move to Lincoln Center next season). I showed up five-months pregnant, curious about the glamorous sect.
After a long drive from Pittsburgh, I arrived just in time for my first show, Christian Siriano, smelling like my 19th-month-old's baby food and looking like I was going grocery shopping in my sweatpants. I clung to my assigned seat, afraid it would be given away to someone better-looking.
Instead, everyone had gathered on the runway with all sorts of cameras to take photos of Mena Suvari, DJ Leigh Lezark, Amber Rose and CariDee English.
Throughout the next couple of days, many murmured about the passing of innovative British designer Alexander McQueen. Most noticeably, his signature skull print scarf was worn by several attendees. A giant Twitter screen scrolled the messages of bloggers mourning his parting. I was upset, too; he left this world on my birthday.
On Sunday, British designer Rebecca Taylor, whose show I was denied admission to although I had a confirmed ticket, spoke with me at the after-party about how she was so devastated that she forbade her staff from speaking about Mr. McQueen in her presence. She didn't feel it was a topic for gossip. She was, however, happy to talk about her kids and how much they love fashion.
This was a theme throughout the weekend: Children of all ages seemed to be present at every show. The writer that these young people undoubtedly read is 13-year-old blogger Tavi Gevinson. I recognized her dyed bluish-gray hair instantly when I stepped onto the elevator at my hotel. After surveying my red maternity dress (it was Valentine's Day) she told me she liked my gray flowered cloche. I blushed and thanked her. For some reason, getting a compliment from her made me feel a little more confident among the severe, black-dressed fashion sect.
Back at the tents, Pittsburgh fashion blogger Racheallee Lacek was trying to get her thoughts down before her laptop lost power in the crowded media room. She said there were more parties and events for bloggers this year because many companies are taking notice of smaller audiences in markets such as Pittsburgh.
Her friend Julie DiNardo, the creator of Neighborhood Tees and editor of the blog Fashion Pulse Daily, thought that the move to Lincoln Center will make it easier for more media to get into shows. She is not alone. Donna Karan and other designers believe it will legitimize fashion by placing it in the world of the arts. After being ordered to move to make room for Carmen Electra's entrance at one show, I hope that this is true.
Television personalities seemed to be this year's paparazzi targets. I spotted MTV's Whitney Port surrounded by cameras as she tried to find a way into the Bryant Park Hotel while I was waiting outside in line. So many unexpected personalities (like the Real Housewives of New York) came to shows such as Herve Leger, Rebecca Taylor and Diane von Furstenberg that people with reservations were simply bumped.
Of course, nothing really prepares you for being told that because of people pretending to be pregnant to get seats, you will have to stand. At the Luca Luca presentation, a young volunteer was trying hard to get me a seat despite my protest that I didn't need one for a 15-minute show.
A debate about whether I was really pregnant ensued behind my back among members of security until an older manager explained that because people were known to feign pregnant bumps, I would have to stand. I expected people to push me aside or fight over seats, but I never expected to have my belly be a subject of controversy. Really!
Despite the predictable closed doors and disorganization that preceded the presentations for Fall 2010, the shows I saw had tones of purple and raisin with variations of ruffles and masculine suited looks. In many cases, such as Christian Siriano and Charlotte Ronson, the audience wore more avant-garde clothing than what was seen on the runway.
Siriano had a lot of elegant silhouettes with ruffles and drapes of silk or chiffon. Ronson channeled the "Arabian Nights" with turbans and long, pleated skirts. Georges Chakra reversed the tuxedo collar into an evening gown. Luca Luca used eggplant to brighten tall-collared looks with petal skirts. Even the wild style of Custo Barcelona used variations of purple and layered textures.
Billowed shoulders on small feminine forms and bold, big flutter forms were seen in every line. Lace-up oxford angle boots have replaced the peep-toe bootie, and cut-out patterns appear in creative places.
Distressed patterns seem to be making appearances in all the lines, whether as an accent or fabric for a sheath dress. Now this I could relate to. After a few days of Fashion Week (which continues through Thursday), I was feeling much like that distressed fabric myself!
One of the biggest trends in designer apparel in the past years has been the shrinking of garments to fit the smallest of consumers -- tots. Couture children's clothes that reflect their adult companions are a trend that has inspired Little Marc
Jacobs, Custo Growing by Custo Barcelona, Little Ella by Ella Moss, Junior Gaultier by Jean Paul Gaultier, and Stella McCartney for BabyGap.
Although Phillip Lim, Chloe, and Antik Batik have come out with lines for kids, you will most likely not find them in local boutiques that have their own chic children designers that imitate more grown-up trends. Shelley Pieklik, owner of Tiny Dot in Shadyside, says the Pittsburgh market is a little more practical than miniaturizing adult clothes. "High-end clothes last and are well-made," she says. "So many people come in here and say, 'Why doesn't this come in my size?' A lot of clothes aren't just cute. People dress their kids in their style."
The need for comfortable and stylish clothing is exactly what inspired brands such as Splendid to launch Splendid Little, which you will find at Picket Fence on Walnut Street. Little Ella is another line that was easy to translate from Ella Moss' creative cotton jersey line. At Lullabye Landing in Mt. Lebanon you will find Diesel for boys and girls, but owner Stefanie Whitworth likes the French lines Jean Bourget and Catimini for a more creative couture look. This season a short charcoal cardigan from Eliane et Lena is a hot number that can be paired with everything from colors to white. A key to shopping couture for children is to look for creative and crafty pieces that are brighter interpretations of grown-up trends such as those by Lola et Moi or Lemon Loves Lime.
Similar to adult styles, this spring there will be a lot of gray or white palettes as well as crafty embellishments such as tiered ruffles, fabric creatures, embroideries, and handmade buttons. Ironically, tulle skirts are in for adults this spring, but they are always in for little girls. Stella McCartney released her own version of the tutu for GapKids this November and is set to launch another line for them in the next season. Her marching band inspired jackets brought the rocker vintage to kids in a fun and sophisticated way.
Many fathers don't want to envision their 3-year-old as a Sports Illustrated model, however, the swimsuit designer Maaji has already appropriated their line for toddlers to match mama. The tailored patchwork designs can be found at Lullabye Landing along with Rachel Weissman hair accessories for an added sophisticated sparkle.
On the more positive side of couture children's fashion is the trend for more eco and chemical-free collections such as the local line Rabbit Skins that uses felt from recycled bottles in playful characters on Ts and hats found at Ona in Mt Lebanon. Lines such as Happy Green Bee make their clothing from organic materials and this season their soft fabrics get the angled hemline treatment that is also familiar to mommies.
It is no surprise that children are getting the creative, couture and eco-conscious treatment from designers that are investing in future consumers. This past month even Bergdorf opened a new department called Little BG, specifically for the finest in infant fashion.
Published on March 17, 2010 in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette