Saturday, March 27, 2010

Style Tour, Mulberry then Mott

We had three more stops to make on the Style Tour.

debut is a gallery like boutique designed to showcase fashion designers as artists. Curated by owner, Lisa Weiss, debut, feels like you've stepped into an art gallery in the West 20's. It was fun for the group to consider fashion as art. The pieces were more "project runway" than anything else we encountered on the Tour, a bit too artistic (and irreverent) for most of us, but there was an abstract print dress there that I'm still thinking about. By the way, abstract prints, on dresses and shirts where all over the fall runways.

Rebecca Taylor–always a favorite of mine. Welcoming store manager, China, helped the ladies try on several blouses, jackets and pants. The store felt like the day– sunny, fresh, relaxing and cheerful. Taylor was a designer I pulled from often when styling photo shoots for advertising and music industry jobs. Her stuff is eye-catching, wearable and surprisingly comfortable. Her dresses are classic/feminine with a hint of "high fashion." I like it all and several things looked great on the gals.

Lolita Jaca–If you need a little St Barth in your life dip into this store. The seven of us barely fit in this tiny island of a store, but that was the fun of it! They were having an awesome sale (besides extending a special discount to our little group). I couldn't resist a better-than-Pucci print blouse, that I'm just dying to break out for just the right occasion (after that I'll wear it a lot and whenever). If you love colorful prints, simple linen dresses and want to dream of an island vacation, go to this store!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Style Tour, Next Stop, Falco New York City

If you can’t make it to Italy, but can manage to get to lower Lafayette Street in Manhattan, stop by Lafco New York. This beautiful fragrance and luxury “smells” store houses Santa Maria Novella products from Florence.

This is one of (if not) the oldest fragrance (pharmacy) “brand” in the world. Founded by Dominican friars in the early part of the 13th century, the pharmacy began by producing medicines, balms and pomades from herbs grown in the monastic gardens. Eventually word got out about the exceptional quality of the products these friars were producing and happily in 1612, the pharmacy opened to the public.

Today Santa Maria Novella products are distributed worldwide, but selectively so the brand has maintained its pedigree and artistry. There is a fascinating and rich history behind the products and I am barely skimming the surface here. The store on Lafayette has a natural earthy palette with some industrial design influences. It is incredible inviting, almost like walking into a prayerful oasis of lotions and potions.

The Novella products are reminiscent of the Renaissance both in packaging and fragrance–they aren’t fussy or convoluted, rather they incorporate simple herbs and flowers used now and throughout the ages–verbena, magnolia, orange blossom. The other Fafco products are also worth the trip through the huge ironwork doors of the shop, a fitting entrance for this big step from city street to “friars pharmacy.”

If you find yourself in Florence do make the effort to visit the original Farmaceutica de Santa Maria Novell. (Describing that will take another blog post and words along can not do it justice!)

Below: The Pharmacy's neo Gothic main salesroom, Florence, Italy
Photos below and above center: Scott S. Warren from the article "Heaven Scent" at by Mishal Husain
Photo right: Gals on the Style Tour, Falco New York

Monday, March 22, 2010

Style Tour, Nolita NYC

On Friday I had the pleasure of leading a Style Tour through New York City’s Nolita neighborhood. For those of you who don’t know Nolita, it means north of little Italy. It’s an ultra groovy downtown neighborhood chock full of trendy boutiques, quaint eateries and hip pedestrians. The Style Tour was my brainchild and my objective for it was twofold: 1) I wanted to find another way to combine my styling with travel and 2) I wanted to help out the Pelham Art Center with a silent auction item.

Seven women joined the Style Tour, all with a love of fashion and frivolity and in need of a day off. I was expecting it to feel at least a little like work, but honestly I felt like I was shopping with my best friends. Between about 10 and 2 we hit 6 places (including Italian espresso bar La Colombe). I had done some recon work and my chosen boutiques were ready for us! A few stores gifted us with goody bags and others offered welcome discounts to our little group. The weather more than cooperated, so much so that our lunch spot, Delicatessen, swung its doors open creating a street café to see and be seen.

Our first stop was at custom jeans boutique True Boutique. Here, you can find a pair of jeans to your specs (sizes range from 0 to 16) and that fit your…A…challenging parts! AND then the on-site stylist/tailor will alter them for you right there in the shop. We circled back past the store just one hour later and ba-bam, jeans done!

Check back with me in the next few days for a blow by blow of where we went from there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Padua, A University Town

Back in October I blogged several times about a terrific trip I took to the Veneto region of Italy. The Italian Government Tourist Board hosted the trip and I went to both represent and to write a story for GoNOMAD. We visited some wonderful towns in the Veneto and it was hard to decide just which one made the “stand out” story. In fact they all did! I could have written about Vicenza, the “theatre-city," mecca of Palladian architecture, or fashionable Treviso, of course there is also Venice, which speaks volumes and is a visual paradise. (From the picture above you can see that even an amateur photographer takes pictures like a professional in Venice!) In the end, I settled on Padua, a University town, I’d like to MOVE to! Here is the story.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

South Street Seaport Museum and the SS Normandie Show

South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan makes a great day trip. This re-invented Seaport, now an outdoor shopping, site seeing square, has lots to do for adults and tikes.

Husband and I were down there last week on an terribly rainy night for an exhibition opening at the South Street Seaport Museum. I was asked to write an article for the magazine, Seaport, which accompanied the exhibit. The show, entitled DecoDence: Legendary Interiors and Illustrious Travelers Aboard the SS Normandie, is a gem. Many (almost all) of the artifacts are loaned to the museum by one collector, a Mario J. Pulice. And in one of those small world occurrence, it turns out that Mario was a former work colleague of my husband's. They had a great time getting reacquainted. The show's curator Bill Miller did a marvelous job of celebrating the ship and the period. Step back to the DecoDence of the 30's and see this exhibit!
The article I wrote, The Great Escape–Transatlantic Fashion in the Deco Period, was obviously about fashion in the 1930's. It was a dream assignment for me. I could almost fancy myself a fashion historian and what better period to delve into– Chanel, Vionnet, Schiaparelli, deco's divine design divas!

Besides the Museum, The Seaport has some nice "port side" eateries, and decent shopping. It's a bit touristy, but probably not at this time of year and if it's too cold there are plenty of places to duck into. The Seaport Museum alone is worth the trip downtown. Check it out.