Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Text Posted and Edited by J. Ecochard
Pictures Courtesy of Mama Mio and La Roche-Posay

Crave Authenticity?

Join the hordes that do…hence the ratings explosion for reality shows...and blogs with more clout than venerable print dinosaurs.

Even users (readers) choices are awarded under questionable parameters. After all, aren’t some of the winners the biggest advertisers?

Which is why trolling the trade shows and attending scientific conferences…can be a great way to discover what beauty products really work. Just scope out a cluster of make-up artists, (no obvious financial reward earned), zeroing in on a certain moisturizer like heat seeking missiles. Chances are, the stuff delivers.

On the scientific front, it can get a bit complicated. It pays to follow the brains.

One sharp MD with a thorough understanding of what ingredients get the mission accomplished, is NYC based Dr. Neil Sadick. An engaging dermatologist with decades of practice, Dr. Sadick is optimistic about the safer, “cocktail approach” of soon to be available “at home technologies” and in-office, “non-invasive…true science” rejuvenation procedures and products for the face and “off-face” areas. He’s particularly enthused by new advanced lasers that when wielded- employ radio frequency energy, low energy ultrasounds, broadband infra red lights and/or electrical fields with minimal downtime. Notes Dr Sadick, the lasers will be able to “refine skin tightening…with marked improvement in a non-surgical manner.” Newer at home devices geared towards alleviating acne and cellulite, (with FDA approval no less) should also be coming to the retail market too.

Plus, in the next 12 months, “nanocyte” particle size of key ingredients in certain over the counter creams/serums- will better penetrate the dermis-and produce noticeable gains in skin’s appearance etc. (Though prescribed retinoids are still the gold standard).

So, be prepared to be somewhat bewildered if minimizing wrinkles, cellulite and age related redness and brown spots…is part of your game plan.

Somewhat easier to grasp, is the basic concept of garbage in-garbage out, meaning the medical community’s embrace of the effectiveness of high dose anti-oxidants (grape seed, green tea and olive extract) found in Dr. Aaron Tabor’s convenient Daily Supplement packages… and broad-spectrum sunblocks like La Roche Posay Anthelios’ line for positive results.
One beauty seceret that’s already performing as advertised for British new moms-is the under the radar Mamma Mio collection. Now available worldwide, the Emergency Repair Kit with a Tummy Toner and Stretch Mark Minimiser magically lessens stretch marks like a David Copperfield act for stretched out skin…without pricey laser treatments (or an over bloated Las Vegas jaunt).

And though daily doses of vitamin supplements Biotin and Silica seem to markedly improve the growth and thickness of one’s hair in a few weeks…instantly visible results are visible after only one at home treatment of Curlisto Systems’ Deep Therapy Masque. Plus Curlisto is easily one of the of the best complete product lines for dry-prone curly hair no matter the ethnic group. Its hydrating, anti-frizz miracle workers Structura Lotion and Glow & Shine -both chock full of protein and botanical ingredients, calms/conditions the hair without the crunch -or damaging alcohol- of other pricier lines.

Speaking of hair... eyelash extensions... which were fun for like a moment...are sure to lose favor to lash conditioners Jan Marini Skin Research’s Age Intervention Eyelash and Revitalash. Both easy to swipe treatments stimulate lashes (for reasons not fathomed) to grow…and grow after a 3-4 weeks of nightly application.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Book review: A Privileged Life, by Susanna Salk

TITLE: Celebrating Wasp Style, A PRIVILEGED LIFE by Susanna Salk
Assouline Publishing, 170 pgs., $40
Text by Vivian G. Kelly
Image of C.Z. Guest by Slim Aarons, courtesy of Getty Images
Image of Babe Paley, photographer, unknown

The place: J. Crew on Elm Street, New Canaan, CT.

Timestamp: Saturday afternoon, June 16th

We could not have asked for a more ideal setting in which to meet Susanna Salk, the author of one of Asssouline’s latest coffee table books, A Privileged Life. Ms. Salk is the real deal, she looks and sounds like a WASP and she actually is one. Among her fondest memories is being driven home by her friend’s makeup-free Mom, still in her riding clothes in the family’s old Subaru with horsehair seats, listening to NPR.

This glossy coffee table book does-away with the “members only” rep WASPs tend to have and is the first book to really speak on the subject after Lisa Birnabach’s The Preppy Handbook, [1980, Workman Publishing Co, Inc.] which successfully portrayed the zeitgest of the era of excess.
As Ms. Birnbach’s book did in the eighties, Ms. Salk discusses the FEELING and emotion that the term WASP conveys. Ms. Salk’s book goes one better than Ms. Birnbach’s in that it covers the subject matter beginning with the forties through the present day.

We met up with Ms. Salk, who sat at a long white table in the front of the store, surrounded with shelves and racks spilling-over with WASP themed clothing and accessories, conversing with shoppers.
She surprised us by stating, “So many WASP icons like Grace Kelly are not in fact actually WASP.” Grace’s Father was a famous local sculls champion but as he was Catholic and a bricklayer, was not allowed to row in the Henley Royal Regatta, an esteemed WASP event.

Ms. Salk named the late C.Z. Guest as the penultimate WASP, whose loves included her garden, her home, and her dogs. She maintains that WASP has nothing to do with religion or money though. WASP, she explained, “is about timelessness, a surety that life will always continue in comfortable familiar patterns.”
It’s knowing that summers will be spent at the beach house, every year, meeting up with the familiar faces that are fixtures over a lifetime. It’s knowing that your hostess will welcome whatever friends you and your children bring-over for dinner.
This generosity extends across all demographics, but only the setting, food, drinks, and dress differ.
The idea that life will continue in the same way is a seductive and extremely appealing one particularly after the horrors of 9-11, which changed many peoples’ lives forever. Ms. Salk hit the bulls eye in the introduction, ”Maybe by sacrificing change, for consistency, the world feels like it’s a safer place. Control over one’s conditions is, after all, the ultimate privilege.”

Ms. Salk concluded our conversation by explaining that in some ways she wanted to do a book on this topic “ as someday, it will no longer eventually be there any more.”

In the meantime, WASP sartorial style keeps going strong, thanks in part to the availability of resources such as J. Crew, LL Bean, Orvis, and Lilly Pulitzer to name just a few, on the internet. The young make the formerly one-note style their own, by combining a full-on preppy hot pink polo with a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch or Juicy Couture Bottoms.

A Privileged Life makes for thought-provoking reading. It’s also chock-full of captivating images of idyllic locations that appear to be magically suspended in time. Those in it appear enveloped in an environment that cocoons them against the vissisitudes of the world. Many of the subjects are glamorous recognizable icons snapped while at leisure. Ms. Salk’s book makes a wonderful summer time gift, particularly if you should happen to be visiting in one of the idyllic locales photographed in the book.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chanel's summer collection of tropicana brights

Text by Vivian G. Kelly
Photographs courtesy of Chanel USA

Chanel summer beauty, Tropicana style!

As the weather gets progressively hotter, Chanel’s Copacabana fruity color palette looks just like an island sunset. That alone makes it the perfect choice for the blazing hot days to come. Back in March, we’d already seen some bright coral lips on the New York runways. Those sightings and the idea of wearing a more toned down version of orange are what drew us to the Chanel Counter this spring. The first item we picked up was their latest nail shade, “orange blossom”, which is THE perfect shade of coral, and looks good on different skin tones. Fortunately for us, we picked up one of the last three bottles at the counter; it was sold-out the following week.
A few weeks later, we attended an in store event at the Chanel Counter in Lord & Taylor, in Danbury, CT., promoting Chanel’ s new summer collection. The event, organized by the incomparable Mona Tassone, the store’s counter manager, exceeded our expectations. Ms. Tassone is a rarity, she is one of the few beauty counter people we’ve encountered at any department store who places customer service before a quickie sale.
We underwent a complete makeover under the guidance of star makeup artist, Mario Fenailillo, who’s worked on famous faces including Claudia Schiffer and done makeup for the Chanel fashion show, as well as for spreads in W and Vanity Fair magazines. So, when he suggested a polished “Hollywood Glamour look” we were game. Michelle, who administered the makeover, applied Hydramx + Tinted moisture boost lotion, SPF 15, in lieu of foundation, which we flatly refused to try. The “sunlit” shade Mario recommended gave us the light of-the-moment tan in seconds we were hoping to achieve this summer.
30 minutes later, we finally got to look in the mirror and were astonished to see that the result was remarkably similar to Nicole Kidman’s Chanel No. 5 ads. While we skipped the 4 Ombres Quadra Eye Shadow in ”shimmering dunes” and the “horizon” pale coral blush, we left the counter with three items and a lot of samples of skincare products.

We bought:

- Chanel Precision Hydramax + Tinted moisture boost lotion, SPF 15 in “Sunlit”
- Chanel Aqualumiere lipstick, SPF 15 in “Hawaii”
- Chanel Brilliant lumiere lip shine in “fluorescent”. This was the one item we insisted Michele use in the makeover, and yes, it really DOES glow in the dark!

We spent: $105

The Chanel summer collection is currently on counter and chanel.com

Michele is available for special events and can be contacted at mcsky247@yahoo.com


Text Written/Edited and Photos by J. Ecochard

We’ve all had this moment.

It’s the first icy blast of winter, with snowy blizzard conditions predicted. And department store windows beckon with splashy beachwear.

It’s the first steamy blast of summer’s dog days…and the weather service announced no end to triple digits temperatures. And boutiques’ clothing racks bulge with fall’s dark hued, wool clothing.

Ah yes, the total disconnect between what you need to buy…and when you are able to buy it.

Which is why the so-called pre-Spring 2008 runway show from design collective Form was not only stunningly elegant- but also so of the moment perfect for the hot, humid NY climes.

Inspired by “the freedom and complexity of a kite” the pleasing soft or iridescent palette (ivory, silver, sky blue) of fabrics in silk chiffon, cotton voile, silk taffeta and satin…were flatteringly draped and gathered, with seductive glimpes of skin (i.e. one shouldered flowing minis) highlighting the collection- cut with an eye for architectural perfection. The 18 looks were indicative of the talent of head designer/founder, former GEN Art winner Jerry Tam (along with colleagues Kelly Andrews and Eric Werner)…who put his FIT haute couture training to polished work. The presentation was an appreciative nod to designers Madame Gres and Geoffrey Beene… and also brought to mind CFDA/Vogue winner Doo Ri’s draped ensembles.

And for once, the attending editorial swans/celebutantes gathered at the Rockefeller Rooftop Gardens- were appropriately outfitted in FORM-paying homage at the correct, seasonal moment.

Hair-Ecru/Make-up by MAC: No flyways in sight –with smooth, sleek hair pulled back into chic, knotted buns at the nape of the neck. Eyes gleamed, framed by shiny moonbeam white make-up, soft blush against pale skin... and neutral- rosy lips. The overall effect was unfussy, applied with a light touch, but done…with skin glowing like a fine strand of pearls.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Super Peds...Sox Optional

Men's Shoes Get Styled
Text By. J. Ecochard
Photos by Gola/Skins Footwear/J. Ecochard

Warm weather, or more specifically, ridiculously hot, sticky temps, demand a change in wardrobe from head to toe. And while a woman may be prone to sizing up the opposite sex by the shoes he’s wearing...a gent himself must realize the need to get on the good foot (as James Brown opined).

For the shoes may not make the man…but it can definitely ruin an outfit.

Gola Classics, the original century old British line of football (soccer) shoes, has Eurochic, fashion conscious ‘lifestyle’ looks in all combos of leather/suede uppers and trims… in contrasting neutral tones and with Velcro straps (“Crossfire”), easy to wear slip ons (“Slope”) and tennis shoe inspired (“Trick”) with innovative elasticized laces. In stores in time for Father’s Day, the color mixes available, featuring the eye-catching Gola wingflash- can blend for a pulled together head to toe ensemble, or standout like a bling worthy accessory, imparting a bit of pizzazz to hipster black garb-or-Friday casual khakis.

Though on the opposite of the time spectrum, the innovative, recently launched footwear line Skins, is also destined for international acclaim. Founded by Mark Klein, this hard working NY native collaborated with design team Banfi, Zambrelli to come up with a utility patent protected, soft constructed outer “Skins”…that is neatly interchangeable over a one time purchased, customized inner support section, called the “Bone.”

“It’s a big time, value proposition,” notes Klein…because the shoes “always have the same fit and feel…the Skins are collapsible and easily portable…and you can roll them into a ball.”

Currently available via mail order, the customized Bone insert is made of plastic…but Klein is looking forward to using “bamboo because it is moldable” and other recycled and/or renewable materials for the stylish, easy to accumulate Skins-in addition to the leather and canvas ones now out on the market.

So in an era where consumers not only crave authenticity, but also “personalization and responsibility” says Klein. “We’re doing things right for the environment.”

A statement James Brown would heartingly agree with.