Friday, August 10, 2007

Accessories/Lingerie TRADESHOWS

Image by DusicaDusica

A preview for Spring 2008

Review by J.Ecochard

Media reports of haute couture’s demise –‘aka’ art as fashion-may be true. And many large empires may view the artistry and expense of twice a year, runway extravaganzas as mere publicity tools for their high-end, high margins designer handbags, sunglasses, cosmetics, perfumes…’aka’ fashion as commerce.

But moods lifted while strolling the tradeshow aisles of ENK’s New York’s Accessorie Circuit at Pier 94 and Lingerie Americas at the Metropolitan Pavilion.

Because it is refreshing to preview dozens of small name fashion houses and entrepreneurs with vision, and up market chic… hawking wanna have it now handbags, jewelry, and foundation pieces for Spring 2008- at price points- digits smaller than those admittedly, sumptuous Parisian creations.

California businesses (with a few Big Apple, European and Texan based showrooms) have goodies that are particularly note worthy. Naturally, our first footsteps land us at Dusica Dusica’s luxe display of hand made Italian, senuously slouchy leather sacks, refined shoes, and light as a feather jackets and coats for women. Ingenuous use of silver mesh metallics for handbag handles, petal perfect ruching on ballet flats and sandals with exotic names (styles Danica and Michelina), and origami inspired pleating in muted/primary colors (gray, beige, maroon, black, silver) on the buttery smooth leather coats…bring to mind the deft, deconstructed use of leather fabrics by LA designer Ric Owens. Dreamy and delicious…with retail prices starting at $200 and up.

Images by GoGo Gear

A few yards away, our eyes are diverted to retail veteran’s Katharine Marinaro’s GoGo Gear’s new hip roller bags that are a genius combo of the carry everything, structured, oversized satchels (with attached wheels) one always wants/needs with padded interiors for electronic delicates, matching makeup bags…and exteriors in clever prints and fabrics like white and black python, leopard, easy to maintain vinyls, solid chocolate nylon, and pearlized bone or beige leathers…PLUS retractable hidden trolley handles. Smart!

We also always check in with Texas lady Marnie Cooper of Marniebugs- where her sophisticated use of big gold chains and thick leather braided trims on plush, modern classic red and black leather wristlets and satchels -are even more tempting than the silver margaritas we look forward to sharing with her as soon as we touch down in Austin.

A must next stop?

Image by Elizabeth Gillett

New Yorker Elizabeth Gillett once again proves why she is a buyer's favorite with her exquisite feminine scarves and wraps for Cruise/Spring 2008. A fetching combo of "new ideas all day long" and "what people respond to" leads to gold specked metallic linen and stand-out sheer black wraps... and bold primary colored black, red, beige and 'it' color Yves Klein (cobalt) blue woven shawls that can hotwire any yawn inducing, monotone outfit or be seductively twisted around one's torso for effortless chic cover-ups.

Other women designed collections that we covet/drool over include:

-The burgundy or black patent leather double flap bag, satchel and key fobs of the Barnie bags in Stephanie Lin’s Shih collection. The LA based hand crafted line has understated elegance similar to Coach bags- but made with far more finesse (and interest)-as if the designer’s knowledge of architecture inspired the cut and shapes of the goods.

Posh enough for the urban fashion capitals of Paris/Milan/NY, the Californian Boulevard company is new to us. Best are the sturdy but eminently touchable quilt like Alina large messenger bags in black leather or sateen, and the elegant, gold metal trimmed Gwen tote with roomy, strategically placed zipped pockets.

Images by Susan Farber

-We also love chatting with Susan Farber about her leather collection, inspired by her love of " fashion's ruffles and frills" that really stand out with the edgy, zipper trim ruffled "Laurel" plush clutches and "Nina" hobo bags. The soft to the eye, floweret petal folds of the assorted carry-alls, in metallic and solid leathers… are truly unique statement pieces and can make an all black head to toe outfit-or a red carpet gown.

Image by Yayoi Forest

If jewelery tastes run towards the delicate bent, the charming Yayoi Inada magicaly conjures up subtle, well crafted gold and silver pieces inspired by Nature.

A great way to finish the show was gabbing with the well-informed, eco-sensitive silver jewelry and organic clothing designer Jes MaHarry who also works with Peruvian craftswomen to produce warm wool outerwear and handbags that blend into Santa Fe scenery …but also ramp up citified wardrobes. Her lines are perennial best sellers in the Sundance catalogue.

Image by Jes MaHarry

Our take…maybe it’s all those good vibrations emanating from her Ojai CA ranch, her philosphy " leave the earth knowing you made a difference..." or/and her devotion to animals, but Jes MaHarry is one lady- we are thrilled is so successful. Karma.

The next day…a spin through the Lingerie Americas show seemed to reaffirm trends seen at the Miami Swimwear tradeshow.

Photos of Claudie Sontag/Swimsuits-J. Ecochard

Readily apparent amongst the luscious European brands is the continued focus on sophisticated , grown up foundation pieces in solid primary colors and pretty, ultra-feminine pastels with tasteful lace trims in silks, satin and technologically ‘enhanced’ fabrics that retain their shapes. One soon to be huge in the USA, lingerie and swimwear worlds- is crafted by impossibly (teach us how!) chic French designer Claudie Sontag - who showed deluxe, intricately seamed pieces in a rainbow palette of colorful prints, inspired by the legendary conquistadores and her "time in Spain." Ms. Sontag’s third collection fully embraces the concept of pairing opulent swimsuit jewels (her own line, naturally) and haute couture quality, lavish separates -for lounging around the pool on a sunny day… and pairing with a tutu-like black tulle skirt or linen pants and strappy heels -for a romantic evening out on the Riviera.

Another exclusive brand making a lifestyle statement targeting older, posh clientele is Chantelle … who plans to launch a “Beyond Beauty” campaign featuring the 40 year old super model Stephanie Seymour. And practically every brand featured adjustable, convertible bra straps, cup options and bottom cuts (thongs, hipsters for more coverage)- to provide a plethora of high-class choices for women…the mantra being comfort, proper fit and a sleeker silhouette with paper, disposable tags.

Photos of Mirla Sabino, ANK Swimwear, Heart Connector by Hope Lingerie- J, Ecochard

It is also a pleasure to see another woman heading up an overseas line ready to launch BIG TIME in the USA. Mirla Sabino, designer for Brazilian made swimwear line ANK (a highlight of Miami Swim Week) has signed on to reshape the 40 year old Hope collection , a mammoth international manufacturer with little American name recognition. This vivacious brunette is sure to change that sorry state of affairs as Hope’s booth was filled with eager retailers writing orders for the technologically intriguing brand that features seamless undergarments in solid colors like mushroom beige, black and violet -that are invisible, even under the flimsiest white pants, a push up bra that offers superior lift without a wire, and a breathable, supportive line of leggings and Brazilian briefs to wear everyday. (Another trend-shapewear separates for daily use). Hope is also launching a fun, innovative scented Hope Candy line in colors/smells like chocolate brown and strawberry pink. The mouth watering odors somehow survives the rigors of washing-which befits a company backed by exclusive, in-house know-how. Hope also introduced a silver, clasp Heart Connector that joins bra straps into an eye-catching v-shaped embrace.

We are also glad to see that the ‘green evolution’ of fabrics’ composition (bamboo, organic cotton, sea cell, soy) has made an impact on lingerie. Big and small designers including favorites Josie Natori , Fernando Sanchez and Hanky Panky have eco-friendly collections… a trend that along with fair trade practices, is exploding.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The best of the best at the ENK Accessories Circuit Shows

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Photographs, J. Ecochard

The place: The Piers, West 55th Street, NYC

Timestamp: the afternoon of Monday, August 6, 2007

Some top trends for spring 2008:

BAGS: are still large, there are structured and softer, rounder styles to choose from

SHOES: flats show their staying power, the more ornamented, the better

JEWELRY: Innovation is key, details such as studs add interest, and resin win the popularity contest

Being the die-hard show enthusiasts that we are, we have long believed that runway shows are great fun and make for a great photo op But, if you’re truly interested in previewing collections before they hit the runways or the retail floor, then the trade shows are the place to be. Accordingly, we’re huge trade show fans. August may be a slow month in New York City, but in the fashion and accessories trade show world, it’s a key month. This is when the ENK Accessories Circuit, one of the highest regarded shows in the USA takes place.

We zoomed around the seemingly endless rows of booths keeping our eyes peeled for spring 08 trends.

While we love handbags beyond the point of distraction, to our disappointment, there wasn’t much new to report on since the last show.

There were of course exceptions. One favorite, was the “Doris Croc from Beverly Hills based Jalda. This elongated change purse with a matching leather strap is kind of twenties, and kind of modern. It was displayed in lime green, a popular accessories color choice for the coming spring, and in the $400 range, makes for a chic and practical addition to your spring wardrobe.

Dropping in briefly at habitat accessories, we noted that flats are still going strong, and the more ornamentation, the better. The rhinestone buckled ballerinas make for a great option to stilettos for evening, and look just as dressy.

One of our favorites of the day was the charming Dayme, owner/designer of Babee D., her two-year-old sophisticated yet funky handbag line. Dayme’s a former singer, who made her own clothes and one day decided to turn her talents to design her own handbag line. There are plenty of large oversize yet stylish bags to choose from. Dayme favors large-scale bags as her clientele, “ a busy bee, a woman on-the-go doesn’t have the time to change her bags and outfits several times a day.” One of her eye-catching designs is the lemon cello ruched beauty in a fine quality leather and gold hardware of equally fine quality retailing in the $300-400 range.

We thought we’d had our fill of flats until we got to the Sam Edelman booth. We loved seeing stylish, contemporary shoes offered at a price.
The back-story: Libby and Sam Edelman aka “Sam & Libby” sold their name to Jones Apparel a few years back and retired to the relative serenity of the horse business. Thankfully for us shoe mavens, three years ago, they decided to re-enter the shoe market, this time at the contemporary level rather than the junior market they were major players in during their Sam & Libby days.
There were lots of great styles, and tons of pictures of fashion editorials, showing that the pair hasn’t lost their touch in the least.
Two of the best:
1. The gladiator thong ankle strap flats in black/gold simulated snakeskin, retailing @ $80 – 90.

2. The round-toed flats with a silver pilgrim buckle in a mod yellow, cream and gray patent color block that had us thinking of the Roger Vivier pair Catherine Deneuve so famously wore in “Belle de Jour”.

THE NEWS IN HIGH END COSTUME JEWELRY: a tie for best-in-show

Lee Angel’s designs always figure into Neiman’s twice-yearly accessories preview, and we were eager to see more of what this talented designer has in mind for spring.
The basis of spring’s “Gia” Collection is a resin disk on which are placed varying geometric shapes and semi-precious stones such as jade as well as emerald cut Swarovski crystals . The effect is a little bit Art Deco, a little bit Mondrian. The black white and red pieces look best worn on top of fabric, [ideally black] rather than on bare skin

Our other nomination for best in show in the jewelry category goes to designer Alexis Bittar for his wonderful studded Lucite cuffs available in emerald green, purple, and cobalt blue. At first glance, we were reminded of the oft-copied Maltese cross design that originated when Fulco di Verdura created his iconic Maltese Cross bracelets for Coco Chanel. What makes these different is that the crosses are elongated and made out of white metal studs rather than semi-precious jewels. If Posh Spice decided she wanted to insert a little Punk Fashion into her wardrobe, these cuffs would be a good choice. Each cuff retails for approximately $250, a bargain, considering how well finished they are. The inside of the cuff has a shiny black lacquer finish; an example of the attention to detail that makes Mr. Bittar’s pieces so special.

The highlight of the day though, was our pre-arranged meeting with legendary designer, Zandra Rhodes who was busy showing her collection and signing autographs for fans during the course of the show. Talents such as Ms. Rhodes design in many mediums, their immense creativity is not limited to merely designing a bi-annual clothing collection. Ms. Rhodes famously designed Princess Michael of Kent’s wedding dress founded London’s orange and pink Textile Museum and did the sets and costumes for the opera, “Aida” as well as “The Pearl Fishers”.
In this, her latest handbag collection, she referenced herself, and brought back the safety pin as a a zipper fob detail created for her by a custom jeweler. Her holes and beaded safety pin collection referenced here dates back to 1977 and is one of the most memorable collections that decade saw. Pieces from the collection are featured in her coffee table book, The Art of Zandra Rhodes.
The prints she used in soft leather bags such as the spacious “Notting Hill” [approx. retail $700-800] harkened back to the Indian feather print she sketched while visiting the Museum of the American Indian when it was still located in NYC. Images of these original sketches are also found in the book on pgs. 54-55. The colors are rich: deep purple, espresso, rust, black, navy, and olive combined with metallics in bronze, amethyst and gold. All of the bags are embellished with shiny gold hardware, oversized Swarovski crystals and signature jacquard lining.

Apart from feeling as if one is carrying a bit of fashion history on one’s shoulder, Ms. Rhodes’ bags, as the designer, are at core, practical, and the designer shared a few tips with us before being called to sign some autographs.

Zandra’s Handbag tips:

- For day, get a bag with lots of pockets, like the “Notting Hill” which can be a satchel or shoulder bag. Zandra never takes the shoulder straps off, as “eventually you’re going to want to put it on your shoulder”.

- Don’t be seduced by the idea of a stiff and structured bag even if it’s the “it” bag shape for fall 07, as you will deform it as a result of stuffing all of the things you need for daily life.

To order “The Art of Zandra Rhodes, contact:
For more information, visit

All merchandise listed in this article available at retail from March 2008 onwards.

Friday, August 3, 2007


Beauty Goods Deliver AS PROMISED

Text by J. Ecochard

Finally. A deodorant that keeps the body smelling…like Jean-Paul Sartre's Nothingness!

The quest for a non-staining and non-irritating (no alcohol) stick, without aluminum (why risk it?)… began with test runs of pricey deodorants…with big name designer names…that alas, worked for a whopping three hours.

Next up...natural crystal and organic goods were subjected to an outdoor, sweaty workout. The results on a hot, summer day? Ugh! Even the usually welcoming tail-wagging, household pets scurried away as soon as we got home.

Which is why it is refreshing that the men’s grooming line, MENSCIENCE …has a clear winner that any gender with sensitive armpits can use. Advanced Deodorant with “ Microzeolites, Witch Hazel, Tea Tree Extract, and Aloe,” amazingly held up throughout an entire frenetic day at the office… and kept keeping on after an after-work jog. In a fair (or wise) world, sales of the off the radar Menscience’s deodorant, should soar like the out of the park home runs hit by the ‘they who can not be named,’ big time baseball professional athletes that covet the brand.

Another-burgeoning company, Smashbox Cosmetics , is starting to catch on with consumers who are not first time adopters…but desire innovative cosmetics that perform…and don’t cost a week’s salary.

Violå- Function(2) Self-Adjusting Powder Foundation…the answer to prayers for one product to replace the ancient collection of barely used foundations and facial powders that never seem to match skin tones. Depending on how applied …with a light touch, makeup brush to eliminate redness or smooth over spots…or with a wet or dry sponge for full coverage, ‘Function’ really is easy to dab/slap on and seamlessly Caspar-free, blurs in with our skin’s palette. And though it’s terrific that ‘Function’ has antioxidants and soybean extracts that protect the skin…we just appreciate it’s no mess, user friendly compact- that spared the bathroom sink the typical dusty coating of unwieldy powder foundations- that conjure up images out of movie classic, Scarface.

Suspicious of curly hair coiffeurs that are actually achieved with barrel shaped curling irons after a 20 minute blow-out, our skepticism melted with some styling tips from Avi Benichou, the braggadocio-free owner/hair guru of the light filled, inviting Lovella Salon in Manhattan. Applying moisturizing Kerastase products to our frizzy locks, he demonstrated how a mere “five minute tops process” of twisting sections of wet hair into ten or twelve ropes, would result in thick, luscious curls when air dried. And in a New York minute (really three), a test drive the following day actually resulted in our mop shaped, out of control hair, being respectably styled.

Naturally, time well spent in an attitude free salon encourages mini-gabfests with other satisfied clients. So we loved chatting with the natural looking, friendly Dr Yael Halaas MD , a NYC Plastic Surgeon ensconced in the next chair...and truly believed her comments on the effectiveness of topical chemical peels. And when to make a jaunt to a plastic surgeon? “The neck…non-surgical options offer limited results.”

So yes, Nora Ephron, the sixty-ish author of “I Feel Bad About My Neck”…is onto something. But, we love the look of turtlenecks, flowing Isadora Duncan-like scarves and big-jeweled chokers anyway.

Timestamp:August 3, 2007

Photographs Courtesy of MENSCIENCE and Smashbox Cosmetics

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Give me some chocolate! The scrumptious and calorie free Body Truffles bath and body line

Upper Canada Soap & Candle Makers introduces the Body Truffles bath and body line

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Photographs, courtesy of Bella Public Relations

A bath and body line that smells of chocolate sounded a bit cloying when we first heard about it, but we were intrigued enough to conduct a road test. We used the products for three days in a row to determine if they were better suited to our tween-age children who were dying to try it or to us 30+ adults.

There are 8 pieces on the line: Bubble Bath Syrup, Warming Fondue Scrub, Soothing Bath Powder, Body Creme, Molten Lava Bath Fizzie, Massaging Souffle, Lip Butter, and a Truffle Candle.

We tested 3 out f the 8: Lip butter in Belgian white chocolate, Warming fondue body scrub also in Belgian white chocolate and the creamy milk chocolate body crème.

The shea butter in the lip butter formulation soothed our perpetually dry lips and stayed on quite well, even after drinking a latte. It has a hint of shine and in a pinch can take the place of your clear lipgloss. For those who are eschewing chocolate in the interests of maintaining their waistline, the white chocolate scent and taste make for a pleasing substitution of the real McCoy.

In the bath and body category, high markes to the Belgian white chocolate warming fondue body scrub. As we discovered, you’ll need a good size dollop to scrub your entire body. The formula is heat activated, once it’s rubbed in, it disappears. The formula contains shea butter, which softens the skin so you can skip the body lotion if you're in a rush.

We decided to experiment a bit and layer the scents by applying the creamy milk chocolate body crème after drying-off. Think of this as body milk plus - the cocoa and shea butters in it make it much more long-lasting than many body milks which tend to be more liquid-y and don’t keep your skin hydrated all day long - this one does.
Although the chocolate scent was quite noticeable when we first applied the scrub and lotion, it wore-off quickly leaving a light pleasing scent that our aesthetician at the Aveda Salon in town admired [and inquired about].
While it’s marketed as “an indulgence”, we all need something sweet in our lives, so go ahead and treat yourself with this calorie free indulgence whenever you please. Furthermore, The price is nice, too. Each item retails for $12 and under.

To order,
or call toll-free1.800.548.4097.