Friday, October 31, 2008

The SAKS Fifth Avenue/ESCADA Celebration benefiting FREE ARTS INC

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Images, Richard Spiegel

WHEN: Thursday night, October 30th
WHERE: Saks Fifth Avenue, the 2nd floor
WHY: To show off the spring 2009 Escada collection and to benefit Free Arts NYC, and a chance to hear DUFFY sing live.

WHAT: Ron Frasch, Saks’ President and CMO & AMY SACCO collaborated to host a celebration to honor Escada’s Creative Director, DAMIANO BIELLA and to benefit Free Arts NYC.

This was an event that reminded us of pre-recession days, starting with a phalanx of photographers at the ready when we entered on the 50th Street entrance at 8PM.
Saks’ staff transformed the selling floor into a cool lounge spot - a little 101 Arabian Nights with the billowy white curtains separating the various areas.

Once inside the main bar area, the champagne flowed freely and the crowd admired DAMIANO BIELLA’s latest for Escada.
The Collection had something for women in just about every part of the country – smart thinking on Mr. Biella’s part. There was the cherry tomato red strappy dress with a fringe going from floor to knee for the Miami woman. For the New Yorker who’s wistful for Donna Karan’s 5 Easy pieces from the eighties, there’s the long hip covering white jacket that looks perfect over a pair of black leggings.
Accessory fans got theirs too – we loved the big Cleopatra style gold choker that’s all you need to accessorize an outfit.

We caught up with Saks’ Creative Director, to get his take on what he’s loving for spring, now that he’s seen everything the 3 fashion capitals had to offer.
LYRA MAG: After New York, you were quoted in WWD [Women’s Wear Daily] as saying that it was that WOW item that would really sell.
Do you still feel the same way after seeing all the European shows?

MICHAEL FINK: Well, she [our customer] doesn’t need another black suit. It’s a very fine line designers have to walk right now. The fashions have to be exciting but saleable.

LYRA: Did you find anyone new that you’ve picked up for spring?

M. FINK: We didn’t really buy anyone new, we didn’t commit to any new designers, however my team was out there looking at what everyone had to offer.

For starters, the organization boasts some heavy hitting celebrities, socialites and fashion players: Mary Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Hilary Swank, Duffy, Amy Sacco, Damiano Biella, Ron Frasch, Phillip Bloch, Amanda Ross, Ann Caruso, and many more. The group’s clout was obvious by the crowd who turned out for the event.
Free Arts provides under-served children and their families with educational arts and mentoring programs. The program gives participants a winning mix of educational art activities and personal attention from volunteer arts mentors.

To find out more and/or to volunteer, visit,


October 29th 2008

Broome Street NYC 2PM

Words, Images by Judith Ecochard

The creative team at Eres’ deserves a mega-bonus for their presentation …and location at-SICIS-The Art Factory.

The high-end mosaic store was decorated with oversized murals-made entirely of tile- of lingerie and swimwear clad pinup glamour queens à la Rita Hayworth/Esther Williams.

How perfect.


For lingerie, lace is the keyword-as it was on the Spring 09 RTW runways. The Edun collection has hipster boy cut shorts (the top choice for panties)…though in keeping with the old time Hollywood theme, there a high waist briefs too.

The bestseller- that’s sold out in Autumnal colors- is the body shaper from the Jersey Lumiere line that’s IMHO positively Rudi Gernreich/Jean-Paul Gautlier for Madonna. For Spring - “Elephant” gray, “Artifice” pink, “Bliss” ivory, Vert Galante (gray/green) and “Nacré” (a pale lavender) will surely sell as well.

The swimwear in the Bijou Collection is already causing print editorial types to reserve for upcoming style spreads.

Made of “Peau Douce” a mat lycra jersey for the ultimate in supple shape retention, the bikinis with draped “Bijou” belts, triangle tops with draped inserts and skinny neck straps, one piece strapless bustiers with matching, figure flattering high waist corset bottoms, and deep V-neck one piece swimsuits- are very feminine, and lingerie-like.

Those fetching “Bijou” wide belts with silver metal buckles that conjure up the glorious Metro Goldwyn Mayer water ballets of the ‘30s…are the perfect accent for curvy and not so curvy gals alike.

Another group that’s inspired by Majorette baton twirling paraders- is best conveyed in a girly two-tone bandeau top in Parachute light (a fast drying textile), that’s drapes in the front with a girly bow… and the matching two tone brief, that’s drapes on the side. For those that prefer a one piece for pool posing or actual swimming (gasp)…a one-piece strapless swimsuit (removable neck strap)- with a decorative tricolor draped insert is downright chic. We can see adding a fluttery sari skirt to this garment…and strolling the posh Riviera beaches.

Our favorite summery colors- “…a subtle blend of Miami’s retro hotel facades” include a bright Rayon X light yellow, a soft Requin Bleu (gray blue), a navy “Amiral” and aqua “Hawaii” blue, a creamy Espadon beige...and a pale Mandragore green.



Thursday, October 30, 2008


COMFORT/ HIGH FASHION SHOES & SANDALS-A Collection For Hip Tweeners and Elegant Women

October 29th, 2008
745 Fifth Avenue, 3PM

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

It’s always a head spinner of a half-hour when we preview a Donald J. Pliner’s collection. There’s always so many wonderful kickers to check out.

Even the view from the 25th floor corporate headquarters overlooking NYC’s leafy Central Park (in full autumnal splendor) is mesmerizing.

This time, we got the designer and main man himself, Donald J. Pliner- leading us through the chic Spring 2009 line-up of ladies peds. So cool.

With an emphasis on style without sacrificing “fit or comfort” (think flexible shoes that bend like the double jointed pretzel humans)

…we got an eyeful of Pliner’s signature features like …
removable built in footbeds,
stretchy elastic straps that move with one’s gait,
“fit with comfort” low pitches because stacked fronts offset height of the scupltural high heels,

metal rimmed toe linings that trick the eye aka “cosmetic surgery for the foot” thereby lengthening the appearance of toes,
solid rubber tread soles on sandals,

innovative ‘give’ of thong-like leather flip flops ….

and extensive use of breathable, easy to clean microfiber materials that aid circulation---including the unique satin microfiber material used for chic pumps.

Pliner zipped through the many, many styles set to hit retail shelves in a few months.


The rebirth of chunky heels-well done in a strapped sandal resurrected from Pliner’s first collection…in a wide variety of materials and colors that look so right for 2009.

A mini grouping of Indian inspired (think Sante Fe) silver metallic flats, boots and sandals.

A sexy pointy toe slingback- in embrossed python patent leather. The technology is so advanced now, that the material used feels appropriately scaly.

A versatile Chanel like open toe Black and White Spectator pump that works with dresses as well as casual weekend wear.

Cork and rafia materials (so cushiony) in stacked heels, wedges, mules and kitten heels sandals.

And “Kogi” a textured material in available 14 colors-used in many styles.

WHAT HASN’T CHANGED: the quality epitomized by the“ Made in the Mountains Of Italy” tagline.

And a portion of all sales goes to Peace For The Children Foundation a non-profit founded by Donald and Lisa Pliner that is dedicated to channeling funds to deserving initiatives and projects that advance “peace, care, and welfare of children in need.”

TOPDOG: Babyface, Pliner’s been everywhere dog- has two Halloween costumes…Angel for AM hours and a Devil outfit for after sunset.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PORTS 1961 – the spring 2009 accessories collection

Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Images, Richard Spiegel

While designer TIA CIBANNI delivered a vibrant Ready to Wear Collection at her September 2009 Byrant Park show, it was THE ACCESSORIES that played the starring role. Her collaboration with jewelry designer, LINN PETERSON resulted in some innovative necklaces that are wearable organic works of art – right on trend.

These chunky pieces add some heft and oomph to the flowing pieces in the spring Ports Collection. So go ahead, don’t be shy, get in touch with your wilder side with these items that feature pieces of "found items". This season, they’re necklaces and belts, in a few years, we’re betting they’ll be collectors’ items. Get them while you can!



New Museum, Bowery, NYC 7PM

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

Weather adverse NYers don’t actually melt in the rain… so we hopped the Downtown #6 to preview the New Balance For Nine West fashion forward collection of sneakers and slip-ons last night...even though we were freezing but not fading…and not exactly channeling SPRING.

What we didn’t expect was that the spacious gallery room ensconced in this outstanding architectural gem, the contemporary art mecca-The New Museum…would be as crowded as it was…with print media types, no less.

BACKSTORY: New Balance For Nine West is a smart collaboration between the legendary high-performance sneaker company that’s pushing it’s lifestyle mojo…and the affordable on trend giant Nine West.

THE DESIGNERS: A mind melt of Nine West’s Creative Director Fred Allard-a veteran of the Parisian fashion scene…and New Balance’s Savania Davies-Keiller and Roberto Crivello-the forward thinking duo behind high-tech fashion brand DDCLab.

THE COLLECTION: With a nod to Japanese anime, the colorful fashion/function line offers lace-ups, flats and slides –punched up with bold accents and sci-fi fabrics. And since it sports the New Balance moniker, we know every single pair of peds is super comfy and supportive.

The ICON line of 410s is a New Balance old school style sneaker. Reworked for Spring 09 we liked the trendy summery shades (aqua, hot pink and yellow and a hip black/blue and silver accents) –and innovative, mixed textures like vintage running nylon, seersucker with metallic threading, and nubuck suede.

The SHEER assortment is a sleek, inventive metallic shoe with mixed uppers of silver, rose… or black sheer nylon…and a silver leather mole strap. It comes in slip-ons and mule styles.

We thought the KIKI grouping the most fun with rainbow colored rubber band criss-cross straps and translucent glass like outsoles on a white or silver- based shoe. Cool.

The DNA slides are jazzed up slip-ons and thongs in eye-catching multi-hued patterns.

Retail: $79-$100 at hip boutiques Barney’s, Fred Segal etc…and department stores.


FUN ADDITION: We get the target market with this line- as the product ambassador- the adorable NWBI- is Japanese anime character that ”embodies attitude, spirit, energy, fashion savvy and spontaneity…”

A dedicated micro website will feature the zippy NWBI adventures around the globe- as well as providing the 411 on the latest happenings.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


W.S. Badger, Aubrey Organics, Larénim Mineral Makeup, Avalon Organics, Alba Botanica, Zia Natural Skincare, Bug Band, Under The Canopy, Kopali Organics

East Coast’s Largest Tradeshow For Healthy Lifestyles

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, October 18th 2008

Words, Judith Ecochard
Images From Companies’ Websites

The economy may be “Going Southbound” – but the natural products industry is growing with over $62 billion in sales…and accounts for nearly 20 percent of total sales in the United States.


We made it our business to catch a day at the humongous (2100 exhibits!) Expo East event, the 24th annual gathering of the largest natural and organic products tradeshow and conference…right of the Great Divide

Naturally (ahem), we have already marked our calendar for next year’s multi-day confab.

One day=too much to take it all in.


Expo East is a launch-pad for many innovative products including food (for humans and pets), nutritional supplements, haircare/beauty, household products and clothing.

Here’s a sample of what we loved.

W.S. BADGER Company Inc: Natural & USDA Certified Organics Line

We’ve used Badger “Hardworking” lip/body balms since it first hit retail shelves at our local gardening centers…like a decade ago

New for the holidays is what many need the most…the handy groupings of healing balms ($16). As in:

Mind Balm Duet Set (Headache Soother/Stress Soother)

Dig The Earth Gift Set (Cuticle Care, Anti-Bug and Sore Muscle Balms)

Badger Gems Gift Set (Healing, Sleep and Foot Balms)


Sore Muscle Balm Gift Set (Original Sore Muscle, Cooling Blend, and Sore Joints Balms).

We slathered on the Cuticle Care Balm within 30 seconds of entering the spacious exhibit. Loaded with moisutizing Wild Shea Butter and Virgin Olive Oil, the balm absorbed as soon as we applied the creamy formula (no oily residue)…and it worked its magic instantly.

Later on, we also made good use of the now Certified Organic -Aromatherapy relaxer, the Stress Soother Balm that had calming hints of Lavender, Tangerine and herbs (not chemicals!).
We rubbed a bit on our temples and wrists…and enjoyed the pause that refreshed.

Seeing how we were experiencing an airport delay (imagine that)…we decided that this Soother is an essential. In every day life there’s always something that needs a chill-out aid.

Rounding out the holiday stocking stuffers are 4 packs of the Classic Lip Balms ($10).

Live Badgers are available 9-5 ET, M-F to answer questions, take orders or therwise “make your day.”

(800) 603-6100/ BADGER BALM


This booth, the size of a typical NYC apartment- was buzzing. The founder of this used to be cult favorite-now widely popular skin/hair care brand, Aubrey Hampton was in the house…helping his friendly team educate attendees.

New to us is the firming renewal cream with CoQ10 liposomes-the Lumessence Lift ($32.50). Dabbing a smidgen on our visage, the light-weight hydrating cream sunk in right away. Reportedly, within two weeks of regular use, we’d notice a difference in our complexions.

Meaning a firmer, more youthful-looking skin courtesy of a unique highly purified algae extract, time released CoQ10, watermelon extract and an oat protein…that encourage cell production and slow down the visible signs of aging.

For us, this pleasingly scented (meaning barely a scent) cream is now our pre-makeup moisturizer. It’s comforting to know that the product that feeds our skin is made of natural good for you ingredients.

And we wouldn’t be surprised if the Lumessence Lift joins Aubrey’s best-selling GPB Shampoos and Conditioners-on household shelves worldwide.

No wonder their tagline is “…the intelligent choice.”



Many companies get going as a result of the founder’s passion or problems.

Larénim Mineral Makeup came into being because of the latter…as entrepreneur Kristen Corcoran “…started the line because I wanted to use truly healthy and beautiful cosmetics and I couldn’t find any. For years, I struggled with skin issues as: acne, expanded pores, rosacea and irritated skin and eyes.”

Bingo-the laundry list of grips shared by many.

Mistletoe Eye Color

At the trendy booth, women were like kids in a candy store… pouring over the vast color selections available -in the Mineral Airbrush™ Pressed Foundations, Mineral Silk™ and Invisi-Pore™ finishing powders… and the luminous, long lasting eye colors and eyeliners.

What we tried out right away was the Mineralash™ Mascara-a vegan formula in Jet Black that went on clump free and made our peepers, well frankly Twiggy luscious.

FACT: Larémin does not contain bismuth oxychloride that “can be responsible for the greasy, big-pored look and skin irritation that dissuade many people from continuing to use some other mineral makeup.” The line has no phthalates, no talc and no chemical preservatives either.

HOLIDAYS: For beauty addicts on your list…or you…the limited edition- chic cosmetic bags will please recipients.

The Silver Collection for cool skin tones (Cooling Luminizer™ subtle glaze of color, Silver Belles™ icy silver eye color, Mineralash™ Mascara and eye color Kabuki Brush)


The Gold Collection for warm skin tones (Warming Luminizer™, Vixen™ gold shimmer eye color, Mineralash™ Mascara and eye color Kabuki Brush)

The Goth Collection for “wild masquerade nights or everyday dark glamour…(to) create your fabulous cryptic look.”

INFO: LARENIM 800 650-9575


The Hains Celestial Mothership sailed into Expo East with many skin/body care lines we know, trust, and have been using for years.

We zeroed in on the Holiday gift sets that are soon to hit shelves…as we think in this economy- it makes sense to buy gifts that are functional and not superfluous.


Peppermint Revitalizing Bath and Body Sink Set

For that post adrenaline let down after spending way too much time stressing (shopping)…this festive packaged gift revitalizes with gentle Peppermint Glycerin Hand Soap, and softening Peppermint Hand & Body Lotion with refreshing Peppermint Oil (natch).

This is a great gift for any over worked holiday host, male or female.

BTW: All Avalon Organics’ products are free of parabens, artificial ingredients and synthetic fragrances.



A tropical vibe of mouth-watering fruits and plants permeates the Holiday Gift sets from the hypo-allergens’ aware Alba Botanica.™

The Hawaiian Bath and Body Gift Set transports users to sunny skies with its natural aromas emanating from the Passion Fruit Body Wash- with enriching papaya, pineapple and kelp… and the Papaya Mango Body Cream with soothing macadamia nut oil.

For beauty queens the 100% mineral color Terra Gloss lip duo (Garnet and Bloom shades that look good on most skin tones) has a hint of shimmer plus moistens puckers with vitamin E and shea butter. The glosses feel good on lips too, not glucky. We tried.

The clear Hawaiian Lip Glosses are ideal seals over lipsticks or naturally healing on their own. They impart a healthy shine… and are authentically fruity courtesy of natural extracts.

We really liked the feel of the Hawaiian Lip Balm trio with certified organic Jojoba Seed oil (in Coconut Cream Lip Balm, Pineapple Quench Lip Balm and Passion Fruit Nectar). Figures, our significant other “stole” our sample.



This under the radar, natural and eco-conscious skincare line has earned a stellar reputation for effective solutions to what ails pores of both genders…
In fact- Zia’s handsomely packaged Men’s Skincare line is chock full of dual or triple purpose products like Triple Action Wash 3 In 1 Face/Body/Hair a mild cleanser that’s travel perfect.

For the holidays Zia’s “To Go Facial Gift Sets” are a great intro to the line. Just $19.95 apiece-these presents are smartly grouped product collections for all skin types-dry, oily and normal to combo.

Not wanting to label anyone- we think the normal/combo set is the safe bet with:
Fresh Cleansing Gel, Bamboo Exfoliant , Sea Tonic Rosewater & Aloe Toner, Ultimate Moisture, and Fresh Papaya Enzyme Mask

800 334-SKIN


We wish we were hitting golf courses for the holidays.

Dream on.

During the warmer months, one essential that we always use is the Bug Band…. a plastic wristband with natural geranium oils that keeps us tick/mosquito bite free. And it comes in many colors for when we are in matchy-matchy mood.

We think everyone prefers pesticide free, environmentally ‘green” protection. That’s a no-brainer.

For gifts the cool Glow in the Dark Bug Band wristbands will delight kids and parental units alike. Very smart.



Although we were drooling over the sumptuous home collections (organic bed coverings, 100% thick cable knit organic cotton blankets, plush organic cotton towels etc)…gift-wise, the casual wear is the way to go.

For men, the organic cotton interlock kimono (one size) in white, natural, or grey would please.

For ladies, the lounge gift set – an organic cotton spandex jersey cap sleeve v-neck top and comfy bottom in eggplant – is good for hanging out around the home, running around the town, and/or and versatile enough to wear to the gym.

There are also extra long, soft organic cotton jersey tees with fun graphics and basics like capri pants, and Henley long sleeve tees in soft neutral tones- via eco-friendly dyes.

These are separates one can never have enough of. In sizes Small-X Large.



There was healthy eating galore at Expo East. We snacked our way through 4 long aisles of food and tasty treats.

One delicious standout was the Kopali Organics Fair Trade premium snacks.

Backstory: Started by co-founders Zak Zaidman and Stephen Brooks while they were living off the grid in a Costa Rican permaculture farm…

Kopali Organics is “a mission-driven company” that delivers healthy yummy snacks in a sustainable manner.

Meaning sourcing the small organic farmers throughout Mexico and Central America to produce chocolate covered treats and dried fruits that are naturally sweet, good for you…and an economic lifeline for ethical eco farmers.

We sampled the chocolate covered espresso beans. They were purely divine.

Need we say----the sample packets of organic pineapple, mango and mulberry that we helped ourselves too…didn’t last past our aforementioned airport delay. And we weren’t in a sharing mood either.