Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Words, Judith Ecochard
Images, Courtesy of Sue Devitt

We think that small cosmetic/beauty companies headed up by entrepreneurs are generally higher performers when it comes to products aim at healing and living up to their mantras.

After all, their names are on the line, front and center.

Case in point, Sue Devitt.

Hailing for Australia, Sue Devitt is a cosmetics artist with an about five-years old line of treatment goodies that offer coverage in rich exotic colors.

New for 2009 are the innovative, time-released hydrating marine mineral products in her SpaCollection™ line.

Packed with Vitamins, Sea Fennel and Water Extracts, and soothing Chamomile, plus lactic and malic acids ----techy enriching Oxygen Infusion Masque and anti-aging Lactic Renewal Facial Peel purportedly delivers deep hydration, improves skin’s elasticity and perk up one’s visage in a “relaxing” manner.

We are jazzed about the makeup end of this launch ourselves. The SpaComplexion™ Hydrating Marine Minerals pressed ($32-4 shade families) and loose powders ($32- 3 shades) that even out skin tones, and tinted moisturizer ($40- 3 shades) are retail ready now.

All boast high SPF coverage ---(SPF 30, 30 and 15 respectively---and in Australia the standards are way higher)… go on easy, and blend with all skin tones.

Available at Barney’s New York, Harvey Nichols, Ulta, Facelogic Spas and Beauty.com


Monday, March 30, 2009


Words, Judith Ecochard

We greatly admire individuals that go it alone in the fashion business. Especially women who seem to get second-hand treatment in the press versus the guys sometimes---odd since the customers are mostly gals.



We became aware of this urbane Vietnamese native, Parsons/Brown University educated and NYC based designer two collections ago.

With an eye for elegance, tailoring par excellence and really upscale fabrics that beg to be touched, Diep’s Spring line has a vintage feel that’s just right…and resurrects the masculine/feminine feel of the coatdress that is going to be HUGE for Fall.

For Diep, that translates into cinched waist trenches/frocks in light tones (cream, tan) and dark print---made special with exaggerated front pockets trimmed with ombre ribbon and hand embroidered touches.

This talent also has a feminine, flirty and FLATTERING line of peplum and petal like side seamed pencil skirts that just hit the showroom last week. Available in pastel bright Spring colors in day to night fabrics like Silk Organza, Silver Lurex and Black Woven Tweed, these separates are truly four season wearable and modern.

Diep---with her impeccable, intelligent way with design construction that get a gals' cutves---reminds us of architectural creations. We love the signature slouchy front pockets that hint at the boyfriend trend-but will mercifully outlive it.



41 West 58th Street, Midtown Manhattan

March 27th, 2009

Words, Images
Judith Ecochard and from FIKA’s website

In a convenient stretch of midtown right of the holy retail Mecca (57th Street and Fifth Avenue)…a revelatory haven for java that passes the coffee snobs’ test (us), hand crafted mouth watering chocolates, and old school/real deal, home made sandwiches and pastries—beckon the weary.

And that’s how we felt last Thursday on a cold and dreary night in Manhattan---with weather that managed to render the normally packed streets of the Big Apple-all ghost town empty.

We were revived in a New York minute however, even before we had a sip of an aromatic caffeine beverage- like the medium bodied, roasted in Sweden by Löfbergs Lila- Fika House Blend coffee.

For when we stepped inside the softly lit Swedish art filled boutique enclave of clean black and white palette, standup bar and cafe stools -a jovial crowd was already gathered around Håkan Mårtensson, the Executive Pastry Chef and Chocolatier- like moths to a flame.

For good reason…

Mårtensson, a passionate Swedish trained chef awarded with culinary honors (a gold medal in the individual competition of the INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED Culinary Olympics!!!), was dispensing morsels of hand rolled truffles and chocolates that he “invented” including a divine Scottish whiskey filled dark chocolate confection.

We exercised great restraint when sampling the other creations-all made from Callebaut and Valrhona chocolates and amped up with lingonberries, raspberries, passion fruit, creamy/crunchy hazelnut, Tahitian Vanilla, espresso, ‘kola’ lemon etc. ($1.50-$2.00 apiece). The morsels are addictive…and are so superior in quality to the typical chocolate pieces in this country.

We don’t know why Americans even bother with that unsatisfying other stuff.

Perked up and ready for more, we sipped an aromatic macchiato, properly drawn ---when engaging one of Fika’s co-founders-Lars Akerland.

Conversing in perfect English, Akerland is one of those worldly entrepreneurial types that thrive in the competitive atmosphere of NYC. In fact he ‘went’’ through 247 real estate spaces in the “capital of the world” before scoring this primo locale---which he laboriously renovated with his biz partner, Executive Chef David Johansson.

We were dumbfounded that Tom Cruise in the flick “Cocktail” served as this Swede’s hospitality inspiration…but whatever. The results are soon to be our new midtown hang.

In fact we were BEGGING Akerland to open a FIKA (a Swedish verb that translates into “take a coffee break”) in our underserved ‘hood.

Mårtensson introduces a special limited edition of chocolates commemorating Earth Day and themed around the four elements: Water (blueberries, rosemary), Fire (cinnamon, Tabasco), Wind (Bailey’s Frangelico, Amaretto liquors), and Earth (hazelnut).

Available in a recycled paper box of four pieces---partial proceeds of the hand made swirls- go to the World Wildlife Fund.

Seriously, we practically fell in love with this guy after sampling these chocolates. Wow.

FYI: A second FIKA is located at 407 Park Avenue/28th Street


NEW YORK, NY 10019
PH+1 212 832 0022



NEW YORK, NY 10016
PH+1 646 649 5133


Friday, March 27, 2009


625 Madison Avenue at 58th Street, NYC


Words, Images Judith Ecochard

Located in an exclusive section of Manhattan’s Madison Avenue that is an upscale destination for international jewelry shoppers, Dalyah- a chic bauble filled emporium -attracted a well dressed crowd to its lively opening.

This boutique, a calm oasis of clean architectural lines- proffers a range of jewelry items that should appeal to many tastes…including ready made stunners for everyday (starting at $2000) to incredibly detailed and sophisticated pavé diamond BLING that require many, many hours of experienced hand labor to magically create.

What sets Dalyah apart from other upscale jewelry establishments- is the talented and charming owner, Dalyah Duek-Flaks who hails from a South African family steeped in the diamond business.

The lovely lady herself is a fairly recent transplant to the Big Apple…but learned the ins and outs of American tastes and retail rules with hard work, “a steep learning curve,” and hands on 47th Street experiences--- the epicenter of all things diamond in this country.

What caught our eyes---besides the obvious quality and cut of the gemstones (both diamonds and semi-precious like our fav- Aquamarines and Garnets)---are the beautifully designed pieces that range from edgy modern to hefty classics to keep/wear forever.

In particular, burnt enamel flower rings accented with pave diamond petals (reminded us of JAR)…and a traffic stopping five-carat diamond ring are standouts.

“We used craftsmen from all over the world,” Dalyah informed us. Additionally, “…we are the source of the diamonds so our customers are able to identify the history of the stone they are buying.”

A critical factor…for those requiring conflict-free jewels. And that should be everyone.


Custom pieces, including specialized engagement rings, are available too.

Open Monday-Saturday 10:30 AM-6:30 PM
625 Madison Avenue-entrance on 58th Street
212 575-5511


Saks Fifth Avenue, Intimates on Ten (10th Floor) NYC
5:00PM, March 26th, 2009

New SHAPEWEAR Separates – “Sexy Enough To Flash On The Red Carpet”

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

In development for two years, SPANX –Hollywood’s favorite “comfortable, slimming garments that minimize figure flaws” has come out with a seven pieces collection of elegant innerwear as outwear apparel.

Lucky us, we were able to attend the fun filled launch, bubbly included- with the super knowledgeable team from SPANX—up from their hometown base of Atlanta for the occasion.


Fully living up to their slogan “The Dessert of Shapewear™…Now You Can Have Your Shape And Sexy Too!™------SPANX’s neutral palette Haute Couture line, works with all skin tones, is versatile year round wear that poshly covers problem areas without the hideous gaps and discomfort of other brands. This special collection by SPANX uses more upscale, but still durable fabrics---that we consider to qualify for the detailed lingerie category of undergarments.

The Couture Camisole ($198) is our pick. Made from scalloped shaping power lace that slims and flattens and a front shaping microfiber panel for support/coverage and adding a no-bra option---we feel that women will wear this sexy “investment top” with jeans, for work under a blazer, or paired with an chic evening skirt- just because its’ so lovely---not necessarily because that have bulges.

Other sure to be bestsellers include the Show Me Sheer Camisole ($128) and the patterned hosiery that happily survives the real way women wear things.

“I wanted to inspire confidence and women’s inner beauty,” notes Sara Blakely, the stunning founder of Spanx and mother-to be.

“Haute Contour has a vintage feel and whimsy…it’s a completely different brand that brings sexiness to SPANX…a refined sexy that’s very polished.”

We agree.

FACTOID: Started nine years ago with the footless pantyhose as product numero uno, SPANX has never advertised!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

VELASHAPE™ by Syneron Medical Ltd.™

The YAN Center SM for Corrective & Cosmetic Surgery
East 67th Street, NYC

Images from the Syneron™ website
The reasons, woes and cures of cellulite have been warm weather headline stories for years now-in like every female aimed magazine that populates a newstand.

We don’t need to rehash the causes (horomones, genetics) but can jump on the bandwagon when it comes to a method that at least temporarily does the job of improving one’s appearance.

VelaShape™ a laser and deep massage type roller machine-is an FDA cleared non-surgical treatment that “contours, shapes and slims the body by improving cellulite and reducing circumference,” according to the promotional pamphlet.

At the The YAN Center for Corrective & Cosmetic Surgery on Manhattan’s eastside, we eagerly said yes to a demonstration. Afterall, our quad muscles were tight from a long run that morning, so if nothing else, we were ready for a nap and a kinda massage.
Apparently, the combo of light emitted energies/radio frequency waves (known as elos™), and infrared light targets and heats up fatty tissues (shrinks them) while a vacuum and tissue manipulation roller type mechanism evens outs the skin for a smoother appearance. Therefore three layers of the skin and connective tissues are stimulated.

We actually conked out when our back outer thighs were treated a few weeks ago…an appointment that lasted around 20 minutes.

And thankfully, our experience was very positive as the woman that treated us (Sabina Johnson) was super experienced, thorough, and professional. Although a few sessions and at least 6-8 weeks from the last treatment are needed to see optimal results…the published before and after pictures served up by the company/inventor Syneron™ are convincing.

No wonder celebs like Khloe Kardashian are fans. In fact, the You Tube clip of her treatment that targets her abdomen...is online.

Well, we can’t honestly say whether we noticed a major difference as it’s too soon…and…cellulite isn’t a problem for us (thanks to DNA). But apparently the treatment is very popular...and we def look beach ready.

Ideally, women in generally good shape with normal weight ---should see some improvement. As with all skincare treatments…consultations are the way to go---to start the process.
YAN CENTER for Corrective and Cosmetic Surgery

TOKYO FIVE Premium Denim & ALEXIS HUDSON Luxury Handbags

Industry Publicity Showroom, NYC

March 25th, 2009

Words, Images Judith Ecochard and courtesy of Industry Publicity

On a certain mental level, it seems INSANE to us that denim can be so costly…

In this economy, it is even more nuts to assume customers will fork over $150 plus for premium jeans.

An email blast got us very keen to see up close and in person, a new brand- Tokyo Five, that channels “Bravery, Respect, Honor, Loyalty, Wisdom…the code of the Warrior” as a type of mission statement.

Having lived in Japan, we were curious as to the whole thought process and product execution mesh. Plus the brand’s alignment/endorsement deal with Mixed Martial Arts professionals Gabriel Gonzaga and Pete Sell is a deliberate choice that adds instant cred.

It’s all kinda an apparel fusion of an American edgy energetic sport, European detailing (distressed rugged touches on some…and hot, hot, hot back pocket designs-especially on the sexy fitted women samples), and primo Japanese denim--- with the want it tip top washes and rinses.

Apparently, Tokyo Five’s President Charles Jabra, a “rabid Mixed Martial Arts fan” correctly saw a gap in the market for well constructed, affordable AND hip denim for men and women.

Priced from $75-$95 per …and soon to be available at select Macy’s---we liked the fit of the men’s line---definitely macho American---but slick enough for our Euro buddies.

And the ladies’ models…we so want. ‘Nough said.


Comfy Tees with Asian graphics that “sets Tokyo Five apart.”

We detect a zeitgeist moment for this brand new label.


While at the Industry Publicity showroom, we got a chance to see the luxe carry-alls from Alexis Hudson...a collection conjured up by Rochelle Copeland and Emily Ironi. Mixed materials including the Spring “it” skin python, plush Italian leathers, durable nylons, and snake snippets form the textured samples---including the versatile four-in-one handbag that has a detachable clutch/handbag option.

Perfect for office cubicule workers who must magically morph into night time fashionistas- without a pit stop at home.

As NYers who haul around our lives, we actually liked the oversized barrel shape satchel that has bundles of inner and outer zipper pockets to organize our stuff.

Right now, customers can scoop up every styles online for half off from March 23rd-April 4th ---using the coupon code AHFRIEND.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The Plaza Retail Collection- One West 58th Street, Lower Level, NYC

WORDS, IMAGES Judith Ecochard

The glamorous Plaza Hotel was a favorite haunt of ours growing up in NYC. Beginning with visits to the Eloise Room (the domicile of the beloved fictional girl who grew up on the premises), tea with our impeccably elegant Aunt at the Palm Court, flamboyant umbrella cocktails at the original Trader Vic’s in high school with our cooler than us preppy pals, and then drinks at the Oak Room when we were actually of legal age….this was a spot of our lives. And we dressed up for the occasion!

Now one mega gazillion dollars worth of renovations later, we were now invited to check out the new Lower Level where the retail establishments, including “The Plaza Beauty by Warren-Tricomi®” (the famed luscious locks duo that have a posh full-service salon on the premises) are ensconced.

Immediately upon leaving midtown’s bustling Fifth Avenue-we were calmed as we descended down the escalators, enveloped by soft music and what seemed like full spectrum lighting that illuminated overhead without the usual sensory depravation headache.

And surprise, surprise—it’s a beautiful, aerie space.

Unlike nearby department stores where the beauty counters are packed in and jammed up with products, this multi counter emporium is spaciously situated in the center of a courtyard layout…and tastefully displays luxurious items in an approachable manner.

What we think will draw in the customers- are the hard to find makeup and skincare collections like New York's Diane Brill (retro cute packaging), Australia’s Becca, Hollywood's favorite skin primer producers Smashbox Cosmetics, and Korres completely natural skincare line from Greece.

The sophisticated household scents from Lampe Berger (diffusers from the basics to collectibles from Lalique)… and the divine fragrances from Esteban Paris beckon been everywhere shoppers like us.

We also loved the hairpieces from the Brazilian native Lucia Tristao, priced from $65-$175---that are so beautifully crafted as to make a statement when worn with anything from denim to evening gowns. Nice.

SPECIAL THANKS: The super nice Aline Sarkis-a makeup artist at The Plaza Beauty- who gave our eyes a come hither smoky green getup.


212 223 4694

PORTS 1961: FALL 2009


West Chelsea, New York City

March 24th, 2009

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

Runway shows are a great way to see how a collection moves on female forms…but we always try to follow up an intriguing RTW outing with an intimate visit to a designer’s atelier.

With Tia Cibani’s ---and her upscale Ports 1961---the Bryant Park show was barely able to display the number of separates, dresses, coats and accessories that comprise Fall 2009 offerings.

And there is a lot to admire, including an amazing color palette--- so refreshing versus all the neutral tone basics clogging so many Fall 2009 collections (and a reason to shop), glorious textiles, a wide range of internationally appropriate/accessible silhouettes, and polished tailoring.

As usual, Cibani is inspired by some locale and a time period. In this collection, India under the Mughal Dynasty serve as the wellspring for bright colors-curry yellow, orange, shades of creamy beige, sky blues…and sumptuous lightweight textiles like gold brocade, jacquards and tweeds.

Plus special one offs with incredible embellished details---like a worldy “Zardozi Vest.”

We have lived and traveled all over the world…and it is obvious to us that Ports 1961 is clearly aimed at a global customer---and not just Western oriented NY/LA/Paris/Milan/London dwellers. We think much of the Fashion press misses the point (or rather, this massive niche---hello people, get outside your comfort zone).

But we digress.

Top on our lists are the four seasons’ wearable dusty rose tweed puffed capped sleeve dress softly gathered at the waist via a wide ribbon neatly ‘embedded’ and elegant sheaths that available in pale tweeds.

There are also several coat dresses and evening samples---a welcome comeback that reminds us of some of the original Givenchy silk creations from the early sixties…with fitted bodices defining the upper portion of the body--- flowing into swing pleats of gently draped folds that hit just below the knee.

Slim fitting black pants paired with one shouldered silk sari blouses, beautiful knits in tangerine orange and rose, and perfectly seamed high waist trousers are modern separates that we can see women living anywhere in the world---wearing.

And naturally, the accessories are knockouts---

including buttery soft Opera length leather gloves with side brass buttons and fushia finger accents for stretch and visual interest (hope we can score a pair at some point in our life!!!)

and a statement making Jasmine Zardozi Doctor Bag…that’s roomy enough to transport items required for quick jetset jaunts.


The advertising campaign---with visually stimulating images, no doubt---- shot in INDIA.