Thursday, April 30, 2009

SEW by Scott Wasserberger and the debut of La Mode Revient

Lower East Side-and Midtown-NYC

Words, Images Judith Ecochard and courtesy of designer.

We were thinking about the McDonald-ization of the luxury goods-how impersonal the entire manufacturing and shopping experiences have all gotten.

Psychology often factors into consumer purchases and we think the need to conjure up unique designs with the focus on the customer-not the ‘it’ item---heralds a welcome shift back to personal attention and craftsmanship.
Recently, we stopped in the wood paneled store/atelier of SEW – that serves up bespoke and RTW (“Off the Peg”) collections of finely tailored menswear with a hip twist.

Garment industry veteran, Scott Evan Wasserberger pays homage to his family with this fairly new establishment…and the tradition of a Saville Row like experience, stateside.

With a glass of wine in hand, we got an exclusive up close tour of the goodies last week---and once again feel ‘the clothes make the man’ especially when the attire has subtle flourishes---“cool” linings, unique buttons (mother of pearl etc), and contrast stitching on lapels, hand applied of course.

Long sleeve dress shirts made from the finest cottons sourced from international mills (mostly Italian, duh)---come in an array of styles-as befits the build and preferences of the client.

What dudes get are flawless fits (tapered is in)- and the ideal color/print options given a guy’s other wardrobe holdings- and skin tone. Custom finishes like higher upper buttons for a polished tie-less look “without looking like a guido”…and wider cuffs to accommodate oversized watches are standard.

“I design with what it (blazer, shirt, waist coat) will look like with a pair of denim.” Wasserberger noted…highlighting the high/low trend of wearing jeans with everything and everywhere.

And why not, it’s more comfy. And a custom jacket has all the bells and whistles ---like extra inner pockets for cigars and shoulders with some oomph that can enhance a triangle silhouette- if need be

Top spring looks include partially lined jackets and seersucker.

And a silk velvet blazer in silvery gray would look handsome and appropriate on a young Hollywood hunk.
Formal garb and outwear are available too---in classic cuts or with edgy twists. Or both.

All work is done locally in the tri-state area with experienced craftsmen laboriously hand stitching and finishing everything… as a flawless end product is a given.

This is as fine tailoring experience as any man can get…and as discreet as necessary.

Another alternative to the assembly line retail experience is launching this week via La Mode Revient---an intimate, upscale POP SHOP like experience meshed with the personal attention of designers hosting the event.

For its debut in NYC on May 1st-- at high-end shoe maker Vanessa Noel’s salon, La Mode Revient hosts Sonya Rolin (Sonya Rolin Atelier) and Irene Zelinsky (Rolling Stonz designs-a jewelry line) – will both be showing their chic, classic modern designs- and styling/customizing clients from head-to-toe if desired.
Fashion designer Ruben Singer …is also a guest host.

Privacy and discretion in the “couture” like setting is a given. Plus ---the option of sipping relaxing cocktails …make for a unique experience that women of this generation probably- totally- missed out on.

TBD: Future cities with other designers.



Magenta Opera coat by Sonya Rolin

Diamond encrusted briefs (vintage)

Diamond bra (vintage)

White platforms with diamond bow by Giambattista Valli

Gold cuff with amethyst, rose quartz and citrine by Irene Zelinski Rolling Stonz

Larriet with 4ct gold nuggets, amethyst, south sea pearls and rose quartz by Irene Zelinski Roling Stonz


Words, Images Judith Ecochard

Garment Center: April 23, 2009

Some retailers might role their eyes at the mention of another denim line…but our peepers were certainly lockin' on a new bunch of jeans out of (where else) California...that we previewed last week, MALIBU DENIM.

Super soft (made with cashmere in the mix- sourced from exclusive Italian mills) ---the cuts include the classic boot, slouchy, and the skinny-all with the perfect fit and finish---including the distressed look that embraces the beachy elements of sea salt and sun.

How did Malibu Denim get it right out of the gate?

Founder Diane Sedigi is a vet of all things denim (in Europe) including the manufacturing process in her DNA. With loads of experience across the Pond, Sedigi settled in Malibu and was inspired to launch a premium line: with her “signature, and most obvious detail; her modern and unique approach to the back yoke” ---for a sexy and uplifted silhouette.

Malibu Denim will be available at select retailers nationwide including Intermix, Fred Segal, National Jeans and Planet Blue. Retail prices range from $160 - $200.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Words Judith Ecochard, Images courtesy of Hillhouse Naturals

It’s no secret everyone we know is spending more time at home…and that what $s our pals are spending tends to go towards creating the nest of their (affordable) dreams.

One easy way to create an environment that’s luxuriously welcoming is by way of a clean and pure smelling abode.

Lucky us, Earth Day delivered some samples from HILLHOUSE NATURALS, a Kentucky based, mom/daughter (Peggy Batts and Tracy Sullivan) home grown business -that sells elegantly packaged, accessibly priced home fragrance products.

The eco-friendly Hillhouse Natural Living and Living Green™ Collections are both
made from authentic blends of essential oils and botanicals.

The Natural Living conjures up the pure air of the Southwest desert via clean burning 100% Soy Wax Candle- stylish reusable concrete container ($32), a Living Room and Linen Spray Mist ($22) a Potpourri Bag ($19) and Gift Set ($21) and our always use- Reed Diffuser ($43) containing bamboo reeds that spread the love.

The Living Green Collection includes a 100% natural soy wax blend candle and enriching plant-derived essential green ingredients in four scents that evoke pristine Nature …no cloying odd chemical scents!

And as Tracy Sullivan informed us:

"Eco-style is a big trend right now, and this is my interpretation of it for the younger generation. The designs are clean and modern, and so are the scents. Living Green was the first collection to use boxes manufactured with wind power (which we now use for all new Hillhouse Naturals products)."


Aromatic blends include two top selling Spring scents Sprout, and Flora (a lemon, verbena, lavender soothing scent), ... and the exotics Orange Leaf Amber (a seductive fusion of earthy vetiver, lavender, chamomile, juicy orange, and rich ylang ylang), and Red Currant Nectarine (a sweet, cool fragrance.)

IMHO- Hillhouse Natural’s goodies certainly live up to the quality of European brands that cost three times as much.




Words Judith Ecochard
Images courtesy of Green Depot (c) 2009, NatureWorks LLC (c) 2009, King Pacific Lodge, Echo Valley Ranch & Spa

GREEN DEPOT, 222 Bowery and the WALDORF ASTORIA HOTEL- Midtown Manhatttan

Part of our Earth Day’s (week) must attend events, was a sustainable lifestyle cocktail/conference in the new to us Manhattan branch of Green Depot… a retail/trade emporium stocked with environmental friendly building and household supplies (including bestselling cleaning items).

A highlight was our chat with Steve Davies, Director of Communications and Public Affairs of NatureWorks®LLC -a company that processes Ingeo™-a plant sugar into a proprietary NatureWorks® biopolymer –that’s ‘eco aware-ly’ transformed (meaning uses less fossil fuel, less greenhouse gas emissions to process) into fiber, bottles, containers, plastic bags, non woven wipes, diapers etc. The end products offer “the potential of more recovery options” too.

We wrote extensively about the science of it all last year…and are happy to see that Ingeo™ petro-free offerings have really gained traction in the consumer marketplace…with major companies embracing this unique green material.

Part of the day’s celebration was the fifth annual Ingeo™ Earth Month in conjunction with the LOHAS Eve of Sustainability reception where the official scoop on giant snack food company, Frito Lay’s use of Ingeo™ plastic - comprising 33% of every 10 1/2 oz SUNCHIPS® bag—with a target of 100% compostable bag by 2010...was announced.

We felt the bag and detected no difference---a good thing as the development stage took three years to perfect.

Davies also proudly showed us giftcards from Apple Computers-now made from Ingeo™ plastic and Earth’s Best organic foods new-and sure to be a top selling-baby diapers.

For the 411 on the later necessary item, we had a talk with the congenial Sam Kestenbaum, an Associate Brand manager at the Hain Celestial Group (HAIN).

Noting that chlorine-free diapers was the “next logical step” for the organic baby foods producer, Kestenbaum highlighted his company’s use of Ingeo™ as a major ‘ingredient’ (around 20%) of Earth’s Best TenderCare® diapers. For those not in the know, this is a major positive as used disposable (but NOT decomposable) diapers continue to clog up landfills around the world.

We think it’s a real step in the right direction---taking everyday disposable necessities to some---and including “renewable resources” elements that break down.


As snowboarders, we’ve have spent some serious coinage surfing the powder on VAIL MOUNTAIN in Colorado. We were jazzed to see Vail Resorts on the list of sponsors for this Earth Day event.

Makes total sense---as one reason active types ride (or hike) the slopes is to get immersed in Nature.

Fortunately, we got some face time with Julie Klein, the Director of Environmental Affairs at this RockResorts locale.

Like most ski resorts, Vail “has minimum programs” in place for years that adhere to sustainable practices…recycling, automatic towel, linen re-use at hotels, souce renewable energy via solar panels.

Even more so now---with the two thumbs up from the executive management team led by Robert Katz, guests and shareholders (MTN) this four seasons destination resort is embracing green values as a core value via with several programs like offsetting energy by purchasing wind power energy credits, using snowmelt for ‘gray water’ use and geothermal heating systems, and green building areas of the resort like the West Lionshead section-into a…

“…multi-use pedestrian village consisting of residences, a hotel, offices, retail shops and restaurants, mountain operations facilities, a public parking garage, a new gondola and related skier portal and a public park. This development is one of the first projects to be accepted into the U.S. Green Building Council's new LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) certification program."

The above we quote from the VAIL RESORTS website.

“What’s good for business is good for the environment too, “ Klein noted…we’ve got to be progressive …and do what we can to be legitimate.”


Though not technically part of Earth Day fests---we couldn’t help but notice that two resorts we learned about at a Canadian Media event last week---are “eco” in practice without the fanfare.

The British Columbian luxury hideaway- KING PACIFIC LODGE is a remote floating wilderness barge/lodge (15,000 sq. ft.) nestled along the shore of the pristine Barnard Harbor, Princess Royal Island. Reached by seaplane or boat, this all-inclusive upscale resort has no permanent inhabitants or structures (its towed to a winter home!)---as befits its locale in the lush Great Bear Rainforest.

Adventurous travelers can enjoy five-star comfort (Jacuzzis/plunge baths, first class ultra fresh food/wines, well-appointed guest rooms) after a hike, a day of fly or sea fishing, whale or bird watching, kayaking … and/or a jaunt onboard a helicopter for the ultimate experience. The pampered few can also opt for a slower pace too and sign up for one of several packaged experiences (special spa or culinary extravagances) - in the “unparalleled” scenery of this fragile environment.

Importantly, an environmental (and economic) partnership with a coalition of native peoples, the British Columbian government and private enterprise ensures complete protection of this 21 million acre temperate rainforest that is the only home of the rare Kermode ”spirit bear.”


ECHO VALLEY RANCH & SPA beckons travelers year round with its unique blend of refreshing classic spa therapies and magical wilderness setting for adventurers… “amidst the expansive four distinct biomes-desert, boreal forest grass lands and marshes” in the Cariboo Mountains and Marble Range.

Steeped in history, this area of British Columbia offers outstanding pursuits for active types (heli-hiking, bird watching, fly-casting lessons, horseback riding, dining al fresco by the campfire, wildlife immersions to view grizzlys with The Lodge at Chilco Lake ) and the culturally curious (excursions to a native teepee village, a frontier ranch).

For those in reflective mode, the natural surroundings connect one’s need to unwind and reflect-expertly aided by the unique Asian inspired Baan Thai Spa, where professional therapists sooth away modern day aches and stresses in splendid (authentic) surroundings.

We plan on a jaunt ourselves…and look forward to discovering even more.


Monday, April 27, 2009


West 54th Street, NYC
April 23rd, 2009

Words, images Judith Ecochard

An intimate presentation is an ideal setting in which to preview collections from luxury brands.

Last week, we took in the new styles and reinterpreted classics of the made-to-measure and ready-to-wear lines from France’s hundred plus years old cobbler, John Lobb- in such a locale.

It gave us a (leisurely) chance to admire the artistry… up close and personal. And lucky for us, one of John Lobb’s acclaimed Master Craftsman, Paul Wilson, was available to answer questions and understandably so, lovingly point out the expertly applied details that make a bespoke shoe worth the cost ($6000 and up)- of every hand stitch and hand polished nuance.

To commemorate the company’s relocation of all aspects of its business (workshops, bespoke salon, corporate offices and the famous climate controlled last storage space)- to new stately quarters at 32 Rue de Mogador near the Paris Opera…in, naturally, Paris, France.

John Lobb is offering clients handsome selections of laboriously made oxfords, slip-ons and boots all finished with a sole hand polished in “Mogador purple.” (A deep eggplant purple shade).

One gentlemanly elegant shoe we admired-is the made from one piece of primo leather “Mogador Phillip II Oxford” with a round toe. The stitched and punching details hand applied on the toe cap, vamp and facings reflect the high level technical know-how inherent to any pair of John Lobb kickers.

And for clients, knowing that the shoe’s inner layers are also made from top quality leather (while other high end cobblers often use resin and a heat activated stiffner) –is secretly satisfying. And clearly ensures a more exacting and comfortable fit.

Our other top pick is the suave “Patrick Magador” boot---a true knockout. With a piped quarter that is curved instead of coming straight down into the sole, the visually appealing shoe is exceptionally comfortable as well as a refreshed modern looking shoe.

For the RTW collection ($1100-$1700), suede and top quality leathers are also used---and as always, every step of the “hand” production process---is readily apparent.

The new “kick-around” sports shoe has a unique sole treatment that we think will make this versatile ped covering very popular.

NEW: A collection of wallets and billfolds made from the delicate and costly Australian crocodile (the Crocodylus porosus).

FACTOID: An oxford in white leather, polished in a dusty pink for a Japanese client was one of the most unusual color requests.


Friday, April 24, 2009


Garment District
April 20th, 2009

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

In the land of perpetually fine weather, a lifestyle attired in casual wear gets jazzed up with sassy beachwear to streetwear from Hurley, a legendary surfboard and surf/skatewear line.

Hurley’s DNA combining the realms of surf, art and music -is captured with an expansion of separates ready to hit retails shelves starting in the late summer.

The collection for gals has easy, mix-it-up pieces that are cute and inexpensive.

Camis, and cotton tops with well-finished ruch details come in saturated solids like sunflower and burnt orange. Board shorts sport terrific graphics.

Later gals can switch to plaid long sleeves with lace inserts and tiny pleats at the shoulder and yokes that make the collection special.

A puffer vest with a fake fur hood, a cable knit toggle sweater, cropped and regular length distressed boyfriend jeans--- and a long tartan dress can suffice as throw ons after the beach---or for landlubbers looking for a comfy and edgy attire.

Guys get hoodies (in thick stripped patterns and solid) that zip up to go over board shorts (solid primaries or neat prints) or jeans…

Long sleeve coverups with thumb holes…

Tees and zip ups with terrific graphics.

Love the scarves---set for the Holiday season.

Prices: around $25- $35---mostly under $100