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Rafael Cennamo’s Transformative Gowns -Dresses WithThe Power To Make You A Princess

22 Feb

Text, Vivian and Laura Wood

Rafael Cennamo's Sapphire Blue Siren Gown, the fall 2012 Collection

Every woman would like to be a princess or a queen and Venezuelan designer, Rafael Cennamo, knows that.

Rafael Cennamo at his Fall 2012 Presentation, sourced from, photo, Getty Images

He even crowned some of his models in his NYFW Presentation at the Lincoln Center Box venue.

The teased hair with the circlets is modern days take on the gigantic wigs Marie Antoinette and her ladies wore to Court as well as the cover of  Jo Mannings My Lady Scandalous [The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Royal Courtesan] a book I can’t wait to start reading tonight.

Rafael Cennamo Metallic Mesh Cocktail DressRafael Cennamo Embroidered Tulle Gown - The West's Idealized Version of a Princess

PR guru, Paul Wilmot, had expressed enthusiasm for this designer some months back, and  he has never steered us wrong, but this collection exceeded all expectations.

True, we’d checked-out images of Taylor Swift and Gwen Stefani in R.C. and they looked good, but what we saw in the Box was on a whole different plane; it was transformative dressing at its best.

We fell in love with Rafael Cennamo when we spotted the blue metallic mesh turtleneck cocktail dress with its discreet illusion panel. The effect was Modern Day Chinese Princess.

The moonlight metallic embroidered tulle gown was the Western idea of what a princess should look like. The embroidery and its placement was reminiscent of a bejeweled bodice and underskirt like Queen Elizabeth I wore in royal portraits.  As if that weren’t already enough, the sapphire blue backless gown with draped sleeves worn by a beautiful Asian model knocked us out.  We can’t image that this dress wouldn’t wind up on the Red Carpet. We hope that someone snatched this one up and that we’ll see it Sunday at the Oscars when into ABC to watch.

Below, a shout-out to the people on the team who helped  Rafael  create these modern day princesses

Styling – Danielle Nachmani

Hair – Matthew Curtis / TRESemme

Make-up – Rogelio Reyna / Bobbi Brown

Nail Care – Kelly Baber / Jessica

Hats – Yestadt Millinery

Jewelry – Jacob & Co.

Casting – Maurilio Carnino / MTC Casting


Shanghai Express – Douglas Hannant’s Shanghai Fantasy

22 Jan

Text, Vivian Kelly

Sometimes a show is more than just a show. I reminded myself of this as I sat down [finally] to register for Mercedes-Benz NYFW, and to go over the list of shows on The Fashion List. The task is easier as I’ve already got a list of GO-TO shows – the ones Deborah Hughes Inc. and Paul Wilmot Communications are producing.

One of my favorites last season was Douglas Hannant’s Shanghai inspired collection, which gave me the opportunity to indulge in a historical fantasy – being present at one of those members-only soirees in the American Consulate in the 1930’s.

There’s a book in the works that will be published by another favorite – Assouline Publishing as well. Douglas got the inspiration for the collection by viewing the black and white photographs the author shared with him a few months before the show. The images of the author’s grandparents daily lives in the upper echelons of 1930’s Shanghai society got Douglas’s creative juices flowing and the resulting collection was nothing short of inspired.

Enjoy the video of  my interview backstage with Douglas.

STylish Books Accessories to Have and to Hold in 2012

2 Jan

Text and Images, Vivian Kelly

NEw Year’s Day was a day to trawl through my iphoto library to gather inspiration for the year ahead. Lots of cool fashion items, namely ACCESSORIES and BOOKS. Jan 1 was all about reveling in sloth-dom: an SVU Marathon, followed by Cameron Diaz in “Bad Teacher”. Self-imposed nactivity WILL get the creative juices flowing!

Happy New Year!

1. My close friend, Demi Schimenti, totally rocked these Jack Wills pink and navy socks. I have to have them and the argyle ones too! They’re part of the “wear more skirts and dresses this year” resolution and my continuing love affair with PREP.

2. Rings as a self-defense weapon – I remember these from the Capsule Trade Show post spring NYFW in September. What jogged my memory were some similar rings worn by Rooney Mara in “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” , a not to be missed movie, for the clothes alone! Two thumbs way up.

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - style!

3. Another coffee table book – I’ve already gobbled up my last second purchase of Jeffrey Banks’ PREPPY Cultivating Ivy Style while in the insanely long line at American Eagle yesterday afternoon.

This year’s MUST have is Assouline’s BALS: Legendary Balls of the Twentieth Century, by Nicholas Foulkes. It’s $175, but it’s SUBSTANTIAL, and with a blurb like this by Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley, the “maybe” turned into “order it now” for me.

Item Quote

Cover Shot of Bals, Possibly Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes

4. My first official HUNT item is for a vintage airline bag. It’s actually an item I didn’t get to last year that made the list after attending a LaForce & Stevens Party for the cast of Pan Am at the gorgeous Lisa Perry store uptown which will be moving to the corner this March. The new addy – 988 Madison at 77th Street. Put that in your calendar p/s!

A Night Out – Holiday Cheer W/ Shiseido at Town & Country’s Visionnaire 5th Avenue Apartment

20 Dec

Text, Vivian Kelly

Last week, I was the “plus one” for a swank event co-sponsored by Town & Country and Shiseido. Contributor Laura Wood and I were there for a veritable laundry list of reasons:

– to chat with her friend, Connor Raus, a digital strategist ad the Creative Director of Digitature and to watch him in action, filming host and stylist, Luciene Salomone

– to check out the decorated apartment

– to watch the Shiseido presentation of the Future Solution LX line, of which I was already a fan. [ Kaplow PR had gifted me Bio- Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream which feels insanely rich and luxurious, even at 6:30 in the morning when I’ve only got one eye lid open. A few colleagues have told me how “rested” I looked recently.]

The event invite promised ” a lip touch-up” which sealed the deal as I can’t ever pass up an opportunity to find a new shade of lipstick, never mind the 30+ tubes of lipsticks and glosses piled behind me on the FE home office shelf.

An added bonus to the affair was to wander about the lovely apartment and to peruse the gorgeous Rizzoli coffee table books. I’ve got MM Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe on its way to me for some much anticipated holiday reading.

Below, a video of host, Luciene Salome discussing the events of the evening.


Hal Rubenstein and his 100 Unforgettable Dresses- Spotlight on Elizabeth Hurley in Gianni Versace’s Safety Pin Dress

15 Dec


Text and Video, Vivian Kelly

I’m still reading 100 Unforgettable Dresses and using it as a “time out treat” from grading and teaching. The section that kicks-off the book is one of the best written and informative pieces of fashion history I’ve read in a really long time.

In the video below, author Hal Rubenstein talks to The Fashion Examiner about Elizabeth Hurley, Gianni Versace and the magic they created together with the infamous “safety pin dress”. In the book, Hal dissects the WHY part of the magic these dresses imparted on the women who wore them. The closest most women get to that “magic feeling” is when they step into their wedding dress and are transformed.

100 Unforgettable Dresses by Hal Rubenstein + Joe’s Jeans = Newfound Holiday Spirit

11 Dec

Text, Vivian Kelly

Yesterday, I finally edged my way into “the Holiday Spirit”.

The event that got me into the spirit was  InStyle Fashion Director Hal Rubenstein’s Book Signing  at Joe’s 77 Mercer Street, orchestrated by Paul Wilmot Communications.

Hal Rubenstein, Author of 100 Dresses, fashion guru-personality

I’ve blogged about Joe’s Jeans before because I was entranced by Paz de la Huerta in the recent campaign that was more art than commerce [love that].  The most recent campaign – colored jeans – grabbed me too, but in a different way. The last time I wore colored jeans was in the Eighties. It was Christmas Break at Duke, and I had some money to spend and found myself at Macy’s, in the Ralph Lauren Department. I was inextricably drawn to a pair of Tiffany blue jeans. What would I wear with them? I didn’t know, or care. I wanted them, they were on sale and they were “something else”.

Years later, [last night] when I had a look at what Hal wrote in my copy of 100 Unforgettable Dresses, I was reminded of those jeans.

His signature in my copy reads, “ To Vivian, Wear Something Unforgettable, Be Someone Unforgettable”. H.R.

Every time I wore those jeans, I got compliments from fraternity guy friends, and was thrilled that “stepping out of the box” could reap ego boosting benefits.

Every since then, I’ve gone with my gut – something Hal recommends. If you love it, GET it, you WILL wear it. Last night, I luxuriated in a pedicure and gobbled up as many entries in the book as I got the opportunity to read some of the entries. A few favorites:

Slip for Butterfield 8 [Elizabeth Taylor in Helen Rose

Green Evening GownFor Atonement [Keira Knightlley in Jacquelyn Durran]

Revenge Dress [Diana Princess of Wales in Christina Stambolian]

Elizabeth Hurley launches her career thanks to Gianni Versace's "safety pin dress"


Many of these dresses are about one of my favorite themes, “The right time and the right place”. Take Elizabeth Hurley’s career making Versace safety pin dress. Prior to her 1994 appearance to then boyfriend Hugh Grant’s Three Weddings and a Funeral, she was “the girlfriend” aka arm candy. After that  came a those lucrative Estee Lauder contracts.

There’s so much more than this, consider this as an aperitif on a book that’s the perfect gift for anyone on your Holiday list who’s interested in any or all of the following: fashion, fashion icons, fashion history.

As far as the jeans, there are 55 colors to consider, but for now, the parakeet colored ones are in first place. Hey Santa, are you listening?

#1 on the list - Parakeet colored Joe's Jeans

Rambo’s Picks: Diamonds For the Holidays!

6 Dec

Text, Rambo Kelly

Transcribed by Vivian Kelly

I’m under pressure – I have to come up with a big theme for the Holidays.  Okay  here goes – DIAMONDS.

I found my theme after knocking over one of the books in the FE Library. It’s title was Elizabeth Taylor – my Love Affair With Jewelry. I really REALLY LIKE “LA LIZ” because she wore her diamonds for everyday. Why have something pretty if you don’t wear it? Dumb, huh?

We read in the LA Times that  Thomas W. Burstein of Christie’s said the only time the famous ring left Taylor’s hand was when she offered it up to friends to try on. “She really had this notion that the jewelry should be shared and loved by everybody.” Nice lady, I bet she liked cats too.

My 5 Reasons to Give Diamonds

1. You don’t HAVE to give the real ice. There’s great stuff that looks like it – Carolee has a pretty version of Liz’s Prince of Wales pin they’re calling the “Triple Feather Plume Pin” for $95 that squeaks under that $100 or less budget range.

2. Another of my faves, Marilyn Monroe said that Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend. I look really good sitting next to the giant poster we have of MM in a red dress – shows off my platinum colored fur.

3. Our jeweler friend, Renato of New England Jewelers pointed out that “diamonds go with everything, unlike rubies, sapphires or emeralds”.

4. A little sparkle perks up a blah rainy day like today.

5. That  33.19-carat, emerald cut diamond ring would look great in my Xmas Stocking and Ollie and me could have hours of fun playing soccer with it…

Last Thoughts:

HURRY to Christie’s! Go and see this exhibit, before it shuts-down Dec. 12th. The auction starts Dec. 13th. If I can get through security, I’ll be there. Too bad I can’t hold a bidding paddle!

Fun Fact: The estimated worth of the Taylor- Burton diamond ring he gave ET in 1968 is $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
Ta ta, R-A-M-B-O