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India Hicks’ Stylish Island Life Can Be Yours: Her Exclusive Curated Event

27 Jan

Text, Vivian Kelly

Video Generously Provided by LaForce & Stevens Public Relations

I’ve always admired India Hicks’ elegant easy breezy appearance and manner, probably a result of her diverse life experience ranging from roughing it, backpacking around the world, to the polar extreme – serving as Princess Diana’s bridesmaid. I met her years ago, at a Michael Kors casting and she was just as she appears in public, down to earth and refined – someone you want to get to know better.

 India, at Princess Diana's Wedding. She is second from the left.

Speaking of royalty, India is from a family of design royalty. Her Father was the late David Hicks, whose work The New York Times*  characterized as “relentlessly organized, color-clashing home interiors were the acme of jet-set chic in the 1960’s”.

She’s not just an annoying “the daughter of famous person X; India is down to earth a a working royal. India has some notable projects to her name, such as the hotel in the Bahamas she restored.

These images are from a wonderful site [Life of Style] I found late last night, which I’m now following.

India Hicks' Modernized Version of Babe's Round Hill Retreat

Babe Paley’s Round Hill Retreat – circa 1959

*FUN POLL: Play Interior Designer with me – which version of this glorious Round Hill home do YOU prefer?

A well-known example of her work is the  re-design of Babe and William Paley’s former Jamaican residence. Yes, it WAS beautiful when Babe was in charge of the decor in 1959, but India has updated it and softened the decor.

In the video below, India  talks about her design aesthetic. 

After watching this, are you thinking, “Wow, her home is beautiful, but how am I ever getting some of that for my home?”

Answer:  Until today, it was tough to do unless you

made the trip to the Sugar Mill Trading Company, India’s  cultishly revered boutique on remote Harbour Island in The Bahamas.  in other words, it was a super-insider thing.

Not any more!

As of today  Friday, January 27th at 9:00 AM PT / Noon ET, India shares hand-picked global goods with members through an exclusive curated sale featuring carefully selected styles for him, her and the home at up to 60% off .

Some of the  island-inspired items for sale include: a silver seashell pendant, tie-waste tunic and beaded sandals, as well as luxury linens, throw pillows, trays and more from brands such as Thomas Paul and French Laundry.

A Few of India's Curated Items

* For more on the Jamaican Get-away, visit 

It’s Friday, shop till you drop!


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!

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

Gwen Stefani’s s/s2012 L.A.M.B. Collection – When Fashion by a Celebrity is a Good Thing

29 Sep

Text, Vivian Kelly

Celebrities have a bad rap in the fashion business. I’d taken a skeptical stance on the idea of the notion of celebrity as fashion designer, since the days when Kathie Lee Gifford “designed” a line for Wal-Mart, followed by legions of demi celebs such as Paris Hilton who capitalized on their fame to produce shoddy garments they themselves would never actually wear. The fact that THEY themselves wore Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta etc etc. said it all.

There are exceptions however, that show that celebrities CAN [in conjunction with the right team] produce a credible fashion line. The first time I witnessed this was while attending a Justin Timberlake concert at Mohegan Sun, soon after his “Future Sex/Love Sounds” tour hit. Joe Zee did an amazing job styling him and Justin carried that white suit as well as John Travolta did his in “Saturday Night Fever”.

IT wasn’t William Rast, but I recall being stupefied when mid-way through the show, he sang a ballad in a plaid William Rast shirt and jeans. That night, I began reconsidering the celebrity as fashion designer issue and resolved to actually READ the WWD articles about Celebrity X designing a fashion line to see if others besides Justin were getting it right.

Good news. In the ranks of the “getting it right” are Justin Timberlake/William Rast, the Olsen Twins/Elizabeth and James, and the subject of this post, Gwen Stefani/L.A.M.B. Until this NYFW, the closest I got to Gwen’s line was seeing pieces at Nordstrom’s on the floor. I liked what I saw and longed to see her next collection in its entirety to see if she continued to follow-through on her branding message ie: herself  = a fun yet sophisticated version of cool.

A key ingredient for a brand’s success is to create an identity and to stick with your DNA. Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana hit gold early in their career with the severe look of elderly Italian women clad in black crossed with sexy corsets and animal print that showed their idealized woman; one who possesses an intriguing angel-devil personality.

Gwen Stefani has similarly created a believable personality for her L.A.M.B line. She is known as a pop star who mixes classic glamour with funky contemporary clothing resulting in a mix that is the modern equivalent of Eighties’ pop star, Cyndi Lauper. Although physically these two don’t resemble one another, they share that irresistible “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” spirit that I’ve loved since Ms. Lauper debuted it in 1983 on MTV.

This season was my first L.A.M.B. show. I’m calling it a “show” even though technically, it was a presentation, set in the “Box” space – my favorite of the Lincoln Center Fashion Week venues as there’s usually little to no waiting, you can get as close as you want to the clothes and the models obligingly pose for shots.

The presentation was scheduled to start at 2:30p.m, but you wouldn’t have known that from the crowd assembled in the holding area when I arrived at 2:20. Normally tardy editors were in line waiting, snaked around the length of the tent to get what I guessed would be only a very quick glimpse of the latest L.A.M.B. collection and hopefully a look at the chanteuse cum fashion designer herself. [Ms. Stefani was not there, sigh.]

I  wiggled to the front of the 4-deep crowd huddled around the models posing on the white blocks, to scan the 23 looks. There was herringbone plaid, a leather moto jacket, some fun Ikat prints and quite a bit of Noir Jewelry; in short, no huge deviations from the brand’s DNA. Just an hour earlier at lunch with Scott French and Meredith Garcia of The Fashion List at Pain Quotidian, we all agreed that the best designers like writers find their voice and stick with it. Their customers appreciate this; can count on them to deliver the goods. Make no mistake – consistency is not boring, it is an asset.

A few months ago, a stroll on the floor at Nordstrom’s Westchester Mall verified this. Marc Jacobs Mark by Marc and L.A.M.B. stood out, because they didn’t need any store signage to identify them. That odd but adorable tweak like a teeny tiny print on a puff sleeve blouse- must be Marc. Black and white herringbone jackets and red accents? Must be L.A.M.B. – it was.

With all of this in the back of my mind, once finally, inside the Box, my first glimpse revealed black and white, this time as an Ikat print top worn with brown herringbone shorts accessorized with a skinny red belt, and towering platform sandals in black, red and cobalt – very Eighties!

The rock and roll portion of the brand was most apparent in the accessories, hair and makeup, namely a leather and gold shark tooth necklace heavily kohled eyes, straight black brows and a two- tone “Pebbles” from The Flintstones hairdo.

Many of the editors in the Tents were wearing this same up-do, minus the volume and two-tone.

Ms.Stefani hit the preppy trend square on with a v-front cream tennis sweater but unlike the one from your parents’ country club, this one is minus the unflattering bulk. The L.A.M.B sweater boasts fine knit gage stitching, which make it an ideal transition piece. These days, transition pieces are where it’s at. What could be better than playing a set of tennis, taking a shower, putting on the same sweater that you walked on the Courts with and getting-on with your day? There’s something for everyone here, and even one piece will up the fun quotient of your spring wardrobe.

Sebago’s Artisan Collection – Tradition Meets Innovative Style

26 Sep

You say “Tomatoe” I say “Tomahto”. The same goes with the shoe brand name, SEBAGO. No matter which way you elect to pronounce it, Sebago is a great brand. Sometime during NYFW, I fell into a huge clothing rut – I no longer knew what I wanted to wear, and despite a stuffed walk-in closet at home, nothing looked right. As I sat in Robert Verdi’s Luxe Laboratory, looking at the Sebago display, the answer came to me- preppy dressing.

By this, I mean how we used to dress in the late Seventies in Middle School and at Greenwich High. There was a uniform and it transitioned me into my freshman year at Duke. The early Eighties were a throwback period to conservatism. Ronald Reagan had just been elected President, and it was good to look WASP, ie: subtly rich. At this same time, Lisa Birnbach’s Preppy Handbook came out and served as the how-to get the look of affluence.

Key to the look is the boat shoe and the penny loafer. Anyone in Middle School who didn’t have Dock or Top Siders was a social outcast. One had a rounded toe, the other a square toe, and either was acceptable, as long as they were by Sperry. Only those most tuned into fashion back then knew that the ORIGINAL boat shoe was actually manufactured by SEBAGO, in 1946.  Friend, R. Scott French, fashion designer and co-owner of The Fashion List, was one of the few who KNEW. Little good this did him as his less enlightened Baltimore classmates kept insisting that his Sebago docks were “wrong” and their Sperrys were “right”.

Once at Duke, I swapped my topsiders for penny loafers in cordovan and wore them with jeans and some of my Mother’s tweed blazers and a prize Diana Vreeland red tweed blazer [with suede elbow patches]through fall and early winter.

Years later, I remembered my beloved topsiders and loafers while flipping through the September 2011 People’s Special Fashion Issue, with the blaring headline, “Kate’s Style Secrets!”. On p. 51 lay the answer to my “Whatever Do I Wear?” crisis. There, at the top of the page, were a pair of Sebago “Bala” mocassins, with an oily wax finish that looked great with Kate’s J Brand jeans and a simple button down shirt.

Years later, at the Luxe Lab, I learned from Tracee Yang, Harrison & Shriftman’s PR Rep, that today’s Sebagos are all hand made in the Dominican Republic.  They’ve kept the original designs we love but they’ve added some great fashion twists, by collaborating with artists such as Stash, an innovator in urban design who exhibited alongside the late Keith Haring, when he was 17 years old. Since then, he’s added a commercial aspect to his work, by collaborating with Nike and A Bathing Ape. We loved his short moc/boot that laces up and has a bit of spatter treatment to toughen up this beloved preppy staple.

Another noteworthy collaboration is with the Filson, a “better outdoor clothing company” that was established in 1897 in Seattle, by C.C. Filson, a former railroad conductor. His fledgling outdoor clothing store took off thanks to the Great Klondike Gold Rush [1897-9].

Sebago has mixed Filson’s oil tint cloths with Sebago leathers, most notably in a ruggedly handsome bag that’s also very practical. The bags are available exclusively in Bloomingdales’ selected NYC, Santa Monica, LA, and 59th Street.

Sure to be an editorial success are the women’s collection with Kimmie Smith, who’s known for her “nuvo glam style”. She’s already done a small collection for fall that’s being well received, but lookout for the spring collection, which will be available online in February and March. You’ll have to wait until then to pickup her irresistible colorful docksides.

For now, if you’re a guy, or shopping for one, you’re in luck. There’s a nice assortment of styles at the Sebago popup store at Saks 5th Ave. on the 7th floor. The salesmen there couldn’t be nicer. Seeing I was near tears after slogging through the rain to discover Saks isn’t yet carrying the Plaza and Bala Sebagos I wanted, they directed me to East 34th Street. It was there, thanks to them, that I finally scored, at Orva Shoes, just like they said, at 34 West 34th Street.

Now, I just have to wait until late October, for my pair of “Balas” to come in. I’ve just put in my order for the first tall boot I’ve bought in years – the Saranac, which has a stylish tweed panel offsetting the rich light brown leather and a practical lug sole.

Lisa Perry’s Modern Take on the Iconic Pan Am Stewie

22 Sep

Text, Vivian Kelly

The Right Time and the Right Place: “The Pan Am Era”, circa 1963

My NYFW mates, Mark Behnke, Men’s Editor for Fashion Tribes and “Video Vixen” Lisa Johnson, Editor in Chief of Lisa Johnson Fitness, couldn’t wait to meet the crew of “The Real Stewardesses of Pan Am”. Unfortunately, by the time we raced over from the Donna Karan store and the Marissa Berenson Book signing, our targets had flown the coop. We still got our Pan Am Stewie fix though, as there were models dressed in the blue retro uniform handing out airplane snacks and beverages. Once we fueled-up, we settled in and started exploring the all white store. I was transported back to the early Sixties, a period in time I’m utterly enamored with. I actually DID fly Pan Am in 1963, but as an 11 month old infant, sadly I don’t remember much. Ten years later, I caught the end of the “Pan Am Era” jetstream, when I flew Pan Am , New York to Paris, and had one of the best meals of my young life -on a plane! What I remember even more than the food was how utterly beautiful the stewardesses were, with their little hats, perfect figures and immaculate hair and makeup. Barbie couldn’t hold a candle to them. Years later, when the airlines changed their title to “flight attendant”, the glamour left the building. They may as well have called them “air waitresses”.

The Lisa Perry store is a like a very cool apartment you want to spend the day in so you can look at all the coffee table books, [such as Airline], study the Roy Lichtenstein prints on the wall and try on each and every one of the colorful Sixties’ style dresses hanging on the fixtures. For a fashionista who’s enamored of this era, it’s like being deposited into a wonderful penny candy store where you want to try everything on but don’t know where to start.

A Japanese businessman was holding the last Pan Am logoed bag Lisa had designed. He couldn’t decide if he should buy it. It wasn’t leather, but it was “a great design and a wonderful piece of retro. My wife will kill me if I buy this, but…”

I encouraged him, “If you don’t buy it tonight, you’re going to kick yourself later. There won’t be any more, and you know that once you see the show, you’ll want it even more. You can tell your wife you’ll share it with her.”

He bought it.

On our way out, my initial disappointed on missing the cast evaporated when we got to chat with Lisa Perry herself about the Limited Edition bags she’d designed for FNO and to commune about our shared love for this legendary time in history.

Ms. Perry told us her collaboration with the highly anticipated TV show, The Real Stewardesses of Pan Am was suggested to her by Vogue magazine. When I asked if she would design a Pan Am suit she laughed and said she could design a whole collection based on that but only after researching the original suits. Stay tuned for the upcoming show episodes and for Ms. Perry’s Pan Am inspired suits. If the limited edition bags she put out are any indication [most were snapped up on FNO] of the success of this future collection, then she’ll have a gang-busters hit on her hands, as will ABC.

The Callula Lillibelle s/s2012 Show at the Box, Lincoln Center

19 Sep

Text, Vivian Kelly

It was early in the morning, mid-way through NYFW, and in the dash from our West 56th Street hotel to the Lincoln Center tents to go backstage for Callula Lillibelle, no time for some sorely needed coffee. The lobby at Lincoln Center was weirdly empty, but Neiman Marcus’ Fashion Director, Ken Downing was there, Starbucks in hand, and we stopped by to chat and to get a bead on what one of fashion’s sharpest forcasters thought of the New York s/s2012 season so far. I mentioned we were on our way to chat with William Calvert, backstage at Callula Lillibele.

“Is it Neiman’s?” Ken asked us as Mark [Behnke, of Fashion Tribes],whiled- away those few pleasant moments before hitting backstage.

Good question. I replied, “Hm, well there was a great coat I saw last time.”

“Honey, it takes more than one coat to be in Neiman Marcus” he joked. It struck me then, how hard his job is. I kept that question in mind a few minutes later, as I watched the models get into their looks and pose on the white backdrop backstage, presumably for the lookbook that would be in stores for spring.

I finally actually “met” the designer, William Calvert, after an aborted attempt to record our phone conversation a few months earlier, in which he told me that C.L. had a few winning silhouettes that worked well from size 2-12 and that he worked on tweaking the winning formula each season. I botched that interview, but this describes Callula’s mission – to make women look good and to as the French so aptly put it, “look comfortable in their skin”, and to be proud of their curves.

During our backstage interview, that took place in front of the scrim where the models were posting for the look book, William said “Callula Lillibelle is primarily a dress collection” and in answer to our other question, “it sells at Saks”. Unsurprisingly, the strongest looks were dresses such as the lemon/silver stretch tweed boatneck one that would look as good on a curvy woman as on the size zero models posing in the Box presentation.Best in show was the white “Penelope Cruz” – that had a beautiful wrap front bodice, that was both glamorous and practical.

While pointing to the models posing in front of him , he told  us that he was inspired by strong curvy fashion icons such as Sofia Lauren, Penelope Cruz, Beyonce and Rihanna. Clients and fans include curvy ladies such as Oprah and Gayle King.

There were though, non-dress looks that stood-out, such as the right-on-trend pink jacquard jacket over an ivory dot lace tank and ivory pin dot slouchy shorts. It seems that grown women really WILL be wearing shorts to work, after all. Both looked great with a pair of chic Stuart Weitzman pumps.



To answer Ken’s question, [“Is it Neiman’s?”], we concurred that Callula is a solid collection that is perfectly placed at Saks, rather than Neiman’s which houses cutting edge design and where shoppers go to find what they expect to see on the pages of US Vogue. The Neiman’s woman is one who counts fashion and her wardrobe in her top three life priorities. Neiman’s top customers have Ken on speed dial.

By contrast, Saks and Callula are more mellow in their approach to fashion. This brand offers an excellent fit and the fact that the designs do not vary radically from season to season is reassuring to women who want some style but who don’t want a whole new wardrobe each and every season. This collection fits her lifestyle, as while she enjoys her fashion, she doesn’t want [or need] it delivered at warp speed. She paces herself with easy to wear fashions such as Callula. Fashion and her wardrobe are important but rank lower on the priority list, and like Saks, there is a sense of decorum in her attitude. Despite the year-round throng of tourists and buzz, the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship continues to maintain the air of stately dignity when well-to-do ladies shopped there on their way to lunch and their choice of gloves was an important matter. Similarly, Callula also possesses that gracious sensibility but there’s no better way to experience it than to slip on one of William’s dresses and to see for yourself.