New Year Resolutions…….

……. are meant to be broken but it doesn’t hurt to keep them going as long as possible.

Weight loss is the number one resolution which to tell the truth is dead in the water right after Valentine’s Day.  If someone is lucky enough to get a box of Godiva or Neuchatel chocolates for that holiday occasion, what are the chances the box won’t be empty within a week, maybe less?   I hear chocolates have been heralded by nutritionists as good for your health. Especially the dark variety.  So it stands to reason chocolates not only sooth a sweet tooth they are a healthy food so dive into the box.  But everything in moderation ….that is if you have good self control!

Next resolution on the list is staying on budget.  To tell the truth that is a hard one to keep especially with all the wonderful after-Christmas-sales taking place at every store.   Electronics, fashion accessories, apparel, furniture, automobiles, the list is endless and so are the discounts.  I have tried to figure out how retailers can make a profit when initially a sweater on special promotion was 25% off and that same sweater after Christmas gets another 75% off to the original 25%?  Doesn’t that make the sweater free?  I’m no mathematician but even I can add this up in my head and come up with 100% off the original price. Shopping will be hard to resist at these prices!

My favorite is getting in touch with friends I haven’t heard from in a long time.  If you haven’t noticed, this decade has buried the telephone RIP.  Everyone communicates via email, facebook, twitter, instagram,  texting.  I don’t know ….call me old fashioned but I want to have a conversation with a voice.  There’s nothing like hearing a familiar voice on the other end especially when catching up with news about friends and family.  I would rather pick up the phone than let my fingers do the walking across a key board.  Gives the fingers exercise but how unsocial!

Speaking of exercise, for all the procrastinators who have vowed they will join a gym or work out with a trainer, this one should be a no brainer for a New Year’s resolution.  Newspapers, magazines, and on-line editorials all acknowledge that any exercise no matter how low key leads to better health.  So reason dictates that we should take time out to walk, run, lift weights, jump rope, bike, ski, hike…. not at the same time but you get the idea. Remember, summer is not that far off and the beach will be beckoning soon enough.

All bets are off that any resolutions made in the New Year will be honored past the first month.  So enjoy the chocolates, go out on that buying spree, get those fingers nimble enough to send out messages, and did you know bike handles are great hangers for clothes?

Happy 2014!

Home Improvement

One of the most disruptive experiences in life has got to be renovating one’s living space.  Not only is it unsettling, it can, and almost always is, frustrating.  The cause for this frustration?  Contractors!

Anyone who has experienced renovation of any sort can attest to this exasperating service. Contractors will provide a suggested completion date and cost estimate for work and then go over the time frame and the proposed price. Count on it!  What is even more frustrating is that it’s an accepted practice.  The reason being once the job is started it cannot be stopped midstream; therefore you are up the creek without a paddle.

Contractors are in the service business.  It seems odd to me that this particular line of work is not held to the standards of other services.  I had my own business for close to 40 years.  I was expected to honor a contract once I identified the work and the cost for it.  It meant I had to get the work done in the time frame outlined and at the agreed price.  So how does this not apply to building contractors?

More times than not, and depending on the size of job, completion will be at best a month or so past promised and in more cases than not, it feels like a never ending process. The worker bees never finish the job.  Actually they are at the site off and on for weeks and more accurately, they are there for months.  Some days they show up; most days they don’t; and the rooms under construction are left uninhabitable.

Then there’s the matter of cost.  Within budget is not a recognized term.  Price agreed to is blown out of the water because upon installation of cabinets, plumbing or electrical work, that which was estimated is no longer valid.  It’s always over but never under the estimate. Curious!

I thought I was clever when I decided to redo my kitchen and a bathroom.  Rather than having the contractor purchase the cabinets, tiles, fixtures, etc. I would do it myself to save time. Everything would be arranged for delivery when the contractor would give me the date when work could commence.  Installation could take place without having to interrupt the work flow by waiting for parts and pieces.

And how did this work out for me? It was an exercise in futility.  I basically wasted my time.  Work can only be started when the contractor has the help he needs for the job and if he’s working on another (unfortunately contractors always have other work in progress) one has to wait until that other job is finished. And because that other job didn’t start on time …well you get the picture.

After what was to be at most a two- month in duration job is now in its fourth month and still no end in sight.  It’s like gum on my shoe.  Just when I think it’s coming to completion something else pulls it back.

The next time I want to update any room in my home I will first have my head examined.  It will be quicker and cheaper.

Behind the Scenes at a “Fashion Week” Show

Fashion Week made its notable appearance again at Lincoln Center this time highlighting the Spring 2014 season.

Characters in dubious mode of dress peppered the outside area calling attention to some really weird dressing.  These “you-have-to-notice-me-because-I’m-so- bizarre” eccentrics are making a statement though for the life of me, I haven’t figured out what it is.  These strange people are there every season.  For me they have become the side-show to the main event.… the fashion shows. Nonetheless the media descends on them like moths to a flame.

Real fashion was inside the Fashion Week building.  Stages were built to showcase designers’ newest collections on runways that stretched out long enough to support a Piper Turboprop landing.

This time I was asked to work the behind the scenes activities of one of the shows which was to shepherd media to meet and interview one of the more talented designers at Fashion Week named Carmen Marc Valvo.

When I arrived at the back stage entrance I was directed to the dressing room where models were being prepared for the show.  It was a frenzied atmosphere but surprisingly in a controlled way.  Wigs were being styled, makeup was being applied, and toenails were polished. Little did these pampered feet know they would slip into some pretty altitude raising stilettos?

Carmen Marc Valvo Spring 2914 Shoe Collection

Carmen Marc Valvo Spring 2014 Shoe Collection

Strangely, stilettos are still very much in fashion though it still boggles my mind how these shoes could be wearable.  I might add spike heels were seen on the runway and on visitors (both genders I might add) to Fashion Week.  Some navigated the elevations much better than others.

The backroom was abuzz with simultaneous interviews. Media was everywhere.  Cameras followed the art of make-up application, the manner in which hair stylists’ brushed and combed hair. Reporters interviewed models while their faces were being made up. Everything was news worthy.  It was a hive of anticipation, a prologue to the actual show.

Backroom Buzz

Backroom Buzz

Prior to the show, television, newspaper and on-line reporters and camera crews had committed to appointments with Carmen.  My job? To make sure those that made the requests beforehand had a certain amount of private time with him.  Of course there was media that just showed up in the hopes they would be able to speak with him.    As I handled media in my previous business life, I was aware the more media exposure the better.  When there was a hiccup in between scheduled interviews I squeezed in any press that was willing to do a quick one-on-one.

Soon the backroom was cleared as the show was about to begin.  I left to take my seat in the auditorium where the show would take place.  Carmen’s collection was beautiful and quite original. The dresses and gowns had a monochromatic Mondrian inspired look.  Squares and rectangles covered long gowns and short dresses that paraded down the runway.  This collection was what fashion is all about.  This collection featured beautiful, wearable and original creations that are red carpet worthy and lovely attire for any black tie event.

Mondrian inspired gowns.

Mondrian inspired gowns.

I must admit it was good to once again be involved in the spirit of the behind the scenes fashion show.  But once it was over….I was just as happy it wasn’t my day job anymore.

A Bra Recommended by an On-Line “Buddy”

Between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms one would think there would be enough sites on which to network.  Today people need people to interact for support, to share information, and to buddy up with, therefore the more outlets the better.

When it comes to fashion, women love to get affirmation from their friends about their “finds” or about a special product they thought was especially worth sharing.  Networking is one of the ways they discover each other and get tips, ideas and friendly advice.

There is never enough information about bras.  What is more of a challenge than finding that perfect bra?  I mean, haven’t we all gone through bras that dig into our skin, where our cup runneth over, where one size in one style isn’t the size in another, where we have to visit more than one store for that perfect workout bra? And then, what with designers finding every way to cut away a neckline or create “peek-a-boo” openings it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack to find an undergarment that will suit what you need.

Now, if you’re like most women they feel more comfortable with a bra under their outer layers.  Really doesn’t matter if it’s a tee, a halter, a strapless or backless number, what one wears underneath is the foundation for that perfectly turned out look.  A good bra that fits makes the difference in looking and feeling good.

Many of us have made the trek to department stores to look for a style that suits our bodies and lifestyles.  Try and find someone in a department store to help guide you to styles that might fit you or what you’re looking for. Then there are the specialty stores where you are being fitted by an expert who convinces you what she has brought you to try on will be what you will always wear.  Until that company no longer manufactures that style and then you’re back to square one.

Let me introduce you to a very unique site called Brayola.  It’s not just a site that tells you to take out a tape measure and measure here, there, and everywhere to get to the size you wear.  I don’t know about anyone else but I have never found the right size following these directions.  And, usually these measurements that take a good amount of time sends me into contortions.

Brayola invites you to join their website by asking a few pointed questions such as the name of your favorite bra, your size in that particular bra, your lifestyle, etc.  This connects one to the site where you are matched up to “buddies” who present similar size and pastime characteristics.  Think match.com or eharmony.com where you are supposedly being matched with the love of your life; except you will get better results with Brayola. And you will love your next bra! Really!  Because your “buddy” is recommending it.  She is your size, has similar fashion tastes, leads a similar lifestyle, has tried and worn the bra.

It’s also fun because your bra horizons will open up to almost every bra manufacturer that exists around the globe. You will be exposed to a world of bras you never knew existed because Brayola has almost every brand, style and size you would ever want to try.  If you’re not happy with what you wind up with, you just return it. You will thank your “bra buddy” and Brayola for making the introduction to your next favorite bra…that fits.

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A Bra Recommended by an On-Line “Buddy”

Between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms one would think there would be enough sites on which to network.  Today people need people to interact for support, to share information, and to buddy up with, therefore the more outlets the better.

When it comes to fashion, women love to get affirmation from their friends about their “finds” or about a special product they thought was especially worth sharing.  Networking is one of the ways they discover each other and get tips, ideas and friendly advice.

There is never enough information about bras.  What is more of a challenge than finding that perfect bra?  I mean, haven’t we all gone through bras that dig into our skin, where our cup runneth over, where one size in one style isn’t the size in another, where we have to visit more than one store for that perfect workout bra? And then, what with designers finding every way to cut away a neckline or create “peek-a-boo” openings it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack to find an undergarment that will suit what you need.

Now, if you’re like most women they feel more comfortable with a bra under their outer layers.  Really doesn’t matter if it’s a tee, a halter, a strapless or backless number, what one wears underneath is the foundation for that perfectly turned out look.  A good bra that fits makes the difference in looking and feeling good.

Many of us have made the trek to department stores to look for a style that suits our bodies and lifestyles.  Try and find someone in a department store to help guide you to styles that might fit you or what you’re looking for. Then there are the specialty stores where you are being fitted by an expert who convinces you what she has brought you to try on will be what you will always wear.  Until that company no longer manufactures that style and then you’re back to square one.

Let me introduce you to a very unique site called Brayola.  It’s not just a site that tells you to take out a tape measure and measure here, there, and everywhere to get to the size you wear.  I don’t know about anyone else but I have never found the right size following these directions.  And, usually these measurements that take a good amount of time sends me into contortions.

Brayola invites you to join their website by asking a few pointed questions such as the name of your favorite bra, your size in that particular bra, your lifestyle, etc.  This connects one to the site where you are matched up to “buddies” who present similar size and pastime characteristics.  Think match.com or eharmony.com where you are supposedly being matched with the love of your life; except you will get better results with Brayola. And you will love your next bra! Really!  Because your “buddy” is recommending it.  She is your size, has similar fashion tastes, leads a similar lifestyle, has tried and worn the bra.

It’s also fun because your bra horizons will open up to almost every bra manufacturer that exists around the globe. You will be exposed to a world of bras you never knew existed because Brayola has almost every brand, style and size you would ever want to try.  If you’re not happy with what you wind up with, you just return it. You will thank your “bra buddy” and Brayola for making the introduction to your next favorite bra…that fits.

THE SCENT OF A WOMAN

When we were dating my husband gave me my first bottle of perfume.  It was called “Femme.”  I was never interested in fragrances before that time but now I was being given this romantic gift that was so personal. No other boyfriend had given me an extravagant gift such as this. I was impressed!

The fragrance was a little strong but lovely.  When I dabbed it on, it was done very gingerly as I didn’t want this scent to take over a room.  I have been in elevators where a woman’s perfume permeated every corner of the cabin.  The elevator door could never open fast enough for me and I felt like I was wearing that woman’s perfume for hours afterwards.

“Femme” was my perfume because of sentimental reasons but it wasn’t the one I ultimately settled on. Since that gift I have tried other perfumes but I never found one that I felt suited me. Perfume is very personal.  It defines the wearer.

Walking into a department store one day I passed a counter with little sample bottles of a fragrance called “Y” by Yves St. Laurent.  It drew me in.  After a few minutes at the counter I purchased it.  It was exactly what I wanted to wear any time of day, any season.  It became my signature scent and I have been wearing it ever since.  But lo and behold “Y” is no longer being sold in stores.  I have looked everywhere including Duty Free shops.  It is out of production.

But not all is lost.  Recently I was introduced to another fragrance which I find equally appealing.  It happens to be one that has recently been introduced by my client. I make it a practice not to mix business with personal recommendations but this fragrance is special. It’s light, floral and very feminine.  It’s called “Broderie” and it’s by a French couturier named Hayari.

Hayari-Paris Broderie Bottle in Box

The other reason why I love this perfume is that it is exclusive.  It isn’t available at every department store or beauty or drug store.  It has limited distribution.  That makes it special and unique.  I like that.

I have already been stopped on the street and asked the name of this perfume by several women and a few men.  That leads me to believe this exclusivity will not last forever because it won’t be long before this perfume will be scooped up by retailers that sell fashion, beauty and fragrances.  That’s when I will have to start my search all over again.

Alas, that is the price one pays for individuality.

NANNY NONSENSE

A few days ago I came upon an article that simply had me flabbergasted.  The story was about a Mom and her disappointment with the Nanny she hired.  The Mom, as far as I could tell, was pretty free with her time but chose to hire someone to take care of her two children; one an infant; the other a toddler. The Mom’s disappointment stemmed from the fact that when she’s around the Nanny leaves it to the Mom to be with her children.

Hold on a minute!  Isn’t that the function of a Mother?  I can understand having a Nanny to care for the children when the Mom is out to dinner; when the Mom is cooking; when the Mom is at work; when the Mom is out-of-town; when the Mom wants to take a nap or all of the aforementioned but shouldn’t the Mom want to take care of her own children if not the whole day at least part of the day when she’s in the house?

To top it all off, the Mom hired a “Nanny Doctor” to find out what was wrong with the Nanny. There’s a doctor for everything now-a-days.  This Nanny spoke three languages, had excellent recommendations and was prompt and had a nice personality, but she stepped aside to allow the children to be with their Mother, and this Mother found fault with that.  I have heard of everything but this one had me stymied.  Frankly, I cannot see anything wrong with the Nanny but the Mom has some serious issues and should be seen by her own doctor about child rearing.

The story continues to interview the Nanny Doctor who provides several case studies that she has overseen.  One of them had me jump out of my skin.  A high-powered professional Mom, the doctor said,  provides a “mission statement” to her Nannies (that’s right, she has four Nannies for one child) as to how her child was to be brought up.  Really?!? a mission statement?  Are children raised like a business plan now?

I would think when someone decides they want children they would like to raise them to instill their values and show some warmth and love.  But that’s me.  When I was raising my two sons I worked full-time and had someone home to care for my boys until I returned in the afternoon.  Still, I took them to school in the morning; I cooked dinner and ate with them; checked their homework; and prepared them for bed at night with a warm hug and lots of kisses (to their exasperation; though I think they really loved it).

So now the question is are children being brought into this world to be taken care of by someone else?  Even if the person hired to watch over their charges is warm, comforting and loving, she’s not the parent. What’s the point in having children if there is no time or desire to be with them?

FROM THE RIDICULOUS TO THE SUBLIME

Brave soul that I am I ventured out Friday morning through New York City’s first winter blizzard to attend a fashion show.

Fashion shows as a rule are quite entertaining in and of themselves, and judging by what I witnessed Friday morning during Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, one doesn’t have to bear witness just sitting in the front row to enjoy the spectacle. All one has to do is stand or sit inside the lobby of the building and just watch what people are wearing. I am pretty immune to strange dressing but even I raised an eyebrow or two at some of the getups that clearly announced, “Look at me!”

As I entered the building a statuesque figure preceded me through the door. Waist-length blonde hair, mustard colored coat over a print dress, bright turquoise tights and the obligatory 4 or 5 inch heels didn’t look too out of the ordinary, until I saw the profile. This trendy dresser with long mane was a man with full beard and mustache. Really!!!

Guy & beard small

Then while waiting for my colleagues outside the fashion show venue my eyes settled on three-not-so-little-maids (also male in gender). One wore a leather biker’s jacket with metal studs, leather cap and lo-and-behold a full length diaphanous net skirt… let’s not forget the lace up leather boots either. The other wore a full length fur coat of undisclosed origin, red skirt, high heels, and shoulder drop earrings. As I’m not the world’s best photographer I didn’t capture the third fashion victim wearing the white fur-like coat over knee-high boots let’s just say it was out of the ordinary.

3 guys

But, let’s get to the reason I was at Fashion Week in the first place; that was to attend the Carmen Marc Valvo Fall 2013 presentation. Carmen never disappoints and this collection was especially glamorous and elegant. I was seated in the front row so I saw the details and craftsmanship, which were beautifully executed. The contrasting inserts, the subtle drape created in liquid silk satin and luxurious lace; I was drooling throughout the show. The collection took me back to when I first covered fashion shows and how excited I was to review the lines. Carmen’s dresses, gowns and fur coats were feminine in every respect. The collection was very special! No drama. No quirky pieces. No shock waves… just beautiful designs that begged to be worn by women who love beautiful fashion.

White gownBurgundy Gown

Carmen launched the newest addition to his fashion label and that is a collection of shoes under his name. The shoes are as exceptional as his presentation of dresses, gowns and furs. The heels, as fashion calls for, were quite high but the models seemed to navigate their strut down the runway quite easily. From the strappy leather pumps to the mesh-like uppers with back-tie, each wrapped the foot in beautiful form.

Working my way back from Carmen’s show to the lobby there were some additional stop-in-your-tracks get-ups. But somehow now it all made sense to me. Fashion Week shows take place in the same Lincoln Center venue as the Big Apple Circus. The Circus features clowns such as the iconic Grandma. Her choice of  fashion would not have been considered unique, as a matter of fact she would have been quite comfortable among the fashion clowns that pranced about. I even think Grandma’s style would have created a bit of dress envy by the scene stealers.