Friday, July 8, 2016

The Meaning of Life and The Purpose of Life and Issie Blow

issie sublime in red

One of my earliest memories from childhood is a cold day at the beach in San Francisco, my sister and I walking with my mother and my father. I don’t remember how old I was, but I must have been very young because my dad was still around, and the ocean was a new experience for me.

As I walked the shore with my father at my side and my mother and sister trailing behind us, I collected treasures from the briny, surf-soaked sands. There was a multitude of shells, pieces of glass and driftwood, and a plentitude of pebbles, each a tiny work of art from nature, and each a masterpiece in its own right.

I would gather my souvenirs from the sea and contemplate their perfection, or lack thereof, in my tiny hands as we walked. None of the treasures were without flaw. Perhaps a gnarl in a shell or a blemish on a stone rendered them, in my mind, inadequate. So upon reflection I would inevitably discard each treasure that I discovered by simply dropping it along the walk until we came back to the car to leave, at which point I saw that I had nothing.

My sister, however, had the most intriguing collection of beautiful little things as we came to the end of our walk. In her findings were darling shells and colorful stones with character and wonderful, memorable relics that I examined in awe. I remember telling my mother with incredulity how lovely each item was, and asking how my sister found these beguiling mementos on our walk when I had seen only imperfect specimens.

My mother simply smiled for the longest time as I fawned over the glorious treasures. How could my sister have found such wondrous art, I asked, when I found nothing? My mother finally replied, “Shannon, she picked up the things that you discarded.”

The story reminds me of a quote by Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

The story also reminds me that imperfection is interesting, flaws equate uniqueness, and nothing in life should be taken for granted. Beauty is everywhere, and when you seek beauty in all things and all people, you not only find it, you become it.

This thinking brings to mind one woman so mesmerizingly unique that, despite her flaws, she remains radiant, beautiful and memorable long after she was discarded as an imperfect specimen in an industry obsessed with perfection. I’m referring to Isabella Blow, the British stylist and fashion editor whose suicide death in 2007 left a bittersweet legacy, as well as an imperfect wardrobe–a diary in clothing, if you will–which is now on display until 28 August at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.

toupee uk

“Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life,” provides the opportunity to examine more than 45 of Issie’s outfits, as well as rare photographs of her in her finery. In addition, you can see some of her favorite jewelry and shoes, and of course the signature hats that made both her, and her protégé, milliner friend Philip Treacy, pictured above with Isabella, famous.

The remarkable thing about Isabella, to me, was her unwavering authenticity in an inauthentic world. Like any artistic community, the fashion industry is filled with superficial people–talentless clingers scented with insincerity and insecurity–who really couldn’t give a fuck about anyone else. Issie, on the other hand, she cared. She cared about talent and vision and genius, fostering countless “unknown” artists and promoting their growth and flourish. She was the real deal, and she had heart.


Issie discovered the meaning of life when she sought beauty, and fulfilled her purpose in life when she gave it away. She unearthed the curious, the interesting, the magnificent, when she brought us Philip Treacy, Alexander McQueen, pictured above with Isabella, and many more. Thank you Issie. You are neither gone nor forgotten.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hats Heard Round the World: Meet Master Milliner, Philip Treacy


The hat is without a doubt the boldest accessory that a woman can wear. And I believe it was the arrestingly-beautiful creature Iman, who stated that British milliner Philip Treacy’s hats were glamorous, sexy and eccentric. And that is such an important statement. It can be difficult to look all of the above simultaneously, but with a Treacy hat or fascinator propped solidly on your topper, it is indeed difficult to go wrong.

Since the 2010 suicide death of Alexander McQueen, fashion has witnessed a fiery landslide of McQueen’s visionary ideas sweeping the world of style, melting the mundane and burning away the banal like lava spewed from a hot cave.

Philip young

And sitting squarely in the center of this beautiful demolition is Philip Treacy, the pale quiet ghost and sole survivor of the genius trinity, which includes the aforementioned McQueen and one unusual woman: the remarkable, the unmistakable…..Isabella Blow.

Isabella was the British fashion editor who discovered both McQueen and Treacy. Unfortunately, she also committed suicide three years prior to her protege McQueen, in 2007, by drinking a bottle of weed killer.

I have spoken to Philip Treacy several times, and there is a longing in his voice when he speaks of her. She remains his muse, even from the grave.

“Isabella Blow had something common to all of us, but unusual in fashion,” Philip told me. “She had a big heart. Her dilemma was that she worked in the fashion business, but was more interested in the fashion, than the business. She lived for the art and drama of fashion.”

Philip recounted a story for me of the way Blow would attend the shows, “with 600 people all sitting there, dressed in black. They were all serious, and there she’d be with a lobster hat on her head and a Nell Gwyn-inspired gown,” Philip recounted.


“She would be the only one to woo-hoo and clap. She didn’t care. I was so inspired by how she wore my hats. She wore them like she was not wearing them,” Philip continued, “like they just happened to be there. She was never a snob. She believed in talent–no matter where you came from.”

Issie and lee

“I’m a baker’s son. Alexander McQueen is a cab driver’s son. Issie gave me my first commission while still a student at the Royal College of Art (in London),” Philip said. “I remember someone said to her, ‘Why is this student making your wedding hat when you could have anyone in the world make it?’ She didn’t give a fuck what they thought. Her focus was creativity, and I fell in love with her at that moment. When you were in her focus–and this includes Alexander McQueen, (pictured with Isabella, above), Stella Tennant and Sophie Dahl, whom she also discovered–it was like being in the middle of a love affair,” Phillip explained.


“Everybody loved Issie, but she didn’t always love herself. She did have ovarian cancer and she suffered with depression…it was all too much for her. Isabella Blow was the first extraordinary, interesting person I met in London when I moved here from Ireland. In 20 years I have met all my heroes and nobody in my honest true estimation surpassed her. She was incredible. I thought there must be others like her, but there wasn’t. Everyone was boring in comparison to her,” he added.

Although Blow was Treacy’s ideal client, this master milliner now counts many, many famous faces among his fans. Grace Jones, Boy George, Madonna, Lady Gaga….and not just the celebrities, either. Treacy tops off the royals and practically every serious high-end fashionista in the world today, and his career has spanned an incredible 30 years of not just relevancy, but reigning.

His creations are exquisite perfection–with unparalleled creativity and the kind of delicate details and nuances that one would expect in fine art. Each and every piece is painstakingly crafted in his bright London studio, with an expert staff that he oversees. Take a look at some of these Treacy masterpieces.


Above is a 17th-century Dalian or sailing ship hat. It is Philip’s favorite creation out of all his literally thousands of hats. “I’d seen old renderings of ships in women’s hair,” Philip told me. “It was a costume designer’s dream.”

The idea for this hat was inspired and created from a chapter in Olivier Bernier’s book, “Pleasure and Privilege,” Philip said.

The chapter, called “Rule of Fashion,” was about life in France in the 1750s. “It described a British fleet admiral, D’Estaing, losing a famous battle to the French fleet,” Philip told me. “In celebration, women in Paris wore ships in their hair to go to the opera, and I loved the emotion attached to this,” he continued. “It’s made from satin and the bone of the feather. The sails are paradise feathers. And the rigging is made from the feather bones,” Philip said, which, he told me, is what remains when you strip away the feather from its spine.

Bird s nest

“I first used feathers, shed by my mother’s goose, as a child to decorate hats where I grew up in Galway, (Ireland). It took a year for Antony’s Yokohama cockerels to grow their tail feathers long enough for me to painlessly clip them to create hats that were worn by Honor Fraser and Jodie Kidd on the catwalk,” Philip told me. Above and below are two results of Treacy and McQueen’s collaboration from 2007.

Feathered hat 1

“Birds are exquisite perfection. Their feathers are weightless, and they give movement and volume. Women love them and they are very sexy,” he stated.

Issy in pheasant hat

“I like to invent new ways of using farmyard fowl; feathers feel like living, breathing material. You are drawing with them rather than just decorating a hat,” he added. Above, Issie Blow wears a pheasant hat designed by Treacy.

“She loved this pheasant. She said, ‘I want to be buried in it.’ So we buried her in it,” Philip stated.

Philip on his youth: “As a child I always liked making things like puppets, toys, Christmas decorations, stuff like that. And when I was six Mrs. McDonough, a neighbor, taught me how to sew. I studied fashion first. I didn’t have any heroes in the way of designers and I didn’t really care too much about them. When I came to college in London I found that many of the students were a little jaded but not me, because the city was all new to me. At that time I had no idea I would become a milliner, I just liked fashion and style.”

“I was always influenced by beauty,” Phillip continued. “At home in Ireland we were taught about the beauty of nature. We had lots of chickens, pheasants and geese so the prime ingredient of the hats I make are feathers because I know them very well. I now appreciate the profound effect my childhood had on me.”

Naomi campbell 2

Philip described his process to me: “I sketch the hat, and then begin to make the shape in a natural fabric called spartrie. When the shape is completed it is sent off to La Forme in Paris who then creates a wooden block. With this block hundreds of hats can be created.” Above, Philip fits a hat on model Naomi Campbell.

Twisted birdcage

Philip on the beginning of his career: “I was summoned to Paris to meet Karl Lagerfeld, chief designer at Chanel. I was 23 and I’d just left school. I didn’t know whether to call him Mr. Lagerfeld or whatever. I was totally intimidated but Issie was exactly herself. She just walked into the house of Chanel and said, ‘We’d like some tea, please.’ I went on to design hats for Lagerfeld at Chanel for 10 years. The first hat I designed was the twisted birdcage, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier and worn on the cover of British Vogue by Linda Evangelista.”


Philip on hats: “Hats are very sexy. When I started at the Royal College of Art, they thought hats were for old ladies and I thought that was completely insane. Why would you think that? I love the idea of the unknown and the future; you don’t know what is going to happen next week, and that’s a fashion attitude.”

Grace and iman

“It’s all very well accusing someone of being a ‘fashion animal’–I’m one too! Fashion animals are obsessed with something for a moment, and then they move on to something else. That’s the nature of fashion. It’s all about change.”

Pink bow

“A hat can completely change the personality of the wearer, make them stand differently and walk differently. A hat can make that person feel interesting. People think sometimes that people who wear hats want to show off. But human beings, since the beginning of time, have always wanted to embellish themselves. So hats have been around since the year dot. It’s a human thing to want to dress every part.”


Philip on his clientele: “My assistant who looks after my shop tells me she sells a dream. She sells people things they do not really need, but they have to have. We all need beautiful things that make us feel good and give us pleasure. Whether it’s a flower, a sunrise, or a hat! These things are the spice of life and remind us of the essence of pleasure and beauty. I have had the greatest pleasure of having the opportunity to challenge people’s perception of what a hat should look like in the 21st century.”

Daphne 2

“Our customers are everyone from a young girl who’s saved up for a £150 rainwear trilby to this very distinguished gentleman of about 70. He comes in every summer to order 20 couture hats to entertain the ladies who will be staying on his yacht. It doesn’t matter how much people pay for them…everyone wants to look like a million dollars in a hat.”

Philip 2

“I went to my studio today and Isabella is everywhere,” he said. “In every hat I made, every corner I turn, she is there. I will miss her laugh, her passion and her humanity.”

Issie with dog

“I will always miss her.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tales of Snails and the Trail of Success: Alex Soldier’s Snail Ring

We all have certain unique ‘things’–different objects or possessions–which symbolize success to each and every one of us. For some, a luxury sportscar is the milestone of that success. You know you’ve made it in life when there’s that one ‘thing.’

Success, for me, however, is being rich in those things that money cannot buy. In the words of Coco Chanel, “The best things in life are free.” And she was right. True love, loyal friends, and your own good health, for example, cannot be bought, even if you foolishly think that they can. But, the witty Chanel was quick to add, “The second best [things in life] are very expensive.” And right she was yet again.

As a tribute to the second best things in life, I would like to show you my idea of one of those things that represents success to me. I must admit I have a weakness for status jewelry, and I guess I will know in my heart that I have finally “made it,” as it were, when I own an Alex Soldier snail ring.

Have you seen these? From his Snail Collection, they positively hypnotize me and leave me fascinated. There are three snails to choose from. First, the Diamond Snail, made of 18 karat white and yellow gold and studded with brilliant diamonds…..

Diamond snail

…..Second, the Cognac Snail, below, made of 18 karat yellow gold and platinum, studded with yellow sapphires, citrines, garnets and diamonds…..

Cognac snail

…..And third, my personal favorite, the Sea Snail, made of 18 karat white and yellow gold and studded with sapphires, aquamarines, diamonds, peridots, and tourmalines.

Sea snail

I cannot think of any luxury purchase that I more long to own than this couture jeweler’s Sea Snail. I love the idea of Alex’s rendering of a happy-go-lucky snail, occupying quite a bit of real estate on the back of my hand.

The nature of the slow-moving slug seems almost dim-witted, as he carries the weight of the world on his very own back……..until you realize the quiet deliberateness, the intent, the purpose. Until you remember of course the consistency of the slow-and-steady, which now trails glistening fireworks of the finest gemstones executed by one of the greatest in couture gems, Alex Soldier. Behold the shimmering shell, ablaze in all its magnificent splendor.

And all the while it reminds me of Alex Soldier’s message: Slow down and enjoy life…and look closely, because the beautiful may be small, or it may come from an unexpected place.

So much simple wisdom, served brilliantly from an ordinary garden pest that’s been spectacularly punctuated with a generous gem-studded display. The dichotomy? GENIUS.

Each and every snail has its own unique expression. You are met with a friendly recognition and a kind of playful innocence that Soldier captures, as if through the eyes of a child he is seeing that snail for the very first time. The newness of the shell’s geometric reticulations, with Soldier’s characteristic etchings, and the pebbly nature of the flesh of that snail, are all Soldier trademarks and part of what makes this piece so special to me. It’s like you’re getting a little piece of Alex Soldier, the man himself, from a secret space in the recesses of his mind.

Alex Soldier’s Snail Collection is available at, Saks stores and Neiman Marcus online.

Monday, July 13, 2015

My New Find: Amina Marie Millinery

Lede shot

There’s no question that the headwear trend is in full swing, and fashion is loving this very couture moment in history. Talented designers are popping up everywhere, making millinery slightly more mainstream.

I will be featuring several talented milliners here on Beauty Shall Save the World, and for all my hat enthusiasts I have a very special treat: it is my article on a millinery legend, the great Philip Treacy, who has granted an exclusive interview to Beauty Shall Save the World. You will love what this talented man has to say about creativity and genius, as well as his late dear friends, fashion designer Alexander McQueen and style icon, Isabella Blow. I cannot wait to share it with you.

By now you all know that I love unearthing a new find, or revealing a talented but unrecognized designer or artist. Well today I am very excited to share with you my new discovery, a little-known milliner who has been practicing the craft of hat-making for only one year. She took just three classes in millinery, yet she creates some of the most beautiful, feminine couture hats. Her name is Amina Marie Hood, and her hats are treasures. Many of them are deceptive; they don’t look like much until you place them on the head, where they transform both the wearer and themselves. In short, each one is a little work of art. Just look at some of Amina’s fabulous creations, shown here in an exclusive photoshoot for Beauty Shall Save the World, styled by yours truly, Shannon McGovern.

White rabbit

First up we have “Rockefeller,” this fuzzy, pure white freeform sculpted hat that makes our model, Christine, look like the pearl in the center of an oyster shell. I had to have this hat, it is such a stunner. Love the texture, the pure white was a big selling point for me, and the scalloped edges, which really are so unique and memorable. This hat is made from white long-haired rabbit fur felt, and I thought the price point, $350, was reasonable for a couture hat such as this. Luckily, I didn’t have to pay it, however; Amina gifted me this hat as thanks after we wrapped the shoot. Thanks, Homegirl. You rock. 😉

Camel cloche wiht hardware

Next up is “Espresso,” $300, this little camel sliver of fur felt with chain detailing.

The thing about Amina’s hats is that they look stylish with all kinds of attire, whether it be fancy or casual. They can be dressed up or down, while remaining perpetually chic.

Here, I partnered Amina’s hat with a copper distressed leather jacket, but make no mistake, this diminutive little punctuation mark for your head could go haute in, literally, the drop of a hat! I absolutely adore the seemingly small touches that make her works look infinitely sophisticated, like the bronze hardware trim piping here along the edge.

Olive military hat

I love “Letters from The General,” above, an army green fur felt hat, $300, constructed similarly to “Espresso,” with a freeform sculpted silhouette. This hat is ideal for the military trend. So current. Looks great with the Christian Lacroix olive blazer shown and tortoise cat-eye shades.

Ivory mod hat

The cream parasisal straw saucer hat with black ribbon edge, “Out of This World,” $425, looks right in a nod to mod. Christine is wearing a vintage mod shift dress by Dominique, circa 1960s. But, this versatile hat would look very appropriate with a feminine Easter dress or even dramatic couture.

Red and black

I love the idea of this hat. It’s Amina’s “Convertible Derby” in cherry red fur felt, $400, with black “Pop.” This is the hat that caught my eye when I discovered Amina. She had earned her place amongst eight other finalists in Lock Hatters first annual Millinery Competition. Lock & Co., by the way, have designed hats for Kate Middleton and other royals.

This convertible hat can be worn as shown, or the black top can “pop” off, allowing the hat to be worn in solid red……or, you can wear it with other pops, which Amina sells for $50 each. This hat offers up so much versatility at a very friendly price-point. I would love to have this hat with several pops, including a funky fur felt leopard print! Meow!

Rose portrait shot

“Smells Like a Rose” is a natural ivory, extra-fine sinamay straw, freeform draped fascinator, $400, which knots beautifully into a rose-like shape. The diaphanous fabrication is so stunning in person, yielding a gauze-y kind of filter over the face. The texture is fine and malleable, with a voluminous body to it, like starched linen. But make no mistake, this is actually that beautiful, high-end sinamay straw that is one of Amina’s trademark materials.

Black sheer hat

Amina uses the same extra-fine sinamay straw in black to create “Jackie’s Funeral,” a freeform draped hat, $600, which looks gorgeous on Christine in a fitted vintage dress above. This hat travels effortlessly to the beach as well, with swimwear and a sheer sarong, for example. The versatility of Amina’s hats truly amazes.

Kimono hat

There is something very organic about “In Carolyne’s Gardens,” Amina’s tribute to Carolyne Roehm. It’s a natural sinamay straw freeform sculpted hat with hand-dyed sinamay edging, $400. A gentle draping is so flattering around the face, and this hat’s ease of wear is synonymous with simple elegance, just like Carolyne Roehm herself.

Blue fox

“Foxxxy” is the slate, hand-dyed parasisal straw hat with seafoam blue fox fur trim and crin peekaboo, $400. This is quite the head-turning hat! I love the nuance of colors that Amina works with. Her palette is always sophisticated, never garish.

Each hat is pure couture–both feminine and stylish–without any trendy gimmicks, and the versatility of each piece, remarkable. These are the hats that I could see as easily on the runway at Vivienne Westwood as I could with Issey Miyake. That really says something about the timeless versatility that Amina captures in her work. They would be equally at home with Balenciaga, Balmain and Donna Karan, and her price point is awesome for this type of couture, hand-finished hat. In addition, Amina uses only the finest materials, including fur felt, sinamay, parasisal straw, fish leather, leather and silk.

So what’s next for this burgeoning milliner?

“I still have a lot to learn,” Amina said. “I would love to study under some of the greats. I think Philip Treacy is amazing and I really respect and love the works of Noel Stewart, Jane Taylor, Anya Caliendo. I hope to collaborate with some talented photographers and stylists, and for my designs to be on the runways and in the magazines…but most importantly, on the streets, on the heads of fashionable women, because I want my work to be accessible, wearable and relevant to many women, for many years.”

Crew at photoshoot for amina

A quick shout-out and a hearty thank you to the rest of the team that made this gorgeous shoot possible: from left, that’s Sui, who was responsible for coiffing our model’s hair to perfection; the breathtaking Christine Alward was said model; photography by Topher Adam, editor of Dark Beauty Magazine; fabulous makeup by Jasmine Cardenas; that’s me, Shan, in the I “HEART” Paris t-shirt; and last but definitely not least, standing by my side, is Amina, of Amina Marie Millinery. The very talented Tim Engle was in charge of lighting in this project. We could not have done it without him, yet here he is invisible because, like most good photogs, he’s busy taking the picture of the rest of us! Jajajaja. Thanks, Tim, and thanks everybody. This shoot was a true triumph.

For information visit Amina Marie Millinery. You can follow Amina on both Facebook and Instagram. Custom orders call 816.830.9793.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Beauty Binge: A Sweet Surrender to Sisley

Many people know me as a fashion analyst, but are not aware that I also have my aesthetician’s license, after completing intense study here in California. This knowledge broadens my capabilities as a writer–on many levels–and the experience, knowledge and training that I have accumulated enables me to very accurately and poignantly disclose to you my best in beauty products and cosmetics.

It goes without saying that I have a complicated, and sometimes dangerous affair with makeup. Nowadays, I get so much free product that I nearly never have to buy a single stitch of it myself…..until I pass the Sisley Paris cosmetics counter. Few things can make my heart race as fast as when approaching that counter, which for me is nestled inside the bright Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco’s Union Square. And my lovely long-term liaison with Sisley artist Richard Winser is a relationship that I have treasured for around 20 years now.

Me and richard at sisley

Above, Richard applies a new Sisley pencil to my eyes. I will tell you all about this great product, but first I just want to say that every change of season I pop in to say hi to Richard and see what Sisley is up to. I have Richard assess my face and we discuss any concerns that I may have with regard to skin condition or anything like that. But most importantly, I love it when Richard quickly applies a little makeup on top of what I’m already wearing, to give me a few ideas about the newest emerging trends and how my face has changed, or, remarkably, not. Time is a luxury for me, and Richard understand this. He is so deft with the powder brush that he can do his thing stat-quick, while making me feel special and pretty, and also giving me some ideas about application and fresh colors. Richard makes staying current a snap. I don’t know what I’d do without him. I think that everyone should have a Richard. So, the moral of the story is: Try to develop your own local relationship with a ‘Richard’ because it really is so invaluable! It’s great to have a skilled set of objective eyes that you can trust when evaluating your appearance.

And now I’m really happy to report to you on a few of my new Sisley finds during last weekend’s beauty binge. You will love them.

First up is this great chunky pencil for eyes. It’s the Phyto-Eye Twist, $50, a giant waterproof crayon that glides on silky smooth and deposits a nice opaque line, thick or thin, you choose. Buff it, smudge it, or leave the line crisp. I love this pencil, especially in colors Havana, a sparkling burgundy great for dark eyes, below….

Phyto pencil

….or Lagoon, below, a tantalizing turquoise, which is great used as your spring 2015 statement eyeliner.


Richard shaded my upper lash line and the crease of my eye, creating a V-shape on the lid, with this jumbo stick, in the photo. It adds depth for a sultry yet simple summer eye. I loved the result. These pencils are great—I want to collect them all—and the performance is stellar, truly impressive and waterproof. It’s almost all you need in a single pencil! The coverage is buildable, so you can easily give more depth to a tone, more opacity, with every swipe. The color twists up, so you need not sharpen. Just throw it in your beach bag or purse, and you’re set for a weekend away, no messy eyeshadow required. And did I mention that the brilliant people over at Sisley have incorporated yummy skin-care ingredients into this über stick?!?! They think of everything! I love their ‘treatment cosmetics,’ which nurture your skin while acting as a smart cosmetic! This powerhouse of a pencil is packed with Green Tea, White Lily and Camellia, all of which are potent anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants that are going to treat your skin–actually protecting and repairing–while you’re making up. Brilliant.

White eyeliner

Next up, for the white eyeliner trend that’s got me and countless other beauty aficionados all crazy this summer, you must, must, MUST try Sisley’s Phyto-Khol Perfect liner in Snow, $57. Wow. And it is so perfect! Perfectly firm, yet soft, so it buffs a pearly white pigment onto the lid, or the waterline, with an effortlessness that is both comfortable and welcome. No tugging, no tearing. And the luminous white is very flattering. I adore this pencil, and I love the way Richard applied it. Use the liner on the top lid only, and create a subtle cat eye with the white kohl. This will lift the corners and create an innocent yet sexy, provocative doe-eyed look! This is the ideal pearly white crayon liner for the white eyeliner trend. (Remember to further invest in a white liquid for a different and more haute look. See my story all about white eyeliner, featuring our favorite reader, the gorgeous model Cara Delevingne, here!)


Last up, you are going to need mascara, and Sisley’s is the best…..Specifically, their So Intense Mascara, $67, and this time you have to get it in black. I love Deep Blue, which is a rich, complex indigo that flatters all eye shades, from brown to cool-toned and kaleidoscope eyes. But with a white lid or line, you want to wear black mascara. It makes the contrast pop.


The brush in this mascara is bomb–perfect for alternately building and separating…..But the formula is also pretty dope, because it’s enriched with peptides and rice phyto-ceramides that are going to give you more beautiful lashes as a result of using it! Gotta love that! Thanks, Sisley….I adore you! xxx

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The 2015 Met Gala…..One Word…..RIHANNA

Rihanna 10

The stars shone so beautifully bright last evening at the 2015 annual Met Gala. This year’s theme celebrated the museum’s Costume Institute exhibition, “China: Through the Looking Glass.” And the stars did indeed twinkle, all with glistening lips and even shinier hair, sparkling jewels and brilliantly beaded gowns…but the North star of the night was indisputable. One word…..RIHANNA.

Actually, make that three words: Rihanna & Guo Pei.

Guo Pei is the brilliant Bejing-based female fashion designer, age 45, behind the opulent sunflower yellow confection worn by Rihanna, which easily renders one speechless when beholding its honeyed grandeur.

Rihanna 14

Yards upon yards of heavy golden silk satin, decadently embroidered and edged in matching fur, the gown is, quite easily, one of the most stunning visions we have seen on the Red Carpet in years, and I stand behind that statement. But such a breathtaking creation is really neither rare nor remarkable in the world of Guo Pei, whose art via couture routinely astonishes.

Rihanna 7

With this gown, worn with a gilded stiletto manicure and a lamé headpiece, Rihanna has redefined elegance and set a new standard for drama in the entertainment industry.

Rihanna 15

Now, for more fabulous designs by Chinese couture sensation, Guo Pei…..

Cerise gown with train

Guo Pei’s distinctive, characteristic opulence almost always includes heavy embroidery, gems and beading, and of course the most luxe fabrics in brilliant jewel tones. Elaborate headdresses, haute couture hair and dramatic makeup are a foregone conclusion.

Asian marie antoinette

This beautiful gilded display is Guo Pei’s interpretation of a modern-day Marie Antoinette, married with the precocious designer’s Asian sensibilities, yielding an ensemble reserved for royalty.

Face jewelry

Facial jewelry is one of my favorite emerging trends…..but Guo Pei has been embellishing the visage with jewelry for many years, as seen in this striking example from Hong Kong Fashion Week in 2010.

Facial jewelry

Here, the jewelry encompasses a large territory, and extends up into an exotic headdress which intrigues.

Funnel dressing

These designs, from the Hong Kong Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2010 Show, remind us of the visionary that is Guo Pei.

Greeen and purple cone gown

Rich, playful color combinations, breathtakingly unique silhouettes and lavish details are three Guo Pei trademarks. I adore the rose gold filigree hair fixture and delicate hand jewelry. This striking display is further enhanced with decadent beading, and painstakingly embroidered for a most regal yet avant garde end product.

Mint and gold cone gown

Just look at the ornate, gold-encrusted pistachio pantsuit above, with cone-shaped pleating.

Mint and gold side view

I’ve never seen anything remotely like this. Absolutely riveting.

Mint and gold back shot

The back is a study in texture, shape and color.

Red fringed gown

Weighted with long, thick fringed tassels, the billowing arms of this red-hot Chinese gown are further embellished with heavy golden embroidery. A geisha-esque headdress with red and gold beading heightens the drama.

Silver and white empress

This empress gown and matching cape must weigh a ton! Just look at the beautiful heavy workmanship, all of which is painstakingly hand-applied on a Guo Pei couture gown.

Tangerine gilded dress

An abbreviated tangerine hemline is awash in gold jewelry.

Tangerine gilded gown

The model is drenched in ornate gems and facial jewelry is, once again, of primary focus.

Wheat gown

This wheat-colored gown defies description.

White gown

I simply love Guo Pei’s use of mixed materials in this pure white wonder, complete with fur-lined, floor-length kimono sleeves and beading galore. Stunning!

Black cherry gown

Drama runs high in a black cherry gown with a huge, elaborate headdress that is absolutely undefinable.

Turquoise and white gown

Guo Pei plays with proportions in this epic gown, which is crimped at the waistline….

Princess gown

…..for an unusual aesthetic result.

Very long train

A massive train leaves spectators in awe of its regal splendor.

Pink and gold gown

I adore the concept of this ensemble, and its execution is flawless. Satin rosettes in cerise, hot pink and red compose the shell of this arresting gown. A coordinating robe is worn on top. The gilded headdress is the final, exalted couture element. Ravishing!

And now we have seen China, through the eyes of Miss Guo Pei.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Hippest of Hands: All About the White Manicure

Gold tipped white mani

Backstage at New York Fashion Week for Spring 2015, an interesting trend emerged: The White Manicure. Clean and neat and decidedly different than darks, white nail polish is making a comeback and looks great on any skin tone, nail length, and nail shape.

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I personally love the look of opaque white nail polish tidily swept, simply, onto long, almond-shaped nails, above, as well as on the more dramatic stiletto manicure, sans any additional embellishment. Know that you can wear this look and remain perfectly on-trend. It’s clean and modern and luxe. However, here are some adaptations of the Great White, straight from the runways of New York Fashion Week……

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Above, the model compliments her white eyeliner with a matching mani, although the slight derivation here on the nail here is merely a darker tip. You are going to be seeing this look a lot–the white eyeliner and matching mani will infiltrate fashion with powerful and enduring force.

White lines manicure

If you have the patience for nail art–and I don’t–then here are some additional adaptations to play with. This sparse white mani is a fresh take on the natural nail and on white polish. Beautiful.

Silver french mani

A silver French mani takes white to new height! Holly Falcone created it for the Alon Livne show.

White linen mani

With a look that is reminiscent of linen, this textured white mani was created by Rita Remark for Essie at Wes Gordon’s collection.

White mani with vertical lines

A single natural stripe down the center of the nail is left unpainted at Nonoo.

White stripes mani

Prabal Gurung implemented a similar tactic.

Single stripe mani

At Kate Spade New York, models wore a blunt white mani with a single black strip.

Blue and white stripes

Capitalizing on fashion’s new blue trend, this blue and white mani was designed by Ann Yee and created by Inni for Ann Yee.

Graphic black and white mani

I love the uniqueness of this mani for Kye’s spring 2015 collection. Bold, graphic, avant garde.

Great White Sightings…..

Aubrey plaza

Aubrey Plaza wears a similarly graphic black and white mani on the cover of Nylon magazine…..a publication which clearly is a fan of the white mani!

Alexa chung

Here, Alexa Chung models it with black graph lines…..

Leighton meester

And Leighton Meester does the white mani straight up…..

Rihanna for elle in white mani

… does Rihanna, looking haute for Elle…..

Tyra banks

…..and Tyra, seeming as equally as urban.

J lo

J. Lo wears her stiletto nails white as snow, no doubt to match her pure white Cavalli couture.

Kylie jenner

Kylie Jenner likes them long, long, long…..

Short white mani on cara

…..but Cara Delevingne keeps it short and sweet…..

Kim k

…..just like Kim.

Hands and feet

White nails look appropriate on executive women, above, and are spot-on for all-white fashions. They also work with couture, below…..

Couture white nail polish

…..avant garde styling…..

White mani with iridescent eyeshadow

… well as Boho chic! Could one nail varnish be any more versatile?

White polish and crochet dress

Oh, and don’t forget your toes. Wear a white pedi on the beach with foot jewelry.

With foot jewelry

Nonoo made matchy with fingers and toes at their spring 2015 show, below. See how great white polish looks with a tan??? Fresh and current.

White pedi at nonoo spring 2015

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And finally, as a quick aside, if you’re like me, and the thought of nail art is either just a little too cheesy, or simply mind-numbingly tiresome–or both!–check out the fingernail armor by my friend and jeweler, Marianna Harutunian, as shown here on a white mani on Scandinavian star Laleh in her video “Colors,” styled and directed by Bea Åkerlund. Hot! Just a tad more sophisticated than nail art, don’t you think?

For the hippest of hands (and feet!), buy a bottle of white and let your imagination run wild…..It looks great on everyone, and in any which way you choose. Worn with the new white eyeliner trend, the look is quite striking indeed.