Go Get Arty


Gallery hop NoHo, lower east side–After fuel at La Colombe walk down Mott street to Broom Street and view the Esther Rosa installation at S Artspace Gallery.       Ms. Rosa has done a series of calming abstract paintings that are layered, organic in feeling and materials and decorator friendly, in that they'll work in most any room.  I'm sure that's not the reason to buy art (and most artists would sniff at me for saying so), but it's always something that comes to my mind, "Can I live with this? Will it work in my living room? Will I always love it?"  

Rosa's large sculpture made entirely from coffee filters, all dyed to varying degrees using coffee, and of several different sizes, is weird, wonderful and completely unexpected!  This was what I wanted my friends to see.  I think it is a daring piece to host and bodes well for creative happenings we can anticipate from this gallery.    

Gallery owners Elizabeth Rosso and Catherine Testorf make the art, the space, the experience that much more inviting with their enthusiasm for this particular artists and the others they have, and will be showing.  

Side note: At another gallery (un-named here) we practically had to use a cattle prod to get the gal to tell us about what we were seeing...

Walk east to Woodward Art and check out "DETAIL."  It's no surprise that I loved Susan Breen's  little cut-out painter's palette dresses, charming.  In fact, it seemed this show had a little something for each of us to relate to and appreciate and want!

Question: When did Orchard Street become gallery land? I bought my first business suit there from a Hasid who knew about fit and sensible style.  In the late 80s I cut the skirt too short, but the slim jacket, a woven tweed, looks like one from Ralph Lauren's fall collection. Ha!     


The New Made In Italy

The MSC Flagship Poesia was the venue for an Italian fete Saturday called "Italian Creativity On Board." I went with my pal Cindy Bigras a fellow GoNOMAD writer. She was speaking about Sardinia on behalf of the Italian Tourist board. I was basically working the crowd (largely Italian speaking), eating, drinking and being enticed once again to go to Italy. This time Piedmont was calling, the slopes in particular...

Luncheon was followed by a gorgeously lush fashion show by the acclaimed Italian designer Raffaella Curiel. Although she's been selling her work through Bergdorf's since 1965, this was her first American fashion show. It was divine.

Heading up town via orange Mini Cooper convertible to drinks on the rooftop of the Gansevoort was another welcome, "I love New York" moment. The Italians; they do know how to have a good time.

Style Tour, Nolita NYC

On Friday I had the pleasure of leading a Style Tour through New York City’s Nolita neighborhood. For those of you who don’t know Nolita, it means north of little Italy. It’s an ultra groovy downtown neighborhood chock full of trendy boutiques, quaint eateries and hip pedestrians. The Style Tour was my brainchild and my objective for it was twofold: 1) I wanted to find another way to combine my styling with travel and 2) I wanted to help out the Pelham Art Center with a silent auction item.

Seven women joined the Style Tour, all with a love of fashion and frivolity and in need of a day off. I was expecting it to feel at least a little like work, but honestly I felt like I was shopping with my best friends. Between about 10 and 2 we hit 6 places (including Italian espresso bar La Colombe). I had done some recon work and my chosen boutiques were ready for us! A few stores gifted us with goody bags and others offered welcome discounts to our little group. The weather more than cooperated, so much so that our lunch spot, Delicatessen, swung its doors open creating a street café to see and be seen.

Our first stop was at custom jeans boutique True Boutique. Here, you can find a pair of jeans to your specs (sizes range from 0 to 16) and that fit your…A…challenging parts! AND then the on-site stylist/tailor will alter them for you right there in the shop. We circled back past the store just one hour later and ba-bam, jeans done!

Check back with me in the next few days for a blow by blow of where we went from there.

More East Winds...

Dinner at East Winds is elegantly served with proper and traditional cutlery. I appreciated my fish knife and fork. I warned you about fussy service...

The only Steinway grand piano on the island is at East Winds and it is a fitting addition to the low-key, high taste, experience. Like the single camellia decorating the table, the Steinway accompaniment gives the atmosphere an element of simplicity and ease. You can literally hear the lapping sea beneath the music, coupled with the wine, linens and a candlelight dining, you feel like floating away! The palm frond roof overhanging this large round “beach hut” dining room, known as the Flamboyant Room is, to say the least, ideal–the food, fresh, flavorful and uncomplicated.

A rondoval room is a hexagonal shaped room. According to GM Leach, they’re found in East Africa and a few other West Indian Islands. East Wind’s rondovals are situated in the middle, low-point of the property, hugged by the botanical landscape. We were told that they often are blessed with a soft breeze. Nice, because these rooms do not have air conditioning. Nevertheless, they were my favorite of the three room categories East

Winds has to offer. And they were the least expensive! Until Christmas week these rooms are $470 per night based on double occupancy. Considering, this is an all-inclusive resort, with a boutique hotel feel, this is a very good value. The 30 rooms throughout the resort share a similar décor–tasteful, simple, with a touch of “stylish beach cottage” thrown in.

The Bamboo Lounge was the hippest room at East Winds. Guest can enjoy this lounge for evening cocktails or Champaign or a morning coffee. Again, it is a round room with built in “coves” for seating. The aqua and coral color combination of the upholstery fabric as well as the ratan furnishing work together to create an ideal contemporary “West Indian” design experience. Sit here, and you relax. Walk out to the beach and you escape...

Padova, known as the city of frescos, but check out the Ghetto

Between Venezia and Vicenza lies the university town of Padova. From science to art, Galileo to Giotto, Padova says to visitors, "I am smart, accomplished, artistic and civilized. Look at me." One becomes dizzy trying to fathom the art, science and culture that this city has harbored over several centuries.

What to do: No visit would be complete without a seeing The Basilica of St. Anthony, but that is an entire discussion for another post.

A smaller less "important" destination attracted me, the former Ghetto. Via S. Martino e Solferino marks the center of the Ghetto. Beginning in the 14th century Jews established a neighborhood in this area of the city. Then in the 17th century 4 doors quite purposefully segregated them from the rest of the populous.

Obviously space in the Ghetto was at a premium, causing many homes to grow up
instead of out. Today the neighborhood is cozy and welcoming. Lanterns oozing a golden glow and narrow pathways, invite tourists, friends and neighbors to linger. Much like New York City's lower-east-side Jewish neighborhoods, the Ghetto has gentrified, groove-i-fied really. It's all chic house-ware stores, shoe stores, local fashion boutiques, and funky bars and restaurants. So if given the time what you might do, is shop!

What to eat: We stopped at Bar Corte Sconta on Via Dell'Arco. This was a small bar open to the street serving up assorted crostini, including a local favorite of baccala, or cod. Swigging Soave, a personal favorite (imported from just miles away), we journalist welcomed a chance to just hang.

Where to stay: Hotel Majestic Toscanelli. I ducked in to this hotel to grab a brochure. Attracted to the facade and the location, it looked like a nice, reasonable four star–but I can't recommend it beyond that.

More on Padova, the Basilica, and an outstanding lunch next.

America, The Beautiful...Interiors

MyStylist Travel Advisory

Where to go:

The "new" American Wing Of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC opened this past spring. See the period rooms, twenty in all, and the reconfigured Charles Engelhard Court. The Court has long been a favorite take-a-break spot for museum goers. Now, housing a sleek/simple Cafe and plenty of lovely places to sit and "appreciate sculpture," it's even chic.

What to do:

Take the new glass elevator to the third floor. The first room, with low beamed ceilings and a tiny curtained 4-poster bed, is just what you might expect from the 1680's. Work your way down to the first floor meandering through the next couple hundred years. End up in an early Frank Lloyd Wright Room, 1912.
Note: The new touch-screen kiosks are really cool.

What to wear:

It was expected to be a blustery (Whinnie The Pooh word) day. But I was too warm in a cashmere sweater. I have a favorite Paul Smith light-weight, fall, long-ish, blazer. The idea was to wear the sweater underneath the blazer, which provided no warmth. The museum is rather warm, I suspect they're economizing with regard to temperature regulation. Come winter, the museum might be a little cold. MyStylist says dress in layers. One more beneath my sweater, allowing me to peel off the sweater, would have helped (don't I know this already??).

Where to eat:

For sustenance, ease and convenience, The MET's Cafe is quite good. But check out all the dining options. Some, really give you a, "Aren't I cultured and fabulous," feeling.

Just one block from the museum on the southwest corner of Madison and 83rd street is Vosges Haut Chocolat. What better way to wind up your outing than with an exceptional piece of "designer" chocolate? "Travel the World through Chocolate" is the motto for this little jewel box of a store. (Well, the company actually.) One slender table provides an intimate place to indulge your taste buds in chocolate the likes of which you've probably never tasted before. Chocolate with curry or paprika, champagne, or chillies, ingredients culled from around the globe all served up in tiny truffles (or rather big bars!), yours for the tasting!

Much to do in Markham, Canada

GoNOMAD has sent me on a press trip covering family travel in Toronto and my son, James, is joining me. It's been great to have him along. When asked how he rated where we are staying, James's comment was, "If it is a scale from one to ten, ten being the president should stay here, and one being a Motel 6, I'd give it a twenty." He likes it. We're in a two bedroom suite at the Homewood Suites by Hilton, in Markham, Ontario. James likes it for the same reason any nine-year-old would; indoor pool, fluffy bed, flat screen TV, your own kitchen and bath, putting green, homemade cookies. I think the decor and amenities are nice and serviceable, reflective of this brand, which prides itself on being the most upscale in the extended stay market.

In today's itinerary we're exploring an area outside Toronto called Markham. Included is a short hike through a rescued forest, visiting a working/educational farm right out of Charlottes Web, and lunch plus shopping on a circa 1800s main street.

York Regional Forest was a barren desert before it was rescued in 1924. Apparently farmers of the 1800s had cleared and farmed the land to extinction. The Canadian forest management came to the rescue in 1924 planting mostly red and white pine trees. Since then indigenous flora and fauna have moved in creating a dreamy forest canopy. We walked one short trail of 22. James gave it an A-plus calling it a "nice, quiet, relaxing walk where you can see old trees."

"We raise our own beef, pork and chicken. We're a working farm that provides education and entertainment to our visitors," says Jim Forsythe of Forsythe Family Farms. Doesn't warm apple pie from the country store, feeding greedy goats, navigating a corn maze, cuddling baby bunnies, taking a wagon ride behind a John Deere and visiting a storybook forest, sound like fun for kids, and adults too!? A down-home word is appropriate here–it was, swell. Teaching and entertainment is both a passion and a survival strategy for this 64 acre farm. The Forsythes have hit on a perfect combination of tradition, charm, education and real-life farming.

Lunching in what was once the site of a Model T Ford shop, we ordered some Canadian brew, ate, rested up, and then sallied fourth down Unionville's main street in Markham. Appropriately, Unionville is frequently used as a TV and film set location for the quintessential main street America. Today Canadian flags lined the street, yesterday it was American. James grew impatient while I ducked in and out of girly stores, absolutely refusing to set foot in a lingerie store hidden behind a charming victorian facade. I wanted to purchase a perfectly tame nightgown. He wanted nothing to do with it.

That will change one day.

45 to 54, Buying Fashion, Online

There is a great article in the style section of the Wall Street Journal today by Christina Binkley, The Forgotten Market Online: Older Women. According to Binkley most online clothing shoppers are women over 35 but fashion sites seem to be targeting a younger age group. Binkley sites StyleCaster amongst others. If I were to poll my friends and clients, I'm almost certain they would agree that some fashion websites and blogs do make them feel like they are crossing a velvet rope, stepping into a night club resonating with house music, when they'd rather be having a quiet cocktail at The King Cole Bar, NYC.

I think Nordstrom does a nice job of catering to older women who shop online, but really, can we just stop saying "older women." I like, stylish women with purchasing power, access, knowledge and confidence. My clients have all been over 35. They are mostly crunched for time, but they usually enjoy shopping and that is why "environmental" department store sites–sites that make you feel as if you are in the store or a spectator at a runway show, sometimes work well for them.

It helps, no, it's critical, to know just what you're after, before shopping online. That is something my clients discover though the styling service I offer at MyStylist. I also shop with clients as many stylists do. Once armed with a good list of purchases to optimize their wardrobe, clients may rely on a personal shopping service provided by a store or a good and honest friend. BUT, be wary of a "good friend." They are either good and not too honest, or they are honest and not too good! I really think it is best to higher an honest professional.

My Date With George Clooney

Sometimes finding things to do with nine-year-old boys can be challenging. Especially if you're like me and you're really not into gory, gicky or dirty. I impressed the heck out of myself the other day when I came up with a boy intinerary that we test drove and loved.

We took our commuter train into Grand Central Station NYC and walked to the New York Public Library, the big one with the lions out front. We tooled around the library checking out the grand Harry Potter-like stair cases, masterly painted rotunda, and iconic Reading Room. Next we dashed– Yes, with boys you dash, dart, bolt, or with very tired feet, you clop. We dashed across the street to Chipotle. Okay, it is a McDonalds fast food chain, my bad, but it is also delicious, fresh and healthy Mexican food, my favorite. The best thing about Chipotle for kids is that you essentially build your own burrito, taco etc. Connor, my sons BFFL (best friend for life) right now, doesn't like cheese, which could have squelched the whole idea of Mexican food (like a hot tamale), but he simply requested no cheese on his custom tacos.

After our fiesta, we darted up to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Ascending the staircase to the first gallery of the museum, the "After Party," we came face to knee with The Incredible Hulk. Both boys could fit into to the Hulk's gnarled green hand. They loved it!

At the After Party, we chatted up Pitt and Depp, Selma Hayek, Harrison Ford and Travolta. You know, it was one of those typical Hollywood parties where no one talks to you even if you bump right into them and scream in their face. Since this is also a style blog, I must make a brief comment regarding their stylist, he/she missed the mark. Selma Hayek wouldn't be caught dead, or in wax, in that polyester gown.

There is no rule against shaking hands or clapping arms around unsuspecting celebrities, which made the experience especially amusing for the boys. They had their picture taken with Obama, raided Rachel Rays fridge, played b-ball with Yao Ming and jammed with the Jonas Brothers. As for me, I had a date with George Clooney. He's about as good looking in real life as he is in the movies, but he doesn't have much to say... A fifteen minute 4D film called Planet Earth rounded out the visit. The fourth dimension being wind, spray, vibrating seats and pokes in the back. Again, the boys loved it.

Our final stop was the mega Toys R Us in Times Square. I can appreciate that this store is kid heaven, but I find it a bit overwhelming and at this point in the day, I think the boys did too. They enjoyed the indoor ferris wheel, but when it came time to pick out that much anticipated toy, on a $25 budget, they started running out of gas like a Hot Wheel derailing. I steered them toward candyland and they selected some favorite sweets. For my son James, it's the sours. Connor is a chocolate man. We clopped back to Grand Central and headed back to the burbs all hopped up on sugar. Good times.

I'm sure by now all the fashion police and style doctors have jawed on about who was wearing what at the Oscars and why they wearing this with that and didn't it look, "Great, silly, stupid, fab, fantastic, funky, frightening..." The Oscars are the Super Bowl of fashion and I love critiquing the star's outfits, doesn't everyone? For the past, well lets just say a lot of, years I've been a professional stylist and I think I've earned the right and have the expertise to announce the winning look. It goes to Natalie Portman. I think the picture says it all.

The Oscars did get me thinking about a time in my life when I was semi by-coastal, styling shoots in LA and NYC. While in LA, I stayed with my Hollywood Hills girlfriend, Brigitte. Giving you her address alone implies how stylish she is, but more than that, she's a true and generous friend. I stayed with her plenty those years and we have shared memories of living the dream.

Brigitte and I occasionally found ourselves at Musso and Franks's, a hollywood icon located just down the street from the Oscar venue. While I can't speak for the food, sipping a martini at this bar conjures up the notion of cocktail-ing with the glam-set of old-style Hollywood. Its stars, authors, and artist lined up at the bar right next to you. Sharing some time with your best friend over a fancy drink makes the place even better.