Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Take a Risk; Calculated or Not

It's always a pleasure to be invited to the Hamptons. Rather than spend the weekend holed up in their enormous house alone, someone has chosen you as their guest. Usually it's an unmitigated test of manners as you meet all sorts of new people. You are also usually forced to encounter and navigate your way through a litany of Hamptons-specific debacles. e.g. Suddenly there's not enough food. The drunken naked guy who no one knows very well got into the hot tub. You return from an evening out to discover someone else in your bed, etc. There are several ways to handle these situations but in order to be invited back (very important), you must maintain a certain level of respectability and cool. I am no stranger to abject failure at this delicate dance of propriety and have retaliated in ways that are the stuff of legend. However, I learned.

There are few instances in life that you can count as pivotal moments where events would have transpired completly differently had you exchanged a "yes" for a "no." There really is no way to foresee these moments but it has been my experience that a risk-taker's life makes for a much better read than that of a habitual naysayer. (And to think I almost declined that invitation to the Hamptons for Memorial Day weekend!)

Much has been made over the First Lady's style choices and I've heard just as much dissent as I have accolades. It came to a head when a friend's mother proclaimed her outright disgust at Mrs. Obama's personal style. I was shocked. This woman was chic; ( at least by Greenwich, CT's standards) her house laden with modern art and a degree from Parsons hanging somewhere on the premises. I bit my tongue and reflected. Of course! To a woman of her generation, wearing a simple black cardigan and pearls to meet HM Queen Elizabeth is just not done. But for my generation, seeing the president's wife in Junya Watanabe or Lanvin on any given day of the week places her firmly in the risk-taker category.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"This isn't about us."

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the First Lady opened up about her family's home life and spoke candidly about their first experiences at the White House. Usually, these types of interviews are somewhat cloying in their saturation of recycled sound bytes and factoids; Michelle's mother lives in an "in-law apartment" upstairs, Sasha and Malia must make their own beds, there are over 95 staff members, etc. But Oprah has always had a knack for coaxing the most profound utterances from her interview subject (That is why she is Oprah. Respect.) Michelle quoted her husband, saying "This isn't about us."

They have the forethought to understand the repercussions that Obama's presidency will have on future generations and have acted accordingly. Go ahead. Say it in unison "Oh, I see what you did there!" Yes folks, it's Earth Day! You can make it quick and painless by turning off your lights right now or put in some effort by checking out One Million Acts of Green and following through.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reshape America from the Inside Out

*If you hate working out, reward yourself (who doesn't like presents?). Prepare your favorite meal under the pretense that after your workout, you get to devour it or share it with your friends. What's my motivation? I love to show off my Stella McCartney for Adidas running jacket. It makes me feel like a sexy professional marathoner even though I haven't run any respectable distances (or times for that matter) since high school track. The point is, I always find a reason to get excited about running that has nothing to do with the end result. This may seem backwards but when you've been working out for what seems like your whole life, you have to become an innovator in self-motivation. If I go home to the Berkshires, I take all of my gear along and can't wait to take in the amazing views around my favorite running trails. Up behind my mother's house, there's an old mill. It has it's own train station and the tracks wind beautifully around a large pond (I often interrupt the quiet serenity by belting out The Ting Tings and Madonna to my heart's content.) Whether the ground is covered in snow or the first apple blossoms are blooming, the scene always conjures up a feeling of health and vibrancy that keeps me coming back. If you can hold onto an image like that, you can repeat the emotion for any activity.

Friday, April 17, 2009

...if she went to TOPSHOP?

*I went to TOPSHOP yesterday afternoon after a glorious introductory jaunt to Opening Ceremony. Now THAT was fun. But I distinctly heard sirens beckoning me north on Broadway. I never shop on weekends unless my mother is in town. It's a death wish. So, with my trusty companion, let's call him Bruce Jenner, I surfed a crowd of Danish and Italian tourists and made my way to the flagship store. I would have to suggest that before entering, check that no one in your party is light-sensitive, nauseous or pessimistic. The experience is not for the faint of heart. I went straight to a sales associate and asked where the TALL section is (for future reference, I didn't have time for jeans shopping) and then carried on to The Boutique section. I'm immediately impressed with the Jonathan Saunders collection. The Marios Schwab offerings were completely wiped out. The Richard Nicoll color palette and silouette will have to subject itself to a wait of no less than two months to really grab my attention (read, too pastel).

Out of the corner of my eye, I realized I was alone. Perhaps it was the price point or the lack of recognition of some of these designers but lots of women seemed to be politely clutching at the Kate Moss for TOPSHOP selection. I could immediately see why. It reflects Kate's public persona perfectly. She wants to dress like a grown up but also have fun and turn some heads. Most importantly, she wants women to be able to throw on anything from the collection and upgrade their outfits. This is essential to any yummy mummy who's running from work, picking up children and dropping them off to have drinks with an old colleague (insert your own hectic life list here, it still works.)

I'm sure Mrs. Obama will find some White House appropriate accents. Keep your lookin' balls peeled...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Three's Company

*Just when you thought the dowager Wintour had all but ignored Franca Sozzani's clarion call in the form of last July's "all black" Italian Vogue, we have a stunning triptych of consecutive US Vogue covers. Our first lady is joined by other fashion worthy black women at the top of their game in this historical gesture. The cover stars include powerhouse performer Beyonce Knowles, Estee Lauder face Liya Kebede and new kid on the block Jourdan Dunn.

The movement spearheaded by Bethann Hardison gained a lot of momentum before last Fall/Winter 2009 runway season but the editorial market has been slow to follow. Even better than a greater presence within the pages of major fashion magazines is immediate visibility. It's fair to say this would not have been such a no-brainer if Mrs. Obama wasn't attractive and chic but I certainly didn't expect a hat trick.

Obviously, we still have more strides to make. But in marketing, the tool of repetition usually garners enough attention by playing off the susceptibility of the human psyche to herd mentality. For better or worse, Anna Wintour's Vogue is the leader in US circulation. So with the continued bombardment of images showcasing successful, chic, black women, we may see a significant shift in the paradigm of beauty as we know it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oscar, Michelle and the Fight for More Black Models.

*Ahhh, the age old argument of "Where have all the black girls gone???" I hold this one so close to my heart that it's difficult at times to get my point heard without sounding completely myopic, self-indulgent or both. But Donna Michelle Anderson has managed to flawlessly express the sentiment via HuffPo and I am more than happy to share the wealth (of knowledge that is, hands off my BofA Keep the Change program!).

There has been a ridiculous amount of coverage on the First Lady's sartorial predilections. From the moment she took the world stage, the documentation and dissection of her wardrobe choices have been bandied about as some major issue. Honestly, it didn't hold much bearing for me until I read a rather catty remark from a designer I have always aspired to wear (when I become a lady who lunches or finally expatriate to Turks and Caicos), Mr. Oscar de la Renta. He manages to display his sour grapes with such efficiency that I really don't need to further implicate him here. But what I do want to focus on is Michelle's seemingly calculated actions. She managed to choose deserving new players who have the most modern perception of who their client is, all whilst remaining loyal to American based designers.

Controversially, I am elated to see people naming names. America is leaving behind an era of ambiguous accountability and moving quickly towards transparency. President Obama has not shied away from exposing each and every offender in the demise of Wall St. and perhaps in a chic and very diplomatic way, his partner Michelle is doing the same to 7th Avenue.


*I'm so glad you came :) I've got a lot of ideas and a lot of time so get excited! I'm obviously NOT Michelle Obama but from what I've seen, we're are certainly like-minded individuals. And in that vein, I would like to proffer a few suggestions on what the modern woman should do when faced with everyday, real life problems. And what better way to carry yourself through life than with the looks, grace and style of this inspirational woman?

Let's go!!!