Fashion Week– A Backstage Tour

Fashion WeekI love the  intensity and glamour of runway  fashion shows, but my favorite part is the drama and style behind the scenes.  This year I  was invited to cover the hair and make-up prep of the Venaxiana Show during Fashion Week.

For the  9 pm show at Lincoln Center, the call time was 6pm– and every minute of the three hour prep was needed. The area behind the actual runway was divided into two  main spaces– one for the  designs to be shown on the  runway and the other for hair and  make-up.

Fashion Week -- HairWhen I walked in, the models were already perched on  stools absorbed in their cell phones.  The stylists  had spent hours practicing the asymmetrical updo by Philip Pelusi of Tela.  Their fingers  flew as they texturized the hair with a crimping iron  for the soft chignon  that was designed to be both sophisticated  yet approachable.

Fashion week-- make-upOn the other side of the room, the make-up artists  followed the look created by Dani Fonseca, key artist for the Alcone company who sponsored the  make-up.  To compliment the hair and gowns, she created a look she described  as ” part Midsummer’s Night Dream, part rock and  roll.  Looking at the pale glittery foundation, eyes enhanced  by a deep blue  liner on lower lids and a few individual false lashes, I knew she  had totally nailed it.

At each makeup station there  was  a sketch of the finished look and a truely impressive  arsenal of  brushes.   I picked up  a few  make-up  tips on applying foundation (  use a brush)  and eye lash  appliction ( less is more).

Fashion week-- gownsWith hair and make-up almost  finished , I decided to check out  the dressing area.  The gowns were hung on rolling racks and each had  a bag of shoes and tips for  the best  fit.  Each model  had  a designated dresser to make  the quick changes needed for the   fashion packed show.  Nothing was left remotely to chance. The prop table  was  equipped with everything to  fix  anything that could  go  wrong in a dress.  Small boxes were  individually filled with items like safety pins, double sided tape, vaseline,  lint roller, needle and thread and extra  pantie hose.

Under the lights and music, the show seemed to flow effortlessly.  The tired  but  very happy backstage team watched the product of their labors  with well deserved pride. Everyone I had  talked to   was passionate about their work and it showed in the final product– a blend of skill, creativity and precision.

One  final  tip:   Phillip Pelusi who created the  runway hair style  sent me detailed instructions to replicate the  totally flattering  updo.  I will post it in time for  holiday parties.


Its Fashion Flash Monday!

Fashion-Flash-logoThis week Mirabai of Moving Free with Mirabai is  hosting Fashion Flash!  She is an amazing  health educator with  an unmatchable set of credentials.  When  she makes a recommendation on diet or exercise   you can be certain that it is  the best available information and not  made to support a  marketing  plan of a brand. Sort of  no-nonsense fitness!


Fashion FLash Book Review:  Seven Sisters StyleFashion Flash Book Review: Seven Sisters Style

The new Ralph Lauren store on Fifth  Avenue has a bookstore!  This was all it took for my  bibliophile husband to go willingly into a clothing store.  The small bookstore  was a treasure trove of style books, many of which were out of print classics.  This  did not work for my husband, but I was in heaven.  Seven Sisters Style by Rebecca Tuite was  the perfect book for this temple of preppy chic– and at $35  was probably the least expensive item in the entire three story store.

I   went to Bronx High School of Science and   New York University,  very far both geographically and socially from  the Seven Sisters colleges.   I loved  going to school in Greenwich Village, but I still would stare like a deer in the headlight  at the  girls in camel coats and  loafers that came into the city on the weekends.  Each Sunday in the New York Times magazine section, John Mayer  advertised  yet another  print shirtwaist and  I could not wait to discuss the pros and cons  of each dress with my  equally unpreppy  friends. .    And as it turned out, this iconic look captured and held  the imagination for many years.   Seven Sisters Style  deconstructs the look of saddle shoes, cashmere   cardigans, Bermuda shorts, blazers  and of course pearls. The vintage photos are priceless from  real life Vasser girl Meryl Streep to scenes from  dorms and classes in the 50’s.  I never realized the rigid uniformity behind the  plaid skirts and  rolled up jeans, but I can see why the sea change of the 60’s  changed forever how women dressed.

While  true prep style  is long gone from the now mostly co-ed seven sisters, author  Truite closes with a look at the designers like the late  Perry Ellis   and of course  the very current Ralph Lauren  who  were  inspired by this  timeless, quintessential American  style.

No-Nonsense Fashion– The Feet of Fashion Week

Shoes of Fashion WeekLast  year I was so  astonished at the fantastical towering stilettos at Fashion Week, I barely  paid attention to the clothes.  No only did the heels routinely soar to 5-6 inches, they were studded, sequined, feathered or a combination  of all three.  I knew that I could  not even stand up in these shoes  much less walk around Lincoln Center.

Feet, just  like the rest of the body,  changes as the years goes by.  After  age 50 we lose fat pads on the sole, joints swell and lose flexability. To bottom line it,  younger  feet can  frolic in stilettos, but  women of a certain age need  to  go with a sturdier design and lower heels.   For me and  my BFF’s, there was  an age gap in footwear  and  it made  us  feel less  fabulous.

Fashion Week shoes-- BootiesA Footwear Revolution at Fashion Week

What a difference a year  makes. Instead of studded, cut-out  skinny heels, women at Fashion Week now walked easily in a wide range of shoes for real life feet.  Booties were everywhere, closely followed by  colorful sneakers,  combat boots, slip on sneakers,  wedges, platforms and even flats. There were a few holdovers in skinny six inch heels, but they looked out of place– so last year.  This time at Fashion Week there was no age gap  in shoes. Very nice.FASHION WEEK SHOES- COMBAT  BOOTS

What Causes a Fashion Sea Change?

Why the shift in shoes?  I wondered if  it was the early sprouting of painful  old age bunions on twenty something feet after  a year of cruel shoes.  But what if it was something  deeper.  As a history buff  I love to explore the back story of significant events.  I have always felt that  true history is not found in dry  textbooks, but is revealed in the way  people lived. Genuine  history  is not  a matter of dates and battles but  is seen in   what people  read,  their style of  furniture, what they ate and even what they wore.fASHION wEEK  COLORFUL SNEAKERS

Fashion Week  Shoes- FlatsToday  is Sept 11 and  it is  hard to ignore that we live in a dangerous world.   From militarized police in  Missouri to the kidnapping of  hundreds of women to the  video of the beheading of two American journalists, perhaps this is not the right time  to wear fanciful, fragile  shoes.    I wonder if fashion is reflecting our need  for strength and stability and it  is  starting with footwear.




Its Fashion FLash Monday!

Fashion-Flash-logoThis week the amazing Kari of Fab Over Forty is hosting  Fashion Flash.  This beautiful site  covers, skin care, make-up,  and fashion with a hands-on  advice that I have come to depend on.  I have to admit that I am an eye liner  junkie and I am always looking for the  perfect tool for the perfect  line.  Kari   tries them all and now I know what brands and  products will deliver the results I want.  Check out  her recent posts on the perfect sports  bra and the new Laura Mercier  just launched fall colors.  You will thank me.

Fashion FLash Book Review-- Vegetarian Cooking for EveryoneFashion Flash Book Review:  Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

There is a very simple reason  that Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is a classic– its just amazing! Published in 1997 it was decades ahead of its time.  The comprehensive   650 page  book covers essential ideas  while offering more than 1000 recipes that are simple, healthy and delicious.

The  first 50 pages could be a short  book all on its own.  It offers a wide range of fundamentals of equipment, best choices of staples and essential cooking techniques.   I love the way Deborah Madison drills down into each and every subject.  For example she clearly explains the differences between the five different types of peppercorns and how each impacts on the flavor of a dish.  She does the same for different types of oils, salts, vinegars, and olives.   So  many dishes are ruined with the wrong  form of an ingredient– a total waste of time and money. With this book,  it should  never  happen again in your kitchen.

Ingredients are especailly imporant in vegetarian  cooking and these recipes illustrate how to deliver powerhouse  texture and flavor.   For examle, I could not understand why my avocodo  and tomato sandwich was  just blah while I devoured  them at my local   vegan spot.   Madison’s recipe  included a light layer of mustard and mayo as well as a sprinkle of arugala.  It made all the diffference.

Madison really understands the  challenges  of creating  satisfying vegetarian  main  dishes that don’t rely on cream and cheese.   There are recipes for  gratins, stir-fries, veggie fillings for crepes and  chunky veggie stews.  My current favorite  is a veggie souffle that is totally satisfying as it uses up  all those bits of leftover veggies from other dinners.

Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone is such a welcome difference  from the weak celebrity  or  TV food show cookbooks.  These days there seems to be an arc  to a celebrity career– initial job followed by book, then product  line and then some type of cookbook.   The scope and   passion of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone   has a rare integrity  in a reality TV dominated culture.



Glossybox– Beauty Box With a Purpose

Glossy Box at CosmoprofGlossyBox teamed up with Cosmoprof in Las Vegas to produce a very special booth.   The pink and white display not only offered visitors  an introduction to innovative brands, all monies were contributed to the City of Hope Reserch Center.   Cosmoprof visitors could select up to seven products for a $10  donation.The display of 20 different products  was intoxicating for a beauty addict — the adult  equivalent of  candy store.  My box included:

1.Get Layered by Sexy Hair– a fast drying spray that adds volume and thickness as well as hold.

Glossybox at Cosmoprof2. Eye Infusion Illuminator by Dr Myer’s– With a unique rolling applicator and formula rich in  hyaluronic acid for hydration and niacinimide to lighten dark circles, this  is the  under eye care I was looking for.

3. Cuppa Cuppa by Royal Apothic– A super sooothing mask that includes clay, green tea, and Goji berries, I loved the directions that include having a cup of tea while the mask  dries.

4. Be a Bombshell by The One Stick– An all-in-one multiple purpose stick that  can be applied to cheeks and  lip.  Its the perfect pop of color that  works everywhere for everyone.

5. Probiotic Eye Lifting Serum by Dr Lili Fan– a light  yet powerful under eye treatment with hyaluronic acid ( my fav), rice  protein and panthenol.

6. Ceramide-C by Rozge Labs– Its no secret that I  adore  ceramides and these capsules  even include vitamin C and E.  Its packaged in small, twist off plastic ampules  that retain the   anti-aging properties that can be lost in a larger container.  Love it!

7. Color-Protecting Therapy Spray by  Mastey– Packed with antioxidants, Argan oil and oive oil, its both a conditioner and a detangler.  This product is  perfect  for people like me  who won’t give up  their  combo of highlights and  blow-outs.

Glossybox is a particularly elegant subscription beautybox that curates new and  innovative products.  There are  dozens of similar services, but a beauty box that  supports diabetes research at Cosmoprof  wins my loyalty.






Its Fashion Flash Monday!

Fashion-Flash-logoThis week the always elegant Josephine of Chic At Any Age is hosting Fashion Flash. She is one of those rare women that  looks effortlessly chic  whether  she is relaxing in the sun or attending a concert at Albert Hall.   I tend to stare at these women trying to deconstruct what they  did to  look so good.  When I discovered  Chic At Any Age  it was like the Rosetta Stone for style.  She explains  the reasons behind her fashion choices in a way that I adapt her ideas to my style isues.  If you’re already a fan  you know what I mean.  If  Chic At Any Age is new to you, you will have  a lot of fun drilling down  into her archives for beautiful, wearable fashion ideas.

Fashion FLash Book Review; IconsFashion Flash Book Review:  Icons by Dodie Kazanjin

When I think of icons, I think of unique, famous people.  But this time, icons refer to those items of clothing that  carry  their own fame and legend.  Well known Vogue writer Dodie Kazanjian   does an up close and personl  experence  with  style icons  that include Manulo Blahnik shoes,  the Chanel suit, the Armani jacket and the Kelly  bag.  She braves the elite of the elite stores to try  on and select a legendary piece of fashion history.

As she chronicles  her journey to actually be able to acquire  each piece ( there are waiting lists for $3000 bags!), she spins  out the back story behind them.  For example,  she details the extraordinary features  that are in each Chanel jacket,   and that the big Hermes bag that Grace Kelly used to hide her pregnency from  photographers was there after known as  the Kelly. My favorite chapter chronicles her  search for the perfect  Little Black Dress.  Fashion editors are forever recommending  the LBD as a fashion staple,  but no one  has ever actually   described  how hard  it is to find the perfect one.  Most designers seem to create for that ubiquitous freakishly   tall blonde with 4% body fat. Ms Kaszanjian is 5 feet, 2 inches with a wonderful  mane of curly  dark hair.  Her journey through  one shouldered,  feather trimmed, ruffled and cut out black dresses is  so relatable that I was chuckling as  I read  the piece.  The fact that in the end  she walked away empty handed, made me  love this book even more.






Peridot– The Birthstone of August

PeridotGreen and crystelline, peridot is reputed to protect wearers against nightmares, and bring both  power and  influence  All good news, but peridot is also fabulous for its glorious yet affordable  glorious color.  Peridot ranges from pale green to deep olive and was often used in crowns as faux emeralds.   At $35/carat it delievers  the green of  uber precious emeralds for a fraction of the price (  FYI one carat of Columbian emeralds clock in at $700).

Most  peridot comes from Arizona, but there are also  good  supplies  from China and Pakistan.   It is also one of those rare jewels( like pearls) that is flattering for practically any skin, eye and hair combinations.  While  it is used  in  bracelets and pins, it really comes into its own in a pair of earrings.  if you don’t know what to get  your BFF for her birthday, a pair of pearl and peridot earrings  will always be something that goes with her  coloring.

I  love to  wear a pair of peridot earrings to crank up the impact of a little black dress  or suit.  In summer  a peridot drop earring take a  bone linen  dress or blouse to a  whole new level.  When I add my  little  peridot drop earrings to a white linen shirt and pants, I feel like  I am ready for  a great summer evening. This  year, Fashionistas are pushing green as the  new ‘It” color. Green  in  general is not  my best color for clothing , but   a green peridot  bracelet or pair of earrings allows me to fly my Fashionista  flag in a  way that works for  me.


Question: How Can Good Products Produce Bad Results?

Question on PeelsQuestion:   I’ve been using  a 1% retinol serum, 15% vitamin C serum for my face and another 5% vitamin c serum for my eyes for two weeks and now my skin  is a mess!  It’s red, peeling, super dry and  wrinkled.  It even hurts   when I wash my face and put on sunscreen.   I’m so scared and don’t know what to do.

Answer:   These are  strong and genuinely  effective  formulations, but you overdid it a bit.  According to the wizard of Park Avenue, Dr Albert Lefkovits, stop using all  current products.  He recommends soothing the skin  with a milk compress.  Soak a  man’s hankerchief  in a mixture of   1/4 cup milk and 1/4 room temperature  cup water, wring it out  a bit and apply it to  face and neck.  Wash your face with a  super gentle cleanser like Cetaphil or Dove  soap.

At night try  a mild moisturizer like Ponds cold cream or Aquaphor.  If redness persists  apply .05% cortisone cream available at a pharmacy without a prescription.   In the daytime, use  a  mineral based sunscreen like SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion.  If the skin does not calm down within a week, you should  check in  with a doctor.  There  might  be something  besides  an irritation reaction going on.

When your skin recovers, you can start slowly  resuming the  same products .  Use the retinol every other day and the vitamin c eye  serum only at night.   In the daytime, use the vitamin C serum every other day  and top it with a mineral based  sunscreen.   Gradually work up to using retinol every night and vitamin C serum every  day, but never  at the same time.  At the first sign of irritation, cut back to  using  products several times a week rather than  every day.

I  suspect that some   manufacturers formulate weak  products because they want to avoid this type  of situation.  I can totally  understand that approach , but I believe that  better consumer information would  prevent this type of skin melt down.  If the sales literature gave more extensive info, these episodes could be avoided.  Better  information will allow us to  use effective products to get maximum results– very much the fundamental mission statement   of No-Nonsense Beauty Blog.