Friday, February 29, 2008

Bargains galore!

For lovers of designer clothes and shoes, there are some hella good deals to be had in Charlotte right now. Witness:

  • Instead of paying $409 for the three pairs of shoes I nabbed at Finale by Sloan on East Boulevard, I paid $65. Total. The store will be closing March 29, and until then everything at Finale is an additional 50 percent off the ticketed price. The red patent ballet flats (retail: $89) were $15. The Brown Cole Haan flip-flops (retail: $145) were $20. And the Frye mules (retail $175) were $30. The best selection is on the highs and lows. If you wear 5-6 or 10-11, you'll have a better selection of shoe styles and designers.
  • Over at The Pink Hanger near Sharon and Wendover, the 75 percent off sale racks still hold some excellent pieces, including some dresses from the super cute and stylish Twinkle by Wenlan line.
Here's wishing you good shopping karma!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Update on Tim Gunn visit

Here are more details on fashion expert Tim Gunn's visit to Charlotte.

At the "Your Perfect Style" event, 1 p.m. March 15, Belk, SouthPark mall, 4400 Sharon Road, he'll demonstrate how to build a versatile wardrobe with a few of key pieces.

"Women have come to past events will come up to me and say 'I am here because I know you won't be mean to me,'" Gunn said Wednesday during a phone interview. "I want everyone to be as good as they can be, if I can help in some way, that’s a great honor."

At the March 15 event, the chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne (also known from the TV shows "Project Runway" and "Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style") will show women how to use a few transitional pieces of clothing to create a versatile and flattering wardrobe without spending a fortune. There will be a Q&A, access to personal style advisers, gifts, prizes and refreshments.

Guests can take home a photo of themselves with Gunn (with purchases of $100 or more). The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required, but suggested: 877-235-5073 .

Be sure to read my exclusive interview with Tim Gunn in the March 13 Style section. He dished on "Project Runway," including the tension between the judges and designer Victorya Hung.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Adventures in bra shopping

Here's a cautionary tale of bra fitting (second in necessary, joyless activities only to trying on bathing suits): If at first you don't succeed, try on and on again!

I loathe bra shopping. It has the not-so-magical power to reduce me to frustrated tears in about 6 seconds. So, trying positive visualization (I will find bras that lift and separate, I will find bras that lift and separate), I headed out.

At Shop No. 1 (where I have had success before), I asked to be fitted. The salesperson measured my band size to be 35-36. Near tears after trying on bras that were too small (I pointed out that I might need a bigger cup, yet kept getting handed bras that were smaller than what I walked in with), I said thank you and left.

At Shop No. 2, (where I had not had luck before), I asked to be fitted again. This time I was measured at 33 1/2, and told I was definitely a cup larger than what I was wearing. Nordstrom certified fitter McKenzie Bodiford and I did a little cheering and clapping in the fitting room. I walked out with five bras (and one that works great with a dress I'm wearing this weekend) and a little sassy spring in my step now that the girls were well supported.

So who's the best expert on how a bra fits? You. It's always good to start with a professional fitting, but if you're feeling uncomfortable or unheard, speak up. Communicate!

The payoff? It's amazing what a well-fitted bra can do for your silhouette and self confidence.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tim Gunn in Charlotte!

Tim Gunn is coming to Charlotte!
He's coming to Belk SouthPark on March 15, for a 1 p.m. Liz Claiborne spring fashion show. The focus of his visit will be creating wardrobe versatility. The event will feature a runway show, a Q&A, goodie bags and opportunities to talk to Tim.

The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Check back here or in Thursday's Style section of The Charlotte Observer for more details.

Sneakerheads get their fix

Nathan Cummings, 32, (third from left) was the first person in line at Black Sheep skate shop in the South End for the release of the Nike Dunk Low Pro SB sneakers today. Cummings started waiting at the store at 3 p.m. Thursday. The shoes went on sale at 11 a.m. Friday. The shop, owned by Josh Frazier (second from left) and the only store in Charlotte to have the shoes, recieved only about 20 pairs of the limited edition shoe inspired by the 1987 video game "Skate or Die."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Make it work! Trinity-style

Participants include (in no particular order): Taylor Humphries, Alex Hover, Hank Parker, Carolyn Dalrymple, Katie Hyland, Hannah Weiss, Julia Hoover, Catherine Heynen, Derek Fulton, Ky Atkinson, Maggie Bennight, Hunter Andrews, Genevieve Becker, Alexis Geiger and Sydney Slaven.

Middle school students at Trinity Episcopal School are in the middle of a week-long project based on the TV show "Project Runway."

The participants visited the Mint Museum to get inspiration for their first challenge. They shopped at Mary Jo's fabric store in Gastonia on a tight budget of $10, and had only four hours of sewing time before they hit the runway.

I was one of the guest judges, and I was amazed at the creativity! In one word, the looks were fierce!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Flashbacks? Bring it!

I'm in the throes of a full-blown 1980s flashback, and I'm loving it. Witness:

Jelly shoes. For about two minutes during a trip to the SuperTarget, I entertained the idea of buying a pair of these (above). Does no one remember how sweaty, stinky and blistery they were the first time around? Ick. I do. I'll sit this one out, thanks.

American Apparel leggings. After building my entire high school wardrobe around black leggings and oversized oxford shirts (preferrably J. Crew or denim from the Gap, thankyouverymuch), I swore as an adult I would never go back. That was until I landed a great pair of boots and a longer babydoll top that were screaming for some black cotton/spandex love. I went from zero pairs to two in about five seconds, and am smitten all over again.

VH-1 Classic. I was near tears when I stumbled on Metal Mania on Saturday night. There was Bret Michaels (with a full head of hair) and Poision in all their glam glory to "Your Mama Don't Dance." Then, there was 120 Minutes last night: Depeche Mode's "Master and Servant" and the Psychadelic Fur's "Pretty in Pink." Good times, good times.

What takes you back?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fash Week recap, Round 1

While I escaped New York on Saturday, just a day after the Fashion Week madness ended, others in the industry kept working well after the last show.

Capitol buyer Ruth Caldwell (right) was still working hard in NYC when I called her on Monday. She was at Zac Posen's studio, on her way to another appointment, but shared her thoughts via e-mail.

My fashion week wrap up will be in Thursday's Charlotte Observer, or you can read it online.

Here's an excerpt of Ruth's Q&A:

Q: What was the highlight of the week for you?
The highlight of my week was returning to Bar Pitti, my favorite restaurant in my old neighborhood. Cool, fresh mozzarella with warm roasted peppers to start. Linguine with baby clams. A decaf espresso. Heavenly!

Q: What was your favorite show?
RC: I really enjoy seeing great presentations from smaller designers just beginning their careers. For example, Alexander Wang was just genious and was as thoughtful and inspiring as almost any more established designer show I saw.

Q: What runway trends do you see playing well in Charlotte?
RC: The return of the jacket to the wardrobe is one of the strongest trends of the season, particularly following several seasons of seeing mostly dresses. The NY designers seem to be all about mixing -- plaid with floral prints, satin with tweed, lace with nubby boucle, a cocktail dress with an oversized slouchy cardigan. I think it will be refreshing for Charlotte to mix things up a little!

Q: What was your most memorable moment during fashion week?
RC: I saw my hero, French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, emerge from a doorway in my hotel wearing a wild fox fur coat and a dark, witchy hooded cape underneath. She is so wicked and I ADORE her!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Darn you, prompt Marc Jacobs!

That's Marc Jacobs, his fall 2008 models lined up on top of the stage,

and Sonic Youth performing on the runway.

My last night at Fashion Week was certainly eventful -- I missed the Marc Jacobs show.


MJ shows start notoriously late, but this year, to my chagrin, he was prompt -- the show started around 7:20 and was over by 7:30. Read about it here.

I could cry (from exhaustion or frustration?), but I'm going to chalk it all up to a big, fat learning experience.

Let me briefly set the scene for you. Emboldened with misplaced newbie confidence, I went to the 6 p.m. Sean John show at Cipriani, near Grand Central Station. The show started late, like they all do, but I was still sure I could catch a cab afterward and get to MJ in time. He surely wasn't going be prompt.

Not only was MJ prompt (apparently, he came out around 7:10 and was encouraging folks to take their seats, and they thought he was joking), I couldn't catch a cab on Lexington to save my life. So I walked. About 15 blocks.

I did get into MJ, but only enough time to see the last model make her last turn on the runway.

As Sean Combs celebrated his 10th anniversary of Sean John, he gave a nod to African American designers who came before him -- Willi Smith, Karl Kani, Tracy Reese and others.

His runway was filled with fitted, cropped menswear with luxe embellishments, including chainmail, thick jewel-encrusted mufflers and fur.

SPOTTED AT SEAN JOHN: Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Roberto Cavalli, Janice Combs (Diddy's mom), Spike Lee (in an Obama '08 T-shirt), Ellen Pompeo and hubby Chris Ivery, Helena Christensen, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Federline

To see images of the Marc Jacobs and Sean John shows, click here

Friday, February 8, 2008

Project Runway? Not so much

WARNING: A tiny bit of fit-throwing follows. If you have a low tolerance for whining (even when it's justified), skip to the bottom!

I would post a pic of the "Project Runway" show from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, but oh wait, that's right, I didn't get a seat. Seriously.

I've taken most of my missed shows in stride this week (if you skip a season, as the Observer did in September, there's a good chance of falling off publicists' radar), but I don't know if it was the cumulative lack of sleep or the coffee-only breakfast or the fact that it's day eight of Fashion Week, but my "PR" snub stung -- bad.

Especially when I saw hordes of other people being ushered in, with no apparent tie to the show other than being well-connected. Cry me a river, right? Poor Rachel!

To console myself, I hoofed it down to Macy's at Herald Square and picked up two dresses -- DKNY and Stephen Burrows -- on super clearance, around 75 percent off. Shopping and bargains? The "Runway" hateration has magically disappeared!

I did get some details of the "Runway" show from a handful of colleagues who did get in: Victoria Beckham was the guest judge and a ton of NBC/Bravo stars were on hand. Click on the "Project Runway" hyperlink above to read more about the show. Also, click here for a slideshow.

Tonight, Sean John and Marc Jacobs. Should be interesting to say the least!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Kate Spade Handbag Heaven

In case I haven't made it clear yet, I'll say it again: I have a thing for handbags. The bigger, the better. I hardly ever travel light.

So, my breakfast visit to Kate Spade's 25th Avenue office/showroom space was delicious, and not just because the tiny egg sandwiches and bite-sized stacks of pancakes waiters served were tasty.

It was room after room of preppy chic bags, shoes, stationery, housewares and wares from Jack Spade, the men's line of bags and accessories.

Pictures of Ali McGraw, Anne Bancroft and Audrey Hepburn hung on the wall, and vintage books shared shelf space with the richly colored bags. There was a lot of ostrich, pony hair and leather, in boxy and more abstract constructions.

A sophisticated but cute cabbage rose print showed up on dresses as well as a few sets of toiletry bags.

The shoes are just as varied, but with a classic bent: Tassled flats, spectator mary jane heels and ballet flats were among the offerings.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I want my Marc by Marc Jacobs

Watching the Marc by Marc Jacobs show reminded me of my favorite part of the 1980s -- the early years of MTV, the punky chic of a young Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.

While other designers were going 1940s retro for fall 2008, Jacobs went a different way, sending out oversized houndstooth prints, graphic skirts reminscent of Keith Haring, bright colors and tweeds.

And of course the accessories were stellar -- I am already obsessed with the oversized pink leather bag (above). The bags were big, the ankle boots bright, in hues such as "ocean" "fire" and of course, pink.

SPOTTED:Vogue editors Lisa Love and Amy Astley, stylist Rachel Zoe, singer Fergie

SLIDESHOW: To check out more pictures from the NY runways, click here

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ports (1961) of call: Scotland

It was fitting that the collection for Ports 1961 was at night, when there was a chill in the New York air. Creative director Tia Cibani found inspiration in the country of Scotland.

Of course there was plaid, but it was a welcome twist to see it on the runway as a muted cotton bustle skirt paired with a rich blue cable knit sweater.

Tweeds abound, as well as thick cable knits, felt, velvet and cotton. Wood is an accessory in brooches and handbag handles.

SPOTTED: Eliza Dushku, Aisha Tyler, Sophia Bush, Mandy Moore, Rose McGowan, Amy Smart

I'll be talking to Matt & Ramona on 107.9FM from Fashion Week at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Tune in!

SLIDESHOW: To check out more pictures from the NY runways, click on

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Celeb spotting @ Fashion Week

Here are a few celeb sightings I didn't get a chance to mention from the first three days of shows:

  • The Heart's Truth: Beauty products guru Bobbi Brown and Harry Hamlin (hubby of Lisa Rinna)
  • Sass & Bide: Nicky Hilton, Molly Simms
  • Rock & Republic: Jack Mackenroth (above) from "Project Runway," Tyson Beckford, Nigel Barker ("America's Next Top Model")
  • Herve Leger: Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Padma Lakshmi ("Top Chef")

Black and Purple and Black and Black

At Rock & Republic's 65-look show, the sea of black trenches, fedoras, pleated leather minis and flowing gowns was broken up by the occasional splash of purple. The ensembles were so similar, my fellow fashion editors and I wondered if the show, which was broken into two "acts," had simply started over.

It was a showy show, for sure, with its orchestra pit surrounded by the runway, and the musicians playing along with prerecoreded songs from Jethro Tull, The Who and the Beatles, but that showmanship detracted from the clothes.

Or, was it as another editor said as we were walking out: "No wonder they made it so hard to get in, they knew how little they had."

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Modern Prep at Lacoste

Influenced by snowy slopes of Megeve, France, and the colors of the Jamaican flag, Lacoste creative director Christophe Lemaire showed a fresh, modern spin on the preppy line.

The runway and first row of the Tent at Bryant Park were swathed in white faux-fur. The show started with luxe knits, adding to the cozy snow lodge feel.

Muted colors -- grays, jewels and sorbets -- added to the softness of the show. Jacquard patterns brought depth to both men's and women's clothing.
Preps on vacation in Jamaica turned into traditional polos with subtle coloring, and for girls, adorable and sporty polo dresses paired with short knit ties.

Perezito sighting!

As Friday progressed, the rain subsided -- finally! -- the celeb sightings increased in number and intensity and some Fall 2008 trends began to emerge.

The celeb-sighting of the night was gossip blogger Perez Hilton (right) who stopped and posed for a pic at the Baby Phat show (more on that later).

At Nicole Miller, Joan Jett, Cheryl Hines and Natasha Henstridge were among the famous faces watching the runway show.

Miller showed metallics, muted jewel tones and lots of ruching and pleating.

Designer Erin Fetherston, coming off her successful line for Target, blended romantic florals and flowy layers paired with structured jackets. Stylist-to-the stars Rachel Zoe was on hand, as well as Damon Dash and Anne Hathaway (below right).

Blogger Perez Hilton, who gives celebs unforgettable nicknames and photoshops doodles onto their pics, was spotted among the herd of famous folk at Kimora Lee Simmons' Baby Phat show at the Roseland Ballroom.

On the models, we saw more metallics, beaded details, purple (this time for men and women) and lots of pleats and draping.

Along with P-Nasty, I saw Russell Simmons (Kimora's ex-husband), Tyra Banks, magazine editor Bonnie Fuller, Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, Vivica A. Fox, actor Dean Winters (from "Rescue Me" and "The Sarah Connor Chronicles").

Friday, February 1, 2008

Liza Welcomes Me to "New York, New York"

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week got off to a cold and rainy start Friday, but seeing Liza Minelli perform “New York, New York” just a few feet in front of me quickly helped me forget about my busted $5 umbrella I purchased just an hour or so before.

Minelli, spry at 61, was among the highlights of The Heart Truth show, an collaborative show aimed at raising awareness of women’s heart health.

Fifteen celebs, including Lisa Rinna, Ana Ortiz ("Hilda" on "Ugly Betty"), Ashanti and Cheryl Hines strutted their stuff in dresses designed especially for the occasion.

Sara Ramirez from “Grey’s Anatomy,” looking comfortable and confident in a de-lish silk Angel Sanchez fitted, strapless gown with detail pleating on the back.

At the BCBG Max Azria show, the front row was filled with some of the women who walked in the Heart show, as well as Ciara, Sonia Bush and stylist Phillip Bloch.

The clothes were restrained, with modern profiles -- some exaggerated hourglass shapes, lots of constructed bell skirts, and every outfit had a belt that was tied, not buckled (but had a buckle).

Later tonight, it's Baby Phat and Erin Fetherston.