Friday, August 29, 2008

Gossip Girl: Who? What? Where?

Motherchucker? Nah ... Chuck Bass is just, well ... Chuck Bass.

Spotted: The first three episodes of "Gossip Girl" which returns for it's second season at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1 on the CW (WJZY, Channel 46 in Charlotte).

It's good. Like-yell-at-the-TV-and-want-to-call-my friends good. It's also campy, telenovella-ish and packed with killer fashion and chuckle-worthy pop culture references.

I don't want to give anything away, but I can tell you all the regulars are back, with a few new frenemies in the fold. Nate and Serena are in a fake relationship in the Hamptons, Blair is on her way back from Europe and Jenny is sweating it out at Eleanor Waldorf's atelier. Chuck Bass (who has replaced Dylan McKay as my favorite jerky-but-sweet bad boy) is, well, Chuck Bass.

As we've come to expect, the clothing is trended perfectly (Serena's Grecian-inspired gown and hair for the white party screams Summer 2008), and the dialogue is sharp as a razor.

My fave bon mots? Most are from oft-headbanded Blair: disparraging Kentwood, La. and Nyla's Burger Basket or using derivatives of Chuck Bass' name as curse words. But I laughed out loud when Serena rattled off "sexual draino."

gossip girl fan

EARLY MORNING FASHION: Sisters Amy Langenmayr and Tracy Garden, co-owners of Coco Fleur, will make their third appearance on "Fox News Rising" on Wednesday, Sept. 3. The duo will talk about what's hot for fall fashion.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Project Runway: Buh-bye cry baby!

So look here! Leanne's not as nerdy as previously thought! She won the car challenge with her sophisticated silhouette and innovation.

There's nothing more entertaining than hubris. Especially when it gets smacked into submission by the king of catty Michael Kors. But we'll get back to that in a minute.

First, the challenge: Love it. I'm always in favor of forcing whiny designers outside their comfort zone, and giving them the parts of a car with which to work was genius. Innovation was the theme of the day, and Tim Gunn told the designers to step it up, since they were so disappointing during the grocery store challenge.

The checked tablecloth of this challenge? Seat belts. My girl Korto (She'll be in the top three - mark it down now) owned the belts by weaving them in to a jacket AND making sure it had shape. Fab.

Now back to the hi-larious hubris. Keith, of "moulting chicken" and "wookie onesie" fame, was so blindly, obnoxiously confident in his boring, not-innovative look, I was left wondering if he was completely deluded, or just on some good mind-altering meds.

Who talks back to Laura Bennett and Michael Kors? Apparently the same person who chastises a model for sitting down and refuses to take responsibility for his lame design.

The whiners are getting picked off one by one. Rock on.


CANCEL YOUR MONDAY PLANS: Be sure to check back here on Friday. I'll have a quick non-spoilerish review of the return of "Gossip Girl" on Sept. 1. OMFG for sure.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Clothing Swap 101

Bryhanna Greenough illustration

I've received quite a few e-mails in response to a recent column I wrote that mentioned a clothing and product swap my girlfriends and I had.

Readers are asking for tips and details about the swap, how to organize, etc... I'm happy to admit our swap wasn't very structured or even organized.

(And, after another recent gathering of the girls, it sounds like we need to do it again, since some are still stewing over items they didn't get.)

If you and your friends would like to try a swap, here are a few suggestions:

The number of swappers is key. Too few and you won't have a range of sizes/styles. Too many, and it'll get overwhelming. For our first swap, we had seven people.

Set the ground rules. Is it clothing only? Clothing and accessories? Is home decor fair game?

Similar range of sizes. It works better if you and your friends wear about the same size. Same goes for shoes.

Newish products. For products, we limited ours to beauty/hair/grooming products that had been opened recently and maybe used once or twice.

Clean, please. Make sure items for swapping are as clean and possible.

Decide how the swapping will be done. (This is where my group got loud and laughy -- we were doing this after a few cocktails). We couldn't decide on a system, so we would just hold items up, tell a little bit about it, and others would start calling dibs or lobbying for it. It wasn't the most orderly way, be we sure had fun!

Do you have swap tips to share? Please do!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Project Runway: You better work!

Joe, the Motor City designer, won the challenge for capturing the spirit/look of his drag queen, complete with the "candy" hiding belt.

So much unintentional humor on the runway. Here are a few of my favorite laugh-out-loud moments:

  • Suede talking about being inspired to make little fabric lettuce bundles by his dead grandpa, who came to Suede through a dream. Bless his heart, his model DID look like a dinosaur.

  • Blayne appeared to not know that drag queens are men. “So my model comes in," fading tanny says. "Her name’s actually Alex, so it’s a boy. … He’s just this normal, short little Mexican dude.” How is it that this neon-obsessed tanorexic is still around? Especially when Tim Gunn calls your look "a pterodactyl out of a gay Jurassic Park.”

  • How quickly the gloves came off as judges and designers heaped the insults on Keith's look. He get put in his place by guest judge RuPaul -- "Did a dingo eat your baby, too? ... You've got so many excuses." "Wookie onesie" and "sad moulting chicken" are classic.

  • I was glad to see sleepwalking designer Daniel get picked off. He's too good for sequins? Please.
What was your favorite moment? Least favorite?

Beauty and the budget

The slumping economy shows no signs of letting up and even the most committed fashionistas are considering ways to trim spending. That’s OK. You can keep your look, and your money.

“Style goes beyond fashion and beauty products,” says personal style expert Bobbie Thomas, who often appears on the “Today” show. “You can be stylish without spending a dollar.”

Read Thursday's Style section for more tips, but here's one that might surprise you: shop for beauty products in your kitchen.

Olive oil, essential oils, sugar and salt are just a few ingredients that do double duty. If you use items you have on hand in conjunction with a box or two of hair color, salon-perfect hair at home is very do-able, says Lorri Goddard-Clark, author of "Hair Color Mix Book: More Than 150 Recipes for Salon-Perfect Hair at Home."

“Schedule an appointment with yourself,” she says. “Your home hair salon never closes.”

What are your tips for cutting expenses while staying stylish?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Musings of a fashion martyr

Editor's Note: This blog entry contains quite a bit of whining. You've been warned.

I climbed up on the cross, a hacking, wheezing fashion martyr on a mission. I'm shopping our fall fashion spread for Style while battling my first case of bronchitis since college.

(cue the violins ... here comes the whining)

I really wanted to just stay home on Monday and sleep (since I was jarred awake with alarming regularity by my abdomen-aching coughs all night on Sunday). Multiple cups of steaming Tazo Refresh tea were calling my name. So was the backlog of "No Reservations" on TiVo.

I accepted my fate: Fall trends and appointments wait for no one, especially sleep-deprived editors who dare complain about having to shop. As a job.

Instead, I'll focus my cantankerousness on summer "trends" I'll be all too happy to see disappear:

The summer scarf: Either you're cold or you're not. Wearing a scarf with a spaghetti strap sundress just makes people wonder what you're trying to hide on your neck. A hickie? Ew.

Ill-fitting sundresses:
Not everyone can (or should) wear strapless. If your girls are hanging low (and you can't or won't wear a bra), do us all a favor -- change your dress.

Crocs: Please, please, please make them go away, in all their incarnations. In case you're wondering, they are not OK to wear with socks. Ever. Especially if you're older than three.

Pegged jeans: Since at least two celebs have been spotted sporting the most horrid trend of the 1980s, we should place bets on when it'll show up in Charlotte.

To what summer trends are you ready to say "buh-bye?"

Friday, August 15, 2008

She's baaaack!

Get the cosmos and Manolos ready: Miss Shelita is back.

After a painfully-long two year hiatus, Gay Bingo makes a return on Oct. 18. Shelita Hamm and her BVDs (bingo-verifying divas to the uninitiated) are planning an homage to Charlotte and "Sex and the City."

She sent an email spilling the dirt on the upcoming festivities (the first line read "Dear fan of me"). Among the deets:
  • More than 1,300 tickets to the event at the Grady Cole Center have been sold, and the remainder are going fast.
  • A BVD pinup calendar is almost ready for release, and will be on sale at the event.
While actually playing bingo often takes a backseat to the side-splitting hilarity of performance numbers, the message is never lost: all the fun is a fundraiser for the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network. They hope to raise $100,000 with the event at the Grady Cole Center. Previously, the group raised more than $700,000 with six years of shows.

Tickets are $25 each, or $300 for a table. Check out this website for ticket info.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Project Runway: High-end taste? Really?

Brooke Shields will wear this winning look from Keith (and Kenley) in an upcoming episode of "Lipstick Jungle."

Another Wednesday, another boooooooring "Project Runway."

The highlight of the night? The catty judges. Saucer of milk, table two! Witness:

  • Michael Kors to Kelli and Daniel: “I mean, hello! Slutty, slutty slutty!”
  • Nina Garcia to Kelli and Daniel: “I am concerned with the question of taste. You can’t get taste if you don’t have it." (This may be destined for the Facebook quote collection)
  • Poor Nina didn’t even have words for Blayne and LeAnn’s bikershorts ensemble. She was reduced to hand gestures and sounds.
  • Heidi Klum was able to muster the strength to speak to team inappropriate shorts: “She looks like a woman who didn’t have a mirror. …And it was really dark and she just grabbed thing and put it on.”
Kenley works my nerves, but I had to laugh along with her when she busted up at Daniel's nine-zillionith defense of his "high-end taste." Why is he still in the game?

I was bummed about Kelly leaving, until she uttered the most annoying phrase in the history of the world: “It is what it is.” Buh-bye!

What do you think?

Fab Finds: Blinc Kiss Me Eyeliner

Lots of eyeliners come with claims of incredible wearability. But too often after you’ve applied the latest liquid, pencil, brush or gel, you find yourself with smudgy raccoon circles around your eyes.

When it comes to Blinc Kiss Me liquid eyeliner, the claims (“It cannot fade, smudge, run or flake”) are legit. While not very forgiving during the application learning curve, once you get the hang of it (the brush is longer and fuller than most), you’ll be pleasantly surprised at it's staying power. $25, Jeffre Scott Apothecary, 607 Providence Road (704-339-0010) and 6432 Rea Road (704-544-0750).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cool vs. Cruel

Not all faux fur is fake. What?

It's cheaper for companies to use raccoon dog fur as trim on clothing than it is to use the synthetic counterpart.

More than 75 million animals per year are killed for their fur.

If you're scratching your head, join the club. I was schooled in all things fur during a talk at the Art Institute of Charlotte recently.

Kyle Quandel of the Humane Society of the United States came to speak to fashion merchandising students about the HSUS Cool vs. Cruel program which offers the winning AI student a chance at an all-expenses paid internship with a fur-friendly designer.

The design competition, only open to Art Institute students across the country, educates emerging designers on fur and promotes use of beautiful alternatives. Seven students from the Charlotte campus are taking part in the competition. One student from Charlotte will move on to national judging, to be held in NYC in November.

So how can you tell if faux fur is really fake? Separate the fur, and check the fabric, Quandel says. If you see cloth, you're all set. If you can scratch the back and leave a mark, it's fur.

Another way to test -- though not recommended for the middle of a department store -- is flame. Fur will smell like burning hair when on fire.

The HSUS has 11 million members across the country, Quandel says, and is mainstream. "We take a firm position (on animal rights), we don't give people ultimatums. ... Make compassion your fashion."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Project Runway: Crazy, boring

My girl Korto got tons of love from guest judge Apolo Ohno (and scored a win)
with this linen and leather ensemble.

Yaaawwwwnnnn. More uninspired designs.

What a shocker -- these aspiring fashion folk don't get sportswear. Or the Olympics.

Or in the case of the fading tanorexic Blayne, the Beatles.

Michael Kors said it best (he was referring to the bottom three designers): “It’s almost like they heard the challenge in another language.”

The designers were asked to follow in the footsteps of Ralph Lauren by designing an ensemble for USA teammates to wear during the opening ceremony.

I feel like a broken record: I love retro-inspired clothing as much as the next girl, but enough already (Kenley, Kelli, Jerell, Blayne -- I'm talking to you).

I was so hoping that uninteresting, whiny Daniel was on it way out the door after his purple Supergirl cocktail dress. Again, MK had me laughing out loud with his smart mouth: "If your sport is drinking, it’s a good dress."

Instead, Jennifer got "auf'd." She and "leatha" Stella have a hard time separating their personal style from the challenges, but Stella seems to be getting away with it more, maybe because of her love of "leatha."

What's your take on the epi? Hoping the drama amps up (I am! I am!)?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Brows, IKEA and a freebie

Neiman Marcus' gift with $250 purchase, Aug. 15-23: a berry-colored PDA/mobile cover.

Here's a few stylish news items that have passed across my screen recently:

  • The iconic blue exterior walls are being raised this week at IKEA in University City. “We definitely are on track for a grand opening next spring,” Michael Maier, IKEA real estate manager, said in a press release. “We hope to be enclosed fully before winter, and cannot wait to open IKEA Charlotte in Spring 2009.”
  • I am horrendously bad at keeping my brow appointments -- I schedule them with the best of intentions, then end up canceling on the infinitely patient Rhonda. Benefit Cosmetics' new Brow Bar at Belk SouthPark is for commitment phobes -- no appointment necessary. A Benefit-trained aesthetician will wax or tweeze your brows into an arch shaped specifically for your face. It's open now, and a grand-opening party is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Aug. 28, with free brow services with complimentary makeup lessons and champagne & snacks. 704-364-4251, ext 8240.
  • Neiman Marcus is giving away a custom berry-colored PDA/mobile cover with $250 purchase as part of the store's fall 2008 trend preview, Aug. 15-23. The top trends for women, according to NM are: berry colors, satin, high-vamp shoes, lace, sleek shapes, romantic blouses, and statement jewelry for women. For men, the focus is on shades of gray, peak lapels, peacoats, cardigans, vests, and exotics.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pegged? Wrong?

First it was Rachel Bilson.

Then Katie Holmes.

Hmmmm ... pegged jeans.
Unwanted 1980s revival or so bad it's hip again?