Friday, May 29, 2009

Fashion meets art

When artist Maggie O'Neill was painting outside Ginger boutique last week it looked like a scene from Montmartre. Finished paintings surrounded the artist busy at work while her mother handed out brochures to curious passersby. Usually found at her Kensington decorative painting company, O'Neill Studios, Maggie made an appearance during Bethesda Lane's Front Row events to display the art she says is her "real love." Her brightly colored paintings with names like "Girls Night Out" are on display at Ginger for another month. Check out more portraits and paintings by Maggie on her website:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dreaming of La Dolce Vita

Last week during the slew of events on Bethesda Avenue, cookbook author Maria Liberati made an appearance in Bella Italia, a gem of a store featuring all things belleza from Italy. Maria, a former model, signed her book, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, and talked about her passion for Italy, the wonders of simple, good Italian cooking, and the pleasures of eating. Her passion was catching and the beautiful atmosphere of Bella Italia made me want to book a flight right away and start picking fresh tomatoes for my own spaghettata (spaghetti party). Luckily for us, store owners Suzy and Bill Menard bought a historic farmhouse in Cannara, near Assisi, they're willing to share (rentals by the week) with us Diane Lane wannabes. Also check out the fab trips: In July attend a jazz fest and in October sample drippingly fresh olive oil during the Umbrian Food and Wine Tour.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Falling in love with Max

Am I already thinking fall? Yes. I. Am. Especially because Bloomingdale's Chevy Chase now carries MaxMara, best known for their wonderfully tailored coats in cashmere, alpaca and camel hair. Luscious. Included in the fall collections are pencil skirts and blazers to layer underneath just in case you must take off the coat. But don't overlook the fabulous dresses like this elegant silk print to wear right now. A long, cool drink to beat the heat.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hair transformation

I've been thinking about a "hairstyle" lately, going from layered, mid-length hair to something structured that would act as an accessory to an outfit rather than a tired distraction. After seeing Craig Miller of Salon Cielo dress the models' tresses before Bethesda's recent fashion show, I decided to give him a whirl. Why not? He's in the neighborhood and the salon frequently offers specials. Anyway...I asked him if he could do anything to my forlorn locks, what would he do? The first thing he said was "give it a base" in other words soften the color (he's a specialist in color, and though I've had highlights, I've never colored my hair) add a subtle touch of "sun" up top and then shape my unruly grown-out layers into a basic cut. Presto! Miraculous. For my readers: here's the before and aft. The rest can just go on thinking it's so naturally me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sweet sights of summer

I recently chatted with Mauro Farinelli, former owner of Bethesda's Denim Bar, now owner of Farinelli's in Clarendon who says he's trying his hardest to improve the landscape of the DC area fashion scene but is feeling a little dejected. The fashion-forward Farinelli wants women to please break out of the knit-dress-khaki-capri box and try some clothes that say summer in a fresh, new way. And he's got the goods on hand. Let's throw him a bone and check out a few of his faves--especially because he's having a Memorial Day sale with reductions of up to 40 percent. I like the peachy Chelsea bohemian froth with a touch of rhinestone glitz. And what says summer like navy blue and white stripes? Catherine Holstein's tailored jumpsuit is classic. (Oh, and by the way, he says the menswear is flying out of the shop. Are we going to let them actually beat us at shopping?) Above : Chelsea dress.

Bowtie dress by Francis

Georgette dress by Chelsea

Jumpsuit by Catherine Holstein

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MoCo's Crooked Monkey

Any of these look familiar--including the guy in the sunglasses? If they do, then you already know about T-shirt company Crooked Monkey, or at least maybe heard that Ryan Seacrest recently wore the company's "gardener" tee on his show. If not, then you need to know about Potomac's Micha Weinblatt who founded Crooked Monkey four years ago at the University of Maryland and now sells his shirts at Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Fred Segal, Lord & Taylor and so on and so on. I like his dad, Stuart Weinblatt, who is founding rabbi of Potomac's B'nai Tzedek and allows his son to spew forth shirts from the family's basement, where Micha runs the biz. Micha recently gave back at a celebrity auction in support of Put Your Best Foot Forward that raised over $3,500 for the charity. He and Elliot Totah were auctioned off for a cool $350 as dates for a bachelorette party, which included a table at Lotus Lounge and a bottle of Absolut. That's just how he rolls. Look for him Friday on's StyleWatch.

jonesin for ruffled shoes

I am obsessing on ruffled shoes. I've been around long enough to have already done platforms, wedges and glads but not ruffles. Ruffles--I even like the word. I want them in butter soft leather; I want them in silk; I want them metallic. The ones pictured left are perfection: "Savage Lover" by Nanette Lepore. More contenders below (loving the Louboutin):

Christian Louboutin and Loeffler Randall;


Monday, May 18, 2009

Meeting Jane Seymour

Yesterday I had a strange encounter of a surreal kind when I had the pleasure of not only meeting a well known celebrity, but meeting someone who was genuinely nice (and of course absolutely beautiful). Actress Jane Seymour was at Wentworth Gallery in Bethesda at an event showcasing her artworks. I bypassed the opportunity (stupidly) to get my picture taken with her and instead asked her when she started painting. She told me it was 18 years ago during a very hard time in her life--horrible divorce, hit bottom, had nothing. She shared the details, but you get the picture. Her mother, a concentration camp survivor, told her to stop wallowing and "get out of her own head" and do something--for somebody else. Jane gave what little she had left to a children's charity and in return was offered art lessons. She started painting seriously and found a new passion. Her paintings range from bold florals to traditional scenes to whimsical takes on her "open heart" logo. I was inspired not only by her openness and her story, but also by her mother's advice to "get out of your head and do something." I thought about it all day in fact and contemplated the strangeness of rare but fortuitous chance meetings.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shoe (Choo) Lovers Everywhere

Yeah, you know who you are. You just can't get enough. If you're blushing in a rush of guilty pleasure you probably already know about The Towering World of Jimmy Choo, a new book all about the business of Jimmy Choo, a brand put on the fashion radar with some help by TV show Sex and the City. Writer Lauren Goldstein Crowe recently returned home from London (she grew up right here in MoCo and attended Winston Churchill High School) to read from the book (co-wrote with Sagra Maceira de Rosen) during Bethesda's three-day Front Row fashion blitz. As a funny side note, she did mention that an unnamed DC blogger had thought it ironic that a reading about Jimmy Choo would happen in ... Bethesda (assumed sneer and eyeroll). I loved Crowe's retort.: "I guess they didn't know I'm from here and if they think there's no fashion here, they obviously haven't seen the girls at Churchill." Moving right along.... The book presents the "perfect storm," Lauren says, of how the business of Jimmy Choo rose from obscurity to fame with the help of society girl and current company head Tamara Mellon. Lauren has written for nearly every fashion mag around--Harper's Bazaar, British Vogue, British Elle as well as the New York Times, Financial Times and Fortune. Finance pro Rosen, now at Reig Capital Group, was an equity analyst at JP Morgan. The combo gives the book all the cred necessary to make a great reason to settle in for a voyeuristic peek behind the scenes at one of the world's best known new names in luxury footwear. Here's some eye candy for you addicts: a sampling of shoes I spotted at the reading (the black heels are Lauren's):

More from The Front Row

More pics from one of the biggest fashion events Bethesda has ever seen...

Bethesda's Big Night

Wow!! What went on here last night?? Bethesda Lane went from a pedestrian promenade to a full-scale runway style show complete with fashionistas, press, lights, thumping music, programs and front row swag as a bevy of beauties modeled the best of spring, summer and fall fashions from our own Bethesda shops. We got to preview everything from an Esley ruffled cocktail dress from Luna to fall preview Yansi Fugel from Wear It Well with a full complement of dresses and sportswear from Tickled Pink to Ginger to Lucy to Urban Chic, including a dress with a horse race print from J.McLaughlin perfect for tonight's Preakness.

But wait--isn't that Project Runway winner Christian Siriano sitting in the front row?? The young fashion superstar enjoyed the show with his mother, Joy, and sister Shannon. Prior to the show, Christian was gracious enough to pose for pic after pic at a reception for him at Redwood, where we enjoyed cocktails and nibbles. Though Christian's creative styles can be found in selected Saks and Nordstrom stores, the Brooklyn-based designer says he is excited about the shoes he's creating for economy-savvy Payless. His mother, Joy, says she was happy to have him home for the weekend as we chatted over Hot Mess martinis. Today The Front Row continues with a full day of events in many stores, including cookbook signings in Bella Italia, live oil painting at Ginger, and the Jimmy Choo bio book signing and specials on blowouts and highlights. There's still time to take in the trunk shows, discounts, giveaways, cocktails and a fresh hair style and more. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Valentino: The Last Emperor

Bethesda is in the throes of fashion mayhem with a Thursday kickoff on Bethesda Row and a relaxing end to the day at Landmark Cinema with the fabulous new documentary on Valentino. “Compared to us, everyone else is making rags,” Lagerfeld whispers to Valentino at his 45th anniversary retrospective show as Valentino tears up in Matt Tyrnauer’s Valentino: The Last Emperor, a 96-minute indulgence into the world of Valentino Garavani and longtime partner Giancarlo Giammetti. Through scenes like that between Valentino and Lagerfeld as well as the personal moments between Valentino and Giancarlo we get a glimpse into the rarified world of high fashion in all its absurd splendor: their homes, vanity, passion and the difficult nature of the designer himself. Though Tyrnauer doesn't bow in homage, he very touchingly and perceptively portrays the connection and humor inherent “in two people whose lives are absurd but they don’t know they’re absurd.” Absurd maybe, but I have to commend two people who can stay together for 50 years as well as create the fashion icon that is Valentino. I also commend Tyrnauer for the tenacity to pull this project off. Though he's written about Valentino for Vanity Fair, and was thus inspired to make the film, I still had to ask him, "How does one approach an icon?" He said because he did not aspire to their life, he wasn't intimidated by it. All the better for us. The film will be coming to D.C. soon. Three words: Go See It.

Updates from The Front Row

Shopping was fun yesterday at Bethesda's first day of a three-day spree at The Front Row. Philippe Cousteau (above right), grandson of Jacques Cousteau, was in Ginger for the Calypso St. Barth Trunk Show in support of his environmental organization, EarthEcho. Cousteau Blue just happens to be a signature color of Calypso St. Barth this season. Ginger owner Gretchen Hitchner in maroon top, poses with friends including writer Zena Polin and novelist Cathy Alter. Stylist Craig Miller (below) of Salon Cielo ran open forums on hot summer hair. And there was so much more. Today brings celebrity chef Maria Liberati to Bella Italia at 5; bluemercury is offering complimentary makeovers starting at 10 a.m. And not to mention tonight's grande finale: a fashion show with Project Runway's indescribable Christian Siriano. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bethesda's Front Row

Oh my, oh my...Bethesda gets fierce?? Yes ma'am. Starting Thursday Bethesda Row will be transformed into The Front Row, a three-day style mecca with real live fashion celebs including Project Runway's Christian Siriano ("so fierce"), a screening of the Valentino documentary "The Last Emperor," a reading from the new Jimmy Choo biography, a runway fashion show, and events in every shop along Bethesda Row--that means four streets worth of fun, food and fashion. Check out the latest from Diane von Furstenberg at Urban Chic and Yansi Fugel at Wear It Well, learn how to do your hair at Salon Cielo and meet celebrity chef Maria Liberati at Bella Italia. And that's just a sampling. Not your mama's Bethesda, or even your Bethesda if you've been here awhile like me. I for one will be there, cheering on my little newbie fashion town as it stretches its wings into fashion-land. And yes, of course, I'll do my best to get you a steady stream of photos and updates as the days go on. The Front Row could be Bethesda's Fashion Week(end)? Fashion as art = culture = a fiercely good thing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sippin' at the Ritz

Sip 'n Blush Diaries
Whew! Am back in town and can finally spill on Sip ‘n Blush last Thursday night at the Ritz in Georgetown - definitely not the easiest place for this Bethesdite to get to in rush hour - especially after coming from getting my car serviced miles away in Rockville. But I wanted to 1. support Suited for Change; 2. have cocktails at the Ritz bar; 3. get a makeover--which I really really need; 4. and not miss a fun CityShopGirl event. Hassled and wet from driving through rush hour in pelting rain, I recklessly abandoned my car to the valet (instead of circling for a meter) and entered the bar. My eye immediately went to the jumbo-size box of Armani skincare and cosmetics (thanks to Saks Chevy Chase) poised temptingly near the jar of raffle entries. I never win raffles. But I really wanted that Armani. A beauty product junkie, I have recently slumped into an unsatisfying beauty "routine," grabbing whatever is in the shower. I needed age-appropriate skincare. After I entered the raffle, I saw my friend Zena Polin having her already beautiful face made over by the creative wizardry of Saks cosmetics whiz, Nimati Nazhat.

Zena pulled me and my pinot into the chair and said, “you’re next.” Right. Do me. And Ms. Nazhat did.
She started by taking off my 9-hour old faded makeup, and smoothing on moisturizer, then eye cream. I touched my face. I couldn’t believe it. It was dewy. That was only the beginning. Then she used a combo of blush, eyeshadow and –I couldn’t believe this one—eyebrow pencil on my already black brows. WOW! I glowed. I looked younger. I looked completely natural, but "different," polished, like I had on real grownup makeup. I told her she was a genius and ordered eye cream and foundation on the spot.

As I was ooohing and aaahing over myself, our hostess, Kelly Collis Fredrick, started the raffle. Zena won dinner for two. Then Kelly started fishing around for the second prize, which I really really wanted. About $1,000 worth of Armani skincare and cosmetics in a big box plus the opportunity to have a private makeover party with these makeup artists at Saks with five lucky friends. I closed my eyes and clenched my fists…I wanted to win so bad…AND I DID!!! Mine; all mine!! I won my first raffle, had fun with my friends, got a new face, sipped drinks AND supported Suited for Change. Not bad for a Thursday night.